Category Archives: Jesus

Abraham Lincoln visited the Union hospital at City Point, Virginia the first part of April, 1865.  He felt compassion for the wounded; held their hands, wept over their wounds and bade them a quick recovery.  War Years IV, 186.

Then-British Commander-in-chief Douglas Haig in WWI couldn’t visit his wounded because it made him “physically ill.”   French Commander Joseph Joffre in the same war couldn’t visit his wounded.  If he did, he averred, he wouldn’t order the attacks he felt necessary.  First World War, 221.  In WWII, Hitler once watched from his train as wounded German troops passed by on the way to hospitals.  He pulled down the shade.

Then there’s Jesus.  No one ever demanded more of disciples than Jesus of his.  However…indeed, however, he never demanded what he hadn’t first modeled.  If he sent his believers into danger, he led them with a “Come on, boys!”  He never stayed behind telling them to “Go on boys!”  If he told us to love our enemies, he already had; or to associate with those who didn’t like us, he already did; or to live in self-denial, he already perfected the practice.

Human leaders can be like President Lincoln, making hard choices but following up their men with compassion for paying the price of their decisions.  More often, they’re like Haig, Joffre and Hitler, demanding sacrifice for those in their charge while remaining callous about human life.

Christians serve a Lord who commands what’s necessary in spiritual warfare, then works with us as we serve, equipping and inspiring our discipleship.  When wounded physically, or mentally, or emotionally, or spiritually, he’s always available for a house call—a life-call—to succor the needy, the harmed, the despairing disciple.

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Jesus – the unrecognized benefactor, John 5

A young, crippled Union soldier stood near the War Department, cursing every administrator he could name, including President Lincoln.  The President happened by, took time to approach the lad and asked what his problem was.

The soldier angrily replied that he had been discharged but couldn’t get his severance pay.  Without identifying himself, Lincoln said he had once been a lawyer and maybe he could help.  Taking the paperwork, he sat under a tree, read it, wrote a note on the back of a page, gave it back and told the boy to take it to a certain War Department bureaucrat.

Off the mysterious former lawyer walked.  A man from New Mexico watched it all and asked the private if he knew who had helped him?  No, he replied; all he knew, it was some “ugly old fellow” who pretended to be a lawyer.  The man revealed the name of his unrecognized benefactor.  He accompanied the soldier to the War Department and watched as it paid the man.  The man allowed that he was torn between shame and pleasure that he had cursed the President of the United States to his face.  War Years III, p. 463

The crippled man in John 5 could see Jesus approach.  Without identifying himself, Jesus queried his interest in getting well, then cured him of life-long paralysis.  Without further ado, Jesus walked away.  But when he saw the man in the temple and preached a mini-sermon, the man knew it was Jesus.  (We may think someone told him but, in reality, if you ever heard Jesus preach anything, you wouldn’t doubt who it was.)

Jesus Christ remains humanity’s benefactor, with the Bible repeatedly identifying him as the Creator, Sustainer and Finisher of all that is.  Since our culture suffers abysmal ignorance of God’s word, we fail to recognize him.  In John 9, the man born blind couldn’t see Jesus, but knew his benefactor when told to go, wash in the Pool of Siloam.  That man represents Christian believers.  We don’t see Christ now, but we love and still believe in him, I Peter 1:8-9.  In that belief we receive daily bread and the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls.

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Jesus – the mainmast of Christianity

The great, graceful, tall wood sailing ships carried every conceivable cargo to every possible port, world-wide.  They sailed in calm and angry seas, when zephyrs kissed the sails and hurricanes tore them to shreds.

Whatever the circumstance, they needed an intact mainmast to remain under control.  And, as the ships involved in the great Trafalgar battle proved, those that lost their mainmast, around which all other masts congregated, lost all power of direction and control.  The ship’s movement was jerky, not smooth, its motion uncertain, not predictable, its effect on everything on or below decks malicious, not benign.  Losing the mainmast, they lost the ship as a powerful force at sea.  Trafalgar:  The Nelson Touch, p. 225.

Spiritual warfare exists in Christian circles today between those who remain faithful to the Biblical model and those who seek an ecumenical middle ground with non-Christian groups.  The apologists of compromise assure us that Christianity remains viable, however defined and whatever its doctrinal substance.  That’s a Satanic lie.  Christianity as revealed in the New Testament is mainmasted by the truth that Jesus Christ is God in the Flesh as God’s One and Only Son, making him the only way to God and Christianity the single message of forgiveness.  Without that spiritual mainmast Jesus Christ is at most a demonstrable fraud and at best a misguided idealist.  With the result that Christianity is dismasted and wallows helplessly in the roiling sea of sinful mortals building vessels they hope will reach shore somewhere!

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Jesus – if not, who?

In Joshua 24:14-15 the great captain challenged the Hebrews with an uncomfortable reality:  they had to serve some deity.  If not God Almighty, which of the many gods and goddesses in the ancient world?  In Isaiah 8:19 the great prophet castigated his generation for turning from Almighty God to mediums and spiritists.

