Tag Archives: Son of God

Today’s Scripture – April 3, 2017

Matthew 23:29-36 (NIV) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.  And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’  So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.  Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!

“You snakes!  You brood of vipers!  How will you escape being condemned to hell?  Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers.  Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.  And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.  I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.”

Jesus’ words and His judgments on these leaders may seem unduly harsh to some, but He is actually passing judgment on them, not for what their ancestors did in the past, but for what they themselves were plotting to do to Him in the present.

The teachers of the law and Pharisees really did proclaim that if they had lived in the days of their forefathers, they would not have persecuted the prophets like their ancestors did.  The prophets, especially during the eras of apostasy, were widely reviled and hated by the leadership of the land, both religious and civil.  This was mostly because they fearlessly preached God’s judgment on the people and their leaders.  So if there was a way to get rid of them, legitimately or illegitimately, they did it.

Even though the leaders in Jesus’ day loudly protested the actions of their forebears, their hearts were dismayingly similar to theirs.  Just as their ancestors had plotted against the prophets, wise men, and teachers that God had sent to them, these men were now plotting to assassinate the Son that He had sent.

Killing God’s prophets is bad enough, but killing the Son of God, orchestrating His death, plotting in secret for months, and continually trying to trip Him up, ultimately bearing false witness against Him to orchestrate His torture and death is infinitely worse.  Instead of simply bearing the guilt that their ancestors bore before God for killing a single righteous prophet like Zechariah, the guilt of these men was going to be as if they had killed every martyr from Abel all the way up to their own day.  It was not a position to be envied.

Jesus’ hope was that these dire predictions would wave these men off the suicidal course that they had already chosen, although He knew in His heart that they were already dead-set on murdering Him, and they weren’t going to change their minds, no matter how much He warned them.  But their blood would now be on their own heads for ignoring His clear warnings.

Father, thank You for Your love and grace, shown even to those who would seem to be best written off.  It was that love that saved me, and that I can pass along to others.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – February 7, 2017

Matthew 17:4-8 (NIV) Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.  If you wish, I will put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.  Listen to him!”
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified.  But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said.  “Don’t be afraid.”  When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

The disciples were stunned at what they were seeing.  They believed in God, in angels, in the whole spiritual dimension.  But to actually come face to face with it scared them to death.

Peter, rarely without words, began to speak out of fear more than devotion (Mark 9:6).  His suggestion was the he should put up three shelters, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah, so that they could all hang out in comfort for a while.  But before he had time to fully develop that idea, God enveloped the whole group in a bright cloud of His glory, which shut Peter’s mouth instantly.  And when God spoke to them directly out of the cloud, they all fell flat on their faces in terror.

God’s statement was an attempt to redirect their attention.  Moses and Elijah were not the point, or even the most important personages on the mountain that afternoon.  Both of those men, legitimate heroes of the faith from years past, had achieved almost mythic proportions in the minds of faithful Jews, and seeing them face to face had inspired in Peter and company something akin to awe, even worship.

But the point was that Jesus, the one with whom they had developed such familiarity over the previous three years, was someone so overwhelmingly superior to either Moses or Elijah that He was worthy of their worship, and of the careful attention and absolute obedience of those who claimed the title of disciple.  He was nothing less than the very Son of God in the flesh, a fact that they had barely glimpsed previously, and didn’t understand at all.

The sound of God’s voice speaking directly to them terrified them to the point that they were barely breathing (cf. Exodus 20:18-190.  They clamped their eyes tightly shut against the light, and were aware of nothing more until they felt the hand of Jesus on their shoulders, and heard Him say gently, “Get up.  Don’t be afraid.”

When they looked up, there was Jesus, looking just as they had always known Him.  Moses, Elijah, and the glory of God were gone.  But as they looked at Jesus, they couldn’t help but see past the familiar exterior to the glory that they had seen in Him moments before.  And that moment would ever color their perception of Him.

