Tag Archives: Jesus

Resist Christ as Lord [Our Condition Apart from New Birth]

Part of the10 Hard Truths about Being Born Again series.

Judas the apostate–the betrayer–was an apostle of Jesus Christ…

A man hand picked by Jesus to be one of the twelve…

Part of the close circle of disciples.

A man trusted to be the treasurer. A man who saw Jesus cure the lameConquer storms.

A man who heard all the doctrines of Christ. Doctrines taught with authority. Taught irrespective of tradition.

Judas even heard Peter tell Jesus, “You are the Christ.”

Yet, Judas was impotent to all things spiritual. Unregenerate. Blind.

Dead in sins, he didn’t think it worthwhile to glorify Jesus as God or give thanks to him.

And in the end–in spite of the abundant proofs of Jesus’ lordship–he rejected Jesus as his Lord.


Why Judas Resisted Christ as Lord

Judas simply chose the only thing that would please his corrupt nature and its appetite for sin. He couldn’t choose what his nature didn’t desire.

And this is why the new birth is needed.

 says that “No man can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” In other words, you CANNOT say “Jesus is Lord” and mean that he is master of your life…

And in , Jesus says “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”

In the absence of God’s gracious gift of faith in Jesus Christ, you can not embrace Jesus as Lord. In God’s grace, however, you are drawn FROM your beloved lusts and darling self-righteousness…

And drawn TO Christ. To rely upon Christ–and Christ alone–for salvation.

You are drawn from that which was appalling and ludicrous to that which is comforting and reasonable.

Mind you, the drawing here is not moral persuasion. It’s not doctrine. It’s not miracles. It’s distinct from that.

And superior.

From Resisting to Embracing Christ as Lord

It’s the internal and powerful influence of the Holy Spirit of God. An act of power, but not force. God makes the unwilling willing. He makes him who resists the lordship of Christ actually embrace the lordship of Christ.

Such statements may seem quaint, maybe even self-defeating, but to anyone who’s been truly born again, the work of the Holy Spirit in their regeneration is a stable, eyes-wide-open reality. One that faith can sink its anchor into.

Slaves to Sin (Our Condition Apart from New Birth)

Part of the 10 Hard Truths about Being Born Againseries.

To be a slave to sin is a terrible thing.

For instance,  said:

Sin is a debt, a burden, a thief, a sickness, a leprosy, a plague, a poison, a serpent, a sting.

Everything that man hates, sin is.

A load of curses and calamities beneath his crushing intolerable pressure, the whole creation groans.

However, enslavement to sin doesn’t mean one struggles against it.

Rather, one has an innate and compelling desire to reject God and his law. In fact, he has a .

For immorality.

For deception.

The Doctrine of Degradation

He yearns to break his parent’s hearts. Lie to his wife. Feed the minds of his children filth. Steal from his corporation. Dominate his secretary. Outsmart weak men.

He longs to entertain his friends with foul language. Lure honest neighbors into wickedness. Support the legislation of wicked men.

He neglects the emotional pain of relatives. Ignores the needs of the diseased. Refuses to help the displaced.

In the end, it’s the opposite of sanctification. It’s degradation. All for the sake of self.

The Debt of Degradation

And neither can a slave to sin see biblical truth. Hear spiritual wisdom. Feel godly sorrow.

These are his . Sin is a master over his heart, mind and body.

Unfortunately, spiritual death is the paycheck for slavery to sin. It’s the wage for a degrading sense of morality.

The worst part of this slavery is that we are helpless. We cannot repay it. We have nothing to repay it.

Whether we wish to repay it or not, we are helpless. ”Forgiveness ought not to be granted except when the debt is paid which is due for our sin,” Anselm said.

Fortunately, that debt has been paid. By the Messiah.

The Death of Degradation

As , “He takes the totality and the system of sin in a man, as a body which is nullified by death; its will is judged and no longer masters us. For he who is dead is justified from sin.”

And so, through the special mercy of God we become . And slaves to righteousness.

