Old Guy And A Bucket Of Shrimp

Some food for thought, here.

Morning Story and Dilbert

It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the sun resembled a giant orange and was starting to dip into the blue ocean.

Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier. Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp. Ed walks out to the end of the pier, where it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is a golden bronze now.

Everybody’s gone, except for a few joggers on the beach.  Standing out on the end of the pier, Ed is alone with his thoughts…and his bucket of shrimp.

Before long, however, he is no longer alone. Up in the sky a thousand white dots come screeching and squawking, winging their way toward that lanky frame standing there on the end of the pier.

Before long, dozens of seagulls have enveloped him, their wings fluttering and flapping wildly. Ed stands there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds.  As he does…

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“…to be seen of men,” Matthew 6:1-5

Our Lord scolded the Pharisees on more than one occasion.  One of the things He charged them with was doing it for the attention they received.  Ostensibly, they were serving God, but really, they were serving themselves.

One time, Spurgeon referred to ministers who sought out snippets of praise like a cat sniffs out a mouse, that they might have them for their breakfast.

There is something “heady,” if you will, about standing in front of people and being the center of their attention, at least for a little while.  This is why some pro athletes and movie stars find it so difficult to “retire,” and sometimes “come back” when it would have been better for them to have stayed retired.  They miss the “center.”

A couple of you have nominated this blog for awards.  Thank you.  It means a great deal to me.

At the same time, I sense in myself the attitude Spurgeon commented on.  I’m disappointed when there seems to be no response to something I’ve posted.  When there are comments, I’m happy.  I have to ask myself, why?  Am I disappointed because I’m not receiving the attention?  I’m not in “the center”?  Do I seek praise as the cat seeks breakfast?

In all truth, I’m just an instrument in the hands of God, amazed that He’s pleased to use such a contrary one.  When a tourist goes into the Sistine Chapel, he doesn’t ask to see Michelangelo’s paintbrushes.  He is awed by the painting.

I’m just a “paintbrush” in the hand of God.  Even that statement seems almost to be one of insufferable pride.  If I know anything of Scripture, it’s only because God has allowed that.  If I’m able to write, it’s only because God has given me that ability.  If something is blessed to you, it’s only because God has blessed it to you.

I do love to write.  Some men and women are able to take wood or stone or some other material and make something of it.  I use nouns and verbs and punctuation.  Yet all of that is in vain if God doesn’t own and bless it.

I thank those who have nominated me from the bottom of my heart, but I can’t in good conscience receive these awards.  Thank you for thinking of me like that.  I don’t deserve such honor.  Jacob told God, “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth that You have shown Your servant,…,” Genesis 32:10.

I’m not, either.

WHO is my Shepherd?

Psalm 23 is one of the most beloved of all the Scriptures.  Little children are encouraged to memorize it.  It’s one of the first portions of Scripture I memorized.  Yet I fear all this familiarity, while perhaps not “breeding contempt,” has led to a certain nonchalance concerning it.

The first stanza of the first verse of this Psalm has got to be one of the most mind-boggling verses in Scripture:  The LORD is my shepherd.

The LORD?

is my shepherd?

I’m not questioning it; I’m expressing wonder and amazement.

Wonder and amazement at the idea that Jehovah God, that One Who flung the stars into space and Who has counted and named every single one of their billions; that One Who spoke everything into existence by the mere power of His Word; that One Whose will is instantly followed by multitude of angels; that One to Whom the ages of eternity bow in glad submission: – that One

has taken it upon Himself to be concerned about an insignificant speck of protoplasm on an insignificant mote of dust off to one side of His creation

not just as a casual Observer, but as One Who is my shepherd.

THAT ONE is my shepherd!

The End of Days

For some reason, my wife and I like disaster movies.  This is not to be confused with movies which are a disaster.  Or maybe it’s just me,and she puts up with it.  She does that, – a lot.  If there’s a DVD with background information on how it’s done, so much the better. I’m fascinated by the “hows” of the disaster scenes.  My comment to my wife is often, “I wonder how they did that.”  One of my favorites along that line is “Dante’s Peak.”  Even knowing how they do the dam rupturing or the highway collapsing and seeing how they “shoot it,” especially since there’s no such highway near the town where they shot the movie, it’s amazing to me that, knowing all that, you cannot tell it in the movie.  It looks real.  Another thing that amazes me is the amount of work it must take to build the stuff they destroy in the movie, especially if they have to shoot the scene several times.  Along this line, think “Lord of the Rings” or “Matrix”.  I know a lot of it’s computer graphics, but a lot of it isn’t.