Both men posed a disturbing question:  if you don’t seek God Almighty, which of the multitude of icons and deities will you seek?  Humanity puts its trust in something or someone.  That’s the nature of finite beings in a strange, violent, uncertain world.

It’s a direct challenge to Americans.  Since the majority of our people no longer seek God in Christ, which of the multiplied icons on altars will they worship?  The god of Mammon, though money is only as secure as the economy?  The god of Intellect, though mortals spend only 70 to 80 years on earth, and can’t possibly be trusted to KNOW enough to guide us through life safely into the next?  The god of Medicine, though it can at best prolong life for a few months, and, in many cases, only prolongs existence?  The god of Experience, though all human experience warns us to never trust ourselves?  Or the god of so-called World Religions, though in every test between them and the God of the Old and New Testament, God in Christ glows, and they dim; God in Christ remains, and they vanish?

If we will not trust the Only God in Christ, how can we ever develop a consensus on a deity worthy of humanity’s adoration?  Indeed, by rejecting God in Christ, we simply make a deity of ourselves, each one his own spiritual expert, mouthing comforting phrases, positing verities we can accept, declaring promises we want to exist now and in the next world.

Fools!  As Joshua said, simplifying the religious question, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  That’s where Judy and I stand.  Won’t you join us?

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Jesus – better to accept him late than never

While in captivity after his abortive hundred day-return from exile, Napoleon began learning English.  Not unexpectedly, the language of the people he considered mere “shopkeepers” proved as difficult to write as her armies had been impossible to defeat.  A homework exercise by the deposed emperor included his personal seal and sold in 2012 for $405,000.  He began studying English in 1816, not knowing he would die in 1821.  But, then, better late than never.  North County Times, 6/11/12

Which applies to sinners and Jesus Christ.  Many bad things have been said about him by people ignorant of him, or informed about him but jaded by their sinful nature, dismissing him as irrelevant.  Remember:  before it’s too late, learn of him.  Become acquainted with him by studying his word.  Forget the mistakes that previous unfamiliarity will make in your new experience.  Struggle through Bible passages that seem too difficult.  God in Christ forgives all our sins, all our mistakes, all our misjudgments, all our wrong evaluations once we repent and are baptized for the forgiveness of sin.

Napoleon was 47 when he began the study of English—one of the most difficult languages to learn, certainly to write.  We don’t know how much he mastered in the five years remaining to him.  But since we don’t know when God will call our name, and we vanish from earth and stand before Jesus at Judgment, why not begin to get acquainted with him today?

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Jesus – the reason we can remain with God – Part III, Luke 7:41-50

(Note:  this is an excerpt from my second volume of Their Own Best Defense.)

The woman’s appreciation of Jesus starkly illustrated Simon’s lack of hospitality for Jesus.  In essence, she proved the forgiveness experienced by honoring Jesus.  He proved only his legalism by dishonoring Jesus.  Humiliating herself to acknowledge him proved how completely Jesus had changed her.  Simon’s oversights proved that he would entertain, not welcome Jesus.  She offered him praise beyond the common; Simon withheld the common courtesies all guests received, the chosen guest first.

When Jesus asked Simon what debtor would appreciate the creditor’s largesse more, the Pharisee judged the story correctly.  It was equally clear he hadn’t, and wouldn’t, see its conjunction with the spiritual life.  When Jesus turned the parable into a spiritual truth the woman experienced—she knew God had forgiven much in her life—it sailed like an arrow over Simon’s head.

The reason she could remain in Christ’s presence is:  she proved her repentance by not being able to do enough for Jesus.  The reason Simon couldn’t stay in Christ’s presence:  he thought he needed to prove nothing to Jesus.  Jesus should feel privileged to have someone such as Simon as a host.

Which person does our discipleship reveal?  – Fini –

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Jesus – the reason we can remain with God – Part II (Luke 7:39)

Simon responded as any orthodox Pharisee would:  he judged Christ’s acceptance of the woman as proof he didn’t have a prophetic call.  Point of integrity:  Simon wouldn’t let such a woman approach him anywhere, certainly not in his own house.  And Simon knew he was a godly man!  Since Jesus protected the woman, whoever he claimed to be, he wasn’t God’s prophet.

That’s the danger of judging God by human standards, preconceptions and cultural or religious traditions.  Though it’s the very reaction of the Jesus Seminar to the Four Gospels.  Since the Seminar scholars have a pre-determined rejection of God being a man—their fixed pre-conception—they insist that the Gospels manufactured any account that portrays Jesus as God-in-the-flesh.  That includes this text.

Against their anti-Christ posture, a very strong reason exists that the disciples wouldn’t have imagined it.  Every teaching of Jewish sacred books warned mercilessly against any idolatry.  The peasant Galileans would never dare to create an IDOL by the name of Jesus of Nazareth!

The extreme disbelief of the Jesus Seminar that God could become a man means that no proof, not even the heaping piles of evidence in the Four Gospels, will ever convince them.

