Fear Not

Today’s reading is Revelation 1.

John sees Jesus walking among the lampstands and falls on his face as though dead. Jesus lays His hand on John and says, “Fear not.” What a great kick off to this book. Obviously, Jesus is addressing John’s fear in the presence His own divinity. However, this is also a summary of the book. Jesus is the first and the last. He is the Living One. He lived, He died, but now He is alive forevermore. And that sets the stage for everything Jesus is going to reveal to John. A lot of things were going to happen to Christians that were pretty frightening. Frightening in the same sense that being unjustly arrested, tried, and crucified is frightening. However, though Jesus died, He was still victorious and is now alive forevermore. In like manner, John has nothing to really fear from anything Rome, Jerusalem, name the enemy of your choice, would do to him because no matter what it looks like, Jesus always wins. Whatever else you get out of reading Revelation this time, get this. Sure, death may be coming. But, for us, even death is the pathway to victory. We have nothing to fear. Praise the Lord?

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 2.

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No King but Caesar

Today’s reading is John 19.

What a long way Israel had traveled. God had wanted them to view Him as king. But in generations past, they had asked for a king like the nations around them had. Now, as Jesus is on trial, they declare that having a king like the nations isn’t enough. They actually want the king of the nations around them. And in so doing, they actually once again reject God as their king. And even worse than simply turning their back on God’s judge, they decide to kill God’s king. Yet, as quickly as we repudiate them, we decide to walk our own path. And in so doing, we say, “I have no king but me.” It’s tough, there is only room on the throne for one. Either we will let Jesus be on the throne while we get on the cross or we will sit on the throne and nail Jesus back to the cross. Which will you choose today?

Tomorrow’s reading is John 20

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Thomas, the Leader

Today’s reading is John 11.

We’ve all heard of Thomas, the doubter. But have you heard about Thomas, the Leader? I really hate for Thomas that he gets remembered for his lowest recorded moment. Sure, after Jesus’s death, he, like all of the apostles, struggles to believe in the resurrection. Jesus rebuked him and he grew. However, check out Thomas in today’s reading. Here we have Thomas at his high point. The apostles are all afraid that if Jesus travels to Judea, even for His good friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, He’ll be caught and killed. His entire movement will come to nothing. Their last three years will all be wasted. But this time, it is not Peter who steps up first, it is Thomas. “Let us also go, that we may die with him,” Thomas says. And they went. Wow! I get, of course, that Thomas still didn’t understand the nature of Jesus’s mission. I know he was thinking more in lines of a civil rebellion than a spiritual kingdom. I further grasp that this statement is recorded not for us to be amazed at Thomas, but to see the contrast between this expectation and the fact that instead of people dying with Jesus, someone comes back to life because of Jesus. But what Thomas reminds me of here is that I do not have to be identified with my weakest moments. We are all a mix of strengths and weaknesses, moments of doubt and moments of faith. Certainly, Thomas shouldn’t rest on the laurels of this moment, but neither does he have to beat himself up all his life for the weak ones. Instead, he can rest in His Savior Jesus, with whom Thomas did ultimately die and will be ultimately resurrected. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is John 12.

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Why Water to Wine?

Today’s reading is John 2.

Why on earth does John give such primacy to such a seemingly minimal miracle? Why does he treat the water to wine as if it is the first miracle Jesus ever did (though what he actually says is that it was the first in Cana of Galilee)? You would think John would want to pick something more public, something more amazing, something more phenomenal. Almost nobody even knew this miracle took place. So why does John even tell us about it? He doesn’t tell us about it to teach us something about drinking intoxicants. (Honestly, I have a hard time believing Jesus was at a drinking party full of drunk people to whom he gave more intoxicating alcohol.) He doesn’t tell us about this miracle in order to place a stamp of approval on marriage. (As if we needed another stamp of approval other than the one God gave in the beginning.) Nope. This miracle is all about Moses. Rather, it is all about demonstrating Jesus is greater than Moses. What was the first plague/sign God gave through Moses to all of Egypt and Israel? Water turned to blood. As amazing as that was, it was a sign that produced death and misery. Jesus, on the other hand, provides something drinkable and life-sustaining. Jesus is like Moses. But Jesus is not just like Moses, Jesus is greater than Moses. Moses delivered Israel from the bondage of Egypt. Jesus delivers all who believe from the bondage of sin and death. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is John 3.

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If They Kill Us, So What?

Today’s reading is Matthew 10.

I sometimes have the idea that if I share the gospel at just the right time in just the right way, everyone will accept it. However, if anyone knew exactly the right time and exactly the right way, surely it was Jesus. And look what happened to Him. They killed Him. However, when they killed Him, He was resurrected. Certainly, the pain Jesus went through was no picnic, but ultimately, He had nothing to fear from those who executed Him. In like manner, if those who killed Him decided to kill us, so what? All they are accomplishing is ushering us into the very presence of our Savior and King Jesus Christ. We have nothing to fear and nothing worthwhile to lose. Let’s share the gospel in the light and on the rooftops. Let’s expose what Jesus has said and taught and done. Let’s be unashamed and unafraid. And if they kill us, so what?!

Monday’s reading is Matthew 11.

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The Battle Begins

Today’s reading is Matthew 2.

You’d think Satan might wait until Jesus had a chance to grow up a little before starting his all out assault. But no. The dragon takes on the woman and her child in His infancy. Herod is the adversary’s instrument who slaughters a city full of children in this first attack. However, Jesus escaped. Please understand, our enemy is ruthless. He doesn’t care who gets hurt or killed in the fight. He will do whatever it takes to conquer the offspring of the woman (yes, I’m mixing this with the imagery of Revelation 12). He will do whatever it takes to conquer you. However, God is on your side. God will win; God does win. Even if we are killed in the battle, we will still have the victory in Jesus because He not only survived this beginning battle, He won the war. No matter how Satan attacks, hang on to Jesus. That is the only place of victory.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 3.

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Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 5.

Paul may have been speaking specifically of himself and his travelling companions or the apostles, but I love that ambassador imagery. Really, this is exactly what anyone who shares the gospel with someone is. We are ambassadors. When we proclaim the gospel, God is making His appeal through us. What a powerful picture. What else can we do that is so clearly in communion with God and His work than to unashamedly let people know about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the forgiveness that comes by His grace, the strength and victory that come by His Spirit? Our congregation is Christ’s embassy and we are His ambassadors. God is just chomping at the bit to make His appeal through us. Let’s give Him that opportunity today.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Corinthians 6.

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