Monday, February 27, 2012

Rocky terrain

If you're following my journey through Matthew and the gospels to know this Man, Jesus, better, then here's the scoop:  I'm stuck.  My journey has slowed down to a crawl because I keep opening my Bible to the same place.  It's like being on a rocky side of a mountain: you just can't take it fast.  I'm finding questions and realizing these are in passages I've "hated" (read "ignored and skipped over quickly in the past").  Ok, so "hate" is a strong word... but I really don't like them.  I have no answers and I don't like not having answers.  Those of you who know me well, I see you nodding your heads and chuckling in agreement.  I like having answers and I like them to be simple, logical, and fascinating.  Nothing gets a better audience.  (oooh, ouch!)

The first rock slide I'm facing is in Matthew 11:25 - "At that time Jesus answered and said,..."  OK, I've read and reread what came before... answered whom?  Himself from the previous verse?  The last time anyone asked a question was in 11:3, when the imprisoned John the Baptist sends his disciples to Jesus and asks, "Are you the Coming One...?"  and clearly, Mt.11:25 does not refer back to that question.  So who are you answering, Jesus?  And then the answer is a prayer, directed to the "Father, Lord of heaven and earth."  I can only assume Jesus is answering God and that the question is not recorded.  I will keep searching.

The next passage is Matthew 12:1-8.  Jesus and his disciples are walking through a grain field.  It could not have been a long walk, or the Pharisees would have judged the walking over the eating of grain.  As the disciples get hungry, they pluck heads of grain, rub them between their palms and eat the kernels.  This is considered "work" in the Jewish tradition and therefore the Pharisees rebuke the behavior of the disciples.  Jesus then goes to the OT and speaks of David, who ate the Showbread in the tabernacle, that only the priests were allowed to eat, and he was not struck down dead, or how the priests work on the Sabbath and thereby profane it and are blameless yet.  These scriptures (the David one, albeit, a bit more difficult) are basically saying, "hello, don't you see the exceptions to the rule?  So obviously the rule is not as rigid as you, in your additions to the law, have made it."

In verse 6 Jesus then calls himself the "One greater than the temple".  He's basically saying, "I made the law, I therefore understand it best!" (makes sense so far) but then verse 7 has me stumped again.  "If you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless."

The guiltless, I am thinking are the disciples... or possible in a broader sense, anyone they have passed judgement on.  But how does this fit in with the rest?  It is a direct rebuke to the Pharisees who are all about their new show, "Jewish IDOL - who keeps the Law best? vote for your candidate today!"  However, I am hearing a timeless truth here.  Jesus is not just rebuking the Pharisees, He is telling us something profound about God and about us.  Is it, that you, YHWH, desire a heart of mercy over one that just pays its dues?

As you can see... these are not easy scriptures.  One is simply an enigma to me because I am not seeing the context, the other is a smooth-faced cliff I am climbing very slowly, so as not to slip.  I don't want to miss this insight into the heart of God!  Holy Spirit, teach me!  TEACH ME!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

preface to the 30 silent years

Hey, I just added an article by Josh Hawkins on "The 30 Silent years" of Jesus's life.  It's a great resource. Read it! It's touching and changing my heart... may it do the same for you!

The 30 silent years of Jesus

The 30 silent years of Jesus

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Shout! Shout! Let it all out!

The Final Word was JESUS, He needed no other one.  
(Michael Card's "He Spoke the Incarnation")

John1:1 -- "In the beginning was the Word (logos - the Spoken Word) and the Word was with God (the Creator, most high God*) and THE WORD WAS GOD.

I am reading the Bible from the presupposition (an assumption made before or at the basis of something) that a) The WORD of God is true, and b) according to the WORD of God, Jesus (who is the LOGOS) is God incarnate.  

Jesus is YHWH (pronounce Yah-way) -- the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Moses, the Great I AM.  And Jesus is a man.  He really really became flesh.  He walked the earth, He did not float two inches above its surface!  Creator became created.  Excuse me when I say, my mind finds that so hard to grasp.  It's like seeing a coin from both sides at once... I catch myself focusing on one or the other.  Odd Thomas puts it like this:

All of this to tell you about Matthew 9:
Because the region of Decapolis asked Jesus to leave, He left.  How heart breakingly simple.  He will leave if we ask Him to.
Jesus then gets in a boat again and goes back to Capernaum, where some friends of a paralytic bring the cripple before Jesus.  They carry him in on a bed, actually, there is no room to move in the house, so they open the roof and lower the man.  I had not noticed before that this happened in Capernaum, Jesus's new, "adopted" city; the city that welcomed Him after Nazareth rejected Him.  And here he also finds the first scribes grumbling about... well, about the fact that he presumes to be God.  By looking at the man on the bed and telling him his sins are forgiven (not the usual, "be healed") He staked a claim that he was YHWH, for only YHWH can forgive sins.  Up till now the scribes welcomed a teacher who taught with authority, who could heal and who fed crowds.  But this, this was a whole different matter.  Claiming to be God?  Not just any god, but the Ancient of Days, the Holy one of Israel, YHWH, the One who's Name we don't even speak because it is so holy?

