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INSPIRATIONAL Blog

Weekly inspirations from Aurora Colony Vineyard's owner, John Moore.
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John Moore
 
June 20, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – End of the World, Beginning Birth Pains – Part One

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him. Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals. We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples. Now the question comes: if Jesus is leaving as predicted, when is He coming back?

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3.

1.  When will Jesus return?  It naturally followed that if the discples understood the message of Jesus – the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus – and His predicted retur – when would that happen.  While modern day sooth sayers try to name the date and time, and that is silly and not biblical, there were signs of the time, just as the plants ripen to bear fruit. 
 

2. Signs Before His return - the great deceiver and deception.  ‘For many will come in my name, claiming ‘I am the Christ’, and will deceive many.  Matt 24:5.  This is a summary of the great deceiver, the one predicted as the anti-Christ, with the following traits: Intelligent: Revelation 13:18; Daniel 7:8.  Charismatic Speaker: Daniel 7:8 Revelation 13:5.  Crafty Politician: Daniel 9:27; Revelation 17:12, 13, 17.  Distinct Physical Appearance: Daniel 7:20.  Military Genius: Revelation 4; 17:14; 19:19.  Economic Genius: Daniel 11:38.  Blasphemer: Revelation 13:6.  Utterly Lawless: 2 Thessalonians 2:8.  Selfish, Ambitious Egomaniac: Daniel 11:36, 37; 2 Thessalonians 2:4.  Greedy Materialist: Daniel 11:38.  Controlling:  Daniel 7:25.  Proud and Self-exalting Above God and Everything: Daniel 11:36; 2 Thessalonians. 2:4.

3. Signs before His return – international events.  6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains. Matthew 24:6-8.  The deceiver will bring international betrayal and chaos.  And these are only the beginning of birth pains.

National and international events cause, for some, fear and anxiety.  Everything nailed down seems to be coming up.  Certainly the current political environment of lawlessness, terrorist activities in our cities, no enforcement of our borders, diminishment of police, rampant inflation – all bring enough consternation.  But in the end times, harder times are coming.  It is the task of Christians to understand the world we live in, and to live as salt and light, modeling the beatitudes in the days God gives.  A life of mercy, kindness, faith, hope and love toward others – these are the hallmarks of the disciple even during hard times.  Blessings to you this week.

Time Posted: Jun 20, 2022 at 1:42 PM Permalink to The Week of the Cross – End of the World, Beginning Birth Pains – Part One Permalink
John Moore
 
June 13, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – Separating the Real from the Counterfeit – Part Two

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him.  Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals.   We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life.  His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples.  Now he exposes the true character of the religious phonies – the hypocrites who pretended to speak for God.  By contrast, Jesus reaffirms greatness in the kingdom and true spirituality.

8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:8-12

1. Spotting the Phony in the Crowd. There are no hold backs now. Jesus has separated out the hypocrite, the religious phony, and is warning his disciples that they are the opposite of what is great and valued in the kingdom.

2. By Contrast, the Family of God Reflects True Spiritual Values.  Rather than seeking praise and attention and power and influence on earth, with twisted and selfish values reserved for the hypocrite, a disciples understands that our Master and Father is in heaven.  Spiritual titles are reserved for  God, not for man.  We have only one Master…have on Father, and He is in heaven. 

3. And Further Contrast, Service is the Measure of Greatness for the Family of God.  Have you noticed how the outcast, the slave, the child, the least and the despised, the prostitute, the sick and weak, all get the greatest attention from Jesus?  The reason is this: from the imagery of the weak and least, the principle is reaffirmed: the greatest among you will be your servant.  This immutable spiritual principle is to pervade the churches and communities and homes of the true believers. It is immutable. It does not change.

So the family of God and greatness in the Kingdom is the antidote to the hypocrisy in the church:

48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother Matthew 12:48-50.

