Posts

Showing posts from 2013

A Promise, A Hope

Image
I woke up early yesterday morning—4:00 a.m. early. Rather than try to go back to sleep I went out into the living room to spend some time reading Scripture. I’m “between” reading projects so flipped open my Bible and read the first thing that appeared. It turned out to be Psalm 145.

The approach of a new year always drives the mind toward thinking about the future. This coming year, 2014, will be a time of transition for me. How, when, and what, are the questions that arise when I think of what might be coming around the next corner. But even in my rather haphazard way of choosing what to read in Scripture, God sent His Word to me.

Psalm 145:13b-16: “The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Psalm 145:19: “He fulfills the des…

The God Who Took On Skin

Image
The Word began flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).’’

We know the story. Perhaps its familiarity is part of what keeps us from taking the time to revisit it and to think again about the implications of it. The busyness of the season—what others have made of the season—sweeps us away and before we are aware it’s January and we have forgotten to REALLY stop and pay attention to a baby in a cattle shed.

Think again with Paul about what this “God with skin” is all about—what He did for us and what He wants to do in us. Think, and worship.

...All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth...For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may …

Memories

Image
Memories.

Some of our seniors shared memories of Christmases past at a recent event. Memories can be sweet. They can also be sorrowful. As Saturday, December 21st morphed into Sunday, December 22, I remembered those same dates and days 22 years ago when my mother passed into glory. But I also remember much more pleasant things about Christmas past. For those whose recent memories fade with time, it is often those things from the more distant past that remain in the mind and heart.

For Mary, the mother of Jesus, remembering the events surrounding the birth of her Son would leave an indelible mark on her.

After the long trip from Nazareth, the birth in a stable, the visit of the shepherds, the Scriptures record: “...Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). The shepherds went out to tell the world what they had seen, but Mary, the mother, kept silent.

Most mothers are never reluctant to sing the praises of their children so it seems odd that Mary simp…

Facing Challenges

Image
If Zechariah and Elizabeth were taken by surprise by the announcement that they would have a son in their old age (Luke 1:12, 13), we can just imagine how surprised Mary was to learn that she would have a baby without ever having a relationship with a man. Today that would be possible, but not back then in ancient Israel (Luke 1:30)!

Mary took the announcement in her stride—a testament to her faith—and hurried off to see her cousin, Elizabeth, who was in her sixth month of pregnancy by that time (1:39).

Several years ago, when in a transition period in my own life, I laid claim to the words that Elizabeth pronounced over her young relative, recorded for us in Luke 1:45.

"Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished."

Both Elizabeth and Mary had entered significant transitions in their lives. Mary, by the time she returned to her hometown, would be obviously pregnant. The fact that she was engaged, but not married, might have result…

When God Changes the Equation

Image
How is it possible?

I wonder how many times I’ve said or thought those words? Life is never perfect but it helps if it is predictable.

For Zechariah, life was predictable. He fulfilled his priestly duties every day. And once in a while, when his turn came, he went up to the temple to offer incense to the Lord. He and his wife, Elizabeth, were growing old as gracefully as they could. Even their childlessness was predicable—they were long past conceiving children. Perhaps the bitterness and disappointment of that reality had faded in time, though it appears that they had prayed for a son (Luke 1:13) to carry on the line.

Then Gabriel came along and announced a change in the whole equation. While Zechariah was performing his duties in the temple, the angel of the Lord appeared to announce that he and Elizabeth would have a son in their old age. If Gabriel had appeared to me I probably would have doubted too.

Zechariah answered the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my w…

The Quality of Love

Image
We always revert to what we know.

When I look back at our beginnings in Venezuela I am reminded of how true that statement is. We wanted to do something uniquely Venezuelan, to make the church we were trying to establish be different, be Venezuelan. In the end it was uniquely North American. That wasn’t a bad thing—Venezuela is very pro-all-things-North-American. My point is that it just became too complicated to be different and much easier to go back to what we knew.