In Christ, degradation dies. But it doesn’t end there.

Our spiritual resurrection in Christ awakens in us a thanksgiving that grows as we learn how great God’s kindness is. And as we learn how great God’s kindness is, we are constantly stimulated to hate sin more and love obedience to Christ more.

This is yet another reason why new birth is so important.

Death: The Messiah Commits His Soul to God

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Even in the depths of humiliation and persecution, Jesus was declared the Messiah. Declared by a person you’d never expect.

Not long after a challenge to crawl down from the cross–an accusations that Christ was not who he said he was–a Roman centurion makes an unusual statement.

It was noon when darkness covered the whole land.

A sign that satisfied . A sign that satisfied .

A sign the Jews didn’t expect. Nor even noticed as such.

But a sign that signaled their blindness. Their subjection to spiritual darkness.

The darkness remained for three hours. And in that darkness , “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Jesus didn’t complain of Peter’s betrayal. He didn’t complain that his followers fled from him.

He complained that God had forsaken him.

And made a sacrifice of sin for us, Jesus now  and wrath. The wrath Jesus feared in the garden. This was the agony he suspected he’d endure.

Wrath seen in the Old Testament consuming fire. . Fire that should’ve consumed the sinner. It fell on Christ. A sacrifice that pacified God. A sacrifice that cried long and bitterly.

Startled by this sudden appearance of life in Jesus, someone soaked a sponge in sour wine, put it on the end of a long stick and raised it to Jesus’ lips.

They intended to cool his mouth. Not to nurse him. But to mock him. As if to say, “He’s crying for the prophet Elijah to rescue him. What other crazy thing can we get him to say?”

Then, Jesus died.

And at that instant, the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom, a signal that the nation of Jews would eventually be destroyed…

…Ichabod, the  from Israel…

And it signaled comfort to Christians: Here is a  by the way of Jesus’ blood.

And now we come to the centurion’s statement. Convicted and convinced, the centurion who oversaw the execution confessed: “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

The unjust punishment of a sinless man. The honor that heaven declared to the suffering servant.

Even in the depths of humiliation and persecution, Jesus was declared the Messiah. The Son of God. And he was declared to be so with power.

From conquering storms and subduing demons to human worship and heavens that declare his death, Jesus is named the Messiah. The reigning King. Whom we adore and serve.

For evermore.

**Part of The Messiah: Eleven Meditations from the Book of Mark series.** You can start reading a PDF version of  right now.

Crucifixion: The Messiah Mocked on the Cross

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Near the end of the story of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we see Jesus nailed to a cross…

A cross standing between two crucified robbers–a subtle insult by Pilate suggesting the king of the Jews was nothing more than a criminal.

The Mocked Messiah

Onlookers cursed Jesus. Spit his way. Even challenged him to crawl down from the cross. The two robbers hurled abuses at him.

Some Jews cried, “He saved others, but he can’t even save himself!”

This is a gruesome antithesis of Mary’s reckless act of worship. A far cry from an otherworldly transfiguration.

Jesus on the cross is not a potent display of power. It doesn’t move anyone to declare, “You are the Christ.”

In fact, in the minds of Mary, John and Peter–in the minds of all his followers–it looks like nothing more than a scandal. A fraud. A huge, out-of-nowhere upset late in the quarter.

This can’t be happening. Not to our Messiah. But it is.

Cursing Christ

The mockery doesn’t stop. , “Let Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!”

A final demand for a miracle by the unbelieving Jewish authorities. A miracle they claim would convince them once and for all that Jesus is indeed who he says he is: The Messiah.

Their claim is false. They would not believe. They refused to believe any miracle up to that point. And they would refuse to believe in the resurrection.

In the end, they satisfied the desires of their heart. At the expense of the suffering Christ. But, without knowing it, they established the glory and perfection of Jesus: He saved others but not himself.

