Offensive

“But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23,24).

The word Paul uses in Greek for “stumbling block,” is skandalon – a “scandal,” or an “offense.” First century people did not feel warm and fuzzy emotions when they thought about crucifixions; they felt fear and revulsion. Continue reading “Offensive”

He knew it all along

Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11)

We often consider the unfair treatment Jesus suffered. He was mocked, beaten, ridiculed, spat upon, struck, blindfolded, stripped, beaten, humiliated (Isaiah 53:1-12; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 2:19-23). All this, before he was nailed to a cross and hung up to die.

He who created man and placed him in a Garden of paradise and showered him with blessings, found himself in a Garden of sorrow, showered with bloody sweat. Continue reading “He knew it all along”

God’s “theory of everything”

No saying of Jesus is more perplexing than this: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).

I’ve tried most of my life to understand this saying. I’ve heard preaching on it, read books and chapters of books and commentaries about it. It all seems satisfactory in some ways, unfulfilling in others.

Invariably, I will say that it puzzles me, and someone retorts with a statement that sounds as if they figured it out years ago. I’m sorry (not sorry) if I don’t believe you. Continue reading “God’s “theory of everything””

The God who does nothing

“You would have no power over me at all unless it were not given you from above” (John 19:11)

Imagine having power to create a universe with billions of galaxies, and more billions of stars within, planets around those stars, and – at least in essence – the power to duplicate even your own self.

This is the awesome power of God (Exodus 20:11; Psalm 146:6); His strength is unlimited (Job 36:22). Continue reading “The God who does nothing”

What should we do?

It is late May, the Day of Pentecost. The past few months have been momentous. Almost two months ago the prophet from Nazareth was executed – crucified – by the Romans, although we hear it was instigated by the Jewish leaders. Yet within days many of his followers were saying that he had come back from the dead. Some claimed to have seen him within the past few weeks! You can’t help but wonder what might happen at Pentecost.

Jews from all over the world have come home for this great Jewish festival. It is now about nine o’clock on Sunday morning. Many have gathered for the morning sacrifice and prayers. Suddenly, we hear the sound of a great gust of wind but, strangely, we can’t feel even a breeze stirring the air. Continue reading “What should we do?”

The last temptation of Jesus

As Jesus approached the time of betrayal, it would seem he did so with the same apprehension that you or I would have had. What lied ahead of him was the worst events you could image from either a physical or spiritual perspective.

Physically it was one of the most torturous deaths that humans had ever devised: crucifixion. The Romans had taken this form of execution to the heights of torture and humiliation, as well. From what I understand, they knew exactly where to put the nails to inflict the most excruciating pain possible. Continue reading “The last temptation of Jesus”

Christ, Christians and the mob mentality

The way people treated Christ is basically how they’ll treat his disciples. Since persecution is a fact of life for Christians (2 Timothy 3:12), we shouldn’t expect anything less.

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18, NKJV).

Everything about Jesus’ trial was illegal (Mark 14:53-59). Their hatred consumed them (Isaiah 53:7-9). The mob took to the streets with blood on their minds. They were willing to free a notorious murderer and a thief just so they could see Jesus killed (Matthew 27:17-20). Continue reading “Christ, Christians and the mob mentality”

Women of great faith

When we think of those who followed Jesus, the first group that usually comes to our minds are the twelve apostles. Jesus selected them and they spent several years traveling with Jesus as he went from place to place healing and teaching. When we study the gospels, we quickly discover that there were many people in addition to the twelve who accompanied Jesus. When Jesus sent his disciples out on their own by pairs, he sent out around 70, not just the twelve (see Luke 10). At times there was such a great number of people surrounding Jesus that he would try to get away from the crowds to an isolated place, often to spend time with just the twelve or to pray (see Matthew 14). Continue reading “Women of great faith”

Get rid of the evidence

“Now a large crowd of Judeans learned that Jesus was there, and so they came not only because of him but also to see Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to kill Lazarus too, for on account of him many of the Jewish people from Jerusalem were going away and believing in Jesus” (John 12:9-11 NET).

As Jesus approached Jerusalem for his last Passover week, his situation was very different from previous Passovers. He had reached what we, today, would call “celebrity status.” As a result, wherever he was, he attracted large crowds. In fact, the Jewish people had been looking for him since they had arrived in Jerusalem (John 11:56). In addition to this, just a few months earlier he had been called to Bethany where he brought Lazarus back to life from the dead, even after he had been buried for four days (John 11:39). No wonder Jesus’ popularity had risen among the people! Continue reading “Get rid of the evidence”