Tag Archives: Jesus

The New Commandment

1 John 2:7-14  Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.

What is this old commandment that’s a new commandment that’s really an old commandment?  What does John refer to?  He is speaking of the commandment given to him personally from Jesus himself.  Love God and love others. What was given in the Old Testament as Law (Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18) was confirmed in the New Testament by Jesus as being relevant even after His coming (Matthew 22:34-40).

Notice John’s reference to darkness and light, just like how he speaks in his presentation of the Gospel (John 1:1-13). He’s presenting a contrast for us to realize that the world’s darkness can’t overcome the light of Jesus.  When we obey the command to love God and love others, we shine a light in the darkness so bright that it can’t but be seen.  It’s a shining city upon a hill, giving off a beacon of light for others to recognize.

When we love, we show God to the world.  When we serve, we show them the character of Christ and glorify Him.  When we obey, we do a great work of evangelism (Matthew 5:16).


The Word of Life

1 John 1:1-4  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

The natural response to the joy we receive in Christ is to share it.  How could we, knowing that we have experienced new life in the Son of God, keep that to ourselves?  We should be overflowing with joy, ready to burst if we don’t share it.

John was among the apostles who walked with Jesus while He was here on this earth.  He writes in his first letter to the churches in Asia Minor that he wants them to share in the fellowship he and others have with God through Christ.  He proclaims all he witnessed with his own eyes, all he heard with his own ears, so that the joy of others might be made full.  He’s not willing to keep it all to himself.  What he was sharing was life.

Jesus is the Word of life and He made Himself known to mankind.  John was there when Jesus was present in the flesh, God incarnate sharing life with other people.  John knew that real life is in Jesus and in this he found his joy.  He also knew that his joy would be made all the more complete if he told others about the Word.  Notice his motive explained in verse 4, that “our” joy may be made complete.

Jesus is life.  If you’ve experience new life in Him, share it with everyone around you, so that they will have joy AND so that your joy would be made more complete.  If you haven’t experienced the life-giver, why not seek Him out?  Find out what this life is that others are talking about.  Ask God to reveal Jesus to you and make Him real to you.  He will.

Awe: God in the flesh

Colossians 1:15-20  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Can I be honest with you all? Sometimes I forget what it’s all about. I have this habit of making my life about me and when I do that I get things all twisted. It’s no wonder I sometimes lose my awe for God. I’m focused on myself.

The thing about this world and this life is it’s all about Jesus. If you want to have joy, look to Jesus. If you want peace, look to Jesus. If you’re looking for healing, look to Jesus. If you want to know God – look to Jesus. He’s the image of the invisible God. Everything God the Father wanted us to know of himself, He revealed in the Son (Hebrews 1:2-3).

With everything going on in this busy world, it’s far too easy to get lost in the wrong stuff and forget what really matters. All things were created through Christ, for Christ. It doesn’t matter what people think of you, it doesn’t matter what you have or where you live. What matters is Him.

Take some time and reflect on who Jesus is – God in the flesh. Just think about the fact that the Creator of the universe came down into humankind and revealed himself. You will be in awe.

Christ our Advocate

1 John 2:1-6   My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

If we claim to be Christians, there ought to be something to show for it.  If we aren’t walking a true Christian walk, obeying God, growing to be more like Christ, loving others; then we aren’t fooling anyone.  If we love God, we’ll follow Him in everything we do.

All that said, we can try to obey in all things, but we will fail at times.  We can’t be perfect, even though we should try to walk as closely to God as possible, with the help of the Holy Spirit.  We’ll fail, but the true test is whether or not we admit to wrongdoing and ask forgiveness.  If we say we don’t sin, again no one is fooled.  We have to have a heart that’s humble enough to confess that we’ve sinned.  This is what we’re called to as followers of Christ.

The best part is that we, as Christians, don’t receive God’s wrath for our sins, but we get forgiveness.  Jesus already died in our place, He already took on our sins so that we don’t have to suffer the consequences.  He made a way so that we have no reason to hold onto our sins as a secret and not admit to them.  If we’ll just confess them, He’s faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9).  Jesus stands in the gap, advocating on our behalf, making our case.  This isn’t just a message for seekers of truth; the gospel is for Christians too.