Father, we all have various pictures of Jesus in our minds, from the baby in the manger, to the teacher walking along the road, to the gentle Jesus surrounded by children, to the dying Savior hanging bloodied and battered on the cross.  But I think that very few of us have the correct picture of Jesus in our hearts:  the glorified Son of God that Peter, James and John got a glimpse of on the mountain, and that John later saw in the revelation he received (Revelation 1:12-16).  But how much more natural it would be to be faithful to Jesus, to serve Him steadfastly and wholeheartedly, and to never let earthly priorities usurp His priorities for our lives, if we were to keep our focus on Him as He truly is.  It is much easier to sidestep and ignore the gentle Jesus who plays with children, or the almost feminine Jesus who knocks gently at the door of our hearts, than to treat carelessly the radiant Son of God, the mighty King of kings and Lord of lords, whose commands are given in a voice like a trumpet!  Help me, Lord, to always see Jesus as He truly is, and to serve Him as He truly deserves.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture

Matthew 11:20-24 (NIV) Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Korazin!  Woe to you, Bethsaida!  If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.  And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies?  No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.  But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

More light demands greater responsibility.  That is an old saying, but its truth was never more evident than in people’s response to Jesus.

Jesus did mighty miracles everywhere He went as a sign of the presence of God’s kingdom.  The concept was that anyone could say that God’s kingdom had arrived, and some people would follow them.  But when concrete evidence of God’s kingdom is present, the people will be held accountable if they do not believe and repent.

Jesus had spent a lot of time in both Korazin and Bethsaida, doing miracles and teaching clearly about God’s kingdom.  But, despite the evidence, the people were slow to respond.  They appreciated the miracles, but they would not acknowledge the truth of the kingdom that Jesus was preaching, and they would not turn away from their sins.  Their preferred scenario was for Jesus to keep visiting and keep doing miracles, and then go away and let them get on with their lives the way they preferred them.

The same attitude was even more prevalent in Capernaum.  Jesus used it as a home base for a couple of years.  Every time Jesus returned, the streets to His residence quickly filled up with the sick and demonized looking for help.  But when Jesus went away, the people just went on with their lives as if nothing special had happened.

Many of the people in these cities saw themselves as good people – at least as good as most people, and better than some.  But that self-view missed the point entirely.  If they had eyes that could see, they would have seen that it was none other than Holy One of Israel walking down their streets, staying across town, and touching their lives with healing.  Such knowledge would have prevented them from comparing themselves to others, and to simply see themselves in the light of Jesus. Such a clear view would have driven them to their knees.

But their eyes were glazed over with their own thoughts and opinions, and turned inward to their own needs, so they couldn’t clearly see, and thus they would not repent.  The doom pronounced by Jesus on these places is terrifying.  To be condemned as a community worse than Tyre and Sidon, gentile towns that had rejected God in spite of His earlier judgment on them, was mind boggling.  To be considered worse than Sodom was inconceivable.  But to refuse to repent in the very presence of the Son of God is to close one’s eyes to the biggest light imaginable, and to bring judgment on oneself.

Father, we all enjoy receiving from You and having You meet our needs. But after we have received, how can we simply go back to our own lives unchanged?  Forgive us for not being always so conscious of You and what You are doing in us and for us that we immediately renounce our old way of life, and exchange it for a life lived in You.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – October 1, 2015

John 5:20-23 (NIV):  For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.  For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.  Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

When the Jewish leaders heard Jesus’ call God His Father, and believed that in so doing  He was claiming to be equal with God (verse 18), they were actually right.  Although humbled at the moment through becoming a man, the leaders were in fact trying to face down the eternal Son of God.

Jesus pointed out three areas of overlap between Himself and God:

  • The Father raises the dead and gives them life, and the Son gives life to whomever He wants.  This life-giving is on two levels.  Both God and Jesus raised the physically dead to life on several occasions – a miracle without equal.  But they both also gave spiritual life to those who were dead in their sins, separated from God, the source of all life.  This was illustrated to Ezekiel in his vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14), and was fulfilled not in the return of the exiles from Babylon, but on the day of Pentecost, when God’s Spirit blew through the assembled believers, filling them and giving them real spiritual life, which quickly spread to an additional 3,000 Jewish people (cf. Acts 2).  All of that fulfillment was enabled by the sacrificial death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.  Together He and the Father bring dead things to life.
  • The Father is the Judge, but He has given authority to judge to Jesus.  Those leaders didn’t like feeling that Jesus was judging them, but they were in fact facing their eternal judge, and he was finding them sorely lacking.  Jesus’ very presence was a judgment on people.  When He showed up someplace and began to speak, the people responded to Him in ways that showed the real state of their hearts – either craving and receiving His words, or rebelling against what He said, rejecting Him, and thus showing their rejection of the God who had sent Him.
  • Jesus and the Father are one, so the one who rejects Jesus and His words rejects the Father as well.  Many in Jesus’ day rejected Him, believing that by doing so they were defending God, staying true to Him.  But by rejecting Jesus, God’s final and most complete revelation of Himself, they actually rejected God and all that He had revealed of Himself previously.  By rejecting the fulfillment of the covenant, they rejected its foundation.  By rejecting the fruit as bad, they ended up rejecting the whole tree.

