Search:
test
 

September 21, 2017: Resurrection

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 54-55, Proverbs 28:15-28, Luke 24:1-12, Hebrews 11:32-40 Luke 24:1-12: The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the capstone and cornerstone of the Christian faith, and the very central point of the salvation history of the world. Luke tells this story, though, not with breathless poetry, but with a key, medical doctor, eye for detail and facts. Luke the historian is concerned to make sure that we realize that what he has recorded is no pious myth or wish fulfillment, but the bare record of objective eyewitness accounts. This—astonishingly—happened. To begin with, he makes sure we know that the women who witnessed the empty tomb were not expecting Jesus to have risen. In fact, they were going there with spices to take care of the dead body (24:1). They were in an attitude of mourning, and certainly not expectation of any miracle. This is a critically important detail because sometimes people allege...

Continue Reading

September 20, 2017: A Good and Righteous Man

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 51-53, Proverbs 28:1-14, Luke 23:50-56, Hebrews 11:17-31 Luke 23:50-56: Joseph of Arimathea, many fables have been told about him, but here is the truth. He was a member of the council that had condemned Jesus, but he himself had not consented to the condemnation. He was a “good and righteous man,” and he was “looking for the kingdom of God.” By this we learn that by faith and faithfulness, he had established a reputation for upright living towards God and people—and also that he had heard the preaching and teaching of the Bible to cause him to look for God’s coming kingdom. Whether or not he at this point believed that Jesus was the King of that Kingdom is not clear; it is clear that he was a good and righteous man. He had not consented to their decision to kill Jesus, and so while he had failed to prevent that cosmic...

Continue Reading

Early Martyrs’ Witness to Christ’s Worth

[caption id="attachment_7646" align="aligncenter" width="367"] Jean-Léon Gérôme, The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer[/caption]   In early years of Christianity, many withstood the tests of torturous persecution and martyrdom to the glory of the One whose Name they bore: “Yet, if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (1 Peter. 4:16). As I have been learning of the history surrounding these men and women who loved Christ more than life on this earth and reflect upon their voices that echo through the centuries, I am led to honor Christ for His suffering, power, and worth. Martyrdom as Reality In classical Christian times (roughly 100 to 600 A.D.), persecution varied according to who was in power of the Roman empire at the time—each emperor having the power to create his own policies and climate for Christians. In summary of what I have been learning, here is an...

Continue Reading

September 19, 2017: The Curtain Was Torn in Two

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 49-50, Proverbs 27:15-27, Luke 23:44-49, Hebrews 11:1-16 Luke 23:44-49: It is as if the whole universe, all of creation, all of reality in existence, is in mourning—for it is. There is darkness, perhaps an eclipse, over the whole land for three hours. This somber portent of the event taking place is recorded for us to give a sense of the true spiritual and cosmic scope of Jesus’ death. The sun hides its eyes from the death of the Son. The curtain was torn in two. This curtain separated the Holy of Holies from all entering except on very special occasions, symbolically indicated the holiness of the presence of God and the impossibility of sinful people being in God’s presence. But now that curtain is ripped apart, by the hand of God. The way into the Holy of Holies is now opened. Jesus’ last words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” indicate his...

Continue Reading

September 18, 2017: Paradise

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 46-48, Proverbs 27:1-14, Luke 23:38-43, Hebrews 10:19-39 Luke 23:38-43: The picture of Jesus hanging between two thieves is so shocking that on occasion we miss the meaning. Here is represented two possible responses to Jesus. The one thief mocks Jesus. “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” This thief lacks faith, and can only sneer—if it is a desperate sneer—as he faces his own painful mortality in this extremity of human suffering. He “railed” at Jesus, shouting at him, badgering him, sneering, and with disdain. The other thief, however, understands the situation with far more clarity. He rebukes the thief who is railing against Jesus. Does that thief not fear God? They are under just condemnation, but Jesus has done nothing wrong. This thief, then, accepts that he is in the wrong, accepts that he is justly (if cruelly) condemned. What is more, he turns to Jesus with a simple expression of...

