You're not the first to complain! Sorry, I've been busy preaching most weekends and elders' conferences and....
this thread is my first love so I will be back. promise..
| 2004/10/5 17:28||Profile|
You're not the first to complain! Sorry, I've been busy preaching most weekends and elders' conferences and....
this thread is my first love so I will be back. promise..
So...? How's it going? I'm waiting, almost patiently... ;-) Honestly, I'd love to read the rest. Any recommended reading in the meanwhile?
| 2004/12/4 6:35||Profile|
| JUst a smidgen of encouragement|
I was just reading thru Chapter 6, that is really nice scholarship, and great writing. Christian perfection has always been a topic thats been dear to my soul and I never really picked up on this thread. Is there an outlet to buy your books?
| 2004/12/4 12:59|
| Re: JUst a smidgen of encouragement|
Is there an outlet to buy your books?
At the moment we have a bottleneck called 'me'. I am longing to get back to this but I had a busy summer and then distractions. My books only exist in my mind at present although Greg and I have been talking about them.
| 2004/12/4 13:23||Profile|
When I read about your "bottleneck", I laughed as I am all too familiar with this affliction. I have a play to write, and God has told me to get busy...and then comes "me".
Brother, my prayer is that the Father of all speak to us, and endow us with the necessary creative impetus to complete these works.
| 2004/12/4 15:46|
| Re: Laughter!|
My wife read this Spurgeon devotional to me the other morning.
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do," refers to works that are possible. There are many things which our heart findeth to do which we never shall do. It is well it is in our heart; but if we would be eminently useful, we must not be content with forming schemes in our heart, and talking of them; we must practically carry out "whatsoever our hand findeth to do." One good deed is more worth than a thousand brilliant theories. Let us not wait for large opportunities, or for a different kind of work, but do just the things we "find to do" day by day. We have no other time in which to live. The past is gone; the future has not arrived; we never shall have any time but time present. Then do not wait until your experience has ripened into maturity before you attempt to serve God.
Endeavour now to bring forth fruit. Serve God now, but be careful as to the way in which you perform what you find to do--"do it with thy might." Do it promptly; do not fritter away your life in thinking of what you intend to do to-morrow as if that could recompense for the idleness of to-day. [u]No man ever served God by doing things to-morrow.[/u] If we honour Christ and are blessed, it is by the things which we do to-day. Whatever you do for Christ throw your whole soul into it. Do not give Christ a little slurred labour, done as a matter of course now and then; but when you do serve Him, do it with heart, and soul, and strength.
But where is the might of a Christian? It is not in himself, for he is perfect weakness. His might lieth in the Lord of Hosts. Then let us seek His help; let us proceed with prayer and faith, and when we have done what our "hand findeth to do," let us wait upon the Lord for His blessing. What we do thus will be well done, and will not fail in its effect.
| 2004/12/5 4:01||Profile|
| Thank You|
for that word, my brother. "perfect weakness" HalleLuYah! Our weakness is there for God to show His Glory and Strength.
| 2004/12/6 19:34|
| Section II: The Remedy|
Setting the Stage
Luke is the main historian of the New Testament. He carefully date-stamps the beginnings of Johns work in water baptism by putting it [i]in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontus Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Itrurea and the region of Trachonitus and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene.[/i]1 Caesar Augustus died in AD 14 but Tiberius Caesar was associated with him for the last two years of his reign; this gives us a date of AD 26 for Lukes account of John Baptists ministry.
