The Good News about Jesus

What are the barriers that stand between you and God? Luke’s account of the Ethiopian official in Acts 8:26-40 shows you God breaking down barriers with resulting joy at the good news about Jesus.

God brings the ends of the earth to himself. The Holy Spirit is at work. An angel of the Lord sent Philip to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. Acts describes barriers falling. Acts 8 begins with scattered Christians fleeing persecution bringing the good news to the Samaritans, who had corrupted the worship of the true God. Philip’s initial preaching there is confirmed by an apostolic visit. Now God sends Philip to the south of the land of God’s people, on the road to Gaza, one of the five cities of the Philistines. A bigger barrier is about to fall as Philip is instructed by the Spirit to approach the chariot of an Ethiopian official traveling home from a visit to Jerusalem. The Spirit’s work Continue reading “The Good News about Jesus”

Made Alive in Christ

Why is the resurrection of Jesus Christ important? To show that he is truly divine? Yes, that’s important. But what Paul emphasizes in 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, is that the Christ is raised as man!

Jesus was raised as the firstfruits. You need the resurrection of Christ because of the sin of the first Adam. Mankind sinned and fell in Adam, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22. The idea of firstfruits includes the concept of representation. Here, and in verses 45-49 as well as Romans 5, Paul emphasizes the role of Adam. He was your Continue reading “Made Alive in Christ”

Judgment on a Fig Tree and on the Temple

Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree in Mark 11:12-25 is his one “destructive” miracle, and, understandably, many have found it troubling.

If you are fruitless, you will be fruitless. Jesus came, he saw, he left. Verse 11 seems anticlimactic at the end of the Triumphal Entry. It serves as a transition drawing your attention to the action to follow. It points you to the Judge. Notice how Mark embeds the cleansing of the temple in the account of the judgment on the fig tree. Appreciate Mark’s time markers.

This miracle warns of God’s righteous judgment. This miracle is unusual in that it is a miracle of judgement or cursing. Most of Jesus’ miracles were beneficial, merciful acts. You dare not ignore Jesus as Judge. Don’t make him over in your own image. The withering of the fig tree is a visual warning to an unfaithful nation, to an unbelieving covenant people. Instead of being an arbitrary, unreasonable act, it is a visible sign of the state of the covenant people. The leaves were promising, but the tree was without fruit. It is judgment in visible form. “The withering of the fig tree . . . is a prophecy of the judgment that would overtake Israel on account of its barrenness. Viewed in this light this miracle is the counterpart of the saving miracles, and occupies an organic place in the scope of the preaching of the kingdom and in the totality of Jesus’ miracles.” (Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom, pp. 68-69).

God expects you to be fruitful. Old Testament Israel was warned Continue reading “Judgment on a Fig Tree and on the Temple”