Discipleship: What, Why and Who

Discipleship: What, Why and Who

What I Learned Last Sunday

You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. -2 Timothy 3:10-17

Check out last Sunday’s sermon here.

Pastor Mike shared ten “Whats” of discipleship (What is discipleship) along with why discipleship is necessary and who should lead in discipleship.
Let’s meditate on these as we seek to disciple one another this summer.

As you review these points ask yourself these four questions.
Question 1: Which of these areas do I desire to mature in personally as a Christian?

Question 2: Which of these areas will I, in this life, no longer need growth?

Question 3: Am I failing to grow in any of these areas by failing to help another grow?

Question 4: Is God more honored by my private unshared holiness or by the mutual worship of Him with other Christians?

WHAT is Discipleship?

Teaching: Hold to and pass on the truths that God’s Word teaches you. You are always teaching something to others. You cannot call discipleship biblical if you don’t teach the Bible in your discipleship.

Conduct: Practice what you teach from God’s Word, and help another do the same.

Aim in Life: Direct your life goals to glorify God. In doing so, help others see what is really worth living for.

Faith: Put your hope in Christ alone, and help another see that you trust Jesus alone for salvation.

Patience: Embrace the patience that God showed you, and help another by patiently stepping alongside them for their

Love: This is the foundation of all a Christian does. We help others do the same.

Steadfastness: Do not give up, and help others persevere despite terrible circumstances.

Suffering & Persecution: Suffer well, and help others suffer with hope in God.

God’s Faithfulness in Your Life: Ponder and point out how faithful God is, and help another see God’s abounding faithfulness in his/her life.

God’s Word: Found your life on the Word, and help another see God’s Word as their equipping wellspring.

In summary, “Discipleship is life together, saturated in the Word of God” -Pastor Mike

WHY disciple and be discipled?
Simply put, it is not easy to follow Jesus, so we need to remain close to the source and close to one another in order to endure.

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted… – 2 Timothy 3:12

WHO should be involved in discipleship?
Christians.

Words & Truth

Words & Truth

What I Learned Last Sunday

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. – Matthew 5:37

There is a wrong, or incomplete, conclusion that can be made from Sunday’s sermon (Check out the sermon here).

The wrong, or incomplete, conclusion goes something like this:
IF Jesus says, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’” (Matthew 5:37).
THEN I just need to use fewer words when I make promises. Or, I should simply say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ when I make promises.

Question: How is that conclusion incomplete?
Answer: The above conclusion does not address the very heart of the problem. Our words must actually be true.

Question: How do I verify if my words are true?
Answer: When my actions are following the path of God, who is the definition of truth, reality.

It is true that Jesus says, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’” (Matthew 5:37). However, as Pastor Mike shared, “Our speech and the integrity behind our words must be true.”

Therefore, if I ONLY conclude that I need to use less words when I make promises, I have forgotten to consider whether or not the fewer words I use are true! A simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ can still be full of blatant falsehood.

The problem with words is that we have come to realize the great power they have. James rightly understands the tongue is small but powerful (James 3:5). It can be used for great good and terrible evil (James 3:9). Solomon would agree with James as well. If you read Proverbs chapter 9, you will find that both wisdom and folly use their words to call out to the passerby. One offers words for life (Proverbs 9:1-12), the other promises life with her words which in fact are death (Proverbs 9:13-18).

The problem with words is that we often desire them to be believed on their own, for our benefit, rather than for them to be true. We want to be well thought of, so we say words that will give a good impression. They impress the boss. They brighten the child’s face. They give hope to the struggling sinner. In the moments when words are used, we want to be liked, we don’t want to be true. So, we make promises with our words that will sell ourselves to others.

The sad reality is that time always reveals our methods to fall short of truth. Our time in the sun will be gone. Bridges will be burned down. Our integrity will be destroyed when our words do not align with reality, truth.

How much better off we would be if we fought to be true, true to our Lord, than to use our dishonesty to impress others.

Question: Will I consider that God is true when I use my words?

Question: When I am tempted to lie for the impression of others, will I stop and ponder that God sees my heart?

Question: Will I be reminded that God is ultimately the One whom I should consider when I use my words?

Texts that Prove the Text

Texts that Prove the Text

What I Learned Last Sunday

…rightly handling the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15b

Check out last Sunday’s sermon here. In that sermon, Pastor Mike said “beware of bad proof-texting”. With this longer-than-usual post, instead of commenting on the sermon, I am offering some thoughts about reading passages within their contexts. I pray it will be helpful to you as you read and study God’s Word.

