May 1

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“I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” (John 1:31 NLT).

From: May 1, 2018

John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins born six months apart. Both births were miraculous, foretold by the prophets and announced by the angel Gabriel. Yet, John said that he “did not recognize” Jesus as the Messiah until after His baptism. Some suggest that since John grew up in Hebron and Jesus in Nazareth, they had never met before. But this seems unlikely. Mary and Elizabeth were apparently close before their sons were born, but they were no doubt bound together even closer after the spiritual experience they had together during their pregnancies (See Luke 1:39-56). In addition, the gospel of Matthew reported that John recognized Jesus before His baptism and felt unworthy to baptize Him (Matt. 3:14).
So what did John mean by saying he didn’t “recognize” Jesus, if he already knew Him and already considered Him to be greater than himself? Perhaps John did recognize Jesus as his cousin, and as one who was well known in their families as being announced as the long awaited Messiah. But that was thirty years ago and John had seen no confirmation as of yet. So, it was on the day of Christ’s baptism that the Lord spoke to John and revealed to him that Jesus was indeed the Messiah by the appearance of the Spirit descending like a dove upon Jesus. What his mother, Elizabeth, had told him, was true. Jesus was the Messiah. John finally saw Him with spiritual eyes and proclaimed Jesus as the Lamb of God, the Messiah, as he had been born to do.

“Hear my prayer, O Lord, And let my cry come to You” (Psalm 102:1 NKJV).

From: May 1, 2017

The inscription above this psalm describes it as a “prayer of the afflicted.” Certainly, there is a need for concrete language to truly capture the condition of the afflicted. The hurting are in need of words of expression that they might lift up to the Lord a prayer that can only be called a “cry.” For they often feel as an infant, able only to cry out, but not to explain why.
When we describe our physical state, a whole vocabulary is available, but to describe our internal condition— the state of our souls— we must grasp at metaphors to illustrate our feeling. In this, the psalmist gives aid. He says that his “days are consumed like smoke,” his “heart is stricken and withered,” and his appetite is forgotten.
Why pray such words? Why not just deny our inner turmoil and focus on God?
Why? Because our depression and discouragement are as real as physical pain. Denial does not bring healing. Admit your feeling to the Lord. Pray the psalms. Make them your own. There are 150 of them. There is one that will help you describe your heart condition today. Let the words of the psalms give meaning to your soul’s cry. And know that the One who cried out in Gethsemane, and drank from the bitter cup at Golgotha, will certainly hear and understand.

“And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the Lord blessed him” (Judges 13:24 ESV)

From: May 1, 2016

As one preacher described it, Samson was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. As chapter 13 concludes, we have great hope in Samson’s future. Announced by an angel, the only child of faithful and doting parents, and blessed by God, the writer of the Book of Judges has more to say about Samson than any other judge. Yet, Samson disappoints. While his beginning sounds similar to other promised child stories in the Bible (i.e. “Isaac, Samuel, John the Baptist, Jesus”), his life only serves to intensify our longing for a true savior. The life of Samson reminds us that no human judge or deliverer can truly save. The life of Samson, intensifies our longing for a true hero, a real champion. His life points us to Christ. And Christ does not disappoint.

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NKJV)

From: May 1, 2015

John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus to be the “Lamb of God,” a fulfillment long anticipated by God’s people. Every Paschal lamb that was slain with its blood spread over the doorway, not only brought to their remembrance God’s deliverance from Egypt, but pointed to a future promise of their ultimate rescue from sin and death. As Abraham told his son, Isaac, “God will provide a lamb.” And so, He did. There is no more need for sacrifice. Christ’s sacrifice was the deposit that made all the previous ones good. We are now able to place our faith into the One who paid it all. Jesus is the Lamb of God, the One who delivers those who believe from sin and death.

“Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth'” (John 1:51 NLT)

From: May 1, 2014

The disciple Nathaniel went from expressing doubt to proclaiming belief simply because Jesus told him he had seen him earlier under a fig tree. Jesus appears to find this humorous. He responded that it didn’t take much to move Nathaniel to believing, but there would come a day when his faith would be rewarded with full evidence of Christ’s identity. Jesus then described a coming day when all would see him as the “stairway between heaven and earth.” This is a clear allusion to Jacob’s vision in Genesis 28 when Jacob saw this same stairway and named the place Bethel, which means “House of God.” Jesus is the fulfillment of Jacob’s vision. He is the Ladder of Love come down mediating the only way to the Father (John 14:6, 1 Tim. 2:5).

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51 ESV)

From: May 1, 2013

This is what Jesus told his newest follower, Nathaniel, after the disciple expressed amazement at Jesus over a little thing. Jesus was essentially saying, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” (Forgive the slang, but wanted to drive home the point). Jesus used unusual language in this prophecy: “angels ascending and descending…” The reference would’ve been easily recognized by his Jewish disciple though, as it clearly refers to Jacob’s ladder vision (Gen.28:12). Jesus was saying, “I am the ladder between heaven and earth,” follow me and you’ll see it.

“’Come and see,’ said Philip” (John 1:46)

From: May 1, 2011

How Philip invited Nathaniel to follow Christ is still one important strategy for ministry. The other is “Go and tell.” Healthy churches do both. Today is the first Sunday in WCC’s new home. Go and tell someone to come and see.