Protest and Parable

Protest and Parable

tissot-the-merchants-chased-from-the-temple-746x471

Back in Jerusalem, after the triumphal entry.  Jesus has cried his tears over Jerusalem and gone into the city.   He’s received the hosannas and been warned by the Pharisees.   Upon entering the city, Jesus goes into the temple.   “And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.” Mark 11:11 ESV.  Notice it says he looked around at everything.   So the next day, when he actually prophetically blesses the temple, we know that it was a planned action, not a heat of the moment temper tantrum.

Jesus-curses-fig-tree

So on Monday, Jesus is headed to the temple, but first he comes upon a fig tree.  “On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.” Mark 11:12-14 ESV. Now, this is not the season for figs, and Jesus knows it.  He is enacting a parable.  He is making a point, just as the gospel writer is making a point of including it.  Jesus is using the fig tree as a symbolic representation of the temple.  Mark told us he entered the temple and looked around following his entry into the city.  Know he tells us Jesus is looking for fruit on this fig tree, and finds none.  Just as he finds no fruit in the temple.   The next morning, remember, Jesus and the disciples pass by the fig tree again.  As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.” Mark 11:14, 20-22 ESV.  The withered fig tree which was not producing fruit, on the way to the temple which was not producing the fruit of righteousness and faith in God.

whip for the sheep and cattle

Jesus then goes back into the temple and does his prophetic reenactment of Jeremiah, driving out those inside conducting business during the Passover week.   And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”   And he was teaching daily in the temple.  Notice here it does not mention the whip, and neither do Mark or Matthew.  The only gospel that mentions the whip is John’s gospel, because John is the only one that mentions the sheep and cattle.  The whip was for the sheep and cattle, not the people.

seeking to destroy him

The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.   How about that translation – the principal men!   Those principalities and powers that control society to this day, those men who control the money, the military, and the religious institutions, as well as the spiritual forces behind them.  And what does it say about them?  It says they were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.   

jesus teaching in the temple.jpg

So Jesus is teaching daily in the temple.  Those in control of the money, the power, and religion were seeking to destroy him.  The people are hanging on his words.  Jesus is teaching in the temple about the end of the temple, while those in charge of the temple are planning the end Jesus.   They can’t arrest him during the day,  because they fear starting a riot or revolt.  Jesus remarks on this as he gets arrested a few days later – “And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.”” Mark 14:48-49 ESV.

Judas

This is why Judas was so important to the story.  Jesus correctly points out that he was every day right there teaching, in the open.  They could have taken him anytime.  But they feared the people, who were hanging on his every word.  They feared starting a riot during Passover.  But Judas gives them a way, a way to take him into custody in the dark of night, away from the crowds.

Jesus

He gave them a way to fulfill their plot to put an end to this Jesus of Nazareth.  Principalities and powers to this day are trying to figure out how to put and end to this Jesus business.  He’s just so inconvenient.

end of the temple

But none of them could prevent the end of the temple.

“And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.”

Luke 19:45-48 ESV

http://bible.com/59/luk.19.45-48.esv

John Lewis

They Could Have Been Saved

They Could Have Been Saved

rebuke your disciples

I’m continuing what I started yesterday, looking at Jesus on the road to Jerusalem with the full knowledge of what the outcome would be.   Beginning today with his entry into Jerusalem, that triumphant entry where the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”   To which, of course, the Pharisees responded with this admonition  – And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”   This was actually good advice from the Pharisees to Jesus, because his followers were declaring him King when Israel already had a king.  It was the kind of thing that might get one crucified for treason – which had happened plenty of times before.  Of course, Jesus knows what his purpose is, and the time to fulfill that purpose has come – He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”   Jesus is the king, and the time for his coronation had come.

