Know to Grow

The more I know about Jesus, the more my faith can grow.

Advertisements

Read: John 2

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11)

After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. (John 2:22)

Reflect:

Jesus’ disciples believed in him from his first miraculous sign. Then, after the fulfilment of Jesus’ prophetic words regarding his death, they believed the scripture (that had foretold of Jesus) and Jesus’ own words. This poses a conundrum. How could the discipled believe, and then believe again later? It seems as if belief is not solely a one-time event, but more of an ongoing series of events. The more Jesus revealed his glory, the more his disciples could believe in him.

Or perhaps another way of putting it is: the more the disciples saw of Jesus and got to know him, the more their belief was based in truth. So the disciples’ belief in Jesus became fuller, richer and deeper as they witnessed Jesus’ glory revealed in his life and ministry.

Belief expands with knowledge of the truth.

Crux:

The more I know about Jesus, the more my belief in him can grow.

Christology is necessary for Christianity.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

In his miraculous actions at the Cana wedding, I see Jesus having compassion for an awkward social situation and smoothing the way with the best wine possible. Please help me to believe in Jesus’ glory when I need him to cover my inadequacies, mistakes and insufficiencies (which, as you know, is all the time). It is great to know that Jesus cared enough to intervene at Cana and to know my life is in your loving hands.

I see Jesus’ righteous wrath and zealous passion for your holiness and glory in his abrupt, curt response to the challenge of the Jews at the Temple. Please keep me trembling in fear before your holiness. Please help me to believe in Jesus’ death for my sins and also in your gracious forgiveness. Please help me also to be deliberate in taking your glory seriously, so I do not dishonour you or your name, especially in those situations where I do the ‘right’ things in a completely wrong way, like shouting at the kids to get ready for church(!).

Please magnify your glory in me and through me in my everyday ordinary life.

Amen.

“Follow Me”

Jesus wants me to follow him so that I may know God.

Read: John 1

No-one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:18)

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 1:43)

Reflect:

Without knowing Jesus, a person can’t know God. We can’t see God, except in Jesus, the Light of the World. We can’t hear God, except in Jesus, the Word of God. We can’t face God, except through the forgiveness won by Jesus, the Lamb of God. We can’t relate to God, except in his one and only Son Jesus, who is himself God.

So it was an immense, even immeasurable, honour for Jesus to tell Philip of Bethsaida to “Follow me”. Jesus was leaving the place where John the Baptist had pointed him out as the Lamb of God to his disciples (and presumably to the Jewish leaders as well). Jesus was heading back to his home ground of Galilee, and if he hadn’t invited Philip to follow him, Philip might never have seen him again… and Philip would have missed out on not just knowing Jesus, but also missed out on truly knowing God.  But Jesus did ask Philip to follow him, and Philip did follow. What a privilege.

Jesus has extended this call to follow him to me as well, by giving me the opportunity to read and meditate upon John’s record of Jesus for myself. John’s gospel testimony allows Jesus to make God known to me, today, just by opening the Bible and reading John’s words. What a privilege!

Crux:

Jesus wants me to follow him so that I may know God.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

Father of one and only Son, Jesus; Adoptive Father to many heirs including me; you have known me since the beginning of time, before my life began. You know me inside and out: my motivations, my thoughts, my personality, my quirks… yet you have chosen to reveal yourself and make yourself known to me through Jesus, your Son, your Word, your Light, the Teacher you sent so Philip and I both may learn to know you and love you  and obey you.

Please continue to help me follow Jesus. May he be my Rabbi, and I his disciple, all the days of my life and into eternity, so i may always be knowing more of you.

Thank you for Jesus and for your prophets and disciples who testified aloud and in writing that Jesus is himself God, so that I can know and believe, and by believing have life in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Conscious > Righteous

Through the law I become conscious of my sin

I’m pretty sure I got a speeding ticket a few days ago. I was driving in an 80 km/hr zone, about 100m from the 110 km/hr zone boundary when I saw the black camera on the side of the road, partially obscured by leaves. I glanced down at my dash and saw, to my dismay, that the speedo had crept up without me noticing and it was presently hovering just below 90 km/hr. Drat! I was breaking the speed limit law.
img_3901crux
There was no point slowing down; by the time I’d realised I was going too fast, I was almost into the highway speed zone and it was time to accelerate, not brake. For the rest of the drive home, an entire hour, I fumed at myself and at the police. Mostly the police, in accordance with my sinful nature.

When Jeff met me at the door ready to hug me and offer commiserations, I burst into tears. I told him I felt like Job – under unbearable examination every moment (Job 7:17-19), found guilty even though I try my hardest each and every time I drive not to break the speed limit law.

For a bit of perspective, it’s been almost 12 months since my last speeding ticket. Living in the country, driving several hundred kilometres up and down a long, straight highway most days of the week, I’ve earned a ticket every year or so for the last few years. The truth is, no matter how hard I try to keep within the law, I do, occasionally, break it.

There have been lots of times I’ve passed one of those roadside cameras confident I was doing a legally correct speed. But when I get one of those dreaded envelopes in the mail with its smug photos of the side of the car and the number plate, I know there is no getting around it. My inability to perfectly keep the law  is exposed by the law itself.

I shouldn’t be surprised by my inability to keep the law. Nor should I be surprised by the law’s ability to make me conscious of my failure. This is, after all, the ultimate purpose behind all laws, from the least societal convention to the most profound commandment.

Romans 3:19 and 20 tells us, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law… through the law we become conscious of our sin.”

