Posts belonging to Category Christ



The Silent Lamb

A Good Friday Devotional

“Pilate asked him, ‘Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.’ But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.” (Mark 15:4-5)

It was early in the morning on a Friday. The previous evening Jesus had shared a meal with his disciples in the Upper Room. From there they proceeded to Gethsemane where Jesus was arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin. False witnesses testified against him, but their statements did not agree.

Finally the high priest asked Jesus if he was the Messiah. Jesus responded, “I am.” At this the high priest tore his clothes. He accused Jesus of blasphemy, and the people condemned him as worthy of death. They spit at him, blindfolded him, and struck him with their fists. The guards took him away and beat him.

Now in the early morning hours Jesus stood before Pilate. The accusations came fast and furious, yet Jesus made no response. Jesus, the Word of God who spoke all of creation into being, stood silent before his accusers. And although Pilate found no basis to condemn Christ, in order to satisfy the crowd he handed Jesus over to be crucified.

Why didn’t Jesus speak up? Why didn’t he defend himself? Jesus remained silent in fulfillment of the Scriptures and out of love for you and for me. Isaiah 53:7 says, “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” 1 Peter 2:23 says, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

Have you encountered situations where you felt the need to defend yourself against others? Ecclesiastes 3:7 says, “There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.” Sometimes it is the right choice to speak. But there are other times when we would do better to remain silent. We must seek God’s wisdom and prayerfully consider our words before we speak. And we will always do well to remember the Silent Lamb who remained silent before his accusers and entrusted himself to God who judges justly.

The Sacrificial Lamb (Video)

Today is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar year. SourceFlix has put together an excellent 9-minute video explaining the Day of Atonement and showing how it has been fulfilled for believers today through Christ.

The Sacrificial Lamb (Video length: 8:56)

You can also read about the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament in Leviticus 16.

Link: SourceFlix

The Jesus Tomb Unmasked

The Jesus Tomb Unmasked Expedition Bible recently released “The Jesus Tomb Unmasked” as a response to the Discovery Channel’s 2007 production, “The Lost Tomb of Jesus.” You can purchase the DVD for $7 from Amazon or watch it for free at the Expedition Bible website. Expedition Bible is a documentary series produced from the land of Israel covering a diversity of topics in thirty minute episodes that defend and establish the reliability and authority of the Bible. (HT: BiblePlaces.com)

Related posts:
    • The Lost Tomb Losing More Ground
    • How to Ensure Bias in a Presentation
    • The Jesus Family Tomb and Bayes’ Theorum – You Do the Math!

The Wide Open Arms of Christ

It is not uncommon for preachers to compare Jesus’ arms stretched out on the cross to his arms stretched out in love for us today. I thought this was a more modern convention, but apparently the analogy goes back at least as far as John Calvin.

“God declares to us that Jesus Christ, who once had his side pierced, today has his heart open, as it were, that we may have assurance of the love that he bears us; that as he once had his arms fastened to the cross, now he has them wide open to draw us to himself; and that as once he shed his blood, so today he wishes us to be plunged within it. So, when God invites us so sweetly and Jesus Christ sets before us the fruit of his death and passion, . . . let us all come to take our stand with our Lord Jesus Christ.” (John Calvin, Sermons on Isaiah’s Prophecy of the Death and Passion of Christ, p. 82)

Thank you, Lord, for the wide open arms of Christ my Savior.

HT: Ray Ortlund

Following Jesus is Not the Same as Twitter

Following Jesus is not the same as Twitter. Twitter is a service that allows you to “follow” other people online as they post brief messages throughout the day (similar to Facebook status updates). It is a relatively simple and painfree way to keep up with friends, relatives, or business associates. Following Jesus does not mean simply keeping up with him or checking in on him periodically.

Rather, the call to follow Jesus is the call to discipleship. It means that you put Jesus first, that you give him your complete loyalty, obedience and trust. Just as the disciples left everything to follow Christ, you re-orient your entire life around Jesus. He is your Master; he is your Lord; and he calls you to follow him.

“Come, follow me.” It is a simple, absolute call. There is no wiggle room; there are no other parameters. You are either a follower of Jesus or you are not. (From Sunday’s sermon: When Jesus Calls)

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. (Mark 1:16-18)

Christianity versus Jesusanity

Darrell Bock posts on the difference between Christianity and Jesusanity.

There are really two Christian stories in our culture, two things often called Christianity that are very different in their focus.