After the resurrection, after Jesus’ appearances in the upper room and on the Emmaus road, the disciples were still “on hold.” What was the next step for them? They weren’t entirely sure and it was futile to speculate and too frustrating to plan. When we get to John 21 we discover Peter and some of the others reverting to what they already knew to do—fishing.

They were sitting on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, waiting for no-one-knew-what. Peter suddenly announced, “I’m going out to fish...” (21:3). The others went out…

More Than Enough to Believe

Image
The Gospels only tell a small part of the life and times of Jesus. Perhaps that is one reason why the skeptics disbelieve the account that we do have recorded for us. The current commercial on some channels concerns a program that will, I suppose, explain why these particular “experts” don’t believe that any of the disciples had actually ever met Jesus! It probably has to do with the differences between the Gospels and because of the gaps in information that are obvious.

One “expert” in the commercial for the program throws his arm up in the air and says: “The Bible may be divinely inspired but it has human fingerprints all over it!”

Duh. Divine inspiration never rubbed out the personalities and particular quirks of the writers God chose to record His story.

But arguments aside, we acknowledge the gaps in the record. John, writing in John 20:30, 31 explains the reason why there are gaps.

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in …

I've Just Seen Jesus

Image
Goosebumps.

That’s what John 20:18 and the story around it gives me. Combined with the song you can access through the following link, the message rings loud and clear:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yLgtd_kkxw

Mary Magdalene saw all that Peter and John saw when she arrived at the tomb. But she saw something they didn’t: two angels (John 20:12) sitting where the body of Jesus had once lain.

Then she saw Jesus (20:14). Through her tears, overwhelmed with grief, she didn’t recognize Him, until something in His voice stirred her soul and she saw, really saw, HIM.

“Mary,” He said (20:16). And she knew.

When she returned to the room where the disciples were meeting and told them that she had seen the Lord, alive and glorified, the impact must have been incredible. It would still take time to really understand the reality of the resurrection for some of His followers, but for Mary, nothing would ever be the same again.

How could anything be the same once a person has truly “seen” Jesus?

That …

When Seeing is Believing

Image
This was one time when seeing was necessary to cementing belief.

The Lord was gone. His lifeless body had been removed from the tomb and lovingly laid in a borrowed tomb. His enemies rejoiced and His followers mourned. Everyone thought He was gone.

Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb on that first day of the week. The stone was not in its place. She thought someone had stolen the body and raced back to tell the disciples. When Peter and John arrived, John looked into the tomb, saw that the body was not there. But he did not go in. He waited for the slower Peter to catch up and let him go in first. And an interesting statement is recorded for us:

Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed” (John 20:8).

John 20 records several appearances that Jesus made after His death. The disciples needed to know in a tangible way that Jesus was alive. John  20:9 tells us that they still didn’t understand what the Scriptures said about their Mas…

Finished

Image
Those last words from the cross tell it all:

Jesus said, ‘It is finished’” (John 19:30).

Instantly, as I read this verse, the words to this Gaither song came to mind:

There's a line that is drawn through the ages,
On that line stands an old rugged cross.
On that cross, a battle is raging,
To gain a man's soul or its loss.
On one side, march the forces of evil,
All the demons, all the devils of hell.
On the other, the angels of glory,
    and they meet on Golgotha's hill.
 The earth shakes with the force of the conflict,
    and the sun refuses to shine.
For there hang's God's son, in the balance,
    and then through the darkness he cries.

It is finished, the battle is over.
It is finished, there'll be no more war.
It is finished, the end of the conflict,
It is finished and Jesus is Lord.

Yet in my heart, the battle was still raging,
Not all prisoners of war had come home.
These were battlefields of my own making,
 I didn't know that the war had been won.
Oh, …

Close, But No Cigar

Image
Well, you have to give him some credit for trying.

