Cleaned by Jesus

This blog was adapted from a recent sermon I taught from Haggai. You can access the original sermon audio here. Can you imagine being a total outcast? If so you can relate to the woman in Luke 8. The Gospel tells us that Jesus gets the call to go heal Jarius' daughter who was dying. Jesus goes on his way and the crowd pressed in all around him.

An Unclean Woman Made Clean

We are told that in that crowd is a woman who has had chronic menstraul bleeding for twelve years. She has spent the past 12 years and every penny trying to figure out what was wrong with her. However no one could heal her. No doctor could help her.

According to the Law she was ceremonially unclean. She was an outcast, she was alienated. No one could be around this woman lest they became unclean by touching her. This woman was completely and totally alone. No one would touch her. No one would shake her hand. No one would give her a hug. She was unclean. As Jesus is making his way through the crowd she has a crazy thought. She had heard about Jesus. She heard that he was a healer. Then she had this crazy thought – "If I could just touch his garment, I could be healed." So she goes and she fights her way through the crowd and she is able to just barely touch the fringe of Jesus' garment and at that moment she is instantly healed. The unclean woman is made instantly clean. Jesus realizing what just happened stops the crowd and asks who touched him. The woman falls on her face in the presence of everyone and confesses what she did. Jesus tells her "daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace".

Holiness is Not Contagious

This story is amazing. In Haggai 2:10-14, the prophet uses an priestly illustration of the nature of holiness. Here is the words Haggai penned:

“On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Ask the priests about the law: ‘If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy?’ ” The priests answered and said, “No.” Then Haggai said, “If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” The priests answered and said, “It does become unclean.” Then Haggai answered and said, “So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the LORD, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean.” (Haggai 2:10–14, ESV)

Haggai says imagine someone is carrying around holy meat (meat sacrificed on the alter to the Lord) in a special garment. Haggai then said what if you take that garment, that was wrapped in the Holy meat and what if I touched this piece of bread with it? Haggai asks them, "Would this make the bread holy?" The priest answer, "No". Holiness is not contagious. It doesn't pass from one thing to the next.

Then Haggai said, well what if someone who is unclean by touching a corpse then goes to touch the bread what would happen to it? Well that food item would become unclean. Well what is Haggai's point? Defilment is contagious, uncleanness passes to other objects but holiness does not.

But Jesus' Holiness is Contagious

Now knowing this, think back to the bleeding woman. You see when this unclean woman went to touch Jesus. When she made contact with Jesus, Jesus should have then been unclean. Remember defilement is contagious, if you touched a woman like this you were to be ceremoniously unclean. Yet the opposite happens! The cleanliness of Jesus is imputed to this woman. Jesus' holiness is contagious and it is passed to this woman through her faith. In Haggai, that garment containing the holy meat would not transmit holiness to another object, yet here the garment containing the holy meat, the lamb of God, passes cleanliness to this woman! Why? Because Jesus is the holy one of God. He is undefiled and completely pure!

This is the beauty of the Gospel, that Jesus takes our uncleanliness and our sin and washes us with his blood. We are unable to make ourselves clean, but Jesus cleanses us and purifies us. In all our guilt and filth, Jesus cleans us and makes us his own!

The Heart of a Rapist

Rape is one of the most disturbing of sins. It is a violent, cruel, and inhuman act. The Bible tells the story of reality. The Bible is not afraid to plunge into the darkness of sins like rape. In 2 Samuel 13, there is a tragic account of a brother, Ammon who raped his half-sister Tamar. The rape is a gruesome, premeditated act. Amnon was sick with lust for Tamar. He wanted her so badly. He filled his mind constantly with sexual fantasies and daydreams that he tortured himself. Sin was crouching at his dour ready to pounce and devour him. We can learn something here about our own hearts and our temptation to sin. The old man creeps in our hearts often tempting us to go back to our sinful way of life. When this happens, we cannot feed our temptations. We must put our sin to death. We cannot sit and dream and imagine what it would be like to act out on them. We must never entertain the thought of indulgence. Yet this is what Amnon did and his pet sin quickly escalated to a uncontrolable desire. Then at the operative time, Satan brought a man to encourage Amnon to act out on his lust. His name was Jonadab, a cousin of Amnon and Tamar. This wicked man put the beginnings of an elaborate plan together to help Amnon indulge in his lust.

Amnon's elaborate plan unfolds, and when she is unwilling to lay with him, he forces himself on her. Tamar's rape is heart breaking and tragic. After Amnon forced himself on her we are told in verse 15 that Amnon "hated her with a great hatred so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had for her". The sole object of all his lust immediately becomes the object of his hate. Indeed, his hate was greater in intensity than the original lust. Why did Amnon respond this way? I suggest three possible reasons:

1. The fantastical delusion did not match up with reality. The pleasure was not nearly as great as the temptation promised. It was much more uglier and disturbing than he could have imagined. Sin promises us fulfilment and joy if we succumb to its pressure, but the opposite always takes place. In the aftermath of our sin we see that temptation not only failed to come through with its promise, but the whole fantasy was a lie. Amnon hated himself for being so foolish as to believe the lie.

2. The shame of his sin became unbearable. Often in the aftermath of sinful indulgence, shame immediately grips us. We know we've done wrong and we know we failed. Our temptation is to hide just as Adam did. Amnon wanted to quickly dispose of Tamar forgetting the whole thing because he was so ashamed of his sin.

3. Amnon blamed his sister for his sin. This is absolutely vile that he would blame the victim rather than himself. Yet this is the heart of a man who has been lost in his sin. Rather than pointing the finger at himself and practicing true repentance, Amnon took out his anger on the person whose life he just tore apart. This is what many who molest, abuse, or rape actually do. Rather taking responsibility for their own sin they angrily take it out on their victims. It is despicable, condemnable and it is going to send poor Tamar to the breaking point.

