Jesus Christ

The Resurrection: Tradition to Transformation

empty-tomb

The lost tomb is one glaring example establishing that the disciples contradicted cultural norms as Israelites and began to blaze new trails in the name of Jesus, but the tomb is only one example of such radical reform. As the Jewish people were frequently raided, overrun, taken hostage, attacked and oppressed throughout history, it became extremely important for leaders to teach the legacy, ancestry and history of the Jewish people to future generations, not merely as a means of cultural emphasis, but to remind the future generations that the people of Israel held a unique place in the Creator God’s plans for humanity. Thus, while the tangible value of Israel wavered throughout history, the commands of God to Moses established in the Torah and the salvation displayed and promised by God to the people of Israel never faded. This longevity was due to the painstaking commitment made by the Jewish people to establish the Law, remind people of the Law and keep the Law. In this climate of extreme rule keeping and obedience, one witnesses in the Gospel narratives the disciples redefining the Law as established by Jesus, and following a new Law or covenant grounded in the deity of Jesus Christ. The disciples regularly break the long-established Law of the Sabbath by their activity on that holy day.

Matthew 12:1-2

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

The new law established in and by Jesus changed the disciples’ paradigm. As a result, because Jesus resurrected on a Sunday, the disciples no longer worshipped the Lord on the common Holy day of Saturday (Sabbath) but moved their worship to Sunday in order to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The disciples revise the long-established tradition of the Passover meal as they not only ate the meal away from their immediate family but also seemed to forget the most important element of the meal, the lamb. Only the direct intervention of God could alter that God-established tradition.

Mark 14:12-25

And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take, this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

In following the example of Jesus, the disciples repeatedly break laws concerning the clean and unclean, interacting not only with the physically unclean, such as lepers and the paralyzed, but also with the spiritually unclean, such as the prostitute and tax collector. Without the resurrection, the argument that these humble and unimportant men suddenly decided to simply revise and disobey the laws their forefathers followed for thousands of years becomes ridiculous. One must also consider that if Jesus did in fact die and remain buried in the tomb, the disciples themselves would want nothing to do with such a blasphemer, liar and heretic and would have continued awaiting the true Messiah. However, given the resurrection of Jesus, we find reason to believe that their newfound courage and unusual behavior were motivated by one truth and one reason alone. Jesus resurrected from the dead and fulfilled all of the Messianic prophecies that rooted the Law of Moses. They witnessed the sacrifice of God himself as Jesus Christ. They witnessed the resurrection of God himself as Jesus Christ. Thus, the law and the prophets were fulfilled in Christ, and in Christ the disciples were given a new covenant that overruled the previous law and requirements of their forefathers.

Hebrews 9:11-15

But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

 

The Resurrection: Respect to Worship

empty-tomb

As discussed previously, belief in the resurrection must not rely on the fact that it is mentioned in the Bible and therefore must be believed. We must look at how the resurrection is described, how that moment changed the attitude of the disciples and the course of human history forever with the emergence of the Christian Church. Along with the analysis of the before-and-after behavior from the disciples, in regards to their hope in Jesus being the long awaited Messiah, we must analyze their behavior in regards to the reality that Jesus was in fact the Messiah they had been waiting for. More specifically, one must observe how their attitudes shifted towards Jesus, alive as the human Messiah, and Jesus, alive as the risen Lord.

Throughout the ministry of Jesus, the disciples were faithful in their loyalty to Jesus as their leader and teacher (that is, until his arrest and crucifixion, where only one disciple that we know of was present at Golgotha to witness his actual death). They spoke deep belief in Jesus as the true Messiah and son of God. However, according to their sheepish actions in the face of trial and persecution, these words of  faith prove shallow, spoken out of excitement and naivety.  Against Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion their words are little more than well-meaning lies, their faith in him quickly reduced to respect for him as a great teacher, or possibly a prophet, as believed by the disciples on the road to Emmaus. However, their faith in him as the Lord himself, as the creator God, as Yahweh, is a difficult argument to make.

