March 23, 2018
JESUS CHRIST IS OUR SABBATH REST
When Jesus’ disciples picked heads of grain while walking through a wheat field on the Sabbath, some Pharisees accused them of breaking the law. They were referring to the fourth commandment of the Decalogue which states, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8). It was a simply worded law without much detail. Yet, the Pharisees had added layer upon layer of application to it.
I have witnessed the expansion of this law myself on visits to modern Israel. I was surprised to get on an elevator in an Israeli hotel on the Sabbath and find that it stopped on every floor. The reason? Pressing the button is considered work.
The Sabbath law is clearly connected to God’s creation week and His resting on the seventh day. Certainly, that God rested was not due to fatigue. He is omnipotent and tireless. He does not “slumber nor sleep” (Psa. 121:4). God rested from creating, but not from sustaining. For He created the world through His Son and “He sustains the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:2-3). So, Jesus rightly said that He is the Lord of the Sabbath.
As the Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus has authority over how it is applied. Even more significant, He is its fulfillment. For as the Israelites in the wilderness were given bread from heaven enough to sustain them on the seventh day, so Jesus, the “Bread of Heaven” (John 6:48-50), is our eternal life. Jesus invites, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Jesus is our Sabbath rest (Heb.4).
March 22, 2018
CHRIST’S MIRACLES ARE PROOFS OF HIS DIVINITY
The Pharisees were upset by Jesus telling a paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven. They said to themselves that he had committed blasphemy because only God had the authority to forgive sins. Jesus knew their thoughts, so he asked them which is easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? Then, without pause, he commanded the paralyzed man to stand up and walk. He said that this miracle should “prove” his authority as the “Son of Man” (A Messianic title).
Jesus offered many “proofs” of His divinity. That’s why the apostle John called Christ’s miracles, “signs” in his gospel. Sign’s don’t point to themselves. They identify the place, person or thing. Jesus’ miracles were signs pointing to His identity as the Messiah, both Son of Man and Son of God. They were proofs that He had the authority of God because He is God.
March 21, 2018
KNOWING ABOUT JESUS IS NOT ENOUGH
At Simon’s mother-in-law’s house in Capernaum, Jesus healed and cast out demons from a multitude of people who lined up to see Him. Many of the demons tried to speak, rightly recognizing Jesus as the “Son of God,” but He commanded their silence and cast them out. Of course they knew who Jesus was, they had seen Him in glory before their rebellion. They were fully aware of His Sonship, but they had rejected His Lordship.
Many of us are like them. We know a lot about Jesus. We may even give mental assent to His Sonship, but this is not the same as bowing the knee to Him as Lord. Knowledge about Jesus is not saving faith in Jesus. Right doctrine is not right relationship. As the apostle James wrote, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19).
March 20, 2018
LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION
Jesus taught His disciples to pray that the Lord would not lead them into temptation, but deliver them from evil (Matt. 6:13). Yet, the Spirit “led” Christ into the wilderness “where He was tempted.” How can this seeming contradiction be explained? Perhaps by understanding the two ways the word “temptation” might be understood in Scripture. First, from the human point of view, a trip through the wilderness is a temptation to sin, to lose faith. But from the second point of view, which is the Lord’s, the wilderness experience is a test–– a test of one’s faith. Remember, the Lord does not tempt, nor is He tempted, but He does bless those who “patiently endure” temptation (James 1:12-15). So, we might understand the Lord’s Prayer like this, “Lead us not into temptation, but if You do, please help us endure it and overcome it by delivering us from evil.”
March 19, 2018
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIRTY YEARS
With the exception of the birth accounts in Matthew and Luke and the twelve-year old in the Temple account in Luke, the gospels contain little detail about Jesus before thirty. All four gospels focus their attention on Christ’s ministry that began with His baptism at thirty and concluded with the cross, the tomb and the ascension three years later. So, why was it significant for Jesus to begin His public ministry at age thirty?
Perhaps these examples from Scripture will shed light on this question:
1) Joseph was thirty when he began serving as Pharoah’s second-in-command over Egypt (Gen. 41:46).