When I see those cameras, symbols of the law in Australia (whether they are currently taking my photo or not) I am reminded that I am, by nature, a sinner. I am not naturally perfect, pure, blameless or righteous*. Far from it! I cannot keep the laws of Australia – how much more do I fail to uphold the perfect standards of my holy God!

When I contemplate the seemingly easy to attain standards of road rules in Australia, I become conscious of my sin. When I think about the oft-misunderstood social mores of my peers, the rules of propriety, I become conscious of my sin. When I meditate upon the 10 commandments, I become conscious of my sin. “I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me” as David wrote in Psalm 51. The law makes my sin obvious.

A few days ago, when I saw that camera, it was too late to act and slow down to a safer speed. Paying the fine I’ll be getting in the mail sometime soon won’t take away the fact that I was speeding, either. Waiting out the loss of a few more demerit points from my licence won’t make me a better driver.

In contrast, God’s law is not ineffective. God’s law makes me conscious of my sin for a far higher purpose than revenue raising or road safety. When I am conscious of my own sin, I turn away from my sin and repent. I seek God’s mercy and clemency. I ask for God’s forgiveness.

Whenever the law makes me conscious of my sin, I realise just how unrighteous I am and how very much I need God’s righteousness. Instead of thinking I can become righteous through my own efforts to keep the law, I seek Christ’s righteousness, the righteousness that “is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22). I learn to trust God’s promise that “all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24).

I realise that obeying Jesus and being like Jesus is only possible because I have faith in Jesus Christ, whom I know and love.

crux: Jesus Christ is righteous. On my own, I am not righteous. Through the law, I become conscious of my sin so I will have faith in Jesus Christ and be given his righteousness.

* Righteous means morally perfect. Other words with similar meanings are pure, upright and blameless. Good and godly also mean the same thing. Another related word is justified, which means that God has judged you, removed your guilt, and announced that you are righteous.

[This musing is based upon Romans 3:19-26. The Holy Bible, New International Version 2011.]

Christology

Why study Jesus Christ?

Acts 11:26 tells us, “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” What led to the people of this city taking a new name, a new identity?

A story to share with children:

After Jesus was crucified, rose to life again and ascended to heaven, his disciples* were persecuted. One man, Stephen, was even killed with stones. Many of Jesus’ disciples fled from Jerusalem. But everywhere they went, they told people the good news about the Lord Jesus.

In Antioch, lots of people, including non-Jews, believed what they were told about Jesus. The book of Acts says they turned to the Lord. God changed their hearts through his grace. The people of Antioch gave up their old religious practices and turned away from their previous religious beliefs. Instead, they believed the truth that had first been declared at Pentecost (Acts 2:3): “God has made this Jesus, whom [the Jews] crucified, both Lord and Christ.” They became new disciples of Jesus.

The apostles in Jerusalem heard about these new disciples in Antioch, and sent Barnabas the Encourager to the city. Barnabas was glad to go, and even more glad to meet these new disciples. He was very excited to see that God’s grace was helping the people of Antioch to believe in Jesus Christ.

Barnabas stayed in Antioch for a while to encourage the new believers to stick with their new faith. They had lots to learn. Who was Jesus? Why was he called “the Christ”? What had Jesus taught to his disciples while he was on earth? What should they do to obey Jesus? How could they follow Jesus, now that he had gone up to heaven to be with God the Father?

acts-11v19-26-chrissie-d
Illustration copyright Chrissie D.
Permission to print this image is granted to families or churches for use in teaching children about Jesus Christ. This image must NOT be sold or used for any commercial reason. Please do NOT copy it to your website or blog.

The Holy Spirit was in Barnabas’s heart. He was full of faith in Jesus Christ. So Barnabas had answers for all their questions. The believers at Antioch learnt about Jesus. With Barnabas’s help and encouragement, even more people in Antioch believed in Jesus. Together they became a church, a new gathering of God’s people. Barnabas taught them to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.

After a while, it seemed as if there were too many believers in Antioch for one man to teach them all. So Barnabas went to find Saul, to bring him to help. Barnabas found Saul in his hometown, Tarsus, and brought him to Antioch.

For a whole year, Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught big crowds of people. The disciples of Jesus at Antioch spent twelve months studying all about Jesus Christ, with Saul and Barnabas as their enthusiastic teachers. As the new disciples learned about Jesus Christ, they came to love Christ, to obey Christ and eventually, to be a bit like Christ.

Barnabas and Saul taught the people in Antioch that Jesus had commanded his disciples to love one another, in the same way Jesus had loved them (John 11:34). The new disciples obeyed Jesus’ command. They loved one another very well. They showed compassion and were kind, humble, gentle and patient with each other.

In time, other people noticed how well these Antioch disciples loved each other. They commented, “They are loving other people just like Jesus Christ did.”

Some said, “They must belong to Christ.”

Other people said, “They are just like little Christs!”

So they gave the Antioch disciples a nickname, calling them Christians, which means little Christs. Ever since, the disciples of Jesus have been known as Christians. This was just what Jesus had said would happen (John 11:35).

crux: Like the believers at Antioch, I am a Christian. I am a disciple – a student – of Christ. So I study Christ. I seek to know Christ so I may love Christ, obey Christ and be like Christ.

I hope you will enjoy studying Christ with me at crux.live.

* Disciples are students or followers. Jesus’ disciples were the people who followed him to learn from him all the wonderful things he had to teach them about knowing, loving and obeying God.

[This text is based upon Acts 11:19-26. The Holy Bible, New International Version 2011.]