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Treating The King Like A Pawn

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him” Luke 23:8.

Rather than seeking Christ to inquire concerning the truth about the world, humanity, and the Creator God, Herod merely wanted to satisfy his idle curiosity. To him the Lord Jesus’ miracles were not signs authenticating His deity and Messiahship; instead they were magic tricks meant for his royal amusement. He wanted to manipulate his notable prisoner into performing instead of preaching; of course, that is exactly what the Lord would not do. Jesus Christ is not a pawn and life is not a game. In order to accomplish the purpose for which they were created, human beings must bow to the King of kings and Lord of lords who alone gives eternal life.

tissot-jesus-before-herod-513x743*Image: James Tissot, “Jesus before Herod”; found here: http://www.joyfulheart.com/easter/images-tissot/tissot-jesus-before-herod-513×743.jpg Accessed on 6/3/13.

Trivializing The Ultimate Truth

Many moderns reenact Herod’s tragic mistake by thinking that they have heard about Christ and therefore know all about Him. But hearsay is notoriously unreliable. One may hear that Christ was a good teacher or a moral man, and the gospels bear this out – yet it is not the whole truth. Jesus was “God manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16.) He was a real, sinless man; yet He was also God walking in our midst (1 Tim. 2:5; Jn. 1:14; Phil. 2:5-8.)

As God incarnate the Lord Jesus is incapable of being maneuvered by humans into doing what they want. During His earthly ministry, He steadfastly held to God the Father’s will and timetable. Thus, He was born, died, rose again, and ascended back to heaven all according to the schedule preordained from before the foundation of the world (e.g. 1 Pet. 1:10-12; Titus 1:2-3.) For a puny would-be potentate – in reality a dissipated, vacillating puppet of the Roman overlords – to suppose that he could make Christ perform on demand was ludicrous. The Lord Jesus is not malleable to men’s perverted notions.

Checkmating Ourselves

Far too many moderns reduplicate the same mistake in different forms. They suppose that Jesus is there to be reinterpreted according to their thinking. Rather than a holy God who “…commands all men everywhere to repent,” they suppose that He is a grandfatherly type of being who would never dream of separating anyone from Himself for an eternity of punishment. Or they simplistically think that He indulgently turns a blind eye to our sinful desires and thought-life. To others, the Lord is little better than a life-ring to desperately grasp when they get into trouble, or a miracle-working genie whom we may call upon to gratify our desires for the sensational or the supernatural.

The Lord Jesus Christ will not submit to a chess game of our own devising. He is not a pawn, but a king. Bearing this in mind, our legitimate response must be to bow to Him and say “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Lk. 18:13); and “My Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28)!  Afterwards we say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:10) and “Lord, what do you want me to do” (Acts 9:6)? This is the best kind of life: one lived in obedience to our Lord and King.

The Lord Jesus Christ: Persona Non Grata Of The 21st Century

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

TO DOWNLOAD IN PDF., CLICK HERE: The Lord Jesus Christ – Persona non grata of the 21st century

These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.” John 16:1-3

Much to the consternation of secular elites, spiritual beliefs continue to thrive in many parts of the world. But then again, not all spiritual ideas are equal. The Bible cautions us: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1.) Just because something emanates from the spiritual world does not automatically ensure that it is from God. Satan is an enemy of human souls who is able to transform himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14.) Sometimes this diabolical deceiver walks in the halls of tyrannical and oppressive powers, sowing discord, violence, and pain. Just as often, however, this traducer is found in temples, churches, synagogues, and mosques, whispering doctrines of demons into the itching ears of religious men and women (1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 4:3.) Everything must be tested in accordance with the Spirit of truth who has revealed His will in the Holy Scriptures (1 Thes. 5:21.)

 

Hirelings Versus The Good Shepherd

 

It is astonishing to see the acclaim that is given to some religious leaders in our world today. The Dali Lama, the Pope, and other high level clerics are feted, praised, and consulted by celebrities, politicians, and academics. This world’s treatment of Jesus Christ stands in marked contrast to how these religious frauds are received. They are lauded, He was reviled. They preside over great material resources, He had no settled dwelling place, maintaining that, “foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Mat. 8:20.) They are sought out by the princes of this world, He was delivered up for crucifixion by them (1 Cor. 2:8.) Their opinions are carefully analyzed in the halls of academia, yet His Word continues to be ridiculed and excluded from centers of learning and power. In short, this world loves these men because they are part of the same human-exalting, God-denying system (1 John 2:15-16.) They represent idolatry and falsehood; conversely Christ represents His own unshakeable kingdom, which is based upon the truth and accurately reveals the true character of God the Father (Mat. 11:27; John 18:36-37; Heb. 12:28.)

