279. Factors Influencing Mental Health. Human Enemy No.1. “The world”. [Macro version].

In a previous article (No.270) I listed the 3 main enemies to the mental health of humans as being the World, the Flesh and the Devil. Believers are asked to renounce them as a means of coming out from under their negative and damaging influence. How do these enemies seek to influence us, and how can we gain victory over them? We begin with the first enemy, the “world’.

A). WHAT IS MEANT BY THE “WORLD?’

There are two main words for “world” in the New Testament. The first is the Greek word [oikoumenē] meaning the [planet] earth, the inhabited part of the world and the peoples of the world.  (We will not be considering this word in the present article.) The other word is [kósmos] which also means the created world and its inhabitants. However, it has a much wider meaning. It can also mean the following.

 In a positive sense it can mean the people of the world for whom Christ came to die and to save and who are meant to respond to Him in faith

God in His love sent His Son to save the world by dying for sinners, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.“ Jn 3:16-17.

Jesus gave as His reason for His first coming, “… I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” Jn 12:47.

God sent His Son to take away the sins of the world, as John the Baptist declared when he saw Jesus approaching him, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Jn 1:29.

Jesus taught that He came to bring life to a world spiritually dead through sin, “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jn 6:33.

Paul wrote that Jesus came to reconcile the world to God, “that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Cor 5:19.

 In a negative sense it can mean everything and everyone alienated from God and antagonistic to His purposes in and for the world

It is the “world” in this sense that believers are meant to renounce in order to be free from its influence. Unregenerate humans (those not yet born again of the Holy Spirit) follow the world’s ways and are spiritually dead, blind, deaf until they are born again from above, as these verses indicate.

Eph 2:1-2, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—”

Eph 2:4, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—”

2 Cor 4:4, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Acts 28:27, “For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

Even human wisdom is seen to be folly in the sight of God, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness.” 1 Cor 3:18-19.

Humans can be conformed to the world’s values, the world’s ways of thinking and the world’s ways of behaving, “Do not be conformed to this world …” Rom 12:2.

Humans can be held captive by worldly thinking, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Col 2.8

Humans can have the wrong sort of love which is focussed on the wrong object (that is, on the world and not its Creator), “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 Jn 2:15-17.

B).  HOW CAN PEOPLE OVERCOME THE INFLUENCE OF THE WORLD FOR BETTER MENTAL HEALTH?

i).         By recognising that the unbelieving world is our enemy. As it was for Jesus

The world would rejoice in the death of Jesus, Joh 16:20, but would also hate His followers following His death and resurrection. The world brings ongoing tribulation to the people of God, but there is victory in Him, Joh 16:33, “… . In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” AND 1Jn 4:4-5, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them… .”

The world did not recognise God nor Jesus as His Son. Nor did they recognise His followers as the people of God. John encouraged his readers to  recognise their privileges as being loved by God and indeed as being His children,  1Jn 3:1, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”  Believers belong now to the family of God and need to keep on affirming that truth in a world that is hostile to God and to His children.

ii).        By understanding the blessings coming from our true identity in Christ as believers

Believers have died with Christ in their faith-union with Him and have become free from that which once held them captive, “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations.” Col 2:20.

Believers belong to God and are able to recognise truth from error in a way that unbelievers cannot, “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” 1Jn 4:6.

Believers are able to mature in wisdom and knowledge. Paul prayed for the Colossians, “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  Col 2:2-3.

Believers are “not of the world ” but belong to God as they live in the world, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Joh 15:19.  

Believers are hated by the (unbelieving) world but Jesus prays for His own that as they live in the world, they will be protected from the evil one, and be sanctified by His word, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Joh 17:14-16.

Believers are always being prayed for by Jesus, “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Heb 7:25. Believers are never neglected! They are always being prayed for! By Jesus!

iii).       By receiving a new attitude in our thinking as our minds are renewed

The process begins as we present all we are to God as Paul exhorted his readers, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Rom 12:1.

