Posts Tagged ‘Lord’

Ruth 3:1-18 (Part 2 of 3)
Ruth Follows Naomi’s Plan

Usually, I will relate a personal experience to the passage at hand. That’s my schtick! That’s how I make the Bible relatable to my life … to take the meaning and truth from a passage and find an experience in my life that I can use as proof of that truth. However, today, there is just so much beautiful symbolism in this story that I would not want to ruin it with some profane attempt to relate it to my mundane, ordinary life. There are two things that we have to, have to talk about here. First, the “laying at the master’s feet” and, second, the covering.

In Israelite custom, it was not uncommon for a servant to lay at their master’s feet. It was for the security of the servant and it was also for the convenience of the master. Usually, when outdoors, it was necessary to sleep with the availability of one’s weapons nearby. There were thieves and murderers in the last millennium before Christ just as there are today. When you go camping today, it is not uncommon for a dad to have a weapon nearby to protect his family from what evil person may lurk in the night or some wild animal that may approach because of the smell of some previously eaten food. As a father of a wife, two daughters, and a stepdaughter, these women are my life. All four of these ladies, I would lay my life down for. It was the same back in the day in Boaz’s and Ruth’s time. A servant who was normally unarmed would lay at their master’s feet because their master would usually “be packin’!” They would have had their choice weapon of the millennium before Christ – a sword, a club, a rod or a staff, some object of defense against marauders or wild animals.

Ruth laying at Boaz’s feet meant that she (1) was telling him that she was his servant and (2) that she wished to be under his protection and care. It takes humility to admit that you need help and become someone’s servant. It take humility to lay at someone’s feet as if they are superior to you. I know that mindsets of people about their own human rights were different back then but still there is some sense of pride swallowing to humble yourself to lay at someone’s feet. In Israelite culture, feet were considered profane in the sense that they encountered dirt and filth more than any other part of the body. Thus, feet washing when a person entered a home was not just a honorable gesture it was one considered necessary to keep one’s home holy and set apart from the profane and dirty world outside. So, to lay at someone’s feet was a recognition of one’s lowly state in relationship to the person at whose feet you were laying. Is this not symbolic of our relationship with Jesus Christ? We will come back to that thought.

Laying at his feet was recognition of the servant-master relationship but it also recognized that she was now under his protection. As a servant, she became part of which Boaz would now defend with his life. He was now responsible for her. He would make her a part of his household. He would defend her from things in the night that could hurt her. By laying at His feet, she would be protected by his weaponry that He had available. By laying at his feet, she was in proximity to the source of her defense. How symbolic is that in relation to Christ’s defense of us? We will come back to that thought.

As well, because of being a servant, they, when traveling with their master, did not necessarily have everything they needed for a night’s sleep. Everything was about the master’s comfort and not the servant’s. Thus, when sleeping outdoors and sleeping at the master’s feet, the master would often cover their servant with their blanket or covering. It demonstrated the master’s care for the servant’s well being. There is nothing worse to a master than a sick or dead servant. Through the covering, the master ensured the health and continued service of the servant. It is the same with us and Jesus. How symbolic is that? We will come back to that thought.

That’s the thing that I thought of this morning when I read through this passage for the second of three times that we will write about it – how this scene is symbolic and forward pointing to how we are in relationship to our Master, Jesus Christ. Let’s read the passage together for the first time this morning, Ruth 3:1-18:
3 One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. 2 Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. 3 Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.”

5 “I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor that night and followed the instructions of her mother-in-law.

7 After Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he lay down at the far end of the pile of grain and went to sleep. Then Ruth came quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. 8 Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet! 9 “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer.”

10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman. 12 But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.”

14 So Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet until the morning, but she got up before it was light enough for people to recognize each other. For Boaz had said, “No one must know that a woman was here at the threshing floor.” 15 Then Boaz said to her, “Bring your cloak and spread it out.” He measured six scoops[a] of barley into the cloak and placed it on her back. Then he[b] returned to the town.

16 When Ruth went back to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “What happened, my daughter?”

Ruth told Naomi everything Boaz had done for her, 17 and she added, “He gave me these six scoops of barley and said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”

18 Then Naomi said to her, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today.”

In this passage, we see that, in v. 4, that Naomi’s advice seems strange to us 21st century Americans, but she was not suggesting a seductive act. In reality, Naomi was telling Ruth to act in accordance with Israelite custom and law. It was common for a servant to lie at the master’s feet and even share a part of his covering. By observing this custom, Ruth would be symbolically informing Boaz that he could be her family redeemer and that she was his faithful servant. As her family redeemer, he would take responsibility for her and find someone to marry her or marry her himself. It was family business, nothing romantic. However, this story would later become beautifully romantic as Ruth and Boaz developed an unselfish love and deep respect for one another.

In our relationship with Jesus Christ, we must humble ourselves and lay at His feet. We cannot be in relationship with Him until we recognize his vast superiority to us. We must humble ourselves before the Creator of the Universe. We must recognize that Jesus is God. We must recognize that He is perfection and we are sinners. We must recognize that in the absence of Him, we are destined to hell. We must recognize that He was humble enough as the God of the Universe to come to earth and live as a man, live the perfect life so that he could become the once and final perfect sacrifice for man’s sins, and that He as God in the flesh was able to conquer sin and death. That is recognition that Jesus is pretty freaking awesome! And then there’s us. It takes humility to recognize that we are not in control of our lives and that we need an intervention from Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God in the flesh, the One through whom all things were created. We must humble ourselves to recognize that we are nothing compared to Him. We must humble ourselves and lay ourselves at His feet and beg simply to be His servant.