What brings up this post was a movie we watched recently about “Armageddon.”  It was a Christian film purporting to show what is going to happen at “the end of days.”  One of the actors used that expression in explaining what was going on.  I didn’t think the movie was very realistic, either as to photography or plot.

There is a lot of discussion among Christians, sometimes rather heated, about what is going to happen in the future.  This includes a lot of discussion about the Scriptures which talk about the future.  Some says it’s all just symbolic, that we shouldn’t look for anything  “real” to happen.  I don’t agree.  Now, I don’t think we have the ability to imagine what is going to happen when this wicked world finally runs into the end of God’s patience, and He begins to give us the “tangible evidence” of His existence that rationalists and unbelievers are always asking for.  We certainly can’t picture it on film.  Our Lord Himself told us that unless those days were shortened, humanity would be destroyed (Matthew 24:22).

There is an Old Testament chapter which gives a clear and graphic description, without “symbolism,” of what’s going to happen at “the end of days.”  That chapter is Zechariah 14.  I’ll ask you to read it before continuing in this post.  Thanks.  All references, unless otherwise identified, are from the NKJV.  

There are two main sections to the chapter.

1. The destruction of Jerusalem and the return of the LORD, vs. 1-15

2.  The description of the post-return world, vs. 16-20.

The destruction of Jerusalem and the return of the Lord, vs. 1-15.

1.  The destruction of Jerusalem, vs. 1-2.

Jerusalem has probably been fought over more than any other city in history.  Over and over again she has been surrounded by her foes.  Many of them have been temporarily successful in defeating her.  Zechariah prophesies a time when it will seem that, finally, Jerusalem has met her end.

The movie mentioned above showed Jerusalem with plumes of smoke rising here and there from the city.  I think the scene will be more like pictures I remember from WWII showing the bombed-out cities of Germany after her defeat.  There was nothing left.  What little that might be left in Jerusalem will be looted, terrible atrocities will be committed against the women, and those citizens who are left will be carted off “into captivity.”

Zechariah mentions that “half the city will go into captivity.”  I’m not sure exactly what this means.  There are those in our time who want to divide Jerusalem into two.  Perhaps this will have happened, and the “half” of the city that’s destroyed is the “Jewish” section.  In any event, it will be a terrible and terrifying time, and Israel will seem to be “down for the count,” much to the joy of her enemies.  “Peace and safety” (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:3) will be said finally to have arrived in the Middle East.  The cause of all the troubles has been defeated.

However, like in the old western movies where the cavalry comes swooping in at the last minute, trumpets blaring, to rescue whoever is in trouble, something will happen.  This brings us to

2.  The return of the Lord, v. 3.

Many Christians have this idea of “gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” or of “sweet Jesus.”  This isn’t the description given by Zechariah.  While it’s true that we receive grace and truth in abundance from our Lord, John 1:14, 16, it is also true that today is the day of salvation, 2 Corinthians 6:2.  The time of which Zechariah prophesies are part of what is called the great day of His wrath, Revelation 6:17; Psalm 110:5, 6.  Jesus is going to return  in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Thessalonians 1:8.  [For a little more on this, look at our post on “Sticks”.]

In passing, it is the LORD Who is said “go forth” and Whose “feet will stand on the Mount of Olives” [Olivet].  Yet, in the New Testament, it is Jesus Whose feet will stand on that mountain, Luke 24:50, 51; Acts 1:9-11.  Bethany, Luke 24:50, is on the side of Mt. Olivet away from Jerusalem.  This is just one of many seemingly coincidental proofs of the deity of the Lord Jesus.

3. Environmental and social changes, vs.4-10.

We can’t even begin to picture the devastation when our Lord comes back to claim what is His.

a.  The Mount of Olives will split in two, making a very large valley, v. 4.

