The Beginning of the End

It’s Christmas! And through all the lights and the gifts, the food and the family celebrations, one thing sets this holiday apart from other holidays.

Thousands and thousands of years ago, immediately following Adam and Eve’s fall into sin, God arrived on the scene and saw what the two had done. The world would be cursed. From that point on their labor would be hard.

When they told God that the devil had deceived them, he turned to Satan, and faced down the ancient serpent. God declared war. He told Satan right then and there that he would send an offspring — a descendant — of Eve to strike him, and deliver a crushing blow to his head.

Satan was not willing to concede defeat. He and his evil angels have fought back ever since then. And many people have lost their souls in this interminable series of counter-attacks against God, and against his Son, the Lamb of God.

But Christmas tells us that the unending war is finally coming to an end. God kept his promise to send an “offspring ” of Eve. As the Magi said, the star indicates that this child is the “the king of the Jews.”

More than that, the tiny baby lying in a manger will be named Jesus — Savior. Years later he will show himself to be not only the king of the Jews, but the victorious Lord of lords and King of kings.

He will triumph over Satan, sin and death itself by dying on a cross, and shedding his infinitely precious and priceless blood. He will be the sinless Lamb of God who offers himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. In this self-sacrificial act, he will redeem us from our sins and win eternal life for all who are his called, chosen and faithful followers.

Christmas. It’s God’s kept promise to us. It’s the beginning of the end for Satan and his allies. It’s merely the first taste of triumph and victory for those of us who are with him by faith, who trust that the baby born in Bethlehem is our Savior and our Lord.

“They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers” (Revelation 17:14, NIV).

Jesus, Lamb of God, today I want to thank you for coming to be my Savior. I am so grateful that you kept the promise made long ago to Adam and Eve, a promise that was made necessary by their sin and mine. But most of all, I need to thank you for coming to triumph over sin, Satan and death. You called me and chose me to follow you. And you keep me in the faith. With you, we enjoy today as the beginning of the end, and the guarantee of our complete victory. Because of you alone, eternal glory is our true and final hope!

Our Bible reading for Friday, December 25, is Nehemiah 3:1 – 4:23, Revelation 17:1-18 and Psalm 147:12-20.

Header image based on "Nativity" by Jeff Weese, CC By 2.0

Setting the Table

Don’t you love observing Jesus’ mother operate?

In John chapter 1, we watched one disciple after another proclaim Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. In John chapter 2, we get to see Jesus’ Mom treat him as one would only treat someone who is her own son, and who is the Son of God as well! She had clearly seen and believed.

The wedding at Cana was not her first rodeo. She already knew exactly what Jesus is capable of, and exactly what his heart for people is.

So she made a simple request. There was a problem. Jesus had both the power and the will to solve it. So Mary took action and “set the table,” so to speak. She instructed the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do. This despite the fact that Jesus tried to tell her he wasn’t likely going to do anything. The timing was not right.

Or maybe it was…

“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 3:1-5, NIV).

Are you ready to set the table for Jesus to do amazing things in your life? I hope so.

Don’t over-think the timing. Because Jesus is just as capable, and just as loving today as he ever was. All we need are the eyes of faith that Mary had, and to be fully convinced that what we believe about Jesus is really real.

Our Bible reading for Friday, May 1, is Joshua 19:1 – 21:19, John 2:1-25, Psalm 54:1-7.

Lord, help me to believe that your power and your love are really real, and that they will have a huge impact in my life. Help me to trust and set the table for you, not worrying about the timing. That part is in your hands, Lord, not mine!

Header image based on "Setting 70" by Didriks, CC By 2.0

Claims of Divinity

Sometimes people who don’t know the Bible very well will make statements like, “Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah. And he certainly never claimed to be the Son of God!”

I guess for me the question boils down to this. What actually constitutes a claim to divinity? If others who know you repeatedly and consistently make the claim for you, and you are aware of this, and yet fail to ever once deny those claims, then is that not the very same thing as making the claim yourself?

In John’s gospel, chapter 1, the apostle John brings up one person after another who recognized Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. They all verbally stated their recognition of this out loud, often with crowds of people around, and Jesus right there in their presence.

Not once does Jesus say, “No, that’s not true. Don’t make those claims about me.”

So, we’re left with only two possibilities. One is that Jesus was a megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur who listened to others verbalize lies and fantastic claims about himself and did nothing to stop it. The other is that Jesus really is the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He truly is the Son of God.

Personally, I am already persuaded the latter is the right conclusion. And I think as you continue to read with me through the Bible, you will become convinced of the same — if you’re not already convinced, that is! Certainly, John the Baptist, Andrew, Philip and Nathanael were persuaded!

“The next day John [the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God,who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me…’ Then John gave this testimony… ‘I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.'”

“The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ).”

“Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.'”

“Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel'” (John 1:29-30, 32a, 34, 41, 45, 49, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Thursday, April 30, is Joshua 17:1 – 18:28, John 1:29-51 and Proverbs 10:31 – 11:8.

Jesus, I am convinced that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, and that you have taken away all my sins. Please re-convince me of this every day. Then give me your Holy Spirit so that I may walk and live with this truth as the core of my being and my purpose every day, bringing glory to you as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Header image based on "crown" by Jason Train, CC By 2.0

Rejected, and Selected

Stone was one of the most common building products of Jesus’ day. So the Jews were quite familiar with building projects made out of stone.

The picture of a rejected stone becoming the cornerstone went straight to their hearts. They got it. They understood that Jesus was pointing the accusing finger at them. They were the “builders” that were rejecting the wrong “stone.”

Sometimes in today’s world people mistakenly think that they can make Jesus real by believing, or unreal by not believing. That philosophy is an unfortunate product of our age.

But as Solomon says, “There’s nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NIV).

Jesus wanted the religious leaders to know that their lack of faith in him could in no way unmake him as the Son of God, or undo his approaching victory as the long-promised Savior.

In fact, all their words and actions were accomplishing the exact opposite. They were simply fulfilling everything that had been foretold for hundreds and hundreds of years about the Messiah.

They were proving that Jesus truly is the Chosen One.

So believe him, or don’t. He is who he says he is.

The Son of God. And your Savior.

Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” (Mark 12:10-11, NIV).

Lord, thank you for coming to save me from my sins. Though my sinful heart is always inclined to reject you, and rebel against you, thank you for not rejecting me. Send me your Spirit so that I trust in you with a simple faith, like a child’s.

Our Bible reading for Tuesday, March 3, is Leviticus 9:1 – 10:20, Mark 11:27 – 12:12 and Psalm 29:1-11.

Header image based on "Crumbling dome" by Carey, CC By-SA 2.0