Christ’s earthly ministry

Eagerly Seizing the Temporary!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed (John 6:26,27 KJV).

Human nature has not changed one bit in 2,000 years.

Frequenting thrift stores over the years, I have found name-brand items well below retail cost. Some items—including pricy clothing—are still new. Beware: Stand aside, as consumers may behave unseemly to get what they want!

After employees process and price items in store’s rear, they transport them by cart to the front for consumers to browse. Thus the showroom becomes dangerous. Upon hearing that cart’s wheels rattling and squeaking, alert customers make a “mad dash,” pushing and shoving, to access the cart’s items first! (My friend was nearly knocked down by one such “stampede!”) When I recounted that event to another friend, she summed it up perfectly—“uncivilized!” Sadly, adults will go to such extremes to have their way: like starving vultures diving to pick off a bite to eat, these consumers run and pounce on that cart!

While such scenarios are amusing (yes, I recently witnessed a stampede), it is unfortunate. If only people were as willing to come to Christ as they do that dumb merchandise cart! They bully to grab temporary items, but, upon death, someone will be just as eager to confiscate it. It is said that grave-clothes have no pockets—even if they did, the contents would do absolutely nothing for the individual. His or her soul would be in heaven (Christian) or hell (everyone else), not in that decaying body!

Friends, in the context of today’s Scripture, Jesus miraculously fed the 5,000 (verses 1-15). Now, they are selfishly chasing Jesus to get more food from Him. Verse 29 is the correction: “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” They were striving for temporary food, when they should have trusted the eternal Son of God! (A most appropriate lesson… even in today’s world, huh?)

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should we pray if it is God’s will?

The “Triumphal” Entry

Friday, April 21, 2017

“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:4,5 KJV).

Do you ever wonder why Jesus Christ rode on a donkey the Sunday before His crucifixion?

In today’s Scripture (cf. Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19), Jesus’s crucifixion on Calvary’s cross is just five days away. Leaving Bethany, He travels to Jerusalem (a mile to the northwest). Israel’s believing remnant in Jerusalem is excited to hear that Messiah is returning to “the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35); in anticipation, the great multitude throws their garments and palm branches on the ground. As Jesus enters the city, they cry out, “Hosanna [“O save!”]: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 19:38; John 12:13; cf. Psalm 118:26).

While often called the “Triumphal Entry,” there really was no victory being celebrated in today’s Scripture—the victory was to come later! What we need to realize is that Jesus Christ was humble (“meek”) here: as a King riding on a donkey into Israel’s capital city, He demonstrated He desired peace with Israel (a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9). He had not come to destroy her, though He would have been just in doing so; He had come to save her from her sins, her enemies, and her satanic bondage (Matthew 1:21; Mark 2:17; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 1:68-75; Luke 9:55,56; Luke 19:9,10; Acts 3:24-26; et cetera).

Just a few days later, Jesus Christ appeared weak and defeated. He never fought back as the Roman soldiers mercilessly abused Him; He allowed Himself to be crucified on Calvary. It was His meek and lowly coming; now was not the time to pour out His wrath. He resurrected and ascended into heaven as a royal exile. Revelation 19:11 says Jesus Christ will return to Jerusalem on a white horse, a sign of war and wrath (Zechariah 14:1-4)—that will be His true triumphal entry, for He will conquer Satan’s world system forever!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?

The Price of Christ #2

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

“Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment” (John 12:3 KJV).

How much should Jesus Christ be worth in the eyes of Christians?

About six days before His crucifixion, Jesus is in Bethany, a town one or two miles (1.6 or 3.2 kilometers) southeast of Jerusalem. He has raised Lazarus from the dead just a short time earlier (John chapter 11), and they are holding a supper for Jesus there in Bethany (John 12:1-9). Lazarus’s sister Mary (cf. John 11:2) anoints Jesus’ feet as recorded in today’s Scripture.