The geologic fault lying under the Jordan River goes all the way into the middle of Africa, about three thousand miles.  If that is involved in this, it will be “a very large valley indeed”!  However, Zechariah does place a limit to it, “Azal,” mentioned only here.  So, we’re not sure of the length of this “valley.”  Regardless, this won’t be some little tremor that rattles a few dishes and then is over.  Isaiah 2:19,21 speaks of a time when the LORD arises to shake the earth mightily.  This in the context of what happens in Revelation 6:15-17.

To go along with this, v. 10 says, All the land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem.  This is a distance of about 35 miles (if this is “En-Rimmon” on the map I consulted).  It seems to me that this would make room for the things spoken of in Ezekiel 40-48.  One of the many complaints against that portion of Scripture is that there isn’t enough room.  Who knows what other geologic changes in the land might accompany vs. 4 and 10?

b.  There will be one day neither day nor night, vs. 6, 7.

I can’t even begin to explain this.  We are so used to day and night, sunrise and sunset – the orderly progression of time.  This will be something outside our experience, but known to the LORD.  That’s enough for me.

c.  Living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, v.8.

Zechariah just mentions it, but Ezekiel 47:1-12 give an extensive description of what will happen with these “living waters”

One thing:  there will still be “seasons:” summer and winter. Isaiah 4:6 tells us that there will still be “weather:” storm and rain.

d.  The LORD shall be King over all the earth, v 9.

“The Kingdom” is a debated subject.  Some tell us that it’s only God’s spiritual rule in the hearts of His people.  But “heart religion” is something required throughout the Bible, not  just in the New Testament.  A large segment of Christendom rejects any idea of a “carnal, political, earthly” reign of the Lord Jesus.  I’ve never been able to understand this.  What difference would it make “where” the Lord Jesus sits on David’s throne?  Would He somehow be less “holy…and undefiled” in Jerusalem than He is in Heaven?  This idea seems to me to be a great slander against Him.

This verse is another “coincidental” proof of the deity of Jesus.  Zechariah wrote that Jehovah will be King over all the earth.  Revelation 19 and 20 refer all this to the Lord Jesus.

Many confidently assert that the Lord Jesus is reigning over all the earth, right now.  He is, right now, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”  But where is there, today, at this very moment, as you read this, a single nation which submits to Him as such and seeks to live by His laws?  That can’t even be said of many churches and Christians, churches which deny His Word and have substituted their own agendas for His.  Christians who view Him only as some sort of heavenly Concierge, existing only to fulfill every desire of their “faith”.

The title “King of kings and Lord of lords” is always used in connection with Jesus’ return to this earth, not His absence from it.

When the Lord comes back, there will be no doubt, no argument.  It is often taught that when the Lord Jesus comes back, He will sit in the Judgment and then usher in the new heavens and new earth.  No “millennial” reign is to be expected.  The “1000 years” of Revelation 20 can’t possibly mean an actual length of time, but is only symbolic of the gospel age in which we now live.  However, Revelation 19:15 says that He will strike the nations,…and…rule them with a rod of iron.   The word translated “rule” means “to shepherd.”  It’s the same word used by the Lord in John 10 as He spoke of the Shepherd and His sheep.  Zechariah gives us some examples of this later in the chapter.

e.  Jerusalem will be safely inhabited, v. 10-11.

There’ll no longer be any disputes over who “owns” Jerusalem.  No more rockets fired into her from hostile territory.  No more terror and death.

f.  Israel’s enemies will be judged, vs. 12-15.

Zechariah gives a graphic description of the plague with which the LORD will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem.  Some try to identity this with the result of a nuclear explosion.  Perhaps.  I don’t know.  The “means” of its happening is unimportant.  The fact that it will happen is what is important.  Not forever will humanity thumb its nose at God.  Vs. 13 and 14 indicate something of the battles that will surround Jerusalem in the end.  There is nothing in earth’s history to parallel what will happen then.  Ezekiel 39 tells us that it will take 7 months or more to bury all the bodies and 7 years to clean up the mess left behind.  It will be no minor thing!

The description of the post-return world, v. 16-21.

