Tag: Jesus

Jesus more than a Prophet

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I saw this in my local cemetery, at the grave of a very young man who died shortly after becoming a police officer.  My dad, an excellent man, was a policeman and I support our police wholeheartedly. Most are decent men and women who work hard to keep us safe in an increasingly dangerous world. God bless them.

John 1:14-15 – The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John [the Baptizer] testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me, because he was before me.”

Verse 17 – For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.

Verses 19 through 28 are about the priests questioning John about who he is. They may have been wondering if he was the promised Messiah. He confessed to the freely that he was not the Christ. 

They then ask him if he is Elijah, and he says he is not. According to scripture, the prophet Elijah never died, but was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11).  They may have believed Elijah would therefore come back one day. (Like King Arthur returning to Britain at her hour of greatest need? I have no idea.)

Then they ask him if he is the Prophet. Who is the Prophet? My NIV text notes point me to Deuteronomy 18:15 and 18:18, which say: The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him (v. 15). I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him (v. 18).  My NIV notes on Deuteronomy say that these passages are a collective reference to all the prophets who will follow after Moses. What the Jewish people of Jesus’ day thought The Prophet meant, I don’t know.

Then John says this: “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing. (John 1:26-27)

There is probably a lot of deep thought and theology here that I’m not grasping, but one thing leaps out at me as loud as can be. Although he prophesied, Jesus is NOT a prophet in the same way as the line of prophets from Moses to John. John is saying just how unlike Jesus he really is. He’s not even worthy to tie Jesus’s shoes.

The next verse makes this even more clear: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Verse 29).  I’ve read the entire Old Testament and no mere prophet was ever called the Lamb of God, or considered able to take away any sins, let alone the sins of the whole world.

So the first part of this chapter emphasizes that Jesus is God. Jesus is Creator. Jesus is Light. Jesus is Life. This second part, where we first see Jesus walking around as a human, we see him from another angle. Human and divine. 

Invaded! By God Himself!

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He leads me beside restful waters; he restores my soul. – Psalm 23:2-3

John 1:1-4 and 14

In the beginning was the Word,
   And the Word was with God,
      And the Word was God.

He was with God in the beginning.

Through Him all things were made;
   without him nothing was made that
      has been made.

In Him was life, and that life
   was the light of men.

… The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.
We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only,
Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

I think these are some of the most beautiful words in all of scripture. They are poetic, almost musical, but more importantly they state beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus is in fact God Almighty. 

If any Jehovah’s Witnesses ever see this, please test me on this: if you go to any Greek lexicon you will see that there is no article “a” in John 1:1.  It does NOT say “and the Word was a god.”  That would be blasphemy, anyway, for in Isaiah the Lord says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” (Isaiah 45:5)  If Jesus was just “a” god, then there would be multiple gods and the Lord would have made himself a liar. I hope my Mormon friends might pay attention to this as well, for they believe the universe is filled with countless gods who rule their own planets. In that sense they are the most polytheistic religion in the world.

I think why not just JWs and Mormons but so many people stumble over this, is because our little minds just can’t or won’t accept the concept of an almighty, eternal God who would set aside his glory and enter into his own creation as one of us. The Muslims find it offensive. God, be a man? Suffer the indignity of being born a baby, having your diaper changed, having to eat and sleep and go to the bathroom? It is an indignity, no doubt. Nabeel Qureshi believed that becoming a man was more humiliating for Christ than what he endured on the cross. Perhaps; I’m not sure. But it was certainly humiliating for the God of eternal Glory to become like one of us.  Why did he do it?

For love.  

To do something for us we could never, ever do for ourselves. 

There is so much more in these first 14 verses — telling us how John came to testify about Jesus; How Jesus came to his own people yet [for the most part] they did not receive him; But how through Jesus all people can become children of God.

John is establishing here the tone for the rest of his book. He wants us to first understand that we are not talking about a mere man, or prophet, or great teacher. We are about to hear the story of God himself and what he did when he invaded this enemy territory.

What is Peace

C5C35B26-E95E-4E0E-A3B1-104BBB923A64Why do I hate this perfectly lovely picture of Jesus? In a minute.

The world is descending into chaos. My life is chaos. Not just because of the insanity we are all  living in, or because I am embroiled in any particular dramas at the moment. Mostly, it’s just because of the nonstop noise that goes on inside my head. I’m always working on about 15 tracks at once. All my life I’ve wondered if there is something wrong with me or if I’m not really saved because I don’t feel that incredible peace that people say comes over them once they give their lives to Christ. 

Maybe I’m the only one, but the thing with my brain is it doesn’t let me rest in the moment. When I’m working at my job I’d rather be anywhere else. When I’m doing something else I think I should be catching up on my job. If I’m trying to write, I think I should be doing the laundry, or vacuuming, or making a shopping list, or writing something else. If I’m working in my yard I think I should use the time to get some writing done, or some housework. When I’m out walking with the dogs I’m thinking about my endless list of chores, or fretting about the state of the world, or remembering that kid in grade school who said that really rude thing that one time. It goes on forever. My only respite comes when I get totally absorbed in a project – writing, drawing, praying, digging in the dirt – and that only ever happens after at least 30 minutes of fighting against the voices in my head telling me I should be doing something else. 

