Witnesses to the Light

August 1, 2019 at 5:04 pm | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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At the Feast of Tabernacles the Lord Jesus preached and taught among the people, while dealing at the same time with the Pharisees’ attempts to have a death warrant executed against Him. It’s not hard to imagine the drama and suspense that surrounded Him during those seven or eight days. Everything He said must have carried tremendous impact (John 7:46). The feast culminated with a big ceremony in which a pitcher of water was poured out and a big lampstand was lit. Jesus used these poignant signs to describe Himself as the Living Water (John 7:37-38) and the Light of the World.

How bright or how dark has your life been lately? Are you seeing clearly as you walk with the Savior, or are you stumbling about, alternately depressed, disoriented, discombobulated, dumbfounded, and discouraged, as if your spouse rearranged the furniture in your house without telling you just before the electricity went out?

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 8:12 (emphasis added)

This is the second of the recognized I AM statements in John. It hearkens back to John 1, which teaches us that Jesus is the life-giving and truth-revealing light of men. People prefer darkness, though, because their deeds are evil. They are willing to put up with blindness and deceit if it allows them enjoy the delusion that their sin is hidden – or at least not so bad as to offend an all-seeing God.

The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.

John 8:13

The Pharisees tried a different tack, using the Old Testament law requirement of two or three witnesses to testify in agreement in order to establish the truth claims of a legal dispute. Jesus would answer them based on their assertion, but pause for a moment to consider how offensive it is to accuse the Truth Himself of being a liar.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.

John 8:14

Jesus could call the greatest witness of all: the One Who commissioned Him to come here from Heaven and speak the Truth.

And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.

John 8:16-19

No doubt they did not perceive the capital F that Jesus meant when He said “Father.” They counted Joseph of Nazareth as totally unworthy of supporting such a claim to Deity, and they would have had a point, except Jesus had His real Father in mind.

Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.

John 8:21

I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

John 8:24

Jesus did not sugarcoat the consequences of rejecting His claims and the grace He offered, but this confirms that they were not on the same page:

They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.

John 8:27

Jesus had the ultimate authority to back up His claims.

Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. As he spake these words, many believed on him.

John 8:28-30

The Father of Lights

October 9, 2018 at 3:04 pm | Posted in John, Q&A | 8 Comments
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Question: I can understand why God would be called the “Father of Light,” but why is He called the Father of lights (plural) in James 1:17?

Answer: That’s one of my favorite verses.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

James 1:17 (emphasis added)

Although the word “light” is found frequently in the New Testament, the plural “lights” is used only four times.

The first time, it is a translation of the Greek word lychnos, which was the generic word for mobile lights. Back in Bible times it would have been used to describe candles or lamps, which could be carried around to light up dark areas or rooms. I imagine it would be the ancient equivalent of our modern flashlights.

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;

Luke 12:35 (emphasis added)

The second time, “lights” is from lampas, meaning torches. These could have been for outdoor or indoor use, including traveling at night, or to illuminate meetings where people gathered after dark. Think of the angry villagers who came after Frankenstein’s monster to terrorize him with fire.

torches

And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.

Acts 20:8 (emphasis added)

The third time plural “lights” is used, it is a translation of the word phoster, which has a connotation of objects that burn with their own, self-generated light.

That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Philippians 2:15 (emphasis added)

The word you are asking about – “lights” in James 1:17 – is a translation of the Greek word phos, a shorter form of phoster, and which emphasizes lights that are used for the express purpose of revelation – revealing through illumination that which was previously hidden by darkness.

In its context, James 1:17 supports the truth that, although Christians will be tempted severely by the lusts of our own flesh, we may not blame God for these temptations. He – and every gift He sends down to us from on high – is perfectly good, and His immutability makes it impossible that He could fail to do what is right.

Therefore, although I can’t say for certain exactly why the Holy Spirit inspired James to use the plural “lights” when describing our Heavenly Father’s perfection, benevolence, and blessed immutability, I suspect it has to do with all the different types of light – both literal/physical and spiritual/metaphorical – we see in Scripture as coming from, or representative of, Him.