And it occurred to me: Jesus's life on earth is not just God's final WORD, but it is YHWH shouting, "I am! I AM!"  He is shouting "Immanu-El, God is with us!  I AM!!!  I AM the answer to all of your questions, the satisfaction to all of your longings, the peanut in your butter, the cream in your cheese, I AM!!!"  The ONE is shouting; it doesn't get louder or clearer than this.

So he stakes His claim when He forgives the paralytic and then, verse 9 and following, He claims His purpose.  "I AM!!  And I have come for the broken-hearted, the disappointed, those who have been ravished and raped by life, by sin, by choices they've made!  I have come for the discarded, the weak, the dirty, the unholy, the ones society casts out!  I AM!!  I have come to seek the lost, to save the dying, to heal the broken, to turn that which the enemy of your souls has meant for evil into a glorious ending, a glorious good!  I AM!!"  

This is our King, people!  This is the ONE who is returning to rule and reign on earth FOREVER!  This is the King of Kings to whom every knee will bow and of whom every tongue will confess that he is, indeed, LORD of lords.  This is the one who will restore and rebuild Israel, who will capture her heart and return her to the Father and to Himself.  I don't know about you, but my heart bows down and jumps up excitedly all in the same move.  I long for the day of revelation to see Him as He is.  But in the meantime... if this is our King and we are His subjects... then shouldn't we be about His work?

Man’s maker was made man 
that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast; 
that the Bread might hunger, 
the Fountain thirst, 
the Light sleep, 
the Way be tired on its journey; 
that Truth might be accused of false witnesses, 
the Teacher be beaten with whips, 
the Foundation be suspended on wood; 
that Strength might grow weak; 
that the Healer might be wounded; 
that Life might die.

—Augustine, Sermons 191.1

God is SHOUTING.  Do we hear Him?

*Strong's 2316 theós (of unknown origin) – properly, Godthe Creator and owner of all things (Jn 1:3; Gen 1 - 3).[Long before the NT was written, 2316 (theós) referred to the supreme being who owns and sustains all things.]  --

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Reaction Time

Jesus prompts a reaction.  Everywhere He goes.  People either welcome Him or reject Him, but they are never indifferent.  In Matthew 4:13 something caught my eye (go ahead and open that passage up and read it!):  Jesus leaves Jerusalem and departs for Galilee.  And then it says "And leaving Nazareth"... wait, what?  What did He do there?  Why Nazareth?  Maybe He went home to see his family before stepping into His ministry.  Nazareth was the town Jesus grew up in.  Luke 4:14ff gives more insight as to what really happened:  Jesus came to His home first to give them the chance to accept Him as the Anointed One, the Messiah, first.  He is asked to read a passage during church (well, during Synagogue) and chooses Isaiah 61.  Then He tells them that that scripture, which the Jews knew full well was all about the Messiah, was fulfilled in their hearing "this day".  So, He's saying: "Dude, I'm it!  I'm God!  I'm the Anointed One.  I am your king."  And their reaction is, get this!:  to take Him out of the city and stone Him.

It's not that they didn't want the Messiah to come.  They did.  They wanted Him to come and beat up the Romans. But they expected the Messiah to have no history.  Their response to Jesus, whom they had known from boyhood, was, "Wait, isn't this Mary's son?" (and note, usually men were identified as "insert father's name"'s son - like Peter bar Jonas: Peter, son of Jonas... much like the Irish O'... or the Scottish Mac/Mc...).  So they not only were saying, "hey, we know him, he went to school with us, he can't possibly be the guy we're waiting for...".  No, they were making a statement about Mary's illegitimate conception.  They were basically saying, "Isn't this Jesus the Bastard?"  How could someone like that make a statement that He was God?  So they reacted:  They dragged Jesus outside to stone him (the appropriate response in the law to one who blasphemes God).  But, somehow, Jesus walks right through their midst.

They reacted.

So Jesus goes to Capernaum, a city by the Sea of Galilee.  There He recruits Andrew, Peter, James and John!  It appears, they knew Him from Jerusalem (several of them were disciples of John the Baptist) and He knew them.  They most likely traveled up to the region of Galilee together.  But for some reason the boys go to Capernaum and join their fathers' fishing businesses while Jesus goes to Nazareth.

Capernaum is the exact opposite to Nazareth.  The whole region welcomes Jesus.  He not only finds his closest friends there but the cities in the area welcome Him into their synagogues to teach, and they marvel at the way He teaches with authority.  They are open.  They bring the sick and the suffering to Him, and in return, they see mighty miracles of God, and Jesus' most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, is given there.

They reacted.