 

The World Loving Its Own

 

It should not surprise genuine Christians that this world celebrates all sorts of immoral and perverse individuals. At the same time they reject those whose lives have been transformed by the unparalleled grace of God. Tolerance is the word of the hour and they will tolerate just about any absurd lifestyle or belief system, provided that it does not demand allegiance to the Lord Jesus. Intolerance is only permissible when it comes to Christian living and the preaching of the Word of God. One can speak about ethics, morality, improving the world, saving the environment, stopping war, and many other good causes, and they will find that they are not criticized for doing so (they may even win the Nobel prize!) But let one stand up and say the Lord Jesus Christ is God and is the only way to heaven, and one will be vilified and reckoned to be deluded. The true Gospel asserts that one cannot have eternal life apart from Him. It beseeches people to forsake their religion, their supposed good deeds, and throw themselves upon the mercy of the God who gave His Son to die on the cross; thereby He provided the right redemption price to save people from their sin and the judgment that they deserve. If they receive Christ they will escape an eternal hell and gain life which is of such superior quality that it gives spiritual freedom to serve God as one ought, as well as the assurance of a place in the Father’s house for all the endless ages to come. Such a beautiful message about an Altogether Lovely Savior is repudiated by this world. Furthermore, the notion that one can only be saved by the grace of God in Christ and His sacrifice – all of which is vouchsafed by His historic physical resurrection – is thoroughly ridiculed by modern people. Like their Master, Christians are held up to scorn and opprobrium by the religious and irreligious alike. Dear believer, get used to it, you are not going to win any popularity contests down here – not at least if you are faithful to the Lord who called you (Gal. 6:14.)

 

Thankfully, sinful humanity does not have the last word on the Lord Jesus and His prospects in this world. The Bible affirms that He is coming again to rule and reign for a thousand years (Rev. 20.) When He has put all enemies under His feet He will bring in His eternal kingdom wherein dwells righteousness in its absolute fullness. The opposition and hatred of this world notwithstanding, the Lord Jesus shall be exalted as King of kings and Lord of lords and God will be all in all (Rev. 19:16; 1 Cor. 15:25, 28.) What is more, according to His grace, His saints who suffer with Him now will reign with Him then (Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:3-12.)

 

Who shall condemn us now?
Since Christ has died, and risen, and gone above,
For us to plead at the right hand of Love,
Who shall condemn us now?

‘Tis God that justifies!
Who shall recall the pardon or the grace,
Or who the broken chain of guilt replace?
‘Tis God that justifies!

The victory is ours!
For us in might came forth the Mighty One;
For us He fought the fight, the triumph won —
The victory is ours!i

iHoratius Bonar, “Blessed be God Our God,” Found here: http://stempublishing.com/hymns/ss/89 Accessed on 7/20/11.

 