Paul gives a different kind of time scale. In the passage where he had described Israels years of waiting for the Seed to come He refers to the coming future moment as the [i]time appointed by the father.[/i] And then with a note of triumph he declares [i]when the fulness of the time had come God sent forth his Son.[/i]2 His word for fulness was a word used of a ship being fully manned and ready for sailing, as the English would says a full ships complement. We might even paraphrase it very loosely by saying [i]when everything was completely ready God launched his Son.[/i]
The coming of Christ was not the result of a sudden impulse on the part of the Godhead, but a perfectly synchronized and perfectly executed keeping of an [i]appointment[/i] On the natural level we can see how the political events of the past centuries had prepared the Mediterranean world for the coming of the Truth. The momentous changes that over hundreds of years would disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands were all the preparations for historys central event. The stage was being set
On the level of language the conquests of Alexander the Great, three hundred years earlier, had spread Greek culture from Greece to India. In the Finns3 are the snow-specialists and the Hebrews are the sin-specialists then the Greeks were the thinking-specialists. They had numerous words for thought processes which gave the possibility of great exactness to communication; they were the idealists of the ancient world. Their philosophers and their philosophies still hold a place of honour in western universities. Their language developed in such a way that its prepositions, for example, could have an almost mathematical precision. Greek commerce (they were great sailors) had consolidated their cultural base around the borders of the Mediterranean. The stage was being set
Greek ideas filtered into Judaism sometimes to advantage and sometimes not. The people of the Old Covenant who spread throughout the Mediterranean became more at home in Greek than in Hebrew and a Greek translation of their sacred scriptures was produced.4 This is turn, gave non-Hebrews the opportunity to learn about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and to consider the moral codes of Judaism. This version of the Bible was later to become one of the most powerful weapons in the early spread of Christianity. The stage was being set
This Greek culture mind-set was taken up by the Roman empire which followed Alexanders and proved a lingua-franca of thoughts and ideas for western Europe.5 The Romans who later annexed the broken remnants of Alexanders successors also added their own contribution. The Romans were the law-specialists. Its codification, its application and its enforcement were all part of the lasting consequence of the Roman Empire. Their army operated not only as frightening machine of conquest but as an international police force.
The Romans cleared the Mediterranean of pirates. They established a system of roads to speed their armies from one location to another. In Britain there were better roads in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD under the Romans than in the 18th century! A network of roads spread from Rome to the Persian Gulf to North Africa, to the whole of Western Europe including most of Britain. Their shipping routes and road network expedited the itinerant preachers of the gospel and gave them a measure of safety. The Roman [i]Pax Romana[/i] was harsh, but it was peace. The stage was being set
On the inner frontiers too the time was ripe. Greek philosophies might gratify the mind but they could never warm the heart. Much Greek philosophy was highly speculative but a consensus had been reached that the physical world and the body in particular was essentially evil. Being evil it must be restrained. In some ways philosophies were a reaction against the puerile and amoral antics of the Greek gods. The high moral ground of Judaism was an attraction to many at this time. Some converted and became thorough going Jewish proselytes, and some merely became fellow-travellers known as God fearers.
The emotional vacuum began to be filled with designer-religions from the east where rationality had no part at all. They are known as the Mystery Religions and have been described as [i]coming from the East these Oriental systems had over centuries first seeped into, then flooded the Empire. Spiritistic in origin; bizarre in method; immoral in manner of life; fanatical in demands; grotesque in ritual; degrading in effect, they shocked their way into the Roman world.[/i] 6 In terms of true spirituality these religions were bankrupt from their beginnings, but initiation rites supplied a sense of belonging. The stage was being set
The heathen world was ripe for the gospel. It is remarkable how different but similar our current world is to those days. Again we have the sterile philosophical speculations of secular humanism and the bizarre practices of New Age religion. Again we have possibilities of communication on a level never before available. These, too, are days of unprecedented opportunities for the spread of the Truth.
Among the people of the Old Covenant two things were poised for a unique purpose. Synagogue worship probably began in the time of the Babylonion exile. It has bee said that [i]Nebuchadnezzars battering rams breached Israels theology.[/i] When Jerusalem fell in 587 BC Israels destiny seemed to be ruined beyond any hope of repair. Davids dynasty and all the promises that surrounded it seemed lost in the exile and humiliation of Judahs last monarch, Zedekiah.7 Their sacrosanct son of David, their sacrosanct city and their sacrosanct temple and priesthood disappeared in wall of flame. Every national symbol of their faith perished in that conflagration.
Beyond consolation, they mourned their loss by the rivers of Babylon.8 But the rivers of Babylon were the scene for new beginnings too. Separated from the territorial distractions of their promised land they began a Judaism which was no longer dependent upon priest and temple; the Judaism of the synagogues. Its key workers were no longer the priests but the scribes and lawyers. It became bible-based rather than temple-based.
The Babylonian captivity was also a watershed for the development of the Diaspora; the scattered ones.9 The people of the Old Covenant spread throughout the known world and wherever they settled they formed synagogues. 10 One legend has it that there were 394 synagogues in Jerusalem alone when Titus destroyed it in AD 70. And the vast majority of Jews lived outside their promised land. [i]Between 73 & 581 BC there were six distinct deportations of the Israelites, and more fled voluntarily into Egypt and other parts of the Near East. From this time onwards, a majority of Jews would always live outside the Promised Land.[/i]11
It may be difficult for the modern reader to appreciate the size of the Diaspora. [i]One calculation is that during the Herodian period there were about eight million Jews in the world, of whom, 2,350,000 to 2,500,000 lived in Palestine, the Jews thus constituted about 10% of the Roman Empire.[/i]12 And wherever they settled they formed their synagogues. Synagogues which were witnesses to Gods earlier revelation to Moses.