For instance, God is the Creator-Father of all the celestial bodies, including the Sun and the stars which light up the sky both at night, and in the day.

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

Genesis 1:14 (emphasis added)

God is the Father of all wisdom, which is symbolized by light, even to the extent that we refer to an exceptionally intelligent person as “brilliant.”

I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.

Daniel 5:14 (emphasis added)

God is the Father of Truth itself (Himself).

But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

John 3:21 (emphasis added)

God is the Father of the Light of the World.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

John 1:4-9 (emphasis added)

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 8:12 (emphasis added)

God is the Father of our inheritance, as His children, of light.

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

Colossians 1:12 (emphasis added)

God is certainly the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and His chosen, redeemed, and sanctified people, and in that sense, among many others, can it be said with joy, reverence, awe, and praise that He is the Father of Lights.

Catechism Question 15

December 22, 2014 at 1:20 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, John | 8 Comments
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Question 14: What has God done for you so you can have eternal life?
Answer: He sent his Son.
Prove it.

John 3:16

Question 15: What did Jesus do while He was here on earth?
Answer: He lived a perfect, sinless life.
Prove it.

And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

John 8:29

Jesus’s sinless life even included His childhood. It is difficult for us to imagine going a day or even part of a day without sinning egregiously. Jesus, unlike us, lived every moment of every second of every minute of every hour of every day of His entire earthly life without ever committing even a single solitary act of sinful omission or commission in thought, word, or deed!

This is true in spite of the fact that Jesus was fully human, and was tempted in every respect just like we are. It means, though, that He never gave in to any temptation.

Depending upon the age and maturity of your child, you can get into the somewhat controversial doctrine known as the “impeccability of Christ,” which deals with the question of whether or not it was possible for Christ, in His humanity, to sin. The virgin birth, as it relates to Christ’s full humanity without the inheritance of Adam’s fallen nature, can be touched upon here, as well, depending on age and discretion.

Other verses to consider:

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?

John 8:46

How to Get High in Christian Ministry

October 21, 2013 at 11:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

John 8:23

Christians are supposed to operate on a different level: the level of Christ, not the level of this world. The level of Christ is a higher, better level, where God is honored and people are truly helped.

1. Get High by Climbing Up

Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

Psalm 24:3 (emphasis added)

Who can ascend? Who can climb the hill of the Lord? The strong? The swift? The worldly wise? The prestigious? The famous? The wealthy? The influential? We must throw out our worldly ideas of what it means to “ascend” – to go up. You have to be bold to climb, says the world; but Gods says the contrite are the ones who will climb up to higher ground.

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Isaiah 57:15

Contrition is a recognition that you have been conquered by someone more powerful than you. Contrition is freedom before God; it is bondage, oppression, and terror before anyone else. It takes strength to climb, says the world, there are no handicapped mountain climbers; but God says the broken are the ones who will climb up to higher ground in Christian ministry.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Psalm 51:17

Someone who is broken before God is someone who realizes that he or she has messed up badly: someone who is willing to admit that he or she is wrong. Common sense would tell us that this is disastrous in a setting where other people can use your admission of wrong-doing or failure against you, but God requires a brokenness – a willingness to admit mistakes, faults, sins.

No one will ascend to higher ground under his own power. The only ones who will ascend are the ones who do not get weary in well-doing because they do not depend on their own strength. The only ones who will ascend are the ones who have a guide Who will lead them over or around the streams and boulders of temptation. The only ones who will ascend are those who have the right foot-gear: their feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. That means we need to be prepared to be Gospel-centered when we deal with non-Christians and with each other. Our distinguishing characteristics should be grace, mercy, love, truth, peace, forgiveness, and longsuffering.

The only ones who will ascend are the ones whom the Lord Himself will lift up.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

James 4:10

In Christian ministry you “get high” by “getting low.”

