Everybody has questions. But, not everybody has the answers. This guy has his own answers, though he doesn’t seem to know it yet. Partial quote from an email I received a few years ago…
“What reason is there to believe IN him? Murder, rape, theft,
lies, etc. etc… If God does exist, where is He? What does he do for the
good will of Humanity? When Christians rally to places of unrest to help, or
when they raise charities for the poor, ill, etc, I don’t see God. I see a
banner. A rally cry. (If God does exist, he’s only in peoples heads, an
imaginary friend, if you will)… ‘People need help in New Orleans! Let’ do
it! God will help us on this Crusade! The Bible teaches us to help one another!
Let’s do it because our religion tells us to!’…You rally to help people,
because your religion asks it of you. What about that seems wrong? The fact that
you need to be told to help others, but that’s besides the point. The point is
you USE God to help people. (There is nothing wrong with helping people, but
why not use humanity as your banner.) You make him into the sword and
shield to fight pain, and inhumanity. My argument against this is why not
look IN yourself for strength, instead of looking OUT somewhere else for it?
Why do you need to look somewhere else for strength?”
He ended with a list of several different questions, and a polite thanks. So, I’ve chosen 4 to talk about specifically here, in addition to the underlined ones from the actual letter.
1. Is it wrong to look within for help, rather than look to God?
2. Is it right to think I control my future, and fate has nothing to do with it?
5. How is “faith” an argument to fact?
8. Should Christianity be a believe, or idea?
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Yes, he knows why we can’t lift humanity as our banner. The reason for that is tied in very closely with Question 8 and with his list of human woes at the top of the letter, “Murder, rape, theft, lies, etc. etc.” In every conflict, men follow a banner that stands for something they believe in, an idea as he put it. In war, American soldiers live and die for our flag raised over a bloody field littered with the corpses of their fallen comrades. Oh, but that idea in their heads is backed by faith, belief in the little girl that may run into Daddy’s arms, if they make it home outside of a body bag. They believe in the
ideas of their country. That belief is not founded on mere ideas because they didn’t read the ideas from a book somewhere, but have had real life experiences with America, baby girls, terrorism, hatred, love, and peace. They are willing to go through hell to secure the heaven they left at home.
Can we trust in humanity with a list of characteristics like the ones named in the letter? Can you trust a murderer, a rapist, a thief, a liar? All your heroes will die. Jesus Christ is the living God, the one true God of the Universe is the Spirit living inside of Jesus. Christianity should be more than
an idea. It must be a believe, a belief based on hard empirical evidence of personal experiences.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
This means simply that faith is substance, what Science calls "matter." Faith is what we can actually feel with our senses of hope. Faith happens inside our minds and our hearts. Faith produces reactions in our emotions. So, faith is substance.
I remember a rock song titled, “Give me Something to Believe In,” from the early 90’s, by a group called aptly, Poison.
Well I see him on the Tv Preachin' bout the promise land
He tells me to believe in Jesus
And steals the money from my hand
Some say he was a good man
But Lord I think he sinned, yeah
Twenty-two years of mental tears
Cries a suicidal Vietnam vet
Who fought a losing war on a foreign shore
To find his country didn't want him back
Their bullets took his best friend in Saigon
Our lawyers took his wife, his kids, no regrets
In a time I don't remember In a war he can't forget
He cries "Forgive me for what I've done there
Cause I never meant the things I did"
And give me something to believe in
If there's a Lord above
And give me something to believe in
Oh, Lord arise
Our best friend died a lonely man
In some Palm Springs hotel room
I got the call last Christmas Eve
And they told me the news
I tried all night not to break down and cry
As the tears rolled down my face
I felt so cold and empty
Like a lost soul out of place
And the mirror, mirror on the wall
Sees my smile it fades again
Sometimes I wish to God I didn't know now
The things I didn't know then
Road you gotta take me home
I drive by the homeless sleepin on a cold dark street
Like bodies in and open grave
Underneath the broken old neon sign
That used to read JESUS SAVES
A mile away live the rick folk
And I see how they're living it up
While the poor they eat from hand to mouth
The rich is drinkin' from a golden cup
And it just makes me wonder
Why so many lose, so few win
You take the high road
And I'll take the low road
Sometime I wish I didn't know now
The things I didn't know then
And give me something to believe in
This song caught my attention every time I heard it on the radio, even though I wasn’t in the church at the time, didn’t have a relationship with God. Those verses I underlined were the ones I remembered over the years. They stick with their ironic pictures of homeless people sleeping under a Jesus saves sign. It sounds as if the singer believes Christianity is as broken as that old neon
sign with missing letters.