What the Work of the Crucifixion Means

This is what we don’t see: The work occurring out of every one’s sight between Jesus and God. The work that darkened Jesus’ soul, broke his body but displayed his absolute perfection.

All the work between himself and God.

And morally rejected by the world there was no longer any room in it for his mercy towards it. He drank in his soul the cup of death and the judgment of sin. His work was complete.

Obedient to the end, he dies. But his death ushers in another world. A life where evil could never enter…and the new man will be perfectly at peace in the presence of God.

How Do You See the Suffering Messiah?

The man who sees the danger in mocking the suffering Messiah will with relentless intensity seek salvation.

The man who sees the forgiveness for sin and the gift of eternal life purchased for him by the suffering and death of the Son of God will rejoice endlessly.

And the man who sees  the sins which crucified Christ will mourn with godly sorrow.

How do you see the suffering Christ?

**Part of The Messiah: Eleven Meditations from the Book of Mark series.** You can start reading a PDF version of  right now.

Transfiguration: An Otherworldy Peek at the Messiah

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Long ago, on the slopes of the highest mountain in Israel, Jesus led a small group of followers to an isolated grove and then, in front of their eyes,  from a flesh and blood man into a being shining white as the sun.

Then Moses appears…spokesperson for the redeemed who entered the kingdom through death.

Spokesperson for the Law.

Then Elijah appears…spokesperson for the redeemed who entered the kingdom through translation.

Spokesperson for the Prophets.

Moses and Elijah talk with Jesus. The subject: his coming death. An event that would conquer–not political oppression or military occupation–but sin and death.

An event that would secure the redemption of mankind. An event that would anchor the gospel entrusted to you and I.

The Climax to Messianic Revelations

The Transfiguration is the final, climactic earthly revelation of Jesus as Messiah before his crucifixion.

Remember, the tension on his messianic revelation was building as he cast out demonsconquered storms and cured the paralytic.

As his family rejected him. And rough, impetuous followers embraced him.

The Transfiguration and Our Wicked Hearts

Of course it’s an event our corrupt natures crave. In this scene, God overshadows these sinful, unglorified men and they naturally want to stay there. Forever.

And so would we.

The disciples response to this unusual appearance of God was typical of man since he sinned in the garden: They did a face plant in fear.

I’m confident I would, too.

But here’s what you need to know: For a moment Jesus is no longer the suffering servant. He is the king arrayed in his splendor. He’s given the disciples–and us–a peek at the otherworldly nature of his glorified state.

Where You Could Go Wrong

Yet we would be wrong to look for a heaven here upon a corrupt earth. To demand a repeat of this extraordinary event every month, week or day.

Just like Peter and the disciples, we have important work to do: Bring Christ to the suffering and the sinful. Preach the gospel. In the very ordinary, very dirty business of life.

Home. Church. Work. Subdivision. Mall.

The people in these very ordinary, very dirty places all need the message we carry. That means WE’VE been redeemed for a point. Saved so we can .

We weren’t meant to hunker down in our redemption, hoard our salvation or map out our rapture in private.

We were meant to crawl out of the trenches and engage–in mercy and grace–the enemies of our king.

**Part of The Messiah: Eleven Meditations from the Book of Mark series.** You can start reading a PDF version of  right now.

The Anointed: A Reckless but Beautiful Act of Worship

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March 28, 33 AD.

Jesus reclines on a thin mat around a low table in the home of a leper named Simon who lives in Bethany, a small village on the south side of the Mount of Olives.

Jesus reclines with Simon and other guests, including Lazarus.

The Lazarus who not too long ago lay dead three days in a tomb.

The Lazarus who, but for the voice of Jesus, would still be in the tomb.

One Reckless, but Beautiful Act of Worship

Lazarus’ sister Martha is serving food. The men talk. Lazarus’ other sister, Mary, enters. She’s carrying a jar of expensive funeral perfume. Perfume she bought for her own burial.

She breaks the jar and pours it on Jesus’ feet. She then pours it on Jesus’ head. She then lets her hair down in front of men she’s not married to and wipes Jesus’ feet with it.