After Amnon has his way with Tamar, he kicks her to the street. Tamar's response to this is hard for us to understand in our culture. In verse 16 she tells Ammon that sending her away is "greater than the other you did to me" How is kicking her out worse than raping her? Tamar was a virgin, and the significance of this is greatly lost to modern minds. As a result it is even more difficult for us to see the horror of what actually takes place here. Well to women in ancient Israel their future hope was tied to their virginity. If they were to marry a wonderful man they were to remain a virgin. Amnon had now defiled her. Her life is literally ruined. No man would now marry her now, and he kicks her out to live alone, abandoned. you see both Amnon and Tamar knew the Law of Moses. In Exodus 22:16 and Deuteronomy 22::28-29 God commands that if a man rapes a woman he is forced to marry her and he was never permitted to divorce her. This is so her needs might be met. The rapist was not to take responsibility for her. Yet Ammon the pig, rapes her and abandons her. THis is why Tamar is so distraught as she walks out. Not only was her virginity taken, but so her hopes and dreams of ever finding love.

What can be learned from this disturbing rape account in the Bible?

1. The heart of a rapist is a heart devoured by sin. It is a reminder to all of us the power sin can have in our lives and an urgent call to repent and put to death any sin that may dwell in our hearts. Do not feed your pet sin so that it grows big enough to devour you. Put it to death through the power of the Holy Spirit.

2. It reminds us of the horror of sexual abuse. We live in a sexually charged society, and sexual abuse is rampant. Rape happens every day behind close doors in secret. It is a crime that demands justice. In Tamar's case, justice would eventually be had when her brother Absalom murders Amnon for his crime because Tamar's father, Kind David did nothing in providing justice. May we seek justice for those victims of sexual abuse. May we fight for their freedom.

3. It reminds us that we need Jesus. How can anyone ever heal from a rape of a family member like Tamar? It will not be easy, but Jesus provides healing. God is a God of justice and no sin goes unpunished. God is the loving father who longs to wrap his arms around these victims of sexual assault and cloth them in his righteousness.

The heart of man is desperately wicked. Despite how much we try to see humanity as good. Crimes like rape remind us just what atrocities men are capable of doing. We need redemption. We need restoration. We need forgiveness. We need Jesus.

A King's Generosity

Have you ever received someone's incredible generosity? Have you ever been so richly blessed for no reason at all? This is exactly what God does for us in Jesus Christ.  In the OT in the book of 2 Samuel we are able to see a foreshadow of the beauty of the Gospel in King David. In 2 Samuel 9 the grace of King David points to the grace of King Jesus. David is quite prosperous as king thanks to the Lord's favor (2 Sam 8). In chapter 9, David begins to look for a relative of his friend Jonathan whom he can shower with blessings.  How great is God that he graciously seeks us out! So to David seeks and finds a crippled son of Jonathan named Mephibosheth. David brings him in before him and shows him great generosity "for the sake of his father Jonathan".

Mephibosheth was fearful to come before King David. He was afraid rightly so for the glory and the power of the king could have executed poor crippled Mephibosheth right then and there. Mephibosheth knew of the struggle between his grandfather Saul and David. The rivarly was aware by all the nation, especially in the family. We are first introduced to this son of Jonathan in 2 Samuel 4:4. At the news of the death of his grandfather and father, Mephibosheth fleed with his nurse. The boy was but five years old at the time. From his childhood he lived in fear as David ascended to power. Would David it have it out for him because of his grandfather Saul? Or whould he be gracious on account of Jonathan? Did Mephibosheth even know of the friendship his father shared with David? Knowing this we can understand his fear approaching the throne of the King. Expecting death, he received life. Exepecting anger form the king he received joy. All this on account of his father Jonathan. So it is with us concerning Christ.  We receive all our blessings and rewards not on our own righteousness, but solely because of the righteousness of Christ.

So to are we cripplied in helplessness. Unable to find prestige our honor because of our weakness. Our sin has crippled our feet. Yet God shows profound mercy to us, not through any doing of our own, but through the righteousness of Christ. In this passage Jonathan's righteousness is imputed to his son in King David's eyes. Mephibosheth did nothing to earn the favor of David other than the fact he is the seed of his father Jonathan. So do we receive our righteousness before God.

We receive it, not on the account of our own, but on the account of Christ, credited to us. We share the blessings of God because we to are found the blood of Christ, the second adam. Washed in his blood we too can be found righteous and blameless before God. This righteousness credited to us gives us access to God himself. Just as Mephibosheth always ate at the Kings table, so to will we for all eternity eat with the King of heaven and earth.

This story is an amazing foreshadow of the Gospel, a type that finds its meaning in Christ. Take heart today that God has loved you in lavishing you with blessing. Fall on your knees in worship, knowing it is only because of Christ you are so lavishly blessed!

An Uninvited Guest - Luke 7:36-50

The Following is a Modified Version of my sermon from Luke 7:36-50 preached at Forest Hills Baptist Church on May 19, 2013.  You can access the sermon audio here. Imagine being invited to a formal dinner and there is a special guest of honor, an up incoming teacher everyone is talking about. You are invited.  You make it on the exclusive list.  It is at a huge house of a respected man in your community.

You arrive at the formal dinner, and it is going great.  You still can't believe you were even invited.  The discusions begin to break out with this respected teacher and you are just soaking it all in.  Then there is a ring at the door. The host with a surprised look on his face gets up and answers.

The all of the sudden, in barges a young woman dressed in a low cut blouse and a mini skirt. She looks like she is a prostitute. She  barges in and runs over to the guest of honor while he is eating and takes of her top and then takes expensive massage oil and begins caressing the guest and massaging his neck.

You are sitting their watching this whole scene unfold and everyone at the dinner is giving each other strange looks.  The guest of honor though doesn't stop this woman.  He is allowing this to happen!  Then you notice something really strange.  The woman is weeping loudly as she messages the guests neck. She is crying her eyes out in sorrow.

This is a bizarre scene, socially taboo, provocative, erotic, and scandalous. What would you do in this situation? What would you think about the teacher who just let the woman massage his neck? What would you think about the woman? How would you expect this up incoming teacher to respond?

Well this sort of scene is almost exactly what we see happen in Luke 7:36-50.  Read through the passage and ask yourself a question. Who are you in this passage? Are you like this sinful woman or are you like Simon the Pharisee?

