A lesson of contrasts: Mary and Judas

The Bible does much teaching through contrast. Jesus and Satan in Matthew chapter four show the contrast of the spiritual thinking of the son of God and Satan’s temptation from selfishness.

In John 12, there is another contrast between Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Judas Iscariot, the soon-to-be betrayer.

Imagine the great emotion in the house as Jesus entered. Not too long before, Jesus had raised Mary’s brother Lazarus from the dead. Not since Elijah had anyone seen a miracle like that one. Imagine the welcome Jesus received as Lazarus, Martha, and Mary embraced the Lord. Continue reading “A lesson of contrasts: Mary and Judas”

A God that feels

The ancient Greeks believed their gods were completely devoid of feeling and emotion. The gods, they thought, were so far above humanity they could not feel sorrow, pain, or grief.

Imagine a Greek who was alive in the first century and managed to read John chapter 11. In this text the son of God is overcome with feelings of sadness and grief at the death of his friend, Lazarus. Jesus was overcome with a wide array of emotions. Continue reading “A God that feels”

The Good Shepherd

Roman citizens had the absolute assurance of safe travel to any part of the known world. All a Roman had to say when traveling was, “civis romanus sum,” and free passage was guaranteed.

The ability for people to go anywhere has been prized for centuries. In Israel, the leader was the man honored with the responsibility of leading the people out and bringing them in (Numbers 27:17).

A shepherd was charged with the responsibility of leading sheep safely to food and water. He made certain the flock could “go in and out” without fail. Continue reading “The Good Shepherd”

A world of blindness

There is something wrong in the world. Have you noticed it?

The world is afflicted with blindness.

It isn’t that people can’t use their eyes; instead, people don’t want to use their eyes.

The Jews witnessed the powerful miracles of Jesus and yet they were mysteriously afflicted with blindness. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world,” (John 8:12). The Jews couldn’t see it. Jesus said, “For if you do not believe that I am he, you will die in your sins,” (John 8:24b). The Jews continued to grope in the dark. Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” (John 8:31-32). And the Jews, still blind, told Jesus they had never been enslaved. Continue reading “A world of blindness”

Zeal

Jesus went after the money changers.

They had set up shop in the Temple where they did not belong. The Temple was a place of sacrifice, reflection, prayer, and worship to God; it was not a place for unscrupulous men to make a fortune exchanging currency.

The Lord took a whip of cords, overturned the money changers’ tables and drove them all out along with the sheep and the oxen (John 2:14-17). Continue reading “Zeal”

True judgment scene

There was a recent article in a widely-read publication entitled, “Judgment Day Excuses that Won’t Work.” The article was right, but the title was off the mark.

Many people think Judgment Day will seem like a courtroom drama such as “Perry Mason.” They think God will sit on the judgment bench ruling on the trials of billions of people. Jesus never taught that scenario. Continue reading “True judgment scene”

Obey the giver of life

Is all life on earth the result of an accident that caused an accident?

Instead of an accident, consider the design of the eye. Scientists believe they understand how vision works by comparing the eye to a camera and how it focuses an image on the retina. But, what happens after the image arrives on the retina? Science doesn’t know how that “message” is transported to the brain and how that message is recreated there. Continue reading “Obey the giver of life”

Jesus’ words

The Jews and Samaritans didn’t like each other.

The animosity was historical. The Assyrians took about 27,000 people captive from the Northern Kingdom of Israel. There were many Israelites left in the land and they intermarried with colonists placed there by the Assyrians. Those people identified themselves as “Samaritans.”

After the Persian King Cyrus allowed a fraction of Judah to leave Babylon, the Samaritans opposed the rebuilding of the Temple. Samaritans also opposed Nehemiah’s construction of the walls around Jerusalem. Continue reading “Jesus’ words”

A decision we must make

The congregation stood to sing an invitation song when a young woman stepped away from the pew and walked down the aisle toward the preacher.

“I want to be baptized for the remission of sins,” she told him, “I want to become a Christian.”

She was so very happy when she walked from the waters of baptism that morning. She was a new child of God. She rejoiced before us as she pledged to give her life to her Savior. Continue reading “A decision we must make”

Want to see love?

Brightly colored ribbons were tied around precious packages for family and friends. Wonderful holiday feasts warmed guests inside only to be matched by the love shown and shared.

Want to see real love? Let’s go straight to the cross.

Jesus had been tried by the Jews, but they knew their accusations against him would have no traction with Pilate, so they made up different ones. After a cursory examination of Jesus, Pilate could find no fault and told the Jews and sent Jesus to Herod. Herod sent him back without charge (Luke 23:15). Continue reading “Want to see love?”