The disciples’ belief in and understanding of Jesus Christ’s true identity did not settle at the stage of respect. The disciples quickly began to worship Jesus as the risen Lord himself, come down from Heaven as the Son of God. They also began to observe the resurrection as the culmination of Jesus’ victory over sin and death. Following the resurrection, the disciples had no doubt that Jesus was exactly who he claimed to be. With that truth, their faith exploded and the course of human history was forever changed. Even Peter, who denied Jesus repeatedly before the resurrection, overcame his fear and was convinced of what the resurrection meant:

Acts 2:14-36

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
   and your young men shall see visions,
   and your old men shall dream dreams;
even on my male servants[b] and female servants
   in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
And I will show wonders in the heavens above
   and signs on the earth below,
   blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
the sun shall be turned to darkness
   and the moon to blood,
   before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
   for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
   my flesh also will dwell in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
   or let your Holy One see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
   you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
“Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
   “Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”’
   Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

In the face of the resurrected Christ Jesus, the attitude of the disciples changed dramatically from respect and honor to unparalleled and unprecedented worship of a human teacher who suffered, died, was buried and then resurrected, as God himself.

Tuesday Devotional: Ezra 5

bibleRead Ezra 5

God is a creator, and, if we were designed in His image, we are creators as well. We were designed to design and create beautiful things worthy of a Holy God, reflective of His perfection. The issue is not that we have an inherent gift and desire to create. The issue is why we create. Sin makes us want to create so that we can become to focal point of worship. We create so that WE can make a name for ourselves, so that we can be remembered, so that we can obtain approval and value. Sin drives us to create a new thing, something that can add to something that already exists.

Ultimately this approach to creation tends to reveal the worst in us. Creation in the hands of sin leads to competition, rivalry, bitterness, pride, winners and losers, life and death. Creation in the hands of sin says, “Look what I did.” Creation in the hands of God says, “Look what God HAS done and IS doing.” Creation with the heart of God never seeks to glorify the self, but seeks to restore what has been lost.

The heart of God gives us an awareness of past, present and future in regards to His creation and reveals our place in that design. We become aware of how things used to be, how things should be and how we can create in order to bring this world back to God, not further distance from Him. A Christian with the heart of the Gospel is always restoring the world to Jesus Christ. Every creation should redirect people to what was lost by the first man and what was gloriously restored in the second man.

45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. (1 Corinthians 15:45-49)

It is undeniable that we were designed to create and we have all been blessed with different skills and gifts in order to create. Creation is of God. Self-glorification is not. We cannot create for our own glory and simultaneously glorify the living God. This is impossible. Creation of God and for God reflects what HE created and lost through the sin of man and what lengths He went to in order to restore the sight to the blind. Until we create as a process of restoration we will never create anything worthy of the resurrection.

Tuesday Devotional: 1 Kings 6

 

bibleRead 1 Kings 6

7In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.”

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

A Christian’s purpose is not for independent growth and prosperity.  We are by nature designed for fellowship and to be incorporated into a design of life that replaces our attention on ourselves with attention on our relationship to others.  It is in the design of God’s body that we see our purpose in the the greater complexity of the design and structure that we are a part of.  A temple is built to evoke awe and admiration from those that look upon it.  Likewise, the strength of the body of Christ correlates with our understanding of the whole as opposed to the self.  If we claim Christ as our savior we will naturally be drawn to fellowship not merely for our personal satisfaction but because we can see the Father’s glory represented by our lives as the Church, just as the temple’s strength reflected Him.

7In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.” 

[F]or all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Galatians 3:27 )

The blocks of the temple arrived at the site of the temple dressed, carved, measured and ready to fit into the temple’s design.  Once at the temple, nothing was left to be done to the stones in order to make them fit in the structure.  The stones were prepared and so fit perfectly.   While Christians differ in appearance, background, nationality, age, and countless other characteristics, one uniting factor miraculously allows all of the blocks to fit together perfectly.  The unity of the body of Christ comes by the saving works of Jesus Christ.  If the unity of the body of Christ is anything other than Christ, only sections of the temple will fit, leaving the rest with no place or purpose in the overall structure.  In other words, a Christian is clothed in Christ and then is able to fit perfectly into the temple, revealing the strength of the stones in their unity, and the brilliance of the structure in its size and splendor.

7In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.” 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3)

Living in Christian community is not easy and it never will be.  The process of individuals breaking their addiction to themselves alongside others taking on the same challenge will always reveal pain and obstacles.  However, the hope in Christ is that although the challenge is real, with the power of the Holy Spirit, the process can be smooth and does not have to be violent.  Hammers, chisels and iron tools are powerful and can inflict enormous damage on a stone.  However, being made in the image of Christ, while painful to our sinful nature, is a process of peace, joy and love.  Being made in the image of Jesus Christ is a threat to Satan and the work of sin but in the name of Jesus Christ we can find peace, joy and love amidst and throughout the rebuilding process.