2) Levite priests began their public ministry at age thirty (Ex. 4:3).
3) David became king at age thirty (2 Sam. 5:4).
4) Ezekiel the prophet saw his first vision at thirty (Ez. 1:1).
While the Bible doesn’t answer our question directly, perhaps we might infer by example and type that thirty is the biblical age for one to be publicly acknowledged as a prophet, priest or king. For in Jesus, we see all three offices fulfilled.
It was on my thirtieth birthday that I first studied these Scriptures and finally answered the call of God that had been on my life since I was a boy.
March 18, 2018
THE FATHER’S LOVE AND JOY FOR HIS SON
Consider the boundless love and unconquerable joy of God the Father for Jesus, HIs Son. See how the curtains of heaven were parted as the Father’s voice declared His divine approval at Christ’s baptism. Such love and joy is the eternal state of Godhead. It was this love that moved God to give His Son for us (John 3:16). It was this joy that moved the Son to “endure the cross” (Heb. 12:2) that He might obtain our salvation.
Now, Christ invites us to enter into the fellowship that He has with the Father, to know the divine love and great joy they share. Listen to how Jesus prayed concerning us: “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. …May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me” (John 17:21-22).
Try putting your name in the blank below to experience what Christ has made possible for God the Father to now say to us:
“__________, you are my dearly loved child, and you bring me great joy.”
March 17, 2018
THREE DAYS WITHOUT JESUS
Twelve year old Jesus traveled with his family to Jerusalem for the Passover festival as they did every year. They traveled with a large entourage of friends and family from Nazareth. It was a wonderfully joyous annual holiday. Yet, after traveling a day’s journey on the way back home, they realized that Jesus wasn’t with them. Can you imagine the frantic one day journey back to Jerusalem to look for him? If they would’ve had “Amber Alerts” in those days, The search for Jesus would’ve been broadcast throughout Judea. Finally, on the third day (One day out, one day back, discovered on the third day), they found him in the Temple courts with the religious teachers.
I wonder, have you ever lost track of Jesus? How many days did you go before you noticed that you were traveling without Him? Were you frantic to find Him when you realized how long you’d gone without Him?
March 16, 2018
STARTING YOUR DAY WITH WORSHIP
David wrote this psalm regarding the time that Saul was pursuing him to kill him. Yet, notice how he determined to begin each day. He started his days with singing and thanksgiving for God’s power and love and for being his refuge during hard times. David knew how to “encourage himself in the Lord” (1 Sam. 30:6 KJV). He knew how to get his morning praise on to get his day started right with God.
Have you learned to begin each morning with singing and praise? It will change your day!
March 15, 2018
FROM MUTE DONKEY TO ARTICULATE PROPHET
In today’s OT reading, the Lord opened the mouth of Balaam’s donkey to speak. And in the NT reading, the Lord made Zechariah mute for nine months before restoring his voice. Zechariah praised God and prophesied over his newborn son, John. All that the angel Gabriel predicted had come to pass. I suppose he had plenty of time to contemplate the angel’s words, since he had no words of his own during his wife’s pregnancy. Awe fell over the entire neighborhood as the tongue-tied priest became an articulate prophet, blessing his son. What if every child was so anticipated? What if every child had a father speaking such prophetic blessing over him?
God asked Moses, “Who gave man his mouth?” (Ex. 4:11). The Lord can make a faithless man mute or a speechless donkey talk. So, we must be careful concerning our speech.
March 14, 2018
RESCUED FROM MAN-EATING LIONS
David wrote this psalm asking for the Lord’s protection and rescue from his enemies who were like “fierce,” man-eating lions. This reminds me of how the Lord rescued David and centuries later, Daniel, who was thrown into the lion’s den by King Darius the Mede (Dan. 6).
Lions are often used both literally (Daniel) and symbolically (David) in the Bible to describe the enemies of God and of His people. The apostle Peter described Satan as being like a lion, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). So, “stay alert” and don’t be afraid for though the lion may be the king of the jungle, Christ is the King of Kings! He has overcome sin, Satan, death and the grave!