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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, January 23, 2014

Stand in the Gap

Ezekiel 22:30 “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. 31 So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.” (NIV)

This judgment from God was a message to Ezekiel to warn the
people of Israel because of their sins. At this time repentance was 
still possible to avoid the exile. God sought a way to grant 
forgiveness, but first the people had to see their sins and abandon 
them. He could not even find someone to pray for the nation, to 
“stand in the gap.”

We think God is waiting for us to commit some sin so he can mete 
out punishment, but that is not the way God works. He is seeking a 
way to forgive and bless us. When we find someone in need of prayer, we have an opportunity to “stand in the gap” for them and take their need to God. We also have an opportunity to reassure them and bless them with God’s promise.  

As the one who “stands in the gap” we are blessed both in seeking 
God’s blessing for others and in carrying his message to others. 

It’s not too late to begin this as a discipline for 2014.  Resolutions don’t have to begin on New Year’s Day.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Facing Crucifixion

Antonio Ciseri's depiction of Pontius Pilate p...
Antonio Ciseri's depiction of Pontius Pilate presenting a scourged Christ to the people Ecce homo! (Behold the man!). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In Chapters 13-17 John quoted Jesus extensively instructing the Disciples in the nature of the Christian life and the union they would form as they lived in obedience to his words. Chapter 13 tells them about the necessity of cleansing and the symbolism found in the foot-washing ceremony.

Chapter 14 is full of assurances that what he is doing is necessary and even beneficial for them. He promises the Holy Spirit to guide them. He chides them for not claiming the promises. "Have I been here with you this long and you don't know that I and my Father are one?'

John 15 explores the symbolism of grapevines with Jesus himself as the vine. The Father is the gardener who shapes the plant to produce good fruit. 

Chapter 16 holds warnings about dangers and risks to the Disciples. All these chapters proclaim Jesus' love for them and his direction for accomplishing the Father's plans.

Chapter 17 is his prayer for himself, the Disciples and those who would come to believe through their testimony.

Chapter 18 gives details of Jesus' arrest and the Disciples' fear and confusion. Jesus led the Disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane across the Kidron Valley where he often retreated for prayer or meditation. The guards who came to take him into custody were overwhelmed by his candor and presence. When they asked him who he was, he readily admitted that he was the one they sought. They were immediately threatened by his composure and fell back.

Peter carried a sword. In the confusion of the arrest, he drew the sword and attacked Malchus, the servant of the high priest. Peter looked at the high priest as the one to fear, though apparently only the soldiers were armed. Peter's intent was to take off his head. It was only a mistake that he caught the ear instead. Jesus immediately took control. He reproved Peter saying, "Shall I not drink the cup my Father gave me?" 

The soldiers bound Jesus and took him to be interviewed by Annas and Caiaphas. Peter was left alone in the courtyard with the maid and others curious about the outcome of the arrest. It was here that Peter was asked if he was a Disciple by various people warming themselves at the fire they had built. Annas asked Jesus about his teaching but Jesus told him to ask those who heard him. The soldiers took his answer as impudent and one of them slapped him. 

Outside in the courtyard Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. 

The High Priest sent him to Pilate because the Jews wanted Pilate to sentence him to death. Jewish Law forbade capital punishment, so the Jews sought Roman judgment. It was almost morning by the time they finally got to Pilate. He was not willing to make a decree of death without adequate proof of a crime, but public opinion ruled and he turned Jesus over for execution.

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