If Jesus had merely been a talker or a teacher, there might have been room for doubt about His claims to be the Son of God.  But Jesus did far more than just talk.  Even in this case, He had done and amazing miracle, healing instantly and completely a man who had been incapacitated for 38 years.  But, despite the outward trappings of their religion, these “leaders” had no spiritual life at all.  They were walking corpses, dressed in fine gowns to appear alive.  The saddest thing is that the One who was standing right on front of them, the One whom they were persecuting, the One they were arguing with over the relevance of the rules that they had made up, was the One who could give them real life!

Father, even today so many people look at the man, Jesus, and miss the eternal Son of God right in front of them.  They ignore the miracles (including the resurrection, which these Jewish leaders hadn’t even encountered at this stage), and they take issue with His teachings, deciding on the basis of their own thinking whether to accept or reject them.  O blind generation!  O walking dead-men!  Do you not see that the One before You is the glorious, eternal Son of God, the One who came to earth, not to teach us pithy sayings, but to give us life through the laying down of His own life?  The proper response is not intellectual wrestling, but worship. It is not weighing His words to determine if we think there might be validity to them, but whole-hearted acceptance of this man, and Who He is.  Help us, Lord, all of us who go by the name of Jesus, to so present Him to the people around us by our words and our actions, that they can see His life in us, can experience His miracles in our testimony, and can then turn to You and be saved.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – May 5, 2015

John 1:14 (NIV): The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus, the eternal, divine Word of God, became God in the flesh, the man Jesus, Emmanuel, “God with us.”  This is the great mystery of the incarnation, one that is nearly impossible for us to fully comprehend.  How can the limitless God limit Himself to a finite human body?  How can the immortal God become a mortal human being, and even die?  But it all happened just as God foretold.  Jesus set aside for a time the glory that He had with the Father since before the world began (cf. John 17:5).  He humbled Himself, and took on the very nature of a slave of God, even to the point of humbly submitting Himself to death on a cross (cf. Philippians 2:5-8).

John chose his words carefully in this verse.  Jesus “made His dwelling among us” literally says that He “pitched His tent” among us, the people whom He came to save.  Like a tent, Jesus’ physical body was a temporary dwelling place for His glory.  But, like the tabernacle in the wilderness, that temporary, movable dwelling place was crammed with all of the glory of God – it was the place where God made His glory manifest.  Some believed that they could destroy Jesus by killing Him.  But in doing so, all they did was to tear down the tent.  Jesus rebuilt the tent when He rose from the dead, this time remaking it into a glorious temple made of eternal stuff that can never be torn down again.

Even though Jesus did live in a literal physical body, with real physical needs and limitations, His glory was still visible to any who made the time to see it.  This glory showed through in His absolute holiness – He lived every day of His life untouched by sin, so that He would be a sinless, spotless sacrifice that would pay for the sins of the whole world (cf. John 1:29, Hebrews 4:15).  His divine glory showed through in the miracles that He did, restoring what was broken, creating what was missing, expelling evil and darkness by His holiness and light, and even restoring life to what had died.  It showed through on the Mount of Transfiguration, when the corner of the tent was lifted, and Peter, James, and John got a brief glimpse of the glory that dwelt within.  And, of course, the full majesty and power of Jesus was on display when He rose from the dead, and when He ascended into heaven in the sight of His disciples.

All of these experiences caused Jesus’ disciples to realize who He really was – the One and Only Son of God, who came from the Father, pitched His tent among us for a season, and demonstrated the truth and grace that only comes from the presence of the Father.  This is the Jesus we worship.

Father, in reading the gospels, we get a look at Your glory shining in the life of Jesus.  But when we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, when He comes to live in our hearts and transforms our lives, we get to experience that power and glory first-hand!  Thank You for making that a reality in my own life.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – April 29, 2014

Mark 3:7-12 (NIV):  Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed.  When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon.  Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him.  For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him.  Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.”  But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.

