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!
I remember reading Ephesians as a newer Christian and being shocked as I came across the Apostle’s words in chapter 5:
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22)
I quickly became nervous because my wife was a brand new Christian and I was about as biblically literate as a flannel board. My first thought was, “This can’t mean what I think it means.” And my second thought was, “How in the world am I going to sell Christie on this?”
The first question was answered with a “yes” and a “no”. The concept of male leadership, even headship, was correct. However, I had this wrong perception of some type of bizarre patriarchal suppression of the wife by the husband. In my mind leadership and submission seemed to demean rather than provide for her flourishing.
“and again, as was his custom, he taught them” (Mark 10.1c)
A couple of years ago our son began driving. As parents, we spent time with him so he would learn the rules of the road and became more familiar with the car. One thing he seemed to continue to forget about where the speed bumps. We would cruise over them at 35 mph only to elevate and then bottom out. Each time he’d say, “Whoops.” Eventually he learned to slow down a bit as he came upon the speed bumps.
Sometimes, when reading the life of Jesus, we just cruise over the Christological speed bumps. In other words, we jump over what appear to be minor details in order to get to bigger details that we we know are coming.
I would argue, however, that there really are no insignificant items.
Take for instance the above reference to Jesus teaching the crowds. We know that Mark 10 goes on to provide a highly charged debate between Jesus and the Pharisess on the topic of divorce and marriage. In this case Mark puts a Christological speed-bump before us. We are bidden to slow down a bit before charging into the narrative.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
Jesus felt the full force of all temptations. The ones that we feel and cave upon he felt to the highest level–and prevailed victoriously.
You might be saying, “It was different for Jesus–he is the Son of God! How can he really understand me?”
Does Jesus lack compassion? The question sounds ridiculous and at best has a whiff of being irrational and at worst dishonoring. But it is a helpful question to ask and answer in light of his words in Matthew 15.
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard what this saying?” He answered, "Every plant that my Heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit. (Mt. 15:12-14)
On its face this instruction to “let them alone” seems a bit heartless. After all, they are heading towards a pit. What’s worse, they are leading others there as well. Does this advocate an anti-evangelism? Should we just leave people alone? And above all, was (is) Jesus lacking compassion?
No. And, no. Let me explain.
1. Jesus is the Incarnation of Compassion
His entire mission leaves in its wake the foamy waters of compassion. B.B. Warfield observed that the most common description of Jesus is that of compassion. Whether we are talking about healing the lame, raising the dead, or simply preaching the truth of the kingdom, he exemplified and was characterized by compassion. Remember, he came to save sinners (Lk. 19:10). This is compassion on steroids.
2. There is a Greater Context Here
The setting in Matthew’s narrative comes after some very dramatic and important scenes. In chapter 12, verses 22-32 the Pharisees (those referenced here) witness the …
As i like to do about this time of year, I am reading through the classic The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes. In addition to having the best nickname in church history, “The Sweet Dropper” this book is great. Sibbes throws strikes while encouraging, confronting, conforming and comforting us with Christ.
Here is a sample from what I read this morning: How Should we Think of Christ?
When we think of Joseph, Daniel, John the Evangelist, we frame conceptions of them with delight, as of mild and sweet persons. Much more when we think of Christ, we should conceive of him as a mirror of all meekness. If the sweetness of all flowers were in one, how sweet must that flower be? In Christ all perfections of mercy and love meet. How great then must that mercy be that lodges in so gracious a heart?
Whatever tenderness is scattered in husband, father, brother, head, all is but a beam from him; it is in him in the most eminent manner. We are weak, but we are his; we are deformed, but yet carry his image upon us. A father looks not so much at the blemishes of his child as at his own nature in him; so Christ finds matter of love from that which is his own in us. He sees his own nature in us: we are diseased, but yet his members. Who ever neglected his own members because they were sick or weak?
None ever hated his own flesh. …
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2.7)
This is a familiar passage to be read and considered during the Advent season. It is embedded with so much rich theological beauty and truth for the Christian.
Here we have the Son of God become the son of a virgin. The one who swaddled the stars with darkness (Job 38.9) is now swaddled in cloth as a baby. This is such mind bending, heart melting truth! Christ, the Lord God, becomes a man, and dwells among us (John 1.14).
Furthermore, it is this same Jesus who was swaddled in the garments of humility who will soon swaddle his own children in the merit of his righteousness. This Jesus will, by his perfect obedience, earn the everlasting righteousness that will be credited to a sinner like me.
I cannot stare at the scene of the manger without seeing the looming shadow of Calvary descending upon it. This Jesus was born to die (Matt. 1.21). I see the baby here, swaddled in rags. But in due time he will be swaddled in the rags of my demerit, my sin (Is. 64.6; 1 Pet. 2.24; 2 Cor. 5.21). This he did that I might be clothed in his righteousness (Rom. 4.4-5; 5.1; 2 Cor. 5.21).
This is one reason I love the Christmas season. It forces me to be reminded again of the depth of …
From a sermon preached by Charles Spurgeon, entitled, He Shall Be Great:
Brothers and Sisters, I admit that there are many points in which He is greater to you than He is to me! But yet, to me He is higher than Heaven, vaster than eternity, more delightful than Paradise, more blessed than blessedness itself!
If I could speak of Him according to my soul’s desire, I would speak in great capital letters and not in the small italics which I am compelled to use. If I could speak as I would, I would make winds and waves my orators and cause the whole universe to become one open mouth with which to proclaim the praises of Emmanuel! If all eternity would speak as though it, too, were but one tongue, yet it could not tell all the charms of His love and the sureness of His faithfulness and His truth! We must leave off somewhere, but, truly, if it is the point of our estimation of Him, we can never express our overwhelming sense of His honor, His excellence, His sweetness!
Oh, that He were praised by every creature that has breath! Oh, that every minute placed another gem in His crown! Oh, that every soul that breathes did continue to breathe out nothing but hosannas and hallelujahs unto Him, for He deserves all possible praises!
Do you hear the crash of the multitudinous music of Heaven? It is like many waters and like the mighty waves of the sea—and it …
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 …
“I am not saying my theology is 100% right, I’m just saying I don’t know where I am wrong!”
I have heard this statement repeated many times. Each time the implication is: if we knew where we were wrong then we would change.
While we cannot prevent the fact that we are and will be wrong on occasion, we can work to prevent the wrong responses. I believe there are some basic guidelines for being open to theological examination.
Read the rest of this article at my new monthly column on Christianity.com