There’s only one thing emphasized in this section, and that is the worship that will take place after the Lord returns.  A lot of people have great difficulty with the idea of the continuation of some of what seem to be the Old Testament rituals in a time plainly after the end of the gospel age.  Ezekiel 40-48, with its detailed and exact description of a Temple and sacrifices – the grain offering, the sin offering and the trespass offering, 42:13, cf. 45:17, is another such portion.  These Scriptures seems incompatible with the NT teaching of the finished work of redemption wrought by Christ on the Cross.

I’ll admit that I don’t understand all that might be involved in this.  Some have suggested that these sacrifices will simply be memorial in nature, like the Lord’s Supper.  Perhaps.  I don’t know.  Perhaps an analogy may be drawn between the Old and New Testaments.  There are things in the Old Testament which were made clear only in the New Testament.  Perhaps the things which so puzzle us here and now will be made clear during the time of which Zechariah wrote.

Pay close attention to God’s instruction to Ezekiel about what he was to write.  In Ezekiel 40:4, Ezekiel was told, “Son of man, look with your eyes, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here so that I might show them to you.”  Then in 44:3, And the LORD said to me, “Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes and hear with your ears all that I say to you concerning all the ordinances of the house of the LORD and all its laws.”  In other words, I don’t think a casual dismissal of these things because we can’t understand them, or because we might think they’ve all been “fulfilled in Jesus,” as one school of thought teaches, is appropriate.  Without any desire to be flippant or irreverent, these things are God’s problem, if I may put it that way, since He inspired both Ezekiel and Zechariah to write them down, and then He preserved them so that they have come down to us and we can read them.  It’s up to Him as to their fulfillment.

Returning to Zechariah, some have taught that the section from vs. 16-20 “picture the universal blessing that God will bestow in the final state” (Reformation Study Bible, note on Zechariah 14:16-20, p. 1341).  If this is true, then what do the ideas of refusal to worship and the punishment of such refusal mean? – in a perfect, sinless eternity?  And if the “kingdom” is simply “Christ’s rule in the hearts of His people,” then what does He “rule them with a rod of iron,” Revelation 19:15, mean?  Who are the “them”?

Does all this really matter?  We’re told that “prophecy” isn’t really about “the fundamentals of the faith,” that a belief about prophecy isn’t necessary for a person to be saved.  And that’s true.  Believers in all different views of prophecy will be in heaven, and believers of all views of prophecy will be in hell.  So…

why all the fuss?  Simply this.  It is the Word of God.  The prophetic portions of Scripture involve a large percentage of its content.  It was inspired by the Holy Spirit.  It is important.

Now, I don’t agree with those who spend all their time there.  There are some who, every time someone important sneezes in the Middle East, they rush to the Scripture to see what’s being fulfilled.  Ministries are built on this.  Neither do I agree with the “popularization” of it in movies and books which can’t possibly portray what will happen.

But we should know something about what the Bible says about the future because that where we’re all headed.  Cf. 2 Peter 3:11.

As I read over this post, I see places where much more could be said.  For anyone who might be interested in a thorough and excellent treatment of the subject, I highly recommend Alva J. McClain’s “The Greatness of the Kingdom.”  I’ve made no attempt to make an “exact” chronology of prophecy.  I’m not sure that’s entirely possibly.  People get into trouble when they try to fit all the details of Scripture into where they think they should go.  I expect when all is said and done that all the “schools of prophetic thought” will discover they were wrong in some areas.  This leads me to the final thought of Zechariah 14.

In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD.

This seems to be a strange ending to the thoughts of worship and holiness that precede it.  Well, who were the Canaanites?  They were the original inhabitants of the land of promise, who, because of their sin and depravity, were to be destroyed in judgment.  Some escaped this judgment through deceit, – the Gibeonites, Joshua 9, and others simply because Israel was disobedient.  The point is that there will be people who won’t be included in the blessings Zechariah wrote about.

Our Lord agreed.  In Matthew 7:21-23, He said, Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in Your name?  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’  This should be a sobering thought.  Some who have been active in “serving the Lord” will be excluded from eternal blessing.  But why?  Read the statement over again.  It’s all about “them:” “what WE have done.”  Nothing about what the Lord has done.

