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Crucified Before the Foundation of the World

"Crucified before the foundation of the world." What does that mean? How could that even happen? Historians and archaeologists ta...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Controversy about Jesus

Jesus grew up without any special treatment, neither wealthy nor prestigous.  He appeared to be a common man.  He was not a sports celebrity or an actor or a singer.  Crowds followed him for a while, but when he explained the scope of his ministry, most of them turned away.  John 8:3-6 describes one attempt by the Pharisees to catch him in a trap.  They hoped to prove that he did not obey the Jewish law and, thereby, prove him a false prophet.  A woman taken in the act of adultery was brought to him, but he did not condemn her; however, no one took up stones to cast at her.  They went away when he called for the one who had not sinned to charge her and no one stepped up.

Further controversy came when he healed a man born blind on the sabbath day.  Then in chapter 11 he raised Lazarus from the dead.  These miracles caused a problem for the Pharisees because many people were believing in him and they risked loss of authority if they challenged him.  Jesus retreated into the land of Ephraim so as not to increase the controversy, but when it came time for the Passover he went to Jerusalem.  Some translations say "he set his face as a flint that he would go to Jerusalem."  He was determined that he would not be swayed from this.  He knew what awaited him, but it was his mission.

The crowds followed him because of his teachings and his healings.  He was gracious and kind.  He also pointed out the places where the traditions and customs were wrong.  He called poeple to obey the spirit of the law not the letter.  He taught faith and love.  He said, "...believe in me and in my Father who sent me."  He said, "I have come that you might have abundant life."  

It seems odd that these simple and elegant teachings were the reason for his death.  It was a little deeper than that.  He said he was equal to God, that he and the Father were One.  The Pharisees and the rulers of the Temple couldn't let that pass, so they found a way to get the Romans to execute him.  Then they had multitudes of people, ordinary people, spreading the news all over the known world that Jesus was the Savior.  They are still doing it.  I pray that the people who might read this, believe in him and spread the word, too.  He is still saving people from their sins and giving the same quality of abundant life to all those who believe in him.

Try it.  You might like it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Promises of Restoration

Isaiah 51 is one of the chapters in the Bible that reassures us that God has not forgotten us in our desperate situations.  There are many others, but this one is a good place to begin.

In several verses he says "Listen to me..." That is powerful!  Pay attention.  Listen up.  This is important. 

In the Gospels we often hear Jesus say "Verily" or "Truly" in the same way.  Highlight this.  Put a star here. 

When he calls the listeners this way, he is not addressing the nations, but the faithful.  He is calling them to remember where they came from and to recall their heritage.  He wants them to return to the place they once occupied.  They are in exile.  They are experiencing the punishment for their sins of idolatry.  But they will be restored.  The cup of the Lord's wrath was delivered to Judah and Jerusalem, but the promise is that now it has been drained, and they are to return to their land, and it will be restored to plenty.

This was written to the nation, but maybe it applies to individuals too.  Have you felt the crush of God's wrath on your behavior and your sin?  Have you sought him in long dark nights?  He calls for you to awake and enter into his gladness and joy.  After the punishment is completed, the return to his grace is accompanied by singing. 

Read the verses of Isaiah 51.  If you are not at the time of rejoicing yet, hold on.  It is coming!

References are from the NIV.