Accepting who Jesus is

“When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’ Jesus replied, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me’” (Matthew 11:2-6 NIV).

Can you imagine what John must have been going through? When Jesus came to him at the Jordan to be immersed he had seen the Spirit descend on Jesus like a dove, identifying him as the promised Messiah. Yet if Jesus was the Messiah, why was John in prison? And why was Jesus doing nothing about it? So he sent his followers to ask Jesus if he really was the Messiah. Continue reading “Accepting who Jesus is”

The ancestry of Jesus

“This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham…” (Matthew 1:1 NIV).

Genealogies. Most do not find these the most exciting part of scripture to read. When the Reader’s Digest, known for publishing condensed versions of books, brought out their Condensed Version of the Bible, guess what they left out? One of the obvious was the genealogies – after all, who wants to read these? Yet these serve a purpose, both in life and in scripture. Continue reading “The ancestry of Jesus”

Under the magnifying glass

It’s time to look for my magnifying glass again.

Someone keeps taking my magnifying glass from my desk because she needs to see something small up close. Magnifying glasses come in handy when we need to enlarge something so details can be seen.

The mother of Jesus placed the Lord under a glass in a passage called “the Magnificat.” In her praise of God in Luke 1:46-56, she zoomed in on the greatness of God so others could see him.

Let’s take a close-up look of God through Mary’s magnifying glass. Each statement begins with the personal pronoun, “he.” Continue reading “Under the magnifying glass”

What is our verdict?

“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offence that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established” (Deuteronomy 19:15 ESV).

As the nation of Israel approached the Promised Land, God insured that they would have a fair system of justice. One aspect of this was that eye-witness testimony was only good if it could be corroborated. It wasn’t enough just to have one person testify against someone else.

There was a good reason for this. One person might give false evidence because he did not like the person. There was even a part of the law to deal with this. Continue reading “What is our verdict?”

Rest for your souls

Weekends, holidays, vacation time — we want rest! Today we have more time off than people of any age. But some still think that the time they have for rest is little for so much work and responsibility.

Our problem is that the rest we need is for the soul.

In the greater context of chapters 11-12 of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus condemns the Jews for not accepting God’s emissaries (John the Immerser and himself) and for creating and imposing upon others their religious rules. To those willing to accept it, Jesus offers rest for the soul, with these conditions: Continue reading “Rest for your souls”

Standing with Pilate

Pilate was warned concerning Jesus.

Pilate knew Jesus was not guilty of sedition, but he ignored that innocence. He was warned by a troubled wife, but he ignored her warning. He was warned by his own conscience that Jesus was innocent, but he could not withstand the Jews clamoring for the Lord’s death.

“Why? What evil has he done,” Pilate asked knowing the crowd could not answer. The question meant nothing to the mob of Jews. They wanted the blood of this man who had only helped, healed, and given them hope. Continue reading “Standing with Pilate”

“The Real McCoy”

Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew chapters five, six and seven is wholly original. Nothing like it had ever been preached before. While Pharisees and scribes almost always cited Old Testament references for their lesson points, Jesus used the Old Testament in a different way.

Six times in Matthew chapter five the phrases, “it was said,” and “but, I say to you,” were given by the Lord. Jesus was showing the truth of the Bible’s teachings in contrast to the narrow, limited and often mistaken applications of Jewish leaders. Continue reading ““The Real McCoy””

My stubborn will

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it!” (Matthew 23:37 NET).

Jesus knew the city of Jerusalem so well. He had witnessed its founding and watched as King David took the city and made it his capital.

But he had also watched Jerusalem overcome by the idolatry and sin that characterized it in the Divided Kingdom and saw it led into bitter captivity to the Babylonians. Continue reading “My stubborn will”

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”

Love through humble service

Mark’s gospel shows Jesus as God’s suffering servant on a mission. Eleven times in chapter one alone, Mark uses the word “immediately” to describe the action surrounding the son of God. Everything Jesus did seemed to happen quickly. He is shown as God’s inexhaustible servant.

In Mark chapter nine, the Master showed how our thinking sometimes gets in the way of being the kind of servant God wants. While on the way to Capernaum, Jesus’ disciples had been arguing. When they arrived, the Lord asked them what they had been arguing about. They had been fighting for prominence in the coming kingdom. Continue reading “Love through humble service”