Books: Evangelical Dictionary of Theology; Bible (ESV); John MacArthur Bible Commentary.
iPad with Apple Bluetooth Keyboard.
This morning I had something happen to me that I have heard other people talk and write about. As I was praying this morning God opened my eyes to understand something more than I ever have in the past. This was not during meditation on a verse, or during the study of a verse or passage. This was through prayer. God opened my eyes to just how crazy in love he is with us.
If you don’t mind I am just going to write what I wrote in my prayer (I tend to write my prayers instead of speak them verbally):
Lord, you are a God who helps in times of need. You help those that you have called to yourself eternally and you also help us as we need it on this earth.
(even now, I need your help in this early hour to free my mind from all of its distractions).
You even help us when our love for you is not where is should be.
Your love compels you.
You love compels you so that even when we fight your call, you continue to pull us toward you.
If you were not compelled by your love, then whatever else compelled you would not be as great, as eternal.
“Love never ends.” – 1 Corinthians 13:8
Your love sent your Son.
Your love sustained Him.
Your love nailed Him to the Cross.
Your love allows us to participate.
Your love gives us the hope of nailing our sins to that cross.
Your love allows us to beat death with your Son.
Your love promises a future resurrection because of His.
Your love promises eternity with you, through your Son.
Words alone cannot adequately express the thankfulness in my heart.
“But be doers of the word.” – James 1:22a
Lord, I am beginning to understand.
Thank you for helping me to understand why you require and desire action from us. Thank you for sticking around while it took me a wile to see this truth.
God, please forgive me for a lifetime of not demonstrating love towards you!
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
God, help me to walk this way for you. Help me to not only demonstrate love for you through my thoughts and words, but also through my actions. Help me to be bold.
Take a few seconds and read this familiar passage found in John 2:13-17:
The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
We have all heard this story. Chances are that if you grew up in the church you heard this story so many times you could recall the order in which this passage happens. Not really a hard thing to do, but if you heard it just once it might be. I digress.
The point of the above paragraph is this: I have heard this passage so many times that is is void of any meaning for me. This is one of the downsides to growing up in the Church. Passages like this one lose their flavor and become like everything else in the Bible: irrelevant.
I read it once. Then read it again. And again. And again. I did some light study on the passage and have come to my conclusion, which is what I would like to share with you.
In the story found in Mark 2:1-12 we are given a snapshot of the type of faith that is required of us. Most of us have heard this story of the four men lowering their paralyzed friend down through a roof to the feet of Jesus. It is easy to glaze over this story and continue reading without stopping to put yourself in their sandals, carrying their friend on a bed.
The first item I think of is having the option to push through the crowd to Jesus or walking up the stairway along the side of the house to the roof. That crowd must have thick as mud, everyone must have forgotten to wear deodorant that day if the four men found the way up the stairs easier.
The second obstacle is the roof. Roofs in first century Israel were flat so that the owners could relax on the roof during the day and evening if they wanted. They were built by laying hardened clay slabs on wooden beams that ran across the expanse of the house. Then once the slabs were in place the builder would pour and smooth wet clay onto of the slabs to act as a sealer against the weather (rain, snow, wind, etc).
Last week I wrote about how human Christ was and how GOD He was and is. He had a family, brothers who mocked him, a sense of humor, became frustrated, ate, slept, cried, sweat, etc. He was human through and through during His time here on earth. How did he get here? How did He leave? Through these two questions one will discover just how much He was like you and I and just how much He is the GOD of you and I.
Read Luke 1:26-38. Gabriel doesn’t tell Mary to look for a rope ladder to drop down from a UFO (this would not be a method our Humble Savior would have used), or that a stork is going to bring her a child since she is a virgin. No. He does the opposite. He says that she is going to give birth to Son. Give birth. Which meant that she would carry to term, as the saying goes, and a child would be born from her. She then asks a great question, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (v. 34). Gabriel’s answer: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” (v. 35). Wow. Christ’s literal father, through conception, is God. “Son of God” is not just a title that sounds cool, or does not apply just because the genealogy of Christ goes back to God (Luke 3:38). No, His literal father IS God. Crazy. So then in Chapter 2:1-7 Jesus is born. Merry Christmas, and Happy Birthday, Jesus. Human through and through. Human in His birth, but also God in His birth.
So after His birth He lives a life just like you and I. Goes through the fun years as a child, probably spending time with his earthly father, Joseph, in his wood shop, and even had to go through those awkward years as a teenager. He went through his twenties and got his ministry here on earth started at age 30. Three years later he is hanging on a cross.
As humans, our bodies can only endure so much before it is over. As a human, Jesus was only physically able to endure so much torture before he, too, died (Luke 23:46), and was buried (Luke 23:50-56). He is so human in his death that he actually dies. And once he is dead his body hangs limp on that cross until it is removed. Then when it was removed it was buried. He did not disappear once dead, or disintegrate off of the cross. Angels didn’t come down and grab him from the cross, or anything awesome like that. He died, like I will and like you will. And then was buried.
He was fully human in his birth from a woman, in his life as a child, teenager, and twenty-something, and ultimately, He was fully human in his death.
Three days after being placed in that tomb Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and a few other women go to the tomb to finish preparing His body. Once they get there they are met with the stone rolled away and Jesus’ body missing. Then to make it even more crazy, two men, in “dazzling apparel” (Luke 24:4 – A.K.A. angles) ask them why they would be so crazy to look for the living among the dead (Luke 24:5-8).
“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
He is risen. He is risen, indeed. Amen.
He died like we will but could not possibly stay dead. He is God. God does not die. God doesn’t have a beginning so how could He have an end? In verse 51 He is “carried up” into heaven and leaves the earth with the promise that He will return; a return that we eagerly await!
This Saturday is the Birthday of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He did not die, so he is still living. Since, then, that is the case, shouldn’t we all give him a gift? He has given us the gift of salvation, a free gift to all who will receive it and make Him Lord of their life, so shouldn’t we return the favor? Maybe you are not a Christian. Maybe you have never given your life to Christ. Do that this Christmas. He died for you. Loves you no matter what you have done or how terrible you think you are. He wants to save you from eternal death and give you eternal life.
If you have already given Him your life, what’s next? Give Him more. Give him your time, your talents, and your money. Live your life entirely for Him and constantly worship and glorify Him through your actions, words, and thoughts. This is the best gift you can give Him for His Birthday this Christmas.