That has not been my experience with God. In my experience, Christianity is as vibrant, real, and alive as Jesus Himself. He is no imaginary friend. Prayers really get answered. My God answers prayers. My God is a real Friend. My God is a living Savior. Jesus really saves lives. And, Jesus does love us.
The suffering around us is part of the woes of human failure, certainly a fallen race, every one of us. None of us are heroic in and of ourselves. It is only when we step outside of ourselves that we can reach out to the rest of humanity, to point them upward to God, who is above humanity, our Banner…Jehovah Nissi means “The Lord is our banner” in Hebrew.
That brings me to the question about doing good for humanity because our religion tells us to. Religion is a label for belief. What we are really talking about here is belief. I believe I should help my fellow man. He obviously believes we should help our fellow man, from the letter. So, is that his
religion telling him to believe? If not, where did he get that idea? And, it is a really good idea, as far as ideas go. But, ideas are not based on real substance like beliefs are, now are they?
I believe I should help my fellow man, because something in my heart aches to see my fellow man suffering, laying homeless in the street. I’m sure God put that compassion in our hearts toward mankind. But, apparently, there are still homeless people everywhere. Mankind is not very good at helping himself or each other. What we really need is a God. A heroic, savior-type God who can lift
us up above our fallen selves.
Is this Hero-God imaginary? Not from the perspective of the drunks I have known who were saved and now support their families. Not from the hard empirical evidence of homeless single Moms who were pulled out of the pits of despair by their faith in Jesus Christ. There is no strength inside me or you. We are weak and we will all die. Somebody will sort through all our possessions
one day, and divide them among our friends. We won’t have anything to say about that, outside what we wrote in our “will.” We will be dead. Our body will lie in a grave. But, our soul is the part of us that will never die. It will live on somewhere. We will need a Savior, a heroic God to deliver us when we have no strength to deliver ourself. If you are looking for strength, look up.
Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and
lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.
It is not wrong to look within, just so turtle-like. Man is not meant to be a turtle, always looking out for number one. Man is meant to be an eagle, and to soar on the winds of adversity. Dream, aspire, look up for a higher power, not within our measly hides.
Fate is a lie. We are in charge of our future. The decisions that we make affect not only ourselves, but those around us. We must decide carefully, based on facts and evidence of the unseen. There is more than meets our eyes.
He asked where God is, if He is real. That’s the easiest question of all. Why, He is right here inside my heart. I believe in Him. And, He is there in front of your eyes. Where do you think that breath you are breathing comes from? Some primordial amoeba soup? I know you can’t cook bread by accident.
Somebody has got to do the cooking or we will all starve. If you’ve ever held a newborn baby that came from your body, you marveled that this being, who was prior non-existent, and a product of your flesh, could indeed now be real and fact, when before he was a mere idea, a hope. Faith is as real as a child.
I've added two more poems to the bottom of "The Child Within Me" Page of my Poetry Collection on this website. I haven't written any new poetry in a few years, though I wrote a huge notebook full over a period of 20 years. The two I just added are Peace and Security. I wrote them the summer after I turned 15, just two summers after I met Jesus. Both of them have Scripture allusions.