In our relationship with Jesus Christ, when we accept that we are his lowly servants and accept Him as our Savior and Redeemer and Lord, He gives us His covering. He gives us his cloak of righteousness. Our best attempts at holiness are but filthy rags in comparison to the royal robe of righteousness of Jesus Christ. In His love for us, when we accept Him as our Savior, Redeemer, and Lord, we are cloaked in his royal robe. We are covered by His righteousness. He ensures our eternal future as His servant when He covers us in His perfect royal covering. We are no more filthy rags that are exposed to the elements of sin. We are covered in His impenetrable warm covering of righteousness.

In our relationship with Jesus Christ, when we sleep at His feet in recognition of His Lordship over your lives and His covering of righteousness, we gain access to His protection from all that can hurt us and drag us down. Under His covering, we are most protected against the evil of this world. We can renounce evil and have victory over through Jesus Christ who is completely victorious and completely superior to all that is evil in the world. We cannot do it alone. We must be near and close to the Lord so that we are within His protection. When we do not sleep at the Christ’s feet, we are susceptible to the marauder and the wild animal known as Satan who wishes to ensnare us and capture us and devour us in sin so that He can say He has another one! When we rest at the Master’s feet, He will protect us. He will send the Holy Spirit to dwell in us to teach us, correct us, and remind us to stay at the Master’s feet and within His protection.

Oh wow! How this scene in Ruth chapter 3 is so symbolic of what our relationship with Jesus Christ is like. There is nothing like it. There is nothing to compare it to. That’s why today I can give no example from my life other than to say I am at the Master’s feet. I admitted that I needed Him in December 2001 and my life has changed completely since that time. It has not always been easy for this prideful sinner to lay at the Master’s feet but it is at His feet that I can be found for He is my Savior, my Redeemer, and my Lord. I am His servant. I am subject to Him at His feet. He has covered me in His blanket of righteousness. I am His. He is my Lord. He is my Savior. He is my Redeemer.

Amen and Amen.

Numbers 6:22-27 (Part 2)

The Priestly Blessing

As my daughters and my wife will attest, I have a goofy sense of humor. I am particularly fond of puns, double meanings, and word play. When most people say words without thinking about the words they are saying, I often pick apart words to try to come up with something funny to say. There are some like yesterday when I was visiting my oldest daughter as we are on “baby watch” (tomorrow is her due date to deliver her first child and our first grandchild). My oldest daughter is a school teacher who currently serves as writing coach at her school. We were talking about the word “renege”. It means to refuse to do something that you had promised to do. However, is it not in most cases that when you use the prefix, “re-“, it means to have to or want to do something over again because it was not done well enough or good enough the first time. So, by that standard, to renege would be to have “nege” again because you did not “nege” correctly the first time or you did not “nege” as good as you could have the first time. In our family goofiness, we started talking about then if re- is not the proper prefix for “nege”, because re- is do over then to go back on a promise really should be “un-nege” or undo a promise. Of course, if you do the research on the word, renege, you will note that our conversation was simply for humor’s sake and that the word comes from the Latin word, negare, which meant “to deny”. Renege and negate come from this same Latin root word. But that is the fun of getting me and my girls together, I have raised them with such demented minds that they enjoy these goofy exercises such as previous discussions about “recuperate”. Did you not “cuperate” well enough the first time so you had to “cuperate” one more time and so on?

 

The reason that I bring up these episodes of family goofiness about words is that in order to truly appreciate the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:22-27, we must appreciate the words that are used. We will spend the next few days breaking down this blessing by the key words that are used in it. Today, we will look at the word that we translate as LORD in our English translations of the original Hebrew of the Old Testament. Yesterday, we talked about how often we repeat things from the Bible and how we sometimes forget the power and the meaning of what we are doing when we worship. The benediction and other repetitive parts of worship we often do mindlessly without given true thought to what we are saying and why we are saying and about how we should be approaching worship. That’s why an examination of the words used in this blessing, this good word, this benediction, are so important. One of those words, we through around like candy sometimes is the word, LORD, in English. Let’s read the passage and then talk about that word:

 

22 The Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:

 

24

“‘“The Lord bless you

    and keep you;

25

the Lord make his face shine on you

    and be gracious to you;

26

the Lord turn his face toward you

    and give you peace.”’

 

27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

In this case, the word we translate as LORD is יְהֹוָה or Yahweh. According to www.blueletterbible.org,

 

Yahweh is the promised name of God. This name of God which (by Jewish tradition) is too holy to voice, is actually spelled “YHWH” without vowels. YHWH is referred to as the Tetragrammaton (which simply means “the four letters”). YHWH comes from the Hebrew letters: Yud, Hay, Vav, Hay. While YHWH is first used in Genesis 2, God did not reveal Himself as YHWH until Exodus 3. The modern spelling as “Yahweh” includes vowels to assist in pronunciation. Many pronounce YHWH as “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.” We no longer know for certain the exact pronunciation. During the third century A.D., the Jewish people stopped saying this name in fear of contravening the commandment “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain” (Exd 20:7). As a result of this, Adonai is occasionally a substitute for YHWH. The following compound names which start with “YHWH” have been shown using “Jehovah.” This is due to the common usage of “Jehovah” in the English of these compound names in the early English translations of the Bible (e.g., the Geneva Bible, the King James Version, etc.).

