Archive for December, 2010

Christmas Vision

Let the Light of the World cause you to be a light in the world this Christmas season.

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Faith Outside the Lines

This is a shorter lesson prepared for Sunday, December 19th, the day of our Children’s Christmas program.  I tried to pull out something unique to children to highlight why we should imitate their faith.  Much of what is contained in this lesson is inspired by Mike Yaconelli’s “Dangerous Wonder.”  He highlights the unassuming, wild, often wreckless, ways of the child and offers this up as the manner in which we should approach our King.  We have too often had our Jesus ears deafened by traditionalism, expectations of others and our own spiritual baggage.  These things prevent us from knowing the amazement and wonder that children experience day in and day out.

Faith Outside the Lines

John: The Glory of God

Lesson #4 from “Reflections on Discipleship.”  John tells a new creation story in his gospel.  “In the beginning was the Word” inaugurates this Gospel account.  We failed under the original creation story…so John writes a fresh account based on the new creation that comes our way in Jesus Christ.  His focus throughout is placed squarely on the glory of Jesus Christ that was revealed in ever-increasing ways throughout his ministry, but supremely on the cross when he uttered the words, “It is finished.”  When he was lifted up (i.e. glorified) he did indeed draw all men to him.

John: The Glory of God

Colossians: The Battle Won

Lesson #3 from “Reflections on Discipleship.”  Colossians directs our thoughts on the supremacy of Jesus Christ over all powers and authorities!

Colossians: The Battle Won

Hebrews: The Final Sacrifice

This is lesson #2 in the series entitled “Reflections on Discipleship.”  In this we consider Jesus from the perspective of the writer of Hebrews.  In a word, Hebrew offers us the word “FINAL”.  Jesus is the final WORD, the final CHAPTER, the final HIGH PRIEST and the FINAL SACRIFICE.  

Hebrews: The Final Sacrifice

Reflections on Discipleship

Lesson #4 – “The Glory of God”

  • Sermon Flow:
    • As we consider the Jesus we would follow we have seen the following over the past 3 weeks:
      • Jesus the Final Sacrifice (Hebrews): “Jesus is there to help because he is one of us and has trodden the path before us. It offers us the Jesus who is the final sacrifice; the one who has done for us what we could not do for ourselves, who has lived our life and died our death, and no ever lives to make intercession for us. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
      • Jesus the Conquering Hero (Colossians): “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth: things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether rulers or powers—he has rescued us from the power of darkness, and has transferred us into the Kingdom of the beloved Son, in whom we have the forgiveness of sins.”
      • Jesus the Son of Man, crowned King (Matthew): “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. Matthew is a celebration of the crowning of the Savior Jesus, the God-with-us King who is with us always, even to the end of the age.”
      • So…Jesus is our eternal high priest offering the final sacrifice we will ever need; he is the conquering General who has absolute authority over all the powers of darkness, and he has been made King over heaven and earth, but what about the qualities of Jesus that make this King approachable? We need that don’t we? Someone we can touch feel. A God that we can know. Jesus is that High Priest, that Conquering Hero, that King that we can approach. The Gospel of John reveals this to us, ironically, by talking to us about the GLORY of Jesus. I say, ironically, because we don’t often think of someone with Glory as One we could approach.
    • What does the word “Glory” conjure up in our mind?
      • Brilliant images from creation (i.e. rainbows, mountaintops). We might say they are “glorious”
      • Naked people…streakers… “and there he was in all his glory”
    • How many people do we attribute with having “Glory”? I would venture to say not very many.
      Illustration: A man was honored by receiving an honorary doctorate at a major university. When he was introduced to the audience, the announcer said, “A very great man, no, a very, very great man indeed is with us tonight.” During the ride home, the man was still riding high on the crest of his wave of glory. He asked his wife, “Honey, how many very, very great men do you suppose there are in the world?” She said, “One less than you think, Dear.”