Psalms 4:8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep:
for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to
kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body
I've also filled up about 20 journals, not counting the very first one I wrote. I finished my first diary (one of those tiny 5 year locking kinds) when I was about 16, and then built a fire in the backyard just to burn it, out of concern that anyone might ever read my words. :) I was really shy. But, I've got past that, and now I just keep them all locked away.
When Jesus came into my life, it drove a lot of fear out of my heart. I don't know how. I had been afraid of the dark even, and was tormented with nightmares almost every night for much of my preteen and early teen years. I would sleep walk often, and many times I woke the whole house up screaming from bad dreams. It was so bad that I became apprehensive about going to sleep at night, because I knew the dreams would return. But, with salvation came safety that could not be provided by people. And, the night terrors left. But, I was never afraid of storms. Storms, after I met Jesus, became a peaceful time when I was reminded that God was more powerful than man; my Father looking over all His children.
I've felt such a sense of peace and safety since, that I even worked security at night for a couple of years, when my boys were young, and I "moonlighted" literally. :) I can remember the glow of my flashlight beam casting across the parking lots, between the parked transfer truck trailers, when I would come out of the vacant plant to make my night rounds. The moonlight was beautiful, and there was this seperate peace in the darkness, because I could see. I had already backslid and divorced by that time, but the fear was gone, because God had removed all the sources of fear from around me, setting me in a safety that reached farther than I had run.
God did that for me. And, I knew that He was my safety. There have been many times I've been aware of angels surrounding me, God's bodyguards. In Genesis 22, we read a strange story of Abraham laying his son on an altar of wood, and raising a knife, when an angel, or perhaps the Spirit of God Himself, cryed out for Abraham to not harm the boy. Imagine the effect this had to have had on his son, Isaac... hearing the angels speak on his behalf from heaven! We don't read much about Isaac, beyond his birth, this scene, his marriage, and the wells he re-dug, and then the focus shifts to his children. But, you know he had to be a changed man; had to always remember that God was watching over him and keeping him safe from harm.
Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh, which means God provided, or the Lord is my Provider. There was an old country song I remember hearing as a child that always reminds me of Jesus.
"You're my bread when I'm hungry.
You're my shelter from troubled winds.
You're my friend when I'm lonely.
And, in the cold, You keep me warm."
I have no idea who sang that song. But, it fits Jehovah-jireh. And, when the nights are dark, He is the beam of light piercing the night... my Security Guard.
Psalms 102:13-14 You shall arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, is come. For your servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor the dust thereof.
Even the dust of Zion far exceeds the treasures beyond the Hill of the Lord. God's got so much more for His people; more than pebbles and dust here. And, its been a long time coming, but a change is gonna come. This Psalm reminds me of the old Spiritual...
It's been a long time coming But a change is gonna come
When the dark clouds pass away Feel the warmness of the sun
I know that You love me, oh yeah, I know that you care
I can't wait to be by Your side In the middle of the air.
Until my change comes Here's what I'll do
Renew my strength Keep holding on
I'll wait on You.
It ain't gonna be easy But I'll be strong.
Some say if You Really cared um,
It wouldn't take so long for You to Return for me
If with You is where I ought to be
But I'm gonna believe until that day I will
Gotta wait gotta wait on you That's what I'm gonna do
I'm gonna stand still I just wanna be in your will
Just like David and Goliath I gotta encourage my soul, yeah
Said I'm gonna stand still Until um...
When the LORD shall build up Zion,
(And He's just getting started building.)
he shall appear in his glory.
(Can't you see Him in the middle of the air?!)
He will regard the prayer of the destitute,
and not despise their prayer.
This shall be written for the generation to come:
and the people who shall be created shall praise the LORD.
(The here and now...written ages past for the age present.)
For he has looked down from the height of his sanctuary;
from heaven did the LORD behold the earth;
(He's looking at YOU!!!)
To hear the groaning of the prisoner;
to loose those that are appointed to death;
(Go ahead...you know you want to rattle those chains!)
To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem;
When the people are gathered together,
and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.