The Resurrection

Mark 16:1-8  1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Are you looking for Jesus?  Does it seem to be a lost cause; a search that will never produce any results?  Maybe you’re looking in the wrong place.  Jesus isn’t in the tomb.  He is risen.

Sometimes we have a tendency to make up our own theology, our own doctrine that we think fits our beliefs better than what the Bible actually says.  We make up traits for Jesus that were never true of Him.  We create our own false Jesus.  But the power of the gospel to save lies in the truth of who Jesus Christ really is and what He really did.

It’s hard to swallow, the fact that God came down to earth in the form of a human man and that He lived a perfect life.  It’s harder still to believe that He would sacrifice His own life in place of ours so that we can be reconciled to God.  Hardest of all to grasp is the idea that He rose again from the dead.  That He lives even still today, reigning over all things.  But that’s our hope.  Without it we have nothing.

The hope you and I have that we can one day be with God through resurrection is the fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.  If our Savior is dead, then we’re doomed.  But if our Savior lives, then we too can live on forever.  Since He DOES live, we have hope that we can cling to.  Jesus’ resurrection is a truth that changes everything.

Burning hearts

Luke 24:32  They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

The Word of God has an effect on all who experience it.  As Jesus walked with the disciples that were headed to Emmaus, He opened up the Scriptures to them in a very real way, showing them the overall theme of the Bible – Himself.  As they heard all of this, presumably for the first time (though they “knew” the Scriptures), their hearts burned within them.  After inviting Jesus to stay with them their eyes were opened and they saw clearly who He was and that God had revealed Himself, through Jesus and through the Scriptures.

And what happened immediately after that?  The result was exactly what it was for anyone whose heart burns from within – they had to go share what they now knew.  When your heart is burning, you can’t help but tell the world what made it so.  After hearing Jesus’ words, experiencing Him, and having their eyes opened to the truth, they immediately went out and spread the news that the Christ had risen.  There was no doubt left in their minds that it was true and that everyone needed to know.  They knew the value of this news.  They knew what it meant to all mankind.

Experiencing Jesus does this to a person.  He has such an impact on us that our hearts burn from within and we can’t help but share the Gospel with all of those around us.  No one has ever had such an effect on all the world.  Those who experienced Him for who He is turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6) and we can continue to do so for His glory.

The Invitation

Luke 24:29  but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.

On the road to Emmaus, the disciples didn’t see Jesus for who He was.  Even after He had opened up the Scriptures to them as an ongoing story concerning Himself, they didn’t realize who was in their presence.  They were intrigued, maybe even amazed by His brilliance, but they did not yet see Him as the Christ because their eyes were still closed.

As they came upon their destination, Jesus acted like He was going to keep walking (knowing full well what was going to happen).  The disciples invited Him to come along with them.  They wanted to know more.  They wanted to spend more time with this man.  Only after this invitation were their eyes opened.  All that they knew in their heads became real finally when it hit them that they were talking with the Christ all that time on the road. He became more than they had ever expected.

The journey of a disciple requires an invitation to Jesus.  This doesn’t mean salvation, because He does the inviting in our hearts and we respond.  This is an invitation for Him to join us along the road as we travel into spiritual maturity.  We can’t understand it all on our own, we need Him walking with us.  As the disciples headed to Emmaus saw, Jesus is more than willing to accept and open up our eyes.

 

Head knowledge is not heart knowledge

Luke 24:25  And he said to them,“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!

Our friends who encountered Jesus along the road to Emmaus days after His death on the cross were very knowledgable of the Scriptures.  They longed for the promised Jewish Messiah because they had been taught from a young age all about the manuscripts and the Law, the oral traditions and the customs.  They knew the stories of their ancestors inside and out.  But Jesus pointed out to them that their head knowledge did not equal knowing the Scripture in their hearts.

He rightly pointed out to the disciples that they were being foolish for knowing the promises of God through the prophets without realizing that they were being fulfilled right in front of their eyes — by the very man who stood before them!  They were so concerned with what they “knew” that they didn’t know anything.  They couldn’t see the forrest for the trees.  All of that teaching did them no good if they couldn’t recognize the One whom the prophets had foretold.

