Category Archives: Knowing Jesus

Articles about the nature of Jesus, who He is, what He does and what that means to us.

Not Just Another Face in the Crowd

Just one among the multitude! There are times in my life when I feel like a “no name,” just one amidst a large busy, clamoring crowd. I can feel that I have no outstanding characteristics or status that would draw God’s eye to me. I feel I am just one mixed in among the many who seek being known, who seek God’s attention.

Today, I read Mark 5:24-34, which records the account of  a woman who suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years, and her condition was growing worse.  Her status was low in her society; she was a woman, and she was considered an outcast because of her continuous flow of blood. Actually, she should not have even been within that crowd of people, but there she was packed into the multitude.

Words that stand out to me in this passage are:  a great crowd followed Him; suffered for many years; growing worse; heard about Jesus; came up from behind Him in the crowd; touched His garment; felt the healing in her body; came before Him trembling; and He said “daughter.”

No Qualifying Status
This woman was an outcast in her community because she had the flow of blood. She had no title, position of honor or respect. She had everything that would push people away, but nothing to draw people to her.

It is an interesting contrast that the Holy Spirit records for us in this passage. Jesus was actually walking  through the crowd on His way to heal the daughter of a man of status, title and reputation, that is Jairus, one of the rulers of the local synagogue. He was not only accepted in his community but also regarded with honor. He was viewed as entitled to receive the attention and help of Jesus. Notice Jairus is referred to by name, but the “bleeding woman” is not. She is a no name, just a face in the crowd.

There are moments when I am calling out to God that I think, “who am I, what do I have to bring” that merits God’s attention to me? This story gives me a right perspective on the all-encompassing love of God, and how He views the value of each one of us, of each face in the crowd.

Down Low but Seen
This woman knew she was viewed as an outcast. She may even have identified herself as that. Yet she had heard reports of Jesus, who He is and the power He has. She heard of this Son of God healing  and restoring people’s lives, setting them free from their bondage. Her desperation, hope and faith moved her through the crowd to Jesus.

While she had faith, she approached Jesus with full understanding of her poverty of status and of spirit. Mark 5:27 states, “ she heard of the reports of Jesus and came up from behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment.”

What humility! What faith! This woman did not even stand face to face to plead her cause. She did not show her face so that Jesus could see her deep desire, the desperation and sadness written on her face. She did not cling to his hand and pull on Him! She approached from behind and stretched out her hand to touch His clothing! And Jesus, God in the flesh, stopped and looked for her in the crowd.

Different Eyes
The scripture says that God/Jesus stopped! Turned around in the crowd! Asked to see and meet who touched Him (Mk. 5:30). His disciples discouraged His knowing her, but Jesus persisted.

The scripture says that he kept looking around to see her (Mk. 5:32). The woman was healed the moment she touched Jesus’ garment. She knew it; she trembled in awe and fear. Jesus knew it and turned to see her.

Jesus looked at her with different eyes. He did not have the censoring eyes of the religious community; He did not have the eyes of social superiority, even though He is God; He did not have the selfish apathetic eyes of the world. Jesus has the eyes of God, the eyes of welcoming love and kindness.

Jesus did not look for her status, the titles behind her name, her position in the community, her connections, the list of achievements, her outer beauty, or the togetherness of her outfit. He saw a woman of faith, a women in need of help and lifting up.

Up to this point in the story, the woman had no name, and was on the fringe of acceptance in her community; but Jesus addressed her as “daughter,” a term of endearment and belonging.

I see this incredible scene  amidst the multitude, the woman trembling with joy and fear, on her knees. I see Jesus turning his body fully towards her. Jesus reaching out his hand, helping her up, looking into her eyes, while tenderly saying “daughter!”

The Same Love for You
If today, you are feeling like “just” another face in the crowd, feeling uncherished, and not valued, stop because that is a lie!

Read this passage again and see how Jesus views you. Put your self in the scene as the bleeding woman. See His love. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  You are not “just a blurred face in the crowd!” you are valued and cherished by Jesus. He sees you.

God knew we would have difficulty seeing and grasping His love. I believe that is why the Spirit recorded and preserved Paul’s prayer for the believers in Ephesians 3.  This is a good prayer for us to pray for others and ourselves.

“May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:18-19

Stand by Me (Magnifying God -3)

The Bible is like a magnifying glass.  The scriptures have a way of focusing my sight and enlarging my understanding of God. I am reading the scriptures to see God magnified up close so I can know Him and then magnify Him to others. As I do this, I am finding truths about God’s character and heart towards us, and I am learning how to express praise and thanks to Him.