2. Get High by Cleaning Off

Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Psalm 24:3-4 (emphasis added)

What makes our hands so unclean?

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

I Timothy 2:8

Wrath makes our hands dirty. You can’t get right with God while you’re not right with your brother or sister in Christ. Wrath is reserved for God with the exception of our wrath against sin and against our spiritual enemies in high places. Wrath makes hands unclean, and so does doubting. When we have an unpleasant ministry job to do, we say we’re getting our hands dirty, but really we’re getting them clean. Jesus was not afraid to touch the unclean.

If ministering in love cleans the hands, what washes the heart to make it pure? The Word of God.

Christ gave Himself for the Church…

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

Ephesians 5:26

3. Get High by Casting Down

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Psalm 24:4 (emphasis added)

Vanity is a type of idolatry. It is anything you are pursuing, or walking after the course of, that is not of God. Hopefully, you do not worship a graven idol, but if idolatry is giving your heart to anything that that is spiritually empty, then I am afraid that too much of what captures our hearts is vanity, and we are guilty of lifting up our souls to it. What should we be doing with vanity? With emptiness? With anything that is what the Bible calls “imaginations:” anything without eternal worth?

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

We should be casting vanity down, not lifting ourselves up to it. Casting down means destroying: the way that God’s people were at times supposed to destroy their enemies under the herem (the “ban”). God wanted them all destroyed: women, children, livestock, altars, statues of false gods – everything. If a weed is simply pruned back, but not utterly destroyed, it will always grow back, often stronger than it was before. If we are going to climb up to higher ground, we are going to have to cast down imaginations, not just what the imaginations produce. If I am not reading my Bible regularly, it’s not enough just to determine to read my Bible more. If I am not praying regularly, it is not enough just to determine to pray more. I must get to the thinking which is causing these problems. I must get the root out by casting down imaginations and worldly thinking.

The New Girl Arrives

August 31, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Isaiah, John, Uncategorized | 12 Comments
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This has probably been the longest period of time I’ve gone without adding a new post to The Deep End. Although I’ve taken a break or two in the past, this time the occasion was very special. On August 21, 2013, God placed our fourth daughter, Lucy Nicole, into our family and into our care. It had been 13 1/2 years since the birth of our third daughter!

My wife was extremely brave throughout a difficult ordeal, and it was a little touch-and-go for a couple of days. During the night before Lucy was born, we found and claimed this promise from the Word of God:

Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut [the womb]? saith thy God.

Isaiah 66:9

I know that someone will probably say that this is out of context – that the verse is talking about the nation of Israel rather than the literal birth of a little baby girl – but we found it extremely comforting, and believe that God used it to help us through a difficult time. The Bible contains both principles and precepts, and I refuse to be disabused of the notion that God is 100% faithful and has the ability to finish absolutely everything that He starts, in a way that perfectly serves His ultimate glory. Nor do we discount the possibility that God arranged her birth on 8-21, when Romans 8:21 and 22 talk about the pain of childbirth and the deliverance of the children of God. The Lord was (as He has been throughout our marriage) amazingly gracious and loving to us, and mom and baby are home safe and sound and doing well. We thank Him and worship Him for this great gift placed into our trust and stewardship. May we, with His help and in His power, be faithful to teach her about Jesus and His Gospel, and to bring her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

We kept the baby’s name a secret throughout the pregnancy, and my wife and her friends referred to her simply as “The New Girl,” but the main reason we like the name “Lucy” is that it is derived from the ancient word for “light,” and “Nicole” is from a word meaning “victorious people.” Certainly, Christians are victorious people of the Light!