Before we get down on the poor disciples of this story let’s take a look at the modern day church, at ourselves.  We’re a very educated society, with so many schools and so much at our disposal for learning about God and His Word.  Many of us have quite a few verses memorized and have learned the stories of the Bible from a young age.  We could tell someone who asks almost anything about any story…but how do those stories apply to our lives?  Do we know that answer?

“Knowing” the Scriptures is not the same as seeing Jesus for who He is and what He’s done by seeking Him.  Knowing God on a personal level enables us to really know the Scriptures and see them with eyes wide open.  Jesus has enabled us to know Him if we’ll just seek Him out.  If we look for Him, we’ll see that the entirety of God’s Word is about Jesus. From Genesis to Revelation.

Jesus in the Scriptures

Luke 24:27  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Can you see Jesus?  There He is, in the Garden of Eden, as the serpent is cursed by God and promised that One would come who would crush him (Genesis 3:15).  He’s there as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stand among the flames without being burnt up (Daniel 3:24-25). He’s the one foretold by the prophets (2 Samuel 7:12–16; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; 50:6; 52:13–53:12; 61:1; Jeremiah 23:5, 6; Daniel 7:13, 14; 9:24–27; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 6:12; 9:9;12:10; 13:7 and so on) and ushered in by The Baptist (John 1:29). And yes, we find that even in the very beginning, He was there (John 1:1). But so much more than these examples, He’s the central character of every story in every book of God’s Word.

As the disciples who walked to Emmaus spoke to Jesus, He pointed out to them how all of the Scriptures they knew concerned Him, they all had a purpose of shedding light on the man who was also God.  God revealed Himself to mankind through Jesus and He revealed Jesus through the Scripture.  When the eyes of the disciples were opened, they saw it.  When our eyes are opened to who Jesus is, we see it too.  It’s all about Him, every story, every prophesy, even the Law is given to show that we needed Jesus to come (Galatians 3:24-25).  It’s genius, if you think about it.  Who else, ever, in the entire history of the world, has written such an extensive story with so much action, so much rich dialogue, such beautiful poetry, such love, such applicable moral teaching, that reveals in the end to be about a great Hero that was the basis for the rest of the story up to that point?  It’s brilliant!  And it’s God-inspired.

What the disciples got that day is that Jesus is the central character.  He’s the one that matters in the big scheme of things.  We can learn a lot from Moses, David, Solomon and other heroes, but their main purpose was to point to Christ. Their good deeds and their flaws alike were to show us Jesus.  The prophesies, the plagues, the desert wandering, the flooding, all to point us to Jesus.  Not every view of theology agrees with this notion, but what matters is that Jesus did.  He’s the one who said Moses wrote about Him (John 5:46) and made claim to be the One that the prophets spoke of (Luke 4:21).  If Jesus believed it, it’s best to follow His lead.

Hoping for something more

Luke 24:21a  But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel…

Have you ever looked back on something in your life and realized how foolish you looked for not seeing what was right in front of you?  The story in Luke’s account of the Gospel about two disciples who were talking while they traveled, just days after Jesus’ death on the cross, makes one wonder just how foolish they felt as they looked back at their encounter with Jesus.

As they walked along sulking that this man they had followed, who that had placed their trust in as the promised Messiah, the one who would redeem His people Israel, the resurrected Jesus actually joined them.  These two of His disciples recounted the story of Jesus’ crucifixion to Him (because they didn’t recognize Him as being Jesus) and expressed lament over the fact that He hadn’t lived up to their hopes.  We look back now and wonder how on earth the risen Lord could have disappointed anyone’s hopes, but these Jewish men had been awaiting a Messiah who would establish an earthly kingdom to save them from their oppressors and Jesus did not do that.  No, instead He was killed by those oppressors.  This fell short of what they had wanted from Him.

But Jesus came to do so much more than just save Israel from an oppressive government. He came to bring reconciliation with God, to all, Jews and Gentiles alike.  But the men didn’t know this yet because they were so focused on their own expectations.  Can’t we do that sometimes?  Don’t we sometimes expect God to answer us in some small way and when we don’t see it we get all upset with Him, when really there’s a much bigger blessing in store if we’d only open our eyes?  The guys in this story opened their eyes and eventually saw Jesus for who He was and what He came to do.  That’s hope for all of us.