They could have been saved

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”    The king has come with tears in his eyes.  He knows that in their hosannas there is a darkness still present, a kind of triumphalism which maybe we still share to this day.  Jesus followers were looking for a revolution, and they got one.  They were looking for a Messiah, and they got one.  But their revolution was not of violence, and their Messiah was not a conqueror.  He would not take up the sword and lead his army into a great battle, conquering his enemies by spilling their blood.  No, Jesus knows that despite their hosannas, the crowd cheering him would melt into the crowd jeering him.  They would choose a Messiah named Barrabas (which, by the way, means “Son of the father“) a violent revolutionary who saw the world as that crowd saw the world, as an us vs them proposition, we are right and they are wrong, we are good and they are evil.  They would choose the messiah who believed in violence as they believed in violence.  And some of those crying out Hosanna! on Palm Sunday would cry out “crucify him” as Pilate asked what to do with this King of the Jews.

king-jesus-2

But back to my original point here.  Jesus has come to Jerusalem, to the climax of his earthly ministry.  He has come to Jerusalem with tears in his eyes, weeping as he prophecies The End for Jerusalem and the temple.   Understand the real drama that is going on here, and high drama it is.  Because at the same time the temple establishment is seeking a way to bring and end to Jesus,  Jesus is predicting the end of the temple and the temple age.   His entire ministry, Jesus has preached almost nothing but the kingdom of God.   Kingdom of God, kingdom of God, kingdom of God, it’s all Jesus talked about.  Jesus believed the end of the temple was coming, and that the end of the temple would mark the coming of the kingdom of God.

Kingdom of God

The king had come to Jerusalem.  No longer was he telling his disciples to keep it under wraps that he was Messiah.  He comes to Jerusalem with tears in his eyes, because they simply do not know the things that make for peace!   Things did not have to go the way it did.   For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.   Again, the whole story did not have to play out the way it did, and has.   Jerusalem could have been saved.  If they had recognized their true King when he visited them, they could have been saved.  But they don’t.  And 40 years later, in AD 70, what Jesus predicts would happen, happens.   40 years later, undoubtably with some of those who were in both crowds, before that generation had passed away, the crowd crying Hosanna and the crowd crying crucify him!, the Romans set up siege barricades around Jerusalem, hemmed them in on every side, and tore the city to the ground.  Men, women, and their children with them.  And no, not one stone was left upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.

crucify him

 

They could have been saved had they known the things that make for peace!   

peace

Lucky for us, we can…

FergusonTruth

“And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.””

Luke 19:36-44 ESV

http://bible.com/59/luk.19.36-44.esv

John Lewis

There is a Temple

There is a Temple

the temple

Been offline for a week (again), was enjoying a nice family vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC.   I’ve been a little inconsistent the past couple of months, for various reasons.   I hope to get back to a little better consistency in writing, pray for me on that, if you will.

Receive-the-holy-spirit

When last I did write, I wrote on John 20:19-23, particularly verse 23, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”   We are all commissioned  by Jesus as priests in his kingdom, commissioned to offer his forgiveness to the world.  Commissioned to flood the world with the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

destroy this temple

If you’ve spent any time in or around church, you probably remember the story which we call the “cleansing of the temple“, when Jesus drives out those doing business in the temple, turning the temple into their own house of business rather that a house of worship.  He did this right in the middle of Passover week, their busiest time of the year, really costing these money changers and businessmen at the time when they would do their greatest business.  Really interfering with the way things are done.  So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”   Who are you do stop us from doing our business??   Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

temple of his body
Jesus challenged those in authority, challenged their economic systems and their hierarchical system of power and control.  When he answered their question about his authority to interrupt their commerce, “The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body.” John 2:20-21 ESV.  Seems like a logical response to me, they’d been building that temple for 46 years, how in the world we Jesus rebuild it in three days?   Some of us are still waiting for that temple to be rebuilt.  Undoubtedly, some of those Jews thought they were standing in the temple prophesied by Ezekiel hundreds of years earlier.  Ezekiel saw a new temple coming, a temple from which would flow rivers of forgiveness.   The temple Ezekiel saw coming in his ancient prophecy is the temple Jesus refers to when he gives them his response  Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.   The temple Ezekiel saw coming was not a physical temple, but the temple of the body of Christ.

Body-of-Christ

It is from this temple that rivers of forgiveness flow.  Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. Then he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and behold, the water was trickling out on the south side.   