Mary took a “pound” (roughly a pint or 0.5 liter) of the very intense aromatic essential oil “spikenard” and poured it onto Jesus’ feet. She then wiped His feet with her hair. (You can grasp Mary’s humility by remembering that sandaled feet that trod hot Middle Eastern sand were quite filthy, sweaty, and smelly. Can you imagine wiping your hair on those feet?)

Spikenard, whose plant derivative is still unknown, was just as the Bible says—“very costly.” In fact, when Judas—the thieving treasurer of the apostles—saw what Mary did, he bemoaned, “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” (John 12:5). Verse 6 says, “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” Judas just wanted the spikenard sold so he could pocket the money!

The word “pence” in our King James Bible means the Roman coins called denarii. A denarius was equal to one day’s wages, so 300 pence was roughly ten month’s wages (the denarius was originally worth the price of ten donkeys, so 300 pence was 3,000 donkeys!). Mary recognized the great value of the Lord Jesus Christ: He was worth far more than the mere 30 pieces of silver (three or four months’ wages) Judas later received for betraying Him. May we Christians value the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, as much as Mary did!

Bible Q&A #370: “How could Jesus say His killers knew not what they were doing?

The Bible’s Season of New Life

Monday, April 17, 2017

“God that made the world and all things therein… he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;” (Acts 17:24,25 KJV).

May we never forget the true meaning of Eastertime!

Satan is the master counterfeiter: from Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures reveal how the devil schemes to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Whatever God does, Satan defiles that work by introducing false doctrine, distracts mankind from God’s truth by mimicking His actions, discourages God’s people from His ministry by using incorrect thinking patterns, and so on. Why? Satan wants the worship that God alone deserves (Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8).

Consider Christmastime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping the birth of the sun god in early winter—near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) took upon human flesh in the virgin Mary’s womb! Now, consider Eastertime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping fertility deities and new life in early spring, near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) died for our sins and resurrected victoriously over sin, death, hell, and Satan to give us new life! (To Satan’s delight, today’s average church member is not mindful of relevant sound Bible doctrine during Christmastime and Eastertime—the devil’s distractions have never lost their efficacy!)

The God of the Bible instituted in Israel a festival, Passover (the killing of a spotless lamb and its bloodshed in early spring), while they were still in Egypt (Exodus chapter 12)—Passover’s annual observance reminded them of JEHOVAH delivering them from Egyptian slavery unto new life. Israel did not understand its meaning until 1,500 years later. The true Passover lamb, Jesus Christ, died and shed His sinless blood during that annual Passover feast (early spring), and He resurrected in new life to give them spiritual life and liberty.

Yes, the pagans may have “hijacked” this time of year for the devil’s glory, but we can disregard their ignorance: spring is God’s season for new life. We can still use this season to bring the God of the Bible glory by remembering that He has given us physical life (today’s Scripture), and He offers us new life (that is, spiritual life) through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why was Paul eager to preach the Gospel to the Christians at Rome?

Excruciating Thursday

Thursday, April 13, 2017

[Reader discretion advised: Christ’s sufferings are graphically described below.]

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9 KJV).

His three years of earthly ministry have expired, but His greatest work is yet to come!

During the all-night interrogation in the “kangaroo court,” His sentence is passed—execution by crucifixion. They have scourged, beaten, and punched Him. Covered in their spit, they laugh at Him, and strike His head with a rod to force on the crown of thorns. His back shredded, His skull possibly fractured, His beard ripped off. His massive blood loss weakens Him further. Having been stripped of His clothing, He struggles to carry His heavy cross to Mount Calvary: Simon must carry His cross for Him. The crowds watch Him, laughing and jeering. His little flock looks on in total shock.

They lay Him on the wooden cross, yanking His limbs to nail them in place. His bones unbroken, but exposed, and His limbs dislocated. They pierce His hands and feet with long spikes, severing the median nerve in the hands, causing permanent hand paralysis. They raise up that cross, and He hangs, slowly suffocating due to His own weight. Every breath becomes increasingly difficult, His lungs fill with fluid, His heart becomes progressively strained. Eventually, He cannot breathe, and thus dies.

