Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

The Cousins

Matthew 3 is setting the stage for Jesus’ public ministry, because who knows just how He was ministering during His 30 year in the carpenter shop of Joseph!

The Voice for God

Matthew uses this passage from Isaiah 40:3 to identify John the Baptist as the prophesied forerunner of the Messiah. In this role, John’s purpose was to prepare hearts for the Messiah, and to bring an awareness of sin among Israel so they could receive the salvation from sin offered by the Messiah (Matthew 1:21).

His ministry has in mind building up a great road for the arrival of a majestic king. The idea is to fill in the holes, and knock down the hills that are in the way.

So John’s main message wasn’t “You’re a sinner, you need to repent.”

John’s main message was “The Messiah is coming.”

The call to repentance was the response to the news that the Messiah was coming.

The Frauds against God

John accuses the religious leaders of the day of wanting to appear anxious for the Messiah, but not truly repenting and preparing their hearts; John demanded fruits worthy of repentance.

The Purpose of God

Baptize you with the Holy Spirit: This is the promised out-pouring of the Holy Spirit promised with the New Covenant (Ezekiel 37:14).

And fire: To baptize with fire means to bring the fires of judgment, which will purify the pure, but destroy the wicked like chaff. Chaff is the worthless residue of a wheat stalk after the kernel of grain has been removed. These proud and unrepentant leaders are just as useless to God.

The Jewish leaders thought that the Messiah would come with judgment, but only against Israel’s enemies. They were blind in their self-righteous confidence that only others needed to get right with God.

The Baptism of Jesus (God)

The purpose was for Jesus to completely identify Himself with sinful man. This is exactly what He did in His birth, His upbringing, and His death. So here is Jesus standing again in the place of sinful man.

The Voice of God

It was important for God the Father to publicly demonstrate that Jesus’ baptism was not just like anyone else’s, in the sense of being a display of repentance. It was not a display of repentance, but instead it was a righteous identification with sinners, motivated by love, was well pleasing to the Father.

This is an occasion when the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all manifested at the same time.

This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: When this voice of God the Father spoke from heaven, everyone knew that Jesus was not just another man being baptized. They knew Jesus was the perfect (in whom I am well pleased) Son of God, identifying with sinful man. By this, everyone knew that Jesus was different. Jesus was baptized to be identified with sinful man, but He was also baptized to be identified to sinful man.

O Father, Jesus is so much more than well-pleasing to us! He became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. And this step of baptism is just another way in which He associated Himself with us sinful creatures. Thank You for loving us so much so as to make a way for us to be reconciled to Yourself.

Father we do not want to be caught in self-righteousness, but desire a spirit of repentance. We know we have needs. We change our minds and agree with John the Baptist that You are right and we are wrong. Help our hearts and minds to line up with Your way of thinking and doing!

John’s ministry must have looked mighty weird during his day, and I can only imagine how that would translate to today! But You blessed him with success. I pray that You will bless St. Philip’s ministry to the Bright Zone with success as well. Not for their namesake, but for the hearts of the people who live, work and worship in the Bright Zone. But even more importantly, that more people will fall in love with Jesus and give Him the worship due His name.

I pray especially for the Birds, Babbili’s (be with auntie Barbara, Willie, Helen, Manas and Shreeker), Brinkmans, Goforths (may they serve the same God with the same zeal as the Goforths of China), Harrisons, Harringtons, Lundes, Mirzaie-Golkahageh, and the Wintons (that Steven, Deven, Wren and Asa would find complete and total satisfaction in You). May they all draw closer to You especially during this time when the world seems to be crumbling! In Jesus’ name, Amen!

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God’s Sacrifice of the Good Shepherd

Zechariah 12 ended with Israel’s return to the LORD through the once rejected but now embraced Messiah. And Zechariah 13 opens with the fountain flowing from their embrace of the Messiah. 
They now enjoy a fountain that brings cleansing for sin and for uncleanness. The cleansing comes after their mourning for the One whom they have pierced.

“According to the verse before us this provision is inexhaustible. There is a fountain opened; not a cistern nor a reservoir, but a fountain. A fountain continues still to bubble up, and is as full after fifty years as at the first; and even so the provision and the mercy of God for the forgiveness and the justification of our souls continually flows and overflows.” (Spurgeon–of course!)

Idolatry and false prophecy were the two principle ways Israel was led astray from God. God not only provides a fountain to cleanse, but He also promises to cut off the source of uncleanness – in this case, idolatry and false prophecy.

God promises ultimately to take away even the memory of our sin.

Zechariah prophesies a coming day when public opinion will not tolerate false prophets. There will be such a commitment to the LORD and His truth that even the family of a false prophet will condemn the false prophet.
The man accused of being a false prophet insists the scars on his body are not the self-inflicted wounds often associated with false prophets (1 Kings 18:28; Jeremiah 48:37), but merely the result of a brawl in his friend’s house. This unlikely, ironic explanation shows just how desperately people will avoid being identified with false prophets in this coming day Zechariah speaks of.
(Some take verse 6 as another Messianic prophecy in Zechariah, because Jesus was clearly wounded by those who should have been His friends. But the context demonstrates that this is about false prophets.)
But in the context starting in verse 7, and especially in light of the quotation of this passage in Matthew 26:31, we understand that the Shepherd is Jesus the Messiah – and it is God the Father Himself who calls for the Shepherd to be struck.
Zechariah relates a thought also said in Isaiah 53:10
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. 
The prophets Isaiah and Zechariah gloriously and emphatically, state that the suffering of the Servant of the Lord was ordained by the Lord. This was God’s doing! He gave the command to strike the Shepherd. Jesus was no victim of circumstance or at the mercy of political or military power. It was the planned, ordained work of the Lord God, prophesied by Isaiah hundreds of years before it happened. This was God’s victory, not Satan’s or man’s triumph.
As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:19, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. The Father and the Son worked together at the cross. Though Jesus was treated as if He were an enemy of God, He was not. Even as Jesus was punished as if He were a sinner, He was performing the most holy service unto God the Father ever offered.
Jesus quoted from Zechariah 13:7 in Matthew 26:31 in reference to the scattering of His disciples during His arrest and suffering. There is also a sense in which the disciples were a type of Israel as a whole in being scattered.
Without Christ and His work on the cross, we are without a Shepherd and are lost and scattered. Thank God for His provision.
O Pierced Shepherd, we thank You for being willing to take the punishment that was our due. O bless the heart that planned it! We pray Lord that You would guide the Bright Zone outreach. We take confidence that it is from Your hand, that we should live Beyond Ourselves and minister to those in our neighborhoods during these hard times.

I pray especially for these families: Birds, Babbilis, Brinkmans, Lundes, Harrisons, Harringtons, Mazrie-Goltehebrah, Goforths and the Wintons. That any stress or pressure they may be experiencing would drive them to You. And that any joy or thanksgiving they may be experiencing would draw their hearts to You! Give guidance to the committee as to how we all can be a part of this outreach, and that we will all be willing to live Beyond Ourselves. In Jesus’ name, amen!
O Christ, it woke ’gainst Thee!
Thy blood the flaming blade must slake;
Thine heart its sheath must be;
All for my sake, my peace to make;
Now sleeps that sword for me.
(Anne R. Cousin)
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.
(William Cowper)

Wash me, Saviour, or I die.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.
(Augustus Toplady)