Looking ahead, what will life be like for Christians who are committed to living according to God’s Word? What will it be like in 2021? 2025? If you expect my next sentence to tell you to vote for candidate X (lest you lose your religious freedom) or candidate Y (lest you ignore biblical principles of justice), you’ve stepped into the wrong church (or tuned into the wrong livestream) today. The proper role of the pulpit is to say “thus says the Lord,” and to help God’s people understand what that Word says about various issues—but it is not to give you specific instructions on how to vote. As Jesus in Matthew 10:17–31 tells his disciples what to expect as he sends them out, you and I can learn something of what he expects of us, his followers today. Whatever the outcome of the US election, and wherever in the world you live, expect suffering.Continue reading “Not Greater than Your Master”
Pray for Compassionate Laborers
Why is the clinic in Karamojo called Akisyon A Yesu Clinic? It means the Compassion of Jesus Clinic. In Matthew 9:35–38 you see the compassion that Jesus exhibits.
See Christ’s Messianic compassion. The crowds are harassed and helpless. The location apparently continues to be Galilee. His ministry includes teaching, preaching the good news, and performing miracles of healing. The crowds which followed him were weary and scattered. Some may have come simply out of curiosity. Others came with a desperate need for healing, either for themselves or their loved ones. (That illness was a result of the curse.) Still others came to listen to the good news he proclaimed. Their spiritual condition reflected on their leaders. The scribes, Pharisees, and priests should have been serving as shepherds, leading the people to the Messiah. Instead, they attribute his work to Satan, verse 34, an antagonism that would culminate in their crucifying him. The leaders belonged under the denunciation of Ezekiel 34. You live in a world with a similar hopelessness. The materialism and hedonism of western culture leaves people without roots. See the people around you as your Lord saw the crowds in his day.Continue reading “Pray for Compassionate Laborers”
Nothing Like This!
Very unique is an oxymoron. Jesus’ contemporaries recognized him as unique. Matthew 9:27–34 presents him to you as the unique one in whom you can place your trust.
Recognize Jesus as your Messianic King. Jesus is the Son of David. Two blind men follow Jesus pleading in their loud voices for pity from “the Son of David.” The term was a Messianic one. Perhaps that is why Jesus, who usually responded to requests for healing, did not stop and heal in the street. To do so might have encouraged the political and nationalistic notions which attached to the term. Nevertheless, as Matthew quotes their use of the title, he wants you to recognize that Jesus is indeed the Son of David (see Matthew 1:1). He is the great Messiah. Jesus’ strict warning to the healed men to keep quiet about the event may well have been to avoid the raising of the popular national notions of the Messiah. Jesus does restore sight. Restoration of sight had been prophesied as part of the work of the coming Messiah, see Psalm 146:8; Isaiah 35:5; 42:7. No miracles of restoration of sight to the blind are recorded in the Old Testament. In Christ’s ministry, where the nature of healing is specified, restoring of sight to the blind is the most frequently mentioned. And the miracle does not recur after the ascension of Jesus (the restoration in Damascus of Saul’s temporary blindness is of a different order). After asking the blind men, who had followed him into the house, about their faith, Jesus touched their eyes (a significant communication with those who are sightless) and their vision was restored. Then, as he leaves, Jesus casts the demon out of a man who was mute, and he spoke, verse 32. While certainly not all physical illness was the result of demonic activity, this one was. And illness and suffering are consequences of the Fall. Jesus reveals himself again as the sovereign Lord, even over the forces of Satan. “[Jesus’ miracles] all prove that Satan’s power has been broken and that, therefore, the kingdom has come.” “A miracle, as much as preaching, in the sense of being a revelation of the kingdom of God, is a confrontation which necessitates a decision: for or against Jesus as the victor of the Evil one and the Beraer of the Spirit of God” (Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom, pages 66–67, 70).Continue reading “Nothing Like This!”
The Lord over Disease and Death
According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 4,990,000 people in the US have been or are ill with COVID-19, and over 162,000 have died. I know that figures are disputed and are used as a political football by more than one side. But, undeniably, many people have become ill, and many have died. While I hope not contract the SARS virus, I do know that, unless the Lord returns first, sickness and death lie in my future, and I expect in your as well. How do we, who belong to Jesus Christ, respond in the face of illness and death? Matthew 9:18–26 shows you Jesus as the Lord over disease and death.Continue reading “The Lord over Disease and Death”
Live as God’s Household
Whom do you count as your family? In 1 Timothy 3:14–15 Paul describes you as the family, the household of God.
Live as God’s household. God has built his house for you. Ultimately, God builds his house for us, rather than us building for him. As the Lord told David, it is not we who build his house, but he makes us his household. The church is build on the redemptive work of Christ, on the events of his humiliation and exaltation described in v. 16. The household of God is wonderful, not in itself, but because of its wonderful Savior. Paul, as always, points you to Christ. In Christ, particularly in his humiliation and exaltation, you understand and experience the mystery of godliness. Paul likely quotes an old hymn, the quote consisting of three pairs of contrasting statements: revealed in the flesh, preached among the nations, believed on in the world; justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, taken up in glory. “The eradication of death in his [Christ’s] resurrection is nothing less than the removal of the verdict of condemnation and the effective affirmation of his (adamic) righteousness.” (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., The Centrality of the Resurrection: A Study in Paul’s Soteriology, p. 122). You are baptized into the triune God. You are united to Christ in his death and resurrection. That is how God makes you his household.Continue reading “Live as God’s Household”