Oh, listen.  There are many who will be astonished beyond words at their being rejected by the Lord.  Jesus mentioned “the will of My Father in heaven.”  What is that “will”?  Listen to our Lord in John 6:40, “…this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life….”  Don’t mistake that “may” as being uncertain.  It speaks of purpose.  And don’t believe that one actually has to “see” the Son, as in some vision.  We see Him by faith.  Him, and Him alone, as the Savior of our souls.  It isn’t Christ and the Church, Christ and baptism, …and the Sabbath, …and good works, … and keeping the Law, and….  The list goes on and on.  Some of these may have their place, AFTER the Lord alone has saved us, but never in order to get Him to save us.

Oh, that none who read these words may be among that group on that sad day.

Just A Piece of Wood

Hezekiah “…broke in pieces the brass serpent which Moses had made; for until those the days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and he called it Nehushtan (a piece of brass)” 2 Kings 18:4 (NKJV).

Nearly 700 years (!) earlier, Moses had made this brass serpent in accord with God’s instruction, Numbers 21:1-9.  The people has sinned against God, and poisonous serpents had come among them as judgment.  Those who looked on this serpent of brass held aloft on a pole were healed.  The Lord Jesus, in John 3:14-15, taught that this incident was a picture of His own coming death and of the salvation of sinners.

By Hezekiah’s time, the brass serpent had become an object of superstition, as if it had the power to heal.  How do you suppose the people felt about this destruction?

We wonder what would happen if, some Sunday morning, a pastor holding up a wooden cross would stand before his people and, while announcing, “This is just a piece of wood,” would break it into pieces.  It might depend on the church, but we suspect that a ripple of shock might sweep through the congregation, much like the shock that followed when a priest tore up a picture of Pope Benedict after Benedict had announced his retirement from the papacy.

We’re so used to hearing about “the cross”.  But the cross itself has no more power to save than did that brass serpent of old.  Even the cross upon which Jesus died was “just a piece of wood.”  Other men, before and after, may have died on that same piece of wood.  Their deaths had no meaning.  Why did Jesus’?  Scripture gives three reasons.

1.  The death of Jesus was a SACRIFICE.  From the very first, sin has brought death.  Even Adam and Eve were taught this.  Death had been promised them “the day” they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Yet they did not die that “day”.  Instead, animals died and Adam and Eve were clothed with their skins, Genesis 2, 3.  We can’t greatly enter into this teaching, but every time an Israelite brought an animal to the altar, he put his hand on its head.  This was a symbolic confession that he deserved to die, but the sacrifice of the animal meant that he could continue to live.  So Jesus came to “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,” Hebrews 9:26.  We live because of the sacrifice of Jesus.

2.  The death of Jesus was a SATISFACTION.  God had instituted physical and moral laws which govern all life.  Breaking these laws has serious consequences.  If you jump off a tall building, the consequence for breaking the law of gravity is serious injury or death.  To break God’s moral law brings only death: “the soul that sins shall die,” Ezekiel 18:4; “the wages of sin is death,” Romans 6:23.  God’s justice is as inflexible as His love is immeasurable and must be satisfied.  God does not and cannot ignore sin.  The penalty for sin – death – must be paid and there are no exceptions.

Isaiah 53:10, 11 brings these two thoughts together:  v. 10 speaks of the “offering” – sacrifice – of the Lord Jesus for sin, and v. 11 says that God is “satisified” with that offering.

What does this mean to you and me?

3.  The death of Jesus was a SUBSTITUTION.  2 Corinthians 5:18-21 tells us that Jesus took the place of those for whom He came to die.  Though sinless Himself, He took their sins as His, and, dying, paid the penalty for those sins.  So completely did Jesus satisfy God’s justice as the substitute for sinners that it is impossible for a single person for whom He died ever to come under condemnation for sin.  Jesus was their Substitute.

Sin will be punished.  Your sin will be punished, and mine.  Either we will be punished or we must find a substitute.  The Lord Jesus came as a Substitute.  Though sinless, He took a place as a sinner, to die for sinners.  Have you taken, will you take, your place as a sinner?  Will you confess that you are guilty?  That you deserve to die?  That God would be just and fair if He punished you? Will you turn from your sin, and turn to the Lord Jesus for salvation?