Psalm 75:1 reveals and magnifies the truth that God is near to us, and that is a cause for praise to God.

  • “We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds.”

The phrase “your Name is near” means that God is near to us. God’s name(s) are very important because they represent who God is. For example, in Exodus  3:14 God reveals that His Name is Yahweh – I AM WHO I AM. That term means God is self-existing and is the source of all life and existence.  God Is.

When the psalmist writes Psalm 75:1 that the Name of God is near to us, he means Yahweh, the “I AM”- the source of all existence is near to us. I am reassured to know that the “Life giving God” is near me.  This truth has given me courage and comfort as I daily walk through this pandemic.

In Joshua 22: 22a  some of the Israelites call God by the name LORD (Yahweh) and then they refer to God as Elohim which means “the Mighty One.”

  • “The LORD, the Mighty One, is God! The LORD, the Mighty One, is God!” Josh.22:22a

So, in Psalm 75:1 when the psalmist says “for Your Name is near,” he is saying, “God the Mighty One,” is near to me/you.

I am encouraged to know that God, the Mighty One who has all power and strength is near me.  When I am feeling weak, vulnerable, frustrated and overwhelmed with life, knowing that I can turn to “the Mighty One” for help gives me relief. He is by my side. I am not alone.

We could go through the list of the names for God and get the same reassurance in faith as with these two examples, that the God who is the definition of all His Names is near to us.

In Other Words
The scriptures provide many ways of conveying this truth that God is near; that He is a personal God involved in our life.  God is not just a distant power, but rather, He is a God who seeks to be close to us all the time and most especially in our times of need.

Here are some of the ways the Spirit confirms this truth.

  • Psalm 34:18 – The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
  • Psalm 145:18 – The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.
  • Psalm 119:151 – You are near, O LORD, and all Your commandments are truth.
  • 16:8- I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
  • Psalm 73:28 – But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.

Psalm 119:7-10 poetically expresses this continual nearness and presence of God who acts on my behalf.

  • “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

Hard to Believe
When I am hurting, feeling  confused by the difficulties of life or betrayed by my own contrary nature which often seems to default to thinking, saying and doing things I don’t really want to,  I can struggle with believing God is near, or that God even wants me near Him.

This thinking is flawed and not based on truth.  God wants to be near us, He wants to have a deep personal friendship with us. The scriptures reassure us of this truth.

In James 4:8a we read, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” So, it is not a matter of whether God wants to be near me, but whether I am choosing to come near to Him, and whether I am making moves towards Him in faith.

In Ephesians 1: 4 and  2:13, we read how God brings all men near to Him through the blood of Jesus, both Jews and Gentiles: “ For He chose us(Israel) in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love, He preplanned for us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will. . . 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”

God’s desire for us to be near Him, in a very personal relationship with Him, was not a mere “good idea,” but it became reality in sending Jesus to destroy the barrier between God and us so we could be near God.

God in Us!
God is so “near” that He is in us who believe
. The scripture speaks this truth in many forms. At times, when I am lost in my “self”  I need to be reminded of this truth. Here are a few encouraging passages for study and meditation.

  • “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16
  • “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:27
  • “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him/her.” John 14:23
  • “What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.” 1 Corinthians 2:12

 Respond with Praise
As I learn who God is and what His heart is towards me, I am encouraged, re-assured, and filled with a sense of security to know God  is near me and in me. The psalmist who wrote Psalm 75:1 describes correctly what my response should be: “We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near.”

  • Meditate on this truth, that God is near to you. Consider these questions:
    What does this truth that God is near me and in me mean to my faith and my life?
  • Have I been living in the presence of God?
  • What will I do today to draw near to God?
  • Take some time to give praise and thanks to God for choosing to be close to you.

In You!

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “ Try not to become a man of success, but rather become a man/woman of value.”

Being a person of value is something we all seek at some level. Unlike Einstein I do not believe that I can create my own value, although that is something each one of us has endeavored to do.

God’s Truths Reveals Our Value
As a believer in God,  I am finding that the value I have comes from my connection with God. In fact, my identity and  my value come from God “in me.”

I have not always known this. In the past I have tried to create my own value  through attaining levels of education; seeking  titles and positions; and pursuing relationships /associations and things that make me feel valuable. I found that much of my value was dependent on other people’s  system of valuation.  I can still fall into this thinking from time to time.

As I walk with God and take in the truths of the scriptures, I see that God gives you and me true and lasting value by what He brings into us. 

