Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for December, 2013

Image

Paul’s qualification and authenticity had been called into question right along with the very gospel he was teaching. Therefore, he has just made his argument proving he is not inferior to Peter or any of the other apostles. Now, he elaborates upon that which he has already laid the foundation for in Galatia: justification by faith alone.

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. ~Galatians 2:15-21

Paul contends that he himself as well as several other apostles were born Jews, as any “holy” person of the time was. They had the right parents, the right families, the right religion, and the right background for this kind of gig. They obeyed the law like good Jews – especially Paul. But, he contends, it ain’t about that, guys, it’s about Christ. Because, let me tell ya, you can obey all the religious laws and be abusing Christ in the background. Those that don’t have our background are not in any way disqualified. There is one qualification and that is faith. It doesn’t mean we scrap the law and sin however we want to. Certainly not!!! Now, we live for Christ because of love for Christ, not because of our duty to the law.

Therefore, our actions do not become less holy and more crass and unlawful. Heaven forbid we abuse grace in that way! Our actions actually become more holy and upright as we understand grace more. We don’t try to see what we can get away with or teeter on the fence holding hands with sin. Christ’s love is a much, much, much better motivator than obligatory laws! We live for him, now, not check marks on a righteousness card. He lives in us and sustains us in purity. We cannot get to him through the law. The law merely points us towards him. He comes to us by grace. Otherwise, the gospel is useless. The cross was vain. If there’s any way to be right before God aside from Christ’s blood, he died for absolutely no reason. Oh, and by the way, associating with Gentiles is not what makes a man like me unholy anyway. My own inability to keep the law is what proves me a transgressor.

Paul, in considering himself dead to the law did never consider himself above the law or without the law. Isn’t that interesting? Why?

Justification, or, being made right before God, is not a human work. It comes not by any human effort or status. Justification comes only by the faith given by grace alone. However, the evidence of genuine faith rooted in grace is not lawlessness, despite what many teachers then and many teachers now would have unlearned Christians believe.

Works are not a ticket to heaven. Grace is not a license to sin. We do not trust works as the basis of merit or justification. We do not use grace as the basis of liberty to indulge in sin. On the contrary! We trust in grace as our basis of justification and the good works we do give credence that Christ is moving us away from self-indulgence and sin and toward living a holy life for his own glory.

Paul brings these truths out beautifully in Galatians 2. In preaching justification by grace alone, he never so much as suggests that grace weakened or negated any duty he had in obeying God’s righteous moral laws. Instead, he proves how grace strengthens those obligations, crucifies and deadens us to sin, and gives even more reason for men to live holy and upright lives in Christ. Jesus did as much in the Sermon on the Mount.

There was no shortage of crass, arrogant teachers who thought themselves superior in Galatia. There’s no less of that be-better-like-us-or-else brand today either. But let’s just consider Paul’s humility as the one veritably chosen of God. He indicted himself as the transgressor. He never justified sin by thinking himself above God’s laws. He understood his own utter need for grace. His preaching wasn’t hateful, discouraging, or condescending. Never once did he communicate how much his hearers reeked or how much he didn’t. No. He was loving, encouraging, and full of grace.

Hate deters; Love motivates. Discouragement depresses; Encouragement inspires. Law imprisons; Grace changes. Let us remember what makes our feet beautiful and how we are to share this message.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C53GgUJ6y-Y

Read Full Post »

Image

 

“Dost thou . . . renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world . . . ?” 

In a day before mandatory seat belts and car seats, I inched forward from the back seat.  I crept into the adults’ conversation almost undetected.  I began to tell a joke I’d heard from the kids at school.  I don’t remember the gist of it all, but I will never forget that the punch line involved a demon.

By the end of my spiel, my aunt had turned completely around and sternly reprimanded me.  “We do not joke about demons,” she scolded.  I remember it like it was yesterday.