The fragrance overwhelms the aroma of food. Everyone quiets, except one man.

One Ugly Rebuke

Judas stands and scolds Mary for her reckless act. He says the perfume could’ve been sold and the money given to the poor. , “Leave her alone…why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.”

And then Jesus promises that her one reckless act of worship will be remembered anytime the gospel is preached. Why?

Her dramatic act demonstrated–beyond words–her love, devotion and loyalty to Jesus. A man who not only raised her brother from the dead, but a man who was willing to lose his own life for the sake of others. Like you.

Your Own Risky, but Calculated Acts of Worship

So, the question is, what are you willing to risk  for Jesus that he might describe as beautiful?

1. Give away your life savings?

2. Neglect your own burial?

3. Appear ridiculous in public?

4. Offend your spouse?

5. Tarnish your reputation?

Mary’s act was an act of worship. A symbol of her deep loyalty to Jesus. And a costly way to show gratitude for raising her brother Lazarus from the dead.

But Jesus described it as beautiful.

Something to Keep in Mind

She did what she could. She gave what she had. Not what she didn’t have.

So you don’t have to mourn what you don’t have. Rejoice in what you do have. And give recklessly. . The tangible and the intangible.

And when you’ve decided before the Lord what you can give to him as an act of worship, don’t wait. Do it now.

Risk it all so that he may one day say, “What you did was beautiful.” His is the only affirmation you should ever care about.

**Part of The Messiah: Eleven Meditations from the Book of Mark series.** You can start reading a PDF version of  right now.

Son of Man: Something You Will and Won’t See

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Which is easier to prove: that some one’s sins have been forgiven or that an ex-cripple can now walk?

You can’t say “forgiveness of sins” since it’s invisible. So you must vote for the healed cripple.

Or do you?

That’s the question Jesus answers when we find him in Capernaum, circa .

Who Is the Cripple?

Seated on a mat inside a crowded house Jesus paused during his sermon to watch a dead man on a bier get lowered to the floor through a hole in the ceiling.

And this is what people came to see–a miracle. And indeed, that’s what they got. But in a way none imagined.

The man was not dead. Just lame from the neck down. Four men who peered through the roof possibly said as much.

Jesus told the man, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The Pharisees flinched, murmured. Jesus asked why they flinched and murmured.

He asked “Why do you think I blaspheme? Would it be easier for me to heal the man? Would that satisfy you?”

Why They Flinched and Murmured

The forgiveness of sins belongs to the realm of God alone. That was why the Pharisees balked at Jesus’ statement.

Jesus was claiming he could work as God worked.

Knowing that the act of forgiveness was an intangible one, Jesus shifted gears. He would demonstrate that he had the power to forgive sins because he possessed other God-like powers. Namely the gift of life.

He ordered the legs and arms of the cripple to warm with life. He spoke, and the cripple stood. By the word of God. The Son of God. The creator. The .

What You Do and Don’t See

The events unfold and all you see is a rabbi tell a lifetime cripple to pick up his pallet and walk home. All you see is a cripple climb to his feet, grab the pallet and walk out of the crowded house. All you see is a mob of people hollering, clapping and singing.

What you don’t see is the storehouse of sins emptied in an instant. Nor the dark clouds of war with God evaporate. Nor peace descend on the soul of a man once crippled by guilt and fear and worry.

All you see is an ex-cripple climb out of a house of people and walk–for the first time in his life–down a dusty street.

Where You Feel This

For you, like the ex-cripple, you simply believe what Jesus told you: That through his death your sins are forgiven. That through his death your entrance into heaven is cleared. That through his death you are now at peace with God.

You believe you are healed from the .

And you feel this in your spirit. And in that moment you commit to his will for your life. Forever.

**Part of The Messiah: Eleven Meditations from the Book of Mark series.** You can start reading a PDF version of  right now.

A Portrait of God as Judge

Where the picture of God as a righteous, good, omnipotent Judge couldn’t be more clear.

