The Radical Conundrum Of Christmas

“But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:20-23). The Incarnation was one of God’s greatest miracles. It makes no sense except for the grace of our omnipotent and loving God. Jesus came at a terrible time. The Roman Empire, the greatest power on earth at the time, occupied Israel. Oppressed Israel was a small, insignificant nation without a military. Jesus came in weakness, not in power. He came alone as a baby, the most vulnerable and helpless. Jesus was born to poor, insignificant parents. Moreover, Jesus’s parents were betrothed but not yet married, ensuring that he and they would live under a cloud of gossip and social disapproval all His earthly life. Jesus came in humility, not in grandeur. The source of all splendor was born in a manger with farm animals. Angels announced His birth, but the world was ignorant of His birth except for a few shepherds and wise men from the East. When the wise men told the Jewish leaders of his birth, the Jerusalem leaders were too preoccupied with their worldly...

The Resurrection And The Trinity

“I and the Father are One.” John 10:30 (ESV) God is three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are One. God exists in the perfect unity of One. There is never conflict between the three Persons of the Godhead. God is always in perfect harmony with Himself. He is always in perfect unity with Himself. So, after the crucifixion, God raised Jesus from the dead. This was the action of one God in three persons. Concerning the Father’s role in the resurrection, the Bible teaches: “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:19–21) Concerning Jesus’s role in His own resurrection, Jesus declared: “For this reason, the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18) Concerning the Holy Spirit’s role in the resurrection, Paul wrote: “The Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your...

The Loneliness of Christ

Mother Theresa once said:  “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” In the words of Sylvia Plath, an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer, “the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.” Many people experience loneliness. Sometimes that loneliness is overpowering. Who understands? Our Lord understands because He, too, experienced deep, soul-shaking loneliness. Author Dan Brown said: “the worst kind of loneliness in the world is the isolation that comes from being misunderstood.” Few people understood the ministry of Jesus Christ during His lifetime. Probably the only ones who had some understanding of His purpose were his mother, his father, John the Baptist and his relatives Zacharias and Elizabeth (the aged parents of John the Baptist). But Zacharias, Elizabeth, Joseph, and John the Baptist were all dead by the time Jesus began His public ministry. His community did not understand Him.  Most of the Jewish leaders, who should have rejoiced at His arrival, considered him a bastard. They said to Jesus, we “were not born of sexual immorality.” John 8:41  By such hateful words they were saying that Jesus was either a bastard or He was the product of sexual immorality. The temple guards hunted him down at night like a common criminal. The Sanhedrin was so eager to condemn Him to death that they procured knowingly false witnesses to testify against Him. Finally, when Jesus boldly announced that He is the Messiah, the high priest tore his robes in fury and pronounced the death sentence. Pontius Pilate did not understand Him, considering Jesus as just a pitiful itinerant...

The Glory of Easter

When a person has incredible ability or talent we often say that He or she was born to do such and such a thing. Michael Jordan was born to play basketball. Lionel Messi was born to play soccer.  Simone Biles was born to be a gymnast. Luciano Pavarotti was born to sing.  During their lifetimes they were regarded as among the greatest in their calling. They achieved fame and wealth. Jesus was born to die. He was not born to be an example or to show us how to live. He was born to be our Life. He was born to be crucified. In our place. For us. The manger led directly to the cross. The more common name for manger was “feeding trough”.  His parents probably lined the trough with hay upon which clothes were laid so the hay would not hurt the baby. There was no comfort on the cross. Jesus came in weakness and died in weakness. He was born in humble surroundings and died in shame. As a newborn babe he was surrounded by rejoicing angels, loving parents, worshipful wise men and joyful shepherds. Only a very small group were present at His birth, but crowds passed by the cross. On the cross, except for His mother, John and the two Marys, he was surrounded by cruel detractors, envious enemies, callous soldiers and disgusted passers-by. He endured the shame of being regarded as a bastard in his youth and as a blasphemer in adulthood. He was slandered and plotted against. His own brothers mocked him. The people in high society were jealous of him and...