When James the apostle had addressed the conference in Jerusalem he had been most mindful of this Jewish presence and witness throughout the world. It was with these in mind and the numerous proselytes and God-fearers that the early Christians subscribed, for loves sake, to some simple prohibitions of diet. James had made the point very clearly in his address. [i]For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in the synagogues every Sabbath.[/i]13
These synagogue communities constituted not only a potentially fruitful mission field for the gospel, but a rich network of contacts and associations throughout the Mediterranean area. Not only mission fields but mission bases from which the gospel might have spread like a prairie fire. As a mission strategy it was perfect. Wherever seekers were seeking the synagogue was the perfect starting point. Spiritual pilgrims, at whatever point in their pilgrimage, had access to those who were preaching Moses and pointing to the true God. It is no accident that the synagogue or its equivalent was always Pauls first point of contact.14 The stage was being set
There is a time gap of almost 430 years between the prophecy of Malachi and the events of Lukes histories. During this time there was, no doubt, much setting of the stage. It was during this time that the synagogues grew to such importance. It was during this time that the empires of Alexander and his successors rose and fell. It was during this time that the bloody wars of the Maccabees were fought. It was during this time that the empire of Rome rose to prominence. The stage had received most of its final preparations during this time and yet there had been a strange omission. The spirit of prophecy seemed to have died out. These were the silent years. The length of the gap is not insignificant. For a third of its history the people of the Covenant had been without a Spirit-inspired messenger.
There are four messengers in the book of Malachi; the last book of the Old Testament. The name Malachi means messenger, so he is the first. Israel, the priest-nation was to have been the messenger (Mal 2:7) Then in the last two chapters we are introduced to two more messengers. There is one called my messenger (Mal 3:1) whose work is to prepare the way for the fourth and final messenger. The final messenger is described as the Lord
the messenger of the covenant. (Mal 3:1)
For four hundred years they waited. The super-powers of those centuries ebbed and flowed in their control of the promised land. The people of God waited. Their hopes flamed and died away again as their nationalistic heroes began a new golden age that quickly degenerated into a sordid power struggle. They waited
False Messiahs came with their promises awakening hopes of deliverance which all [i]came to nothing[/i].15 And still they waited.
Some of those who waited are known to us by name. Simeon was one who was [i]waiting for the consolation of Israel[/i]. Anna too knew of those who were [i]waiting for redemption[/i], and was quick to tell them the news of what she had witnessed.16 Perhaps many had given up hoping, but there were those like Abraham before them who [i]contrary to hope, in hope believed.[/i] For perhaps close on 15 centuries the people had boasted a special relationship with God, and for the last four centuries He had had nothing to say to them. All natural optimism must surely have been long dead. But this too, is just the setting of the stage
Suddenly, without any apparent warning, there comes a flurry of Holy Spirit activity. In clear preparation for some powerful new initiative from God there is often an unmistakable preparation; [i]the Spirit of God fluttering on the face of the waters.[/i]17 An angel interrupts a solemn temple service with a promise of the soon arrival of a Spirit-filled messenger to be born to the aged wife of a aged priest.18 Six months later the same angel visits a young teenager with the message that the Spirit is about to effect unheard-of miracles within her virgin body.19
In the moment that the two potential mothers meet, the older woman is filled with the Holy Spirit; a phenomenon not recorded for the previous 400 years! Three months later her aged husband, the priest, experiences the same phenomenon.20 And an angel visits the virgins betrothed husband, and soon shepherds see the skies filled with angel warriors.21
The sense of anticipation grows. The final preparations are being completed. The stage is set. The fulness of the time has come.