Pilate, the Roman Governor in Judea, came from a tradition where men could be gods. Caesar himself had made that claim. So when the Jews insisted that he give the order to crucify Jesus because he claimed to be the Son of God (John 19:7), the possibility of that being true was a real one.

When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid...” (John 19:8).

The man was already afraid. An uprising among the Jews could cost him his career. Somewhere in this whole mockery of a trial, Pilate’s wife had warned him not to have anything to do with the plot against the Galilean rabbi (Matthew 27:19). She had seen it in a dream—something else to pay heed to.

Pilate was caught in the middle.

Beating Jesus wasn’t enough for the rabble (19:1).

Declaring him innocent of the charges wasn’t enough (19:4).

Passing the buck didn’t cut it (19:6).

Oddly enough, Pilate even advocated for Jesus, introducing Him as king—something Herod, who was the current J…

An Absolute in a Changing World

Image
We don’t always see God’s sovereignty in action. We don’t always choose to acknowledge God’s sovereignty in our lives. We rail at Him when we think He has done nothing when, in fact, He has acted, though we are not always happy with how He has answered.

The dictionary definition of “sovereign” is: supreme, absolute, unlimited, unrestricted, boundless, ultimate, total, unconditional, full; principal, chief, dominant, predominant, ruling; royal, regal, monarchical.

As Jesus stands before him in John 19, Pilate, the governor of Israel, representative of the Caesar in Rome, considers himself to be just about sovereign when he says: “‘Do you refuse to speak to me?’ Pilate said. ‘Don’t you realize I have the power to either free you or to crucify you?’” (vs. 10).

Our lives often seem to be lived at the mercy of others. The authorities over us; our employers, our government, our spiritual leaders, all seem to have the right to tell us what to do, when to do it, and what it’s worth. Our lives …

He wasn't Zorro, but...

Image
The charged atmosphere of the scene in the garden as Judas and the religious authorities arrived to arrest Jesus was simply too much for Peter. He had promised to defend his Master to the death (John 13:37) and defend Him he would.

We don’t know when or why Peter had picked up the sword but now he put it to good use.

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus)” (John 18:10.

Then his world fell apart. The Lord commanded Peter to put the sword away (18:11).

If he couldn’t defend Jesus the only way he knew how, then what was the use? Was it this moment that led to three others that would fulfill Jesus’ warning to Peter that before the night was out, his loyal servant would deny he even knew his Master?

We can’t point the finger at Peter unless we point it back at ourselves. How often, when our plans to do something for the Lord fail, do we give up. Whether we stepped outside of God’s will or …

The Name

Image
I don’t think I ever notice this before. The other three Gospels mention it, some in detail, but John skips right over our Lord’s agonizing moments in the Garden of Gethsemane. John, the disciple described as the one Jesus loved, the one closest to the Lord, was silent about one of the most intimate portrayals of Jesus’ humanity.

Was John protecting his Friend and Master? It was such a personal moment. Was he embarrassed, ashamed that he, such a close friend, had failed his Lord at such a critical moment?

We aren’t told. But it is what happened just a little later that grabs the imagination.

Judas comes with the soldiers and the religious authorities. Jesus asks them who they have come for—though he knows the answer. They reply: “Jesus of Nazareth.”

‘I am he,’ Jesus said...When Jesus said, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground” (John 18:6).

I am stepping out on a limb to say that the Lord didn’t not have a menace in His voice when He said, “I am he.” It was not an implied th…

A Word That Never Dies

Image
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” John 17:17.

Repeatedly the Scriptures tell us how important being immersed in the Word of God really is in a journey of faith that is taken seriously. Part of Jesus’ last prayer for His followers emphasized that importance as He asked His father to make them holy through their interaction with God’s Word.

PSALM 119 is well-known for its emphasis on the importance of the Word of God:

How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word” (Psalm 119:9).

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).

