The Grace of Jesus

The Grace of Christ Luke 23:33-38 “But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”               While Jesus was on the cross, the Gospels record Jesus making seven statements.  Each of them was profound and revealed the love and compassion of Christ that led to His willingness to die on the cross.  His first words on the cross, perhaps, are the most surprising and serve to capture the essence of His ministry.  Having just been nailed to the cross to suffer an intense and painful death, Jesus utters His first words that provide us insight into His compassion and grace towards sinners.  To understand the depth of these words, we need to understand the injustice that was performed.  Jesus was not condemned to the cross because of any violation of the law; instead, He was condemned because of the jealousy of the religious leaders who saw His popularity as a threat to their power over the people.  Even Pilot saw through their false claims but feared

The Joy of the Father

The Joy of God Luke 15:11-32 “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one that we can easily identify with, for it speaks of the love of the father in spite of the actions of the son. Even though the son mistreated and abused his father’s generosity, the father's love remained steadfast. The story begins with a selfish son demanding his inheritance even before his father dies. But it was much more than a simple request to be given his inheritance. When the passage states, “So he divided his wealth between them” (vs 12), the implication is that the father did more than give his son a portion of his wealth; his father divided the money essential to his livelihood. Furthermore, in the Jewish society, the son's request was an unforgivable offense, for it was a public statement that he no longer wished to be associated with the family. Yet surprisingly, t

The Basis for Security

Worry and God’s infinite Knowledge Luke 12:22-32 “For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek, but your Father knows that you need these things.  But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”               How do we insulate and protect ourselves from the struggles, problems, and fears of this world?   How do we ensure we have what we need to deal with tomorrow's challenges?  These are questions we struggle with daily, for we are continually confronted with our vulnerability to trials and tragedies.  In verses 13-21, Christ denounces the dangers of greed.  However, what drives greed?  What causes us to have an insatiable desire to accumulate more wealth?  Why do we always strive for more money and possessions when we have more than we already need?  Jesus confronts us with this question as He tells of a parable of a rich man obsessed with gathering more treasure.  We often focus on his obsession with wealth and fail to delve deeper and ask why he was

The Value of Nothing

The Infinite Value of Nothing and the Worthlessness of Everything Luke 9:19-27 “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and losses or forfeits himself.”               The conversation started innocuous enough.  Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”  As we have seen previously, their answer showed their faith and confusion as they tried to understand who Jesus was.  However, in verse 22, we find a more perplexing statement.  Jesus warned them that “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised on the third day.”  This statement doesn’t seem to fit.  How could the one who is the Son of God, the one who owns and sustains the whole universe, the one before whom the angels bow down in humble obedience, suffer and die at the hands of mere humans?  Why would Jesus allow himself to endure such humiliation?  The answer is even more confusing than His: "Who am I?”              

The Majestic King

The Coming Return Mark 13:24-37 “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” When Christ first came, he came as a humble servant. We know the story of Christmas well. The story of the King of Kings being born in a manger to a poor family. At His first advent, it was lowly shepherds to whom the message of the angels was given, a message of peace and salvation. A star appeared in the east to guide wise men from the east in search of Christ. It is a story that we identify with. A humble beginning and the story of the one who possesses all power yet identifies with the lowest of society. It resonates with us because it brings Jesus into our world and our level. However, there is a subtle danger that we leave Jesus in the manger. In the manger, Jesus is one with us and part of us; He is one that we can manage and control. In the Gospels, Jesus is safe, one who eats with sinners and loves children.  When we see the description of Christ’s return, we are pr

Who is Jesus

Who is Jesus Mark 9:1-13 “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!” Who is Jesus? This is perhaps the most fundamental question of all religions and life itself. In many religions, Jesus is considered to be a great spiritual teacher, even a prophet. One who is from God and instructs us about God. In Islam, Jesus is regarded as one of the great prophets of God, but he is not God himself who comes in the flesh. The Bahai regard Jesus to be one of the many individuals who reflect the attributes of the divine into the human world. Other religions, such as Buddhism, reject the idea that Jesus is God. Even among those identifying themselves as Christian, there are those who see Jesus only as one who comes as a role model who is to be imitated.  As the disciples walked with Jesus, listened to his teaching, and saw his miracles, they also wrestled with the question. They knew he was the Messiah, the appointed one of God, but they struggled to comprehend who he was fully. In the previous verses,

The Power of Christ

The Power Over Death Mark 5:21-43 “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.”               Jairus was as desperate as a father could be.  His young daughter (age 12) was facing a terminal illness.  What the illness was, we do not know. What we do know is that she was on the brink of death, and her father was desperate.  Jairus was a leader in the local synagogue, which functioned much like a small church.  While the Temple was the focal point of Jewish worship, local synagogues were places where people would receive instruction and teaching from the Old Testament law. Jairus was one of the individuals who served in the local synagogue.  He was part of the system that was opposing Jesus and saw Jesus as a false prophet.  However, his desperation and concern for his daughter caused him to overcome any reservations he might have had regarding Jesus.  The one thing he knew was that his daughter was dying, and Jesus was able to perform miracles.  Consequently, he came to Jesus with his de