Love at the Center

In contrast to the philosophies of atheism and pantheism, Jesus Christ put love at the center of life. Love is the central concern in Christ‘s apologetic to the world. Both John 13:35 and John 17:20- 23 indicate that the world will not know who Jesus is through the means of his ultimate apologetic-love among believers-unless believers demonstrate his love first to each other and then to the watching world. The New Testament emphasis on agape is utterly unique among world religions. The statement “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16) cannot be said in any other view of life. The ultimate demonstration of love is the cross, and that is the painful, self-sacrificial, other-directed love to which we are called.

Art Lindsley. Love, the Ultimate Apologetic: The Heart of Christian Witness (pp. 160-161). Kindle Edition.

Look Up and Look Out

Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pan...
Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pantocrator; Istanbul, Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus’ love is selfless and sacrificial

Now you may be wondering why I use both selfless and sacrificial. We often use these words interchangeably as if they mean the same thing, or nearly the same thing. But selfless acts are not necessarily sacrificial and sacrificial acts are not necessarily selfless. To be selfless is to have no concern for self. Now, focusing on others is great, but it can easily be done out of manipulation. For example, a lot of times I do things that are selfless so that the selfish thing I am about to do goes over a little easier. It’s a “look your shoes untied” strategy that can be very effective. People distracted by your kindness are less likely to notice the extreme selfishness you display.

Now, technically, doing something nice or beneficial for others is selfless. But if it doesn’t cost you anything than it’s not the kind of selflessness that Jesus displayed. Another problem with selflessness is a weird kind of “martyrdom” that people needlessly submit themselves to. This is the person who can’t say no and lets you walk all over them. Others can’t so no until they they blow up or they never stop talking about how selfless they are. Its manipulation. Again, not the kind of selflessness Jesus demonstrated. Continue reading “Look Up and Look Out”

Jonah the Evangelist

prophet Jonah being thrown into the Sea, catac...
prophet Jonah being thrown into the Sea, catacombe di Priscilla (photo by Wilpert, Joseph. Die Malereien der Katakomben Roms, 1903) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Sign of Jonah is Jonah’s word

God sends Jonah into Nineveh with words to save and this points the reader forward to when God will send His living Word into the world to save. The evidence of Chapter 3 reveals that Jonah’s words are powerful because God’s spirit goes before them preparing fields to be planted.

The seed clearly goes down and sprouts up quickly, but nothing about Jonah leads us to believe he is capable of such a feat. His words have a power quite above himself.  It says in Jonah 3:3 that it’s a three day journey across Nineveh and yet in verse 4 it says Jonah went one day’s journey and his word goes before him throughout Nineveh like a wildfire.

Jonah’s speaks a meager 8 words, only having traveled a third the way through the city and we have one of the greatest revivals in history. This is a rare instance where one Prophet’s words are effective instantaneously. Jonah doesn’t even need to be present, but the mere report of his proclamation is enough.  It is too miraculous to attribute to Jonah or his words alone. It points forward to a prophet, Jesus, whose word is spoken with real authority and is operative instantly.   Continue reading “Jonah the Evangelist”

Love knows no one Greater

The Sign of Jonah is the Fish of Jonah

In the section mentioned earlier from Matthew, we saw that Jesus referred explicitly to the fish being a sign of His death, burial and resurrection.

Death and resurrection are part of our life in Christ. Dying to ourselves is the only way to live for God. Jonah was shown this truth through his ordeal in the fish. Jesus demonstrated it throughout his life, ministry and passion. We must die to ourselves so that we might live for God. Doing the will of the father requires it and it is a sign that points to Jesus Christ. It is a sign that signifies one is a disciple of the living God.

So, this is a fairly straight forward and easy sign. Jonah is swallowed by the Fish and remains in a death like state for three days. He rises on the third day with words of power to speak to the nations. Just like Jesus.

Extravagant Love

The word Extravagant means to exceed the limits of reason or necessity.

That is the kind of love Jesus exhibits. Jesus didn’t need a throne; he had one already. Jesus didn’t need men. Who needs broken clay jars? Jesus has authority over everything; in Him everything that is, was made. God made man in His own image and Jesus is jealous enough for even the image of God, that He could not allow the dishonor of the fall to stand. He wanted God’s creation to fulfill its creation purpose; to live in harmony worshiping God.

So Jesus took on flesh; the infinite took on the limits of creation. The king became a carpenter’s son. He slept in open boats and ate meals. He argued with self-righteous hypocrites and endured the confused bombastic yapping of His apostles.

The Maker let His creation slap him, tear His beard out and nail iron into His flesh. Iron, which was made in and through Jesus, Jesus allowed to be driven through the flesh He didn’t need, to die a death we caused, to win us back to a Father we rejected.

This is a love that exceeds the limits of reason and necessity.

The Liturgy of Covenant Renewal worship

Landscape with Noah's Thank Offering (painting...
Landscape with Noah’s Thank Offering (painting circa 1803 by Joseph Anton Koch) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leviticus 1:1-9 ESV “The LORD called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock.

If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Then he shall kill the bull before the LORD, and Aaron‘s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. And Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.”

  1. Call to Worship: God calls the worshiper to draw near. In response to God’s call the worshiper comes with the appropriate animal. Lev. (1:1-2).
  2. Consecration: God moves the priests to cut up the animal, making it fit to ascend the altar into God’s fiery presence. The worshiper/animal must not only die, but it is necessary that he be properly prepared for God’s holy presence. (Lev. 1:6-7)
  3. Commissioning: Once the sacrifice is over, Yahweh sends the worshiper out renewed and empowered for service in the kingdom. (Num. 6:22-27).

There are various ways in which this can be expressed. Jesus Christ fulfills and established the genuine meaning and practice of sacrifice and offering. Sacrificial images and rites are part of the central core of the biblical revelation of the personal relations between God and man (from Gen. 3:21 through Rev. 21:22-27). The way of sacrifice, therefore, transcends the Mosaic institution of animal sacrifice. Better yet, the sacrificial rituals of the Old Testament are not merely ad hoc arrangements,  but rather are grounded in the rich relational life of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Sacrifice reveals something of the nature of what it meant for God to be personal (Father, Son and Holy Spirit relate to one another sacrificially).

In the New Testament the old animal sacrificial typology is fulfilled by Christ and in the believer who is united to Christ by faith. In union with Christ – who offered Himself as the sacrifice – we not only have the penalty for sin removed, but we are also being made in acceptable sacrifice by faith. The promise is that if we offer ourselves to the Father through Christ in the Spirit we will become what God has destined us for – men and women remade in the image of God.

How Lordship Changes Everything

Jesus is the image of the invisible God. This is not merely a matter of Jesus’ features; the size of His nose or the color of His hair. It has to do with how Jesus conducted Himself. How did He act? What did He do throughout the Gospels? How did he respond to the Father? Jesus came to show men how to live in relation to God. He bore the image of God with His life, so that we would know how to bear the image of God with our lives. Jesus’ Lordship is unlike any kingly conduct in all of scripture. We look at Jesus’ life and truly know that God is love (1 John 4:8), because greater love knows no one than this; that someone lays down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Love involves more than one person. A lover must have a beloved. Without another person there is no love. Monads like Allah cannot love because there is nothing to direct their love toward. Monads like Allah are sterile, distant, impersonal tyrants.   Continue reading “How Lordship Changes Everything”