7In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.”

 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5)

The awareness that we are made to be built into a structure with others, the foundational presence of Christ in us, and the Spirit of Christ guiding us through the building is an ongoing procedure the same way that the building of Solomon’s Temple was ongoing.  The Temple of Solomon was eventually finished, just as we will come to completion.  But our completion is not yet.  The building process is ongoing, and while we know that the end will come, we do not know when.  Until then, we build and we are being built, and the glory of an earthly building such as Solomon’s Temple will pale in comparison to the glory in the Temple of Christ in His Church, revealed in a world that has forgotten its Creator, its Designer, its Architect, its God.

 

Water Baptism: the Personal Baptism

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re reflecting on water baptism.  For the rest of the series, go here.

baptism

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This week we’ll be thinking about how the coming of Jesus altered baptism to become personal when he submitted to John’s baptism in the Gospel. Three aspects of water help us to understand significance of Jesus’ baptism for us in the gospel narrative: water removes what is corruptrefills what is empty, and revitalizes what is dead.

After addressing the Global Baptism in the Flood of Noah and the National Baptism in the Red Sea of Moses, we finally arrive at the baptism most pertinent to the Christian’s life. If the first baptism taught us the destructive powers of sin and the second baptism taught us the oppressive powers of sin, the final baptism teaches us about the deception of sin. However, it also teaches us the abounding glory to be found in the final baptism in the name of Jesus Christ and what that means for the individual.

Removes what is corrupt

In the final baptism, we find Jesus entering the Jordan River in Palestine to be baptized by his relative, John the Baptist. While there is an entirely different discussion about what the purpose of the baptism was for Jesus himself, this section will focus much more on what his baptism means for the individual believer.

The baptism of Jesus came to a world convinced of its self-righteousness. The greatest enemy to God’s righteousness is the self-perceived righteousness of man. While the corruption of the human heart in the time of Noah and Moses were physically apparent and offensive, the world in our present time has mastered the art of concealing sin, harboring it in the heart and mind without the danger of publicly displaying its destruction, thus avoiding direct conviction or condemnation. The corruption of sin in our present age is corruption masked with righteousness. At times, like air, it is impossible to grab ahold of. However, while the corruption of the human heart can be effectively hidden from those around us, it is glaringly obvious to us in our heart of hearts.

While we can acknowledge and at times hate the sin in our own hearts, we hide beneath layers and layers of deception, the effect of which is to feel the potency of sin less and less. It becomes a matter of turning the volume on the stereo up louder and louder until the crying of the cat in the street can no longer be heard. In the hands of sin, these speakers can get loud and they continuously play songs that sing our own praises and righteousness, until after a while, we know every word to our own song and hear nothing else. However, in the Word of God, with a sincere search for truth in the Word, the figurative speakers begin to malfunction, and all that can be heard is that dreadful cat outside. In other words, in the presence of a holy and righteous Jesus Christ, our sin and its corruption is magnified and amplified to a point where we are crying for rescue from its presence and power. In the presence of Jesus one cannot even begin to feel righteous or clean. In the presence of Jesus, one feels nothing but disgust and offense at the sight of one’s own sin.

The beauty of the baptism of Jesus Christ is that while the other baptisms were not final and were not revealed as the washing of sin directly, the baptism of Jesus presents us with the hope and promise that upon being baptized by the water, its cleansing power can finally end our helpless struggle with sin and give us a new birth in the spirit of Christ, with a daily invitation to become a new creation by the spirit of God residing in our hearts, not the spirit of sin. In the final baptism, the cleansing power of the water is most effective in cleansing the corruption of sin from our hearts and most powerful in what it reveals after the corruption has been washed away.

Refills what is empty

Not only does sin convince us that righteousness reigns in our lives, sin also has the power to deceive us by convincing us that what we strive for in this material world is actually satisfying the internal void that we so desperately try to fill. Away from the presence of God, sin convinces us that a job, a relationship, or money fill the void left empty by the Fall. As the deception of righteousness convinces us only partway, leaving us to privately question the extent of sin’s corruption, the deception of satisfaction inflates what we use to fill ourselves, exaggerating the pleasure we feel upon filling it. However, in the presence of the Word of God, it doesn’t take long for us to realize that all our efforts to fill ourselves are unsuccessful, and more importantly, that they always will be without the presence of God. In the presence of God we are painfully aware that the strife and toil felt by this “chasing the wind” leaves our hearts as empty as they were when we made our first deposits into the gloomy abyss. Thus, upon the realization that the void remains empty and that sin only pretends to fill it at the expense of our energy, pain and sorrow, we then have the option to engage in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and receive the water baptism of Jesus in the River of Life.