The unfolding of your word gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

The author to the Hebrews says this:

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

As individual believers we need to be dil…

Down There On Our Knees

Image
Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. The famous “Lord’s Prayer,” recorded in places like Matthew 6:9-13, is repeated verbatim in many places around the world. It some contexts it has become more mantra, or “rabbit’s foot” than it is actually prayer, but nonetheless it is said.  For decades it was prayed in classrooms and at special events. Unhappily, in many of our North American churches, prayer, if it exists at all, is perfunctory. This is to our shame, if only because prayer was so important to Jesus and, supposedly, we are to concern ourselves with what is important to Him.

The Lord’s last action with His disciples before His arrest was to pray. He prayed with them before they left the upper room and then He went to garden to pray again. John 17 records His final prayer with His followers. This morning, as I read the passage again, two verses in particular stuck out.

I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, prot…

Bookends

Image
As the Lord came to the end of His last Passover meal with His disciples, He offered them this word of encouragement: “I have told you all these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

In a way He has come full circle during this last teaching time with the men who had followed Him over the last three years. He began by giving them another look at their future hope (John 14) and promising them that they wouldn’t be alone even after His departure. His message was tucked, like a row of books, between two bookends. The first was the promise: “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). The other bookend is the similar promise from John 16:33, quoted above.

Jesus then reminded them of the importance of abiding in Him (John 15). They would face the same difficulties as He was facing. T…

Enough

Image
Despite all the tools of modern society, feeling alone still ranks high on the list of ills suffered by many people. Despite Twitter and FACEBOOK, despite an endless variety of groups to belong to, including church, these communities don’t always spell “communion.” Even where relationships are possible, the number of times people who move from one relationship to another, always seeking that elusive something but never finding it, astounds me. Equally disturbing is the number of co-dependent and abusive relationships out there. Some people don’t dare let go—the prospect of being alone is too frightening.

The Weather Network calls us “The Angry Planet,” but we’d be better called “The Lonely Planet.”

Every relationship, no matter now good, is transitory. That’s what we struggle to understand. People move, people change, people die. People come into our lives and they move out of our lives.

Jesus touched on the subject in a statement he made, recorded for us in John 16:32: “But a time is …

Better Let Me Go First

Image
The ice covered by a thin layer of fresh snow made drivers and pedestrians cautious this morning. I have a short hill to climb on my way to work and since I’ve fallen on that hill a couple of times, I was planning on taking extra care on the way up. A city plow/sander was working on the other side. He crossed the street and just as I started up the hill, the driver beeped his horn. I stepped off the sidewalk to let him by. He rolled to a stop beside me, opened his window and said: “Better let me go first; I have sand.” I thanked him.

“Better let me go first; I have sand.”

On that last night before Jesus went to the cross, He tried to explain to His disciples what was going to happen. But the struggle to understand, or perhaps to accept what He was telling them, was too much. At the end of John 16, Jesus finally says, “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father” (vs. 28). They GOT that.

It would take the disciples a little time t…

Prayers That Get Answered

Image
Tucked away in John 15 are two of the verses that most of us claim regularly. We like the idea of being able to ask God for something and then receive it from Him. And we are thrilled to know that He not only delights to answer our prayers but that He is perfectly capable of doing so, often giving us more than we asked for.

It is important to note that both of these "ask and get" verses are connected to an equally important truth.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:7, 8).

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name” (15:16).

The whole passage is all about fruit-bearing, or producing the character of God in our lives. We know from Galatians 5:22, 23 what some of these qualities are: “But the fruit of t…

The Bond of Love

Image
It was a hollow victory. To tell the truth, it wasn’t a victory at all. If Satan thought he had won when he turned Judas into a traitor and paved the road to Calvary, he was mistaken.

Just as Jesus and the disciples left the upper room to take the short walk to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said this: “I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father commanded me” (John 14:30, 31).

Six words of tremendous importance: “He has no hold on me.” This road had been paved since before the beginning of time. It had been determined between a loving Father and an obedient Son in order to rescue a rebellious people. Satan was no more than a pawn on the chessboard of history. He only had the power to manipulate events that had been granted to him by God. Whatever “hold” he thought he had was no hold at all.