There was a man sent from God, whose name [was] John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all [men] through him might believe. He was not that Light, but [was sent] to bear witness of that Light. [That] was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:

John 1:6-12 (emphasis added)

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 8:12 (emphasis added)

But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 15:57 (emphasis added)

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I John 5:4-5 (emphasis added)

The Stones of Condemnation

January 18, 2013 at 11:01 am | Posted in John, The Stones that Don't Cry Out | 3 Comments
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One day Jesus was up early in the morning, teaching in the temple. The scribes and the Pharisees came bursting in, dragging a woman with them. “Look here, Master,” they said, “we’ve got this woman – caught in adultery – caught red-handed in the act! The Law says we should stone her and kill her. What do You say…?”

hand throwing stone

 

When you read the Gospel accounts, it seems like Jesus never did what the self-righteous hypocrites expected Him to do. Now He stooped down, and started writing with His finger in the dirt. This must have frustrated the Pharisees and scribes. He seemed to be ignoring them. They just kept asking and asking, and it was like He couldn’t even hear them!

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

John 8:7-8

I wonder what He wrote on the ground? There has been much speculation about this. Perhaps He wrote out the Ten Commandments? After all, His finger had written the originals. Perhaps He traced out a verse from one of the books of the prophets?

O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.

Jeremiah 17:13

What if Jesus was quietly writing out the names of some of the Pharisees’ mistresses or girlfriends – women with whom they themselves were committing adultery? Whatever it was He was writing, it convicted their consciences.

And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

John 8:9

I can just see them… They are clutching stones in their fists – ready to hand one to Jesus in case He gave the word – or ready to start throwing themselves to show their hypocritical judgment against this woman’s sin… and then… one by one… with downcast eyes and slumped shoulders… they begin to drop their rocks in the dust and slink away…

https://i1.wp.com/us.cdn4.123rf.com/168nwm/lovleah/lovleah0801/lovleah080100039/2378770-symbolic-concept-of-man-dropping-a-stone-from-his-hand--concept-peace-mercy-pardon-forgiveness-compa.jpg

In this series of lessons we are using Jesus’s words from Luke 19:40 as a starting point to discuss how the silence of rocks can actually be quiet loud. I don’t know if rocks thudding in the dust around a frightened woman would actually make all that much noise, but, if you ever played little league or high school baseball, you may be able to draw something of an analogy. There you are in center field, glove wavering unsteadily as you wait for a high arcing fly ball to come down toward your face. The game is on the line. Tragically, though, it is a bright day in the mid-afternoon and the sun is right in your eyes. Temporarily blinded, you hear the baseball hit the dirt in front of your feet as the winning run rounds third and heads for home. If you have ever been in that situation, you know that sound – the thudding sound of condemnation.

The rocks that the scribes and Pharisees would have brought to the stoning did not end up “crying out” in the way they supposed when they arranged this challenge to tempt Jesus. Instead, the ones who sought to condemn were the ones who held their peace when Jesus reminded them of their own sin. As Christians we need to see to it that the stones of condemnation never cry out in hypocritical judgment. Instead, we should cry out in forgiving love. Jesus Himself is truly the only one with the right to condemn, and, to those for whom He shed His blood, He offers instead the same loving admonition: “Go… and sin no more.

Why do we find it so hard to forgive, after all the things for which He’s forgiven us? I know that someone will say, “But you don’t know my enemy. You don’t know what he’s done to me.” No one has done worse to us than we’ve done to Jesus. Yet He loves and forgives.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 5:43-44

How Tall Was Jesus?

October 21, 2011 at 10:20 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical Teaching, Luke | 16 Comments
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When I first became the teacher of an adult Sunday School class my biggest worry was that somebody in class would ask a question for which I didn’t have an answer. So I would tend to “over-study” in preparation for class. Even if we were going to be covering something really simple (Does Jesus say you should love your neighbor?) I would be prepared to do a complete exegesis on the Olivet Discourse and to defend my position on infralapsarianism versus supralapsarianism – just in case. Well, after a few weeks, I stopped worrying about that. I came to realize that I had more pressing concerns than somebody asking a difficult question and putting me on the spot. My bigger concerns had to do with just trying to keep everybody awake for 35 minutes – or trying to make sure the people who preferred the chairs to be arranged in a circle didn’t physically attack the people who preferred to sit classroom-style. Instead of being afraid that someone would ask a difficult question, I actually began to hope that anyone would ask anything – which would at least indicate that someone was listening or had read the lesson. Finally, it happened.