Based off of Luke's description of this scene, this dinner seems to be based on a Greek Synopsium.  The way these dinners would work, is that a respected, wise host would invite several of the socially elite to have dinner with an important guest.  At this dinner party, they would recline along the table, laying down on their sides to eat.  This formal affair would involve a series of debate over crucial issues, centering around the special dinner guest.

This seems to be the type of dinner recorded in this passage.  Simon, a Pharisee and respected religious leader, invites the up incoming young Rabi, Jesus.  Jesus accepts the invitation and they are reclining at the table discussing and debating a variety of theological issues. This was a formal, socially elite type of an event.

A Sinful Woman Interrupts

The way homes were constructed back then is that in rich people's homes there was a semi-public area of the house. There was a section for the public to stand on the street and look in and observe the conversation and dialogue. With all the commotion going on about Jesus, I'm sure a lot of people were looking and listening intently about what was being discussed at this dinner.

Knowing this, it is easy to see how this sinful woman enters into the scene.  She was probably standing in the public area and then breaks social protocol by interrupting the dinner. All we are told about this woman is that she was a woman of the city, who was a sinner. This probably means that she was known for being a prostitute or at least for being sexually promiscuous. This woman sneaks up behind Jesus who is reclining at the table and began washing his feet with her tears.  She then takes an expensive ointment and anoints Jesus' feet with it.

What this woman was doing was socially taboo.  In fact the act she is performing could be considered an erotic one.  Woman in the 1st century did not take down their hair.  They kept it covered.  The only time you took down your hair as a woman is when you were in the bedroom. This woman taking down her hair in public is the social equivalent of going topless. Then she begins to wash Jesus' feed with her hair which is a very sensual act.  Then she impulsively takes this expensive ointment and anoints Jesus' feet with it. The strangest thing is that this woman is weeping, crying enough tears to wet Jesus' feet with them.

The Heart of the Sinful Woman

What can be said of this woman? She did not know much about Jesus, but she knew that he was a friend of sinners.  What desperation had led this woman to do such an act of love and sacrifice that would expose her to so much ridicule? She had hit rock bottom and had no where else to turn.  She throws herself at the feet of this rabi showing love in the only way she knew how, through sensuality. This sinful woman is broken. She knows she is a sinner. She knows what she has done with men behind close doors.  Her memories haunted her. Her sin always before her. At the end of her rope she had no one else to go to, nothing left to live for, so she throws herself at the only man she thinks she can trust. In her desperation, her shame, her guilt, her hopelessness she falls at the feet of Jesus.

Who are you? Are you this woman? Are you enslaved to the memories of your past sin? Do they haunt you when you lay your head down on the pillow at night? Do you feel used, abused, and totally abandon? Is there no one who loves you and no one you can go to? Are you in surrounded in the black darkness of despair? If so, you can connect with this woman. She is just like you and she throws herself at Jesus.

Oh the risk this woman took! Breaking all social etiquette she threw herself on a rabi she only has heard of not knowing how he would react! Would Jesus rebuke her? Would he threaten her? Would he refuse her love?

Jesus Doesn't Stop the Woman

This woman's risky action of love is not the only surprising thing in this story.  Jesus' response is equally shocking and scandalous.  Jesus doesn't stop the woman, but allows her to continue groveling and weeping at his feet. Rather than kicking the woman off, rejecting her, Jesus allows her to continue to show him deeply sacrificial love.

This is what really throws off the dinner party guests. They can understand a prostitute barging in and doing this.  She is a sinner, she doesn't know any better so they think.  But Jesus allowing this to happen? That is unthinkable! How could a respected religious leader and a man who claims to be a prophet allow such a thing to happen? This leads us to see Simon, the dinner's hosts reactions to this event.

 Simon's Reaction

We are told in verse 39 that Simon was thinking to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." Not only is Simon disgusted by this woman who is a sinner, he is disgusted that Jesus would allow this. Simon then begins to question that Jesus is even a prophet. Men of God don't allow this sort of thing to happen to them, so Simon thinks.  However Jesus is not just a man of God, he is God himself.

Jesus, reading Simon's mind (cause Jesus can do that, he is God), says, "Simon, I've got something to say to you". Simon says, "Say it teacher".  Jesus then begins to respond with a parable of two debtors.  Two men owe money.  One owed 500 denari the other 50.  The lender cancels the debt of both men.  Jesus looks to Simon and asks him, "Which of these two men loved him more".  Simon answers, "I suppose the one who was canceled the larger debt"

Simon answers Jesus' question correctly.  The one that was canceled the larger debt would love the lender more. Then rather than rebuking this woman, Jesus rebukes Simon.

Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.” (Luke 7:44–46, ESV)

This sinful woman has shown more hospitality and love to Jesus than Simon did. Here Jesus begins to reveal to Simon his hardened heart. Simon didn't really love Jesus, he was just using Jesus to increase his own reputation. Simon is far more concerned with his own prestige and reputation. Simon, the self-righteous Pharisee does not know what it means to love God, and Jesus helps give us the answer to why.  Jesus sums up his point to Simon in verse 47:

 "Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven - for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little".

Why does Simon not show extravagant love like this woman does? Why does this woman love Jesus' so much more than simon does? It is because Simon does not see himself as much of a sinner. As a Pharisee he isn't like this woman, he hadn't whored himself out like this woman did. He was better than she was. He had kept the Law, he had been obedient to God.  Simon does not have a need for a savior and doesn't need forgiveness.

The Heart of Simon

Oh how wretched is the heart of a Pharisee! For they have blinded themselves to the depths of their own sin.  Thinking they can earn God's favor through their own obedience all the while neglecting their very own hearts.  They seem close to God outwardly but in reality their hearts are desperately wicked.  Like white washed tombs clean and spotless on the outside, they are rotting and decaying on the inside. Hypocrites is what they are! Self-Righteous in all their doings, obeying not out of love but in order to boost their own egos! They think they are sinless all the while ignoring one of the most condemnable of sins, the poison and detestableness of Pride!  Is Simon a little sinner? By no means! He is just as much of a sinner as this sinful woman, yet his own self-righteousness blinds him to the actual state of his soul.