I mean, I was the little girl who was afraid of the bad things I saw other kids doing.  I cried when they got punished.  I’m pretty sure I was physically unable to say bad words.  I distinctly remember one of my friends trying to convince me that cussing wasn’t bad if it was in a song and trying to get me to say it that way.  I still refused.  My conscience was as sensitive as ice cream on a hot day.

I slunk back in the big backseat and I regretted my failed attempt to fit in by following the crowd.  I understood what I had done.  Needless to say, I learned my lesson after being corrected.  Demons are not funny.  Never entertain yourself with them.  Ever.  For any reason.

It seems a tender conscience has made its way into my daughter as well.  From the time she could speak, my Mia has exhibited both discernment and conviction.  When she does something she knows is wrong, she generally comes to me confessing before I even find out about it.  Things are very clear to her, and when they are not, she asks a zillion questions.  She understands a lot more than most kids her age.  I’m pretty sure she’s physically incapable of lying believably.  Mia possesses naturally what many skilled adults have no success ever learning: discernment and conviction.

All that to say, the other day she came to me with the Aunt Shirley sobriety set like stone upon her face.  

“Mom, I turned off the cartoon my sisters were watching.”

“Why?”

“Well, we really like it but I looked up the talents for the characters and one of them said, ‘demon.’ ” 

“Oh.  Well you were right to turn it off.  Thank you for protecting your sisters and sacrificing for what’s right.”

“But now they’re mad at me.  I tried to tell them why but they don’t care.”

“It’s ok.  I’ll tell them you did right.”

I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am that my daughter not only recognizes danger in today’s world of evil influence, but cares enough to put away that which she personally enjoys of it for the sake of her own well being as well as her little sisters.  This is the single most important lesson she could ever learn regarding personal holiness.

I thought back to a conversation we had a few weeks ago about this very subject.  One of the kids’ favorite games on the Wii is a dancing game made by Disney.  One of their favorite songs to dance to is a kids song called, “Calling All the Monsters.”  They asked me to download it to my phone so they could listen to it in the car.  As I listened intently, I caught a line wherein the lyrics spoke of a demon.  Yeah.  That was the first and last listen for me and the very last listen for them.  

Mia questioned me about why and what was so wrong with the song.  She understood.  She remembered.  She applied it to her own life.  How proud I am of her!

You may think I’m a fanatic.  So what if one of the characters in the show is a demon?  So what if the song talks about demons?  So what if every new doll that comes out has the appearance of a demon?  So what if the message of the magazine, the book, the movie, the commercial is anti-God?  We’re big kids.  We can handle it, right?  It won’t hurt us; affect us; change us.  We know who we are.  Abstinence is for babies.  In fact, I’ll prove it to you.  Just you watch me do this and not get hurt. Just you try to tell me it’s wrong.  I can do whatsoever I want to ya legalist.  God forgave me.  You must not understand what that means.  Are you even saved?  I’ll knock you into next week ya moron.  Better yet, maybe you should get out from under the rock you’re living under and lighten up loser Lori.

Well, I’m not sure if you can see it, but I do believe we live in a culture immersed in great darkness.  My elders taught me well.  Never entertain yourself with demons.  Ever.  For any reason.  I will never acquiesce to any other idea.

“Is it right to look on what is disgraceful to do? How is it that the things that defile a man in going out of his mouth, are not regarded as doing so when they go in his eyes and ears?” ~Tertullian

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtDrlk7vnkI

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Image

Paul makes a third argument to prove his very important point to the Galatians.  He speaks of a dispute he had with Peter in Antioch.

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” ~Galatians 2:11-14

Antioch was where one of the chief churches of the Gentiles was located.  Peter had been a Jew.  He had been sent to minister primarily to the Gentiles.  Some Jewish Christians had come to visit and Peter (Cephas) decided to throw off his true convictions to save his reputation with his old buddies.  He became intimidated and afraid around these guys.  Chances are, he didn’t want to look unspiritual…because…by golly he was as spiritual as they come.  He was the Rock, remember?  He didn’t want to be judged negatively by them.  He was worried about how his old culture might perceive him if he went against their mistaken rules and practices.  He cared a little…no a lot too much what these guys thought.  He was putting on a show, and, in so doing, he was denying the very ones to whom he was sent the very gospel for which he was sent.  