Proof-texting.

We often like to reference passages that make a point, driving home an argument. These passages are little weapons in our arsenal to be unsheathed when needed to instruct, convict, correct, and train others (2 Timothy 3:16).

Or do they? If we want to be thoroughly God’s people and not people living for a God of our own making, we need to seek to understand the Bible on its own terms, not on the terms that we would like to impose upon it.

Of course, I am not saying that we never bring biases to the Good Book. We all read through a cultural/experiential lens that must be beaten back via healthy study techniques. However, I am saying that there is one universal principle to Scripture reading that by in large will help us understand God’s Word as written to His people.

Context.
Have you heard a preacher or Bible teacher overuse this word before? Does it sound a bit lame? Possibly. However, I believe that developing a desire to read Scripture in context will bring us closer to understanding what God is saying to us in His Word.

Do we need to be convinced that context is important in Bible reading? If you are one of the few, imagine yourself having to explain to your teenager why Proverbs 5:19 is NOT a license for him to engage in a promiscuous life.

Verses like Proverbs 5:19 seem to me to be clear evidence that context does matter. That verse is, of course, absurd if read alone. It needs context to make proper sense. If Proverbs 5:19 should be read in context, what about every other verse in the Bible? It seems many of the verses we like to read without context are the ones we can shape and mold into a positive message, communicating what seems to be a universal truth anyone would want to hear (“cough” Jeremiah 29:11)…

What do I mean by context?
The original biblical texts are histories, songs, poems, narratives, and letters composed of literary units, all communicating ideas. Originally they had no chapter and verse numbering systems. Therefore, a statement (verse) in the Bible was then never to be read alone (most of the time) as one of many disconnected thoughts. Rather, a verse should be read in connection (context) with all the other statements written around it. These texts that surround the text help give meaning to the text we want to understand! So, to understand the context of a verse, we should start small (smallest literary unit) and move outward to get the best understanding of the passage.

Contextual factors to consider include:

  1. Verse
  2. Paragraph (literary unit)
  3. Chapter (helpful but remember that the original authors didn’t include those chapters).
  4. Entire book/letter
  5. Other writings from the author
  6. The entire Bible

It’s important to start small and work your way gradually to the context of the entire Bible. For example, if you run into a passage from Colossians that seems to contradict what you think Jesus says in the Gospel of John, you should first try to understand the passage in context with Colossians before jumping to John to find cohesion. In doing so you will likely find that your perceived contradiction is made clear later on by the author of Colossians.

Before you go, let’s consider one example of trying to understand a passage in its context.

One Practical Example: 2 Timothy 2:13

The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:11–13

…if we are faithless, he remains faithful

For a good portion of my life, this statement about God’s faithfulness was a great comfort to the terrifying thought of denying Jesus and therefore being denied by Him (v. 12b).
God’s faithfulness despite our failures is a comforting thought and a biblical truth! Jesus, himself prophesied to the disciples that He would remain faithful to them despite their future abandonment of Him after His arrest and murder (Mark 14:27-28).

However, I don’t believe the statement, “…if we are faithless, he remains faithful,” is meant by Paul to be a comfort. Rather, it is a warning that God will be faithful to Himself to deny any who deny Him.

Why do I think that?

Paragraph Context
In the immediate context of verse 13, we have a quoted saying with four lines, possibly an ancient Christian hymn. The first two lines are positive.
“If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;”

Considering that the first two lines carry synonymous ideas, it would then logically follow that the next two lines would also be connected, communicating synonymous ideas.

“if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—”

The first statement about denying Christ is clearly negative. There is no way to positively understand being denied by Christ. It seems to follow then that the statement of God’s faithfulness is likely more a warning (a synonymous parallel with denial) that God is a faithful, fair, and consistent judge of deniers than a positive statement about God’s faithfulness to forgive sins. This four-line structure would be considerably hampered if God’s faithfulness were intended to be seen as a comfort rather than a warning?