The Heart of a Pharisee

Again I ask, who are you? Are you Simon? I suggest most of us, including myself are much more like Simon. Many of us have grown up in the church attending Sunday School going to church every time the doors were open. Unfortunately for many of us our devotion has not been to Christ but to religious tradition. We struggle with feeling morally superior to everyone else who is not like us.  Unfortunately for many of us our obedience has been only to fuel our own self-righteousness.  Rather than becoming aware of our need for Christ, we think we are so good we don't need Jesus.  Who are the Pharisees in our day? Unfortunately they are found in churches scattered across our nation. Many of us, including myself, have a pharisaical heart.

We have become so captivated with tradition, ritual, and habit that we have ignored the world around us.  When we come across sinners how do we respond? We look down in judgement to the homosexual condemning them in hate. We look down in judgement on the sexually immoral. We look down on those who spend their nights drinking away their cares at the bars. We despise the poor and self-righteously walk by the homeless.  So who are you? Do you have the heart of a Pharisee?

Who is Jesus?

The question remains, who is Jesus? In v. 48 Jesus tells the sinful woman, your sins are forgiven".  Then the debate really begins to break out around the dinner table. "Who is this who even forgives sins?"  You see Jesus is no ordinary Prophet.  He is no ordinary teacher.  Jesus is God in the flesh. He is the one true God who has the authority and power to look at this woman and forgive her of her sins. What this woman longed for more than anything was forgiveness and acceptance.  Jesus gives it to her.  Jesus tells us that what has saved this woman is her faith.  It is her faith that has saved her.  Who has she placed her faith in? Well she placed her faith in Jesus.

Just as this woman was forgiven of her sins by trusting in Jesus so you and I are forgiven by placing our trust in Jesus.  It is Jesus who came to earth on a mission, to save sinners.  Jesus would go to the cross, and he would be crucified paying the punishment due our sin.  At the cross Jesus paid not only for the sins of the sinful woman but also for the sins of the Pharisee. Jesus has done that for us!  He has laid down his life for you and for me, and all we must do is respond like this woman.  We must fall at the feet of Jesus putting our faith and trust in him as the savior of our souls.

Who is this Jesus? He is the savior of sinners.  He alone has the power to forgive sins!

So Who are You?

Are you like simon the self-righteous Pharisee? If so do not think of yourself as a little sinner, but a great sinner.  Repent of your self-righteousness and put all your hope on Jesus.  Become a fool like this sinful woman and throw yourself at his feet in desperation.

Are you like the sinful woman? Have you reached the end of your rope.  You do not know what else to try. Your plagued by guilt and you are all alone in this world.  Throw yourself at the feet of Jesus.  Jesus loves you and he died on the cross so that he could forgive you of your sin.  Come and place your trust in Jesus.

Was Jesus Forsaken by God on the Cross?

3647674018_d1aa8dac84_bOne of Jesus's last words on the cross is a mysterious phrase. As darkness sets over Jesus he cries out, "My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?" It is interesting to note that even the most liberal and critical New Testament scholars believed that Jesus said "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Why? Because it seems like Jesus has finally cracked. His whole arrest, trial, flogging, and crucifixion Jesus says absolutely nothing in Mark's Gospel. "Like the sheep before its shearers, he is silent and does not open his mouth." But here in v. 34 Jesus finally breaks, crying out that he has been forsaken by God, believing that God had abandoned him, right? Well there is more going on here then meets the eye.

What Jesus cries out is the first line of Psalm 22. Jesus is quoting a Bible verse. You see, there were no chapters and verses in the bible originally. Those were added much latter. In Jesus' day, the way you referred to a passage was often by quoting the first line. This is what Jesus is doing here. So to understand what Jesus means by this cry we must turn to look at Psalm 22. Read through these few selected verses from Psalm 22:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” (Psalm 22:1–2, ESV)

“But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”” (Psalm 22:6–8, ESV)

“For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” (Psalm 22:16–18, ESV)

The Psalm seems so clearly to point to Jesus that it is astonishing. On the cross Jesus was experiencing incredible physical suffering but also spiritual suffering as he was bearing God's righteous wrath for the sins of God's people.

Although Jesus quotes Psalm 22 in reference to his horrific, unjust death, I believe that Jesus is also quoting this Psalm in hope of his deliverance. Jesus was forsaken by God, but he had confidence that he would be delivered. When we look at Psalm 22 as a whole it makes much more since. Jesus quoting this Psalm indicates the extreme pain he was enduring, but he was also proclaiming his own deliverance.

In Psalm 22:19 the tone of the psalm changes from lament to hopeful deliverance:

"But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!"

Jesus was forsaken by God, but he had confidence that he would be delivered. When we look at Psalm 22 as a whole it makes much more since. Jesus quoting this Psalm indicates the extreme pain he was enduring, but he was also proclaiming his own deliverance.

Jesus quoting this Psalm causes the crowd to believe that Jesus is calling for the prophet Elijah to deliver him, so the crowd gives Jesus some sour wine to quench his thirst to see if he will hold on for a bit longer. This is not an act of compassion, but an act of hate. I think the crowd is wanting Jesus to hold on because I think they want Jesus to break. He had been being mocked and ridiculed and they want Jesus to feel the isolation of being abandoned by God.

What the crowd didn't know, is that Jesus would actually be delivered, not by Elijah, but by God himself. His deliverance would not be immediate, but delayed by 3 days when Jesus rises from the grave!

When we look at Jesus' words on the cross as Jesus quoting Psalm 22 we get much greater insight into what Jesus was thinking in the final hours of his life. Jesus did not believe he was abandoned by God, but knew that God would deliver him on the third day as he would rise again!

Why is the Virgin Birth of Jesus Important? Part 1

Why is the virgin birth of Jesus so important? Have you asked yourself that question before? The virgin birth of Jesus is hard to believe in our modern minds. After all, we are children of the enlightenment. If we can't explain it with reason than it couldn't have happened...right? Many in our western culture today are seeing the world through the lens of naturalism. Naturalism is the belief that nature operates within certain rules or laws, and that nothing is beyond those laws that can change them. A naturalist would deny the supernatural completely. Supernatural and miraculous events like the virgin birth of Jesus just can't happen. The virgin birth of Christ is impossible.