Paul confronts Peter on the basis of hypocrisy.  Note, their previous interaction had been pleasant and ended on good terms.  This was not a personal issue.  It was a gospel issue.  It was not about Peter or Paul.  It was about the purity of the truth.  Paul knows that this is a hill he has to die on.  

Also note that Paul is not in any way intimidated by Peter – the Rock whom many hold to be most superior on the hierarchical scale of the early church.  Peter wasn’t a pope.  He was a man and sometimes men make mistakes.  Only God is infallible.  In light of that, we can deduce that, when sin is public, brothers and sisters are indeed called to exhort, admonish, and correct one another without fearing that the other pull out a supremacy card.  God alone is supreme.

Not only was he guilty of blatant hypocrisy, being the influential leader that he was, he was influencing many others to act hypocritically as well – even the very best of men! (Galatians 2:13)

“The weakness and inconsistency of the best men, when left to themselves, and how apt they are to falter in their duty to God, out of an undue regard to the pleasing of men.  And, the great force of bad examples, especially the examples of great men and good men, such as are in reputation for wisdom and honor.” ~Matthew Henry

Paul sees the clear and severe danger of Peter’s sin.  This whole church could fall on the heels of his pride and cowardice.  Paul’s solution is to answer Peter’s very injurious public sin with a very public earnest correction.  The cure, it seems, for blatant hypocrisy stemming from pride and cowardice in good leaders is, at times, public confrontation.

Paul and Peter’s Jewish culture sought to exclude men from the gospel on the basis of improper food, drink, association, and religious rituals.  They called things dirty which God had made clean.  Our culture seeks to exclude men on the basis of a lack of tolerance, refusing universalism, and adherence to Biblical truth.  They call things clean which God has deemed dirty.  These are merely two sides of one coin.  That coin is man’s fully made up, fully false, religious systems.  Both stem from intense cultural pressure, heavy-handed false teachers, and fear of being found guilty in the eyes of men.  

We cannot get to God by submission to man-made systems of belief.  Let us hear Paul and oppose those who would have us to believe and practice otherwise.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDU6JQV5_O8

Read Full Post »

Image

It had been quite a while since Paul had been to Jerusalem.  Fourteen years, to be exact.  In Galatians 2, he writes telling the Galatians he had gone back.  He told them who he went with, why he went, and what he taught there.  He does so to lay a foundation for what he wants the Galatians to understand.  Here’s what he shares:

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. ~Galatians 2:1-5

Why, after fourteen years, did Paul go back to Jerusalem?  The text says he had a revelation.  This trip was God’s doing, not his own.  He wanted the Galatian leaders to understand that important fact, firstly.  So Paul took Barnabas and…Titus.  Titus was a Gentile believer who had not been circumcised.  Neither he nor the other leaders in Jerusalem saw any issue with Titus not being circumcised after coming to faith and even becoming a minister of the gospel.  Circumcision is not gospel.  Stop teaching that it, among many other things, is necessary for salvation, guys.  

Notice who he taught there.  He taught leaders and the most influential people, privately.  Why?  Why not everyone and why not publicly?

Paul knew the stronghold these age-old Jewish customs and beliefs had.  He knew if he went in swingin’ there was bound to be trouble.  So instead, he teaches the leaders who were already fully functioning in the church.  He trusts them to share the truth of pure Christianity apart from works faithfully, patiently, and gently with the rest of the followers who were still entrapped in some Jewish mix.  He knew it wasn’t going to be a one sermon subject.  He knew it wouldn’t be an overnight change for most like it so miraculously was for him.  If it were, God wouldn’t have sent him, he wouldn’t have had the revelation, and they wouldn’t be having this conversation at all.  But God did, he did, and they were.  So he, in his God-given wisdom, goes to the leaders privately and makes certain that they are all on level ground regarding a pure gospel.  