A particular fellow stayed after class one Sunday morning and came up to me as I was shuffling my notes back into my folder. Oh boy, I thought, maybe he wants to know about modalism or the Sabellian controversy! But instead he said in a gruff voice, “Hey you’re one of them Christians – one of them ‘church people.’ How tall do you think Jesus was?”

Of course, I had no idea. And although I don’t think Jesus’s height bears a tremendous significance on the essentials of the Christian faith, I did promise to study the matter and get back to him.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

From the time Jesus was 12 years old He “increased in stature.” Presumably, this means that He “grew up” physically. So, however tall He was at 12, we can assume He got taller as He got older. The last part of that verse, which says “with God and man,” appears to apply to the part about Him growing “in favor,” but I suppose it might also apply to “increased in stature.” If Jesus grew “in stature with other men,” that would not tell us definitively how tall He was, but it would lead us to suppose that He reached an “average” height – similar to other men.

And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

Matthew 27:35 (emphasis added)

The Roman soldiers cast lots (gambled) for Jesus’s clothing after He was stripped and crucified. They did this partly to fulfill Old Testament prophecy, but it is unlikely that the soldiers in their own minds even knew this prophecy, much less that they knew the Divine hand of God was causing them to fulfill it. It is also unlikely that they cast lots hoping to win a valuable souvenir or a Roman Catholic “relic.” More likely, they were hoping to obtain some free clothing. (Clothing was relatively expensive back in those days.) From this, we might infer that Jesus was physically around the same size as the average Roman soldier.

In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.

Matthew 26:55

When Jesus was arrested, He pointed out to His persecutors that He had been among them openly, and the fact that He referred to His teaching as the means by which they might have recognized Him and arrested Him sooner, rather than by His physical appearance, may mean that there was nothing especially noteworthy about the way He looked.

Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

John 8:59

It is possible that when Jesus escaped being stoned in the Temple He supernaturally camouflaged Himself, but it is also possible that, during the confusion, He simply blended in with the crowd and got away, which, if He was of average height and appearance, would not have been terribly difficult to do.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

If Jesus, during His earthly life, was tempted in all the ways in which we are tempted, might not that have included the temptation that comes with being made fun of for how we look? This does not really tell us anything about His height, but it does tend to support the idea that Jesus was not especially physically attractive. We know from the Gospel records that He was not a wimp, but He was gentle. Great stature (height or size) is usually associated in the Bible – especially in the Old Testament – with sin or great wickedness. (See Genesis 6:4-5; Numbers 13:30-32; I Samuel 17:4.)

These are only clues at best, but it seems that there was nothing glaring or especially attractive about Jesus’s physical appearance.

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:2-3 (emphasis added)

Regardless of whether Jesus was tall or short according to the standards of His day, we know that God looks at men’s hearts more than their outward appearance. Jesus was a giant when it came to righteousness and love. He did not intimidate people with His physical size. He was “tall enough” to bear our sorrows, griefs, and sins and to nail them to His Cross.

While we don’t have a detailed description of the physical appearance of Jesus during His days on earth, we do have something of a description of how He will look when He returns to set things right once and for all:

His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

Revelation 1:14-15

By the way, that explanation did not satisfy my friend who stayed after class to ask me about it, and I suppose he went down the road to another church where the preacher got “a rhema word from God” and told him without a doubt that Jesus was five foot eleven and a half. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.

Light Produces Life

August 19, 2011 at 9:15 am | Posted in Biblical Light, John | 5 Comments
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Living things need light. A plant will die if it is left in the dark. Human life as we know it on Earth requires sunlight.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis 1:3

For Christians, Jesus is the Light which gives us life.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

John 1:4

Jesus was present and active in the creation of man. The “divine spark” which God placed in Adam, giving life to the human race, came from His Divinity. Since the beginning He has associated light with life.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 8:12

Jesus’s deliberate use of “I AM,” God’s Self-revealed Old Testament Name, showed that He was in fact God incarnate, possessing not only the power to create original life, but the power to create the new life we receive when we trust Him as Savior.