God’s Love in You
The other day I was reading John  17:26 which is a part of the prayer Jesus prayed for his followers. In that prayer Jesus states that he has made God known to them so that God’s love will be in them, and so that Jesus, himself, will be in them. Romans 5: 5 repeats this truth.

  • “I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:26
  • “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Romans 5:5

The scriptures tell us that God is love. Jesus is praying that as we know God, His love will be in us. Wow, talk about value.  God loves me, and his love lives in me.

It is an astounding truth, even though I do not always feel God’s love or act like his love is in me, that feeling does not negate the truth of God’s love being in me. God’s love in me is value!

God’s Glory in You
Again, in the prayer of Jesus that is recorded in John 17, we see a truth about the amazing value God places in us. In this prayer Jesus refers to God’s glory being in us.

  • The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfectly united, so that the world may know that You sent Me and have loved them just as You have loved Me”
    John 17:22-23

We see the same truth in Romans 8:29-30, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

The glory of God is in the believer through Jesus Christ. The concept of the “glory of God” is complex and has several meanings,  but in basic terms, in this verse, it refers to  the divine nature. The divine nature of God is in us through Jesus in us.

2 Peter 1: 3-4  further explains this glory in us.

  • “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

In John 1:12-13,  Jesus reveals that through our faith in Him we become true children of God, born of God.  God’s spiritual DNA , so to speak, is in us, and as it unfolds in my life I am participating in God’s divine nature.

On my worst day when I am feeling like a total failure, with no splendor and  very little value I turn to this truth. The truth of “ God’s glory in me” contradicts that feeling. That is value!

God’s Light in You
God places His Light in us. This truth is revealed in 2 Corinthians 4:6

  • “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

This verse connects with those written above and solidifies the concept of God’s glory in us through Jesus in us. Light is a beautiful thing; without it our lives would be very challenged.

As one who is slowly losing my physical eyesight, I am learning to value light and the clarity it provides, but spiritual light is even more vital.

The truth that God’s light is in me is astounding. I cannot even say I really understand it. But on those days when my thinking  and vision of myself is dimmed by shadowy accusations, guilt or misperceptions, I am glad for God’s light in me that leads me, that removes the shadows and illuminates truth. I hold on to that truth.

Reflections
There is much to say about the value God places in us through Jesus and the Spirit of God in us.
At the moment, these few scriptures are rich with truth and can provide hours of meditation, prayer and deeper study.

What I love about these truths is that I don’t have to construct or conjure up my own value. I don’t have to toot my horn and draw attention to myself or my achievements to show people I have value. I don’t have to meet the ever-changing standards of people in order to have value.

Even on my best day, I cannot make my own value.  Trying to construct my own meaning and value is wearisome. It is chasing after the wind. God loves me and puts true value in me.

I encourage you to study the truth about God in you.  Let it redefine who you are and give you a true sense of your value and where it comes from.

Expressions of Beauty

We have been in the pandemic for 6 -7 months now. Our spirits tend to be weary and our perspective may need readjusting more frequently.  During this pandemic we have seen the sad reality of sickness, suffering and death, and we are receiving a clear view of the pain and ugliness of racism.

Each morning as I start my day, I sit on my back porch and look for beauty. I am never disappointed. The trees, sky and river express beauty. When I see the deep green of the trees; the architecture of their branches and leaves; the delicate wings of the birds; and the soft blended colors of pink, orange, blue, and purple in the sunrise I feel hopeful  because I see the beauty of God in the midst of the painful reality of these times.

I have always been intrigued by the concept of the beauty of the Lord. I imagine the beauty radiating from Him as a brilliant light, a sparkling and flickering of different colors.  Somehow I always come up short, expecting some type of ethereal, mystical encounter, but perhaps God’s beauty is less ethereal and more readily understandable.

The Beauty of the LORD
My heart and imagination are captivated at the thought of God’s beauty as prayed for by David in Psalm 27:4.  David writes of his heart’s longing.

  • “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and inquire in his temple.”

I am drawn in by the fact that David asks God to grant him the ability/opportunity to gaze on the beauty of God all the days of his life. Another fact stands out and that David believes it is attainable, we know this because the verse goes on to say that David seeks after this.

Start with the Word
I have to start somewhere in this quest so I start with the word “beauty” as used in Psalm 27:4.

There are several words for beauty in the Hebrew language, but the Spirit selected the Hebrew word transliterated “noam,” to be used in verse 4 of Psalm 27 perhaps because it refers to more than just the beauty of appearance.

 “Noam”  literally means delightfulness, but has an expanded definition of splendor, grace, beauty, kindness and pleasantness.