The power of the underworld is a popular theme in books…

Every Day With Jesus

Image
It is one of the classic verses of Scripture. John 14:6 is often quoted in pre-evangelism, as a proof text that Christ is the only means of salvation—and so it should be. But there is much more to it than even that.

On the night he was betrayed, as Jesus and His disciples finished their last meal together, the disciples were uneasy, Jesus kept talking about leaving. That was not what they wanted to hear. He promised that He was going ahead of them to prepare “a place” for them. Thomas was afraid of missing the turnoff so he asked: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (14:5). Then came the classic reply: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (14:6)

This “place” the Lord was preparing was heaven. He had already told them that they knew the way to get there (14:4). That was the heart of the message Jesus had been preaching over the three and a half years He had been with the disciples.

It…

The Hole in the Whole

Image
Today’s post marks the 100th in this series through Matthew and John. I’m already thinking about what I will do next year!

Advanced planning isn’t a bad thing. But it might be a little presumptuous since I have no idea what might happen tomorrow let alone where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing next year.

Perhaps that is why John records these fascinating words in John 13:1: “Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.” John was writing this after the events. At the time of the Passover supper he, like all the others, didn’t really understand what was going to happen over the next few days of their lives. They may have had plans but I’d guess those plans didn’t include a crucifixion even though the Lord had announced it so many times.

Later, looking back at what had happened, John could write what was in his Master’s mind: “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God” (13:3).

Bu…

H2O

Image
Water. Ecologists warn that we are abusing it and that one day that abuse will come back to haunt us. In some parts of the world, lack of the vital resource has left millions of people struggling for life. It would be hard to drink too much of it, but most of us drink too little. We bathe in it, flush it, swim in it, and generally assume that it will always be there for us.

Water is essential to life.

Washing, to the Jew familiar with the law and the traditions of the religion of his ancestors, symbolized purification. It had always had a place in the practice of religion, from the cleansing rituals of the priests before they entered the holy places to the bitter water drunk by the woman suspected of adultery. Amazingly it took more modern generations a long time to realize just how important washing was to the prevention of disease and contamination. It wasn’t until the 1800s that physicians began to make the connection that the Bible had always illustrated through its historical rec…

God on His Knees

Image
It’s a scene often described to us. It’s an example we are told to follow. But how often do we stop to think about why Peter felt the horror he did when Jesus bent down to wash the disciples’ feet.

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1)

In the hustle and bustle of the Passover preparations, apparently no one thought to look after the custom of washing the feet of the guests as they entered for the meal. It would have been proper for one of the disciples to at least wash the Rabbi’s feet. But, it seems, no one did.

So when Jesus got up, removed his outer garment, wrapped himself in a towel, filled a basin with water and knelt on the floor to wash His disciples’ feet, they should have been appalled. We have no record that anyone jumped up to take His place, or objected—except Peter.

We understand the les…

The One Thing I Don't Want to do Alone

Image
As we read through John 12 there are so many places where we could stop, stay, and study for a while. I going to park on just one statement.

The neighbourhood was abuzz. Lazarus has been raised from the death. The story spread like wildfire. A few days later, as people gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover, Jesus entered, riding on a donkey. The crowd reacted with celebration, throwing palm branches and their cloaks on the ground, shouting out their worship and their welcome to their “King” ( 12:13).

The authorities were annoyed, and not only was Jesus in their sights, but they were even plotting to kill Lazarus (12:10), and make him stay dead this time.

Some Greek converts were in the city for Passover and wanted to see Jesus (12:20). That simply added fuel to the fire of the authorities. They knew His fame would soon spread beyond the confines of Israel.

But Jesus was not focused on the fame and adulation. He knew what was to come and delivered again the message of His commitment to g…

The Best We Have to Give

Image
It was, by any standards, an enormously generous expression of gratitude.