Upon receiving the baptism from Jesus Christ, one experiences a fullness of life and a fullness of spirit that has until that point been unparalleled. The realness of the baptism of Jesus Christ suddenly exposes all of the things that we had previously been convinced were solid, but were simply illusions all along. For the first time, we experience life as it was intended to be lived. While we continue to battle sin until the end of life on Earth, the revelation of the kingdom of God and all of its glory as a result of the baptism of Christ remains alive and ablaze in the heart of the believer, daily supplying encouragement, hope and power to live a life designed by the creator God. The baptism of Jesus Christ also fills the believer with a new way of living in this world.

Where previously we possessed only the meager powers of the sinner’s heart to obtain what Eden programmed us to desire, the baptism of Jesus Christ gives us a new way and a new formula for experiencing the life we were designed for. The Gospel of Jesus and his words replace the false hopes, promises and truths we were taught by the world, and lead us into a life of righteousness that can and will be attained in his power and for his glory. For the first time, the void begins to fill and our cup overflows.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:5-6

Revitalizes what is dead

A life born in sin, untouched by the healing power of Jesus Christ, is destined to die in sin. Without the revitalizing power of Jesus Christ and his Gospel there is no hope beyond the limits we see daily in this earthly life. The tragedy is that without a willingness to look beyond the delusional perception of our own power to rescue ourselves and fill our own lives, the fantasy of finding true meaning and satisfaction in this life, on our own, will never seem ludicrous. In fact, for many people, this is a very real, very achievable and very reasonable thing to chase. But the truth is without the intervening power of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit, the life believed salvageable by the individual will continue on the destructive path predicted by the Word of God. Apart from Jesus we are caught in a cycle of temporary successes and victories: they give us temporary hope for more in the face of failures and suffering that tend to destroy hope. Apart from Jesus we have only dreams and visions of a life worth living, life filled with true joy, true peace and true strength.

We seek to find this life in our family. We seek it in our jobs. We seek it in ourselves. All the while, we are still as dead and lifeless as we were when we decided to chase this fantasy. But Jesus offers us true life. In total submission to him, just as a body submits to the immersing power of water, we are finally made clean and prepared for the life he originally intended for us. Then, and only then, can we truly live. Jesus Christ has defeated sin and death on the cross. Baptized in him, we are resurrected from death and are given life propelled by the hope of living eternally with the creator and author of life.

Tuesday Devotional: Revelation 2

Read Revelation 2:1-7bible

What does it mean to be a Christian?  What does it mean to have faith in Christ?  What does it mean to go to church?  What does it mean to read the Bible?  What does it mean to serve as Christ served?   What does it mean to desire heaven and fear hell?

What does any of it mean?

Why would a person go through day after day after day consumed by such things?  Is it to stay busy in a world of drifting and laziness?  Is it to find purpose in a life of wandering and ever-changing directions?  Is it to right wrongs that we know deep down exist in order to sleep at night?  Is it submission to an authority figure in our lives that we strive to impress?

Christians do a lot.  Christians are very busy people consumed by their Christian lives, and while this is not necessarily a bad thing, it is a horribly misguided, useless existence if the Christian is caught up in what they can do and not what Jesus Christ can do.  The foundation of Christianity and of every Christian must be the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  And this life, death and resurrection occurred for no other cause than outrageous love.  Therefore, a Christian’s busy-ness must only stem from the love received from Christ and returned to him.  Understanding the relationship between man and God is no different than understanding relationships between people.  A relationship built on activity and productivity is empty and futile without love.  Love between people is not just the product of that relationship, but the fuel that propels the relationship forward.  Similarly, a relationship built on anything other than this received and returned love is not the relationship that God desires.

The debate between faith and works has been waged since the early church and will continue until Christ returns.  In a true relationship, one overwhelmed and overcome by the love freely given us by Jesus Christ, there is no possibility of service void of love.  The love that we received from him on the cross is returned to him in our transformed lives. The selfless nature that operates in ours works devoted service to him as proof of our commitment to loving him with everything we have, because he loved us first.

