” My sheep hear my voice,
and I know them,
and they follow me:”
[More photos from Romania Here See ‘Categories’ ]
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, . . . the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
We, as Christians, need to hold onto a keen awareness of the facts to which Paul points us in Romans 5.
Christ died for the ungodly (v. 6).
While we were sinners, Christ died for us (v. 8).
Even while we were enemies, . . . (v. 10)!
Accepting this sharpens our hearing as we listen to the words of our Lord: “ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”–Matthew 5
Christ tells us to imitate our Father.
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. . . . and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”–Luke 6
What resources do we have to obey? The gift given when we were reconciled. Romans 5 tells us that “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Adolf Schlatter writes, “The ungodly were loved by the one who did the will of God. The act of love by which he unites the ungodly with himself, at the same time is the act of obedience by which he does the will of God. Hence his love originates from God’s love. He has demonstrated the extent to which God values the person and intently unites him with himself, in that Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans, p. 123f)
Thus, we (who were loved even as enemies) trust and obey and praise God for Good Friday! You might like to read Charles Spurgeon’s reflections on this day. See April 10 in his Morning and Evening book and read some of the days before and after. (You can find this to read on-line.) Spurgeon truly understood the effects and implications of Good Friday, both in what Christ did for us, and what He calls us to do for others. Spurgeon Quotes Here
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.
Jerusalem and The Passover Feast
The ISBE sets the scene:
Pilgrimage was made annually to Jerusalem for the Passover sacrifice…
Passover in NT temple days was a spectacle of excitement and devotion. Pilgrims near and far ascended to the holy city…
Days before Passover began, Jerusalem was a hubbub…Many pilgrims…arrived early to sell or barter their wares…
And numbers? Josephus’ assessment of 3 million Jews (including the city residents) is considered an “extreme exaggeration” or symbolic. But the throngs of pilgrims would have swelled to well over one hundred thousand.
Jesus and the Crowds
John tells us that “six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus was…” (John 12:1), and dined with him and his sisters. This event attracted its own crowd of disciples and others.
“Now [on the next day] when they drew near Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples” (Mat. 21), to fetch a donkey.
And then, “a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him…” (John 12:12).
So, here is the scene. With crowds of pilgrims converging on Jerusalem from every direction, some pilgrims who have heard of his approach meet Jesus, accompanied by a crowd of disciples, on the road outside of Jerusalem.
[Looking Ahead: As an important side note, let us not overlook the unfounded equating, that we may hear, of the “crowds” accompanying Jesus outside the city, shouting, “Hosanna” with the “crowd” in the city before Pilate’s seat, shouting “crucify.” Though a popular refrain, it is poor speculation, which pays no attention to the setting and has no foundation in the text itself.]
Hosanna is a transliteration [“to represent or spell in the characters of another alphabet” a word from a different language in one’s own language] of the Hebrew word from Psalm 118:25 which is translated, “Save now, I pray, O LORD;…”
W.F. Albright notes, in Matthew (AB) that it “is a prayer for deliverance (“Save now!”); it is not in any way a cry of praise….The meaning of the vocative [“a grammatical case in certain inflected languages to indicate the person…being addressed.”] la was misunderstood quite early, and the Greek translation therefore rendered the vocative O son of David as “to the son of David,”…[italic mine] What we have here, therefore, is an ancient liturgical text, a cry to the anointed king for deliverance”.
We see the same picture in the episode immediately preceding the Triumphal Entry, in the plea of the Two Blind Men (Mat. 20:29-34): “Take pity on us, son of David!”
“Sir, let our eyes be opened.”
[This is the first post with which I began this blog on 1 April 2012 #Palm Sunday]
in the highest,
and on earth peace
to men on whom
his favor rests.
Luke 2:14 (NIV)
We may pause amid this season’s bustle and reflect on familiar words–yet a bit unfamiliar in recent versions which bring out the Christmas message. Peace is rooted in God’s favor, in his grace. Peace comes through God’s act of sending the Christ for the purpose of bringing salvation to many. Peace dwells in the household of faith. For all this we with the angels may truly utter praise, “Glory to God . . .”
The clear note of the gospel is muffled by the phrase “‘men of goodwill’ [which] ought to disappear entirely from Bible translations and Christmas meditations!” (NIDNT). And we ought not to muffle the message. For multitudes, there is no peace, only dread. Many long to hear tidings of comfort and joy, and to partake of that peace that passes understanding, singing with the redeemed, “peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!”
The Faithful (O Come, All Ye . . .) will declare these tidings to their neighbor. God’s gift of peace is intimately joined with obedience to all that our Lord Jesus Christ commands (Isaiah 48:18), including his call to us to be his witnesses. At Christmas, opportunities abound for sharing with those in darkness tidings of the Prince of Peace.
For those in darkness, George Fox was clear about the first step to peace:
I directed them to the Divine Light of Christ . . . by which Light they might see their sin and also their Saviour Christ Jesus to save them from their sins. This I told them was their first step to peace . . .
We, too, must be clear about this. Where “the whole world is in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), and where peddlers abound selling panaceas for peace, we must declare:
Peace is not bought but brought;
not gotten but given;
not “hyped” but hidden.
And for them that have faith,
faith in the only Son begotten of
the promise is fulfilled–
“May grace and peace be multiplied to you” (1 Peter 1:2), and through you this Christmas.
–First published in Quaker Life, December, 1985. Here is one way to share the Christmas story with others.
An excellent devotion for Advent, is Athanasius On The Incarnation.
C. S. Lewis wrote the Preface for this edition, advising us to not read another new book until we have read an old one. And if we have not time for both, to read the old.
Dr. Ben Witherington is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary. This is an excellent synopsis of where “Left Behind” came from, and it is NOT the Bible. For the exegesis of the supposed ‘Rapture’ passage in 1 Thessalonians see: https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/second-coming-rapture-vs-scripture-christian/
See this excellent 7-minute video discussing the origins of Dispensationalism and the idea of a secret rapture, from NT Professor Ben Witherington III.
I want to be Left Behind, by James Michael Jones–reblogged below this text and my comments.
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,[e] but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour[f] your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24
[Text highlighted to show the parallel: …took…taken…]
Yes, some scholars see the “taken” as being “to judgment.” Robert H. Mounce (New International Biblical Commentary), sees this as parallel with the ‘”taken away” by the flood’ (v. 39). Others think it is ‘left for judgment (e.g. NICNT). But the two differing views do not detract from the key point–“The coming of Jesus marks a complete and permanent division” (Leon Morris) “. . . the decisive moment.” “The sayings emphasize the completely unexpected nature of the Man’s coming” (AB).
THIS is the Parousia, the Second Advent, the final judgment, (vv. 27, 29-31, 44), not some secret “beam me up Scotty!” fiction. This context leaves “Left Behind” out in the cold. [The enigmatic saying about the vultures receives a variety of educated guesses.] And the context of the primary passage which is distorted to fit the modern “Rapture” doctrine also leaves the fiction behind. https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/second-coming-rapture-vs-scripture-christian/
Left Behind will be released in theaters soon. One of the verses used to describe the Rapture is Matthew 24:40. It states: “Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left.” According to supporters of the Left Behind series of books and films, no one wants to be ‘left behind’.
If you read Tim LaHaye’s book “Left behind” and watch the first “Left Behind” film, you do NOT want to be left behind. However, did Jesus believe the ones left behind had it bad? Read Jesus’ remarks in Luke 17:34-37 and you tell me. “‘I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.’ And they said to Him, ‘Where, Lord?’ He said to them, ‘Where the corpse…
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