Just before the Passover, Jesus arrived in Bethany to visit his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. His last visit had been marked by a funeral and a celebration of resurrection life. The Lord has brought Lazarus back from the death and all three were grateful. We don’t know how Lazarus expressed his personal gratitude to the Lord and we have only a glimpse of how Martha did it. But Mary, well, Mary found a special way to say thank you for her brother’s life.

John 12:2 tells us that a special dinner was held in Jesus’ honour when he arrived in Bethany. That was Martha’s expression for thankfulness. Serving was her forte and this time, I suspect, she did it with a spring in her step and joy in her heart.

But Mary, who had been commended for sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to what He had to say, what was she to do to say thank you?

It was customary to make guests comfortable. Since people reclined to visit and…

On the Way to Worship

Image
One of things I made a BIG point about when I was training Sunday School teachers had to do with what they should NOT be doing on the way to church. Three guesses what that might be? No clue? Well, it might not be the first thing on the list of Sunday morning priorities, but preparing your lesson on the way to church was never a good plan.

But there is something else we shouldn’t be doing on the way to church on Sunday morning. In fact, we shouldn’t be doing it at all, but especially not on our way to worship the Lord.

In John 11, right at the end of the chapter, we discover some of the Jews, particularly the religious authorities, plotting how they could get rid of Jesus (11:46-48). That was bad enough. But as the Passover approached—one of the holiest of all Jewish celebrations—things got worse. The text tells us that in preparation for the Passover, people were expected to go through a ceremonial purification (11:55). If you are going to worship God, you need to “get all your spiri…

Doing a Martha

Image
Martha is much maligned. Yes, the Lord did rebuke her for getting so uptight about the meal she was preparing for thirteen men (and what hostess wouldn’t be?) that she missed the spiritual meal that came from sitting at Jesus’ feet. Yes, she did that.

But by the time we get to John 11, we find a different Martha. We find a woman with whom Jesus discussed the resurrection. Hmmmm, she must have been sitting at Jesus’ feet to have gotten that intelligent in a world where women were hardly educated in anything but washing, cooking, hauling water, and having babies.

It was Martha who said: “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world” (John 11:27). Martha didn’t pick up that bit of good theology by scrubbing floors.

As Jesus and His disciples approached Bethany, His arrival was announced at the house where Mary and Martha were mourning the loss of their brother, Lazarus. This time it was Martha who dropped everything and rushed out to meet Him. It was…

To God Be The Glory

Image
...it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (John 11:4).

Not long before this incident in John 11, the disciples had met a blind man and learned a lesson (John 9:3). They had thought that sickness was the obvious consequence of sin. Jesus disabused them of that notion. “...this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

A short time later the news came that Lazarus, a close friend of the Lord's, was sick. Though this time the disciples didn’t question the reasons for the sickness, the Lord quickly assured them that God would be glorified through it, just had He had been glorified through the healing of the blind man. The disciples may have assumed that Lazarus too would be healed. Little did they anticipate that Jesus would wait until his friend had died before going to Bethany.

Sickness and death—we rarely say those two words in the same sentence as we say “the glory of God.” After the fact, we can understand how the healing of th…

A True Hero

Image
I caught a bit of a news report this morning out of New York. A man was trying to escape from one of the upper floors of a burning building. To jump would have been suicidal; to stay wasn’t an option. Neighbours saw the dilemma and found a ladder that they could lay alongside the window. I didn’t catch exactly what one rescuer did but the reporter said that he risked his life to help the man in the window to safety. A heroic deed.

When some people look at Jesus’ life, or more specifically, his death, they see no hero. They see weakness, foolishness, and helplessness. The Pharisees taunted Him as He hung on the cross. “If you are God,” they said, “come down and save yourself.”

Here in John 10, Jesus sets the record straight. It was His choice, and His choice alone, to sacrifice Himself. “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it…