Do you thus believe on the Lord Jesus?  Do you rest in His sinless life and sacrificial death as your only hope and confidence before God?  You see, “the cross” is more than just a pretty piece of jewelry or an ornament on a building.  It’s more than just “a sign.”  It was the instrument on which the Lord Jesus died for sinners.  It is His death and His alone which gives any hope for sinners like you and me.

Do you thus believe on the Lord Jesus?  If so, God’s Word says you have been saved from your sins, Romans 3:21-26.  If not, consider….  Are you willing to stand before God on your own account, Hebrews 9:27.

The Heartbeat of a Mother.

I’ve already posted this, I know. Just can’t read a calendar. Mother’s Day is THIS weekend, not last. Posting it again. Have a blessed Mother’s Day, all you moms out there.

nightlightblogdotcom

Since I am only a son, grandson, great-grandson, father and grandfather [no “greats” there, yet], I don’t know that I’m particularly qualified to write about being a mother.  But I’ll do my best.

A young woman once apologetically told me that she didn’t work outside the home, that  she was “just a mother.”  At once, I told her that no woman is ever “just a mother.”

A mother is the first, and perhaps the most important, part of a baby’s life.  One of the very first things he or she must be conscious of is the nearby heartbeat of that one whose very body is involved in nurturing and protecting this new life within it.  Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub.  The rhythm of life.  For nine months, that sound is the background of existence, the assurance that all is normal.

Then comes the trauma of birth – for both the mother…

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If Jesus is God,….

The phrase, “If Jesus is God,” is always followed by questions like, “How can the Father be greater than He is?”  “Does Jesus pray to Himself?”  “Doesn’t that make Him His own Father?”  “How can He call God, ‘My God’?”  “Why were there things He didn’t know?”

All of these questions, and all similar questions, are answered by Paul in a few verses of Scripture in Philippians 2:5-11 (NKJV):

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This incredible Scripture has three parts:

Jesus as God, vs. 6, 7.

1.  His being, being in the form of God.

In our post on “The Third Genealogy,” we noted that nowhere does the Bible speak of Jesus “becoming” or being “created” God, or a God.  John said that as the Word, “Jesus” being His human name, He was God.

To us, the word form carries the idea of “shape.”  However, to the Greek, the word carried the idea of nature or character.  In agreement with John, Paul was saying that the Word was Deity, was God.

2.  His thinking, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.

Though there is discussion among scholars as the meaning of the words translated “consider it robbery,” it seems to me that the best meaning is that He didn’t think equality with the Father was something to be selfishly clung to.  We’ll return to this thought in a moment.

3.  His action, but made Himself of no reputation.

Scripture teaches that there was a group of people who would otherwise have been lost who were chosen by the Father and given to the Son.  Jesus called them “His sheep”.  However, since these people are by nature the children of wrath, it was necessary that something be done about their sin and their sinfulness.

Jesus agreed to come into this world as the Representative and Redeemer of His people, His “sheep,” Matthew 1:21.  He was their “Shepherd”.  However, He didn’t come with glory and honor, such as He had in heaven with the Father, and which He rightfully could have claimed.  He didn’t “cling” to the honor He had as God.  He didn’t come as a “personality” with a huge following, like some in the Church today.  He was born into a family of ordinary people who lived in an obscure village in a part of Israel that was looked down upon.  He spent 90% of His life unknown and even when He began His ministry, it was to crowds of ordinary people, the rulers and leaders wanting nothing to do with Him.  Indeed, it was they who ultimately demanded His death.

The phrase could be translated, “He emptied Himself,” and there is discussion about what this means.  Some teach that it means that He divested Himself of His deity, that as Man He ceased to be God.  That isn’t what the term means at all.  We’ll come back here in a minute.

Jesus as Man, vs. 7, 8.

When Paul wrote that Jesus took on Himself the form of a bondservant and the likeness of men, he wasn’t saying that Jesus just looked like a man.  Paul is asserting that Jesus was fully and really human.  His birth was like any other.  His conception is actually what was miraculous, though we speak of “the virgin birth.”  Once conceived, though, He developed like any other baby and was born into this world, where He grew and developed as a baby, a toddler, a child, a teenager (though that is a fairly recent concept) and then as an adult.  Indeed, once He reached adolescence, He would pretty much have been considered “adult.”

