Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Passion Week Day # 3

Day 3: The Day of Controversy and Teaching in Parables.

On Tuesday, Jesus personally confronts the authorities and defends His claims to be the Messiah. The occasion for their questions was His cleansing of the temple of money changers on Monday. Mark's gospel gives the most detailed account (Mk. 11:27- 13:37). The day ends with Jesus pronouncing a curse on the city and announcing that the Kingdom will be taken away from the nation. He also explains the significance of the cursed fig-tree. Jesus gives the great eschatological pronouncement in Matthew 23, “Baruch haba b'shem Adonai!” or, “Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!” On the return to Bethany the Disciples are loaded with questions. Jesus stops at the Mount of Olives overlooking the temple, and gives the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24,25; Lk.21:5ff.) The theme of the Olivet Discourse is a detailed prophecy, largely about the second coming of Jesus and the end of the present age due to the rejection of Jesus as Messiah by the Jewish authorities.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Passion Week Day #2

Day 2 Cleansing of the Temple (Mt.21; Mk.11; Lk.19).

Today Jesus returns to Jerusalem (He spends each night in Bethany). On the way He curses the fig-tree, a highly symbolic act showing that spiritual Israel was barren and unproductive. They offered the pretense of religiosity by having the leaves of true religion. But they were void of any sense of the Spirit of God because of their un-fruitfulness. He then enters the Temple and chases out the corrupt money-changers. This shows His Messianic authority (by calling the Temple “My Father's House”) and fulfills another prophecy that implies the Messiah will appear there suddenly and take possession of it. “Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming.” Mal. 3:1 (NKJV). When the 12 return with Jesus to Bethany they see the withered fig-tree.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Passion Week Day #1

Day 1: The Triumphal Entry ( Matthew 21; Mark 11; Luke 19; John 12)

Jesus rides triumphantly into Jerusalem on a donkey fulfilling the ancient prophecy, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zech. 9:9 ESV). The people welcome Him with "Hosannas" and the words of Psalm 118:25-26. Jesus, on this “Palm Sunday” is officially presenting Himself to the nation of Israel as their long awaited Messiah. This date according to the Jewish calendar, was Nisan 10, the day pilgrims presented their paschal lambs for examination. On this first day of the week of passion, Jesus presents Himself for inspection as the Lamb that would take away the sins of the world.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

One of the most encouraging thoughts I have is the Love that Christ has for me. Recently, Patty and I have been on a somewhat emotional roller-coaster. As we await blood test results that will determine her placement on the transplant list, I cannot help but think about what Karl Barth, the Swiss Theolog, said.

When asked by a young seminary student about the most developed theological concept he had yet to surmise, Barth thought for a moment and said, "Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so."

Amen, Karl.

You know, Barth was right. This little statement tells us a theological concept that seminarians could ponder over for years in its complexity...yet so concisely put that any three year old can understand it in its simplicity.

So think of this...no matter what is going on in your life, remember that the Son of God loves you.(John 3:16) He will never leave you, nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5) And, He will be with you in every situation. (Matthew 28:18-20)

As we wait and pray, I know one thing for certain. "God's got this!"

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Treating Others Like A People


“When I get to heaven I will be amazed at three things. First, those who are not there that I thought would be. Second, those who are there that I thought would not be. Third, that I am even there at all.” ~ John Newton

I grew up in the Fundamental Independent Baptist Church of the Deep South. I even went to a Fundamental Independent Baptist School. Every Friday we would have preacher boys come in and have chapel at our little school. These were mostly youth guys at their respective churches who aspired to have their own little fiefdom one day. Every Friday we had to endure Sermonettes from these Christianettes.......usually about the woes of cigarettes.

They were really into soul winning and these boys did not sin. We knew they didn’t sin because they told us they didn’t sin. They would call all the guys drunkards and all the girls whores and it was their great pleasure to inform us that we were all going straight to Hell. I have to say that, even though these guys didn’t sin anymore, they looked suspiciously arrogant to me.  Especially since they all wore a blue suit, white shirt, and red tie.

In Ecclesiastics 7: 20 Solomon opines that “there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.” In James 2, the pragmatic James tells us that we should not be respecters of persons. I heard a story about a boy who walked for miles to get to church, passing by churches much closer to his house. When asked why he walked so far, the boy said, “They love a fella over there.” Another boy told his mom about how much he liked his new Sunday School teacher. She asked what made him better than the last teacher. The boy said, “He treats me like I’m a people.”

We may think of these as cute little stories, but would to God that more churches treated visitors like they were "a people." James says when someone visits the church we are not to “hold them up with partiality.” The Greek phrase there, Prosopolepsia, literally means to lay hands on someone’s face. In other words, don’t judge them on superficial, outward appearances. Don't just "lay hold of their face" and judge them on what they look like on the outside. The Message paraphrase puts it like this, "If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, 'Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!' and either ignore the street person or say, 'Better sit here in the back row,' haven't you segregated God's children and proved that you are judges who can't be trusted?"

Here’s an idea. Instead of judging people, let’s look to Jesus and make Him our standard. When we can measure up to that Man, then we can compare ourselves to other men.