Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

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What’s in “The” Name!

Categories: Devotional Insights, Tags: ,

The precious Name “Jesus Christ” is constantly abused in the world, where people use it as a curse word. This verbal assault reaches all the way to heaven where every word is heard and recorded. When we trustingly whisper His Name, His aching ears are soothed. 

(Devotional insight inspired by Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling, devotional book, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004)

In reflecting on this devotional insight of Sarah Young, it hit me: I have been conditioned and trained to live with great sensitivity to hearing my name called. Even if I am in any size gathering and someone is calling to another “Jonathan”, I immediately respond with body language or verbal affirmation. I can’t help it. That’s my name. It gets kind of humorous (or awkward), when another “Jonathan” other than me is the true target of call and the caller clarifies by saying to me, “Not you. The other “Jonathan”!”

Every day, thousands, maybe millions of people call out the Name “Jesus Christ” but not to call Him. Not to speak to Him. They call it out either in exasperation of an event in life, or in defamation of His character by attaching that Name with something that is far below what is virtuous, noble, and appropriate worthy of the Person behind the Name. “Jesus Christ” is called out in contempt,  (defined as something being despised, dishonored, disrespected, disgraced) with no intent or attempt to seek His aid, His presence, His light, His truth, His help.

The thing is… He hears every usage of His Name…every time it is called out!

He, in His divine infinite omniscience, knows intimately the intent behind every usage. He registers every mention and motive, whether uttered by those who do not know Him or those who profess to know Him but still, sadly, use His Name in contemptible ways. (What’s possibly just as, if not more sad, is when His own people, refuse to call out His Name for aid only He can bring. Instead they call out for everything else OTHER than Him!) Truth is some of us followers of Jesus Christ, could use His Name a whole let less and call out His Name a whole lot more than we do!

I shudder to think of the doing day when all of us will stand before the actual divine Person behind the Name and give an account of all we have done in this body, whether good or bad… every thought… every word spoken… whether good or bad… even His Name!

Between now and then, maybe we should take time to reflect on the magnitude and meaning behind the Name “Jesus Christ”:

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,  he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the Name above all other names,  that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.                           Philippians 2:5-11 (NLT)

The supreme issue is not what we think about His Name, but what He thinks of His own Name and how God the Father regards this Name that was given to Joseph by the angels, that not even demons will utter the way we do and can! The Name to which eventually, no living being will ever call out without properly attaching its significance to the One it belongs to. It is not the Name that makes Him great but He — in His character, His supremacy, His authority, His divine otherness — that makes that Name great… and greatly to be praised!

My we bless Him by calling out His Name in ways He loves to hear it, to seek Him, to honor Him, to love Him, to worship Him. Nothing less than these motives is worthy of Him and His wonderful Name.

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John 13a – “The Master Servant and Servants’ Master.”

Categories: Glimpses of Christ, Tags: , , , , , ,

At this Last Supper, Jesus shows the “full extent of His love” and demonstrates the non-negotiables of what it means to be His follower.

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READ JOHN 13:1-17
The 3 main characters at the table in this scene: Jesus, Judas and Peter. There are also 3 main objectives with motives: redemption motivated by love; betrayal motivated by disappointment and greed; control motivated by pride. The first is in opposition to the last two because they come from hearts not authorized with an eternal perspective and divine devotion. The latter 2 cost nothing. The first will cost everything.

At this Last Supper, Jesus shows the “full extent of His love” and demonstrates the non-negotiables of what it means to be His follower and what it means to represent Him as a servant in His name. Ironic that while in the mode of a servant, Jesus leads the way of how His disciples should live.

He displays both natures as Master and Servant without sacrificing the character of either. For Jesus, both are displayed seamlessly and interchangeably. He never became something He wasn’t. He was and will always be the Master, but there will also always be an aspect of His serving them, the absence of which will make it impossible for them to serve to His satisfaction. Essentially we find our greatest fellowship with Christ when we let Him be who He is and let Him have His way without resistance and without aid.

Jesus must serve those who follow Him: Peter’s resistance to letting Christ have His way is met with the gentle rebuke and ultimatum: “Peter if you get your way, You will not share in mine!”

A choice must be made: either to press for autonomy and insist on our way of doing things, countermanding the direction of Christ, or to submit with humility to whatever Christ deems is necessary for us. This is the mode of submission that begins with the defeat of pride, ego, self-rule.

Jesus is clear: to share companionship with Him, we must be clean and He must do the cleaning. Sidestepping that will actually put us at odds with God and in danger of furthering an agenda that conflicts with His. The tragic results will be a lot of work with no or negative eternal rewards, and worse, no fellowship with Christ. Christ will always stand in vehement opposition to what opposes His perfect will…even that opposition is with one who walks with Him! This is the main goal of life: to be with Christ, to share life and purpose with Him. If that is the heart’s true intent, Jesus the Master must be also Jesus, the Servant.

We must let Him do what only He can do. Peter came to that reality reluctantly and still held on to his own way. That proved fatal to his desire and ability to truly serve Christ since he would do so only on His terms.

Those who follow Christ must serve each other. Christ was also clear on the application: those who are cleansed by Christ and now share life and purpose with Him, must show this by serving fellow followers. Jesus absolutely expects His followers to love and serve each other as He loved them. (John 13:34-35).

In the subsequent chapters the theme of loving one another will be dominant. Jesus gives an example and expects it to be emulated. We are to do for each other what He did and does for us. He verifies His identity as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’ but also clarifies His example as the standard operating procedure for those who are His. Our mode is servanthood. Our immediate beneficiaries: fellow followers. It is obedience to Jesus’ example, the humble serving of one another, that truly honors the presence and purpose of Christ and guarantees His promised blessings.

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John 12d – “Shades of Darkness”

Categories: Glimpses of Christ, Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

This is how bad darkness is: to hate the truth and light so much that when it becomes more fully disclosed, the hatred increases all the more.

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READ JOHN 12:37-50

The Power and Poison of Darkness: When a person has all the evidence, even standing right there in front of them, along with miraculous signs and historical texts to back it up and yet they refuse to believe – darkness has truly taken over! For such a person, there is nothing they can do to change their deplorable condition. It is in need of divine intervention even more than ever! These Jews had already made their minds up about Christ and in that state it isn’t too difficult to see how every word Jesus would speak or miracle He would perform would only fuel their indignation and hostility and inflame their commitment to eradicate Him. This is how bad darkness is: to hate the truth and light so much that when it becomes more fully disclosed, the hatred increases all the more.

The Prospects and Possibilities in Darkness. Then there are the holdouts, the fenceriders – impacted by Truth but too afraid to let go of the opposing traditions. What a torment: to know that what you are about is wrong but to be too afraid of what you’ll lose to consider what you will gain. The forces of darkness do their best work to keep humankind chained up by fear refusing to allow any motivation and inspiration of what is always greater. The aim is to legislate life through fear than allow faith to liberate it through love.

The Problem and Paralysis in Darkness: Here, the Jewish leaders subscribed to the cold grip of fear and rejected the warm embrace of faith. As long as there is the compulsion to “pay the piper” or pander to the oppressive forces against divine authority, truth will always be irrelevant and never worth losing one’s life over. The Pharisees exerted a power of which they were only pawns and not at all the source of. The power of darkness is to keep people ignorant of the long term benefit of true freedom while enslaving them to short term priorities and luxuries that actually disqualify from eternal gain.  Here these “leaders” were afraid to follow their true “Leader” and thus became complicit in the conspiracy against Him.

A Key to the Prison: The fact that “belief” is mentioned 7 times in this passage underscores its significance as an expectation of God and a qualification to the life of faith in opposition to a life lived in fear. Jesus makes it clear that to side with Him, to believe Him, to fix one’s devotion on Him is to affirm the will and wonder of God. No one can say they follow or love God if they do not follow or love the Son. This is not so much an presentation of our power and character of belief but the clarification of the harmony and unity between Father and Son. All that Jesus said and did, and the way He said and did it, was a perfect expression and extension of the Father. Is it correct to say, that The Father could not have done it any better since He was completely at work in His fullness in His son? This is the consummate example of how our Christian lives should be lived: giving proof to the work and presence of the Father by what He wanted, the way He wanted it. The “way” may be the clear defining distinction in the works of God being performed by His servants.

In coming to Earth, Jesus didn’t have His eyes on the task of judgment but on salvation. He didn’t come to punish but to liberate people already in darkness. His goal: to offer a divine opportunity for those who walk in darkness to no longer stay there. When you think about it, in reflection of His years of ministry – the healings, exoricisms, the feedings, teachings, resurrections, etc. – that is precisely what He did: bringing people out of darkness into His glorious light!

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John 12c – “Preparing for the Darkness”

Categories: Glimpses of Christ, Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Yet even in the midst of the inquiry by Gentiles and the anguish that is now laying siege to Jesus' soul, His prayer and desire: “Father, glorify Your name!”

3-crosses-at-left-2READ JOHN 12:20-36

The Greeks that came to Jesus here represent the eventual scope of Jesus’ redemptive mission. Their search for Christ may have been out of curiosity but at this juncture in the life of Jesus it is not insignificant. Commentators describe these Greeks as part of Gentile groups in pursuit of truth and enlightenment and would thus frequent Jewish festivals and feasts. Obviously hearing about Jesus from others, they wanted to see firsthand that which would enhance their pursuit. It seems that the reputation of Jesus is what draws them gravitationally toward Christ – His teachings, actions, and character.  Now, through the Church, the same must be allowed to hold true.

Jesus recognizes that His hour is at hand. He remains so very clear on His mission’s purpose (12:27). Yet even in the midst of this inquiry by Gentiles, the anguish that is now laying siege to His soul, His prayer and desire: “Father, glorify Your name!”  The aim of the follower of Christ is to mimic Him and the way He reacts to situations by always keeping the Father first and foremost. Had this focus not been there, the trial ahead of Him could have overwhelmed Him to death or cowardice, to self-preservation instead of self-sacrifice. Keeping the Father first and foremost in our mind and heart affects the way we live and the way we face death—with the dignity of soul and purity of heart essential for the Father to glorify Himself in ways that will raise an abundance of true faith in the harvest of true Christ followers.

Jesus admonition to His followers in order to prepare for the coming darkness: Walk in the Light! That is not something we adopt as a practice right before the light is gone – indeed that is almost too late. We must live in proper relationship to the Light while we have it, and live in a way that takes advantage of its illumination showing us the way things are and must be.

Jesus goes one step further: don’t just walk by the Light. Put Your Trust in the Light. This is the best way to consistently walk by it and in fellowship with Christ. Trust lies at the heart of true faith. I believe there are many who walk by the Light but only until it delivers them to their desired destinations, their objectives, their goals. Then they abandon it proving that though they walked by it, their trust remained in themselves while using the Light to advance their agenda with little or no thought to the divine agenda.

Jesus goes further: the rhythm of “walking by” and “trusting in” the Light reveals and verifies one as an offspring of Light, they have “become” children of Light. Good definition of a Christian: one who walks by and trusts in the Light as a Child of that Light. Such a person has an identity and perspective that exists in diametrical opposition to the natire and impact of Darkness. Such a person is a true follower of Christ.