Archive for March, 2016
“Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come” (John 7:8).
Like Jesus’ own brothers, we sometimes have enough religion to get us to church on Sundays, or certain holidays, but not enough faith to shape our lives during the week. A religion that occasionally goes to church/synagogue/mosque avoids a few vices, while condemning those who practice such things is a misleading pursuit down a dead-end street. These characteristics can be found among the professed followers of any world religion and are a fair representation of the very ones who killed Jesus; crying “Hosanna in the highest” one day, and “Crucify him” the next. Jesus died for more than this; that we can have a meaningful and vibrant faith, not a dead and purposeless religion.
“For not even His brothers were believing in Him” (John 7:5).
Their desire for Jesus to showcase himself as a religious sideshow reflects not only their failure to believe, but it portrays the vilest form of disbelief — the kind that is willing to promote Jesus as long as he is “propping up” the experience they want to have and the agenda they want fulfilled. Jesus has no desire, however, to make an offering to the vast panorama of religious plurality for the sake of accommodating the subjective whims of the masses. The faith Jesus is seeking to establish is built around two things — a cross, and disciples who pick up their crosses and obediently follow him.
“Therefore His brothers said to Him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing’” (John 7:3).
His own brothers seem more interested in being his agent than one of his disciples. Their emphasis is on the sell; the promotion; the splash. Instead of a faith that plays in such lowly places as Bethany and Golgotha, their desire is for a religion that will impress the crowds in Hollywood and on Broadway. If not guarded, the conditioning that makes us evaluate, respond, and act as consumers can make its way into our faith and churches; warping our minds into thinking that the pursuit of both is for us and our wants instead of Jesus and his mission.
“No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (John 10:18).
Playing the blame game for the death of Jesus is a fruitless misadventure. It was not the fault of the Jews, Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod, the Roman soldiers, and not even Judas. They were but the personalities and moving parts of a much larger narrative — the unfolding story of God’s redeeming love. The profoundness of Jesus’ death is not fully appreciated until it is realized that he laid down his own life. It was not taken from him, but he gave his life that we might find ours.
“On the day I called, you answered me; you made me bold with strength in my soul” (Psalm 138:3).
I don’t remember the calendar day, but I remember THAT day as if it were yesterday. It was transforming, life-changing, fortifying, fulfilling, enriching, and deepening — a day that cannot be fully described. THAT day I made my appeal to God. On THAT day God answered and my soul was renewed and strengthened. There are some days in life when you need to remember THAT day. THAT day may be the very thing that gets you through this day.
“As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects man” (Proverbs 27:19).
How much of life is wasted in trying to shape others’ opinions of us. Despite such efforts, each glance into the mirror reminds us of who we really are. Your reputation is what others think about you. Character is what you know to be true about yourself. The man in the mirror never lies.
“And He said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down’” (Matthew 24:2).
The words of Jesus to his followers regarding the Temple serve as a warning to present day disciples to beware of any theology seeking to rebuild a temple based religion with ruins from the past. The ultimate destruction of the Temple was but a validation that the old covenant was just that…old. We are advocates of the new covenant, written upon the hearts of men, and lived out by faith in the Spirit of grace and truth.