In Psalm 90:17 the word “noam” is defined as: beauty, favor, kindness or delightfulness.
The NIV, NASB, ESV, and HSCB translations of the Bible use the definition favor for “noam,” thus yielding another facet of the beauty of the LORD – His favor or grace.

“Let the favor (noam) of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” Psalm 90:17

The Beauty of the LORD – Jesus
The more I think of the different facets of the word “noam.” The more I begin to see Jesus, beautiful in grace, kindness, tenderness, and full of splendor.

I see the beauty of the LORD in:

  • Jesus reaching out and touching the leper (Mark 1:40-42);
  • Jesus looking around with grief in his heart at the religious leaders who want to withhold healing from a man with a withered hand (Mark 3:1-6);
  • Jesus as he shows mercy to the woman caught in adultery by silently sending away those who would stone her (John 8:1-11);
  • Jesus calling his friend Peter to come walk on the water with him and then lifting Peter up when he fell (Matthew 14:22-33);
  • Jesus as he lifts up the “bleeding woman” and calls her daughter (Mark 5:25-34);
  • Jesus compassionately raising the only son of a widow from the dead so he can for his mother ( Luke 7:11-17);
  • Jesus hanging on the cross breathing his last and asking the Father to forgive his accusers and killers, (and us) (Luke 23:33-34);
  • Jesus letting a doubting man touch the nail holes in his hands in order to strengthen the man’s faith (John 20:26-28).

Reflections on His Beauty
So when I mentally “gaze upon the beauty of the LORD,” I see Jesus!

Surely Jesus is the beauty of the LORD.  Jesus exemplifies all that is delightful about God; all the grace of God; all the kindness of God; all the splendor and power of God – all His beauty.

Hebrews 1:3 expresses this thought of Jesus being the beauty of the LORD in slightly different terms.

  • “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his beingsustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

When I gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and see Jesus it renews my hope in this dark time. Remembering the beauty of the heart and character of God brings a sense of peace and inner calm.

I can become preoccupied with the fear of the pandemic; the hatred and pride in political controversy; and the grievous injustice of racism. Focusing on the truths of the beauty of the LORD in Jesus produces faith and courage in me to move forward and not be enslaved by fear, depression and hatred. I can move forward with hope and faith to become a part of His beauty as I build into others and into my spirit.

Take some time and reflect on the beauty of the Lord that you see in Jesus, let it refresh your heart, faith and way of living.

God Became a Speck for You!

As a young child during the Christmas season there was an elaborate and very beautiful manger scene that took up a whole corner of the church I attended. To my child eyes it was beautiful, really, a thing of awe. I have never seen anything like it since.

Every year during the Christmas season the children would line up and stroll past this scene singing a song of triumph. I think the song is entitled “Strains of Triumph.”  My family lived in a multi-ethnic community, we were among the Polish group, so I should clarify that we sang this song in Polish. I hear it in my head, with only snatches of remembered words, but I clearly remember the word for triumph.

It was a song about the triumph that came from God becoming a man! And there, encapsulated in that procession of children and their worship song, you have the true cause for celebration – the incarnation.

 God With Us – Immanuel
Immanuel is a name given to Jesus by God. This name encapsulates the incarnation. When Joseph heard the name spoken by the angel, he believed and obeyed.

“Behold, the virgin will hold in womb, and will bring forth a son, and they will call His name Immanuel” which is, being translated, “God with us.” And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife.”  Matthew 1:23 BLB Matthew 1:24 NASB

Sometimes we can be as confused as Joseph was in regards to who Jesus is.  At times I may even wonder what is God’s intent towards me and purpose for me. I think meditating on this truth of Immanuel, God becoming man, will strengthen my faith in the love of God for man, and His desire to know me and have a relationship with me.

God went through great lengths to show us that He desires to be with us and have a relationship with us.  

God, the majestic, all powerful, the Creator and king of the universe, the source of all life and light, the all sovereign God became a “speck,” a single cell zygote in a human womb for you and me. 

Love Detailed
There are numerous passages of scripture that confirm this truth and define the purpose of God becoming man. These passages reveal in detail the deep love of God for us and His desire to be in a relationship with us. Let’s review some of these passages.

Immanuel, God in the flesh, purchased us with His blood.

  • Keep watch over yourselves and the entire flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. Acts 20:28
  • He (God) is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. Ephesians 1:7

 Immanuel, God in the flesh, had a physical body that could bleed, die and then be resurrected.

  • Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Hebrews 2:14
  • For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the spirit 1 Peter 3:18
  • But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy, unblemished, and blameless in His presence—Col. 1:22
  • By His power God raised the Lord from the dead, and He will raise us also. 1 Cor. 6:14

Immanuel, God with us, had a body that could suffer on our behalf.

  • He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24
  • But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Why Immanuel?
Jesus is God in the flesh, Immanuel.  Why did God come down in the flesh? Why was He born as a man so many years ago? The answer is throughout the scriptures but is very clear in Ephesians 3:12

  • In Him (Jesus) and through faith in Him we may enter God’s presence with boldness and confidence. Ephesians 3:12

God became man and did for us what we could not do for ourselves. Immanuel became the “sin offering” for us, His blood atoned for our sin. He did this so that we could be in a relationship with God and enjoy fellowship with Him.

This truth of “God with us” is carefully documented for us. 1 John 1:1-4 describes the documentation of the Word become flesh- Immanuel, and it clearly states the purpose of God becoming a man.

“We proclaim to you the One who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw Him with our own eyes and touched Him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. 

 This One who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen Him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us.

We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.”

So What?
Whether you know the exact month or day that Jesus was born is not so important. Whether you follow those who think Jesus was born in a lean to stable or whether he was born in the lower floor of a house which was reserved for the animals is not so important. Whether you understand the origins of the “Christ-mass” holiday is not so important.

What is important is the truth that God became man in Immanuel. God became man for the explicit purpose of suffering, bleeding, dying, being buried and raised from the dead. He became the sin offering for us, so that we could have access to fellowship with God.

God went through great lengths to draw me to Him. Will I value and appreciate the humility and love of God? Will I choose to die to my “self” and live in friendship with God? What about you?

Cross Words

Easter is a time when many remember the passion of Jesus Christ. In “Cross Thoughts,” a previous blog, we meditated on the truth that in the crucifixion,  Jesus “tasted death” for each of us. He was separated from God on our behalf so that we can have a relationship to God.

There are many words associated with the cross of Jesus, such as ransom, redemption, atonement, reconciled and sacrifice. These words enhance our understanding of the purpose and the value of the death of Jesus. Let’s look at the word “ransom.”

Ransom – Redemption
The word ransom in the New Testament is the word lytron. It refers to the money used to manumit or free slaves. Such money has been referred to as the “liberty price,” the cost of freeing another from bondage.

The word ransom is used several times in the New Testament in reference to the sacrifice of Jesus.

In some of these passages the word for ransom is translated redeem/redemption (apolytrosis) coming from the same root as ransom and carries the same meaning of providing release or freedom by paying a ransom.

“Ransom” is also associated with kidnapping. In the case of kidnapping or hostage taking the ransom involves some type of high stakes payment in order to release those held captive. This concept is illustrated in Colossians 1:13-14.
“For He has rescued/delivered us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Ransom has a special meaning when the New Testament writers apply it to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The ransom Jesus paid frees us from the bondage of sin and death.
“…and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding His blood for us. NLT Rev. 1:5

Jesus’ Mission
Jesus became a man for the specific purpose of be the ransom payment for us.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,  who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 1 Tim. 2:5-6

A Ransom of Blood
In the sacrifice of Jesus, the currency of the ransom payment is His blood.
“. . . it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 1 Peter 1:18-19

In Him (Jesus) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace …” NASB  Eph.1:7

“With His own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—He entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever…” NLT Heb. 9:12

A Complete Ransom
The ransom that Jesus paid for us secures eternal redemption. It is a complete ransom and we do not have to continuing paying.

This truth is revealed in John 19:30. Among the last words of Jesus on the cross is the statement, “It is finished.” This phrase is translated as: it is completed; it is accomplished, and it is paid.

I believe that in this statement Jesus is saying His mission to save mankind was completed; accomplished, and through His atoning blood the debt of our sin was paid in full.
“When He had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” John 19:30

This thought of the saving work of Jesus being completed or paid in full is echoed in passages like Hebrews 9:12 and 7:27 with the truth of Jesus securing eternal redemption.

  • “…He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” Hebrews 912
  • “Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” Hebrews 7:27

Take It Deeper – Make It Personal
Taking time to meditate on words associated with the cross of Christ is more than a religious exercise. When meditating on the concept of ransom it provided me with a clear picture of where I was, and my need for divine intervention.

I was moving along through my life relatively oblivious to the fact that I was in the bondage of sin. I relegated any character struggles I had to weak habit formation rather than bondage or enslavement.

Furthermore, I had no idea I had been taken captive and actually had been living in the kingdom of darkness.