One approach sees Jesus’ teaching and person at the center of what God is doing for people. Jesus is God’s anointed one, the Christ, whose mission, life and death is at the center of God’s program. This is what is known as Christianity …

The second approach sees only Jesus’ teaching as the key to understanding who Jesus is. Jesus is like a great prophet, whose teaching shows us the way back to God, but his person, other than the example of Jesus’ walk with God and pointing the ethical path God calls us to, is not central to the divine program. This I have called Jesusanity, because in this view, it is Jesus of Nazareth, the teacher-prophet who is the central focus …

A conversation between people holding to each of these views can be confusing, because people may think they are discussing the same thing (Christianity), when their perception of that belief is in fact very different. Much cultural Christianity, as well as many presentations of Jesus in the public square, actually reflects this Jesusanity.

Bock identifies the following four characteristics of Jesusanity:

  1. It tends to distance the creature’s responsibility to the Creator.
  2. It places a significant distance between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith.
  3. It often argues for dividing the New Testament into very different theologies.
  4. It often claims that many types of Christianity existed in the first century with an equal claim to go back to Jesus.

Obviously, Jesusanity is very different from the Christian faith taught in the New Testament. As Christians we accept Jesus’ teaching because of who he was – the promised Christ sent from God for our salvation.

More on the Jesus Puzzle

Ben Witherington has posted a response to Early Doherty’s book, The Jesus Puzzle: Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus. Darrell Bock also worked through a lengthy set of responses last fall.

No History without Jesus

Here is a great quote I found over at Of First Importance:

“God could have poured out judgment on mankind in the Garden, therefore the only reason there is any history is because God has purposed to send his Son into the world, to pour out judgment on him and thereby bring salvation. Jesus is the only reason there is human history, and therefore he is the goal of human history. Thus everything God says and does in history explains and prepares for the salvation of his Son.” (Timothy Keller, “Preaching the Gospel in a Post-Modern World,” p. 34)

How Much Did Jesus Know about the Cross?

This question came up in church last week:

How much did Jesus know about the cross? How much did he know about what would happen when he arrived in Jerusalem? Did he know about all the events that would take place between Palm Sunday and Easter, or did he just have a general knowledge that he was going to suffer and die?

The person asking the question felt that Jesus’ determination to walk the road to Jerusalem would mean that much more to us if we could say with confidence that Jesus knew everything that lay ahead for him.

It is an interesting question, and theologically delves into the mystery of the incarnation. Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God who became fully man without ceasing at the same time to be fully God. Jesus possessed both a divine nature and human nature in one person. So how does one reconcile Jesus’ omniscience as God with his growth and development as a human being?

The Scriptures indicate that Jesus retained his divine omniscience even in the incarnation but chose not to exercise it at certain times. So where did Jesus get his knowledge of things to come? Some of his knowledge of future events may have come through his personal study of Scripture, some by direct revelation from the Father in prayer, and some by his divine attribute of omniscience. We find examples of all three of these avenues in Jesus’ life, and it may be that various combinations of the three contributed to his knowledge at different times.

As Jesus made his way toward Jerusalem and the cross, the Scriptures tell us that he knew many details of what lay ahead for him. He knew that he must suffer and be rejected, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. (Luke 9:22) He knew that he would be betrayed. (Luke 9:44) He knew that he would be handed over to the Gentiles and that they would mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. (Luke 18:31)

Many of these things Jesus could have known simply from his study of the Scriptures. But Jesus also knew other details that would have required a different type of knowledge. For example, Jesus knew from the beginning who would not believe and who would betray him. (John 6:64) Jesus knew in advance that Peter would deny him three times. (John 13:38) And when the soldiers came for him in the garden, John tells us that Jesus knew everything that was going to happen to him. (John 18:4) He could only have known such things by direct revelation from the Father or by drawing on his omniscience as the Son of God.

So, how much did Jesus know about the cross as he walked toward Jerusalem? Did he know every single detail that would take place that week? Possibly, but we cannot say for sure. It is all part of the mystery of the incarnation.

But if we step back further in time, before his incarnation, Jesus most certainly knew every detail that would take place leading up to the cross. Drawing fully from his omniscience in his pre-incarnate state, Jesus knew everything that he would suffer in Jerusalem. Yet he still chose to come and die for lost sinners like you and me. He is “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8) How much did Jesus know about the cross? We may rest assured that when Jesus left the glories of heaven to come to earth, he did so with full knowledge of the cross and all that it would entail.