Chapter Context
It is interesting that prior to 2 Timothy 2:11-13, Paul seems consumed that Timothy (and Paul) remain faithful to Christ, despite suffering.
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect…” – 2 Timothy 2:10
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” – 2 Timothy 2:3

Additionally, Paul provides three examples of determined perseverance (the commander-pleasing soldier, the rule-following athlete, and the hard-working farmer) (2 Timothy 2:4-6). These seem to be intended by Paul as motivators for Timothy to keep pressing on in his Gospel work. The question is then, would the following hymn in vv 11-13 be more likely to include a line that disregards the Christian call to be faithful? Or, would the line be a warning (in line with Paul’s prior encouragement) to remain faithful! I think the latter.

Book Context
How does Paul speak about faithfulness throughout the remainder of the letter?

There are nine additional explicit references to faith in the letter. Timothy has faith (1:5, 3:10). Timothy should continue pursuing faith in Christ (1:13, 2:22). Timothy should pass on what he has been taught to faithful men (2:2). False teaching upsets the faith of people (2:18). Opposing the truth disqualifies one regarding the faith (3:8). Faith in Christ is connected to salvation (3:15). Finally, the keeping of the faith is evidence for Paul that Paul is bound for glory (4:7).

Rather than Paul easing up and considering faithlessness as a Christian quality, he actually treats it as a mark of an unbeliever (3:8). On the other hand persistent faithfulness is, to Paul, a mark of being a Christian (4:7).

Therefore, considering the immediate, near, and whole context of 2 Timothy, 2:13 seems more likely to be a warning to remain faithful than intended as a comfort that faithlessness is a Christian quality.

Conclusion
So, let’s love the Word by reading the words in context. This is a great first step to understanding more of God’s Word in order to live it out.

Hope for Sinners in a Seated Savior

Hope for Sinners in a Seated Savior

What I Learned Last Sunday

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. – Hebrews 1:1-4

Check out last Sunday’s sermon here.

“Oh no! Daddy, where did Jesus go?”

My daughter asks with concern. She is perplexed, staring at the pages in her story Bible which depict Christ’s ascension to heaven. Looking back at her from the page is a group of cartoon disciples, standing, gaping, looking upward. My daughter is sharing their expression.

“He went up to heaven, honey,” I reply.

“Why?” My daughter is not satisfied.

She is not aware of the great, glorious, hope-filled implications of the answer to her question.

Last Sunday, Pastor Mike returned to Hebrews 1:1-4 to share two implications of Christ’s accomplished work on the cross which resulted in His return to Heaven and His sitting down in glory.

After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… – Hebrews 1:3b

These implications below explain Christ’s ascension.

Question: Why did Jesus return to Heaven to sit down at the right hand of the Majesty on high?

Answer #1: Because Jesus Finished the Work.

The work Jesus did on the cross was the completion of God’s ultimate plan to reunite Himself with man. The author of Hebrews calls this the act of Jesus making purification for sins. It is sin that singularly separates me from God, and it is Jesus who singularly provides payment for my sin. Jesus has done what no human in the history of the world could accomplish. He both paid for my sin and defeated the consequence of my sin with His body (1 Peter 2:24).

There is no other work now to be done. How do we know this? Because Jesus returned from whence He came, and He sat down. He finished the work!

Right now anyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved (Acts 16:31).

Ponder this: Will I rest in the work of Christ, that He has done what I cannot?

Answer #2: Because Jesus is Exalted, Reigning Over All.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. – Matthew 28:18

Jesus sat down in glory to show His authority. This is the great confirmation for all the world that the One who took our sin is the glory of God Himself, reigning and ruling over all things and every person. “The greatest rebel and the most ardent worshiper of Jesus are equally under the authority of Christ.”*

So, I should worship Him. He is the glorious and exalted God whom all will bow before. I can also trust Him. What He has said is good as gold and rock-solid reliable. He made purification for my sins. His exalted state ensures my future hope.

Right now God is seeking worshippers who will see Christ for who He truly is and respond in worship (John 4:23).

Ponder this: Will I worship Jesus today, as He is worthy of all praise?

*Quote shared from Pastor Mike in a sermon preached on April 17, 2022.

Jesus is Risen Indeed

Jesus is Risen Indeed

Holy Week 2022

Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. – Matthew 28:5-6

Today is Resurrection Sunday, and to celebrate, I’d like to offer four practical implications of the resurrection. In other words, four ways that the empty tomb ought to be huge for us today.

First, because of the resurrection, we are justified in Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:17 teaches us that if there is no resurrection then we are still in our sins. Put positively, that means that because there is a resurrection, we (those who trust in Christ) are not in our sins anymore. If your hope is in Christ alone, you are forgiven. You are justified in Christ. The resurrection means that you are no longer in your sins.

