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Showing posts from November, 2013

More Than Enough to Believe

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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...

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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

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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

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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

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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…