Scholars who have studied wearing the glasses of naturalism have done their best to discount the New Testament accounts of Jesus. In the 18th century scholars began the quest for the historical Jesus. It is a quest that continues to this day. The quest involves peeling back the supernatural layers of the scriptures in order to discover the real Jesus. A Jesus that fits into our naturalistic and rationalistic view of the universe and a Jesus that gets talked about on the history channel.

These quest begin with an assumption: the Supernatural cannot happen and the Scriptures are not God's Word but myths and legends created by the disciples. A Christian would deny both of these claims. Christians believe that the Supernatural can happen and that Scriptures are the very word of God, true in all they affirm. You see Christians operate from a theistic worldview. A theistic worldview believes that there is a God and he interacts with his creation. The virgin birth is impossible, but as the angel tells Mary in Luke 1, "with God nothing is impossible"

However why is the virgin birth so crucial important for Christians to believe? Isn't it kind of unimportant? The now controversial Rob Bell writes in his book Velvet Elvis:

What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? But what if, as you study the origin of the word ‘virgin’ you discover that the word ‘virgin’ in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word ‘virgin’ could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being ‘born of a virgin’ also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse? What if that spring were seriously questioned? Could a person keep on jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live? Or does the whole thing fall apart?…If the whole faith falls apart when we reexamine and rethink one spring, then it wasn’t that strong in the first place, was it?”

So is Rob Bell right? Is the virgin birth just a spring that we can take out of our beliefs and it is no big deal?

The answer is an absolute no. The virgin birth of Christ is hugely significant. It is critical to the Christian faith and in the next blog post, we will talk about why the virgin birth of Christ is vital to the Christian faith.

Jonah Part 3: Jonah's Anger and the Lord's Compassion

 

Jonah is Angry at the Lord’s compassion (Jonah 4:1-4)

After seeing the city of Nineveh repent, Jonah becomes furious.  He was angry that the Lord would show compassion to this city.  In these first four verses, Jonah prays to the Lord.  This is the second of Jonah’s prayers.  The first one in chapter 2, took place in the belly of the fish.  The writer invites us to compare and contrast Jonah’s heart and attitude between these two prayers.  In this second prayer, we see Jonah’s real heart in this whole situation.  We get to see why he really didn’t want to go to Nineveh in the first place.  He was afraid God would be merciful to them.

You see, Jonah knows that God is a merciful and compassionate God.  He gives second chances.  He spares us his wrath.  Jonah prays and says, “I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting form disaster”.  Although Jonah loves this about God when God’s compassion is shown to him (Chapter 2), but is angry towards God when it is shown to Nineveh (Chapter 3).  You see Jonah wants to receive mercy from the Lord, but he doesn’t want God to show His mercy to others, especially the Ninevites.  In verse 3, Jonah gets a little over dramatic and concludes his life is not worth living.  He tells God it is better to die than to live.  Now Jonah isn’t suicidal here, he just is being so over the top it is comical.  He is acting just like a child here.  He doesn’t get his way so he pouts and says life isn’t worth living anymore.  He is trying to manipulate God with his anguish.  He is trying to get God to change his mind.  God responds with just a simple question, “Do you do well to be angry?”  I like the NLT of this verse, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”  In other words, God is questioning Jonah’s angry.  Jonah why are you getting so upset about this? Why is this bothering you so badly?

The Lord Teaches Jonah to be compassionate (Jonah 4:5-11)

After this prayer, Jonah goes up to the hill to sit down at the east of the city and look over it.  He is waiting to see what God will do with the city.  Jonah seems to be hoping that his manipulative pity party had changed God’s mind.  He waiting and hoping God will destroy it.  As Jonah is sitting there God appoints a plant to spring up. Notice this is the third time God appoints something in the book.  The first time was the the great wind God hurled upon the sea (1:4), the second was the great fish (1:17), and here the plant is the third (4:6).  The text is reminding us of who is in control over His creation, and it is the Lord of hosts.  He sovereignly appoints what he wills, and rules creation.  He can make a plant spring up instantly.  And the plant springs up over the head of Jonah and provides him with comfort.

This plant changes Jonah’s mood.  He goes from being angry, to being glad.  Then, the next day come and God appoints something a fourth time in the book of Jonah.  He appoints a worm to come and attack the plant, so the plant would wither and die.  Then we are told that God appointed a scorching east wind and the sun to beat down on Jonah’s head.  Jonah again gets upset and says that it is “Better to die than to live”.  Again, Jonah isn’t suicidal here, he is just being overly dramatic.

Then in verse 9, God asks Jonah a important question, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?”  Notice the parallel between God’s question in verse 4, in which God questions Jonah’s anger towards Nineveh.  But Jonah says to God, “It is right for me to be angry about this plant, angry enough to die!”  Notice also, that this is the first time Jonah desires that something not perish.  He didn’t care if the sailors perished.  He didn’t care if Nineveh perish.  But when it comes to this plant providing him comfort, he cares greatly that this plant not perish!  Then in verse 10, we get God’s lesson he is trying to teach Jonah.  Indeed, this is the climax of the whole book.

God tells Jonah that he pities this insignificant plant, and should God not pity Nineveh, a city of 120,000 people?  In other words God is telling Jonah, what’s more important a plant or 120,000 people perishing?  The answer is obviously people.  In fact, God closes the book with a peculiar phrase, “also much cattle”.  This is God making a jab at Jonah.  If Jonah will not pity the people of Nineveh, at least he would pity the animals!  If the plant is so important to him, maybe the animals are! God is making a strong rebuke towards Jonah.  Jonah who cared so much for himself, who cared so much for his own needs and comfort, needs to be rebuked.  Throughout this whole book Jonah has been nothing but a spoiled brat.  He wants to receive the mercy of God for himself, but he doesn’t want God to show it to others.  He himself doesn’t want to perish in the ocean, but when it comes to the sailors or Nineveh he could care less.

