Saturday, March 22, 2014

thoughts on John 4

We want God to come big and bold, But often times we meet God in the most mundane circumstances Luther wrote

If someone at that time had announced: “I know of a place in the world where God speaks and anyone can hear God there”; if I had gone there and seen and heard a poor pastor baptizing and preaching, and if I had been assured: “This is the place; here God is speaking through the voice of the preacher who brings God’s Word”—I would have said: “Well, I have been duped! I see only a pastor.” We should like to have God speak to us in His majesty. But I advise you not to run hither and yon for this. I suppose we could learn how people would run if God addressed them in His majesty. This is what happened on Mt. Sinai, where only the angels spoke and yet the mountain was wrapped in smoke and quaked. But you now have the Word of God in church, in books, in your home; and this is God’s Word as surely as if God Himself were speaking to you. Christ says: “You do not know the gift.” We recognize neither the Word nor the Person of Christ, but we take offense at His humble and weak humanity. When God wants to speak and deal with us, He does not avail Himself of an angel but of parents, of the pastor, or of my neighbor. This puzzles and blinds me so that I fail to recognize God, who is conversing with me through the person of the pastor or father. Luther, M. (1999, c1957). Vol. 22: Luther's works, vol. 22 : Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1-4 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (22:526). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
the mystery of God meeting us in the ordinary should never be overlooked peace to all, John

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

No Shortcuts Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus came to die and rise before reigning as Lord of all. The devil invited Jesus to skip straight to reigning over creation. But Jesus wouldn't take the short cut--as a sinner saved by grace through faith in Jesus who died and rose--I for one am grateful that He didn't take the shortcuts the devil offered.

A quick reading of Matthew 4:1-11 introduces the two main characters. Jesus, the once and future king of the universe who came to earth. And the great accuser who comes at him with 3 tempting offers. Sounds a little like the ring announcer at a fight. "In this corner the once and future king of all creation who exists today as a weak mortal and in this corner the father of all lies the final enemy of all creation."

It is the fight for the ages. Jesus came humble. He put aside His power to live as a man. The Devil came ready with years of experience destroying what God had made good. The enemy could entice mortals--he'd done it countless times before. He never had any power to create--but he's repeatedly convinced creatures to destroy what God has made good. And as he looked at Jesus he saw an opening for temptation and destruction.

Some readers of scripture take this story as a simple moral example. It's easy to miss the point and give direction to other people to "Just be like Jesus when you face temptation." But that interpretation misses the whole cosmic battle that's taking place there in the wilderness right at the start of Jesus ministry.

I sometimes think the Devil understood from day one who Jesus was, is, and will be. That means the day Jesus came to earth the enemy knew clearly who Jesus was and who he was going to ultimately be for all time. I think that they both were looking at the end of all things the whole time. I think that both understood that at the end of all things Jesus will reign over all--even the devil understands that coming reality. And He invited Jesus to skip the pain of the cross and go right to final glory.

The temptation was right in front of Jesus. Right then Jesus, not at some future moment, right at that point in history the Devil invited Jesus to take full advantage of his power. Come on, Jesus if you are king just start to reign. Forget about everything else. If you are king just start to show it right now. But along the way to that final culmination of all time comes a question: If Jesus is king what does He plan to reign over?

  • Does He plan to reign over a creation that's been broken by the fall into sin and death?
  • Does He plan to reign over a creation that's been redeemed finally from the power of sin, death, and the devil?
Paul, quoting a hymn of first century believers eloquently wrote of Jesus real nature in Philipians 2:5-11. Jesus came to redeem the world through his own cross. This story of Jesus temptation in the wilderness is no moral tale. It is an epic even cosmic story in which sinners are redeemed because Jesus chose to offer his blood and his life to make all people right with the Father.
Peace and thanks for reading, John