His Standing, our blessing

Disciples of Jesus bear the name, “Christian.” It is a divinely given name for those who belong to Christ.

Jesus is our Master (Jude 1:4). Like many slaves of the first century, we take on the identity, character, and qualities of our Master (Matthew 10:25). We have no status of our own. Our will has been subsumed by his, our character has been shaped by his. We should echo Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Continue reading “His Standing, our blessing”

John’s doubt, our challenge

The forerunner for the Messiah was in prison, punished for presuming to speak truth to power. Though John had pointed others to Jesus, he still had followers. These disciples reported to John all that Jesus had been doing (Luke 7:18), most notably raising a widow’s only son from the dead (Luke 7:11-17).

When John hears of these wondrous miracles, he is dismayed. He sends two disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Luke 7:19). Perhaps John is discouraged because Jesus is doing these wonderful things and John is confined. Perhaps John was anticipating the Messiah’s work to be quickly accomplished.

Remember, this is the one who announced with such conviction, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29). It is he who received confirmation from the Father that Jesus is “the Son of God” (John 1:34). John is no stranger to the nature of the one called Jesus. But prison and possible death likely has a way of causing a person to need reassurance. Continue reading “John’s doubt, our challenge”

Kingdom now

Jesus lived at a unique juncture in history. It was a time when God related to his chosen people based upon the old covenant, yet Jesus was about to inaugurate a new covenant relationship from God available to all people.

For centuries God’s rule and kingship had been announced over his chosen people, Israel. Yet Jesus was born king of the Jews. He would die as king of the Jews. With his upcoming resurrection he would ascend to sit on God’s right hand, crowned as Messiah and Lord possessing all authority in heaven and on earth.

Living within this juncture of service and inauguration, Jesus proclaimed that the kingdom, the future hope of the Old Testament prophets, was at hand. He taught how people would respond to this coming kingdom, as well as what kingdom ethics, economics, values, attitudes, and behaviors look like.

Continue reading “Kingdom now”

Thy kingdom come – the synoptic gospels’ perspective

When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them how to pray, he included beseeching the Father, “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2).  If you are like me, you may have been exposed to at least two different interpretations what this request seeks. Is this a petition for the arrival of God’s kingdom at the end of time? Or was this an appeal for God to fulfill his will through events which were near? Continue reading “Thy kingdom come – the synoptic gospels’ perspective”

History’s Mysteries, Revealed (2)

“The time is fulfilled…the kingdom is at hand” (Mark 1:15).

(the previous article in this series can be found here)

Just recently, this writer attended a funeral of an 82-year old woman. Among other qualities and talents, she was a quilt-maker. She made over 50 beautiful and personalized quilts for her loved ones during her life. Many were made entirely by hand. Many of them were on display near the casket.

Like some people, she had previously related to her family a few preferences for her funeral, like her favorite passage of Scripture. But she had a rather unique wish as well: she hoped it would snow on the day of her burial. As uncomfortable as this would be for her attendees, she hoped that they might all gather ’round the grave site, wrapped in the quilts she gave them. Continue reading “History’s Mysteries, Revealed (2)”

History’s mysteries, revealed (1)

“The time is fulfilled…the kingdom is at hand” (Mark 1:15).

In each of the gospels, there is a first recorded utterance in the public ministry of Jesus. John and Luke provide interesting complements: “What are you seeking?” (John 1:38), and, “Why were you looking for me?” (Luke 2:49).

Matthew and Mark also complement one another. They record the crux of the Messiah’s message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17), and, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Continue reading “History’s mysteries, revealed (1)”

The greatest comeback of all time

“He will be raised on the third day” (Matthew 17:23).

Last Sunday (2/5/17), the New England Patriots mustered the greatest comeback victory in Super Bowl history. They were down 25 points late in the game, but rallied to score 31 straight points to win 34-28 in overtime.

When a team cannot be held down and refuses to lose, you can’t help but be inspired.

But no comeback in history was greater than Jesus’. Continue reading “The greatest comeback of all time”

A Kingdom of Priests

To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood and has appointed us as a kingdom, as priests serving his God and Father – to him be the glory and the power for ever and ever! Amen. (Revelation 1:5-6 NET)

As John’s great revelation begins to unfold in pictures made out of words, he wrote a few things at the beginning that we would to well to take note of. There are such things as the time frame of his revelation (“what must happen very soon” (1:1); “the time is near” (1:3) – repeated twice more in the final chapter) and that this prophecy was meant to be understood (“blessed are those who hear and obey the things written in it” (1:3)). Note that the “what must happen very soon” was in relation to the time it was written – it was not written about the 21st century! Continue reading “A Kingdom of Priests”