He weakened my strength in the way; he shortened my days.
(Have you ever felt weak?)
I said, O my God, take me not away
in the midst of my days:
(Don't you just know God has got so much more for you to do?)
your years are throughout all generations.
Of old have you laid the foundation of the earth:
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They shall perish, but you shall endure:
(And, now that we're looking at what God has done...)
yea, all of them shall grow old like a garment;
as a vesture shall you change them, and they shall be changed:
(Don't you know, nothing's going to last forever??!!)
But you are the same, and your years shall have no end.
The children of your servants shall continue,
and their descendants shall be established before you.
(And YOU with Him!)
This earth, this life is just the beginning of what God is doing. he will make a work and this is just the foundation. God gave the Word for a hope of what is yet to come.
1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples:
and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are
Here, you have it again, written for us in the end.
Romans 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our
learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have
Patience + Scripture = Faith. Here we have patience and hope together in the same equation. And, we know that patience adds up to hope. Remember Romans 5?
Romans 5:3-4 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing
that tribulation works patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
tribulations = patience = experience = hope
You do the Math.
Isaiah 43:18-19 Remember not the former things, neither consider the
things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall
you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the
And, I can hear another old Spiritual tucked away in my memory now...
I'm gonna lay down my burdens...down by the riverside...down by the riverside... Aint gonna study want no more!
Don't you live for failure? Don't you just wallow in every little defeat? or would you rather count your victories, choosing to focus instead on the individual human successes sitting before you? For every defeat, there is a victory, if you adjust your glasses.
When Israel went out of Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of strange language;
Judah was his sanctuary,
and Israel his dominion.
The sea saw it, and fled:
Jordan was driven back.
The mountains skipped like rams,
and the little hills like lambs.
What ailed you, O you sea, that you fled?
you Jordan, that you were driven back?
You mountains, that you skipped like rams;
and you little hills, like lambs?
Tremble, you earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob;
Who turned the rock into a pool of water,
the flint into a fountain of waters.
Psalm 223-228 form the Hallel, which is a praise song sung by Israelites at many celebrations. (Think Hallelujah.) The first psalm (113) begins with a praise and the last one (118) ends with thanks being given. It is quite a fitting passage for a worship service. But, Psalm 114 here is a beautiful little poem imbedded near the beginning of the Hallel, to give a reason for all this glorying in the God of Israel. It sounds like a patriotic anthem, because it speaks of national deliverancee, yet it doesn't even name the national heroes who achieved the victories. All the glory is given to God. The power working in Moses and Joshua is what is the focus of the Psalm. Still, it begins without even mentioning God. Only pronouns are used at he beginning. This leads to the questions in the third stanza, to surprise you with the climatic answer, the lord, the God of Jacob.
Can you suffer defeat without being overwhelmed? Can you win victories without personal pride? Is it the power working in and through you that makes you who you are? Whose approval are you seeking?
This poem Psalm was used by Dante in his book on Purgatory as the hymn being sung by the spirits of the dead headed by boatloads to the shores of Purgatory. So, the Psalm is often taken to represent the exodus of the soul from this world to the next.
The Psalm speaks of the transcendence of God, a God who is above the whole Earth, a powerful God who can shake the earth. Yet it speaks of the imminence or nearness of God, a God who keeps house in your neighborhood (in the capital city of Israel) and was concerned with water provisions for a wandering band of nomads without a city.
Isaiah spoke of a Lord being high and lifted up, and he is. Isaiah 6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
Matthew quoted a prophecy of Jesus being God with us in our neighborhood, and He is. Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
God is high and lifted up, yet he is with us. We know that God is with us when victory is apparent. When successes are being tallied, we know God is near. When all our needs are miraculously met, we see God's power towering above us. But, can we see the power of God in defeat? In failure? In circumstances of human need? In verse 8 we see that adversity is a means to prosperity. We are reminded that God brought water from a rock in the desert. Yes, God can bring prosperity from adversity. There is a prayer written by John Henry newman in 1833 that was turned into a hymn...