It’s difficult to think of the Creator and Upholder of the universe as having to learn how to walk.

This is where all the questions come in about the so-called limitations of Jesus.  As a human being, He did not have the infinite capabilities that He had as God.  It is this He divested Himself of, His divine glory and the independent exercise of His divine power, though there are glimpses of it.  He turned water into wine, walked on water, stilled storms, healed the sick, raised the dead.  These aren’t ordinarily human activities.  Though Man, He didn’t cease to be God.

As for those who say that He never claimed to be God, those who heard His statement in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I AM,” clearly and certainly understood that that was exactly what He was claimed, to be Jehovah.  See also John 5:18; 10:33.

Even though Jesus was, and is, God,  He had a human mind and mere human abilities.  It is because of this that there were things He didn’t “know,” even though, as God, He is omniscient.  It wasn’t because He wasn’t God, but because He was truly human, as well.  As God, He was omnipotent.  As a man, He got tired and hungry.  As God, He was omnipresent, being here and there.  As man, He had to walk from here to there.

In addition, Paul wrote that Jesus was born under the Law, Galatians 4:4, and as such was responsible to live by its demands.  This would include acknowledging the Father as His God just like any other human being, but especially the Jews.  This was why, when talking to Mary Magdalene about His ascension, He could say that He was going to “My God and your God,” John 20:17.  Notice, however, He didn’t say that He was going to “our” God.  There was still a distinction.

As a Jewish man under the Law, He would have been subject to the Father.  It is because of this that He could say that the Father was greater than He was.  It wasn’t because of some “inferiority” on His part, but simply the relationship He bore to the Father at that time.  It has nothing to do with His not being “God,” but with His being human.  In addition, He had come to do the Father’s will, John 5:26 with many others.  He had come to save His people from their sins, an activity begun by the Father in election and brought to pass by the Spirit in regeneration.  He had come as “the Servant of Jehovah,” Isaiah 42:1-4.  As such, He was obedient….

As the ultimate evidence of His humanity, Jesus died.  God cannot die.  This is why the Word had to take to Himself humanity, so that, as Jesus, He could die.  But He didn’t die easily, in honor and glory, with a morphine drip to ease His agony, like terminal patients have today.  He even refused what relief there was available at the time, Matthew 27:34. He died the most cruel death imaginable, a death even the Romans considered despicable, in the words of Paul, even the death of the cross.

But His story doesn’t end there…

Jesus as Lord, vs. 9-11.

As far as the world is concerned, Jesus has little, if any, relevance and significance.  He may as well still be dead.  Indeed, many believe that He still is.  Certainly, there is no government which honors Him and seeks to live by His words.  Even “Christendom” has largely relegated Him to a secondary, or less, role.  Many churches still have Him on the Cross.

To many unbelievers, Jesus is little more than a cuss word.  Or a name to be mocked and ridiculed.  Many even doubt that He really existed.  Sadly, even many professing Christians don’t give Him the honor He deserves, seeing Him as little more than a buddy, or “a Jewish carpenter.”  Views about Him are more likely to be from sentiment than they are from Scripture.

Scripture says that God raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand.  There is considerable discussion about what this means, and about the current place of the Lord Jesus in the scheme of things.  Arguments abound about the interpretation of Old Testament Scriptures which foretell a “kingdom” over which Messiah will reign.  It’s not the purpose of this post to enter into all this.

It’s enough to say that there is coming a time when every single created being will bow before the Lord Jesus Christ and confess that He is Who He said He is.  Every knee will bow, before Him, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.  There are those who believe that this means that every single person will be saved. The Scripture teaches otherwise.  The atheist, the skeptic, the false religionist, the demon, all will be forced to bow before Him and acknowledge Him.  This idea bothers a lot of people who are concerned about “free will,” but in this there will be no freedom, any more than a criminal has “freedom” to disregard sentencing for his crimes.  God will be glorified in this, His Son, this One despised and rejected of men.

Though one day all, even the lost, will have to confess Him to be Lord, right now He is Lord, and He has willing subjects.  Are you one of them?

There’s really only one thing left to consider…

What do you think about Christ? (Matthew 22:42,)