“The Messiah” – An Islamic Film on Christ

“The Messiah” - Iranian Film on Christ from Islamic Perspective “The Messiah” is a new movie from Iran depicting the life of Jesus from an Islamic perspective. Unfortunately, the Islamic perspective changes some crucial details concerning the person and work of Christ. Here are some excerpts from an interview between ABC’s Lara Setrakian and Iranian filmmaker Nader Talebzadeh:

LS: What are the key differences between Jesus through Islam’s eyes and Jesus through the traditional Christian perspective?

NT: We are talking about the same beautiful man, the same beautiful prophet, the same divine person sent from heaven. In the Koran, it emphasizes maybe three main points: about the birth, about the fact that he was not the son of God, and then, that he was not crucified. The rest is [the same] Jesus … the sermons, and the miracles, and the political situation …

LS: While production on this movie was happening, Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” came out. What did you learn from watching that film?

NT: We were almost finished filming when Mel Gibson started shooting. I saw the film, and it’s the first time the Gospel of John has ever been depicted. It was nice. But it was the wrong story. In my film, I respect that common belief with all the good intentions the Christians have … according to what Islam says. Yet, Jesus, at the night of the last supper, ascends to heaven [without being crucified]. A beautiful man, a beautiful prophet. Why should he be bloodied that way?

LS: What kind of response have you gotten from Christians? What kind of feedback and interchange has there been since the movie was released?

NT: Many thought this film is a good step for serious inter-religious dialogue. Many of them liked it — seeing the Koran-based ending. And I was very happy that the practicing Christians were very happy with the film. I have never found one case among practicing Christians who are offended [by the movie].

I am amazed that Talebzadeh says he did not find one practicing Christian who was offended by his movie that denies two of the most central beliefs of Christianity: that Jesus is the Son of God and that he died on the cross for sin. Perhaps he needs to ask around a bit more.

HT: Neatorama

Darrell Bock Works Through the Jesus Puzzle

I have been following Darrell Bock’s posts on the book, The Jesus Puzzle, by Earl Doherty. Doherty argues in his book that Jesus never really existed as an historical person. Dr. Bock, who is Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, responds to Doherty’s points one at a time.

This set of posts provides a great resource for those interested in learning more about the historicity of Jesus. You will also find some lively interchange between Bock and his commenters in the comments section on each post.

Bock closes out his series with these words:

What we have seen in our look at all twelve of these points is how problematic they are. There is little of credible historical judgment here that says Jesus never existed. The origin Doherty posits cannot explain the documentary evidence we possess or the form of the earliest Christianity to which that evidence gives witness. There is no puzzle put together in this book; only pieces unrelated to the real Jesus or the emergence of what became Christianity.

I am grateful to Biblical scholars like Darrell Bock who take the time not only to make valuable information like this accessible on their blogs but also to interact with their commenters in such a gracious manner.

What would Jesus believe? (about Scripture)

WWJB – What would Jesus believe? J. P. Moreland offers the following helpful discussion on what Jesus believed about Scripture.

First, Jesus held that Scripture’s assertions are true. This is nicely illustrated in two texts. John 10: 35 says “the Scripture cannot be broken.” In context this means that it cannot be found to assert a falsehood … Similarly, Jesus taught that all (each and every) things taught about him had to happen (Luke 18:31; 24:44). Why all of them and why did they have to happen? The underlying assumption is that everything Scripture asserts is true. Thus, Jesus can simply claim, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:3).

Second, Jesus held that inspiration characterizes Scripture down to … the smallest units of language that convey meaning … Thus, inspiration is not a mere feature of paragraphs, sentences, or the general drift of a passage. Within the proper framework of interpretation, the very words themselves (in the original Hebrew and Greek texts) were inspired. In the heat of theological debate, Jesus defended views in which his entire case turned on an implicit tense of a verb (Matthew 22:32) or the choice of a single word (Matthew 22:43-45). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that even the smallest letter or stroke of God’s Word would be fulfilled (found to be true) …

Finally, Jesus held a plenary view of inspiration, i.e., that all the components of the Old Testament were equally inspired. This set him apart from some (e.g., the Sadducees) who accepted only the inspiration of the Books of Moses and others who held that the Law was more inspired than, say, the prophets. Not so for Jesus. In Luke 24:44 Jesus uses a widely employed threefold division to refer to the inspired canon of Scripture—“the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms”—a canon that includes the thirty-nine books of the Protestant Bible and excludes Intertestamental writings. However, in Matthew 5:17-19 Jesus uses an odd, lesser used phrase to refer to the same canon—“the Law or (not and) the Prophets.” In so doing, Jesus means to place the “Prophets” (the rest of the Old Testament) on an equal footing with the Books of Moses.

You can read the full article for Moreland’s explanation and defense of the above points.