Tuesday Devotional: Jude 3-16

bibleRead Jude 3-16

In the world today we are taught that there is no such thing as “evil.” The world claims that to erect walls separating “good” from “evil” is insensitive, counterproductive to the well-being of society.  It is now a flaw to see flaws.  It is a sin to identify sin.  In this cultural and social climate it is increasingly difficult for Christians to contend for the gospel; if, that is, the Christians are attempting to fend off this cultural attack without the aid of Jesus Christ.  A Christian’s attempt to stand up against the tidal wave of cultural and social sensitivity that allows no room for the gospel truths will result in failure.  This is not a fight that can be won by a single person or a group of people. It can only be fought by the Lord, and by realizing this gospel truth, we will discover that this fight has already been fought and won by Christ himself.

Along with Jesus Christ’s completed mission to redeem this world, a Christian must cling to another truth in order to stand in faith.  This truth is that, although increasingly unacceptable to the world, there is a very real and definable line between “good” and “evil”, and that sin exists in the world today.  Taking a passive or naïve position toward these issues does not spread the gospel and therefore will not result in the greater healing of the world.  By erasing the lines of “good” and “evil” we allow for no standards at all.  Without a standard of righteousness, man is left to his own devices. Human history proves that man alone, with the world at his mercy, is a destructive force more terrifying than any other being or species on the face of the earth.  We are dangerous.  We are destructive.  We have the potential for great beauty but alongside this exists a great evil that lurks and waits for an opportunity to be set free.  The Church and every Christian must acknowledge the standard of the gospel of Christ if there is any hope for the life, death and resurrection of Christ to heal the sick and free the captives of this world.  Dismissing the righteous standards of God dismisses his work, and dismisses him entirely.  Ignoring the standards of Christ removes any commonality between a Christian and Christ, and along with it, any meaning or power in bearing his name as a Christian.  Holding tightly to standards that acknowledge “good” and reject “evil” resists the current of the cultural and social flow of this world and follows the spirit of God from the beginning and through to the end.

Jesus is God in the Flesh: The Unity

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re reflecting on the divinity of Jesus Christ. 

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If you profess faith in the Christian message, yet lack this belief about Jesus’ identity, you expose a complete lack of understanding of the very Bible wherein you find the figure of Jesus in the first place. The Gospel narratives leave no possibility to reject the deity of Jesus. Rather, they appreciate, rely on,  and believe in the message that he spoke.

We can better understand this vital truth about Jesus with these four points concerning Jesus and his teaching.

  1. The man of “The Name”
  2. The man of Authority
  3. The man of Unity
  4. The man of Forgiveness

For the next several weeks, we’re going to reflect on these indicators that support the divinity of Christ Jesus.

The Man of Unity

While many cling to the belief that Jesus was not one with God in personal identity, some will profess that Jesus was one with God in a way that emphasizes the “with” while excluding the “one.” To do this is to completely reject the words of Jesus since he himself spoke of his nature as being, “one with the Father.”

Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’
“But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.
“Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”
So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. John 8:54-59

Despite this testimony, many persist in the viewpoint that Jesus was simply a gifted teacher endowed with Godly abilities to teach and to heal, but only to the extent that his teaching ultimately lead those to God and not to himself. This opinion places Jesus in the realm of Prophet and not Messiah. However, Jesus did possess qualities resembling those of the Old Testament Prophets. Jesus healed; so did Elisha. Jesus spoke the words of God connecting past, present and future seamlessly, directed by the Father himself; so did all the prophets.

Yet at a certain point, the unique qualities of Jesus separate him from the line of Prophets. His characteristics become the characteristics only seen in the Father himself, which not only aligns Jesus with the Father but makes them one. Most famously in the Gospel of John, Jesus openly declares to his disciples that he is “one with” the Father in Heaven.

“I and the Father are one.” John 10:30

“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” John 14:11

This oneness was not only on display throughout the ministry of Jesus in miraculous healings and resurrections, things only God could do. This oneness was not only on display in the form of his claims about himself, directly professing things that only God could profess. This oneness was not only on display by the way that Jesus fulfilled every prophecy about the coming Messiah as truly “Emmanuel” or “God with us.” This oneness was most powerfully on display when Jesus conquered death through the victory of the cross. That display of Godhead set in motion the transformation of the entire world, one person and one country at a time, through the dwelling of his heavenly Spirit in all those professing faith in the oneness of Jesus Christ and the Father as God in the Flesh, sacrificed for sin on the cross, resurrected on the third day and presently alive and awaiting the day of Judgment when all things will be made new, just as they were when he created in the beginning.