the dayspring from on high has visited us
there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.23
When the fulness of the time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman
1. Luke 3:1
2. Galatians 4:2,4
3. See Chapter 1
4. The Septuagint, often referred to simply by the Roman numerals LXX.
5. [i]Captive Greece took Rome captive:[/i] Horace
6. H Brash Bonsall
7. 2 Kings 24:17-25:7
8. Psalm 137
9. The Disapora are the people referred to in John 7:35. Jews living outside the land of Israel.
10. Acts 13:5,14; 14:1; 17:10
11. A History of the Jews: Paul Johnson.
12. Encyclopaedia Judaica xiii 871
13. Acts 15:21
14. Acts 16:13
15. Acts 5:36,37
16. Luke 2:25,38
17. Gen 1:2 Youngs Literal Translation
18. Luke 1:11-17
19. Luke 1:26-37
20. Luke 1:67
21. Matt 1:18-24
22. Luke 1:78
23. Luke 2:11
24. Gal 4:4
| 2005/1/12 9:37||Profile|
| Re: Section II: The Remedy|
The life story of Jesus of Nazareth is a thrilling demonstration of One who came, not to please Himself, but His Father. Johns account, in particular, is full of expressions which show Him to be on course and in perfect synchronisation with His Fathers will. He lived in the conscious approval of His Father and all His teachings and signs demonstrated it. We cannot linger on this wonderful story however; we have an appointment with a unique moment in history. Johns account of Jesus life has another feature; Jesus was conscious that His life was leading inevitably to His death. This death would not just be a natural consequence of ageing, or of circumstances which overwhelmed Him. His death would be the culmination of His life. Uniquely, this man was born to die.
Military campaigns often demand pin-point timing. Synchronise your watches is a key scene from many a war film. In general terms the stage was now set, but there would need to be perfect synchronisation of events. Christs appointment with His destiny was no approximation but timed to the very second.
John records a series of progress points, and reveals the element of truth. At the very beginning of His public ministry a domestic emergency arose. His attention was drawn to the fact by His mother who clearly intends His intervention. It was at a wedding celebration and there would have been considerable disgrace for the family if the situation had become more widely known. Mary addresses her observation and request to Him personally. [i]They have no wine.[/i]1 At this point there had been no public display of special powers, and it is interesting to wonder what Mary had in mind when she raised the issue.
Christs response is surprising in its apparent abruptness, although it is not as stark as it appears in our English translations. [i]Woman, what does your concern have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.[/i] We sometimes say of an individual that he marches to the sound of a different drum; Christ was such an individual. He said so Himself using somewhat different words; [i]I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.[/i]2 Before His public acknowledge as the Fathers Son, Jesus was content to submit Himself to the authority of His mother and adopted father but from the time of His baptism in the Jordan, He never again submitted to Mary. He could do only what His Father authorized.
His hour had not yet arrived. What hour? Here was an opportunity for Him to display His Messianic authority. Moses had provided food in the wilderness why not Jesus at a wedding? However, when He provided for this needy family He did so in a way so discrete that only the servants and His immediate followers knew what had happened.3 There were many aspects to Christs vocation, but the full scope of His Messianic role would be seen later. Above all others there was one supreme task to accomplish. One time which above all others would be [i]His hour[/i].
Johns account of things keeps this truth at the forefront of things. Neither Satan nor men could hurry that hour, although they certainly tried on more than one occasion.4 His teaching continued, as did the miracles accomplished under His Fathers instruction, but it seems as though He always had His eye on another [i]hour[/i].
One of His acts of power is a special point of time reference in this gospel. The feeding of the 5000 is the only one of His miracles recorded in all four accounts.5 Many Bible students feel that part of the reason for this is what is known as the Caesarea Philippi Confession of Faith. This was the time when Peter (and perhaps the others too) received a heavenly revelation of who Jesus of Nazareth really was. It was a true watershed. From this point the disciples knew clearly who He was, but they were not nearly so clear about what He had come to do.
The feeding of the 5000 was, without doubt, a spectacularly public display of power. John records the immediate response of some who experienced the miracle personally. Their response was to try to start a revolution. Our mental pictures of [i]The Holy Land[/i] are usually of quiet country scenes with gently grazing sheep and the steady rhythms of an agricultural society. These were not the mental pictures of the Roman Legionaries who found themselves stationed in this seething hotbed of passionate nationalism.