At this stage of His ministry, Jesus found it very easy to draw a crowd, but most of those coming to Him were coming for the wrong reasons.  Some of them were sick, or brought friends or loved ones who were.  They came to get in on the healing power that flowed through Jesus.  Others were beset by demons, and knew that Jesus could free them.  Still others came out of curiosity or thrill-seeking; they wanted to see a miracle happen.

These people came from a vast area.  The people from Galilee were from the northern region of the country.  Those from Jerusalem and Judea were from the center part of the country.  Idumea was the extreme south.  But people also came from the predominantly gentile areas east of the Jordan, and from the far northern Mediterranean coastal towns of Tyre and Sidon in Phoenecia.  In other words, they came from pretty much everywhere!  Jesus sometimes used a boat to put a little distance between Him and those huge crowds that would press and crowd Him right into the water, trying to touch Him to receive healing.

Of course, Jesus did heal the people.  He did free those beset by demons.  His demonstration of the reality of God’s kingdom was vitally important.  But He also taught them from the shore and from the boat about God’s reality, His kingdom, and His longing for a relationship with the people He had created.  Without the clear teaching, those people whom He had made whole, would simply go back and continue to live the same kinds of lives apart from God that they had been living, and would end up in a worse place later.  So Jesus healed and He taught.  He freed and He taught.  And he urged the people to turn to God with all of their hearts so that their wholeness, their freedom, could be permanent.

Sometimes when Jesus was casting out demons they would yell out, “You are the son of God” before they left.  That was a fact, but Jesus would shut them up with a word.  It wasn’t that Jesus was afraid of them, or ashamed of who He was.  But the people were not ready for this truth yet.  They still had much to learn about the God who loved them and who wanted to save them.  They still needed to understand who they were in relationship with God before they would be willing to see who Jesus was in relationship to God.  All of that would come out, but Jesus knew that, for it to be effective, it needed to come out at the right time.

Father, we are so privileged to know so much more about You and Your kingdom than the people of Jesus’ day!  But even knowing who He really is, even having experienced His redeeming power and His presence in our lives, it is still tempting to come to Him with our wants and needs in front; to crowd in on Him for a touch, and then not to stay close and quiet enough to learn from Him.  Even the demons fell at His feet and recognized Him as Your Son.  We should not do less any time we come.  Help us, Lord.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – April 11, 2014

Mark 2:5-12 (NIV):  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things?  Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”  He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

The teachers of the law were actually on the right track, but they and those in the crowd who heard Jesus say, “Son, your sins are forgiven” stopped short of reaching the correct conclusion.  Their starting premise was:  only God can forgive sins, which is totally correct.  The conclusion that they should have reached by the end of this event was:  Jesus is God.

Of course, to get them there, Jesus had to demonstrate that He really did have authority to forgive the sins of this man.  His technique to do this was perfect.  The easy thing to do in the face of paralysis, which no doctors then could hope to cure, would be to tell the man that is sins were forgiven.  This would imply (correctly, actually) that being forgiven was more important than being physically healed.  But this forgiveness had no effect that was visible to those gathered around.  It was a “safe” declaration that couldn’t really be countered by anyone sitting there.  Jesus couldn’t prove that the man was now forgiven, but those witnessing it couldn’t prove that he was not.

But Jesus wasn’t into logical games.  He was there to bear witness to the Father, and to declare the advent of God’s kingdom.  His challenge was, “If I do the more difficult thing, the thing that will be perfectly evident to everyone if I succeed, telling this man to take up his mat and walk, then you will have to admit that it is possible for Me to succeed in doing the easier thing, declaring this man’s sins forgiven.”  And so Jesus told the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”  He never touched the man.  He didn’t pray over him or anoint him with oil.  He just gave a command, and the man instantly obeyed.

Again, this should have led people, especially the teachers of the law, to construct the following logical proof:

  • Only God can forgive sins.
  • Jesus can forgive sins.
  • Therefore, Jesus is God.

But their prejudices and their closed system of logic, believing that God was in heaven, and would not ever show up as a real human being, kept them from accepting that logical conclusion and falling at Jesus’ feet in worship and total surrender.  Instead, they were left shaking their heads, trying to make sense of it all, and saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Father, even today those same kinds of prejudices and closed logic systems cause people to overlook the obvious about Jesus.  People accept Him as a prophet, or a good man, or a great teacher, but are unwilling to accept Him as God in the flesh.  But Jesus, by both action and very clear statements, declared Himself to be God, and we must accept Him as such, or we cannot be saved.  Thank You for Your clear word, and all of the wonders that it contains.  Amen.

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