Jesus is God in the Flesh: the Authority

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re reflecting on the divinity of Jesus Christ. 

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If you profess faith in the Christian message, yet lack this belief about Jesus’ identity, you expose a complete lack of understanding of the very Bible wherein you find the figure of Jesus in the first place. The Gospel narratives leave no possibility to reject the deity of Jesus. Rather, they appreciate, rely on,  and believe in the message that he spoke.

We can better understand this vital truth about Jesus with these four points concerning Jesus and his teaching.

  1. The man of “The Name”
  2. The man of Authority
  3. The man of Unity
  4. The man of Forgiveness

For the next several weeks, we’re going to reflect on these indicators that support the divinity of Christ Jesus.

The Man of Authority

We find in the Gospels that Jesus was not just careful with the words he chose, he was precise and deliberate. His words are not the categorical babble of the megalomaniac. They wield the same power, precision, and beauty of a sword. Realizing this, we become even more dumbfounded by his claims.

Aside from his words of authority concerning sickness, death and sin, Jesus claims the authority of certain knowledge that only God could possess. He recounts the falling of Satan in Luke 10:17-20. He recounts his personal use of prophets, calling them into service in order to preach his truths to Israel and the world in Matthew 23:34. He professes his longing to shelter all Israel as a hen shelters her baby chicks in Luke 13:34. Jesus even goes so far as to openly assert that he existed before the Patriarch Abraham in John 8:58.

These claims tend to get lost in between the longer sermons and parables, but not because they are unimportant. Rather, they may be overlooked by some because of the apparently casual manner in which Jesus says them. Jesus speaks these words in the same way we would recount our day at work or our meal at lunchtime. To him, his identity was so obvious that to say such things needed no ceremonious delivery. He spoke these words to anyone, anywhere, because it was his very nature and identity. Not who he claimed to be or who his followers believed him to be. To disbelieve these claims, or to insist that Christ made such claims falsely or mistakenly, is to celebrate a complete maniac that has no grasp on reality whatsoever. This man would never be worthy of a person’s faith or worship.

Tuesday Devotional: 2 John

bibleRead 2 John

God never desires partial healing.  The healing of the Lord is complete and all encompassing.  There is sickness in this world, and Jesus Christ came to overcome and conquer it.  Jesus Christ did not come to redirect or guide the world into a better way of living; he came to completely restructure the world into a new way of living.  When the healing power of the Holy Spirit enters into this world there is no remnant of the passed life with him.  What remains are faint and distant memories of a former way of life that hold no place in the present.  This healing power is so unprecedented that the only natural instinct upon receiving it is to share it with anyone and everyone you come into contact with.  Upon receiving healing from the Holy Spirit there is no “I have to” share the gospel out of duty or obligation.  There is only “I have to” share the gospel because the world needs this power and healing I have also graciously received. 

However, one must constantly be aware of what is actually being shared.  All we can share is Jesus Christ alone.  He is the power.  He is the healing.  In nothing else is there the power for transformation and change that is in the name of Jesus Christ.  If the gospel is shared in power and in truth there is an unequalled healing in store for the entire world.  The gospel shared in power and truth will change lives completely and will unmistakably yield good fruit.  However, if the gospel is misrepresented, healing will be overpowered by suffering and pain.  Good cannot win because the good news was not preached.  The gospel cannot and will not be effective if it is not received as it was established, in truth.  Anything short of the truth in the gospel is dangerous and will not result in healing.

As one seeks to share the gospel out of a desire to heal, one also learns to avoid those who share a gospel of lies that will only prove to destroy and prevent healing.  Christ is all and is in all, and when sharing the gospel there is no message other than exactly what has been lived and shared before. The reason for the stable and consistent nature of the gospel’s integrity over the years is that it is only in the natural state of the gospel that the world has experienced its healing effects on the suffering of this world.  After experiencing the healing truth of the word, the choice to dilute or weaken the gospel for any reason whatsoever becomes completely ridiculous. The gospel of Jesus Christ is truth and the healing it promises is real.  Clinging to his truth will result in the truth of complete healing, whereas being distracted or overcome by falsity will only result in progressive sickness and pain.