This morning in my Bible reading I came to a familiar and foriegn passage.
It was familiar because I know it. I can quote it. It is foriegn because it is so alien to this world and its system.
I am talking about these words from Jesus:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus here extends himself to all people. He invites and entreats people to come to him.
But specifically, he invites a certain type of people. He invites hungry and hurting people. That is, those who need labor and need rest.
This hits every person. All people have served and pursued things which cannot satisfy. These created things, when elevated to a level of worship, will only disappoint and discourage us. They cannot meet the need. As a result, like dogs running around a racetrack, whenever we ‘catch the rabbit’ and get what we want, we only want more. This is because we were made for so much more.
The insatiable desire of humanity is intended to find its satisfaction in Christ. It is truly only Christ that can fill and satisfy the hungry and hurting soul.
In this context Jesus is talking to people who have been taking beatings at the hands of religious systems. You may …
In 2 Kings 8 we read of a woman who had been the beneficiary of the powerful kindness of God through his servant Elisha. The Shunammite woman’s son had died and then God used Elisha to raise him from the dead (2 Kings 4.18ff).
Elisha then warned her that a famine was coming and that it was wise to leave her homeland. This advice was taken. In chapter 8 we learn that she has come back to her land to find it in someone else’s hands. She goes to the King and asks for grace. She asked the king for her land back.
A funny thing happened though. As she entered to make her requests known, the King was having his ears filled with the mighty deeds of God through Elisha. More specifically, God’s mighty deeds to this very woman! (2 Kings 8.4-6). This is absolutely amazing. The King, with a somewhat softened heart, gives the woman all of her land back plus the produce from the fields she would have earned had she been there (2 Kings 8.6).
We can’t help but see gospel themes come to the surface as we consider this.
There are few guys, alive or dead, who can get after me like Jonathan Edwards. The 18th Century Pastor is always throwing strikes when I am in the box. I love it.
Here is a quote that is resounding in my mind like a personal soundtrack. It is from his sermon entitled God Glorified in Man’s Dependence.
He gave him to dwell amongst us; he gave him to us incarnate, or in our nature; and in the like though sinless infirmities. He gave him to us in a low and afflicted state; and not only so, but as slain, that he might be a feast for our souls.
The greatness of the gift of Christ is seen in his value as the beloved Son of God. Then this valuable one is given to us. We who are rebels. And further, he bears our nature. He identifies with us and us with him. Consider the greatness of this gift.
But, it goes further, says Edwards. He was slain for us, so that he might be a feast for our souls. He was crucified that he might become the supreme delight of our very beings! His death is meant to unfasten our clinging claws from the driftwood and vapor of this world and instead fasten firm to his righteous garments. We cling to him with humble delight because he is infinitely valuable. He satisfies our weary longing. He is indeed a feast for our hungry souls! What grace! What a gift! What a Savior!
Below is a poem meditation I wrote based upon the truth that God eternally smiles upon his Son (Mk. 1.9-11) and in time he has visited him in judgment and wrath as Christ was forsaken by God for us (Mt. 27.46). What a Savior! He makes rebels sons! He makes us his own.
Eternal favor rests on you
-the Father smiles, yes this is right
The joy of heaven- without ceasing
-rests upon Jesus Christ
Even as a man, still he can
-stand below in heaven’s sights
Hearing again the eternal song,
-‘My beloved Son with whom I delight’
Then the cross, where he died
-a death that truly should’ve been mine
Heaven’s frown now rests upon you
-all my sin, to you, God imputes
By the Spirit, my eyes are opened
-from enemy to son, I’m taught to hope and
Sing a new song, now clothed in white
-My beloved Savior, with whom I delight!
The believer, too, beholds a suitability in Christ, sees Him to be just the Savior adapted to the necessities of his soul; and this renders Him peculiarly precious.
“I see Him,” exclaims the believer, “to be exactly the Christ I need- His fulness meets my emptiness- His blood cleanses my guilt- His grace subdues my sin- His patience bears with my infirmities- His gentleness succours my weakness- His love quickens my obedience- His sympathy soothes my sorrows- His beauty charms my eye.
He is just the Savior, just the Christ I need, and no words can describe His preciousness to my soul!”
–Octavius Winslow, The Precious Things of God
Friends are valuable. They share life’s joys, disappointments, and hopes with us. They come to weddings, birthdays, hospitals, and funerals. Between friends there is straight talk and no barriers; there is trust and transparency; there is giving and getting. Friends share what’s on their mind and most important to them.