Now what does this mean for you and me?  When thinking about this book as a whole, and what God is trying to teach Jonah, what does this mean for us.

1. God has Compassion on All People, not just us

People are important to God.  God is determined to get Jonah to Nineveh.  He sovereignly orchestrates creation by appointing it to do his will.  He does all this to get Jonah to Nineveh.  God is passionate about the exaltation of his own name to the nations and to the ends of the earth.

2. We must repent of our self-centered hypocrisy

We must not be like Jonah.  We can’t be self-centered and concerned with ourselves.  We can’t expect to receive God’s grace, but then refuse to share it with others.  Our lives are not about us!  It isn’t about our comfort.  It isn’t about what we want to do.  We exist for worship, and spreading the worship of Jesus to the ends of the earth.  We exist to share the good news of Jesus with everyone!  However, so many of us live lives that are self-consumed.  We think what’s in it for me, or what can I get out of it.  The Gospel runs contrary to our self-sufficiency.  We must turn away from this and lay down our lives for his kingdom.

3. We must be willing to go where God tells us to go

For some of you God is going to ask you to do some tough things.  He might ask you to go some where that you are uncomfortable with.  He might ask you to leave behind home and family.  He might ask you to go to college further away that Wilson Tech.  He might even ask you to go to college out of state.  He might ask you live in another part of the country to be his ambassador.  He might ask you to live in another country to be his missionary.  Or it could be as simply as going to another lunch table or going down the street to your neighbors house to tell them about Jesus.  However, one thing the book of Jonah teaches us, is that we must be obedient to him.  When God tells us to go, we must go.

4. Remember that God gives mercy to those who repent

God is not hesitant to show us mercy.  God is eagerly wanting to show grace to people.  He wants them to come to know the joy found only in Jesus!  The Gospel, the good news of Jesus, is an open invitation to those who are perishing to repent and believe in Him!  Just like the city of Nineveh, destruction is coming to this world.  God’s wrath will be poured out, but through Jesus God’s wrath is placed on Jesus in your place. You can trust in him.  He is our great Savior who is eager to save.  Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus!  Trust in him for salvation.  He is abounding in love and rich in mercy.

Jesus Saves Us from Legalism

If we are honest, there is a little bit of a Pharisee in each of us. We all have legalistic tendencies. We have our own standard that we hold ourselves to, and look down on all others who cannot measure up to our standards. Many who excel at keeping rules and abstaining for immorality become prideful and feel superior over their fellow man. The heart of a Pharisee tries to attain righteousness on his or her own strength and merit.

Throughout the Bible, Jesus has some stern words for the Scribes and Pharisees, but there is probably none sterner than Matthew 23. In this passage Jesus rebukes the Pharisees with seven different woes. Although there are several different areas Jesus rebukes them of, one of the main ones is this: The Pharisees care far more about external appearances while neglecting internal realities. In other words, the Pharisees were great at looking righteous on the outside, while ignoring the state of their own hearts.

It is like this for many Christians in our day too isn't it? We know what to wear on Sunday morning. We know good Christianese, and we can use big theological words. We have more merit badges for memorizing more Bible verses than the other kid. We give more in the offering than the guy on the pew next to us. We've attained that position of influence in the church and feel superior to everyone else. You see, many of us, just like the Pharisees think our external obedience can make up for our wicked hearts. We think if we could just be good enough, God must accept us!

Jesus tells the Pharisees in Matthew 23:25-26, "For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that outside may be clean." Jesus tells the Pharisees that they've got the order backwards. You can't clean up your outward behavior and expect it to transform your wicked heart. Transformation and righteousness starts within our hearts, and moves outward to external obedience. You see the Pharisees were so busy cleaning the outward part of the cup, all the while neglecting the inside.

Your outward religion and moralism will not save you. Period. You can't be good enough. You cannot give enough. You cannot serve enough. No matter how hard you try or how clean you make your outward cup, inside you are filthy. You see, we can't transform our own hearts. We are unable to clean that inward part of the cup. This is why we need Jesus!

Jesus died in your place for your sin. He takes on all your inward and outward filth, sin, and unrighteousness. For those who have faith and trust in him, he gives us purity. He gives us righteousness. Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, takes that dirty cup and makes it spotless.

Your own works cannot save you. They are nothing but filthy rags. You need Jesus. Don't fall for the lie of religion that you can clean yourself up. You can't. Only Jesus can. Don't be like the prideful Pharisees, but may everyone of us fall on our face in humility before Jesus. From the deacon to the porn addict. From the Sunday School teacher to the homosexual. From the Pastor to the drunkard. We are all unclean before Jesus, and only by his blood are we made clean. There is no room for pride, because only through Jesus can we be saved.

Jonah Part 2: Nineveh Repents

Click the link to read the first post in this series, Jonah Part 1

Have you ever seen someone’s life totally turned around? Do you have a friend who has come to Christ and it is like a 180 degree turn?  It is always amazing to me to hear the stories of these amazing testimonies of these people.  God has truly done the miraculous in their lives.  We might not always have such a radical testimony, but they are encouraging to hear none the less.  The people of Nineveh are a people with that sort of testimony.  The whole city makes a 180 degree turn when Jonah comes to preach the Word of the Lord.

Jonah Goes to Nineveh (Jonah 3:1-5)

Jonah gets a second chance at obedience.  After deliberately disobeying God and going to Tarshish, God calls Jonah a second time.  He tells him to go to Nineveh again.  God intends to use Jonah to deliver this message to Nineveh, whether he wants to or not.  God is going to use him.  Jonah goes to the city of Nineveh.  It was a big city.  The Scripture says it was three days in breadth, meaning that it took him three whole days to preach his message to the surrounding areas of the city.

What was the heart of Jonah’s message?  In 40 days, Nineveh will be over thrown.

Although I’m sure Jonah’s message was more lengthy than this one sentence, but this one sentence does reveal a little bit about Jonah’s heart.  Notice Jonah preaches the condemnation of the people without calling them to repentance.  Jonah doesn’t invite them to turn away from their wicked deeds, he just tells them.... You’ve got 40 days.