 

We translate Yahweh in English Bibles in ALL CAPS as LORD so that we will not confuse it with the substitute term, Adonai, which we translate in English Bibles as a normal title for a person with the first letter capitalized and the remaining letters of the word in lower case letters. In this case, Adonai, is translated into English as Lord. According to www.gotquestions.org, Yahweh is one of the names of God that is his proper name. It is the name that He reveals to Moses. The website goes on to say that, “

 

The revelation of the name is first given to Moses “I Am who I Am” (Exodus 3:14). This name specifies an immediacy, a presence. Yahweh is present, accessible, near to those who call on Him for deliverance (Psalm 107:13), forgiveness (Psalm 25:11) and guidance (Psalm 31:3).

 

The name Yahweh refers to God’s self-existence. Yahweh is linked to how God described Himself in Exodus 3:14, “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you.”’” God’s name is a reflection of His being. God is the only self-existent or self-sufficient Being. Only God has life in and of Himself. That is the essential meaning of the tetragrammaton, YHWH. Yahweh is the great I AM. It means self-existence. It means it is He who pre-existed all things. It means that He is the Creator of all things. When Jesus used the words we translate as I AM, He was telling the Jews that He was God. YHWH, Yahweh, the Great I AM. When we use the words I am, it is always followed by a descriptive phrase, I am…a husband. I am…a father. I am…an accountant. With God, it is just I AM. He is. He needs no descriptor. He is. He exists. He is self-reliant. He has meaning in and of Himself. He is self-sufficient and needs no help from us. This is the LORD we talk about when we use all CAPS in the English Bible. English does not do true justice to the honor which is accorded the name, YHWH, Yahweh. We attempt to translate it as the “The Great I AM”, but that does not do it justice either. He is LORD. He does not need us. He created us. He created everything. He existed before creation. That is so hard to fathom because we cannot understand anything other than this universe as it exists in front of us. How could anything exist before there was the universe. We don’t know. We will never understand this side of heaven.

 

God is mighty. God is holy. God is perfect. God is truth. There is no imperfection in Him. He is perfect logic. He is perfect love. He is pure. He is righteous. He is holy. We cannot exist in his presence for we would be burned up and consumed because of our imperfections. I AM. Yahweh, though He is all these great and mighty and pure things, is a presence to us. He is close. He is accessible. He is near us. However, to be able to abide in His presence we must have the covering perfection of Jesus Christ. He is God in the flesh. Jesus is the mechanism by which God allows us in His presence in our imperfections.

We have so cheapened the word LORD with our common usage of the word in everyday life, we have forgotten the honor that we should accord the word, LORD. It is the name of God. When we use Yahweh, that translates into LORD in English, we are calling on the name of God. We are calling on his personal name. We are claiming an intimacy with the Creator in which we invoke his most Holy Name. He wants us to know His Most Holy Name because He revealed it to Moses early on in the Biblical record. He wants us to know Him personally. However, let us remember how holy that name is when we call upon it. We are calling upon the Most Holy! We are calling upon the Most High! We are calling upon the One and Only True God when we use the word that translates into LORD (all caps!). The Most Holy One. The Creator of All Things who is also the Most Righteous Judge of All Things.

 

Bow down before Him, when you call Him, LORD.

 

Amen and Amen.

Matthew 7:21-23
True and False Disciples

Have you ever had someone just get up in your face and tell you the truth? Often, it is the truth that you do not want to hear? When other people either won’t tell you the truth because they fear it will hurt your feelings or they just want to avoid the conflict. But, there is that one friend. You know! The one who really cares about you and is willing to risk your friendship to set you straight. Jesus is being that friend in this passage. He is in our face. He is telling us the truth. He is willing to risk our friendship with Him to set us straight.

As we draw to the close of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gets more and more direct and to the point with his commentary. No parables. Just straight up, in your face words of spiritual reality. Words of authority and his place as judge. In this passage, Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus says,

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me: you evildoers!’

What is Jesus saying to us here? Let’s bottom line this thing. I think Jesus is saying one central thing…only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter God’s Kingdom on judgment day. This passage is all about obedience to God, the master of the universe. As Matthew Henry says in his textbook series, “Commentary on the Scriptures”, when speaking of this passage, “He shows, by a plain remonstrance, that an outward profession of religion, however remarkable, will not bring us to heaven”…

Henry goes on to say, “He is an excellent Christian on the Sabbath. As soon as the sun shines upon the earth on the first day of the week, all his religion is awake, but, alas, he is a very queer Christian on a Monday, and a remarkably bad Christian on Saturday nights. Many people keep their piety folded up and put away with their best clothes, and they only give it an airing on the Sabbath. Their Bible is to be seen under their arm on Sunday, but on a Monday, where is that Bible? Well, not at the man’s right hand, as a perpetual companion. Where are the precepts of Scripture? Are they in the shop? Are they in the house? Alas the golden rule has been left in church to lie dusty in the pews until next Sunday. Religion is not wanted by some people on a weekday, it might be inconvenient. Many there be who sing psalms of praise to God but confine their praises to the congregation; as to praising Him in their heart at home, it never occurs to them. Their whole religion lies inside the meeting house walls, or comes up at certain times and seasons during the day, when the family is called in to prayer.”

