Today’s reading is Luke 2.
If God wanted to make a splash, He sure went about it an odd way. It’s almost like He was doing everything He could to turn people off from Jesus. Jesus comes from a poor family living in a backwoods town of a backwoods nation. Not only that, but everyone who knew anything about the family would think Jesus was an illegitimate child. I know that term is out of favor in our day and age, but that is exactly how those around Jesus would have viewed it. The birth is first announced to shepherds. Really? Of all people, not the Jewish Council, not magistrates, not officials, but shepherds? Why would God start this way? Perhaps for the same reason He whittled Gideon’s army down to 300 (Judges 7). When this story is done and it is successful, it leaves everyone knowing one thing. God must be behind this. And that really is where we are, isn’t it? We live in a world whose largest religion follows the Man described above. He not only came to popularity, but He claimed to be divine and was then killed. Did that end His popularity and His following? Nope. It only increased it. Everyone else, throughout all history, who claimed to be divine lost their following when they died. But not Jesus. That is amazing. How could this happen? Only if God is real and really behind it. Hang on to Jesus today. I promise you’ll be glad you did.
Next week’s reading is Luke 3.
Continue reading “What Was God Thinking?”
Today’s reading is John 9.
Just like Jesus commands those who would be spiritually healed to be baptized, washed in water (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; John 3:3-5; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:1-4; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21), Jesus commanded the blind man to go wash in the pool of Siloam. What I find interesting is that this healing of the blind man causes quite a stir regarding work. After all, the healing occurred on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were very upset that work was done on the Sabbath. However, do you notice nobody accuses the blind man of working on the Sabbath? Nobody thought the blind man had violated the Law about working? No. They accused Jesus of working. They understood what so many miss today. The blind man wasn’t working when he went and washed in the pool of Siloam. In this healing, who did the work? Jesus. Just so, when we go wash in the immersive waters of baptism, we are not doing any work. God is working (see Colossians 2:12 again). Salvation in baptism is not my work, it is God’s. Praise God for His work.
Tomorrow’s reading is John 10.
P.S. If you haven’t been baptized for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38), please let us know. We’ll help in any way we can. And if you think we’re all washed up for thinking that is necessary, let’s get together and study.
Continue reading “Baptism is not my Work”
Today’s reading is John 6.
Okay. I’m going to share something shocking. It goes against everything you are hearing today, not only from the world, but even from many people in church. Why did Jesus multiply the bread and fish? Not to feed the hungry. Not to serve the community. Not to love the crowd to the point of listening to Him. The key comes in John 6:14. When Jesus miraculously fed the people, they claimed him to be “The Prophet who is to come into the world.” The people correctly understood the reference of the miracle. Jesus is the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:15-19; He is the Prophet like Moses who was to come into the world. But they, like so many today, missed the point of the miracle.They thought the point was to feed them. So they wanted to make Him king so He would keep on feeding them. Nope. Go back and read the prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:15-19.* The purpose of the prophecy was to show who the people were supposed to listen to. But when He taught them. They didn’t like it. The didn’t listen. They left. Like so many today, they misunderstood what the mission of the Prophet and His Church really is. Neither Jesus’s goal nor the goal of His church is to feed people hungry for bread. Jesus is not like Moses; He is greater than Moses. Jesus doesn’t give bread, He is bread. Even though Jesus was actually greater than what they were expecting, He didn’t measure up to what they were expecting. They were willing to settle for a Messiah/King who would feed them. So they rejected the Messiah/King who would teach them. In fact, the only ones who staid were the ones who realized Jesus’s gift of life doesn’t come through any bread He might give, but through the Words He teaches. People today are no different. Many are attracted to churches who think their mission is to feed the hungry. Few are attracted to churches who think their mission is to teach the lost. Don’t be ashamed to be part of a church that won’t cave to the societal pressures to offer the mediocre service of filling physical needs. Yes, the world loves us when we do that. Yes, the community will be upset if our doors close if that is how we view or try to accomplish our mission. But that isn’t our mission. Be thankful to be part of a church that will offer the true service of passing on Jesus and His words of life. Yes, the world will despise us for it. Yes, most will reject it and us. Yes, the great majority will abandon us, even more so they will try to shut us down, and will throw a party if our doors close. But we will be walking in the footsteps of our Savior. And do not think we are to use the former (community benevolence and service) to get an opportunity to do the latter (share the gospel). That isn’t what Jesus was doing. And if it was, it failed. Why do we think it will work for us? Be unashamed of the gospel. Be unashamed to be part of a church that sees proclaiming the gospel as its mission.
Tomorrow’s reading is John 7.
Continue reading “Bread and Fish”
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.
Continue reading “Why Water to Wine?”
Today’s reading is Matthew 14.
Here we are, smack in the middle of Matthew’s account of the gospel, and the defining statement is made: “Truly you are the Son of God.” That is what everything we’ve read up to this point and everything we will read after is designed to teach us. Jesus is not merely Son of Man. He is Son of God. He heals the sick, raises the dead, cleans out unclean spirits, casts out demons, stops storms, and even walks on water. He is Lord of heaven and earth. He is Creator, Maintainer. He is Redeemer, Savior. He is God in the flesh, for no one can do what He does except by the power of God. A greater than Moses is here. He could only part the waters; he couldn’t walk on them. A greater than Elijah and Elisha is here. They could care for a person and a family; they didn’t feed a multitude. What a great King and Lord we have. Let us worship Him. Let us surrender to Him. Let us tell others about Him. Let us be unashamed of Him.
Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 15.
Continue reading “Truly, He is the Son of God”
Today’s reading is Matthew 8.
Can you imagine someone actually, literally, and really telling Jesus, “We don’t want you here”? He had just saved a man from demon possession. He had just demonstrated an amazing power. He had just performed a phenomenal miracle. It was witnessed. They all knew He did it. Wouldn’t everyone want the demon possessed healed? Wouldn’t everyone want such a Man to come among them and work His wonders and His miracles in their lives? Under most circumstances, we would think so. However, these folks understood. Letting this Man work miracles among us means giving up our pigs. They didn’t want any more of that kind of miracle. And isn’t that my problem. Yes, I want Jesus’s miracles in my life. But I often want them on my terms. If they cost me, let them not cost me too much. Let them not cost me my favorite things. Let me not have to give up my pigs. I can give up anything but that. So, here’s the question. What is too high of a cost for you to accept the miracles of Jesus? About what would you say, “Ask anything but that”? Perhaps we should start our service to the Lord right there.
Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 9.
Continue reading “I’ll Give Up Anything…But My Pigs”
Today’s reading is Mark 8.
The apostles didn’t get it. Their eyes should have been opened to exactly who Jesus is and what He could do. They shouldn’t have been at all confused by His warning about the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod. However, despite having witnessed 5 loaves feeding 5000 and 7 loaves feeding 4000, they thought Jesus might be concerned that they only had 1 loaf between the 13 of them. Then He heals a blind man. But shockingly, it doesn’t quite take the first time. Is that because Jesus didn’t turn on all the juice? Was He working at half power? No. Actually, He is giving an object lesson. This is exactly where the apostles are. They are starting to see who Jesus is, but He is blurry to them. The blind man in the midst of the process of his healing saw men, but they were blurry and looked like walking trees. However, as Jesus continued to work with him, his vision completely cleared. The apostles didn’t understand yet, not fully. But this is Jesus’s promise to them. They will. And that is Jesus’s promise to you. Hang on to Him. You don’t see clearly yet, but you will.
Tomorrow’s reading is Mark 9.
Continue reading “Men, Like Trees”