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 …
Prophet, Priest, and King. Those three words have biblical tonnage tethered to them. Each communicate the person and work of Christ with succinct theological clarity.
The Heidelberg Catechism picks up this thread in question 31 (emphasis mine):
Q: Why is he called “Christ”, that is, the anointed?
A: Because he is ordained of God the Father, and anointed with the Holy Ghost, to be our chief Prophet and Teacher, who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption; and to be our only High Priest, who by the one sacrifice of his body, has redeemed us, and makes continual intercession with the Father for us; and also to be our eternal King, who governs us by his word and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us in that salvation, he has purchased for us.
I have found that these three terms are also quite helpful in thinking through the believer’s response to the gospel in living a life of worshipful obedience.
Prophet: Christians are to make the good confession of faith, speak the truth of the gospel to one another and outsiders, and continue to be governed by the truth that, “it is written…” (Rom. 10.9-11; Col. 3.15-17; Matt. 28.18-20; 2 Tim. 3.16-17).
Priest: As believers we are to continually offer up the sacrifice of praise in response to the sufficient and unblemished work of Christ. Just like the burnt offering that was to be ever burning and consuming of the sacrifice, …
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
As finite creatures we have trouble getting our arms around absolute knowledge. Even with the places or subjects that we are most familiar with, we often kick over another rock to discover something new.
This is not the case with God. He knows everything and everyone perfectly. He is the infinite God. His knowledge is complete. He is never learning or growing. Instead, he is utterly sufficient in his absolute and infinite perfection.
This is why such statements as John’s above are so astounding. God’s declares that he is light. This metaphor in the Scriptures refers to God’s purity or holiness as well as his knowledge. The assertion is that God is perfectly pure without any defect or blemish.
What makes this all the more astounding is that God himself is infinite. In other words, the infinite God has plumbed the depths of his infinite character, surveyed it, and concluded with credibility of his divine character: I am perfectly light! In the mansion of God’s character there is not a single room, closet, or hallway of iniquity—every room is bright light and a fragrance, a boquet of holiness!
As a result, believers are to walk in the light (1 John 1.5, 7). We are to press into his character and reflect it into the world around us. As we are doing this we are reminded that it is …
A necessary reminder this morning:
Teach us, O God, that nothing is necessary to Thee. Were anything necessary to Thee that thing would be the measure of Thine imperfection: and how could we worship one who is imperfect? If nothing is necessary to Thee, then no one is necessary, and if no one, then not we. Thou dost seek us though Thou does not need us. We seek Thee because we need Thee, for in Thee we live and move and have our being. Amen.” (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy)
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
(Romans 11:33-36 ESV)
Like many, I wake up and think about what I need to get accomplished today and how I am going to do it. My mind begins to infiltrate the various areas and sub areas of responsibility. However, I am aware, even at this early hour of contemplation, that I am not going to get it all done. And furthermore, that what I do get finished will not be without flaw.
In what can only be described as the grace of God, my mind was quickly drawn to Hebrews 7:
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Heb 7.25)
The beloved Savior and High Priest does not, like the other priests, die. Furthermore, he does not need to atone for his own sins (7.23ff). As a result we have a perfect and eternal high priest who offered a perfect and eternally acceptable sacrifice to the Father.
I need to remember that even on my ‘best’ days I need to have my beloved high priest fervently, faithfully, zealously, and successfully pleading the merits of his righteous life and sacrificial death in my stead. There is not a second that I live here on earth when I am not dependent upon this glorious work.
And furthermore, there is not a second throughout all eternity that his saints will not depend upon his gloriously flawless work! This Jesus will not only be the song of my …
Every now and then I like to write poetry. This comes from the 103rd Psalm.
Bless the LORD, O my Soul,
my lips His worth I now extol
From within this feeble frame,
I rise to bless His holy name
Forgetting not His benefits,
the only one of whom my praise is fit
You’ve forgiven all my iniquity
You’ve given me new eyes to see
You’ve showered me in mercy
You’ve crowned my life with love in Thee
There is little debate among Christians as to the basics of how we should live as followers of Jesus in this world. We even find ourselves agreeing with many non-believers about the basic moral teachings of the Bible. However, it this matter of why that I’m after here. Why do you serve as a Christian? What is your motivation?
In the 10th chapter of Mark’s fast paced narrative of Jesus’ life we find those following Christ to be, well, hard-headed. They don’t seem to get it at all. After each time Jesus predicts his death in Mark, the disciples begin talking/thinking selfishly (8.31ff, 9.31ff, 10.33ff). They have the nerve to request the chief seats in the coming kingdom.
They have a problem with pride. They are self-orientated and self-consumed. How do you get these guys turned around? What is Jesus’ strategy?
Having a new baby at home we are regularly reminded of the 127th Psalm. Good friends remind us of the fact that children are a blessing from God.
As I chew on this verse, sometimes in the middle of the night, I have to chuckle at the irony of God in this Psalm. If you have babies at home or have recently had the experience of newborns, you know exactly where I am going. The Psalmist pairs sleep and children together in a song for believers to sing about the blessings of God. I don’t think this is an accident. Believers should sing about the blessings of both sleep and children as they get up in the middle of the night or sleep through the night. This is a good passage to remind new parents of as they spend time with their kids ‘after hours.’
Walking through it proves to be very helpful and full of application.
I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD,proclaiming thanksgiving aloud,and telling all your wondrous deeds. Psalm 28.6-7
Happiness unmitigated by guilt. Joy fueled by acceptance and security. These are true heart cries of all people. We latch on to whatever seems to provide even a whiff of these evasive treasures. At the end of the day, happiness is fleeting, guilt reemerges, acceptance is out of reach, and security is not realized.
However, the writer in this Psalm knew of these things. He experienced them in the assembly of believers. It was to be the heart cry of the covenant people as they assembled together to exult in the goodness of God’s grace and mercy. This exultation was sourced in a heart that believed and experienced the truth of the Word of God.
When I read this Psalm I identify and smile.
I can identify with the longing and even the experience. No, as Christians we do not have a temple or even an altar.
However, we have the Savior who did not go into an earthly temple but a heavenly one! (Heb. 9.24-25)
Therefore, my security, acceptance, and joy is procured by a better priest, with a better sacrifice, in a better temple.
As Christians we are united to Christ! Therefore, our hands go in innocence around the altar of God, as they are dipped and cleansed in the laver of Christ’s merit. We are proclaiming, we are preaching the wondrous deeds of God for us in Christ!
What a heart stirring, joy …