One of my favorite narratives is the story of Philip and Nathanael. This story depicts a good friend doing what good friends should do. Jesus came to Galilee and found Philip. When he found him he told him, “Follow me.” (Jn. 1.43) Being persuaded that Jesus was the Messiah he promptly did something that is both logical and instructive: he went and told his friend:
“Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”” (John 1:45)
Philip, being convinced of who Jesus was, went to his friend Nathanael and told him all about him. This is the same thing that Andrew did for his brother Simon Peter after he was called to follow Jesus. In remarkable brevity we read in verse 42 about how Andrew served Peter: “He brought him to Jesus.”
This just makes sense, doesn’t it? Once we have realized, truly realized who Jesus is then we have to, we must tell other people who he is and what he’s done. We cannot simply look at Jesus, accept his claims, lean upon his promises, cling to his work, hope in his …
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22.42
Jesus is here in the Mount of Olives. It is here that the olive, being pressed upon from every side, serves as an illustration of where Jesus comes. Indeed he is being tormented in spirit; his heart is being crushed as his abandonment upon the cross is in full view. He will reach the depths of human brokenness and lift up his voice in prayer. So here he comes to the Mount of Olives to feel and experience the relentless pressure of being forsaken by God.
Matthew tells us that the soul of Jesus is “very sorrowful, even to death”. Why? Why is Jesus here experiencing the uttermost grief and sorrow that a man can take? Why is he on the verge of death as he bears up under this grief? It is because of the infinite price-tag that accompanies the sin of rebels like you and like me. The inflexible and unrelenting cup of divine wrath is fully mixed and the Savior is contemplating the reality of having his head thrust back and drinking it down to the dregs.
There is much application here for us as Christians. See how heinous your sin is that it brings Jesus to the point of physical death when he considers its due penalty? How does your sin affect you? Do you hate it? I mean truly, do you see if for what it is? It …
The scene is hard to imagine. With the Last Supper’s lingering taste still in their mouths the disciples are led with Jesus out toward the Mount of Olives. The time of Christ’s crucifixion is at hand.
But prior to proceeding on the Scripture includes a remarkable detail:
(Mar 14.26) And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives
Can you imagine this scene? This is a precious time of singing with the Lord Jesus as he proceeds out to walk the lonely path to Golgotha to purchase redemption for sinners like me and you.
As we now stand on the other side of the cross we look forward to the reunion with all of the saints, together in the presence of the Lamb.
Think about this for a moment.
All opposition will be crushed, false teaching destroyed, sin and death appropriately displaced, the incessant hindrances of our flesh will be gone, our focus will be solitarily Christological and our praise will be united with heaven’s angelic chorus and the ransomed throng from all ages.
But in order for any of this to happen, the Prince of heaven had to stand with the Passover meal behind him and the cross before him as he accomplished our great redemption.
So as we see this bookmark in the life and ministry of Jesus we marvel. We marvel at the setting, our Lord singing with his disciples. We marvel at the overall context, our Lord moving forward to the shamefully wonderful cross. We marvel at the dawning …
All Compassion, All the Time
When you read through the Gospels, particularly the Gospel According to Mark, you are arrested by the compassion of Jesus.
It is everywhere. He heals a man with an unclean spirit (1.21-28), heals many with sickness (1.29-34), is burdened to preach to the people (1.35-38), heals a leper by touching him (1.40-45), heals a paralytic (2.1-12), forgives the paralytic’s sin (2.1-12), calls a turncoat tax collector to turn coat and follow him (2.13-17), punches the self-righteous, joy suffocating religious cats in the gut with his liberating preaching (2.18-28), calms the storm while his ‘tough’ disciples are making girl noises in their boat (4.35-41), heals a demoniac and then sends him out to be a missionary (5.1-20), heals a girl who was dead! (5.1-43), heals a women who is suffering from an issue of bleeding, he makes bread for hungry people (6.30-44)…and on and on the list goes.
Jesus says powerfully in the second feeding, “I have compassion on the crowd…” (8.2).
Why Jesus’ Compassion is Different
Jesus’ compassion is expressed in that he sees the needs of people and then he goes about meeting these needs.
The scene in Joel is heavy. There is a plague for the ages through these vicious locusts. It appears according to chapter 1 that the effect is far-reaching and debilitating. In the midst of this, God looks ahead to a day of greater calamity and judgment. He looks ahead to the Day of the Lord.
We read of a gathering together of people in verse 14. However, instead of a gathering for a party or a celebration it is a gathering for judgment:
“Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:14)
This word decision could be translated cutting. It is a valley for judgment. There is a verdict that will be read and a sentence that will be executed.