Jonah continues to remain apathetic towards the people God has called him to minister too.  He didn’t care for the pagan sailors on the boat, he doesn’t really care for the Ninevites.  He wants God’s wrath to be poured out on the people.  In some twisted way, Jonah desires that the city perish.  We don’t see that fully here, but in chapter 4 Jonah reveals to us his true heart and motivation.  The wretched hate in Jonah’s heart is despicable and describes the same hate in our own hearts.  We look at people who are different than us.  Who are maybe of a different skin color or a different nationality.  We see those who live in open flagrant sin, and we hate them.  We don’t want them to repent.  We don’t want them to turn to God.  We just want them to burn.

If we are really honest with ourselves, many of us think more like Westboro Baptist Church than we would like to admit.  We refuse to cross the rail road tracks to share the Gospel with another ethnicity.  A heart of racism runs through many Christians.  Although none of us would claim to be racist, many of us live that way.  We joke about racial stereotypes.  We segregate ourselves at our schools.  We even segregate our churches so often.  At the end of the day, we find ourselves wanting God to bring down his wrath on them rather than God’s kindness leading them to repentance.  Westboro Baptist Church is just like Jonah.  They preach condemnation and wrath, but the do not desire repentance.  The do not desire this nation come to Christ.  They hate this country and they hate the people who live here.  You and I must not be like this.  We are not to hate the very people God has called us to reach.  If God shows his love to wicked idolatrous people, so should we.  We shouldn’t hate them, but love them and share with them about Jesus in hopes that they would repent and believe the Gospel!

Yet, even though Jonah wishes ill on the city.  God does the miraculous.  Jonah preaches his fire and brimstone message of coming destruction, and the people begin to repent!  Verse 5 tells us that the people of Nineveh believed God.  The fasted and put on sackcloth, which is a sign of humble repentance.  And this wasn’t just the poor and lowly people who were repenting.  All of them, from the greatest of them to the least of them.  The whole city began to abandon their evil ways and trust God!

The People of Nineveh Repent (Jonah 3:6-10)

The word of God eventually reached the king of Nineveh, and something amazing happens.  He repents too!  He coveres himself with sack cloth and ashes.  The King of Nineveh publishes a proclamation that everyone in the city, including the beasts, fast and be covered in sackcloth.  He commands them to call out to God.  So the whole city, down to the animals fall on their face calling out to God to mercy! Imagine how extravagant this scene must have been to watch!  Seeing a whole city repent and believe God!  Imagine of something like that happened in your city. What kind of transformation would happen?  Can you picture the thousands and thousands of people falling on their face calling out to God. The whole city turned from their evil ways.  They pray that God might spare them from His wrath.  They do not want to perish!

The contrast between Jonah and the Ninevites could not be more stark.  The Ninevites do not want to perish, and Jonah could care less.  He did the same thing with the sailors on the boat.  Jonah is only concerned about number one.  He doesn't want himself to perish by being tossed into the sea, but when it comes to lost people, Jonah doesn’t want to see them saved.  He is completely apathetic towards them.  Then we see something even more amazing.  Not only does the whole city repent, but God shows them mercy (v. 10).  When God sees how the city of Nineveh turned from their evil ways, God has compassion on them.  He spares them from his wrath.  As we will see in chapter 4, Jonah isn’t going to respond to well to this!

Jonah Points us to Jesus

Despite Jonah’s failures, his life points us to the greater Jonah, Jesus.  Jesus succeeds where Jonah fails.  You see, Jesus the jewish Messiah, brings the nations to repentance and faith.  Jonah who has figuratively been raised from the dead after three days in the belly of the fish calls out to the pagan people and they come to repentance and faith.  Jesus who was literally raised from the dead after three days in the tomb calls out to the nations of the earth and they come to repentance and faith.

You see, a major theme that runs throughout all the Bible is God’s passion to bring every nation and people group to praise his glorious name.  He wants all the nations to worship him.  He says in Psalm 46, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth”.  So when God chooses the children of Abraham, the nation of Israel as his covenant people, God never intends to isolate his love and mercy only on them. The people of Israel were supposed to be a nation of priests interceding on behalf of the nations of the earth to the great and powerful God. However, Israel’s election as the people of God bolstered them with pride and ego.  They began to despise the very nations God had called them to interceded for.  They began to look down on all the other sinners, and feel self-righteous and confident.  The tragic mistake of Israel is that they would not repent of their idolatry.  They continued to become like the nations rather than reaching the nations.  The contrast between Israel and Nineveh is astounding.  Nineveh repents and turns to God at the word of the prophet Jonah.  Israel rebels and disobeys God.  The pagan nations repent, Israel rebels.

Israel fails all through out their history.  They are condemned because the do not repent.  This is why in Matthew 12:41 Jesus says, “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”  What is Jesus saying here?  He is telling the Jews that the Ninevites put them to shame.  The pagan nations repent, but the chosen people of God do not.  Jesus tells them the Ninevites repented at the preaching of Jonah, and Jesus tells them “I am the greater Jonah and you, Israel, do not listen to me and repent”.  This stiff-necked people refuses to believe the Prophets of God.  Indeed Israel rejected their own Messiah.  They mocked him.  They tried him.  They crucified him.  They rejected THE prophet of God, Yet Jesus tells us that the stone that the builders rejected has become the corner stone.  The rejected Messiah of Israel is the Messiah for the whole world and now invites the nations, pagan, gentile sinners like many of us, to repentance and faith.

Jesus is the greater Jonah. I know the temptation for us is to look upon Israel with disgust.  How could the people of God refuse repentance?  How could the people of God reject their prophets?  How could they become so self-righteous and filled with pride?  How could they hate the people God asked them to reach? Be very careful Christian, your thinking indicates that you might very well be like the nation of Israel.  In fact, those of us who grow up in the church have a tendency to be far more like the people of Israel than we may know.   You and I have the Word of the Lord.  We have faithful pastors who preach it to us week in and week out, yet we deliberately disobey.  We look down on others because we think that we are more moral and superior.  We refuse to share the Gospel with others, and do not desire to see our friends come to repentance and faith.  You and I are much more like Israel than we care to admit.