Classic Expositions From The Past: “Come; Take; Learn” by Hamilton Smith

Monday, April 4th, 2011

TO DOWNLOAD THE ARTICLE IN PDF., CLICK HERE:  Come, Take, Learn – H. Smith

“Come”; “Take”; “Learn”
Matthew 11: 25-30

There are certain passages in the Word of God that are especially endeared to the hearts of all
that love our Lord Jesus, inasmuch as they very definitely set forth the loveliness of Christ.
Among such portions we may well include the six closing verses of Matthew 11, for in these
verses we see the perfection of Christ shining out in one of the darkest moments of His earthly
pathway.
The passage opens with the words, “At that time.” We may well pause to enquire, what was
“that time”? The preceding chapters bring before us the Lord’s ministry in the midst of Israel. He
had presented Himself in all the glory of His Person as Emmanuel — God with us — cleansing
the leper with a touch, healing the centurion’s servant with a word, and commanding the demons
to depart (8). He had revealed the grace of His heart in forgiving sins, in sitting down to eat with
sinners, in raising the dead, opening the eyes of the blind, and in making the dumb to speak. He
had revealed the tender love of His heart by suffering in His spirit the sorrows that He took away
by His power, and had expressed His compassions for those who were scattered abroad as sheep
having no shepherd. He had shown the lowly grace of His heart by entering the humble home of
a fisherman, by preaching the gospel to the poor, and by becoming so poor that He had nowhere
to lay His head.
What response did the nation give to the One who expressed His grace by becoming poor in
order to show forth His love and power on behalf of sinful men in relieving them of every sorrow
and pressure, even of death itself?
Alas! Some besought Him to depart; others said “This man blasphemeth.” Again there were
those who laughed Him to scorn; others said He was a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber. The
leaders said “He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.” They insulted Him, defamed
Him, and thus speaking and acting against Him, they fulfilled His own touching words, “They
have rewarded Me evil for good, and hatred for my love” (Ps. 109: 5). It thus becomes clear that
“that time” was the time of His utter rejection by the nation of Israel.
This then was the answer the nation gave to all His love and grace. But what answer did the
Lord give to all the insults and scorn that men heaped upon Him? Did He assert His sovereign
rights, and fall back upon His royal power by which He could have silenced every opposer and
crushed every foe? He had, indeed, warned the nation of the judgment that would overtake them,
but He utters no word of resentment, He uses no threats, He is not moved to any act of revenge.
In like spirit, a little later, in the last closing scenes, in the presence of false witnesses, “Jesus
held His peace.” Before Pilate, when accused by the chief priests, “He answered him to never a
word”; and yet again, before the mocking Herod, “He answered him nothing.”
If then He was silent, if He took no revenge upon His enemies, was it that He had no resource?
Far from it; but His resource was not to vilify His enemies and turn upon His foes, but to turn to
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the Father in prayer. As He can say, “For my love they are my adversaries; but I give myself
unto prayer” (Ps. 109: 4). So Peter can write of the Lord, in his Epistle, “Who when He was
reviled, reviled not again: when He suffered He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him
that judgeth righteously.” The answer then to all the insults men heaped upon Him is seen in the
threefold perfection that it called forth from the Lord.
First, “that time” brought to light His perfect and unshaken confidence in the Father’s love. He
finds His resource in turning in prayer to the Father — the One who loves Him, and who has all
power as the Lord of heaven and earth. No circumstances, however terrible, are allowed for one
moment to call in question the Father’s love, or the power of the Lord of heaven and earth. Nor
does the Lord turn to the Father, calling for revenge upon His enemies, but with thanks that, in
spite of all the hatred and opposition of men and devils, divine love and divine power are
carrying out the Father’s purposes. These counsels of love pass by those who by their wisdom
know not God, and proclaim the gospel to the poor who have no resources, and make known the
Father to the babes who make no pretension.
Moreover, a second great perfection comes to light. With perfect confidence in the Father’s love
and power, the Lord perfectly submits to the Father’s will. Thus He can say, “Even so Father: for
so it seemed good in Thy sight.” If carrying out the Father’s will entails the hatred and scorn of
men, He will submit. A little later, Peter, in his fleshly zeal, may draw a sword to resist those
who oppose His Master; but, the Lord, Himself, can say, “Put up thy sword into the sheath: the
cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it”? (John 18: 11).
Furthermore, the sorrowful circumstances bring into prominence a third perfection of the Lord,
for He can say, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” In perfect meekness He gave way rather than
assert His rights, and in perfect lowliness He refused to exalt Himself. As He passed through this
world he ignored self in order to serve others in love.
Thus the darkest moment of His pathway becomes the occasion of bringing into display the
moral excellencies of Christ, as seen in His perfect confidence in the Father’s love; His perfect
submission to the Father’s will, and the meekness and lowliness of heart that could think of
everything, and everyone but self.
Thus, in a threefold way the loveliness of Christ shines forth. If, however, we are to profit by
Christ as our perfect pattern it will not be enough to admire His excellencies, we must also give
heed to His three exhortations: First, “Come unto Me”; Secondly, “Take my yoke,” and, Thirdly,