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I just want peace. Not this constant, nagging anxiety. 

So why do I hate this ubiquitous, horrendous, awful, stinking excuse for a painting that I have hated since I was seven years old? Well, not only did they make Jesus a woman with a beard, with those overly effeminate features, and make him whiter than a lily and nothing like a first century Jew, but most of all they gave him the worst expression. Maybe it is supposed to demonstrate the peace of Christ, but all I see is a simpering blankness. A dead-eyed stare that reminds me more of the devil than of Jesus.

Being a Christian is hard work. We’re attacked in one way or another almost every day. Not just the actual persecution that heroic Christians face in places like North Korea, China, Pakistan and Iran, but everyday torments like the nonstop noise in my head. Or petty little nothings that go wrong and make you blow your stack and curse like a sailor and break things. The constant temptations to become either a Pharisee or a flaming hypocrite. Wanting to be like Jesus more than anything, to know and live and most of all SHARE his peace, but to blow it every single freaking day of your miserable life. To be a Martha when you just want to be a Mary. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, PEACE . . . (Gal 5:2)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

And the PEACE of God, which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

The Lord blesses his people with PEACE. (Psalm 29:11)

You [God] will keep in perfect PEACE those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

PEACE I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

These verses can give me more anxiety than peace. “Oh my god! I don’t feel peaceful! I’m a bad Christian! Maybe I’m not even a Christian at all! Oh Noooooooooooo!”

Yet, underneath the Hot Mess soup that is my life, there IS something. I don’t have “peace” like someone in a lotus positioning chanting “Om” and feeling their oneness with the universe. But there is a knowing, deep within me. An understanding that God is true and trustworthy. His word is trustworthy. He’s proven that time and time again in history and also in my own life. Things are going to pan out the way the Bible says so. We may be living in the last days right now, which is terrifying (because a LOT of bad stuff is going to happen in those days even if the pre-Trib position is true), but also comforting because we know that Christ wins in the end. And if I don’t ever get that feeling of utter calm and tranquility in this world, I will one day. So there is a peace in that, an undercurrent of real peace and calm that is always there even though the river is raging above.

Anyway, this started out to be an explanation of why I’ve been all over the place and not going through the NT the way I said I would way back in January. But I’m working on getting more focused and tomorrow I am going to dive headfirst into the Gospel of John. 

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved….Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord [Jesus] will be saved. (Romans 10:9-13)

Two Wills in the Universe

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One more tree will fall
   How strong the growing vine
Turn the earth to sand
   And still commit no crime
How one thought will live
   Provide the others die . . .
– John Lodge

Trying to make sense of the madness around us today, we should ask what is at the root of it all. Is the anarchy evil, or actually good at its core? 

The Bible (Galatians 5:22-23) describes the fruits of the Spirit (godliness) as:
LOVE
Joy
PEACE
Patience
KINDNESS
Goodness
Faithfulness
Gentleness
SELF CONTROL

On the flip side, the fruits of the sinful nature, or wickedness (Galatians 5:19-21) are:
Sexual immorality
Impurity
Debauchery
Idolatry
Witchcraft
HATRED
DISCORD
Jealousy
FITS OF RAGE
Selfish Ambition
DISSENSIONS
FACTIONS
Envy
Drunkenness
Orgies, etc.

We can meditate on these things and figure out the answer to today’s problems for ourselves.

The fruits of the Spirit and the fruits of wickedness showcase the two wills in the universe — the will of God and the will of the self.

Satan was the first to set his own will against the will of God. He said:
I WILL ascend to Heaven;
I WILL raise my throne above the stars of God.
I WILL sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost
heights of the sacred mountain.
I WILL ascend above the top of the clouds;
I WILL make myself like the Most High!
– Isaiah 14:13-14

In contrast, Jesus said, in the garden on the night he was betrayed:
Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; Yet not my will, but Thine be done. 
     – Luke 22:42

Satan, or Lucifer, beautiful cherub though he may once have been (see Ezekiel 28), is only a creature, made by the very Lord he wants to destroy. He is not God. He is a Creator of nothing. Yet he thinks he deserves to be God and wants to rule the universe. He cares for no one and nothing except himself. 

Jesus IS God (John 1:1). He made us (John 1:3). He has the right to rule the universe and subjugate us to his will. Yet his attitude is the opposite of Satan’s:

[Jesus] Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but rather emptied himself, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!  – Philippians 2:6-8

There are only two wills in the universe. All of us are on one side or the other. There is no neutral ground. Our nature without Christ is the sin nature — rage, jealousy, hatred, envy, lust, etc. Whatever goodness we might know comes not from ourselves, but from God, whether we are believers or not:

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” – James 1:17

“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteousness.” – Matthew 5:45

Once we belong to Christ, the Holy Spirit begins His work in us and we can know the joy of living in the gifts of the Spirit — Love. Joy. Peace. Kindness. Goodness. In Jesus alone is everything that our aching and dying hearts are crying out for and everything that this ugly, unhappy, violent world sorely lacks.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved . . . For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  – Romans 10:9-13