Truth is always enlightening and liberating. Taking time to study and meditate on the concept of being ransomed by Jesus gives me a greater appreciation for the sacrifice of Jesus. I can worship Him and give Him thanks in truth and spirit, because His sacrifice is more real to me. I do not question the security of my salvation because I see it is anchored in Jesus’ sacrifice, not my performance.

I encourage you to do study some of the words associated with the cross, and take tome to write down how it encourages and strengthens your faith.

Cross Thoughts

Growing up, my family celebrated the secular and the religious aspects of the Easter holiday. It was a special time with new outfits, baskets of candy treats and a special meal. However, there was also much focus on the spiritual aspect of the holiday which is the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  Weeks prior to this holiday we spent much time in religious services reflecting on the crucifixion of Jesus.

It wasn’t until I started reading and studying the Bible that I began to understand the sacrifice of Jesus in a deeper way. The sacrifice of Jesus is not merely a series of events that happened to Jesus such as: Judas’ betrayal of Jesus; the trial before Pilate; the scourging: the carrying of the cross and so on, but it is the singular most powerful intervention of God in the history of mankind.

Presented in this blog are some thoughts about the sacrifice of Jesus for your reflection.

Jesus Tasted Death for Us
In the passage of Hebrews 2:9, an unusual expression is used in describing Jesus. The writer says, “he might taste death for everyone.”
“But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9

The expression taste death for everyone means Jesus “experienced” death; Jesus took it into himself on behalf of each of us.

Jesus “tasted death” in that His physical body died and was buried, but also, He died in a spiritual sense meaning Jesus experienced separation from God as he bore our sins on His body.

When dying on the cross Jesus is recorded to have said,” my God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46) This statement is taken as an indication that Jesus was separated from the Father.

It Is a Personal Thing
I never realized that I was separated from God” because of my sin. After all, I went to church frequently and even participated in special services. I thought about God regularly, and tried to be good so I thought “God and me were OK.”  Then I read a few scriptures that got my attention:

  • Romans 3:23 – “all have sinned and fallen short of the standard of God;”
  • Romans 6:23 – “for the wages of sin is death,”
  • Isaiah 59:2 – “your sins have separated you from God,” and
  • 1 Peter 2:24 – “Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross so that freed from our sins, we could live a life that has God’s approval. His wounds have healed you.”

I took these passages personally understanding that Jesus tasted death for me, that He experienced separation from God for me so that I did not have to be separated from Him.

This brought a whole new valuing of the cross of Jesus to me. The crucifixion of Jesus was no longer just a series of sad events that happened to Jesus, but it is a powerful act of God that impacts me. Through the sacrifice of Jesus my “religion” became a genuine “relationship” with God.

Take Time to Reflect
As you celebrate Easter this year take some time to think about what the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God, means to you. Some other passages to enrich your meditation are:

Isaiah 53:5 – “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”

Romans 3:23-25 –  “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.”

2 Cor. 5:21 – “ God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Romans 4:25 – “He was delivered over to death for our trespasses and was raised to life for our justification.”

1 John 2:1-2 – “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

1 John 4:10 – “And love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Make it personal. Get in touch with what separates you from God, and then look to the cross!

The God Who Prays

Here’s a thought: “Today, Jesus prays for you!” Wait a minute, what?
Yes, today, Jesus prays for you! It is true. Hebrews 7:25 says, “He (Jesus) always lives to make intercession for us.”

“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.” Hebrews 7:25

So seriously, Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords is praying for you. Yes, the same Jesus, who is described in Phil. 2:9-10 as “…being exalted on high by God so that at the name of Jesus every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth will bow, and every tongue will acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord…,” is interceding to the Father for you and me.

To make it even more incredible, Jesus’ intercession on our behalf seems to be part of His saving work on our behalf. Heb. 7:25 says, “He is able to save to the uttermost (completely; to the final end/ to the uttermost limit) those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for us.”

Intercessor
Intercession is an act of love. It is, in a sense, an act of humility. Intercession can involve meeting with another person for the explicit purpose of a conversation which can consist of consultation and or supplication on behalf of another.

Actually, intercession involves words like: plead, beseech, entreat, implore and ask. The word intercession as used in scripture generally means to pray to God; to entreat God; to beseech God on behalf of another person.

Moses is an example of someone who interceded on behalf of others. Exodus 32:31-32 is an example of bold yet humble prayer of intercession.

So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” Exodus 32:31-32

Hebrews 7:25 provides this picture of Jesus interceding for us. Jesus is beside the throne of God and is pleading with the Father on our behalf. It seems this is a continual occurrence, as “He always lives to make intercession for us.”