Wow, can’t put it any plainer than that. After reading Matthew Henry’s Commentary it is very clear that Jesus is saying that we have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Jesus is saying that only the only who does the will of my Father will enter into heaven. There is no list here of things you have to do in life. No need for flashy public displays of your “love of Jesus”. Do the will of the Father. That’s it. Plain and simple. Without that, you are not in the Heaven club!

How do we do the will of the Father? What is the will of the Father? I think that we must answer the second question first and answer it this way. The will of the Father is different from our own human fleshly will. Thus, to do the Father’s will is to give up our own will. To give up our own will, our own control over our lives, is an act of obedience led by faith. Just as a child obeys his parents out of his faith that his parents will not let them come to harm so is giving up our will to that of God. The will of the Father is to love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love others more than we love ourselves. We are to do more for others than we do for ourselves, love without expectation of return, loving the unloveable, being selfless instead of selfish, serving others without expecting a reward for it, never being ashamed of placing God at the kingship of our lives, being willing to die for our belief in God. These are the things of God’s will. These are the things of a full-on commitment to God. These are the hard things.

Charles Spurgeon, the great theologian, wrote this on the subject, “Do believers ever always do God’s will? Sadly the answer is no. We are not yet glorified. We still possess the fallen flesh. Clearly, genuine believers from time to time choose their will over God’s will, but when they do, as disobedient children of God, they subject themselves to the disciplining hand of their Father. In contrast, those individuals that Jesus is describing in this passage continually, habitually and as their “normal” pattern of life choose their will over God’s will. In short, what Jesus is describing is not “perfection” but “direction” of one’s life as evidenced by one’s daily thoughts, words and deeds – believers while not perfect (perfection) in this life are headed toward heaven (direction), although from time to time they do live like they are headed in the opposite direction!”

Taking Spurgeon’s thought a little further, if we are from fallen flesh, then what hope do we have to continually do the Father’s will. As Paul says in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, then we are hopelessly unable to complete a life of doing the Father’s will. Going back to Romans, Paul goes on to say in Romans 3:24, “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Thus, as our parents punished us for living outside their will, we suffer the results of our own living out of alignment with their will. We suffer the results of our sin. However, through the redemptive love of Jesus who died for our sins, we can be reconciled to God. Just as our parent’s wipe our slate clean and reinstate us to their favor, so does the redemptive grace of Jesus.

So, what does all this mean? To me, it means intentionality. It is choices. It is a mindset change. We must intentionally seek to do the will of God. To intentionally seek to do the will of God, we must give up our will. Willful children suffer when they purposely live their lives outside the will of their parents. So, we as God’s children must give guidance of our lives up to God. We must willingly seek His favor and His will. It is only when we see how lucky we are to be given good standing with God through Jesus’ redemption that we willingly take our own will off the table. We want to do God’s will. We live our life in that direction. Our actions of compassion, love and forgiveness and mind choices that demonstrate that direction. Any child no matter how angry and willful ultimately wants their parent’s approval and will glory in it when they get it. So, are we as God’s children! We willingly submit to his leadership of our lives. We want to represent him in the world. We want the world to know that through the covering of His Son that we have new life. We are so happy in that we want to do more, we want to be more for God. So happy in the new lease on life we have been given – taking us away from the life of selfishness and the pit that it dropped us in. Just as the Prodigal Son found himself in a pit with pigs (willing to eat the husks that people had rejected) realized that he could return to his Father. When he returned to his father, he was willing to be a lowly servant to just be in his dad’s house. His father rather gave him his place back in the house as his son. Although the Bible does not go on with the Prodigal story, but can you imagine the immense joy felt by the son who days before was in the pit. That’s how we feel as a true Christ follower, yes, father I want to do your will … anything you ask I will do … whatever you say I will follow it … I know from my life experience that you know best for me.

Those who say, “Lord, Lord” but yet live in a different direction are deluding themselves. We may think that going to church at the coolest church in town is enough. We may think that listening to and singing along with the most modern music with concert quality sound systems is enough. We may think that listening to a message by the hippest pastor around is all we need. However, if there is no salvation, there is nothing. If there is no life change, there is nothing. There is an old saying that goes, “They praise heaven on Sunday and live like hell the rest of the week.” Just sitting in church on Sunday at the “in church” in town without life change, without salvation, without living a submitted lifestyle is just saying “Lord, Lord” and Christ will say He never knew us. Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” How do we do this? We must truly accept Christ as our Savior and He will send the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. Nothing can replace or imitate salvation. The Holy Spirit then puts on His work gloves and begins to work in us daily. We must begin daily, hourly, minute by minute, make the mental choices to listen to the Holy Spirit. We must renew our mind. We must make choices that are consistent with God’s will as expressed in His Holy Word. It is hard work, this renewing of the mind thing. Sometimes, our flesh cries out against the Holy Spirit and it is a real struggle to do what the Holy Spirit says. Sometimes, what the Holy Spirits says for us to do is so very much in contrast to our nature and our culture! It is a choice to follow the Holy Spirit. It is a renewing of the mind. It is submitting our will to the will of God. How hard it is to let go of our will! There is no list or prescribed checklist here. Our faith is not about doing all the right things and not doing all the wrong things. That is legalism. That is meaningless in God’s eyes. What God wants is our heart, our allegiance, our undying devotion to Him, our willingness to give Him glory and not ourselves. What God wants is all of us. He wants us leave our will at the door and follow Him, trust Him, believe in Him, and allow Him to change us from the inside out.