Second, if you are in Christ then, because of the resurrection, you have new life. I know that because of Romans 6:4, which says: We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. So being made alive in Christ is tied to his resurrection. We have newness of life because the tomb is empty and our Lord is risen.

Third, we have future hope. Jesus made the case for this many times. One of the clearest is in John 11:25. Jesus said,

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?

Because of Jesus’ resurrection, everyone who believes in Christ overcomes the grave. That’s real and everlasting hope! Do you believe this?

And finally, because Jesus is alive and has conquered death once and for all, we have in Christ a treasure above all else. Consider Ephesians 2:1-10 to help see this:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Does that not make you want to treasure Christ? To sing to your risen Lord, worthy is the lamb who was slain? To follow him with your life?

Jesus is risen, my friends. He is risen indeed.

Truly this Man was the Son of God!

Truly this Man was the Son of God!

Holy Week 2022

And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” -Mark 15:37-39

Jesus hangs on a cross – crowned in thorns, bruised and bloodied from the beatings and the nails through his flesh that pin him to the wooden structure. The night before, he was betrayed by his own and turned over to the authorities. On this morning, the decision was made that he would be crucified for who he claimed to be: the Christ, the coming Messiah whom the prophets had spoken of. This was the very Son of God.

How can we call this ‘Good Friday’ when it’s the day that this sinister killing of the King of kings took place? This Son of God, through whom all things were created, came to earth and lived a sinless life. He would die a criminal’s death. The only way we can see the good in this is by viewing it through the lens of God’s ultimate redemptive plan to unite all things in Christ. On the cross, Jesus would bear the punishment for the sin of all who believe in him.

God is holy and just. Man is sinful and incapable of upholding God’s law to be made righteous before him by our own doing. The wages of sin is death and all sin must be accounted for before a holy and just God. Unless we recognize the weight of our sin against God, we cannot fully experience the marvelous beauty of this loving act of grace towards us who follow Jesus.

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. – Romans 8: 3-4

Our savior bore the full wrath of God in our place and experienced that punishing separation as he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!” And it is to him and his atoning work that the scriptures point. The Passover lamb has been slain and saved are those covered by his blood! The curtain that separated man from God’s holy presence is torn in two as we can now enter in free from the bondage of sin! Only because of Christ.

As the centurion stands before our dying Lord and sees the almighty God’s plan falling into place, he can say only one thing: “Truly this man was the son of God!”

This was not just another sacrifice. We wouldn’t see it as good if it ended there. The serpent had bruised his heel, but he would soon crush the serpent’s head. This is Good Friday, and Sunday is coming.

Challenge:

Prayerfully allow yourself to wrestle with the tension between the heartache from what our Savior went through and the beauty of what he accomplished on this day.

Pray:

Lord, thank you for your grace poured out on me at the cross. Strengthen me, that I may walk by faith in your Son and be a light to the world.

Dark Thursday, Darkened Hearts, and the Light of the World

Dark Thursday, Darkened Hearts, and the Light of the World

Holy Week 2022

It is Thursday of the Holy Week. Sunday is coming.

It was dark that Thursday night long ago. The true light had come into the world, but men had loved the darkness and hated the light. That hatred had reached a murderous, hell-bound pitch as wicked men plotted the murder of the Son of God.

Torches and lanterns casting shadows off the spears and clubs could not penetrate the darkness in men’s hearts. The creatures, acting in accordance with their fallen nature, were in all-out rebellion against their creator.

The judgment of God would be poured out, but his flaming arrow of wrath would not be pointed at humanity, but instead at his own Son, standing in their place. Fallen humanity would be redeemed but the cost would be unspeakably high.

His soul was sorrowful unto death. He fell to the ground, crying out to God, “Abba Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” He prayed all night, saying the same words. But the time came, the betrayer was at hand, the darkness deepened. The mob came out against him as against a robber. The darkened heart of man is on full display in violence, retaliation, betrayal, and abandonment. His own disciples fled in terror, and he stood alone.

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. -John 1:4

He had healed their diseases, patiently taught them, and revealed the Father to them. He demonstrated servant leadership, receiving everyone, dining with the least of them, and washing their feet. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” He called them friends and taught them that love is laying down your life for your friends. But the darkness did not comprehend the light and did not receive it and on the night of his betrayal and arrest, it appeared the darkness would prevail.