In doing so, we allow ourselves to be transformed by Him, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Rom 12:2. Or in the translation by JB Phillips, “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mould.” That is an apt description of what takes place as we are pressured by the unbelieving world around us to conform to its values and practices. The solution is to have our minds transformed by the Holy Spirit to be able to recognise, know and do the will of God as we commit ourselves completely to Him and to His will for us.

iv).       By learning to operate with divine wisdom rather than the wisdom of the world 

Wisdom is the [new] birthright of believers. God chose us as “nothings” in the world to belong to Him and to impart to us His wisdom, in and through Christ, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor 1:27-31.

Believers are promised wisdom when they need it, provided they ask for it, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Jas 1:5. However they need to ask sincerely, believing that God hears and answers the prayers of His people, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” Jas 1:6-7. 

The Holy Spirit imparts God’s wisdom and knowledge to His people. Paul prayed for his readers that they might receive a deeper personal knowledge of God Himself, “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,” Eph 1:16-17. He also prayed that his readers in Colossae might know the will of God and “be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Col 1:9.

v).         By exercising faith in God and in God’s presence in us

John affirms the true identity of believers as belonging to God. They gain victory over the world because of God’s powerful presence in them, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1Jn 4:4.

They overcome the world by believing Jesus is the Son of God, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 Jn 5:4. It is faith in God that allows Him to accomplish victories in and through our lives.

SUMMARY: [Previously published separately in blog No 278 as the Micro version of this whole article.)

1). Every person ever born is a creature in this physical world.

2). Humans rebelled against God so God sent His Son into the world to save the people of the world.

3). The response of those in the world varied. Some in the world chose to reject Gods’ salvation in Christ. The Bible sees them as still belonging to the [unbelieving] world.

Others in the world chose to believe in Jesus and received Him as Saviour. They still live in the world but as John declares, they are “not of the world.” They are now “in Christ” [in a living personal relationship with Christ] as they live in the world.

4). The [unbelieving] world, influenced by Satan and the powers of darkness, is antagonistic to God and to the people of God. The unregenerate “world” is spiritually blind, deaf and dead and cannot understand spiritual realities or people of the Spirit.

5). Victory over the world is possible by recognising our identity in Christ and acting on it in the ways suggested in section [B] above.

6). It is the truth that is known to believers by the illumination of the Holy Spirit AND acted on in the power of the same Holy Spirit, that brings freedom and victory over the world to the people of God.

Blog No.279.  Posted on Friday 4th May 2018

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278. Factors Influencing Mental Health. Human Enemy No.1. “The World”. (Micro version)

In a previous article (No 270) I listed the 3 main enemies to the mental health of humans as being the World, the Flesh and the Devil. Believers are asked to renounce them as a means of coming out from under their negative and damaging influence. How do these enemies seek to influence us, and how can we gain victory over them? We begin with the first enemy, the “world’.

The following is the [micro] Summary of the more detailed macro version which I will hopefully post soon.

SUMMARY:
1). Every person ever born is a creature in this physical world.
2). Humans rebelled against God so God sent His Son into the world to save the people of the world.
3). The response of those in the world varied. Some in the world chose to reject Gods’ salvation in Christ. The Bible sees them as still belonging to the [unbelieving] world.
Others in the world chose to believe in Jesus and received Him as Saviour. They still live in the world but as John declares, they are “not of the world.” They are now “in Christ” [in a living personal relationship with Christ] as they live in the world.
4). The [unbelieving] world, influenced by Satan and the powers of darkness, is antagonistic to God and to the people of God. The unregenerate “world” is spiritually blind, deaf and dead and cannot understand spiritual realities or people of the Spirit.
5). Victory over the world is possible by recognising our identity in Christ and acting on it in the ways suggested in section [B] above. {To be found in the forthcoming macro version.]
6). It is the truth that is known to believers by the illumination of the Holy Spirit AND acted on in the power of the same Holy Spirit, that brings freedom and victory over the world to the people of God.