When Ben Stein asked Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins what he’d say to God if given the opportunity–as seen in the movie –Dawkins, quoting 20th Century philosopher Bertrand Russell, replied: “I’ll ask why did he hide so well.”

At some other time and place atheist  said: “If I face God on Judgment Day, I will tell Him to go to hell.”

More common objections to God…but no less accusatory…sound like this: “You have not done enough” or “One way to salvation is not enough.”

These objections accuse God of being narrow minded. Exclusive. Harsh.

Or, as in Barker’s case, make him out to be a laughable caricature: God as a puny man leaning away from his fury.

Finally, some people will simply plead by saying, “If I’m found guilty before God, I’ll ask him to forgive me. He’s a loving, forgiving God.”

The Problem with Statements Like These

Implicit in all these comments is the idea that God would somehow standby and allow someone to speak. Furthermore, that when in the face of God they’d EVEN be able to speak.

See, the Bible unmistakably describes God as a judge. A judge who is to be respected and feared.

In the Old Testament, God judged Adam and Eve, the corrupt world of Noah’s day, Sodom and Gomorrah, Israel’s Egyptian taskmasters and those who worshiped the golden calf.

God also judged Nadab and Abihu for illegal fire, Korah, Dathan and Abiram for rising up against Moses, Acah for sacrilegious thieving and Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar for their impiety.

Judgement Not Isolated to Old Testament

In the New Testament, judgment falls on the Jews for , on Ananias and Sapphira for lying to God, on , on Elymas the magician for his .

God even brought  at Corinth.

The thought throughout all these Scriptures is that the Mosaic Law is handed down by a just judge who will not hesitate to swiftly, supernaturally and sovereignly punish people who break his law.

The picture of God as an incorruptiblerighteousomnipotent judge couldn’t be more clear.

So, if that’s the case, then why do so many believers and non believers fight the thought of God as a judge to be feared? Good question.

Martin Luther said:

God is called a fire because he utterly destroys the godless and leaves them nothing; nor is there anything that can resist his wrath….The wrath of God is real, not fictitious, not a jest. If it were false, then mercy would be fictitious; for as the wrath, so the mercy which forgives…Christ most assuredly took upon Himself the wrath of God and bore it for us….God punishes in a two-fold manner. In the first place, he does so in grace, as a benevolent father; and the chastisement is temporal. In the second place, He punishes in wrath as a strict judge; and this punishment is eternal.

, “The entire New Testament is overshadowed by the certainty of a coming day of universal judgement and by the problem thence arising: How may sinners get right with God while there is yet time.”

In other words, the Christian view of judgment means that history moves to a goal.

The Essence of Jesus as the Judge

Not only does the New Testament look on to the Day of judgment, the day of wrath, the wrath to come, but it also proclaims Jesus, the divine Savior, as the divinely appointed Judge.

Therefore, the New Testament main authority of final judgment is Jesus Christ.

And He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.

Jesus constantly affirmed that in the day when all appear before God’s throne to receive the abiding and eternal consequences of the life they have lived, he himself will be the father’s agent in judgement and his  will be decisive.

In fact, the Gospels of Jesus Christ spend a good deal more space preaching judgment than they do predicting the Messiah and his kingdom.

Consider :

And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”

This is a spiritual statement. A moral statement. A statement not to be confused with physical healing.

It’s only appropriate that these are spiritual and moral statements, because the Jesus of the New Testament, who is the wold’s judge, is indeed, the world’s Savior, someone who will come to heal our lawlessness.

Think about it: Who could be a better Savior other than the judge and the executioner?

**Part of The Nature of God series.**

The Scandal of Jesus in Nazareth


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In a small, isolated village perched on the limestone hills of the southern Lebanon mountain range, .

He taught in the synagogue. On a Sabbath day. Everything as it should be. Except for one thing…

How Jesus taught.

