“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’” (John 2:13–17 ESV)
This event seems out of character for Jesus. It is quite a violent scene: animals driven out of the temple courtyard, coins scattered, tables overturned, people ordered to pack up and leave. Continue reading “Cleansing our temple”
Before he was betrayed, Jesus spent time in prayer for both himself and his followers (see John 17). He prayed for the men he had chosen and even for those who would believe through their work. His concern was for unity among his followers.
He prayed, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20-21 ESV). Sadly, unity at times seems to allude Christians. Perhaps that is why so few today believe in Jesus. Continue reading “How can we have unity?”
“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female – for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29 NET).
What a great privilege we have to be sons of God! The idea of being a “son” of God is no mere accident nor is it discriminatory. In fact, this was a very liberating concept! In most societies, up until fairly recently, it was the sons – the male descendants – who inherited. Yet in Christ, we all inherit, no matter who we are, through faith. We are all sons! Continue reading “We are all sons of God”
Reading through the New Testament, we find a controversy that seemed to plague the first Christians. It centered around whether a Gentile (someone who was not a Jew) could be a Christian and also how they became a Christian. The Jews took great pride in the covenant they had with God, represented by circumcision – they often referred to everyone else as the “uncircumcised” – and wanted to require Gentiles to be circumcised before being baptized. Although this might be difficult for those of us living 2,000 years later to comprehend, it is important to see how this impacted these first Christians.
Jesus stated quite clearly that the gospel was for everyone. He told his followers: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16 ESV). Continue reading “The gospel is for all”
As we read through the accounts of Jesus’ life, it stands out that he took time for those that most people would not spend time with. We find him having meals with tax collectors and prostitutes, people who were rejected by Jewish society for being considered traitors (working for Rome) or sinners. Yet he also spent time with the religious leaders, talking with them and having meals with them. But one group he seems to have always had time for was children.
“Now people were bringing little children to him for him to touch, but the disciples scolded those who brought them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.’ After he took the children in his arms, he placed his hands on them and blessed them” (Mark 10:13-16 NET). Continue reading “Becoming like children”
There was much that those with Jesus did not understand – at least at the time. One of those was an amazing incident that took place on top of a mountain.
“Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and brought them to the top of a very high mountain where they were alone. He was transformed in front of them, and his clothes were amazingly bright, brighter than if they had been bleached white. Elijah and Moses appeared and were talking with Jesus. Peter reacted to all of this by saying to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it’s good that we’re here. Let’s make three shrines—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He said this because he didn’t know how to respond, for the three of them were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice spoke from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, whom I dearly love. Listen to him!’ Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus” (Mark 9:2-8 CEB). Continue reading “It’s all about Jesus”
Do we realize the influence we have on those around us? Although we may think that no one pays attention to us, we influence more than we realize. Notice this parable of Jesus.
“The kingdom of God is like this,” he said. “A man scatters seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day; the seed sprouts and grows, although he doesn’t know how. The soil produces a crop by itself—first the blade, then the head, and then the full grain on the head. As soon as the crop is ready, he sends for the sickle, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:26-29 CSV).
This is how it works in God’s kingdom. Seed is scattered. As the Parable of the Sower is in the same context (Mark 4:1-20), and it identified the seed as the word, the seed that is scattered would make sense to still be God’s word. We scatter seed by teaching people about Jesus. Continue reading “Our influence”
When Jesus began to teach and interact with the Jewish people, he did not avoid doing things which would have been viewed as controversial. When you read throughout the gospels, you get the impression that he often said or did things that he knew would provoke a reaction among the Jewish religious leaders.
Why would he do this? Why would Jesus, who advocated living peaceful lives, intentionally stir up controversy? Of course, we need to remember that not only did Jesus say that he came to bring peace (see John 14:27 and John 16:33) his coming would also bring strife (Matthew 10:34-38). Continue reading “Jesus can forgive”
Have you noticed that we are getting older everyday? Most of us can’t help but notice that what we used to do is getting harder to do, we are carrying more weight and struggle to get rid of it, and when we look in the mirror there are more lines and grey than there used to be! Growing older is a part of life.
When many see these things happening to them they start to despair. What is happening to me? Or maybe – how can this happen to me?! Usually the despair is because we are seeing only what is happening to our physical bodies as we are faced more each day with our earthly mortality.
But there is more to life than our physical body and what we are able and not able to do. The secret to facing growing older is in what we see as being important to us. The apostle Paul expressed it this way. Continue reading “Daily renewal”
In the upper room, Jesus gave the apostles a new commandment, to love each other. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 ESV).
This new commandment is echoed throughout the letters written by the apostles and writers. John expands on it in his first letter, telling us what love is and what love is not. Continue reading “True love”