Blog No.278. Posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Tuesday 1st May 2018

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277. Time to elect a new Race Discrimination Commissioner in Australia.  I have a suggestion!

It would appear that our previous Race Discrimination Commissioners  have been very decent people. However, some of their decisions have left a lot of people wondering just how in touch with reality they have been. It is an important position and we have already seen with the death of the beloved cartoonist Bill Leak and the “less than appropriate” dealings (as many would see it) with some of the students at the University of Technology in Brisbane, how the powers of the Commission could be seen as leading to “less than desirable” outcomes.

So I have a suggestion.

Appoint NOBODY as the Race Discrimination Commissioner ! NOBODY is the most highly qualified and most suitable to take up this position. NOBODY has never made a mistake in any human relationship. No person has ever been able to lay a charge of discrimination against NOBODY.

NOBODY would never pursue brilliant, caring sensitive people like Bill Leak. Nor deal less than appropriately with university students for trivial matters [in the eyes of most fair-minded Australians].  It seems to me that the appointment of NOBODY would meet with wide acclamation by the whole Australian populace (except of course, for those who want to be Somebodies!)

With NOBODY in charge of the Race Discrimination Commission it could cease to function because the Race Discrimination Commissioner Office would have NOBODY in it. Then Everybody would rejoice that the appointment of NOBODY has had the desirable outcome of ceasing to waste time and finances trying to satisfy the whims of those who see themselves as nobodies but who are wanting to be seen as Somebodies.

Every time I go with my wife to the chemo treatment ward at our local hospital, where she, young people and  older folk line up to receive treatment (until it no longer works or they cannot afford new types of treatment), I think of the absolute waste of money that is being used to cater for those in this world who are trying to be Somebodies. How? By seeking what they think is justice for themselves.  None of course, I presume,  would be seeking notoriety or monetary gain for [what many see as] their “less than absolutely essential” (trivial?) complaints. Nor would they, I presume, seek to entice the Commission to play “more than Trivial Pursuit” by pursuing people they target with what appear to be disastrous results.

On this day after Anzac Day as I think of my father with thousands of other Australians in 1918 risking [and sometimes losing] their lives to protect the freedom of French and Belgian people in World War 1, I am wondering what he would make of the freedoms we are losing right here at home in Australia. They went all that way to protect the rights and lives of those they didn’t even know who were in grievous circumstances. Perhaps 100 years later we may need to do some protecting of every vulnerable person here at home and not support an ever growing “Grievance Industry.” We all need help and healing in dealing with a victim mentality!

The Australian way inherited from our forebears especially our service men and women who faced tremendous difficulties and dangers is to “give everyone a fair go”, to support one another “Can I help you mate?” We don’t need a Commission to tell us how to act as Australians!  The shed blood of thousands of young Australian service men and women over more than a century bears witness to the concern that Australians have to care for the individual, for groups of people or even for nations needing protection and care. The warm acceptance into our country of thousands upon thousands of migrants and fleeing persecuted folk since World War 2 is probably unmatched anywhere in the world.

We don’t need a Race Discrimination Commission to shame Australians nor to condemn them when they fail to meet some artificial politically correct standard imported from overseas, much of which is as un-Australian as you can get. Many of our forebears died to protect democracy in far-off countries. They didn’t give their lives over there, to have democracy destroyed here! To have a position known as a Race Discrimination Commissioner is really an affront to ordinary Australians who go out of their way to welcome, embrace and protect those from different backgrounds.

So my simple solution is to appoint NOBODY as the Race Discrimination Commissioner  and replace the Commission with Nothing.  Nothing in funding so that human lives can be bettered in other ways (such as more funding to medical research and affordable treatment) that add quantity and quality to life and do not threaten nor destroy precious Australian lives.

P.S. Someone suggested that it might be unwise to write something that could be seen as ever so slightly critical of a Race Discrimination Commission. Exactly my point! It would be entirely different if NOBODY was the Race Discrimination Commissioner!