"Lead kindly Light, amidst the tumult and gloom,
Lead Thou me on,
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on."
This is only the first verse, but it was sung on board the sinking Titanic in a last minutes worship service. It seems that some passengers were aware that God was in charge. Do you trust human resources or divine initiative? The skipping mountains in verse 4 refer to the theophany (experience with God in a vision) at Sinai.
Psalms 68:8 The earth shook, the heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
Exodus 19:18 And mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke of it ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.
In the song of Deborah we see similar references to the moving of the mountains for Moses. She refers to the mountains melting in Judges five. It becomes obvious that God can be near and He can be big and powerful, as He sees our needs. The fact of omnipresence makes Him always within our reach...even when we can't see Him. So, the answers are yes and yes. The God who is High and Lifted Up, is right beside you.
A Purposeful Minister who lived and died with reason because He loved me; these two elements of my faith are crucial to how I know Jesus. There is no greater revelation than this in the Gospel. Sure, I can find many more words, and I will. But this is the crux of "the Gospel According to Me." First, it matters to me that He did everything He did: healing, feeding, teaching, dying on purpose. Nothing was accidental, but it was all part of Plan A...His plan. He's in charge and it went as He planned. He had a reason for dying. Second, it all hinged on His love for me. Yes, there you have it...it's all about me. Jesus came for ME. And, I love Him because He first loved ME. I did not know how to love until He loved ME. Only through His eyes that were turned in my direction could I see the world reflected enough to turn my gaze from myself. Otherwise I am a sorry creature.
You see, it is not religion, but a personal thing for ME. I'm not talking about religion per se, but about family. I never had to wonder if I was good enough for God. The sermon that led me to the altar at the age of 14 was titled, "Ragman." The Senior youth Camp Evangelist preached about a God who wanted us no matter how filthy we were.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. If He had told me Jesus was looking for somebody clean, I would never have gone forward. If he had said I was good enough for Jesus, I would have thought he was lying. I knew what I amounted to, without Jesus. He preached that Jesus came to die for filthy sinners. So, I never have to stop and wonder if God is tired of me. I never have to guess if He thinks he got a bad deal. Instead, I find myself trying hard to make sure He gets something of value out of the deal, simply because I love Him. What can I bring to the table to strike a deal with the God who struck the deal before I arrived at the table? Since that is impossible, I only want to find a gift for Him. There is no gift fit for such a Giver, other than ME. If He gave His all for ME, then I will give Him ME. Your Gospel will be empty if YOU are not in it.
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so,
Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.
-my favorite song
Do you remember singing this in grade school...?
Go tell Aunt Rhody, Go tell Aunt Rhody, Go tell Aunt Rhody, The old gray goose is dead.
The one she's been saving... (x3) To make a feather bed.
The goslings are mourning... (x3) Because their mother's dead.
The old gander's weeping...(x3) Because his wife is dead.
She died in the mill pond...(x3) From standing on her head.
It's good to see that someone is concerned enough to send Rhody the news. Oh my, what should Aunt Rhody do?