Trickling water
At first, closest to us, it is just a trickle.  But the temple of the body of Christ is not just one place.  The temple of the body of Christ goes anywhere the followers of Christ go.   And as we go farther and wider into the world, the water begins to get deeper.  Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep.   As we go into the world, out of our locked panic rooms, through our fear and eventually out of our fear, sent by Jesus, we become salt and light in the dark, ugly world.  As we carry the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ into the world, the world we fear and want to escape, the water begins to get deeper.   Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep.   At first it’s just a trickle, then it’s ankle deep, now it’s knee deep.

knee deep

Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through.   Now we are swimming in our river of forgiveness.   It eventually swells and grows to overflowing, we can’t get away from it.

rushing-river-1500x1015
Then he led me back to the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes.   The water keeps rising, keeps flowing.   It eventually flows into Arabah, or as we know it, the Dead Sea.  The sea which is at one of the lowest altitudes on the planet, the sea which, I believe, is a hundred feet below sea level.  The sea so salty nothing can live there (which of course is why we call it the Dead Sea).  The water which flows through the desert, healing the desert as it goes, growing trees where no trees grow, makes it into the Dead Sea, turning even that dead space into fresh water.

dead sea

But here’s the thing – the great problem if the world is not the saline content of the Dead Sea.  That is not the point of Ezekiel’s vision.  The great problem of the world is hate and retribution.  The world we live in is a scorched desert of hate.

scorched_desert_1

But there is a temple from which a river flows.  The temple of the body of Jesus Christ.  The temple which was raised after three days.  The body of which all who believe are members.

CA18632

Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.   If we want to stand in the swamps and marshes, we can do that.  We can even build walls to protect our swamps and marshes (or dams.  Or whatever we might build to protect a salty swamp or salty marsh).  Sometimes our salt tastes good to us.  We think everybody should be a little salty like us.

tree producing good fruit

But we are sent by Jesus to flood the world with rivers of mercy and forgiveness.  We are sent to grab rods and go fishing.  We are sent to heal that scorched desert of hate, heal it with mercy and forgiveness.  We are sent to bring water from the sanctuary, to nourish the trees that never fail, to provide good fruit for the world to eat.
raised on the third day
Jesus gave us his sign.  He raised that temple in three days, just like he said.  That temple has water flowing, water that can heal the desert and make the Dead Sea fresh.

living water

Didn’t Jesus say something about water?  “Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.””John 4:10 ESV.  The living water is flowing, flooding the world.  Why do we keep trying to dam it up?

So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”” 
John 2:18-19 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.2.18-19.esv

“Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. Then he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and behold, the water was trickling out on the south side. Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.””
Ezekiel 47:1-12 ESV
http://bible.com/59/ezk.47.1-12.esv

John Lewis

By His Breath

By His Breath

Jesus breathed

Going back to the evening of the first Easter.   The hope that the kingdom of God would come into the world through the person of Jesus of Nazareth had come to a horrible, tragic, scandalous end.   For his disciples, one of their own had caused this, had sold out their master for money.   Then that disciple had himself gone out and committed suicide.

locked room

This day, their had been lots of talk, lots of rumors going around about the tomb being empty.   But for Jesus disciples, they were staying behind locked doors, because after all, Jesus had been killed.  You never could know who might be next…

jesus-appears-to-his-disciples-in-a-locked-room

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." 

peace-be-with-you-1
They are cowering in fear, but suddenly Jesus is there!!   He doesn't unlock the door, he doesn't knock, he's just there, with them.  And what are the first words Jesus speaks to his disciples after he had been crucified and buried while they had scattered?   "Peace be with you." 
peace be with you
Jesus' first words to his frightened disciples on that resurrection night, his first words to the new world, the first words we should hear from him are "Peace be with you." 

jesus stood among them

There was no peace in that room.   There was only fear, sorrow, anxiety, uncertainty…but with the presence of the risen Christ, peace flows into the room.  Jesus breaks into their rear and anxiety and brings peace.   Just three days earlier, they had all seen their teacher arrested.  At least one of them had stuck around long enough to see the gruesome finish that Friday afternoon.  They are now back together, huddled in fear in a licked room, determined only to keep everybody else, that big bad angry world out.   But Jesus shows up, and the impossible becomes possible.  He brings peace into that room.