Now imagine His spiritual suffering. Three hours into His crucifixion, His heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost have abandoned Him. For the first time ever, He is totally alone. Physical and spiritual darkness now cover the earth. The weight of all the world’s sin and sins of all time crushes His soul. God’s undiluted wrath falls upon Him, as it does on those suffering in hellfire. He cries out in agony. Hanging on that cruel cross, with His spiritual eyes, He observes Satan himself and all his evil creatures snickering and cheering. He looks out to see His disciples staring at His helpless disfigured body. Oh, if only they knew how His physical and spiritual bodies were being tormented, utterly tortured beyond imagination!

After six hours of excruciating pain, He finally lets Himself die….

Please check out our archived Bible Q&A: “Was Jesus Christ really crucified on Friday?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who or what are the ‘Chemarims?’

Start in Romans #3

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office (Romans 11:13 KJV).

Why should people new to the Bible begin in the Book of Romans? Today’s Scripture tells us.

It is usually said that people should start reading God’s Word in the Book of John. However well meaning this is, it is spiritually hazardous. Christ’s earthly ministry, Matthew through John, was to and about the nation Israel, not us Gentiles: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Moreover, John’s goal is confirming to Israel that Jesus is her Messiah because He conducted a ministry of signs, special teaching miracles, in her midst (see John 20:30,31). “The Jews [not us Gentiles] require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22).

Paul is God’s messenger to us non-Jews (today’s Scripture). Ephesians 3:1-2 elaborates: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward….” Romans 16:25-26 says God wants to “stablish” (stabilize) us Gentiles using three components: (1) Paul’s Gospel, (2) the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, and (3) the Scriptures of the prophets. Paul’s Gospel is laid out first, and most clearly, in the Bible in the Book of Romans, the head, or introductory book, of his 13 epistles (Romans through Philemon).

Romans is divided into four sections. Chapters 1-5 deal with justification, or how to have our sins forgiven and a home in heaven. Chapters 6-8 discuss sanctification, or how that Gospel of Grace has changed our identity from Adam to Christ. Chapters 9-11 covers dispensational changes—we are not the nation Israel, but rather the Church the Body of Christ, with Israel still having a future in God’s program. Chapters 12-16 are application, or how we are to by faith use the grace principles in Romans so our lives can glorify our Lord and Saviour!

Friend, you will not mature in grace if you begin the Bible in the wrong place. Using John as an introduction to the Bible will hinder you from laying the Scriptural foundation God intended for you. Start in Romans! 🙂

The Mess We Call “the World!”

Friday, April 7, 2017

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:1,2 KJV).

“The world is a mess!” Those were the words a depressed Christian brother told me after hearing certain recent international news.

While the brother has been saved for many years, and he has read the Bible for decades, he still has not grown up in the Scriptures to see that “mess” has been an appropriate description of our world going all the way back to Genesis chapter 3! Beloved, why does it shock us that we live in “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4)? As soon as Adam willfully followed his wife Eve in rebelling against God, the world system God entrusted to Adam (Genesis 1:26,27) was passed on to Satan who was guiding Adam. Thus, in the temptations of Christ, we see Satan smugly offering to return to the Lord those kingdoms of the world if He would bow down and worship him (Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8)!

Friend, in case you have not noticed, sin complicates life. There is an internal, spiritual struggle in the soul of every person, and that is the reason why there are fightings and wars. Wars exist outside because evil exists inside. No matter how peaceful we attempt to be, someone will always seek to steal from us, harm us, or kill us. Terrorism is nothing new and it will exist all around our globe until the Lord Jesus Christ returns to vanquish evil in earth’s governments once and for all: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

While we certainly do the best with what we have, and attempt to get along with all, war is not avoidable as pacifists would have us believe. “The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name” (Exodus 15:3).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How could Satan access heaven in the Books of Job and the Revelation?