Paul mentions “false brothers.”  These were men who had somehow found their way into the church and were skilled in the craft of espionage.  Spies.  Watchers.  Informants.  Inauthentic probers.  Their main mission was to feel out every believer and gather information they could and would use against them.  Ultimately, their goal was to imprison the believers through falsehood, setups, intimidation, and half-truths.  They wanted slaves, not sisters and brothers.

Paul wasn’t buying.  He refused to submit to their unorthodox practices even for a moment.  (Galatians 2:4-5)  It was for freedom that Christ set us free.  The gospel is not about secrecy and spying on our counterparts.  The gospel is about loving one another truly and living free in Christ.

Paul adds that, though their gospel missions were different, all the apostles and leaders loved and accepted one another without prejudice.  Rather, they agreed to work together for the good of those in real need. (Galatians 2:7-10)

It is clear that Paul allowed no hybrid mix of the cultural practices and pressures to infiltrate and taint the purity of the truth he was so tirelessly teaching.  For that evil, he could neither stand nor submit.  The gospel is simply too important to toy with.  Notice, he had absolutely no fear in teaching the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth despite the strong cultural and congregational pressure to do otherwise.  

A pure, unadulterated gospel is as unfavorable now as it was then.  Whether spies sneak in to overemphasize works in exchange for faith or de-emphasize holiness in exchange for grace, do not fear.  Long-held, improper, imprisoning beliefs are bound to belabor any true disciple.  When you witness secrecy, spies, or slave drivers, do not fear.  Instead, follow your Father to freedom in Christ.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jotNbcFelX4

 

Read Full Post »

Image

Paul elaborates further on his opening statements in Galatians 1 and 2.  He wants his hearers to understand who he is, where he came from, and why his accusers are bogus.  He gives ample reason why they can be assured that he is trustworthy.  Paul gives a detailed account of his travels and experiences both with God and the church.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus…(In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) ~Galatians 1:10-17, 20

Why would Paul so adamantly state that he was not lying?  Apparently there were more than a few who were spreading misleading information regarding he and his reputation.  So much so that he felt he had to vehemently declare his own innocence in the face of those he cared so dearly for.  But as he defends himself, he insists that he has only one opinion in mind – God’s.  Ironic, huh?  A man defending himself for the sake of the truth he is teaching and the God he is serving.  While his accusers may charge his defense self-righteous,  2000+ years of study has proven otherwise.  

Paul defends himself and restates his motives because he recognizes the great potential for men to misunderstand, misrepresent, and malign him because of them.  Let’s face it, when you’re working for God, people don’t always understand.  He wants his brothers and sisters to recognize that, too.  So, he reminds them who he is working to please and where his authority comes from.  Paul wasn’t flaunting Pharisaic degrees given by rabbis.  He wasn’t pointing to his strict upbringing or his noble birth.  Never once do we see Paul boasting about his worldly accolades – even though we are certain he had more than most.  But, no.  When Paul pointed to his qualification, he pointed to God alone.  When he pointed to his past, he pointed only to his own failure.  (Galatians 1:12-14)

Little wonder why Paul’s emphasis is stayed upon the sufficiency and supernatural calling of Christ alone.  (Galatians 1:15-17)  No doubt this is why these false teachings and bogus accusations are so concerning to him.  He knows the mission of these men is not just to discredit and discount him.  Their mission is to discredit the true gospel and replace it with a false one.  Can someone say cult?  Yikes.

So Paul regards not anything of his own making or doing.  He relies not upon himself or any worldly credentials.  Yet, he proves that he has everything.  Paul had what the religious authorities of his day did not.  He had the mighty hand of God Almighty laid strong upon his very life. (Galatians 1:15-24)  No one could miss that, unless, of course, they needed to.