A. Cook her goose
B. Make that new feather bed now
C. Invite company over for dinner
D. All of the above
E. What can she do? The Goose is dead!
While you finish that question, I'll turn to Luke, chapter 13. Just reading through the chapter, I find there is a vast theology of Jesus contained in this one chapter. If I could read only this, then it would be enough to explain the Gospel in totality. Let me break it down this way first. I see twelve parts:
1. Some people asked Jesus about the recent atrocious act where Pilate killed some Jews who were in the act of sacrificing an offering on the altar. Their human blood ran down, mingling with the blood of the beasts...making the appearance that the act was done, "for God's glory." Pilate believed the worshippers were actually insurrectionists, so he wanted them dead. He was paranoid with good cause. The men in the crowd around Jesus were concerned about whether this was a visible sign of the wrath of God on those men. Was their death a punishment for sin? (verses 1-3)
2. Jesus compared the act to the recent fall of a tower in Siloam, probably during one of the aqueduct building projects, which killed 18 men. Jesus asks were these men more sinful than others? (verses 4-5)
3. Jesus tells them a parable about a fig tree that doesn't give fruit for three years in a row, and the boss orders it to be cut down. But, a gardner intercedes, offering to fertilize the tree and asks for one more year to see fruit before chopping the tree down. (verses 6-9) (There is so much Christology in that! )
4. Jesus heals a bent lady in the synagogue on the Sabbath, to much consternation of the rulers. The rulers rebuke the woman, but Jesus in turn rebukes them, asking whether it is right for a "Daughter of Abraham" to be healed on the Sabbath. Now, by calling her a daughter of Abraham, you could say He was calling her a daughter of the law. And, the Sabbath was Law. So, I see this as Jesus' way of saying that it was lawful to help the children of the law, despite the law. (verses 10-16)
5. The people all rejoice over this kind (and somewhat revolutionary) saying of Jesus. (verse 17)
6. Then Jesus tells the crowds some parables to explain what God's Kingdom was all about. He compares the Kingdom to the planting of a mustard seed growing into a great tree, and then to leaven, or yeast kneaded into three bushels of meal, which spreads out and leavens the whole pile. That is a lot of bread!
7. Then Jesus is asked the question about how few people will be saved. He tells them to work hard at entering into the straight gate because many people will try to be saved, but few will make it. (verses 22-24)
8. Then, Jesus tells them a parable of a man of the house who closes the door at night and refuses entry to anyone not "in the family." (verses 25-27)
9. Jesus tells that many Jews will see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in Heaven, but themselves in hell. What a shock for the blood descendants of Abraham! (verses 28-29)
10. Jesus explains that in His Kingdom, the people who are last on earth will be first, and vice versa. (verse 30)
11. The Pharisees warn Jesus that He should leave Jerusalem before Herod kills Him. Jesus replies:
"...Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. "
Jesus called Herod a fox and insisted on keeping His previous itenerary of speaking and healing engagements in Jerusalem, despite their rejection. It seems quite shocking that Jesus would mock Herod and tell him where to find Him, almost daring him to do something about it, because He knew Herod could do nothing until he was allowed into the barnyard. (verses 31-34)
12. Finally we see Jesus proclaiming that Jerusalem will see Him proclaimed as Lord in the end. (verse 35)
Quite a lengthy chapter, but full of explicit, systematic teaching on what to expect from the Kingdom of God. Jesus was a great teacher! But, all of these twelve parts tell the Gospel when put together. The numbers below refer to the same parts as above:
1. Evil in this world
2. Answers in the face of calamity
3. Responsibility of sin / Call for repentance / Intercession and bearing fruit
4. Children of God deserving of God's blessings because of Grace
5. The rejoicing of all humanity over Grace
6. The continuing expansion of the Kingdom (That is a lot of bread! It seems symbolic of the size of the world. God is showing us how the Kingdom is expanding. His Kingdom message of the Gospel will expand and cover the world.)
7. Seemingly contradictory limits placed on entry into God's Kingdom
8. Defining answer to entry into the kingdom: blood rights prevail!
9. Whose blood? Not blood of Abraham, but blood of Jesus. Are you covered by His blood?
10. The saints will be exalted in Glory in the coming Kingdom of God
11. A Glimpse of the Battle between Jesus and Satan
12. Triumph of Jesus over all
There now. You have the Gospel in a chapter. Don't we have Christ crucified and risen in verse 32? Yes! He is Lord over all! No foxes in the barnyard will change His plans.
It's high time for Aunt Rhody to make that feather bed. Why wait any longer...the goose is dead. And, if her goose is cooked, all the better to share with company I say! But the chapter doesn't end with the resurrection of Christ. There is glory to come. Meanwhile the battle rages! The fox is in the barnyard. Make sure your goose doesn't get cooked lest Satan uses your plucked glory to feather his bed.