The people of Nazareth knew Jesus as a craftsman, a carpenter. A man who knew stone, brick and wood.  Who framed houses, windows and roofs.

They knew him as the son of Mary, brother of James, Joses, Judas, Simon and a handful of sisters–all long-time residents of Nazareth.

And they knew him as a rumored illegitimate child.

That’s why, in spite of his wisdom and performance of miracles, they could not swallow the fact that this ordinary, blue-collar man from Nazareth postured as God.

How dare he teach with such wisdom. How dare he exalt himself above them. And how dare he proclaim he was the Messiah.

Jesus’ response to this ferocious skepticism–his refusal to do miracles in Nazareth–is reminiscent of his teaching on :

He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

In other words, in the face of flagrant doubt, it’s pointless to perform miracles. We see this again in  when a group of Pharisees seek an astronomical sign and Jesus refuses.

What astonished Jesus about the unbelief he encountered in Nazareth was not his inability to do miracles. It was that for people who claimed to know him so well, they knew him so little.

And missing from this encounter in Nazareth is the astonishment over a conquered storm. The drop-dead serious confession of Jesus as Christ.

Abundant is the familiarity that creates contempt. That snubs authority. That rejects reality. But breeds the .

**Part of The Messiah: Eleven Meditations from the Book of Mark series.** You can start reading a PDF version of  right now.

How the Conquered Storm Points to Christ

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Every so often I hear a story about someone drowning in the ocean. A child dragged to her death by the undertow.

That’s why my wife and I give ample, rigid warning to our own children when we visit the ocean:

“Hold our hands tight.”

Our last two visits to the ocean–the Atlantic and the Gulf–occurred just days after hurricanes bull rushed the coast. So winds remained fierce. Waves, relentless. We barely even set foot into the sea.

The Storm Descending on the Boat

Similar circumstances–gale-like winds, wall-like waves–were common on another sea. The Sea of Galilee.

Long ago Jesus and his disciples were on the western shore of this sea. Jesus wanted to escape the crush of the crowd. So he and his disciples climbed into a boat. They sailed to the eastern shore where there was no large city, thus fewer people.

But at some point during their trip a severe storm pushed its way across the sea. Jesus’ disciples–aware of what could happen if trapped in such a storm–feared they would drown.

Jesus, on the other hand, slept.

Eventually his disciples woke him up. They pointed to the storm and screamed, “We’re going to die!” And what happened next demonstrates Jesus’ unlimited power over the natural world.

The Storm Subdued by a Man

Storms don’t die quickly. Nor on cue from a human command. Yet, on that day, Jesus immediately muzzled the storm with the words, “Hush, be still.” And when the storm ceased, the disciples’ hearts sank. Not in sadness nor relief.

But terror.

Terror that something more powerful than a boat-crushing, human-drowning force was in the boat with them. And it was this terror that precipitated the question, “Who is this that the wind and the sea obey him?”

The Conquered Storm Points to Christ

This story of the sea being stilled occurred well before Peter’s confession that Jesus was Christ.

In Mark, it occurs after Jesus heals many people of illness, deformities and demon possession. Thus, this story of the sea being stilled rises in the Markian narrative above all supernatural events before it and culminates with the question, “Who is this?”

It’s like a primer for the : “Who do you say that I am?”

At that point in Mark 8:29…is there any question who Jesus is? Any resistance? Any doubt to his authority over sin and death? Jesus cast out demons. Restored mangled limbs. Cured lingering diseases. Lifted children from the dead. And subdued the sea.

The Storm Submitted–Will You?

Of course, doubters existed. Judas was more than likely in the boat. And doubters exist today.

Why did Judas doubt? Why do people doubt today? : “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”

This is what breaks my heart: In the face of mounting evidence to the authority of Christ, people who reject Jesus needlessly  against themselves.

In the end, Jesus offers two ways: Submit to his power. Or suffer under it. There is no middle ground.

**Part of The Messiah: Eleven Meditations from the Book of Mark series.** You can start reading a PDF version of  right now.