May we be like Nineveh and respond to our sin with incredible repentance!  May we fall on our face and be humbled.  May we turn from our wicked ways and turn to Jesus and be saved!

God's Mercy to Disobedient Prophets Like Us

20120908-071519.jpgThis is part 1 of a three part post on the book of Jonah focusing on Jonah 1:1-2:10. Part 2 and 3 to follow over the next couple weeks.

Have you ever been jealous? Have you ever gotten angry at a sibling for getting something you already have? Jonah is a book all about the gracious compassion of God towards all people. God shows his love to everybody, and the story of Jonah is of a man who wants the mercy of God, but doesn't want God to show it to others. The story of Jonah is a historical one, and it serves to teach us about how great God's mercy is towards the nations, and it teaches us how we must respond.

Jonah lived in a time of prosperity in Israel. The Assyrian Empire resided to the North-east and was growing in prosperity. Jonah is told to go to the capital city of the Assyrian empire, Ninevah. Israel didn't like Ninevah. They were pagans who did'nt worship the true God and were enemies of Israel. However, even though God asked Jonah to go, he decides to get a ticket and take the next boat to Tarshish, which is in the west. He goes the opposite direction from where God calls him.

Many of us respond to God in the exact same way. God asks us to do something and we do the opposite. He tells us to share the Gospel with our friends, and we avoid them. He tells us to repent sin in our lives, and we indulge. He directs us to a particular career path, and we choose the opposite. He calls us to ministry and we pursue comfort. Each and every one of us, just like Jonah have the tendency to rebel against what God has asked us to do. We try to run away from what God asks us to do, and as we will see in the life of Jonah, you can't run from God.

So Jonah gets on the boat and heads out to Tarshish across the Mediterranean Sea. In Jonah 1:4, we are told that God sends a might tempest out on the sea. A big theme in the book of Jonah is God's power of his creation. He rules it with absolute sovereignty. If he wants to bring in a huge wind to sink Jonah's ship, he can do so. If he wants Jonah to get swallowed by a Big fish, the Lord makes it happen. God reigns as the absolute supreme King of the universe. Creation bends to his will. He rules with awesome power.

So the sailors begin to get worried. They ship could capsize and the power of the wind and waves. Each of the pagan sailors begin to cry out to their pagan gods. These sailors are not good Torah believing Jews. They do not know or worship the true god. They are worldly and worship false gods. Jonah, the worst missionary ever, is down stairs sleeping during this turmoil. He is so self-centered he ignores the calamity of the sailors and is resting peacefully down below the deck. The captain comes to Jonah and asks him to call out to his god in hopes that they might not perish. Again, the pagan sailor did not know that Jonah's God, the God of Israel was the true God of the whole world. The captin is simply in desperation. Any god will do, the captain thinks, as long as we will be saved! The irony here is that a pagan sailor summons the Israelite prophet to prayer. The Pagan sailor is concerned that people might perish, while Jonah is asleep below the deck. How great is the apathy of the prophets of God! We who have been given a task to herald the Gospel to the nations lie in the comforts of our bed beneath the deck while the world around us is on the verge of perishing. May we not be like Jonah. May we rise to the challenge to be obedient in sharing the good news of Jesus with others!

The sailors cast lots (role dice) to decide the will of god, a common thing to do, because they believed that god controls how the dice lands. Even the Israelites practiced this to discern gods will. The lot is cast, and it lands on Jonah. The sailors inquire about who he is and where he is from. Jonah tells the sailors he is a Hebrew that fears the Lord who made the sea and dry land. The irony here is that Jonah is obviously a hypocrite. If he feared the Lord he would have never gotten on the boat to flee the God who made the very seas.

When the sailors hear what Jonah has to say, they get "exceedingly afraid". Why? Because they know that Jonah is fleeing from the Lord, because that's what Jonah said (v. 11). The sailors ask Jonah, "How do we fix this problem so we can survive?". Jonah tells them to hurl him into the sea. It is interesting that the sailors ignore Jonah for the time being. The don't want to throw him into the sea, because His blood will be on their hands. These pagan sailors don't want anyone to perish. So they try to keep rowing to dry land, but the sea is get worse and worse. Then they finally decide to throw Jonah in, it seems to be the only option. These pagan sailors call out to the Lord and ask that they not perish for this mans life, and then they threw him into the sea.

As soon as Jonah is tossed overboard, the sea ceased from its raging. The men respond in fear of the Lord. These pagan come to faith in the God of Israel. Notice the transition of the sailors emotions in the text. They sailors go from fear, to exceedingly afraid, to fearful worship of God. The Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, again we see God's absolute power over creation. God appoints this to happen. Jonah begins to pray from inside the fish. One commentator said, "Jonah’s prayer is not a request to be saved from the fish but is thanksgiving for being saved by the fish." Jonah is praising God for saving him from his near death experience. Notice again, how selfish Jonah is, even in his prayer. He is not praising God for the safety of the sailors, he is praising God for his own safety and his own deliverance. In response God vomits Jonah up for a second try at obedience in prophesying to the city of Nineveh.

The interesting thing is that Jesus himself referred to the event of Jonah as talking about himself. The account of disobedient prophet Jonah, points us to the coming of the obedient prophet, Jesus. In Matthew 12:40 Jesus says, "For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Just as Jonah went went down to the pit of death and survive, so would Jesus. Just at Jonah spent three days in the belly of the fish, so Jesus would spend three days in the tomb. Just as Jonah was delivered on dry land, Jesus would rise from the grave conquering sin and death! Jesus is the greater Jonah. Jesus rose from the grave and purchased our redemption!

May we respond to this event in awe of the grace of Jesus. We are just like Jonah as we run from God. We are selfish consumed with ourselves. We disobey God daily. But where you and I fail, Jesus succeeds. Jesus was obedient to the point of death. He took on the death that you and I deserved. He was tossed overboard in your place. He went to the pit of death for you and me, and he rose victoriously from death on the third day! He lives and reigns supreme. May we fall on our face and worship Jesus today! May we be amazed at his grace and mercy. May we put our faith and trust in Him.

Read Jonah Part 2