Continue Reading

September 17, 2017: They Crucified Him

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 44-45, Proverbs 26:17-28, Luke 23:32-37, Hebrews 10:1-18 Luke 23:32-37: The two other criminals who were crucified with him will play a famed role of significance in this drama, as we will find out tomorrow from verse 38 and onwards. This section, verses 32-37, is particularly filled with deliberate irony. But first, there are the most astonishing words uttered by a crucified man ever: Forgive them (23:34). They do not know that they are crucifying the Son of God. They do not know the extent of their crime. Christ’s thoughts, even at this hour of crucifixion, are not for himself, but for those others around him. And his thoughts are thoughts of love, peace, and in particular forgiveness. Note: we who follow in the Master’s footsteps are not to harbor grudges against one another, or labor to avenge perceived wrongs, but instead to forgive as we have been forgiven—even when unjustly accused...

Continue Reading

September 16, 2017: Dry Wood

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 42-43, Proverbs 26:1-16, Luke 23:26-31, Hebrews 9:11-28 Luke 23:26-31: As we approach the crucifixion itself, we come across two sets of characters that interact with Jesus as he goes to The Skull (23:33). The first is Simon of Cyrene. Unwittingly, he is employed as a cross bearer for Jesus, to carry the cross behind Jesus. He is the first in a crowd that is gathering, and indicates that this deed done to Jesus is in reality and illustratively the expression of the wrath of God against the world. At the cross, love and justice mingle, truth and mercy meet, though my sins condemn me, Jesus died instead; there is full forgiveness in the blood he shed. But in the first section, verses 26-31, the text emphasizes the wrath. Simon, dragged to carry the cross, follows on behind Jesus. Then a great multitude gather to mourn and lament. They are crying and weeping...

Continue Reading

September 15, 2017: Crucify Him!

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 40-41, Proverbs 25:15-28, Luke 23:13-25, Hebrews 9:1-10 Luke 23:13-25: (23:13-16) Pilate is now insistent that because he, and also Herod, have found there to be no guilt in Jesus, that he should be set free. Not, however, before he is punished (23:16), presumably as a sop to the accusers of Jesus, intending to mollify them with at least some expression of punishment. (23:17-25) Instead, however, this attempt to gain Jesus’ release through political expedience fails. The Jewish leaders are determined to have another person released instead, Barabbas, a freedom fighter, an “insurrectionist” and a “murderer.” Pilate objects, they shout. Pilate objects more; they shout louder. Eventually “their voices prevailed” (23:23). Their cries of “crucify, crucify” had the intended effect of forcing Pilate’s hand to kill Jesus to pacify the angry crowds. Samuel Crossman (1623-1683) puts it beautifully: They rise and needs will have My dear Lord made away; A murderer they save, The Prince of life they slay, Yet...

Continue Reading

September 14, 2017: Mocking the Savior

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 37-39, Proverbs 25:1-14, Luke 23:1-12, Hebrews 8:7-13 Luke 23:1-12: (23:1-5). Now begins the more formal Roman legal process. The Jewish leaders are seeking the death penalty, so they bring him before the Roman authorities and accuse him of matters that amount to treason (23:2). He is, they say, enacting a political movement that is putting himself as a rival to Caesar, a “king,” and is also effecting the revenue stream of taxes to Rome. The two aspects of the charge—political and financial—were measured to give maximum possibility of a lethal judicial sentence. Pilate picks the most incendiary of the two, that he is acting as a king in rivalry to Caesar (23:3). But when Jesus replies with an implicit acknowledgement (“you have said so”), but evidently without any political or revolutionary zeal, Pilate concludes that Jesus has done nothing wrong. The fact that Christians were not political revolutionaries was an important...

Continue Reading

September 13, 2017: Suffering Servant

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 34-36, Proverbs 24:23-34, Luke 22:63-71, Hebrews 8:1-6 Luke 22:63-71: (22:63-65) They mock Jesus. How can this be? People are cruel, and cruel authority is cruelest of all. If they do such things when the trees are green, what will they do when it is dry? If they treat the Master in this way, how will they treat his servants? Let us pray for those followers of Jesus who are being persecuted today, and do what we can to care for those Christians thrown in prison, beaten and mocked. And let us also rejoice—with sheer amazement—at the Christ who suffered all the pain and degradation that we deserved, that we might go free. (22:66-70) How frightening that a body of religious people, religious leaders no less, meeting in authoritative council, could act in such a way. Yet is the testimony of history that false believers have often treated real believers far worse than...

Continue Reading