Sometimes a hard dose of reality is what we need. That is what Jesus gives us in this passage. It is not hard to figure out. It is not a story that we must figure out the meaning. Jesus could not have put it any plainer. Even a child could figure out what Jesus is saying to us here. Direct language. Plain and simple, Jesus is direct. He says it straight out…do the will of my Father in Heaven and you will be there when your time comes! Do the will of the Father. Doing the will of the Father will show through our Prodigal son-like thankfulness for having been saved from the pit. Doing the will of the Father, Jesus says, is more than public displays to be seen by other men…it is actually living a life that is actively seeking to do the things that the Father wants us to do…really wanting to. As they say on American Idol, we need “to be in it to win it.” In it to win it…all in…thankfully joyfully seeking our Father’s favor by doing his will… His will not ours…Plain and simple.

Luke 24:44-49 — In this next to the last passage of the Book of Luke, Jesus explained the prophecies that He fulfilled, that He was the suffering Messiah predicted in the Old Testament (OT), and that this fact must be preached to the whole world because it is through His sacrifice that all the world may come to salvation and restoration to a right relationship with God. Jesus is the point of it all.

This scene reminds of those post-game shows after a major college football game where the analysts try to tell what the implications are for the winner and the loser of the game. Here, Jesus is telling them what all of the past three years were about and what the implications for the future are.

None of the past three years would have made any sense if Jesus was not the Messiah, the promised Savior. Jesus walked them through the OT. He showed them that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), check. He showed them that the Messiah was to be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), check. He showed them that the Messiah was to be a prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:15, 19), check. He showed them that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem in a triumphal entry (Zechariah 9:9), check. He demonstrated that the Messiah would be rejected by His own people (Isaiah 53:1,3), check. He even showed them that the Messiah would be betrayed by one of His own followers (Psalm 118:22, 41:9), check. The Messiah was to be tried and condemned (Isaiah 53:8), check. The Messiah was to be silent before His accusers (Isaiah 53:7), confirmed. The Messiah was to be struck and spat upon by His enemies (Isaiah 50:6), yes that happened. The Messiah was to be mocked and insulted (Psalm 22:7-8), yep. The Messiah was to die by crucifixion (Psalm 22:16-17), that’s an affirm. The Messiah was to suffer as and with criminals and yet at the same time pray for his enemies (Isaiah 53:12), this is recorded. The Messiah was to be offered bitter wine as He was dying (Psalm 69:21), got it. The Messiah’s clothing would be subject of gambling bets among His captors (Psalm 22:18), check. The Messiah’s bones were not to be broken (as was often the case in crucifixion to hasten on death) (Exodus 12:46), yes. The Messiah was to die as a sacrifice for our sins (Isaiah 53:5-12), we know this. The Messiah was to be raised from the dead (Psalm 16:10), we are reading about it right now.

Jesus showed them that He was the fulfillment of all OT scripture. He was the Messiah. He was all the things that God promised. That’s the point. Anything else, his 3 year mission was too short, his death was meaningless, and his resurrection from the dead unneeded. He is not just another prophet. He is the Messiah who came to earth for the express purpose of fulfilling prophecy which includes Him being the sacrifice once and for all time for our sins. When we believe in the Messiah, we are restored to a right relationship with God. That’s the message. That’s the good news!

What’s the point of all of it? What are the implications for the future? Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah. Jesus fulfilled all of the above OT prophecies and others that are not named above. He is the real deal. He is the Son of God. He was the culmination of God’s redemptive plan for mankind. He is the point of it all. Jesus came to be the agent by which we can be restored to a right relationship with God. This is what the OT predicted. God has been working His plan through the ages and Jesus was the culmination of His Promise and His Plan. God never does random. There is purpose. Jesus is the way in which all things are culminated and He is the way in which we are made right with God.

What are the implications for the future? Jesus tells us right here that we must go forth and share the story of redemption through Himself. Without the fulfillment of the promise in Jesus, there is no hope for our eternity. With and through Jesus, we have hope. We are made right with God through Jesus. Why? Because Jesus is the Messiah. God keeps His Word. This is the message we must share with the whole world.

Unless it is about leading people to see Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of God’s promise as the Messiah, the Savior, the Anointed One, there is no point. We can touch the world around us with nice acts of charity and do big free events to get people in our doors, but if the end game is not about showing them the Messiah, showing them the Jesus who died for their sins to make them right with God, then, there is no point. Close the doors. Send everyone to charitable agencies and to the kindness of the good people out there. The point of Jesus’ church as Jesus Himself says in Luke 24:47 is that “it was also written that this message be proclaimed in the authority of His name to all the nations beginning in Jerusalem.” We have our charge from our boss, and that’s the point.