Yes, these men who claimed to be the authorities needed to discredit Paul.  They wanted people to disbelieve him.  His true doctrine did not fit with their destructive practices.  From self-promoting, self-made rituals to regulatory impositions upon other people, they wanted to stay right where they’d always been – in charge.

Why would the Christians follow, though?  Why would they allow these guys to enforce their man-made rules?  Why would they mix works with faith as a prerequisite to salvation?  Why would they mix the law with the gospel?  Didn’t they know better?  What was the motivation for such unpleasant penance?  And why was it so important for them to make sure they followed these guys?  

Well, not surprisingly, they did it for the same reason men and women today do just the opposite: persecution.

Today, most religious authorities do not persecute for lack of ritual observation (although a few still would have us all working for salvation, abstaining from marriage and meat, and wearing what’s most out of style.)  But, no.  Now, the most destructive heresies come as a result of what many claim to be a “lack of tolerance.”  Oh, yes.  This is our cultural creed.  Where the Jews’ cultural creed was don’t eat, don’t associate, don’t include, and don’t dare forget your fast and sacrifice (even though Jesus finished all that) or else we’ll ostracize you, ours is don’t judge, don’t discern, don’t debate, don’t question – even if – you guessed it – heresies are prevalent within the church (because, well, Jesus wouldn’t want anyone spitting hairs over things like sin or exposing it for goodness sake…and if you do, we’ll ostracize you.)  

Both errors result from missing the imperative balance between law and grace.  Love brings law and grace together for the good of all, not self-interest.  

We must recognize our time and refer to Paul and Jesus who both rightly refused to bow to the bosses with the biggest britches.  We’ve simply got someone else to please.  Fight on, Christian soldiers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG78M7g9wRo

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Image

As I (excitedly!!!) open the short book of Galatians, I find the apostle Paul defending himself, defending the gospel, and defending his brothers and sisters.  I get the idea that he wasn’t someone who was going to look the other way and whistle when he witnessed harmful practices or foolish false teaching – especially not within his beloved churches. 

Here, it seems that some sought to discredit everything Paul said and did.  Wouldn’t want the truth to get out about their lies and injury towards the people of God, right?  So Paul comes on the scene, firstly, in his own defense.

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. ~Galatians 1:1-10

  Here’s my humble paraphrase:

“Paul – an apostle.  This is who I am.  This is who God made me.  I did not make myself.  I do not preach because I need a hobby.  I do not write these letters because I have nothing better to do.  I have been called by God and he has given me this task.  Like I always say, woe to me if I do not do it.  

Grace.  Oh, hearers, it is only by his grace that I am what I am.  His grace was not ineffective!  The grace that changed me – an undeserving, prideful murderer to a faithful teacher and encourager of the church – let that same grace be upon you.  Grace and peace to you who are none other than my beloved brothers and sisters.

Oh, and by the way, you’ll need it.  We live in an incredibly evil time.  Just ask your very innocent, very crucified leader.  But don’t worry, friends.  I’m here to help you.  Jesus died for both you and me.  He died to deliver us from every dark day; every preying evil.  And prey it does.  That is why I’m praying for all of you.

Now, about that heresy you’re accepting.  Can we talk?  Cause I’m surprised you don’t see any problem with it.  Wait, no, I’m astonished.  Yeah, it’s that bad.  It is extremely false.  It is not gospel truth.  In fact, it’s the antithesis of the true gospel.  The culture you are being so easily influenced by is lying to you and you’re buying in. It is distorting the very gospel you must believe in order to be saved!  Distorted gospel = no gospel.  No gospel = no salvation.  You get me?  I’m reeeeal-ly worried about you.