Yet, the light of the Son was not vanquished. Hope remains. What was it that he said? “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” So, all who have put their faith and trust in Christ alone, come to the supper united as one. We eat the bread and drink the wine and we remember his bloodshed for the forgiveness of our sin and his body sacrificed as the price of our redemption.

We stand in the truth and grace of the new covenant, inaugurated in his blood, our rebel hearts of stone replaced with soft hearts alive to God, and we proclaim, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

The Infinite yet Approachable God-Man

The Infinite yet Approachable God-Man

Holy Week 2022 What I Learned Last Sunday

It is Wednesday of Holy Week. Sunday is coming.

And while [Jesus] was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman [Mary, the sister of Martha] came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” – Mark 14:3-9

Just days before His death, Jesus was the recipient of a gift. Mark 14:3-9 records that Mary anointed His head with costly* ointment. However, Mary soon became an object of scorn. Her act was seen by some disciples as wasteful.

Question: What did Mary see in Jesus that would lead to such an offering, while others scoffed at her “wastefulness”?

Last Sunday, Pastor Mike shared (check out the sermon here) the infinite value of Christ as described in Hebrews 1:1-4. Who is this Jesus whom Mary anointed?

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. -Hebrews 1:1–4

Jesus is…

Jesus is the Heir of all things. (Hebrews 1:2)
The One Mary anointed is the Heir of all. The future points to Jesus, who will one day be acknowledged across space and time, and among every people and language, as Lord of all (Philippians 2:10-11). How then could Mary’s offering be a waste? If anything, first century A.D. Pure nard ointment seems to be an inadequate offering for the Heir who deserves all things.

Yet, the Heir came to Mary in sympathetic flesh (Hebrews 4:15). The Heir became accessible to humanity, so Mary could offer what she could to the person of Christ. She approached Jesus, falling at His smelly feet. She stood and raised the flask over her Lord’s head, drenching His figure in an offering of worship. How wonderful! The truly human Christ actually received her gift, calling it, “beautiful”? What grace and kindness!

Jesus is the Agent of the world’s creation. (Hebrews 1:2)
Mary, and all humanity, are the very handiwork and possession of God through Christ. Therefore, our identity and purpose are intimately tied to the triune Creator God’s purposes.

Yet, Jesus became a creature to create (through torn body and shed blood) a reunion between His creation and the Creator. So, Mary’s offering was, to Jesus, a pre-burial ritual, pointing to His sacrificial payment for sin (1 John 2:2). The Agent of creation became flesh, dwelt with His creation, and would suffer a horrific death under a wrath destined for His creation. Mary’s offering worshiped Christ’s worth as the infinitely worthy sin payer.

Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory. (Hebrews 1:3)
Mary’s forefather, Moses, could only look at God’s back to avoid instant death when enraptured with God’s presence. Even so, Moses’ face was changed to brightness by the glory of God (Exodus 34:29).

Yet, God in Christ stepped into flesh. He became utterly approachable, fully dressed in humanity. Mary could enter Jesus’ presence and honor His person. Her gift ran through Christ’s hair and beard, a fragrant act of worship. As Christ’s physical body made it possible for Mary to offer her gift (He was not a spirit), so also our offerings to God are possible through Christ’s sacrificed body (Romans 12:1-2).

Question: What did Mary see in Jesus that would lead to such an offering?

Answer: Mary saw that Jesus is worthy! He is the Heir of all, the Agent of creation, and the shining splendor of God. No gift is too costly for this Christ.

Yet, Jesus is more worthy. He embodies God’s unfailing love. He came in flesh and received Mary’s offering as His burial preparation, the burial of His body which would endure the weight of God’s punishment against our sin.

Challenge: Today prayerfully consider both the infinite value of Christ and the humility of Christ, and ask God to lift up your heart in worship to Him.

*There are estimates that a flask of pure nard would cost up to one year’s salary in the first century A.D.

The Scriptures and the Power of God

The Scriptures and the Power of God

Holy Week 2022

It is Tuesday of the Holy Week. Jesus engages with the Jewish leaders and calls out their errors.

Sunday is coming.

But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” – Matthew 22:29

Picture this: the King of kings, Lord of lords, almighty and everlasting Savior of the world is walking the earth. Previously during the week, Jesus had been praised when entering the town of Jerusalem (Mk 11:1-11). He had cleansed the temple and cursed the fig tree (Mk 11:12-26). Now, his authority is being questioned by the Jewish leaders.