Jesus-Baptized-07
Jesus brings peace into that room, then he breathes on his disciples the Holy Spirit - And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.   So Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit onto his disciples in that locked room, and sent them out into the world.  Which Holy Spirit would that be??   “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."” Luke 3:21-22 ESV.  The exact same Holy Spirit which came upon Jesus at his own baptism is the Holy Spirit which he breathed upon his disciples in that locked room.  The rest, you might say, is the history of Christianity.

holy_spirit3s

It's the same Holy Spirit he can still breathe on us in our locked rooms, if only we would allow him to get near enough to breathe it upon us.   Jesus breathing this Holy Spirit on his disciples then sending them out into that big, bad, scary world commissioned to forgive should speak powerfully to us today.   We may living in a locked room with our fear, our sorrow, our uncertainty, our anxiety, but Jesus simply says "Peace be with you."   He can say this because he is the one, simply by his presence, who can make the impossible possible and bring peace into our own locked room.
Jesus_standing
He's standing right there.  Do you see him?  Can you feel him?  Will you let him close enough to breathe upon you?

To be continued…

“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."”
John 20:19-23 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.20.19-23.esv

John Lewis

What a Hope!!

What a Hope!!

hope
I've been offline for a week, and need reminding myself sometimes of the great hope we have.  So, again, from the prophet Isaiah, as the poet prophet brings to an end his scroll with a prophetic vision of the end we are all moving towards.

glory of god
For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them.   In Isaiah 65, we see the vision of God creating the heavens and the earth all over again - For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth…I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.    God is still creating, it is our privilege and our responsibility, if we call ourselves Christians, to be working with Him towards this new creation.   His new creation, his holy city called Jerusalem, the peace of God, is to be a joy, not a curse to the world, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues.   When Isaiah wrote this prophecy, the time was coming.  As we read it 2700 years later…we know it is no longer the time is coming, it is the time has come!!   Christ has come!!  Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!!   For Isaiah, the time was coming to gather all the nations, for us we have been commissioned for 2000 years to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19 ESV.  We are tasked to be the ones to gather all nations and tongues.  We are called be disciples of Jesus Christ, to walk in his steps, to follow him.  We are called to be the glory that they will see.

survivors to the nations
And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord.    Or, as Jesus said, “And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.” Mark 13:10 ESV.   While we might think the world is a lost cause, it is exactly those lost causes Jesus came for.  “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."” Luke 19:10 ESV.  In fact, he's more interested in the lost than he is in those who are already found.  “"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?” Luke 15:4 ESV.  Jesus came seeking his lost sheep.  If we are following him, this is the job he has given us, to find these lost sheep and bring them into his fold.  To Tarshish, Pul and Lud.  To Tubal and Javan.  To the coastlands far away.  We have seen his glory.  There was a time when we could not look at the face of God, only his backside.   “Moses said, "Please show me your glory." And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The Lord.' And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live."” Exodus 33:18-20 ESV.   We have always wanted to see his glory, we still say show me your glory.   Isaiah tells us the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues.    We are good with that, right??  We are ready to go share the gospel with the nations and all the languages.  We have plans and ambitions to make this happen.   But Isaiah also tells  And they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them.    

Transfiguration
Moses wanted to see the glory of God, but was not allowed to see the face of God.   But 700 years after Isaiah, the apostle John would write to us “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 ESV.  There was a time when we could not see the glory of God, only his backside.   But – did Moses ever get to see the face of God??  “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.” Matthew 17:2-3 ESV.   Christ was transfigured before them, shining like the sun.  And up on Mount Tabor, Moses finally gets to see the glory of God, not just his backside.

show me your glory
There was a time when we could not see the face of God, a time when his glory was held back from us.  The law came through Moses, who was not able to see the face of God.  But that time has passed. We have seen the glory of God.  He came to earth and walked among us, showing us The Way to the Kingdom of Heaven.

death and destruction
And so we have a story to tell.  It is in the story that salvation comes to a broken world.  Because while we do live in a broken world, we do not live in a condemned world.  “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17 ESV.  So while we might like to condemn our broken world to a grisly end of death and destruction, the LORD we serve does not.  He sent his own son to us in order that he might reestablish us in his own image, show us what that image really looks like.   The glory of God is seen in Jesus Christ.

shine-like-stars
That glory is what we seek.  And as we work with Christ to bring about his New Jerusalem, we begin to shine with Him.  “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3 ESV.  We show the world His glory in the hopes that we will walk in that glory, shining like Christ did on the Mount of transfiguration when Moses was finally shown the glory of God.

