Archive for April, 2022
“He who was delivered over because of our wrongdoings, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:25).
The cross and the resurrection are inextricably bound together as a single mighty act of God. The cross did not accomplish one thing and the resurrection another. The sacrificial death of Christ was an effectual atonement for sin, while his subsequent resurrection accomplished the justification of all who would believe. God’s work of salvation in Christ affirms that the Son of man came into the world not to condemn, but to give us life.
“But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you’” (Mark 16:7).
What a beautiful insight to the redeeming grace of God. Having informed the three women that Jesus had risen, the messenger of the Lord then singles out Peter. Haunted by his three-fold denial, we can only imagine the misery of guilt and shame Peter must have been experiencing in those days between the trial and resurrection of Jesus. Upon hearing that he wasn’t being cast aside for his miscarriage of faithfulness, perhaps Peter recalled the words of the psalmist, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our guilty deeds” (Psalm 103:10).
“I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
This declaration of Jesus, along with statements such as, “Before Abraham was born, I am” (Jn.8:58), or, “The one that has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn.14:9), is equivalent to saying, “I am God.” This is the very essence of the Christian faith; that Jesus Christ is not just sent from God, a representation of God, nor just a part of God but, rather, He was, and is, God. His claims to deity, however, are not proven by his teachings (every major religion has as their foundation a history of moral teachings) but his resurrection. Upon this one thing everything rises or falls.
“Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge” (2 Corinthians 5:5).
Wind, fire, the very breath of resurrection life…Scripture utilizes each of these to portray the glorious power of God’s Spirit. Even so, the Spirit we have received, as a pledge against the inheritance that is to be later received, does not now remove us to glory but equips us for the most inglorious life of service here on earth. In another of heaven’s humbling paradoxes the power of a Prince is best evidenced at the feet of paupers.
“Those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness, but I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving” (Jonah 2:8-9).
Idols reflect, and are fashioned by, the selfish desires of the human heart. Something is always going to be the object of your affection and receive your undivided attention. Giving thanks is counted a sacrificial act because it forces the heart and mind to redirect from oneself and to acknowledge the One who gives, sustains, and takes life.
“But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temples area, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they became indignant” (Matthew 21:15).
The beginning of this passage has the potential, arguably, to be counted among the most beautiful, inspirational, and meaningful within the entirety of scripture—proclaiming the wonder of all Jesus has done, along with shouts of Messianic recognition even from the children. By the end, however, it darkens into a revealing exposé of self-serving religion; a religion so corrupted by personal preferences, position, power, and political influence, it would even hatch a plan seeking to put to death the One who is both the messenger and the means of God’s deliverance. If not guarded, what is to be recognized as a wondrous, joyful, and celebrated faith can denigrate into an indignant, fault-finding religion.
“And they said to Him, ‘Do you hear what these children are saying?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes, have you never read, ‘From the mouths of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’” (Matthew 21:16).
Not even the religious establishment could suppress the impromptu praise evoked by the presence of God’s son. Quoting the psalmist (8:2), Jesus must have fueled the indignation of the chief priests and scribes all the more. To hypocrites such as these, anything outside the norm and not fitting with tradition is considered disruptive and, thus, held in suspicion. From children, however, we are reminded that the purest praise offered to God cannot be staged or scripted; it emerges spontaneously from a heart of recognition.
“And those who were blind and those who limped came to Him in the temple area, and He healed them” (Matthew 21:14).
Having ridded the temple of secular agendas (v.12), now the redeeming power of God can achieve its desired end—the transformation of lives. Seeing how, in one way or another, we are all blind and limping through life, the last thing needed upon entering the church are the competing voices of the world that seek to suppress and steal away the exclusive, healing message of the Gospel; the one thing that can make us well.
“And He said to them, ‘It is written:’ ‘My house will be called a house of prayer;’ ‘but you are making it a den of robbers’” (Matthew 21:13).
Justifying his action in turning over the tables of the moneychangers, Jesus borrows from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11, and joins his voice to the two great prophetic voices in Israel’s history to say that what happens in the house of God matters. The particular word Jesus used for “prayer” stands for the whole worship of God; that what is done in church is to be exclusively about Him. Sadly, dens of robbers, dressed in celebrity status, partisan politics, and consumer desires, have stolen away that to which only God is entitled—our worship.
“And Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those who were selling and buying on the temple grounds, and He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves” (Matthew 21:12).
Having made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, fulfilling Zechariah 9:9, Jesus is deeply troubled by what he sees taking place upon his arrival to the temple. The outer court, intended as a gathering place for Gentiles desiring to worship, is now occupied by money changers. These are exploiting the noble intentions of the more than two million pilgrims coming to Jerusalem for the observance of Passover; charging exorbitant fees for the necessary currency exchange, and gouging the prices for dove, and other items required to make appropriate sacrifices to God. Jesus is disturbed because what was established for sacred purposes has been corrupted by secular intentions. With the allure of celebrity Christianity, along with the political emphases dominating America pulpits, I wonder what He thinks today?