John 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
I sat awhile in the light today, this light, reading a beautiful passage from a beautiful book, John 1: 1-5. Going deeper into the light, I turned from there to Psalms 36:9 For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. That is prophetic of Jesus. I marveled at the use of the phrase to see light in light. Of course, it is obviously a figure of speech, much like the words " see the light of day" in our language, because the Hebrew word "ore" means light, illumination, luminary (in every sense, including lightning, happiness, etc.) as well as day, morning or sun. So, you could just as easily say that he is the light in our day (or the light in our light.)
I like the many ways John uses the "I am" phrase for Jesus. I am the bread of life- I am the bread which came down from heaven- I am that bread of life- I am the living bread which came down from heaven- I am the light of the world- as long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world- I am the door of the sheep- I am the door- I am the good shepherd- I am the good shepherd- I am the resurrection, and the life- I am the way, the truth, and the life I am the true vine.
All of these labels provide either life or access to life. Light gives life. Bread gives life, which is why Jesus called Himself the bread of life and living bread. Similarly, the door, the way, and the truth all provide access to Jesus who is the life. Jesus is everything. There is nothing that He is not.
Morn of morns, and day of days!
Beauteous were thy newborn rays:
Brighter yet from death’s dark prison
Christ, the Light of lights, is risen.
He commanded, and His Word
Death and the dread chaos heard;
Oh, shall we, more deaf than they,
In the chains of darkness stay?
Nature yet in shadow lies;
Let the sons of light arise,
And present the morning rays
With sweet canticles of praise.
- "Morn Of Morns, And Day Of Days" part of a Hymn written by Charles Coffin 1736
I am intrigued by the interplay of light and darkness in these three stanzas. It points right back to John's words...for he says it best... "And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." (1:5)
That word comprehended is from the Greek word katalambano, which means to take eagerly, to seize, possess, apprehend, attain, come upon, comprehend, find, obtain, perceive, or to overtake. It is a picture of opposition...a struggle between light and darkness. We often see darkness as the absence of light. But, it is striking how a lit match will dispel total darkness for a large area. The fact is, any light at all will prevent you from being in darkness. When we go stargazing or astroid watching, we have to wait for awhile for our eyes to adjust to the darkness. You feel blind at first when the light vanishes. I'm sure that must have been how John and the disciples felt when Jesus gave up the Spirit on the cross. Sudden dread chaos as the hymn says. The earth shook, the veil was torn, the dead walked earth...what a dark night! Darkness had seized the Light of the world. A full battle raged. Jesus had said that He was the Light of the world, as long as He was in the world. Now He was gone, and they felt the chains of darkness. But, when Jesus conquered death, suddenly the morning rays of the Light of lights dispelled the darkness all around us sons of light. He is morning and He is day. He is light. Do you see it?
Osama bin Ladin has been killed. I am not surprised, though I am thankful to our soldiers. His death reminds me of a passage in Isaiah.
Isaiah 14:16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
A picture of Satan in hell...and mankind marvling at his size, or lack of it, considering the way we have feared Satan here on earth. Apparantly, we will be amazed that he is such a runt. We will have to narrow our eyes to look at him in all his none-ness. Maybe we should go ahead and look at him narrowly now. When we can see the narrowness of Satan, then we can see the wideness of God.
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice, Which is more than liberty.
For the love of God is broader Than the measure of our mind;
And the heart of the Eternal Is most wonderfully kind.
There is plentiful redemption In the blood that has been shed;
There is joy for all the members In the sorrows of the Head.
But we make His love too narrow By false limits of our own;
And we magnify His strictness With a zeal He will not own.
Was there ever kinder shepherd Half so gentle, half so sweet,
As the Savior who would have us Come and gather at His feet?
*There's a Wideness in God's Mercy - An old Hymn by Faber
You know, with our eyes so full of God and all His glory, nothing else is really visible?