And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord. "For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord.” Isaiah 66:18-23 ESV.  This is the hope we have, that we will work with Christ and his Holy Spirit to create the new heavens and the new earth.   What a hope it is!!
clouds of heaven

“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”
Mark 13:26-27 ESV

“"For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord. "For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord.”
Isaiah 66:18-23 ESV
http://bible.com/59/isa.66.18-23.esv

John Lewis

Real Authority!!

Real Authority!!

real authority

With Jesus having finished his sermon on the mount, Matthew adds these words to let us know the immediate effect the Jesus great talk had on those who heard him.
“And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:28-29‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

jm_200_NT1.pd-P13.tiff
No one had ever heard teaching like this before. “You have heard it said…but I say…” was Jesus’ letting all who would hear him know that he indeed had authority, the authority to override and expand upon the teachings of Moses, the teaching that had guided the Hebrew people during, through and since the Exodus. All the scribes and teachers before him could do was cite, or recite, the teachings of others who had come before them. But Jesus came boldly, declaring the kingdom of God had arrived in their midst. He was in effect saying “Watch and see that what I say is true. See for yourself the the reign and rule of God has come among ordinary human beings.”

i_am_the_way_the_truth_and_the_life_5x7area_rug
Even during his earthly ministry, during his life as we know it, the decision for or against the rule of God hung together with the decision for or against himself. The presence of the logic, the logos, the incarnation and presence of Jesus among his creation, before and after his death and resurrection, means that God’s reign and rule is here now. The immediate expectation of the kingdom of God had (and still has) been fulfilled. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭ESV

with you always

‬‬
For those hearing Jesus speak his sermon, the true son of God was present with them. Just as he is present with us. “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬. As C.S. Lewis puts it “The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and thought, His Zoe [life], into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into the live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.

Born-again
Jesus’ words and presence gave (and continues to give) many of his hearers faith to see that when he acted, God also acted. The rule of God was coming into play, the kingdom of God was at hand. They were aware of the invisible presence of God acting within the visible reality and action of Jesus. Not all who heard, or hear, believed. Not everyone will be aware of this invisible presence acting through our visible realities. As Jesus told Nicodemus that late night, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭ESV. Not a physical birth, but a spiritual birth. The ability to see the world again as a child. ‬‬”Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭19:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:21‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

image of the invisible god
Sometimes we’ve just become so wise and so smart that we just can’t see the kingdom of God. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Colossians‬ ‭1:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” Hebrews‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The image of the invisible God, the exact imprint of his nature. When we see Jesus, we see God. We think we know so much, but we can’t even see his work in our own lives. He seems so far away to us, being seated at the right hand of the father, that we think he just can’t be with us always.

at hand
But the thing we miss is that, yes, Jesus is both at the right hand of the Father, having power and dominion over all the nations, and is with you always, to the end of the age. Because heaven is not a far away destination to which we are going. Heaven is not some place out there, “turn right at the Hubble telescope, take the left at the second moon of Saturn, and just fly straight to the fifth galaxy, and you’ve come to the kingdom of heaven!” No, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. I don’t understand it, it is beyond all my powers of comprehension. I am not meant to understand it. The only way for me to perceive it at all is to be born again and see it as one of the little children. Because God, creator of the universe, is the creator. He made creation, he is immersed in creation. But he is not a part of his creation. This is why we will never, empirically, be able to prove or disprove the existence of God. Because just as we might create a swimming pool, and immerse ourselves in that pool, we will never be a part of that pool. So it is with God, and Jesus His only son. They created, but they are not part of creation. This us the profundity of the incarnation of Christ, that he came and joined us, joined in his creation, became a part of us.

crucifixion-of-jesus-christ-2
The kingdom of heaven is at hand. He is seated at the right hand of the father, and is with you always. Yes, he is both, at the same time, right here and right now. We will never be able to prove, He can not be measured as part of creation. He is creator, not created. He is the one who was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. The one with all authority under heaven and on earth.