Romans 8:34 repeats this very same truth, describing a similar scene: “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

Intercession as Advocacy
The scriptures reveal that Jesus is at the right hand of God interceding for us. 1 John 2:1-2 gives us a better understanding of Jesus intercessory work.

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

The term advocate adds to our understanding of intercessor.  In general, advocate means help, console, and intercede. More precisely in this verse the term advocate is used in a legal sense. It was used to indicate one who pleads a cause before a judge. Our equivalent today might be a “defense attorney.”

A defense attorney comes alongside a person to plead their cause, to intercede on their behalf before a judge.  Jesus is in heaven, seated at the right hand of God presenting evidence to God on my behalf. Again, we see that Jesus’ advocacy is not a one time thing, but rather it is a continuous process. The word “have” in the phrase “we have an advocate with the Father” is a present tense indicating a continuous action!

Intercession Brings Hope
Jesus’ intercession, advocacy or prayers on our behalf are based on His atoning work on the cross (1 John 2:2), and on His identity as the eternal High Priest (Hebrews 7:23-27).

What exactly is Jesus saying to the Father when He intercedes?  Is He providing His evidence on our side when Satan comes to accuse us? Is He praying a prayer for unity as He prayed in John 17? Is He praying for us to be daily sustained by the hand of God? I do not know, but I know it is revealed in the New Testament scriptures three times that Jesus intercedes and prays for us.

This truth brings me hope. It gives me hope for all those impossible situations I have in my life. It gives me hope for those I love who seem to be so far away from God. It gives me hope that I am not in this alone, and that there is a spiritual power greater than me involved in my life. It gives me hope that no matter how I have messed up – Jesus is speaking on my behalf before the throne of God.

You have heard the saying that it is good to have friends in high places. As believers in God and Jesus, we have a Friend in high places – Jesus. In fact, He is seated at the right hand of God. Let the truth of Jesus, who He is and what He has done and continues to do for us, give you hope.

                                                 **********************

“For if, while we were God’s enemies,
we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son,
how much more, having been reconciled,
shall we be saved through his life!  Not only is this so,
but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom
we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:10-11

The God Who Groans for You

What an encouraging and supportive truth to know that the Spirit of God prays for us. That thought, in and of itself, encourages my soul and gives me hope. No matter what burden I am carrying, or agonizing problem I am facing, the Spirit of God intercedes on my behalf.

Romans 8:26 reveals this truth;
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” 

Say What?!
This is a wondrous truth. Just what is the Spirit doing? One would think that the Spirit might reveal to us what to pray for, or help us get a better grasp on what is happening and why.

However, the breath taking truth is “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” The Spirit of God constantly intercedes for us even in times when we are not desperately seeking God, or thinking we need help.

Groanings from the Gut of God
The Spirit does help us pray in a more effective way, but that is not what this verse is saying. The impact of this truth is this: “the Spirit of God intercedes for us.” Let that sink into your mind and heart. It is a powerful truth.

“To Intercede” means to petition on behalf of another.  The term in the original language implies a meeting with another so as to converse on behalf of a person. So the Spirit meets with God to have a personal conversation with Him about you or me.

The Spirit seeks the presence and hearing of God on our behalf, unsolicited by us. It is a part of His heart of love and care for us.

Romans 8:26 states that the Spirit intercedes in a unique way, “with groanings too deep for words,” so that the Spirit gives voice to our inarticulate thoughts and feelings.

The Spirit groans on our behalf. “Groan in this passage means: groan, deep sigh; internal unexpressed feelings; powerful gut wrenching sighs exerted as from a pressure within similar to labor pains. These guttural groans come from a pressure from within, the pressure of the Spirit’s love for us and His desire to help us in our weakness.

The Spirit of God knows our minds, our hearts, our feelings completely, and He knows the mind and the will of God, so He is able to expertly translate our needs to God.

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

Groans Give Hope
I always associated groaning with deep pain, frustration, or longing. These groans from the Spirit come from the Spirit feeling pain on our behalf and yearning for our good.

This truth increases my hope, my faith and gives me a sense of security. I am not in this alone. No matter how low I feel or how complex my circumstances, the Spirit are constantly interceding on my behalf. He groans for me when I am thinking of this truth and when I am not.

His continual groaning on my behalf is not dependent on my performance just on my connection with God through Jesus. This is a powerful thought.

What does this mean to you?
I encourage you to meditate on this passage and think about how you have seen the Spirit work on your behalf in the past, and how does the truth of Romans 8:26 encourage your faith and hope for the future?