The earthly lifespan of Jesus Christ was lived out in a country under enemy occupation with numerous terrorist groups committed to national liberation. [i]The most violent group were referred to by the Romans occupation forces as the Sicarri; they carried hidden daggers and used to assassinate Jewish collaborators, especially in the crowds at festival times. This was merely, however, the ultra-violent terrorist fringe of a movement who called themselves Zealots.[/i]6 One of Christs own disciples had been a Zealot, and it is possible that the term Iscariot is derived from [i]Sicarri[/i]. Perhaps this is why Matthew (an ex tax-gatherer and hence collaborator) groups them together as [i]Simon the Zealot and Judas the Assassin.[/i]7
Imagine the scene; a popular orator who could now become the front-man for a national uprising. Thousands of potential revolutionaries on a hillside eating out of his hand. Too good an opportunity to miss. Some activists refusing to take no for an answer determined to [i]take Him by force to make Him king.[/i]8 But this was not His way, and this was not His hour. This was not His vocation. He acted promptly, removing his disciples from the danger zone and climbing the hill alone to receive fresh orders.9
It was in the shadow of these events that Jesus asked who do the crowds say that I am? Peters answer is unequivocal, [i]Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God.[/i]10 No sooner is this revelation established in Peters understanding than Christs thoughts turn to the significance of the role. His thoughts turn immediately to [i]His hour[/i]; He must go to Jerusalem, He must suffer, He must be killed, He must rise again.11 Peter protested and received the strongest possible rebuke. There could be no compromise on this issue. He was heading towards [i]His hour[/i] and Peters misplaced compassion could not be allowed to hinder Him.
As events unfold the consciousness is of His appointment with [i]the hour[/i] The arrival and request of the non-Jews or Helenists provokes an awareness that the time has arrived. His soul is troubled but He knows that the whole purpose of His incarnation was to keep this appointment. It was in the consciousness of this imminent hours ultimate stripping of all His rights, that He stripped to the waist and acted out the role of the servant. It was with a supreme consciousness of [i]the hour[/i] having arrived that He prayed the great prayer of personal consecration; which could only ever be accomplished by the works of [i]the hour[/i].12 The repetition of the phrase is like the tolling of a great bell; [i]the hour is coming[/i] Mark records some of the words spoken in Gethsemene on the night of the betrayal. To the sleepy disciples He says [i]Are you still sleeping and resting. It is enough! The hour has come![/i]13
But other events were reaching their climax too, in an amazing synchronisation. Lukes gospel adds another dimension to these momentous events. Those who arrived to arrest Him heard these extraordinary words; [i]when I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.[/i] The New International Version senses the mood in its freer translation; [i]Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on Me. But this is your hour when darkness reigns.[/i]14
Satans and mankinds wickedness has always had a restraint upon it. Although almost unbelievable evil had been seen in our world, the full force of a murderous malice aimed at God Himself had hardly been seen. For generations mankind had been able to hide behind the protest of an independent spirit; [i]we will not have this man to reign over us[/i]15 The prophet Isaiah caught this refusal to submit to Gods reign when He records mysterious details of the original rebellion;
[i]I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthert sides of the north;l
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.[/i]16 In this form of expression the rebellion is a bid for equality; [i]I will be like the Most High[/i], but as all restraint is removed in this cosmic conflict the expression takes on an unmistakable form; [i]Crucify Him![/i]17 There is no hiding behind some kind of mutual co-existence now. The treacherous secret is out in the open. There never could have been two supreme beings in the universe; the nature of the usurper is clearly revealed; he intends [i]to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.[/i]18
Calvary then was a battlefield where two mighty combatants were to meet. This was both [i]My hour[/i] and [i]your hour[/i]. A terrifying synchronisation of love and hate in all their full measure. The hour in which Evil and Good met is at the centre of the universe. A meeting in which one pretended to equality with God and who in this moment reaches out to take his prize, and One [i] who existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, yea, the death of the cross.[/i]19
The cross was a demonstration. On the one hand it was an hour in which [i]God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.[/i]20 On the other hand is wa an hour which demonstrated the workings of the darkest powers in the universe, in the attempted murder of God. It is a synchronisation beyond human comprehension of Gods carefully planned intention and foreknowledge, and the creatures red-handed guilt. An old Charles Wesley hymn expressed a grateful wonder;Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?21 These are mysteries too profound for ordinary human words. God, however, has had a means of expressing something of the depths of these sufferings. The Bible itself tells us that Christs own Spirit has testified to His own sufferings. This testimony was heard in the heart of prophets and is the source of much of their revelation.22 King David was such a prophet, and Psalm 22 is that kind of prophecy. It is an amazing song written a thousand years before [i]the hour[/i], but recounts in powerful imagery the events of [i]the hour[/i]. This psalm was not directly Davids testimony. Davids hands and feet were never pierced, not did men cast lots for his clothing. This is [i]the testimony of Jesus[/i] which is [i]the spirit of prophecy[/i].23 It first words reveal its real author; [i]My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?[/i]24
If it is at all possible, read it now, down to verse 21. Its subtitle is the hind of the dawn and the imagery is of a young deer hunted to exhaustion. Its atmosphere is heavy and brooding. It is Calvarys cry of dereliction. It is prayer of One who in His identification with the human race in all its ruin is now [i]a worm, and no man.[/i] He is quite alone; there is [i]none to help[/i]. Alone, that is, except for His prowling enemies. He is impaled upon the [i]horns of the wild oxen;[/i] this animal is almost certainly the now extinct great auroch. These were animals of prodigious and awesome strength and probably the most powerful animal known to those regions. In Bible idiom horn is very often the symbol of power. The symbolism of Psalm 22 has its victim finally impaled on the horns of this terrible power.