Now, fast forward to Mt. 8, Luke 8 and Mark 4:37ff.  Jesus leaves the region by boat with the disciples.  The Sea of Galilee is surrounded by mountains and the conditions are such that the weather can change dramatically in a matter of minutes.  These seasoned fishermen (ok, so not all of them were, but a large chunk of them had experience on this lake) are afraid.  That's a bad storm.  Peter, James, John and Andrew would not have panicked had this been some ordinary storm.  This was THE PERFECT STORM, long before Hollywood produced it!  And Jesus is sleeping.  No, wait, the boat is filling with water, standing on end, tossed to an fro... and Jesus is sleeping.  That's some good sleep... and a pretty exhausted body after days and days of ministering to large crowds!  the fact that Jesus is sleeping in a storm of this magnitude is tremendous... and funny.  Jesus is YHWH, the Creator, Ancient of Days, the one who spoke stars into being... and a "little tempest" really doesn't rattle Him.  Why?  Because one word from Him, and there is SILENCE.  You know, when you've been to a concert and you come home and your ears ring for hours?  This silence was just as deafening.  I bet the disciples' ears were ringing and they had "deer in the head light" looks on their faces.  And Jesus loves on them, "Oh you of little (underdeveloped) faith..."  And they worship.

They reacted.

And right after this, they come to a region called Decapolis ("Ten Cities"... named for the obvious).  It was a gentile region, predominantly.  This is the only time we see Jesus reach out to Gentiles.  Any other instance he was approached by the person first.  So, they go on land and immediately this "Demoniac", this suffering man who lived in tombs (oooh, stench!), wore no clothes (ok, I've got to take my brain out and scrub that image away), hid from people and cut himself with stones... do you get the picture of his depravity, his suffering?  How bad do things have to be for man to go to such extremes?  Pretty darn bad!!  No one could tame him.  No one could chain him.  He plagued the region, his family, himself... And Jesus brings him freedom.  The demons leave, the swine commit suicide and the pig herders run to tell the owners it wasn't their fault that their stock in pork just plummeted.  In fact, they remind me of the shepherds at Jesus's birth, who told everyone of the birth of the Messiah.  They were, however, on divine assignment.  These men were covering their hides and delighting in a sensation!  The town comes out to where Jesus is, sees the man healed, clothed and "in his right mind" and you'd think they'd throw a party and say, "Jesus, stay, man!  Hang with us and tell us more! You must be the very Son of God if you could restore this man!!"  But no.  They are afraid of Him.  (why?  were they hiding something that Jesus might expose?)  They ask Him to leave!  They. ask. Him. to. leave!!

They reacted.

Of these four groups no one was indifferent.  Jesus was never just tolerated.  He was either rejected or welcomed, stoned or worshiped.  But never just ignored.  So, this begs the question:  If people around us are indifferent to the Jesus we are presenting... are we actually introducing them to the Jesus of the Bible... or a Jesus of our own making?

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Centrality of Jesus

Here's a link to Sunday's teaching during Fuelschool by Josh Hawkins.  It's all about why the divinity of Jesus is central to the Christian faith.  Great message!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Who is this guy?

so, this last weekend at Fuelschool ( we were challenged to know more about Jesus; to seek out his story.  This is what I am all about here.  Who is this guy, Jesus?  John chapter 1 talks about Jesus as the "logos" - the spoken word of God.  "In the beginning was the WORD and the WORD was with God and the WORD was God!"  Jesus says in John 14:9 Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?" 

So, Jesus is God.  I don't mean he's just divine in nature but that he is YHWH.  He is the GREAT I AM, the one who spoke the world into being, who breathed life into Adam, who was a friend to Abraham and a Deliverer to Israel.  Jesus is the very Creator, El Elyon, God Most High, stepping into creation.  Wow!  That's huge.  No, I mean, think about it!  Thats HUGE!  But the very mind-blowing thing is, that he was also a man.  Actually, I should say, Jesus IS a man.  He stepped into his creation and took on human form!  And after his resurrection he received a glorified body.  The disciples could touch him and he ate with them.  When he descended into heaven, he went there in a physical body.  He is returning in a physical body to set up his kingdom here on earth, as a real man in a real body.

So, this is exciting to me!!  Both aspects.  And I am exploring the four gospels again specifically to search out who this man really is.  I don't know if anyone will want to read this blog, but it will be good for me journal my findings.

On my first morning, as I was reading Matthew 2, my attention was drawn to the fact that the gentiles (the wise men) knew of the birth of the King of the Jews, but the very people he came to rule were clueless!  Now, how can it be that the very Creator of the Universe, the One who sustains all, steps into His own creation unnoticed by those closest to the event?  Granted, the shepherds noticed, but they were told by the angels (apparently the event was so momentous in Heaven, that they could not keep silent!).  It reminded me of this song ( by Joy Williams.

So the question still boggles my mind: how could we not have known?