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

John 9:5

How bright is the world around you? Has your life grown dark? Only Jesus Christ has the power to illuminate spiritual darkness.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

John 11:25

Our lost friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors are spiritually dead. But the Light of Jesus Christ is so bright and so powerful that it can bring them to life. Jesus’s Light produces life because He Himself is “the Life.”

Light Shows the Way

July 29, 2011 at 9:03 am | Posted in Biblical Light, Selected Psalms | 9 Comments
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NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

Imagine coming home from work late one night after the rest of your family has gone to bed. Unbeknownst to you, earlier in the day your spouse had decided to rearrange all the furniture. Not wanting to wake anyone in the house, you decide to trod the well-known path to your own bedroom without turning on any lights. You can probably predict the painful and possibly expensive results – and if you can’t, your shins and that shattered table lamp surely can.

Or imagine trying to find your way through a dense forest in the middle of a moonless night without a flashlight. The point is, in the dark, it is easy to wander off the right path, and get lost. A light or lantern will make it easy to follow the path.

The Bible helps us find the right way in a dark world. God’s Word not only alerts us to dangers coming at us, but it helps us to see the things around us more clearly. Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, is also the Way to Heaven. If we stay close to Jesus, trust His Word, and illuminate the darkness around us, we will avoid many dangers, toils, and snares.

Mysteriously Meaningful Marriage Part 2

April 27, 2011 at 10:28 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Biblical Marriage | 9 Comments
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Last time I showed that Christians are supposed to love their spouses the same way that Christ loves His bride, the Church. The Greek word for the type of love wherewith Christ loves the Church is agape. Agape love is Christian love because it operates in truth and not just in feelings.

Where will the right kind of marital love come from if God is not central to the marriage? Agape is the giving of self.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved [agape] me, and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20, emphasis and parenthetical agape added

“But,” some have replied, “my spouse is just not worthy of that kind of love.” What better way to show agape love? We should seize opportunities to love the unworthy.

Will agape love always be reciprocated? Not always, but more often than not, it will.

We love him, because he first loved us.

I John 4:19

If it is not reciprocated, Christ is still glorified when we love selflessly.

Agape love is antithetical to cruelty. Cruelty is caused by bad feelings. But will there ever be a time in marriage when we don’t have some type of bad feelings? Cruelty is bad feelings untempered by love.

In marriage will there get to be a time when there is never a lack of affection? Lack of affection is not the result of bad feelings as much as the result of an absence of feelings. Lack of feelings means an absence of motivating love. Resentment; selfishness; an unjust sense of entitlement: these things are inescapable in a marriage. But they are not really a major problem unless they outrun love. True Christian love – agape – is just that: actively loving the one who does not deserve love.

For the person who is married, here is a good working definition of “love” to always keep in mind: True love is a giving of oneself for someone else with two main goals in view:

1. That the person being loved receives grace and mercy.
2. That the person being loved is directed more toward righteousness (toward conformity to Christ).

Remember what Jesus told the woman who had been caught in adultery after all her accusers had left because none of them had been willing to throw the first stone at her. Jesus told her to “go” (grace and mercy) and to “sin no more” (directing her toward righteousness). This definition makes sure that our understanding of the 4 “S”s of marriage does not lead us to the conclusion that we should be hard to live with on purpose in order to help the other person be more like Jesus.

Agape is not getting. Agape is giving. We must be willing to give up things for our spouses, even if they won’t give up things for us. We must make sure we are giving to meet our spouses’ needs, but not in order to get our selfish desires met as trade-offs for what we are sacrificing. Loving someone who does not want to be loved is hard. Crying babies hate it when Mom scrubs their face with a washcloth, but we would not think that a mother who never wiped food, snot, and dirt off her child’s face really loved that child.

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