Today is the Day

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com (1)

Gentle Reader,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JesusHe will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

…Mary was betrothed to Joseph. Before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man,and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.[d] And he called His name Jesus.

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.

– John 1:1-5; Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-20; John 1:14; Isaiah 9:2 (NKJV)

Merry Christmas, dear ones! May you day be filled with great love and laughter.

Signature

Photo Credit: Josh Boot

 

Get the Right Jesus

Gentle Reader,

Good Friday.

The day of the Cross and the crown of thorns and the blood and the, “It is finished.”

A day to consider whether or not you’ve got the right Jesus.

How do you view Him?

He is not simply “a good man” or a “good teacher.” He is not a created being. He is not made up. He is not an illusion of mass-hysteria. Buddha and Mohammed are not equal with Him. He is not the brother of Lucifer. He does not live off on some other plane procreating spirit babies with His many goddess wives. He is not a “different” God in contrast with the God of the Old Testament. You cannot “ascend” through “exaltation” and become Him. His resurrection was not merely “spiritual” or a good philosophical idea. He is not merely a spirit. He did not marry Mary Magdalene.

He did not stay dead. He is not a doormat. He will judge the living and the dead. Those who know Him will live with Him forever. Those who reject Him will be removed from His presence. He is feet of bronze, hair of white, eyes of flame. One word from Him pierces the soul. He shatters all expectations. He does not apologize for being who He is. He created everything and holds that creation together. History is divided by Him and the universe revolves around Him.

All – every last one – will bow before Him.

The King of Kings.

The Lord of Lords.

Do you have the right Jesus?

My journey to faith. (15)

Five Minute Friday: Good

But He was wounded for our

Gentle Reader,

Stepping into the soberness of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday with my beloved brothers and sisters of the Five Minute Friday crew. Gracious Kate provides the space. We contemplate: good.

Go.

By no means do I consider myself a poet of any real skill. Nevertheless, this week’s prompt called to mind the following words I wrote years ago:

The Death That Should Be”

The blows to

Strike me down

Knocked my Lord

Upon the crown

The insult designed

To hurt

Threw God upon

The dirt

The streets that

Ran red

Came from Him

Instead

The blackness,

A terror

Enveloped Him,

But no error

The death that

Should be – me

Rather experienced

By He

The pain, the loss,

The separation

All our inglorious

Damnation

Heaped upon

The One

Who created

Shining sun

Who calms the

Storm

Comforts

Forlorn

Struck fire on

Mt. Carmel

Every day –

A marvel

The Lord, the God,

The Master

Replacing me in

This disaster

Do I even

Really know?

What it would mean

To take such blow?

I think I have

No comprehension

Of this Heavenly

Condescension

How can it work

That I am free?

From the death

That should be me?

Stop.

Thank you, Jesus.

My journey to faith. (15)

The Jesus for All

Gentle Reader,

What follows is a little composition that I wrote for school today. I’ve always loved the Gospel of Luke, mostly because of its anally chronological and detailed nature. In giving this account deeper consideration, however, I have come to see that Luke offers a lot more than just a reliable timeline. To my knowledge, he was the only Gentile author in the entire New Testament. He saw something in this Jewish Messiah, this light that burned for all the nations. It changed him, made him part of a long and lasting faith-tradition, both within and without Judaism. This Jewish Messiah? He was not just for the Jews.

Week Three Discussion Question: Choose one of the Gospels, using Blomberg’s analysis summarize that particular Gospel’s portrait of Jesus and the important features of this Gospel. What should we learn from this portrait of Jesus and from the important features of this Gospel?

* * * * * * * *

In Genesis 12, the Lord tells Abram to get out of his native city and travel to an unknown land that would be revealed in His timing. This startling command was not without promises of blessing, however, and couched within those promises is this key statement: “. . .all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 1 The story that follows is generally familiar to Jewish and Christian people alike; what may not be so familiar is the deep significance of the idea “all peoples.”

This is the main thrust of the Luke’s Gospel. Luke, as a Gentile, provides a unique “outsider” portrait of Jesus. He “attaches. . .Jesus’ career [to] the events of secular history. . .Jesus is a ‘light. . .to the Gentiles’. . .” 2 Differing from Mark and Matthew, who each placed Jesus’ genealogy specifically within a Jewish context, Luke’s genealogy reaches back “to Adam, father of the whole human race, and ultimately to God Himself.” 3 Not only does Luke draw a portrait of Jesus as the Gentile Savior, he also pays special attention to Jesus’ interactions with social outcasts and with women. 4 This is the infinitely relatable Jesus, still the God-Man, but a God and a Man who will reach out to anyone.

While John’s Gospel is particularly concerned with establishing the divinity of Jesus, 5 Luke’s emphasis lies in Jesus’ as a human, again “in His association with and compassion for numerous categories of social outcasts.” 6 Only Luke records the parable of the Good Samaritan; pays particular attention to Jesus interacting with tax collectors (collaborators with Roman oppressors) and sinners (those who definitely thumbed their noses at Jewish laws and conventions); discusses Jesus’ numerous encounters with women; shows Jesus’ concern for the poor and oppressed. 7 (This doesn’t mean that the other Gospel authors were unconcerned with these aspects of Jesus’ life, but only that Luke was inspired to write the story of Jesus from this angle). Other unique emphases in Luke’s Gospel are found in Jesus as Savior, prophet and teacher of parables. 8

From this special portrait of Jesus flow several dominate themes. Linked to Jesus’ concern for the poor comes teaching on proper stewardship of material goods. 9 The role of the Holy Spirit in enabling believers for such righteous living becomes a major factor 10. From this comes teaching on “the Holy Spirit[‘s] empower[ment] of Jesus and His followers. . .[for] prayer. . .joy. . .[and] God’s wooing us back to Himself [through] repentance and conversion.” 11 Perhaps most crucial for believers today in Luke’s record of early Christian history 12 is his concern with showing Jesus’ as the fulfillment of all Messianic hope within Judaism; therefore, a “law-free Christianity was the desired goal to which God was ultimately guiding first-century events,” 13 thus rendering the ritual laws of Old Testament worship null and void. (It is important to note, however, that “Jesus. . .excerpts some Old Testament laws, giving them new applicability. . .redefining them in terms of love for neighbor rather than simply as prohibitions to be ‘kept’.” 14 Thus, the ethical laws of the Old Covenant are carried over into the New.)

What is to be gleaned from all this? Perhaps Luke himself sums it up best in this opening question of one of Jesus’ parables: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” 15 While this verse has meaning on many levels, its greatest applicability for today’s believers lies in the idea of the Gentile world being that lost sheep. Though Jesus came and lived in a Jewish context, He did not turn a blind eye to all others. His salvation was (and is) available to everyone who places belief in and  stands upon His grace.

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References:

1 Gen. 12:3b.

2 Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 210.

3 Ibid, 210.

4 Ibid, 210.

5 Blomberg, Craig L. Jesus and the Gospels: an Introduction and Survey. (Nasvhille: B&H Publishing, 2009), 186.

6 Ibid, 163.

7 Ibid, 164-165.

8 Ibid, 165.

9 Ibid, 166.

10 Ibid, 169.

11 Ibid, 169-170.

12 Ibid, 167.

13 Ibid, 168.

14 Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003),168.

15 Lk. 15:4.