“And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:28-29‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mat.7.28-29.esv

John Lewis

Leaking Foudations

Water damaged and moldy basement wall

Jesus, the great civil engineer, talking about foundations of rock and foundations of sand.

house on the rock

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

water issues
I’ve been told that every house has water issues. There is nothing you can do about it. Water is going to come. Whether these water “issues” becomes the ruin of a house depends on what systems are in place for dealing with that water.

caught in a storm
So it is with the storms of life. We can run, but we can’t hide. In this life, in this broken world, we will be tried. We will be tested. There will be storms to rock and challenge our foundations. These storms can (and will) come from every direction, in every form we can imagine. Jesus captures that for us with the pictures he paints in our mind. And the rain fell – we can be attacked from above. And the floods came – the attacks can come from underneath us. And the winds blew and beat on that house – attacks can blow in from every direction. As Jesus himself had said before – “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes…” ‭‭John‬ ‭3:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬. These days, we think we know where it’s coming from and where it’s going, yet still, the wind can just come and blow us away. We hear it’s sound, we know it’s there, we even know it’s coming. But there’s nothing we can do to stop it.

jesus-christ-images-3
But we can build our house on the rock. And as Paul told us in his letter to the Corinthians – For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Christ is our rock. He is our foundation. We come to him in faith, we profess our faith openly to him. Then we follow.

jonah-and-the-whale
We follow because we believe. Not just an external belief, but we believe in our hearts that Christ rose from the dead. We believe Christ rose from the dead, therefore we have our sign that he knew what he was talking about. “But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” Matthew‬ ‭12:39-42‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of the unwilling prophet, the Queen of Sheba came seeking the wisdom of Solomon. We are judged by the men of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba, because we have the sign of Jonah. Jesus spent three days in the belly of the earth, he has been vindicated by the father as being greater than Jonah and wiser than Solomon. So, we believe in our hearts Jesus was raised from the dead, and we listen to him.

rock was christ

We don’t know where, when or how these storms will come. They could be a natural disaster to test our resolve, our faith in God, our trust in him. We could get a flirty new coworker who’s not so hard on the eyes (or ego). We might (will) be challenged this week simply driving to work. The storms and temptations of life will come. Is your foundation built on the rock? Will your house be the one that did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. The rock that is Jesus Christ.

road rage
Have you overcome your anger so that you don’t wind up plucked off at 80 mph?? Have you stopped looking at people as objects to be used, or stopped being controlled by your lust and desire, so that every pretty face, handsome smile, or flirty wink and smile might cause water to begin seeping in? Are you ready to dump people at the nearest exit as soon as they don’t fill some need or desire in your life? Are you ready to carpet bomb the entire Middle East because you disagree with someone on CNN?
Or – are will willing to return good for evil. To return forgiveness instead of vengeance. To put the needs and desires above our own. Even if we don’t understand their needs or desires?? Are we willing to pray for those who offend us? Do we believe in forgiveness seventy times seven? Or will we take vengeance seven times over? If I stomp your toe, can I expect a broken leg in return?

violence
And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. Will we seek vengeance, or pray for our enemies? Are we generous, or only seeking attention? Do we believe God sent his son to save the world, or only that part of the world that looks and acts like us?? Our salvation depends on the answers to these questions. Eternity does not begin when we die – our eternal life begins the say we are born into this broken world. Will we spend our days working with Jesus to bring his new Jerusalem? Or will we spend our time participating with hell on earth and leave that new Jerusalem and God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven to some other generation?

abundant life.jpg
Jesus gave us a way to live life that we “may have life and have it abundantly.” John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Do we believe him? Or are we those whose foundation us built on sand? Those who say the sinners prayer, check that box, claim for ourselves “once saved, always saved”, yet are just hearers, and not doers, of his word? Are we really just about fulfilling our own desires in Jesus’ name?

abide in him
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:17‬ ‭ESV

 

“”Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:24-27‬ ‭ESV

‬‬http://bible.com/59/mat.7.24-27.esv
“…For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:4‬ ‭ESV

‬‬
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” ‭‭James‬ ‭1:22‬ ‭ESV

‬‬
“For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” Romans‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭ESV

‬‬
“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:7‬ ‭ESV

‬‬
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:17‬ ‭ESV

‬‬

John Lewis