There is a mystery within a mystery here. Ancient Israels laws were very explicit. If an ox gored to death a common slave compensation had to be paid to the slaves owner. The price was fixed for all generations; thirty pieces of silver.25 This fixed price may well have been in Matthews thoughts as he recorded Judas betrayal. Quoting from the prophecies of Jeremiah and Zechariah; [i]They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel.26[/i] Thirty pieces of silver; the compensation price for a slave who had been gored to death by an ox.
Lets return to our reading of Psalm 22. There is a point in the psalm where the whole atmosphere changes. It is half way through a verse in most modern translations, but Bible chapters and verse breaks are very arbitrary things. The New King James version format of the verses will help to make the point;[i]Deliver me from the sword, My precious (life) from the power of the dog.
Save me from the lions mouth
And from the horns of the wild oxen.
You have answered me.
I will declare your name to my brethren;
In the midst of the congregation I will praise you.[/i]27
The translators have done us a real service here. Psalm 22 has two quite separate sections with two entirely different atmospheres, and the change comes with the conviction that the prayers of the first section have been heard and answered; [i]You have answered me[/i]28 Later in the psalm the writer records [i]when he cried unto him, he heard. My praise shall be of you in the great congregation.[/i]29 In the second half of the psalm He is no longer alone. He knows that His prayer is heard and He looks forward with absolute certainty to the joys set before Him in the fellowship of His church (the great congregation). It is the familiar pattern of so much Old Testament prophecy; the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.[/i]30
Understood in this way the psalm becomes a commentary on a passage in the letter to the Hebrews. [i]who in the days of his flesh, having offered up both supplications and entreaties to him who was able to save him out of death, with strong crying and tears; (and having been heard because of his piety)[/i]31
In the gospel account all these invisible mysteries are hidden from the natural eyes, but the moment of conviction that the work was accomplished rings through loud and clear; [i]it is finished[/i].32 He had spoken of His death as a baptism which must be accomplished; using the same word.33 Now emerging from His baptism, while still on the horns of the wild oxen, we hear the victors triumphal shout; it is finished, it is accomplished, it is done! In one place, at one time, in the history of all creation evil in all its power and love in all its power kept their divine appointment, and the battle won. The appointment with [i]the hour[/i] has been kept, and the Mission Accomplished.