A Dare!

Many years of my life were spent working in public schools as a teacher and evaluation team leader.  I especially treasured the days that I taught 3rd grade in Salisbury, Maryland. Each day I woke up eager to be in school. I loved working with these children, beautiful human beings, precious, full of life, sparkle, intelligence  and with a genuine joy for life. They were ever eager to learn. They refreshed my soul. I learned more from them than I think I taught them, and as I reflect back on those days I am still learning.

God, Our Teacher
As people who claim to believe in God, trust is a hallmark of our relationship with God. We communicate our love for Him and our need for Him, by asking for His help, and by asking Him to teach us what we need to know.

I often call out to God to strengthen me or deliver me from a particular difficulty, but, how often do I call out, yes, even “cry out” for God to teach me of Him, and to teach me the strength, character and spiritual skills I need to live in this world.

What about you, when was the last time you asked God to teach you anything?

Humble Hearts Ask Teach Me about You, God
In Exodus 33: 13, Moses, a most humble man, asks God to teach him more about God!
“If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” Ex. 33:13

Moses had a close relationship with God. He personally met with and communed with God. God gave Moses the words of the law and let Moses into His presence, so much so that Moses’ face radiated the light of the glory of God after their meetings.

One would think Moses would be content, that he would feel what he had was enough. Yet, Moses hungered to know God more, so that he could find favor with God, be in His grace and please God.

David, who the scripture describes as a man after God’s own heart, asks God to teach him God’s ways. David wants to know truths about God, His character and His will (way), so that David will apply God’s truth to his life, and by so doing will fear God and honor Him.

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.Ps. 86:11

Teach Me to Do Your Will, God
In Psalm 143:10, David asks God to teach him about God’s will and how to do God’s will. David also asks to learn how to be led by God’s Spirit.
Teach me to do your will, for You are my God! Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground!”

This is a prayer I need to pray. I read the scriptures a lot, but just because I read the scriptures and even agree with them does not mean I am doing the will of God. Teach us to do your will God.

Teach Me to be Led by Your Spirit
In this same passage Ps. 143:10, David is asking God to teach Him to follow the lead of God’s Spirit. In this day and age when many are talking about the Spirit of God and purporting all manner of ideas about what the Spirit does and does not do, we can become confused. We should not get discouraged, but instead, like David, ask God to teach us how to walk according to God’s Spirit. God will teach us.

Teach Me Good Judgment
In Psalm 119, the psalmist asks God to teach him knowledge and good judgment. Take note that this request comes from faith. God has proven to the psalmist that His commands are reliable guides in life. The psalmist trusts God, so he seeks to know more about God, the ways of God and how he, personally, can exercise good judgment.

Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.”  Psalm 119:66

I have often relied on my own judgement and wisdom, and made unwise choices that have carried consequences to me and others.  God is all wise. He is filled with good will towards me. Why would I not ask God to teach me to have discernment and make good decisions?

Teach Me Integrity in My Inmost Being
David in Psalm 51:6 after an unwise decision that lead David to sin grievously against God, in repentance David asks God to teach him wisdom down deep in his soul.

Indeed,You are pleased with truth in the inner person, and you will teach me wisdom in my innermost parts.” Psalm 51:6

David is asking God to teach him the truths of God down deep in his soul. David is asking God to teach him to have a pure heart, so that in the future it will bring out words, thoughts and actions that will honor God.

The Truth and A Challenge
I have wrestled often with my faith and my character. I have come to know that I cannot change myself. I need God to change me. I need to be humble and ask God to teach me. Here are some of the things I am asking God to teach me:

  • “Teach me Oh God, to fear You.” What does that look like for me in the 21st century and on a daily basis?
  • “Teach me Oh, God, to be humble before God and man.”
  • “Teach me Oh, God, to seek your approval and not man’s.” What does that look like on a day to day basis, especially as I attempt to serve God and others?
  • “Teach me Oh, God, to love You with my whole heart, mind, soul and strength.” Just because I know this command and agree with it does not mean I know how to do this in all the areas of my life.
  • “Teach me Oh. Go, how to have a pure heart, how to be honest and not hypocritical.”

How about you? Has God been showing you something(s) in your life that you need to learn, maybe about: traits in your character, attitudes in your relationships, and /or weaknesses in your faith and relationship with God?

Take some time to reflect on your relationship with God. Ask God to show you your need, and  then ask God to teach you about these things. Go ahead, I dare you! Ask God to teach you! You might be surprised at how God answers.