Blog No.277. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Thursday 26th April 2018

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276.“FROM GLORY. THROUGH GORY. TO GLORY!” The Easter story in 6 words. (Expanded version!) Part 2 of 2.

“Oh, No!” might be the cry of some English language purists to see the phrase “through gory.” Some might object, “Don’t you understand that “gory” is an adjective? It is inappropriate to use it in this way.” Exactly!

  • Even as it was inappropriate for so many to cry out in answer to Pilate’s question about what to do with Jesus. They cried out, “Crucify Him!” and again “Crucify Him!”
  • Inappropriate to take the Son of God who had come from glory [to live a perfect human life in this world and to die for sinners] and crucify Him.
  • Inappropriate to take the Creator of the universe and nail Him to a part of His creation.
  • Inappropriate for some of His creatures to shame and mock their Creator as He hung on a cross, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Mat 27:40. He was not there to save Himself but to save those who scoffed.
  • Inappropriate for them to demand He come down from the cross at their command. He wasn’t there to do their will in coming DOWN from the cross so that they might believe. It was in fact the opposite to what they demanded. He was there doing his Father’s will in being lifted UP on a cross so that people might look to Him in faith and be saved, “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” John 3:13-15.
  • Inappropriate for them to continue their mocking instead of believing.

The Easter story has a wonderful ending. Jesus rose from the dead. However the process through which He achieved that victory over sin and death was messy, gory in the extreme, but necessary for the salvation of sinners.

This is how the writer to the Hebrews expressed these truths, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:2.

1). FROM GLORY. The Goal To Be Achieved By Jesus

Jesus. “who for the joy that was set before him.”  What joy?

  • The joy of returning to glory with the Father. Joh 17:1 “When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
  • The joy of knowing He had accomplished the work God had given Him to do on earth. Now He was about to return to His home in glory. Joh 17:4 “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
  • The joy of knowing that because of His work of redemption, His followers would be with Him in glory. Joh 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

2). THROUGH GORY. THE GOAL ACHIEVED BY JESUS THROUGH A GORY PROCESS

Jesus. “endured the cross”,

  • The Cross was part of God’s purpose for Jesus as “the lamb slain from foundation of the earth”.
  • He predicted it would happen. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” John 3:14.
  • He warned His followers that He was soon to die. Mat 16:21 “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
  • He humbled Himself to endure suffering on the cross. Php 2:8 “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
  • On the cross He bore the sin of the world. 2Cor 5:15 “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” AND 1Pet 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
  • On the cross He, as the sinless One, was made sin, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. 2 Cor 5:21.
  • By means of the cross, His death brought about the possibility of a reconciliation between God and sinful humanity 2Cor 5:19 “that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

Jesus. “despising the shame.”

  • He knew He would be shamed. His parables foretold shaming and rejection of a son who was sent by the father. For example, in the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, Luk 20:13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” 17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” The parable predicted the rejection of Jesus, the Son of God and the Jewish Messiah.
  • Reviling Him was part of their shaming of Him, 1Pet 2:23 “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” He would not allow Himself to respond to their attempts to shame Him as He fulfilled the Father’s will for Him.

3). TO GLORY. THE GOAL ACHIEVED BY JESUS (for us as well).

Jesus. “and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

  • Jesus said He would rise again. We saw it above in Mat 16:21 “… and on the third day be raised.”
  • He said that he would return to be in glory with His Father, Mat 26:64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
  • Paul wrote that God showed His power in raising Christ from the dead and seating Him at His right hand, Eph 1:19  “and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20  that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 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.”
  • Jesus included His followers in His Good Friday to Easter Day activities. They too have died with Him in their faith-union with Him, Rom 6:8 “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” They too sit in the heavenlies with Him, Eph 2:6 “and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

SUMMING UP:

  • The title, (From Glory. Through Gory. To Glory!” The Easter Story In 6 Words) might sound a bit crude and a bit dramatic. However, we can never, in a lifetime of lifetimes, have any real appreciation for what Christ suffered on that First Good Friday. It was a “gory” mess as the Son of God who had come down from “glory”, was brutalised and crucified on that day.
  • It was through that “gory” death that sin and death was defeated and Jesus was raised to return to glory with His Father.
  • The marvellous thing for His disciples through the ages is that He wants us to see ourselves now as being “seated with Him” in the heavenlies, in the place of honour, acceptance and authority.
  • We may not yet be with Him in glory, but the process of our glorification has begun. As we remain focussed on Jesus an inner transformation is taking place in us by His Spirit, 2Cor 3:18 “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Blog N0.276. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Wednesday 4th April 2018. 

 

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275.“FROM GLORY. THROUGH GORY. TO GLORY!” The Easter story in 6 words. (Micro version!) Part 1 of 2.

The heading “FROM GLORY. THROUGH GORY. TO GLORY!” The Easter story in 6 words, is a Micro version of the full Easter story. So if someone asks you to explain the Easter story in less than 4 seconds, you can do it!

This a mini reflection, after reading the words in Hebrews 12:2 “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hopefully a more expanded version will follow! Before next Easter!

Blog No.275. Posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Wednesday 4th April 2018.

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274. Jesus Wept For People during His Last Days On Earth. “Jesus wept!” Would He weep for you today? John 11:35 and Matthew 23:37.

There are 2 main references to Jesus weeping. They are instructive and challenging for us today.

The first situation where Jesus is described as weeping, we can relate to.  We have all been in similar situations. Sad situations in which tears flowed readily and grief was expressed sometimes loudly. Jesus wept when He saw the grief of Mary and Martha after their brother Lazarus had died, ‘“Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.’ John 11:32-35.

 However there is something unusual about this incident. It says that Jesus was “deeply moved.” The word is (embrimáoma, ἐμβριμάομαι) which can mean strong indignation or deep grief. He was also “greatly troubled” where the word is from (tarássō, ταράσσω meaning to disturb or to stir up.)  The scene affected Him deeply. So much so that He wept.

An interesting truth

This is where it gets very interesting. In verse 33 we are told that Mary and those who were with her were all weeping. But there are 2 main words for “weeping” in the New Testament. One is ( klaiō, κλαίω) meaning to sob, to wail aloud or bewail. That’s what Mary and the others were doing, weeping loudly in deep grief.

We note though that when Jesus is described as weeping in the same situation, a different word is used.  It is the second word for weeping, namely (dakrúō, δακρύω) meaning to shed tears or to sob quietly.  It raises this question. Why didn’t Jesus show the same depth of grief that Mary and the others had shown? They were wailing or grieving loudly. He was shedding tears! We get an answer by looking back to what Jesus said when He heard of the death of Lazarus. ‘[Jesus] said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”’ John 11:11. In brief, Jesus was moved by the expressions of grief He had witnessed BUT He wasn’t grief-stricken because He knew He was about to do something about the situation. He was going to restore Lazarus back to life. There was no need for deep grief knowing He would bring Lazarus back to life.

A Challenging truth!

Jesus wept on another occasion. It was when He entered Jerusalem shortly before His death. We read how that situation was described, “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it … “  On this occasion it was not a quiet sobbing or the shedding of tears (dakrúō, δακρύω) as we saw in John 11:35. Rather it was the deep gut-wrenching cry of grief or despair that came from His lips (klaiō, κλαίω).  Why? Because this situation was something He could not change, even though He would have longed to have done so. This was His lament, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44. He had been sent by God to be their Messiah, their Saviour. He would live and die for them. But they had rejected Him and God’s purpose for themselves through Him.

This is similar to the passage in Mat 23:37 where Jesus also lamented over the hardness of heart of the people of Jerusalem and their rejection of Him. (In truth, their rejection of the Almighty God Himself in rejecting God’s purpose through Jesus.) He cried out, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! “Mat 23:37. They had been given many opportunities to respond to Him but they had failed to do so. Judgment would follow.

He was grieving deeply because He saw what their rejection of Him would involve for the people of Jerusalem. How haunting are the words of Jesus in some translations, “I would …. but YOU WOULD NOT!” Rejecting their long-promised Messiah, and the purpose of God in Him, they would come out from under their God’s protection. A catastrophe would inevitably follow for the people.  Jesus saw it all about to happen and He wept, deeply, for them!

It was all so unnecessary! How much better to have received Him, the One whom God had sent to save them from their sins.

The challenge to us today! How does Jesus see you and me?

Does He see you as His friend?

To those who believe in Him and receive Him, He gives the privilege to become children of God. As such they are brothers and sisters in Christ. He calls them His friends as He said to His disciples “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:13-15.

When He left this earth, He did not leave us alone. He gave us another Comforter or Helper to be with us forever. In fact, to indwell us. To impart His presence in and through us.  Jesus promised, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” John 14:16-19.

Until He returns at the end of human history as we know it, He prays for those who are His, for His friends, “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:25.

 Does He see you as His enemy?

Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Luke 11:23. It seems that in Jesus’ eyes there is no “sitting on the fence.” Nor are there simply “interested or disinterested observers.”  Nor are there “fellow travellers.” One is either for Him or against Him, in His opinion. As He told us. For our good!

Who in their right mind would want to be opposed to Jesus, the Creator, the Saviour, the Lord and the coming Judge of all the earth?

 The First coming of Jesus into the world gave humans a choice, to accept Him or to reject Him! As John wrote, “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:10-13. Some chose to believe Him and to receive Him. Others chose to reject Him.

The Second coming of Jesus into the world brings no further choice.

There are no second chances. Judgment will be made according to the choice we have made in this life. The choice about what to do with Jesus, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Heb 9:27.

Is that how we see ourselves? “Eagerly waiting for him?”  If we don’t see ourselves in this light, perhaps He doesn’t either! Now that would be a real problem! For us!

But for those who have received Him and believed in His name, as they eagerly wait for Him to return, there is a God-given confidence, “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” 1 John 2:28.

The whole Good Friday to Easter story gives meaning to what the world is all about. In the simple words of the verse that is called the “gospel in a nutshell” we are told why Jesus came, and died, and rose again, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. God saw a world in need. Spiritually perishing in their sin. He chose to send the world a Saviour, His own Son, who died for the sin of the world on Good Friday and rose from the dead on Easter Day. As we put our trust in Him and receive Him into our lives as our Saviour and Lord, we are saved. We belong to Him! Friends! Forever!

It is so easy to become His friend. Not by being good or doing good, for we could never be good enough nor do enough good to qualify. But if we pray to the Risen Lord, something like this, He will become our friend!  “Jesus, I am sorry for trying to live life on my terms, not yours. Please forgive my sin. I invite you to come into my life to be my Saviour. I want you to be the Lord and Master of every part of my life from this moment on.  Thank You Jesus for your promise that You will come in as I open the door of my heart to You. Guide and strengthen me by Your Holy Spirit so that I may live for you and to Your glory. AMEN.”

Blog No.274. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Saturday 31st March 2018

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Forgiveness, Judgement, Justification, Prayer, Salvation, Second coming of Jesus, Sermons on John's Gospel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

273. “Good Friday!” What the “Good” God did for an undeserving world. The truth in Isaiah 44:22 for today!

“I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.” Isaiah 44:22. 

“Will that heavy cloud ever lift?” That was the question in my mind as I drove our daughter to school on many mornings. We lived at an altitude of over 3000 feet and heavy fogs were frequent. Sometimes it was difficult to see the road ahead. However on many mornings as I drove home from the school, all you could see was Peter, Paul and Mary! No, not the singing group but the spires of three churches in the middle of town poking up through the low cloud. St Peter’s Anglican Cathedral of which I was the Dean, St Paul’s Presbyterian church and St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral.   On some days the heavy cloud had almost miraculously disappeared and the sun was shining brightly on the city. On other days it was just plain misty. But often the mist disappeared within a matter of minutes as I drove home.

For some people however their concern is not with that sort of cloud. Rather it is the heaviness that they feel envelops them. They feel that life’s circumstances are choking them. They have no sense of freedom. They cannot see any light in their situation. Everything around them seems to be dark and threatening. They feel an oppressing sense of guilt and shame. They wonder if that oppression will ever lift from them.

What a wonderful sense of freedom came to many people when they encountered the words of Isaiah 44:22 in the Bible. I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.  The words for “transgressions” in the Hebrew Old Testament (pesha) and in the Septuagint Greek Old Testament (anomia) have the meaning of rebellion and lawlessness primarily against God. It is no light thing to believe that you have offended the God of this universe by turning away from Him and by doing things that He has declared to be against His will. What a joy to know that God can blot out or wipe away our guilt as we turn to Him and ask for mercy.

Likewise Isaiah talks about our “sins” being taken away, using the imagery of mists dispersing and disappearing. (Chattath is the Hebrew word for “sins” and hamartia is the word in the Greek Old Testament). Both words have the meaning of the evil we commit against God and against our fellow humans.

 Millions of people are familiar with the words of the 2 Great Commandments of Jesus. Matthew 22:37  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38  This is the great and first commandment.  39  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Most would admit that they have been guilty of breaking those two Great Commandments by not perfectly loving God and fellow humans as they should have.

This verse promises that sins against God and against fellow humans can be blotted out by Him. What is needed? It is for people to turn back to Him. Why? Because as verse 22 says, He is the only One who can redeem them or set them free from the power and guilt of their sin. We will see in future articles that the freedom God gives to people is freedom from the guilt of sin and also freedom from its power in our lives.

GOOD FRIDAY made the promises of Isaiah 44:22 possible. On that day Jesus as the Son Of God offered a sacrifice on the cross that would take away all sin. It would provide an eternal redemption for His people. The sacrifice was the sacrifice of Himself. As St Peter wrote in his first epistle, 1Peter 2:24  He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.  No wonder “Good Friday” is “Good”. It reminds us of the good news that Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God became a human, so that he might die as a human, to bring us to God.

Where does Easter fit in with all this? The Jesus who was crucified on that first Good Friday rose from the dead on that first Easter Morning, the victor over sin and death and over all the powers of darkness.

Good news, but so what? What significance does it have for us today, you might ask? It challenges us to respond to Him. Jesus as the Son of God and as the creator of the universe came to His own creation. On Good Friday He died for sinners. St Paul reminds us of the implications of that death for us, 2 Corinthians 5:15   he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:- 

1]. Have you ever had disturbing thoughts that the day on which Jesus was crucified was called “Good Friday”? If you did, why do you think you were troubled by its name? Should we continue to feel disturbed by it? If not, why not?

2]. Have the terms “cloud” and “mist” had any application to you? You felt that you had been enveloped in a thick cloud and you could not see the way ahead. Even your brain seemed to be foggy? Or did you feel that mists were swirling around you and you had lost any sense of direction in life? If so, what helped you emerge from the fog or the cloud so that life became more bearable?

3]. Have you had any sense in your life that your sins had been blotted out or erased? What caused that to happen? Do you still feel that those sins have been dealt with or do they still trouble you?

4]. What do you think is needed for people who feel burdened by sin to get rid of that burden? Is feeling sorry or remorseful enough? What would you suggest they do?

5]. The words of Isaiah in this verse look forward to the coming death of the Messiah or the Christ. How do Peter’s words above in 1 Peter 2:24 fulfil what Isaiah prophesied in our verse today from Isaiah 44:22?

Blog No.273. (A revisit of blog No.020.) Posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on (Good) Friday 30 March 2018. 

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Evangelism, Forgiveness, Mental Health, Salvation, TOPICS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment