The beauty of Christ

Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him (Isaiah 53:1-3 ESV).

Beauty is attractive. There was “not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than [Saul]” (1 Samuel 9:2). It was likely that Saul’s looks and height made him appealing to the people as king. But his character failings were why he was rejected as king.

Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah is the clearest description we have of the physical appearance of Jesus. This prophecy informs us that Jesus had “no beauty that we should desire him.” God did not want people drawn to Jesus for superficial reasons like with Saul. Continue reading “The beauty of Christ”

Lack of humility is an ugly thing

Cain killed his brother. He did so because he would not own up to his unacceptable offering. Where did he learn such hubris? Did he observe the blame game being played by his parents? Humility would have led him to admit his failing to the Lord and to ask him for forgiveness. But no response of his is recorded to the Lord’s admonishment in Genesis 4.6. Was his the first passive-aggressive reaction? Instead of humility, he sought revenge. He refused to be shamed by his sin.

Lamech promised payback to offenders. He called his wives to listen to his threats. He immor(t)alized his violence in song, Genesis 4.23-24. Perhaps he was the first rapper. Instead of seeking reconciliation, he sought to cow opposition and to vanquish every challenge to his supremacy. So he escalated violence. He would have made a great dictator. The NET Bible provides a subtitle for Genesis 4.17-26, which sounds ironic: “The Beginning of Civilization.” Continue reading “Lack of humility is an ugly thing”

Sin, sorrow, and the only real solution

Every day sorrow strikes somewhere. Every day people experience loss, pain, and grief. The prevalence of such tragedy does not lessen the importance of – nor should it dull our senses to – the sorrow.

Today, Monday the 18th, the lives of three people ended in a Walmart parking lot. The early reports are that it was a domestic dispute and not the result of a mass shooter. The only reason I’m writing about this is that this particular parking lot is just down the road from where I live. I once worked in the store, and my family shops there most Monday mornings.

When these incidents happen, and they happen frequently in many places all over the world, it is important to recognize the cause and the solution. Continue reading “Sin, sorrow, and the only real solution”

The Lord of the Sabbath

“Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:5-8, ESV).

The question of rules and laws is difficult. Without laws societies break down and survival often becomes a matter of strength and ruthlessness. But the rule of law may result in a rigid system which is void of mercy and compassion. Legalism values rules above human needs. Situation ethics and similar moral systems often lead to the suspension of law based only on subjective feelings or opinions. What is sufficient reason to “break” a rule is different for each one who faces difficulties. Is there not a reliable standard which may be enforced in all circumstances? Continue reading “The Lord of the Sabbath”

Humble Mary

In the United States, we are entering the season in which we will elect a president. What this means is that for the next year and three months we will hear politicians tell us why they deserve the favor of our vote to elevate them to high office.

Before all the hubbub starts in earnest, it might be refreshing to hear another voice, the voice of Mary, the future mother of Jesus, in Luke 1:46. She so humbly said, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” This statement begins what many call the “Magnificat.” Let’s view it for what it really is: a hymn of thanksgiving, the object of which was a poor maiden’s desire to make God larger than herself. Continue reading “Humble Mary”

The power of forgiveness

Years ago, some men were talking after a church fellowship lunch about the news headlines. One man read about some government employees who went to jail convicted of conspiracy to defraud after filing false expense records.

The man said something that struck me in a way I’ll never forget. He said, “I hope these men get the maximum sentences for their crimes.” He didn’t stop there. “I can never forgive anyone for defrauding the government,” he said.

Recently, a Dallas jury convicted a former officer of murder in the shooting of a man. According to published reports, she said she fired because she thought a stranger was inside her apartment. During the sentencing phase of the trial, the victim’s brother said he forgave the officer and would not hold his brother’s death against her. That young man was a Christian, indeed. Continue reading “The power of forgiveness”

Make up your mind to serve Jesus

Few people think they can do great things. Perhaps that’s because humans look at their faults and weaknesses and convince themselves they cannot reach greatness.

A close friend of mine in high school wanted to become a physician. A counselor told him his grades were not good enough to enable him to get into college. Instead, he was encouraged to go into a technical school. He did, but he always thought what might have happened if he had persisted in becoming a doctor. Continue reading “Make up your mind to serve Jesus”

Assumptions

Some of the biggest mistakes people make come from assumptions. 

The people of Nazareth made assumptions about Jesus that were very wrong. When he visited his hometown, Nazareth, Jesus attended the synagogue and taught there. It was an opportunity to tell people the truth about himself and God.

As Jesus taught the hometown folks, many of them became indignant (Matthew 13:54). One said, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” That was an assumption. These people had seen Jesus all his life. They figured they knew who he was. But, oh, how little they did know! Continue reading “Assumptions”