1. John 2:1-11
2. John 5:19 New International Version
3. John 2:9,11
4. John 7:38; 8:20.
5. Matt 14:13-21; Mark 6:33-44; Luke 9:11-17; John 6:2-14
6. A History of the Jews; Paul Johnson
7. Matt 10:4. This is a possible paraphrase. In Acts 21:38 the word translated assassins is sicarion.
8. John 6:15
9. Matt 14:23
10. Matt 16:16 King James. The thou is emphasised in the original text.
11. Matt 16:21-28
12. John 12:23,27; 13:1; 17:1
13. Mark 14:41
14. Luke 22:53
15. Luke 19:14
16. Isaiah 14
17. Mark 15:13
18. John 10:10
19. Philippians 2:6 1901 American Standard Version
20. Romans 5:8
21. And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviours blood? Charles Wesley
22. 1 Pet 1:10,11
23. Revelation 19:10
24. Psalm 22:1
25. Exodus 21:32
26. Matthew 27:9; Jeremiah 32:6-9; Zechariah 11:13
27. Psalm 22:2-22 KJV. Notice how the last section of verse 21 has been separated from the main body of the verse.
28. Psam 22:21b
29. Psalm 22:24,25
30. 1 Peter 1:11
31. Hebrews 5:7 J N Darby translation.
32. John 19:30
33. Luke 12:50
| 2005/1/13 5:19||Profile|
| Re: Section II: The Remedy|
What really happened on the cross? The Bible is a book of many parts, and all the parts do not have the same purpose. Although together they comprise the Holy Scriptures and are completely trustworthy. To put it very simply, the Old Testament prepares us for the New, but we shall not understand the Old Testament without the New. In many ways the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old. The Lord saw Himself as the great theme of the Old Testament; [i]"You search the Scriptures,[/i] He said on one occasion, [i]for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.1 [/i] The Scripture bore witness to Him; His person, His character, His work. Peter summed up the Holy writings in a different way in his letter; [i]Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven things which angels desire to look into.2 [/i]
In many ways the Scriptures were time-locked and their full meaning was not understood. When we move from the Old Testament to the New Testament we begin to read the unfolding of Gods purposes in the four accounts of the Life and Ministry of Christ. The first three accounts, Matthew, Mark and Luke, have many similarities and were probably written within 20 years of the events they record. They have something of the mood of a journalists eye-witness account. Johns account is different; it was probably written almost 60 years afterwards and has a commentary added to the events it records. As events unfolded the disciples were often quite unaware of their significance and frequently quite misunderstood what was really happening. John, writing many years later, has thought through many of these implications and he sees significance in every detail.
At the time, the disciples were often much less wise than even a casual reader would be now. Just as we have an added insight into the Old Testament by looking backwards from the Gospels, so quite often we have an added insight into the Gospels by looking backwards from Johns account and from the New Testament letters. During the actual time there was much that they could not digest. Although there was much important teaching that they did receive, some teaching was beyond them; [i]I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.3 [/i]
Although He spoke often of the fact of His coming death, He did not explain its significance to them at that time other than in fairly simple terms. It seems that they struggled even with the fact of His death, and frequently missed the point. Johns account includes this explanation; [i]you cannot bear them now.[/i] The implication, of course, is that a time was coming when they would be able to bear them. It is important to remember this when we read the gospel and when we see the behaviour of the disciples; they just could not carry this real significance of this information and the Lord did not overburden them. The day came when the promise was fulfilled and by a unique gift of the Spirit He opened their minds
[i] Then He said to them, [i]These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me. And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.4 [/i] At this point the purpose of His death began to come more clearly into focus.
John writing and commenting of the gospel events often gives us glimpses that were not enjoyed by the disciples of the day. So many things must have been quite beyond them. John the gospel recorder was almost certainly a disciple of John the Baptist, and it does not take much skill to see glimpses of him the gospel that bears his name. John Baptists work had been to prepare the way for the coming Lord. His preparatory work included a call to repentance and a baptism of repentance; it not very appropriate that the first word we hear from his lips is repent5 . John Baptist also had words of counsel and direction, but his supreme task was to pave the way for a clear view of the coming Messiah6 . All the gospel recorders tell us that John Baptist referred to Christ as a Spirit and Fire Baptizer but only John tells us of another description that John Baptist used.
When Jesus came to the Jordan and was baptized John Baptist had protested; [i]I need your baptism and you come to me?7 [/i] John gave way and Jesus was baptized. John had another description for Jesus; not only was He to be a Spirit and Fire Baptist, but He was to have another unique role. [i]The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!8 [/i] The Old Testament people of God had a very complicated priestly system with elaborate sacrifices which had to be performed in precise ways. The heart of this system was an annual event called The Day of Atonement9 . On this day in symbolic action the sins of the nation of Israel were dealt with in a remarkable way. Two important truths were captured in the event by the use of two goats. The first goat suffered a death penalty for the nations sin; this underlined the truth that the soul that sins must die10 . The second goat did not die but escaped into the wilderness. Before it did so an important ceremony had taken place; [i] Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.11 [/i]
In the pictorial truth of this ceremony the role of the goat was played by two separate animals but in the spiritual reality behind it, the two represented a double aspect, and the two goats are a complex picture of a single truth. As a result of the death penalty being enacted Gods righteous punishment was received by a substitute; the goat. But as a result of the sentence having been enacted God was now able to remit or send away the sins of His people on the back of the second goat. The goats were both sin-offering and sin-bearer. Not only was the penalty suffered by a substitute but a substitute carried away the defilement from Gods people.
