It was the year 1510 when the monk Martin Luther first visited the holy city of Rome. Luther had greatly anticipated seeing Rome. When he first glimpsed it from afar, he fell to his knees and lifted his hands in praise, saying, “Hail to thee, O Holy Rome.” Luther’s excitement, however, quickly dwindled with every step he took into that alleged holy city. Luther later wrote, “No one can imagine the trickery, the horrible sinfulness and debauchery that are rampant in Rome.”
As furious as Luther became over the immorality of Rome, his fury paled in comparison to that of another man who entered another alleged holy city. When Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem, he too became indignant (John 2:13-25).
Jesus once attended a wedding where a catering crisis threatened the reputation of a couple of newlyweds. In the middle of the party, the wine ran out. Someone had not done their math right.
Taking measures to help the couple save face, Mary, the mother of Jesus, turns to her son and insists he do something. She says to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you (John 2:5).”
Are you going through a tough time right now, perhaps something worse than running out of wine? Is your marriage on the rocks? Are you being socially ridiculed? Did you do something wrong, like mess up the math for an important celebration? Whatever it is, whether you are the one at fault or the victim, ask Jesus for what you need and then trust him.
No one can appropriate good news unless that news gets to them. In the information age, it is easier than ever to share information. However, on the other hand, it is more difficult than ever to get information in front of people. We have too many people, organizations, and mediums fighting for attention.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” were some of the words Jesus cried from the cross (Matthew 27:46).
It is easy to look up to God, when our lives are filled with gladness. But, what about those times when we are at the absolute end of our robe, like life is ebbing away (cp. Job 30:16)? When prayers seem to go unanswered (cp. Job 30:20)? When we seem to suffer at no fault of our own (cp. Job 29:11-17; 30:1)? Continue reading →
Knowing the time of his betrayal and death drew near, what did Jesus do? He sat down to have one last meal with his disciples, a Passover meal.
The symbols Jesus used at that meal were common to Passover. This Passover bread was called the Bread of Affliction. Unleavened bread represented the affliction Israel endured as slaves in Egypt and their haste in leaving. Jesus gives this bread a new level of meaning. He would soon be severely afflicted by the breaking of his body to deliver his people from the greater slavery of sin (Matthew 26:26; Romans 8:2).
It is good to hear what other faithful followers of Jesus say about him. But, unless you take the first steps to encounter Jesus yourself, you cannot truly know him.
Jesus saw the disciples of John the Baptist following him and asked them, “What are you seeking?” He asks, in a way, an existential question. What are you seeking? Success? Money? Love? Community? Creative outlet?
Implicitly or explicitly, we are all pursuing something in life. Call it a life mission, overarching goal, reason for living, or what have you, we all have one. In one sentence John the Baptist made his life mission known.
Can you experience rest without obtaining it? It turns out you can, if you know your ultimate rest has already been secured. Even when life becomes hard, you can rest in the awareness that things at the very end will turn out well.
What a wonderful day it must have been when Israel settled Canaan. “Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there.” (Joshua 21:43) Yet Canaan was only a foretaste of a greater land. There remains a more blissful land for the people of God. We call this land heaven, or, to use the Apostle John’s terminology in the Book of Revelation, the New Heaven and New Earth (Revelation 21:1-5).
Many Christians do not think about their celestial homeland as much as they ought. Some Christians even talk about heaven as if it is some boring place, where a bunch of chubby babies sit on clouds playing little harps or where a bad worship service goes on ad nauseum. The Bible presents a dramatically different portrayal of heaven. While our present minds cannot fully comprehend the glories of heaven, the Bible gives us ample fuel to imagine it.