Many people get hung up on the virgin birth of Jesus. It seems utterly impossible, because we observe no predictable pattern in nature that comes close to it. Yet is this not the point? If God wanted to get our attention, what better to grab it than through a virgin giving birth?
The word for “miracle” in the Bible literally means sign. God designed these events to grab our attention and point us to him. Like a road sign points to a destination, these miracles point us to the grandeur, power, and majesty of God. They come unexpectedly, because if they occurred with any greater frequency, they would cease to be what they are. They would become normals instead of miracles. God uses these to wow us to him.
Jesus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Joshua. What did Joshua do for Israel? God used Joshua to save Israel from her enemies in the promised land.
Let us think about that for a moment. In the days when the angel spoke to Joseph, Israel was under Roman rule. Joseph may have thought this child would one day, like Joshua, save Israel from her Roman oppressors. The angel did not say that. He said, “he will save his people from their sins,” not from Rome but from their sins.
Like first-century Israel we often mistake the hope of the world for geo-political solutions. We say we want someone to save our nation, someone who will stand up for what is right in society, a hero by our standards who will take care of whatever or whoever we think our enemy is. Jesus does not save in this way; his salvation works on a deeper level.
“The Lord’s Prayer” or “Our Father” is one of the best known and most often recited portions of Scripture (Matthew 6:9-13). The words of this prayer have united Christians throughout history and across denominational lines. Every word of this prayer is packed with meaning. Let’s look at just the first petition. Continue reading →
Jesus said: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:23)
The Greeks of old thought the eye was like a lamp. It illumined the world around a person much like the light of a flashlight in the dark. Jesus altered this well-known metaphor by saying it is not so much about what our eyes illuminate but what they take in. Our eyes do not remain neutral to the external stimuli they see. If our eyes take in darkness, that darkness contaminates the body and makes it dark. However, if our eyes take in light, light fills our body.
Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)
The heroes of our time rarely accomplished the great things they are known for easily. Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa; these were people who faced abounding adversity, yet remained resolute. Those who confess Christ and seek to demonstrate to the world the life he calls us to will not find convenience and coziness in this world.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day developed a complex system of oath making and keeping. Oaths were categorized. Whether a spoken oath was binding or not, or whether a broken oath was punishable or not, all depended upon the type of oath made. Continue reading →