The people of John Baptists day were familiar with the ritual of the Day of Atonement and its two goats. The consequence for Israel was [i]
on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.12 [/i] They were familiar with the concept of a goat acting as a sin-bearer for Israel, but what can they have made of John Baptists amazing statement? A lamb would now be a sin-bearer, and not for Israels sins only but for the sin of the world. [i]Behold[/i] said John. [i]this is not Israels goat, but Gods lamb, and He is the Worlds Sin Bearer.[/i] We are familiar with the ideas now but for those of John Baptists day it must have been mind blowing. Christs death then was not as a martyr or as an example but as a Sin-Bearer.
As a result of Israels Day of Atonement God was able to remain among His people. Paul, the apostle, later wrote; [i]Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christs behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him13 .[/i] He is taking up all the symbolism of the Day of Atonement. Christ became the worlds substitute, the Sin-bearer. Peter too, having had his understanding opened, saw the amazing implications of what occurred on the cross; [i] who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousnessby whose stripes you were healed.14 [/i]
This truth is revealed again and again in the New Testament in similar pictures which illustrate different aspects of the same truth. One such picture is the symbolism of propitiation. There is beautiful little picture of propitiation which lies almost forgotten in the story of Esau and Jacob. Jacobs cunning had opened up a gulf between him and his brother. Esau was so angry that he pronounced a death sentence upon his brother; [i]So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, "The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob."15 [/i] Jacob fled and the separation lasted probably for twenty years, but finally the time came for Jacob to return to his own land. His quick thinking had not deserted him and Jacob decided he must takes steps to pacify Esau.
Jacob split up his family to ensure the survival of at least part of his family, and then set to work to get back into Esaus favour. To begin he sends a conciliatory message but is horrified to hear that Esau is on his way with what sounds like a small army.16 His solution was an costly present sent in installments with the intention of softening up his brother. The account is fascinating, as is Jacobs self-honesty. His thinking is recorded plainly for all to see; [i] "and also say, Behold, your servant Jacob is behind us." For he said, "I will appease him with the present that goes before me, and afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me."17 [/i] Although the circumstances are not very noble this is a perfect example of propitiation. Propitiation is the price paid in order to remove enmity.
It is an instinct deep in the human psyche. If I offend someone I may be able to put things right by providing the right price. This was the instinct which caused the child to try to buy his way back into his mothers favour with a bunch of flowers, or even the husband who forgot the anniversary! Sometimes we even use the language; please accept this peace-offering. That, in essence, is what a propitiation is; a peace offering. [i]I will appease him with the present that goes before me, and afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.[/i] It is the instinct behind all heathen sacrifice given to propitiate an angry local god.
How are we to understand Christs death in these terms? Our sin is an offence to God and has opened up an enormous gulf between us. When we begin to understand this rightly our response is one of fear and a frantic search for the right peace-offering. We can hear it in the voices of the people in Jerusalem on the day that Peter told them that they had executed Gods King but that God had raised Him to heavens throne. [i] "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"18 [/i] That is the plaintive cry for a solution; what shall we do?. What can we do to remedy the offence? How can we get back into Gods favour.
Without the Bibles revelation men would attempt to find the price. Some still do. Some give costly gifts to church. Some give costly promises of lives to be lived better than before. Without the Bibles revelation we can never calculate the cost of such reconciliation. The offence is far too great; the gap is far to wide for it to be spanned from our side. This is the background behind part of Romans when Paul, speaking of the redemption that is in Christ, writes; [i]being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.19 [/i] Paul says God has set out the peace-offering; the propitiation. We sometime say that Christ paid the price for our sins; the truth is even more wonderful
God paid the price, and the price He paid was the death, the blood, of His Son. Christ is the propitiation; the price paid in order to remove the enmity. [i] [i]Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself..[/i]
Even in those dimmer days of the Old Testament the truth had been declared, but it was to be hundreds of years before its full interpretation; Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wickedBut with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand20 .
1. John 5:39 NKJ
2. 1 Peter 1:10-12
3. John 16:12-14
4. Luke 24:45-47
5. Matt 3:2
6. John 1:31
7. Matt 3:14
8. John 1:29
9. Leviticus 16
10. Ezekiel 18:20
11. Leviticus 16:21,22
12. Leviticus 16:30.
13. 2 Cor 5:18-21
14. 1 Peter 2:24
15. Genesis 27:41
16. Genesis 33:6.7
17. Genesis 33:20
18. Acts 2:36,37
19. Romans 3:24-26
20. Isaiah 53:4-10ff
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