Let us be warned.  The only mortals worthy of entering God’s presence come as seekers wanting to find him as he IS:  as sinners wanting to find forgiveness as he grants it; as students wanting only to learn his pedagogy, however much it differs from what they think should be taught!  – End Part II –    (Note:  this is an excerpt from my second volume of Their Own Best Defense.)

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Jesus – the reason we can remain with God – Part 1

Luke 7:36-38.  Note to blog readers.  This one is from my second volume of Their Own Best Defense.  The series is devoted to a text-by-text study of the Four Gospels to prove that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are valid, accurate, authentic records of Jesus Christ.  Volume 1 is available through Redemption-press and Amazon.

No one knows how the woman gained access to Simon the Pharisee’s banquet.  However, from Levi’s earlier banquet in Christ’s honor, after being called to discipleship, Matthew 9:9-11, it wasn’t unusual for uninvited guests to enter the hall or home of feasting.

Similar openness existed in other venues, with similar results.  When Einstein lectured at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, non-students were welcome if they remained unobtrusive.  On several occasions, one such student, a prostitute in full regalia, entered the hall, sat quietly, listened to the fabled Einstein, then quietly left.  Students noted that he didn’t stop lecturing either on her entrance or exit, but his half-smile left no doubt he noticedLife of Einstein, p. 322

The point of integrity:  if a German prostitute would be drawn to Dr. Einstein’s opaque intellectual lectures, isn’t it likely that an Israelite lady of the night would be interested in the Savior’s promise of forgiveness?

Point of integrity.  Since other women served the banquet, she could lose herself among them until she got close to Jesus.  She then broke free, made a bee-line to his couch and stood at his feet, waiting to see what would happen.  If she came directly in, she fixed her eyes on Jesus, wound her way among the table, ignored the inquisitorial eyes and comments until she reached his couch.  One of the raised arms warning her away would have been the host’s, who likely ordered his servants to remove the interloper.  Jesus froze them all in place by a hand signal or head shake that no one misunderstood:  Leave her alone.  – End Part 1 –

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Jesus – always went a “little farther”

Johann Goethe, distinguished intellectual poet of 19th century Germany, once wrote that
“the human mind, no matter how far it may advance in every other department, will never transcend the height and moral culture of Christianity as it shines and glows in the Gospels.”

As Matthew 26:39 shows, he remarked truly.  Jesus always leads out and advances to forward positions, then beckons us.  In Gethsemane, he left the eight behind, took the three, left them and “went a little farther.”  As a devotional thought, he always went “a little farther” than his disciples.  While Peter was willing to go beyond the law and forgive a foe seven times, Christ “went a little farther,” commanding unlimited forgiveness.  Where the disciples willingly allowed adults to flock around Jesus, he “went a little farther,” inviting even children into his innermost counsels.  Where they lavishly loved their friends, he “went a little farther,” loving his enemies.  And on and on.  He laid it down that his disciple had to do more than the Pharisees.  Then he led the way, doing more, serving more, loving more.  He was always out in front.  To this day, he remains there; we haven’t caught up with his standard and example, for all our advancement in scientific and material areas.

We should then make our Christian lives as broad as possible.  We should think how much good we can do in the short time God grants us.  After all, Jesus told the story of a man who did everything expected of him, then had to admit he was unprofitable because he didn’t exert himself beyond duty.  How many of us would be just as guilty today?  When we don’t go the extra mile or turn the other cheek or give our last coat?  When we do all the law demands, but not what grace expects.  Christ’s life stands as an incontestable example that true greatness in the spiritual life only begins when we do what is “extra,” “unnecessary,” “beyond the call of duty”; in short, when we, like Christ, “go a little farther.”


Jesus – the only safe anchorage

In September, 1981, divers found the sunken ruins of one of the most luxurious yachts afloat in the 19th century.  The Alva, which cost William Vanderbilt $500,000 to construct, sank in 1892 off the Massachusetts coast.  A few hours before the disaster, the Alva slipped from her moorings to sail to a nearby resort.  When, near Monomoy Island, the captain encountered dense fog, he  anchored and began blowing continuous fog whistles.  Unfortunately, he had anchored near steamer lanes and, within two hours, the H. F. Dimock ploughed into the yacht, sinking it in 15 minutes.

How often, how fatally often, our most treasured possessions, secured at phenomenal cost, vanish before life’s unexpected collisions.

Isaiah’s prophecy of God’s outreach to the human race centered around a “chosen one”, 42:1, God’s own Servant.  In him reposed God’s cause and will.  Only in him.  There would be no need to look to another, for none existed.  No need to seek other truth, for he would bring all truth in himself.

Everyone ties his life to something, somewhere—to education, fame, career, a valued leader.  Which is never enough.  We must anchor to a safe, secure place, out of harm’s way, where it cannot be ripped loose or rammed by an irresistible force and destroyed.  Indeed, it must be anchored on someone who can rescue us when danger looms and retrieve us when death carries us away.  That ONE safe anchorage for life and death is none other than Jesus Christ, God’s Only Begotten Son.