“Learn of Me.”
“Come unto Me.” Israel’s rejection of Christ cannot stay the grace of God: indeed, it becomes
the occasion for that grace to flow out to all, Jew and Gentile alike. Therefore the Lord can say,
“Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden.” However great the burden of sins we are
welcome to come, even as the woman who was a sinner found in the house of Simon, and as a
poor thief found when nailed on a cross. As another has written, it is as if the Lord said, “If you
are a poor woman, not fit to face any of your fellow creatures, come to Me; I will have you, trust
Me: if you are hanging on a cross for your crimes, you shall go up today with Me to paradise.
My blood is enough to put your crimes away: my heart is open to receive you.” Weary with our
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vain efforts to meet our condition, and burdened with our sins, how good to hear His words of
love, “Come unto Me,” and, in His presence, discover that He knows the worst about us, and yet
He loves us. Then to learn that loving us He has died for us, and that the holy God is so satisfied
with what Christ has done that He has raised Him from the dead and seated Him in the glory, and
that the one that believes in Him is justified from all things, and is as clear of the judgment that
his sins deserve as Christ, Himself, in the glory. Thus it is He brings peace to the conscience, and
we realise the truth of His words, “I will give you rest.”
“Take My yoke.” The yoke implies service taken up in submission to the will of another. With
our natural tendency to self-importance we may seek to be among the Lord’s people as those that
rule and exercise lordship, but He could say, “1 am among you as He that serveth.” Moreover, it
is not service according to our own wills, or doing what we think best; but service according to
His thoughts and in obedience to His will. It is not simply “a yoke” that we are asked to take, but
“His yoke.” Coming to Him as needy sinners He will give us rest; taking His yoke as believers
we shall find rest. Martha, who served the Lord according to her thoughts was distracted and
“cumbered about much serving.”
“Learn of Me.” If, then, our service is to be according to His will and pleasure we shall need to
remember the Lord’s third great exhortation, “Learn of Me.” This involves, not only that we
learn the service He would have us to take up, but that we learn His blessed character, so that we
not only do the right thing, but we do it in the right spirit. Therefore the Lord’s desire is first, that
we should take up His service in submitting to His yoke; secondly, that we should exhibit His
character as the One Who is “meek and lowly in heart.”
We can learn of one another; we can learn by the prayerful study of the word; but to learn of
Him implies that we are in His presence and keep His company. As the Lord could say a little
later, “If any man serve Me, let him follow Me” (John 12: 26). It is not, indeed, that He will give
us any fresh revelation beyond that which is made known to us in the word; but, in His presence
we learn the blessed reality of all that the word reveals. Paul can write to Timothy, “Consider
what 1 say: and the Lord will give thee understanding” (2 Tim. 2: 7). An Apostle may be used to
reveal the truth, but the Lord alone can give understanding of the truth revealed. It is good indeed
to have the doctrine set forth with all the authority of God’s written word; but good, also, when
the written word turns us to the living Word to see the truth set forth in all its perfection in HIM.
In His Person there is brought before us, in a way that must deeply affect us, all the moral
excellencies and spiritual graces that marked every step of His path of devoted service. We look
up to Him in the glory as our object and our hope, but we look back to His perfect pathway to
learn in Him the spirit that should mark His people as they pass through this world. In Him we
see our perfect example, for He was “meek and lowly in heart.” It is still possible, like Mary of
old, to sit at His feet and hear His word, and learning of Him we shall catch something of His
spirit and express something of His lovely character. It has been truly said, “There is so much
Christian service in the world which lacks true strength and beauty, because it stands too little
connected with the source of all service, with Christ Himself, and is too little founded on the
word of God. There are so many believers who like Martha, are busied about many things, but
alas! have neither the desire, nor quietness enough, to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His
precious word. To spend an hour alone with the Lord would be to them far more difficult than to
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labour the whole day about all sorts of things. And whence comes this? It demands a far more
spiritual mind to tarry in His presence than to be occupied with service. In the latter even nature
can find some satisfaction, while in His presence it must be entirely set aside.”
Furthermore, if we learn of Him, we shall not only take up His service in His spirit, but, in the
presence of all the sorrows and trials of life, the desertions and disappointments, the insults and
malice we may have to meet, we shall act as He acted. We shall not allow any of these things to
call in question the Father’s love, but, like Christ, we shall make them the occasion of turning to
the Father in prayer, of confiding in the Father’s love, and submitting to the Father’s will. In the
spirit of meekness we shall be quiet in the presence of every insult. With the lowly mind we shall
refuse to exalt self and seek, rather, to ignore self while seeking to serve others in love. Thus
acting like the Master we shall find rest to our souls.
Then seek to please Him, whatsoever He bids thee,
Whether to do, to suffer, or be still;
‘Twill matter little by what path He leads us,
If in it all we sought to do His will.
Taken from: http://stempublishing.com/magazines/OSW/51-60/osw52e.html Accessed on
4/1/11.