If I preach untruth to you, curse me.  If an angel teaches untruth to you, curse them.  No one gets away with heresy.  Do not let them.  Yes, it’s that serious.  Do not believe the lies you are being fed by popular cultural authorities.  Though none go with you and no one approves, stand firm in the one true faith.  Even if everyone approves and applauds, if it contradicts Christ, hurl it into the theological trash heap of untruth.  Turn away from these heresies and stand up to these bullies who seek to intimidate, dominate, and silence the only hope you have of heaven.  

No, they will not be happy that I’m telling you this.  They will be infuriated, in fact.  But I care nothing for the opinions of those who hate me for telling the truth for one simple reason – because I care everything for the true gospel and for all of you.  But I do pray that they, too, would listen.  I serve Christ, not men.  I preach for the approval of only one.  

Please listen to me.  You are in great danger.  The world and it’s barbs seek to break your beliefs and boil you for breakfast.  Yeah, it’s that severe.”

Notice Paul’s tone.  He’s firm but humble.  He wasn’t flexing his apostleship muscles and ordering his brothers around.  No.  He wasn’t mad at his brothers and sisters for being deceived.  How could he be?  Paul was simply seriously concerned.  He was begging them, albeit boldly, not to buy into the bull.  How could he be true to them, true to God, and true to his task apart from expressing his severe uneasiness and vexation at what he knew they were entertaining?  

He could not.  He would not.  Therefore, he writes unashamed in full view of all who may be deceived as well as the antagonists who seek to deceive them.  Paul does not waver in order to people please or prove popular.  He values his friends and his Father far to fondly for anything that foolish.  

Likewise, our culture, too, begs us to imbibe in that which bemoans basic biblical beliefs. Whether they urge us to err either by being in bondage to the law or by believing living under grace gives us a green light to grieve the Holy Ghost without guilt, we, too, can certainly be easily bewitched.  

Therefore, be on guard.  Beware.  Believe Jesus’ blood is the only banner upon which we can bank.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4voBgiCEjU

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Image

I wake first in the house.  It’s Christmas morning.  I turn to Matthew 1.

Enter: Jesus.

Perfect baby.  Perfect child.  Perfect man.  Ill-intentioned impostor?

No.  There was no mistaking one for the other.  This error was indeed intentional.  From the time he was born, power-hungry, insecure men in positions of authority feared the very mention of his name.  Herod was neurotically jealous.  The Pharisees were ashamedly intimidated.  Yes, Jesus’ accusers knew exactly who he really was.  It was their selfish pride that caused them to look at the Son of God and call him a demon.  It was their insatiable jealousy that insisted on misrepresenting him, lying about him, casting doubt upon him, and forcing an unfair trial full of attacks without facts.  They executed him because they hated him – not because he was guilty.

Joseph.  He wanted rid of Jesus, too, before he knew the facts.  Let’s face it, the story was a bit sketchy to say the least.  Pregnant virgin?  I dunno.  So even Jesus’ own earthly father doubted his authenticity for a moment.  But here’s how you can tell who’s who in this gospel gig: Some loved and accepted Jesus after they were shown who he was; Others hated and rejected Jesus after they were shown who he was.  The former came to recognize his humble, unexpected background as great evidence of his grace; The latter used his humble, unexpected background as reason to discount everything he said and did.  No one accepted or rejected Jesus Christ before they understood who he was.

Maybe that’s because you can’t.  It’s an impossibility.  Knowing about Jesus like Joseph did when Mary dropped the “I’m pregnant” bomb is different than understanding who he is like Herod did when he sought to kill him through insecure deceit.  One doubted for lack of information.  The other hated because he was well informed.

Who is Jesus to you?  Contentment?  Confusion?  Competition?  He accepts those worthy of rejection.  We reject he who is worthy of acceptance.  Many power hungry people still seek to push Christ out of his own place.  But this is his world and he has come to us, for us, by God.  He is with us now.  All those who receive him are given the right to become the children of God.

 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. ~John 1:11-13

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RP4iyJqrPvY

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »