20 January 2007

Comforted in Death

It is one thing to thunder from a pulpit and to make boast in the pew. It is something altogether different to fix your thoughts on Christ when death calls. Many testify that life brings no more bitter experience than to see the death of one's own child, yet, even here, Christ reigns in the hearts of His. The following episode evidences that it was grace that gripped Luther, and not merely Luther who gripped truth. Read, consider, and learn.

Illness of Luther’s Daughter Becomes Graver, September 1542

When the illness of his daughter became graver he [Martin Luther] said, “I love her very much. But if it is thy will to take her, dear God, I shall be glad to know that she is with thee.”

Afterward he said to his daughter, who was lying in bed, “Dear Magdalene, my little daughter, you would be glad to stay here with me, your father. Are you also glad to go to your Father in heaven?”

The sick girl replied, “Yes, dear Father, as God wills.”

The father said, “You dear little girl!” [Then he turned away from her and said,] “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak [Matt. 26:41]. I love her very much. If this flesh is so strong, what must the spirit be?”

Among other things he then said, “In the last thousand years God has given to no bishop such great gifts as he has given to me (for one should boast of God’s gifts), I’m angry with myself that I’m unable to rejoice from my heart and be thankful to God, though I do at times sing a little song and thank God. Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s [Rom. 14:8]—in the genitive singular and not in the nominative plural.”

Desire to Talk with Christ Before the End, September 1542

Turning to Rörer he [Martin Luther] said, “Be of good cheer, Master!”

He responded, “I have at some time heard a word from Your Reverence that has often comforted me, namely, ‘I have prayed our Lord God that he may grant me a blessed end in order that I may depart from this life, and I’m sure he’ll do it. Just before I die I’ll speak with Christ, my Lord, even if it should be but a brief word.’ ”

The doctor said, “I’m afraid I’ll go suddenly and silently, without being able to utter a single word.”

Philip Melanchthon said, “Whether we live or die we are the Lord’s [Rom. 14:8]. Even if you should fall down the staffs or should suddenly expire while you are writing, it wouldn’t matter. Let it be! The devil hates us but God protects and keeps us.”

Description of the Death of Magdalene Luther, September 20, 1542

When his daughter was in the agony of death, he [Martin Luther] fell on his knees before the bed and, weeping bitterly, prayed that God might will to save her. Thus she gave up the ghost in the arms of her father. Her mother was in the same room, but farther from the bed on account of her grief. It was after the ninth hour on the Wednesday after the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity in the year 1542.

The Love of Parents for Their Children, September 1542

Often he [Martin Luther] repeated the words given above: “I’d like to keep my dear daughter because I love her very much, if only our Lord God would let me. However, his will be done! Truly nothing better can happen to her, nothing better.”

While she was still living he often said to her, “Dear daughter, you have another Father in heaven. You are going to go to him.”

Philip Melanchthon said, “The feelings of parents are a likeness of divinity impressed upon the human character. If the love of God for the human race is as great as the love of parents for their children, then it is truly great and ardent.”

Luther’s Daughter Magdalene Placed in Coffin, September 1542

When his dead daughter was placed in a coffin, he [Martin Luther] said, “You dear little Lena! How well it has turned out for you!”

He looked at her and said, “Ah, dear child, to think that you must be raised up and will shine like the stars, yes, like the sun!”

The coffin would not hold her, and he said, “The little bed is too small for her.”

[Before this,] when she died, he said, “I am joyful in spirit but I am sad according to the flesh. The flesh doesn’t take kindly to this. The separation [caused by death] troubles me above measure. It’s strange to know that she is surely at peace and that she is well off there, very well off, and yet to grieve so much!”

The Coffin Is Escorted from the Home, September 1542

When people came to escort the funeral and friends spoke to him according to custom and expressed to him their sympathy, he [Martin Luther] said, “You should be pleased! I’ve sent a saint to heaven—yes, a living saint. Would that our death might be like this! Such a death I’d take this very hour.”

The people said, “Yes, this is quite true. Yet everybody would like to hold on to what is his.”

Martin Luther replied, “Flesh is flesh, and blood is blood. I’m happy that she’s safely out of it. There is no sorrow except that of the flesh.”

Again, turning to others, he said, “Do not be sorrowful. I have sent a saint to heaven. In fact, I have now sent two of them.” [Luther’s eight-month-old daughter Elizabeth had died August 3, 1528.]

Luther evaluates the Waldensians--their life commended and teaching critiqued

Table Talk No. 2864b

Luther commended the life of the Waldensians as the most upright of all: ‘Outwardly they live very honorably. They keep their passions within bounds as much as possible. They’re not arrogant. They attribute righteousness to others, for they don’t claim to be the only righteous persons. They reject the abomination of the mass, purgatory, the invocation of saints, etc. They have ministers of the Word who are celibate; these they permit to marry, but on condition that they give up their office. They don’t condemn marriage and openly confess that they wouldn’t shun married ministers if they couldn’t have unmarried ones. This is the way it will be with us too; if we want to have ministers, we’ll have to take burghers.

“Likewise the Waldensians are not lazy or given to drunkenness. They have the best pedagogy. But they don’t have the article of justification in its purity; they confess indeed that men are saved by faith and grace, but they understand faith as a quality that produces regeneration. They don’t ascribe [everything] to faith alone in Christ. They explain faith and grace differently from us, and at the same time they attribute righteousness to works when they say, ‘Faith apart from works is barren’ [Jas. 2:20]. If this passage is applied to morals and the preaching of the law, it is excellent, but if we connect it with the article of justification, it’s not so much inappropriate as it is ungodly.

19 January 2007

Luther's Table Talk No. 274

Dog Provides Example of Concentration May 18, 1532

When Luther’s puppy happened to be at the table, looked for a morsel from his master, and watched with open mouth and motionless eyes, he [Martin Luther] said, “Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise he has no thought, wish, or hope.”

15 January 2007

Christ's Love to Poor Sinners by Thomas Brooks

Let us stand still, and admire and wonder at the love of Jesus Christ to poor sinners; that Christ should rather die for us, than for the angels. They were creatures of a more noble extract, and in all probability might have brought greater revenues of glory to God: yet that Christ should pass by those golden vessels, and make us vessels of glory,-oh, what amazing and astonishing love is this! This is the envy of devils. and the admiration of angels and saints.

The angels were more honourable and excellent creatures than we. They were celestial spirits; we earthly bodies, dust and ashes: they were immediate attendants upon God, they were, as I may say, of his privy chamber; we servants of his in the lower house of this world, farther remote from his glorious presence: their office was to sing hallelujahs, songs of praise to God in the heavenly paradise; ours to dress the garden of Eden, which was but an earthly paradise: they sinned but once, and but in thought, as is commonly thought; but Adam sinned in thought by lusting, in deed by tasting, and in word by excusing. Why did not Christ suffer for their sins, as well as for ours? or if for any, why not for theirs rather than ours? 'Even so, O Father, for so it pleased thee,' Mat. xi. 26. We move this question, not as being curious to search thy secret counsels, O Lord, but that we may be the more swallowed up in the admiration of the 'breadth, and length, and depth, and height of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.'

The apostle, being in a holy admiration of Christ's love, affirms it to pass knowledge, Eph. iii. 18, 19; that God, who is the eternal Being, should love man when he had scarce a being, Prov. viii. 30, 31, that he should be enamoured with deformity, that he should love us when in our blood, Ezek. xvi., that he should pity us when no eye pitied us, no, not our own. Oh, such was Christ's transcendent love, that man's extreme misery could not abate it. The deploredness of man's condition did but heighten the holy flame of Christ's love. It is as high as heaven, who can reach it? It is as low as hell, who can understand it? Heaven, through its glory, could not contain him, man being miserable, nor hell's torments make him refrain, such was his perfect matchless love to fallen man. That Christ's love should extend to the ungodly, to sinners, to enemies that were in arms of rebellion against him, Rom. v. 6, 8, 10; yea, not only so, but that he should hug them in his arms, lodge them in his bosom, dandle them upon his knees, and lay them to his breasts, that they may suck and be satisfied, is the highest improvement of love, Isa lxvi. 11-13.

That Christ should come from the eternal bosom of his Father, to a region of sorrow and death, John i. 18; that God should be manifested in the flesh, the Creator made a creature, Isa. liii. 4; that he that was clothed with glory, should be wrapped with rags of flesh, 1 Tim. iii. 16; that he that filled heaven, should be cradled in a manger, John xvii. 5; that the God of Israel should fly into Egypt, Mat. ii. 14; that the God of strength should be weary; that the judge of all flesh should be condemned; that the God of life should be put to death, John xix. 41; that he that is one with his Father, should cry out of misery, 'O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me!' Mat. xxvi. 39: that he that had the keys of hell and death, Rev. i. 18, should lie imprisoned in the sepulchre of another, having, in his lifetime, nowhere to lay his head; nor after death, to lay his body, John xix. 41, 42; and all this for man, for fallen man, for miserable man, for worthless man, is beyond the thoughts of created natures. The sharp, the universal and continual sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, from the cradle to the cross, does above all other things speak out the transcendent love of Jesus Christ to poor sinners. That wrath, that great wrath, that fierce wrath, that pure wrath, that infinite wrath, that matchless wrath of an angry God, that was so terribly impressed upon the soul of Christ, quickly spent his natural strength, and turned his moisture into the drought of summer, Ps. xxxii. 4; and yet all this wrath he patiently underwent, that sinners might be saved, and that 'he might bring many sons unto glory,' Heb. ii. 10.

Oh wonder of love! Love is submissive, it enables to suffer. The Curtii laid down their lives for the Romans, because they loved them; so it was love that made our dear Lord Jesus lay down his life, to save us from hell and to bring us to heaven.
As the pelican, out of her love to her young ones, when they are bitten with serpents, feeds them with her own blood to recover them again; so when we were bitten by the old serpent, and our wound incurable, and we in danger of eternal death, then did our dear Lord Jesus, that he might recover us and heal us, feed us with his own blood, Gen. iii. 15; John vi. 53-56. Oh love unspeakable! This made [Bernard] cry out, 'Lord, thou hast loved me more than thyself; for thou hast laid down thy life for me.'

It was only the golden link of love that fastened Christ to the cross, John x. 17, and that made him die freely for us, and that made him willing 'to be numbered among transgressors,' Isa. liii. 12, that we might be numbered among [the] 'general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven,' Heb. xii. 23. If Jonathan's love to David was wonderful, 2 Sam. i. 26, how wonderful must the love of Christ be to us, which led him by the hand to make himself an offering for us, Heb. x. 10, which Jonathan never did for David: for though Jonathan loved David's life and safety well, yet he loved his own better; for when his father cast a javelin at him to smite him, he flies for it, and would not abide his father's fury, being very willing to sleep in a whole skin, notwithstanding his wonderful love to David, 1 Sam. xx. 33-35; making good the philosopher's notion, that man is a life-lover.

Christ's love is like his name, and that is Wonderful, Isa. ix. 6; yea, it is so wonderful, that it is supra omnem creaturam, ultra omnem measuram, contra omnem naturam, above all creatures, beyond all measure, contrary to all nature. It is above all creatures, for it is above the angels, and therefore above all others. It is beyond all measure, for time did not begin it, and time shall never end it; place doth not bound it, sin doth not exceed it, no estate, no age, no sex is denied it, tongues cannot express it, understandings cannot conceive it: and it is contrary to all nature; for what nature can love where it is hated? What nature can forgive where it is provoked? What nature can offer reconciliation where it receiveth wrong? What nature can heap up kindness upon contempt, favour upon ingratitude, mercy upon sin? And yet Christ's love hath led him to all this; so that well may we spend all our days in admiring and adoring of this wonderful love, and be always ravished with the thoughts of it.

13 January 2007

The Lord Jesus Christ is the life of believers

‘When Christ, who is our life, shall appear.’ Life here is, by a metonymy, put for the author of life.

We have shewed that Jesus Christ, he is first the author of a believer’s spiritual life. In the 14th of John, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,’ (ver. 6.)

Secondly, Jesus Christ, he is the matter of a believer’s spiritual life in John 6:48, ‘I am the bread of life.’ The original hath it more elegantly, ‘I am the bread of that life,’ that is, of that spiritual life of which before the Lord Jesus Christ had spoken.

Thirdly, Jesus Christ is the exerciser and actor of the spiritual life of believers: John 15:5, ‘Without me ye can do nothing.’ The original is, separate from me, or apart from me, ye can do nothing, &c.

Fourthly, The Lord Jesus Christ, he is the strengthener and the cherisher of a believer’s spiritual life, Ps. 138:3, ‘In the day when I cried, thou didst answer me, and strengthen me with strength in my soul.’

Lastly, The Lord Jesus Christ, he is the completer, he is the finisher of the spiritual life of a saint, Heb. 12:2; Phil. 1:6.

Thomas Brooks. Christ is the Life of Believers.

12 January 2007

How Can I know I am Christ's?

Question: Seeing the act of closing with Christ is secret and hidden, and the special times and seasons of our conversion unto God are unknown unto most, what are the most certain evidences and pledges that we have cordially and sincerely received Christ, and returned unto God?

Answer. I do acknowledge the inquiry is very large, and such as we may be straitened in, through the abundance of it. I shall only speak plainly some few things that to me are an evidence of a sincere closing with Christ, and receiving of Christ, — such as I know have been of use unto some.

First. When there is a permanency and abiding in the choice we have made of Christ, notwithstanding opposition against it that we shall be sure to meet withal. I do not speak to the nature of the choice, or the means of it, — how the mind is prepared for it; but I speak unto the poorest, the weakest of the flock, that may be inquiring whether they have made a sincere choice of Christ or not: I say, they may try it by the permanency and abiding in their choice against opposition.
And there are two sorts of oppositions that will try us and shake us, as to our choice, as I have found it, if I have had any experience of these things — 1. Opposition from charges of the guilt of sin and the law. 2. Opposition from temptations unto sin:—

1. There will, even after sincere believing and closing with Christ, be many a heavy charge brought against a soul from the law, and the guilt of sin in the conscience. Now, in such a case, the inquiry is, What the soul abides by when it is shaken? Why, truly, if a man go only upon mere convictions, on such shaking impressions of the guilt of sin, he will be very ready and inclined in his own mind to tack about to some other relief. He puts out fair for his voyage, — the storm arises, — the ship will not carry him; — he must tack about for another harbour. I have known it so with some; and experienced, when the wind hath set very strong that way with myself, — when the guilt of sin hath been charged with all its circumstances, — the soul hath been very hardly able to keep its hold, yet notwithstanding resolved, “I will trust to Christ:” but it hath been tacking about to self again, — “I must remedy this, — have relief for this from myself; I cannot abide by it, and live wholly upon Christ; and when the storm is over, then I will out to sea again.” I say, this is no good sign to me when things are so; but when a soul in all those charges that sometimes come upon it abides the issue, — “Here I will trust upon Christ, let the worst come upon me;” — this I call a permanency in our choice against opposition. I hope you have experience of it.

2. There must be a permanency in our choice of Christ against temptations unto sin, as well as against the charges from sin. Truly, the former — of abiding with Christ against the charges from sin — is our daily work: it is sometimes more high and pressing, but it is our daily work. But there are also temptations unto sin, — it may be to the neglect of our duty, or to a compliance in any evil way (which we are subject unto while in the body); and perhaps great sins. Here Joseph’s reply, applied to Christ, is that which doth argue our choice of Christ to be sincere, — “How shall I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” When the soul can draw a prevailing argument from that, “How shall I do this, and relinquish my Lord Christ?” — “I will not do this against him whom I have chosen,” — this is a good argument, if frequently reiterated, that our choice of Christ is sincere.

Secondly. Growing up in a love unto the person of Christ is a great evidence to me of a sincere choice of Christ. It is a blessed field that is before me, but I shall but hint things unto you. When the soul hath received Christ, it cannot but study Christ; and though it is no argument against the sincerity of a man’s faith and grace, that he doth principally regard the offices and graces of Christ, and the benefits we have by him, yet it is an argument against the thrift and growth of it: for a thriving faith and grace will come to respect principally the person of Christ. I mean this; — when the soul studies the person of Christ, — the glory of God in him, — of his natures, the union of them in one person, — of his love, condescension and grace; and the heart is drawn out to love him, and cry, “Doubtless I count all things but loss and dung for the excellency of Christ Jesus my Lord.” “What is thy beloved more than another beloved?” “My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand; he is altogether lovely.” To see an excellency, a desirableness in the person of Christ, so as to grow in admiration and love of him, is to me an evidence that, when all fails besides, will greatly support the soul, and persuade it that its choice is true. Nay, it is one of the most spiritual evidences; for I much question whether an unregenerate man can love Christ for his own sake at all. But it is a good sign of growth, when our love to the person of Christ grows, when we meditate much upon it, and think much about it. I could show you wherein the beauty of Christ’s person doth much consist; but I have not time now to do it.

Thirdly. Another evidence to me of the soul’s having made a sincere choice of Christ is, when it continues to approve, judge well of, and every day more and more to see, the glory, the excellency, the holiness, the grace, which is in the way of salvation by Jesus Christ; approves of it as not only a necessary way, — a way it has betaken itself to, because it must unavoidably perish in any other way, — but when it approves of it to be a most excellent way, in pardoning sin freely through the atonement he hath made, and the imputation of his righteousness unto us, — while the righteousness, the holiness, and the grace of God in all this is glorified. Saith the soul, “What a blind, wretched creature was I, that I did not see an excellency in this way before! It is better than the way of the law and the old covenant. I approve of this way with all my heart. If all other ways were set before me, and made possible, I would choose this way, of going to God by Jesus Christ, as the best way, — that brings most glory to God and most satisfaction unto the creature, and is most suited to the desires of my heart, I would have no other way. ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life,’ says Christ; and this I will abide by, whatsoever becomes of me,” replies the soul; “though I should perish, I will abide by it, since God hath given me such a discovery of the glory of saving sinners by Christ, that is inferior to nothing but the glory of heaven. I see that glory to God in it, — that exaltation to Christ, whom I would love, — that honour to the Holy Spirit, and safety to my own soul, — that I will abide by it.” A growing in the approbation of this way gives some assurance that we have made a true and sincere choice of Christ.
Give me leave to add this one thing more:—

Fourthly. That a delight in obedience unto God by Christ, in the ways of his own appointment, is a great evidence that we have chosen Christ, and he us; — chosen him as our king, prophet, and priest. The ways of the worship of God in his church and ordinances, are the ways and worship of God in Christ, which he hath appointed. Take these things abstractedly and in themselves, and we should be apt to say of them, as was said of Christ, “There is no beauty in them, nor glory, that they should be desired.” There is much more outward beauty and glory in other ways, that Christ hath not appointed. But if we love the ways Christ hath appointed, because he hath appointed them, then we choose those ways because we have chosen him to be our king; and that is it which gives them beauty and life. And when the ways of Christ’s appointment grow heavy and burdensome to us, we are weary of them, and are willing to have our neck from under the yoke, — it is a sign we grow weary of him who is the author of them; and this is a great sign that we never made a right and sincere choice of him.

Many other things might be offered as evidences of sincere closing with Christ; but these are some which have been of use to me: and I hope they may be so unto some of you.

John Owen. Cases of Conscience Resolved (362).

08 January 2007

London City Mission begins the year on bended knee

On Friday, January 5th, I had the joy and privilege of speaking to the wonderful workers at the London City Mission for their annual Week of Prayer. The London City Mission has held a week of prayer and worship every New Year since 1835 just after their inception. Past speakers for the week have included such men of renown as Charles Spurgeon and J. C. Ryle.

I was most encouraged by the missioners response to the challenge to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Christ, and came away blessed by the leadership provided by Rev Dr John Nicholls. May God bring a grewat number to Himself in the great city through these fine workers in the field!

Help in Human Flesh (Hebrews 2:5-18) Sermon Notes

They had already taken some hard hits. Ever since coming to Christ, life had not gotten better, but far worse. Their Christianity had not been a worldly advantage. Rather, it set them up for persecution and the loss of property and privilege, and now could possibly even cost them their lives.

They had already paid a price for their initial commitment to Christ. As the writer recalls in 10:32–34:

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

The Scriptures tell us in no uncertain terms, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). This is true for every believing adult, teenager, and child.

This description of their earlier sufferings fits well into the picture of the hardships that came to Jewish Christians under Claudius in A.D. 49. Suetonius’ Life of the Deified Claudius records that “There were riots in the Jewish quarter at the instigation of Chrestus. As a result, Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome” (25.4). “Chrestus,” historians believe, is a reference to Christ, and the riots and expulsion occurred when Jewish Christians were banished from the synagogue by the Jewish establishment.

Now, as the author of Hebrews writes, fifteen years have gone by since the Claudian persecution, and a new persecution looms. The historian Tacitus records that Nero made the Christians scapegoats to remove suspicion from himself (Annals of Rome 15:44):

“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.

Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed.”

These believers were facing circumstances that was scaring them to death:

Responded by closing up, scattering, not attending church because others in the church would accuse them, some arrested and imprisoned.

The tiny home-church was asking some hard questions: Did God know what was going on? If so, how could this be happening to them? Did he care? Only God could protect them, but where was he? Why did he not answer? Why the silence of God?

But help did come from heaven. Let’s go see it. Walk with me from Jerusalem—a busy city, the center of commerce, home of the temple, the focus of all the worship of God’s people, the place of government, the largest city, the place of Mount Zion, the recipient of many promises of God—into Bethlehem to the manger to see the infant Jesus, weak, frail, vulnerable.

“We are begging for help. And you send us a baby?”

“But, he’ll grow!”

“Yes, but he is a man. We gave men plenty enough! What we need is a divine intervention. Lord, split the heavens and come down!”

“No. Your help is here in human form. God works wonders in a body.”

From a human point of view, it would seem foolish for God to become Man.

Doesn’t make sense. Doesn’t seem right.

What did this mean for the believers who were under persecution.
And what does it mean for us who face face less challenging difficulties. We can find comfort for our troubles, especially if this is the medicine strong enough to help people face impending death in most horrible ways.

Our world:
Not Nero, no child torn to pieces, wife/husband murdered, no lost house, privileges, lives. But if the medicine was strong enough for the original readers, it can be good medicine for you—whatever you are dealing with, not as grand, but just as real, health, wife, job security, bills, relationships, troubles of soul

Medicine that covered their need is the same cure for your ails.

By becoming Human He Regained Our Lost Authority (vv. 5–9).

The quotation here is from Psalm 8:4–6—read that entire psalm carefully.

When God created the first man and woman, He gave them dominion over His Creation (Gen. 1:26–31). But we have a serious problem here, for it is obvious that man today is not exercising dominion over creation. Man was meant to have dominion over everything but he has not. He is a creature who is frustrated by his circumstances, defeated by his temptations, controlled by his own weakness. He who should be free is bound; he who should be a king is a slave.

As G. K. Chesterton said, whatever else is or is not true, this one thing is certain—man is not what he was meant to be.

“But we see Jesus!” (Heb. 2:9) When our Lord was here on earth, He exercised that lost dominion. He had dominion over the fish, over the fowl, and over the wild beasts, and the domesticated beasts. As the last Adam, Jesus Christ regained man’s lost dominion.

One day we shall reign with Him in glory and honor. Jesus Christ did all of this for us—for lost sinners—because of “the grace of God” (Heb. 2:9). If He had not become man, He could not have died and tasted death for every man” (Heb. 2:9).

By Becoming Human He Leads His Children to Glory (vv. 10–13).

Christ is not only the Last Adam, but He is also the Captain of salvation. That word Captain literally means “pioneer—one who opens the way for others to follow.”

Christ gave up His glory to become man. He regained His glory when He arose and ascended to heaven. Now He shares that glory with all who trust Him for salvation. He is bringing many sons and daughters to glory!

In His Humanity He disarmed Satan and destroy the power of death (vv. 14–16).

Christ had to have a human body in order to die and thus defeat Satan.

1. Christ destroys the author of death, the devil. Satan’s power has been broken and one day will be completely removed.
2. Christ destroys the fear of death. Christ’s death and resurrection set us free from the fear of death because death has been defeated.

Every person must die, but death is not the end; instead, it is the doorway to a new life. We have assurance that we will be resurrected from the dead. All who dread death should trust Christ to bring victory. Remember that Christ will not fail you. Live without fear. Trust the Savior.

His humanity enables Him to be a sympathetic High Priest to His people (vv. 17–18).

Being pure spirits who have never suffered, the angels cannot identify with us in our weaknesses and needs. But Jesus can! While He was here on earth, Jesus was “made like unto His brethren” in that He experienced the sinless infirmities of human nature.

Jesus Christ is both merciful and faithful: He is merciful toward people and faithful toward God. He can never fail in His priestly ministries. He made the necessary sacrifice for our sins so that we might be reconciled to God. He did not need to make a sacrifice for Himself, because He is sinless.

Lewis Bayly, Practice of Piety: Directing a Christian How to Walk That He May Please God. Amplified by the Author (London: Printed for Philip Chetwind, 1619), pp. 452–459.

Soule. Lord, why, wouldest Thou be taken, when Thou mightest have escaped Thine enemies?
Christ. That thy spiritual enemies should not take thee, and cast thee into the prison of utter darkness.
Soule. Lord, wherefore wouldest Thou be bound?
Christ. That I might loose the cordes of thine iniquities.
Soule. Lord, wherefore wouldest Thou be lift up upon a Crosse?
Christ. That I might lift thee up with Me to heaven.
Soule. Lord, wherefore were Thy hands and feet nayled to the Crosse?
Christ. To enlarge they hands to doe the works of righteousness and to set thy feete at libertie, to walke in the wayes of peace.
Soule. Lord, why wouldest Thou have Thine arms nayled abroad?
Christ. That I might embrace thee more lovingly, My sweet soule.
Soule. Lord, wherefore was Thy side opened with a speare?
Christ. That thou mightest have a way to come near to My heart.


Hebrews 3:1
1Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.

C. S. Lewis memorably portrayed the growing Christian’s experience of an ever-enlarging Christ in his Chronicles of Narnia. Lucy, caught up in her spiritual quest, saw the lion Aslan—Christ—shining white and huge in the moonlight. In a burst of emotion Lucy rushed to him, burying her face in the rich silkiness of his mane, whereupon the great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half-sitting and half-lying between his front paws. He bent forward and touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath was all around her. She gazed up into the large, wise face.
“Welcome, child,” he said.
“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

His largeness overcomes your trouble; in His humanness, He secured your victory.

03 January 2007

Lift Up Your Eyes

It had been a long day’s travel and all we’re hungry. The disciples had left to find some lunch, leaving Jesus at a well until they returned. Famished and parched, it would have been tempting for Jesus to settle into sleep in the shade and wait until food came. But He had something else on His mind. Gnawing inside Him was the desire to see God glorified in people who were living in vanity and coming toward judgment.

And so despite His hunger and the discomfort of a meeting compounded by barriers—social, religious, gender and historical—between the Jews and Samaritans, Jesus initiated a conversation with a woman taking water from a well. The talk changed her life and transformed her community.

Upon returning from town with lunch, the disciples noted Jesus talking to a woman. Silent but intrigued, the disciples waited then urged Jesus to eat. But He refused, surprising the disciples with these words, “I have food to eat you know nothing about.” He explained, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

Jesus called the disciples to enter into the same diet and to live for Kingdom purposes, “Do not say four more months then harvest. Open your eyes and look at the fields.”

His words reminded the disciples there is far more to life than food and drink—the King has come and is establishing His rule in all peoples—and the time to enter into those labours is now.

The same challenge comes to us in our day. We children of God by faith in Jesus are brought under His rule and are His designated workers in the establishment of His kingdom. With 2007 unfolding, Christ’s words exhort us to remember that the opportunity to serve, to love, to witness, to win souls, is now. The harvest is here, the time is right, the fruit is ripe, ready for the picking. How will we respond?

Will we lift up our eyes? Will we be moved beyond those things which presently occupy our minds, even the necessary things, to see life differently, from the same perspective that God has? When we pray “Your kingdom come,” have we the spiritual sensitivity to know when it has?

Will we look at the fields? Will we find ourselves moved beyond the boundaries of our own existence to look and see a world without Christ (sheep hurt and harassed without a shepherd) and headed to a lost eternity?

Will we enter into the harvest? Is the compassion of Jesus rooted deep within and compelling us to persuade others to be reconciled to God?

If we do, we will have the joy of hearing others say, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.”

At this New Year, let us hear the call of our Saviour and lift up our eyes and look.

The harvest is ready.