    • Things/people that are labeled as glorious should be few & far between. We don’t use the word frequently. In fact, its use is so infrequently that we would probably benefit from a definition. The Latin root refers to something with “fame, renown, praise, splendor, etc.” This is the commonly understood definition, but if we dig a bit deeper and look into the Hebrew word for glory we find the world “KABOD” which means “to be weighty or heavy.” The idea being that one with glory was heavy-laden with riches or power or position. If we think of the things that we believe to be glorious that is often the feeling we are left with. The image/vision is so great…so heavy if you will that it almost leaves us speechless. We might try to put words to what we are seeing, but they would fall painfully short of the experience.
    • Examples:
      • Moses and the glory of God. “Now, show me your glory.” (Ex. 33) Moses is forced to hide in the cleft of a rock and can only be exposed to the back of God b/c the weight of the glory of God was too great to allow Moses to look into his face.
      • The Transfiguration: Sometimes we just need to learn to shut up. Peter tries to capture a moment that was not capable of being captured.
    • Speaking of the transfiguration, ironically, John is the only gospel account that does not describe the transfiguration (a key point, one would think, when depicting a gospel that highlights the glory of the Lord). Perhaps, this is b/c John’s whole story is about the transfiguration of Jesus.
      • “Matthew takes us into the synagogue, where the people of God are learning to recognize Jesus as their king, their Emmanuel. Mark writes a little handbook on discipleship, for the followers of the Servant King. Luke presents Jesus to the Greek world of his day. John, by contrast, takes us up the mountain, and says quietly: ‘Look—from here, on a clear day, you can see forever!.’ He invites us to be still and know; to look again into the human face of Jesus of Nazareth, until the awesome knowledge comes over us, wave upon terrifying wave, that we are looking into the human face of the living God. And he leads us on, with our awe and bewilderment reaching its height, to the point where we realize that the face is most recognizable when it wears the crown of thorns.” (Wright, p. 34)
      • Here is how John accomplishes the story of Jesus’ transfiguration (or glorification)
        • Glory is always revealed in creation. The original creation story ended in glory lost…man walked with God in his presence. The curse remained for hundreds of years…which was why Moses could not look at God’s face and why David in Psalm 27 continually seeks to “gaze on the beauty of God in his temple.”
        • John begins his gospel with a new creation story. “In the beginning…” We needed a new creation, one that restores our formal glory…this time in a way in which it cannot be lost…but that will remain forever.
        • So… “In the beginning was the Word” (v. 1) and “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (v. 14) This reminds us of what? The birth of Christ. We read it often this time of year, but this is not the fullness of what John is going to reveal to us in his gospel. Remember, his whole gospel is about the transfiguration. If the glory of Jesus was just in his becoming flesh we would have an incomplete transfiguration. Glorious he might have been…but His glory would only have been revealed to a specific time and place and not to us. So…John marches on.
        • Signposts:
          • Jesus turns water into wine (2:11 – “This, the first of his miraculous signs…by which he revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.”
          • Jesus heals the centurion’s servant at a distance (4:54 – “This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed”)
          • Healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda (ch.5)
          • The feeding of the 5000 (ch. 6)
          • The healing of the man born blind (ch.9)
          • The raising of Lazarus from the dead (ch.11)

        Pause…what?! Only six signs? The creation story was not complete after 6 days…and neither is John’s new creation story. These signs have indeed revealed the glory of Christ, but at this point it is still a glory confined to a certain time and space. Jesus’ contemporaries may have seen his glory, but will we get to see it?

        • And so we keep reading…chapter 12…13…14…15…16…17…18…something is building in the plot but still no 7th sign. The new creation is not complete. John is weaving a tapestry that is beautiful to behold…but it is increasingly suspenseful. It’s like a magnum opus, beautifully orchestrated to included several highs and lows and it marches on and seems to digress…the chords are struck quietly…an uneasy calm hovers over the listening audience as they wait for what is to transpire…then bursting forth from the darkness are the cries of a broken man as the sledge falls hard against the nails piercing flesh and bone and wood. The heavy cross is dropped uncompassionately into the augered hole stretching the ligaments of his hands and feet to their breaking point, blood and sweat rain down unmercifully to the ground below. The words no Son wishes to utter and no Father wants to hear are spoken, “Lama, lama, eloi sabachthani…my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Then he bowed his head and gave us his spirit…but before he did so, he proclaimed the words heaven longed to hear and earth did not yet understand… “IT IS FINISHED.” These were the words spoken at the beginning of time when Creation’s work was complete and they are the words spoken at the cross when Re-Creation’s work was complete. Just as God rested on that day in Genesis 2, so now Christ would rest in a tomb having finished his work.

Conclusion

What does this final sign mean to you and I? It is the sign by which all of the things we have previously discussed about Jesus are possible. He is the high priest forever…because he finished his work. He is the conquering hero because he finished his work. He is King because he finished his work. Ultimately, it means that His glory is approachable…not just for those who beheld him as a child..as a baby in a manger…but for all those who are far off who will call on the name of the Lord. Following his resurrection, the glorified Jesus was able to say to his disciples, “Come have breakfast with me.” Can you imagine what David and Moses would have been like if they had this opportunity? You can bet they would have understood the significance of the invitation.

 

Do you understand the significance of the invitation? The glorified Christ invites us to breakfast with Him in his presence. And…it’s not because he made less of himself to be able to come down to our level…but its because he made more of us. “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (12:32) The cross is the point of our glorification as well…we have been given glory so that we can see our King in all of His Glory…so that we can (in a sense) eat breakfast with the King. “We know that when he appears we shall see him as he is!” (1 Jn. 3:2)

Reflections on Discipleship – Intro “Consider Him”

This is the first of 13 lessons presented on Discipleship.  The content is inspired by a small book by NT Wright entitled “Biblical Reflections on Discipleship.”  The first half of the series focuses on “Looking to Jesus” and takes snapshots of the Savior from the overarching themes presented in books like Hebrews, Colossians, Matthew, John & Revelation.  The second half of the series makes the move toward practical living  as we focus on “Following Jesus.”  The link to the introductory lesson is below:

1-01 Consider Him – Introduction