Luke 20:41-44 — Everybody likes riddles. There are even websites dedicated to them. We loved them as kids and we love them today. For example, here’s one…what building has the most stories?….a library….(rimshot heard on the drums in the background). Riddles are wonderful word plays. Jesus loved them. Yes, I believe Jesus had a great sense of humor. Just look back at Luke 6:41-42 where Jesus talks about having a log in your eye. That seems so ridiculous but that was the point. When we write about such things we today make it about hypocrisy and it certainly is, but we often bypass the fact that it is funny. Jesus was a funny guy. I would have loved to have been there and hung around with Him. He loved word plays, just look at the camel and the eye of the needle in Matthew 19:24. In Aramaic, the words for camel and the eye of a needle were very similar. That made the truth of what Jesus was saying all the more humorous and memorable. It shows you a glimpse into the humor of our Lord. So, it is not stretch to think that Jesus loved ironic humor and riddles. Doesn’t this thought make you love our Savior all the more? One day, you and will be able to sit down in heaven with Him and have some side splitting laughter over the stories of our lives and Jesus will laugh right with us. So, in today’s passage, realize that Jesus had a mind that looked for humor, irony, as ways to teach the truth in ways that would be memorable.

Today, in this passage, Jesus gives the priests, elders, and temple elite a riddle. Jesus was probably chuckling inside when He said it because in the irony of the riddle lies the truth. Jesus said:

41 But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David’s son? 42 For David himself says in the Book of Psalms,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
43 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

44 David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?”

As we have progressed through Luke 20, we see the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the supporters of Herod had been asking Jesus trick questions to try to trap him in some way that they could use against Him. Now, Jesus turns the tables on them and asks them a penetrating question in the form of a riddle – who they thought the Messiah was! The Pharisees knew that the Messiah would be a descendant of David but they did not understand who the Messiah really was. Jesus quoted from Psalm 110 to show that the Messiah would be greater than David. How can that be in ancient Middle Eastern society where age was revered and respected? In that society, unlike in America today, the aged were respected and revered and given honor. The elderly commanded respect and the young would bow and give way to their elders. How then would David accord the Messiah such honor unless David recognized that the Messiah was something far greater than he. This is the riddle that the world must ponder about Jesus. Who is He? This is the central issue of life – what we believe about Jesus. Other spiritual or theological questions are irrelevant until we answer this one question. Your answer to this question determines the answers to all other question about faith, religion, God, etc.

To the average Jewish person in Jerusalem and even to many of the elite religious leaders of the day, Jesus was a new king descended from the line of King David, and as the OT prophesies suggested, he would be a king who would rule over the nation of Israel forever. Laying down their cloaks and branches was a ceremony for a king. The crowd cheered on their king who they hoped would help alleviate their suffering under the occupation of the Roman Empire. He was to be a conquering hero.

The religious leaders believed something about Jesus too. They believed he was a fraud, and a threat to their religious traditions. Jesus actually placed himself on level with God by forgiving people’s sins and he routinely violated the Sabbath day by healing people. Jesus was a rabble-rouser and they planned his death. Jesus’ riddle here implies that He is more than a Messiah, a conquering hero, He is Lord. He is God!

Peter was the first to get it. In Mark 8:29 (NIV), it says, “And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Messiah”. It is this question that we all must answer. Who is Jesus Christ?

How do you answer this question? Is Jesus just another road to heaven? Is he one in a long line of prophets that offer the way to heaven? Is he simply an option on the menu of how to get to heaven. Is He simply a great philosopher to you? Is He simply a political revolutionary that you admire for standing up against the political power structure of his day and was martyred for it? Or is He the Son of God, God in the flesh?

If Jesus was simply an option, just one of the ways to get to heaven, if He was just a great philosopher, if He was just a charismatic political revolutionary? Then, as CS Lewis once said, Jesus is clearly a lunatic and liar. He said He and the Father were one.That means that He and God were of the same essence. He and God are one and the same. You can’t have him be a great philosopher or political revolutionary only if He said this. You have to throw parts of the Bible out to not see that Jesus said He and God were one and the same thing. If you keep that in, and just believe that Jesus was simply a human figure, he is then a delusional lunatic. You have to deal with the fact that throughout the gospels, Jesus directly or indirectly indicated that He was God numerous times. You must throw out most of the gospels’ contents to avoid Jesus saying in one way or another that He was God in the flesh. You can have Jesus be a great philosopher, a radical rabbi and a political revolutionary and respecting Him highly in that way and not deal with the 80 times that referred to Himself as the Son of Man and other references to being divine that He made about Himself. The only conclusion that you can come too that Jesus was a liar and lunatic unless of course you have the faith to believe that He is who He claims to be – God in the flesh.

What about the miracles and the resurrection? Modernists blow these things off as fabrications of the church. They say Jesus was a great philosopher but that the miracles were added later by the church. They say the resurrection was a fiction added also. All of this was done by the church to make Jesus divine so as to compete with the gods of other religions. Unlike other religions where it took centuries or even millenia for the words of their founders to be written down, the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the canonical letter of Paul, Peter, John, Jude, and the revelation of John all can be demonstrated through scholarly research to have been written within the first 60 years after Jesus died and was resurrected. The first Pauline letter, Galatians, can be demonstrated to have been written with 12-15 years after Jesus death. The first gospel, Mark, was written within 25 years of Jesus death. All the books of the New Testament were complete within 60 years. That’s pretty amazing. Many of the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life were still alive when these books were written. Don’t you think they would have raised a stink if this stuff about Jesus being God was fantasy? Never mind his followers. His enemies were still alive too. Wouldn’t they have raised a stink? Lies never last. You and I know that from our own experiences. Even the most elaborate ruses are exposed within several years. However, not only did no one dispute the claims of the New Testament books when they were first published, they have endured through the centuries. And, we can prove through archaeological research that the Bible, and particularly, the New Testament we read today is the same as what was originally written. We are now as close as 100 years to the original manuscripts of New Testament books. People of the faith have been painstaking, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in ensuring the faithfulness to the original manuscripts of the books of the Bible.