Tension amongst the Jewish leaders had been steadily rising as Jesus had administered authoritative teachings, discussing the Kingdom of God, throughout his ministry (Mt 7:29). As Jesus was walking into the Temple he was met by the Jewish leaders (Mk 11:27). How did they respond? They scrutinized, challenged, and doubted the authority God has given to his son, Jesus Christ. Instead of having open ears and tender hearts, the Jewish leaders immediately saw Jesus as a threat to their own righteousness.

Jesus debates with the Jewish leaders while covering several topics (Mk 11:27-12:40; Mt 21:23-23:39; Lk 20:1-21:4). The Jewish leaders had intended to entrap and find fault in Jesus’ teachings to discredit him. They sought to belittle and ensnare Christ through their questioning and prompting. The Jewish leaders hated Jesus because he claimed to not only be from God but to be equal to God (John 5:18). They could not accept his authority.

These religious leaders were supposed to be the trained or ‘certified’ ones when it came to such matters, involving the Scriptures. Jesus comes swooping in. He interferes, in the best way, with the Jewish leaders and their inability to uphold God’s teachings as they have now turned Scripture into fallible human tradition. For the Jewish leaders, Jesus is a threat to their way of life. He is a threat to their identity. Jesus was not ‘certified’ by man, but was given all authority – in heaven and on earth – by the God of the universe (Mt 28:18).

As Jesus stated, the Jewish leaders were wrong (Mt 22:29). They did not know the Scriptures. They did not know the power of God.

In application, the Christian has to know the Scriptures as they reveal the power of God. The Christian has to know the power of God in order to see the value of the Scriptures. This is not surface-level knowledge. The knowledge Jesus is referring to requires soul change. Jesus Christ and the Salvation he provides has to threaten our own self-perceived and sinful righteousness, just as it threatened that of the Jewish leaders.

While our sinful nature dashes our hopes of being justified by our good deeds, Jesus’ death and resurrection demand an internal change that translates to an eternal change of our very soul. Jesus interferes in our lives in the best way. He requires a change in the depths and crevices of our soul, which then produces an outward transformation.

We have no righteousness outside of Christ. Because of Christ’s authority, we can be hidden, in him, by his wondrous acts on the cross (Col 3:3). As Christ’s authority comes from God and only by the work of Christ, we can be made righteous.

My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer

My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer

Holy Week 2022

It is Monday of Holy Week. Jesus clears the temple of merchants.

Sunday is coming.

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,  ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”

And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there. -Matthew 21:12–22

Jesus begins his busy week riding into Jerusalem. That was yesterday. Today, he continues his work by going to the temple. At this time of day the business of Jewish worship of God has begun. The temple wakes up early and people are bringing all their livestock to get their booths set up so people can come and purchase their animals. There are birds in cages, livestock, and many other animals. People are shouting their wares for sale and men looking over the animals. Money is changing hands.

This is quite a different sight than the utterly dependent on God worshipful people in the desert. When God’s people erected the tabernacle in the wilderness they were utterly dependent on their God. The presence of the Lord dwelled with his people.

Now the process of Godly worship had been streamlined. You didn’t have to deal with an animal all year and bring it on your journey. You show up purchase your animal walk it in and hand it off. This is a people no longer utterly dependent on God. This is a people that have figured out the system to do their service to God as quickly and easily as possible. This has become a brief and probably uncomfortable exchange between the people and the Creator of the universe.

Jesus, knowing true worship and closeness to the Father, sees this and he drives them out of his Father’s house. Imagine how the Son of God felt, knowing that true relationship with the Father meant being utterly dependent on him! The temple was a place of prayer and worship; where the people of God are to worship God fully. And they had made it… a market!

If someone came into your house disrespected your family and stayed, what would you do? You would probably ask them to leave, right? Now think of how much more it means when it’s the Creator of the World’s house. God is meant to be worshipped!

This also shows Jesus’ compassion because in the midst of driving all these robbers out he begins healing the needy. This shows God’s heart for people. Jesus makes time for the people that come to him needing healing. He isn’t far off like the priests. He is here in among the people healing them and caring for them.

On Monday of Holy Week, Jesus has caused quite an uproar in Jerusalem and he doesn’t plan on stopping.

As individuals, we have to think:

  • Do I pray and worship God to check it off the list or to worship him to be in his presence today?
  • Am I dependent on God today?
  • Is my worship streamlined?
  • Is his house (my body) a place of worship?