People have died through the centuries too for the name of Jesus Christ. They continue to do it today. Would people be willing to die for a lie? No way all these martyrs all through the centuries would willingly lay down their lives for a man that is simply a great philosopher. No way they would lay down their lives for simply one way to God. No way that 21 centuries after His death will people in Egypt allow themselves to be beheaded rather than renounce their faith if Jesus was just a mere radical rabbi. Yes, they are willing to die for Jesus because they believe as Peter believed. He is the Messiah. They believe that He was not a lunatic or liar because He is Lord. You have only two choices. You accept Jesus as Lord and believe all He says about Himself, all of it, or you reject Him. If you try to be middle of the road on Jesus by saying he was a great philosopher but not the Son of God, you reject Him. There is no middle of the road with Jesus. You believe Him or you don’t.

Are you willing to reject Him because you do not believe God loved us enough to break into human history and live the sinless life and offer Himself willing as the sacrifice for your sins and mine? You must answer the question. All religions have a position on Jesus because Jesus is the real deal and every religion must have a position on Him. All people on the planet have heard of Jesus including you. YOU must answer the question. Who is this Jesus? Are you willing to bet your eternity that 2 billion people are wrong and misguided? Are you willing to bet your eternity that people throughout centuries have died for the name of Jesus? Are you willing to be all the believers in Jesus Christ over 2 millenia that have come and gone (which would have to be ten times or more the currently living Christians) are all, all, all suffering from some kind of delusion that Jesus is God and that through Him we are forgiven for our sins and that He alone is the way to the Father in heaven? How delusional do YOU have to be to say that Jesus is just another guy. No one ever is as well known as He. 21 centuries later He is more well known that when He walked the earth. How many radical poltical revolutionary philosophers can you say that about? There has got to be something to this Jesus thing! Right now, my friend, believe in Him. He is who He says He is. Don’t risk your eternity on rejecting Him. He is who He says He is.

He welcomes your skepticism. He welcomes your looking under his rocks. He welcomes your questions. He welcomes all the research you can do. He is not afraid of it. He probably laughs out loud at our vain attempts to discount Him. He wants you come to Him with all your doubts and questions and He will answer them all. He will show you that He is Lord. He is the Messiah. He is the Savior. He answers all your questions with a smile. Once your are saved, you and He will have many great belly laughs over the folly of not believing in Him.

Luke 2:8-20 — Often we miss what the angel of the Lord said here. It is important for us to really get what is said. The angel said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior, yes, the Messiah, the Lord, has been born today in Bethlehem, the City of David. And you recognize Him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger” (vv. 10-12, NLT).

Do not be afraid. The Shepherds were afraid. The angel reassured them that they did not have to be afraid. It reminds us of the assurance that we have in God. Our God is not out to squash us like bugs. He wants us not to be afraid. Although God is a God of justice and evil cannot stand in His presence, God is not out to punish us. He does not want us to be afraid. He wants us to come to Him. He calls out to us. Do not be afraid. God is love and He loved us so much that He pursues us through the person and work of Jesus Christ and through His Word. He does not want us to be condemned by His perfect and fair justice. He wants us to open our eyes and not be afraid. We all stand condemned and should be afraid but God provided the answer to the fear in this innocent child lying in a manger.

I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. Notice how broad is the angel’s message. It’s not for just the pious or the Jew, but “for all the people.” What wonderful news for those who are estranged from God. Great joy for all people. The shepherds are great examples of a whole people group that had been written off as unworthy and unsavable by their Jewish brethren. The birth of Jesus being announced here changes everything. The game will no longer be the same. Jesus came for everyone. His actions from birth to death and resurrection are for all, even for unbelievers. All you have to do is believe that He is the Son of God who died for our sins and who was raised from the dead to give us our eternal hope. This is good news. No one is too far from the grace of Jesus Christ. No one. Liars, thieves, murderers, prostitutes, drug addicts, adulterers. All are welcome at His table. All we must do is receive the grace that already exists in Jesus Christ. All we must do is confess our sins. All we must do is humbly ask Jesus to come into our lives and change us from the inside out. All we must do is realize that our way is the road to destruction but humble submission to the Lord is the way to permanent life change and eternal life. This is the good news that is great joy. This is the good news that it is for all people. Not just the pious few but for all people.

The Messiah has been born. The Savior. The Messiah. The Lord. He is all of these things. Having all of these descriptors used together at one time. Those who study Hebrew understand that the angel is making sure that those who read the text understand that this is no ordinary baby. He is God himself in the flesh. No ordinary baby. Jesus, part of the eternal trinity of God, coming to earth as a baby born in the usual way. He is the horn of salvation for all people. This act of coming into human history forever alters the course of human history. You cannot have the cross without the manger. He had to come and do it in the way that He did. He came to show us how much God loves us. He came to sacrifice Himself for our sins, past, present and future. He came to finish. He came to put and end to the hopelessness of our sin problem. This birth is the most necessary thing ever. The Messiah has been born. The Messiah has been born. Announce it! We would have none of our favorite hymns, favorite contemporary Christian music. We would not have churches. We would have none of it if God did not choose to send Jesus. This is the most loving thing ever. This is the most important thing ever. The Messiah has been born.

You will find a baby. You will find a baby. Jesus came to earth as a baby. He could have come as He will in the second coming in the clouds with trumpet sounds. But, the first advent is a humble one. He came as a baby. A child. Can you imagine the God of all things in a baby’s body? I bet Jesus was thinking, wow, this is pretty limited! LOL But back to the point. Jesus came as a child just like you and I are born as babies. He was a baby. He crawled. He learned to eat food. He learned to walk. He learned to be a part of a human family unit. He learned to do chores. He learned love. He learned physical pain. He learned emotional pain. He learned his father’s trade. He lived as a man. He knows. He knows. He knows what it is like to live the human experience. Jesus is our advocate with the Father because He knows what it is like to live in a human body. All of it. From birth to death. He lived the human experience. He knows. Because he came as a baby. So, when you think that God will not understand what you are going through or feeling, think again. Jesus knows. Jesus knows your troubles. He knows how you feel. He can more than just sympathize. He can empathize. He lived the human experience. He walked among us. He knows your hurts, habits, and hangups. He knows. He came to us as a baby. He did not magically appear. He lived the whole human experience. Never think He does not or could not understand. He knows. He came as a baby.

Father, thank you for the good news that makes us no longer afraid. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for sending Him to us to deliver us from our condemnation in our sin. Thank you for sending Him to live the life that we experience. Thank you for His understanding of the human experience by coming to earth in the way that we do and living the life that we live. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you. Thank you. Amen.

Romans 10:5-21 — Let’s spend a couple days on this passage. Today, the message is that it is really simple actually!

Yesterday, we talked about the fact that when we leave it up to man, he will create religion. He will create checklists. He will make it about performance. He will make it complicated. Paul’s message here is that it really is quite simple.

In order to be saved by the law, one must live a perfect life without sinning one time ever. As far we can tell, there has only been one person who was flesh and bone that ever accomplished that. His name was Jesus. However, what about the rest of us? Why did God give us the law if He knew from the get-go that we would be unable to stand up under its weight? The reason that God gave it to us was to show us that we are guilty and in need of a Savior. The law was a foreshadowing of Christ. The sacrificial system that God instituted through Moses was to educate God’s people on the need for a Savior. It showed us that we need a way outside of ourselves to make us right with God. Jesus was the culmination of the OT sacrificial system. He was that which makes us right with God once and for all. No temporary sacrifices that atone us for a period of time. He was the permanent, once and for all sacrifice.

The old sacrificial system was complicated but Jesus’ coming to earth in the flesh makes it simple. Salvation, being made right with God, is as simple and as close as your heart and lips (which represent the mind). If we believe from the depths of our soul that Jesus is Lord and Savior and we confess with our mouth our belief in our mind that Jesus was raised from the dead, we will be saved. That’s it! No complicated pagan ceremonies of pleasing a man-made God. No keeping a checklist of things we have to be and do. No apprenticeship that must be served. No, it’s quite simple. Believe and speak. We must believe that Jesus is the one sent by God to die on the cross as the ultimate, final sacrifice for our sin-filled life that condemns us under the law. We must confess that He was indeed the Son of God by believing that He arose from the dead.

All other religions make things complicated. All other religions make it up to us to perform. Things that we must do to become one with the universe. Things we must do to achieve perfection. Things we must do to prove ourselves. Christianity is different. It is because Christianity, in its purest sense, is not a religion at all. It is about a relationship with the Father that we come to through simple faith in Jesus Christ. It is not complicated. We must learn that we are sinners incapable of earning our way to heaven. The law does that for us. We must learn that we need a Savior to intervene on our behalf. The law does that for us. We must learn that there’s not a thing we can do to keep ourselves from the hell that our dark souls deserve. The law does that for us. We cry out to the Messiah to save us from hell. Jesus does that for us. We must simply believe that Jesus is the one who died for us and our sins. We must simply believe that His death makes us right with God. God does this for us.

What a wacky religion that is? No black belts to earn over time. No complicated levels to attain? And guess what it is not something that we can use to segregate ourselves from others? Once you accept Jesus as your Savior, you have the same standing as a person who has been saved for 60 years. Once you accept Christ as your Savior you also can’t use it to say I’ve got it and you don’t. Being a Christ follower is available to anyone who will believe in their heart that Christ is Lord and who will confess with their mouth that they believe Jesus was raised from the dead. They are in the club once they have these beliefs. Not complicated. Simple. Jesus. Simple. Relationship not religion. Simple. Is it not true that the truth is simple and that lies are so complicated. All other religions are lies and are complicated. There is but one true way, there is but one truth, there is but one life. Jesus. Simple. Available to anyone who believes in their heart and mind that Jesus is Lord and that He was raised from the dead. Simple. Jesus.

Tomorrow, let’s revisit this passage one more time and talk about how this simple message must be shared since it is available to everyone who will believe!

Father, I have a simple prayer this morning. Thank you for pointing out through the law that I am a sinner in need of help from outside my efforts. Thank you for Jesus who is my Lord and Savior who was raised from the dead to demonstrate that He is indeed the Son of God. Thank you for His sacrifice that makes me right with you. Amen.