And ambition – getting ahead by maneuvering ahead of others, has no place in the Christian’s life:

When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45.

In the end, understanding what to do and who to follow and not follow is pretty clear. Just measure it by Him who is our Savior and who gave us life a ransom for us.  It comes back to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  Stay well.

Time Posted: Jun 13, 2022 at 12:17 PM Permalink to The Week of the Cross – Separating the Real from the Counterfeit – Part Two Permalink
John Moore
 
June 6, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – The Anatomy of a Hypocrite – Who and What Not to Be and Do – Part One

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him.  Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals.   We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life.  His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples.  Now he exposes the true character of the religious phonies – the hypocrites who pretended to speak for God.

You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.

35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth.  Matthew 23:33-35a

1. Identifying the Hypocrite, and Thus the Enemy.  Jesus now reserves his harshest criticism for the phony religious leaders in Israel, the ones pretending to be and do God’s biding, but actually were tools of the devil to confuse the genuine seeker or pilgrim.  Jesus introduces their hypocrisy as follows:

1a.  They tell others to do what they are unwilling to do themselves.

1b.  They burden others with tasks they are unwilling to do.

1c.  They publically pretend to be religious, but it is all for show, never for go.

1d.  They love positions and titles of honor, terms reserved only for God the Father.

 

2. Jesus summarizes their conduct as follows Matt 23:13-32):

3. No fence sitting!  You can know a person by his conduct.  Here Jesus finishes his excoriation of the Pharisees – brood of vipers, shedding of righteous blood, murderers.  The path of the prophets is both a warning to the true follower of Jesus, and a guide to the real rather than the counterfeit.

Jesus had warned his disciples of this from the beginning of his ministry and the Beatitudes: 

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  Matthew 5:11-12.

Now the demands of discipleship and the test of devotion, for the disciples, is at hand. They will fail more tests than they pass in the next hours, with confusion and fear, but will now understand the message of the cross and the resurrection. 

Time Posted: Jun 6, 2022 at 12:14 PM Permalink to The Week of the Cross – The Anatomy of a Hypocrite – Who and What Not to Be and Do – Part One Permalink
John Moore
 
May 30, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – Unavoidable Truth that Jesus is the Messiah

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him.  Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals. We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples, and the courage to face the cross contrary to his will but in obedience to the heavenly Father.  The link is now made from the lineage of David – the royal lineage – to Jesus not only as the Son of David but David’s Lord, namely the Savior of the world.

43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
    under your feet.”’[a]

45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.  Matthew 22:43-46.

1. Jesus’ Instruction Proceeding from the Known to the Unknown.  This is the last public dialogue between Jesus and his critics.  Begrudgingly, they have to admit Jesus' lineage in the line of David, which is itself royalty.  Not Messianic but royalty.  And to that they admit.  This is known in the community and not deniable. This becomes the foundation for Jesus' affirmation that He is from God, doing the work of the Father, and proceeding back to heaven.

2. Jesus’ Logic Affirming his Deity.  Jesus now, on multiple occasions, has predicted his death and resurrection, to his disciples, and to the crowds.  But to his critics, no acknowledgment was made.  Now they are directed to the logic that not only is Jesus the son of David, which they admit, but from Psalms 110, a Psalm written by David, even David admits that the One who comes after him, as predicted, will be the Messiah.

3. Applying the Psalms to Jesus’ Instruction.  The enemies of Jesus instantly knew that they were biblically and logically wrong – that they were hoisted, as it were, on the horns of the dilemma where they could not affirm Jewish heritage in David and deny that Jesus was the application of the Son of David – the Messiah. 

Psalms 110 says about this One from David – your enemies shall be your footstool; the Lord will extend your mighty scepter; you will rule in the midst of your enemies; your troops … will be arrayed in holy majesty; you are a Priest forever; the Lord is at your right hand, He will crush kings on the day of wrath; he will judge the nations; crushing the rules of the whole earth.

No wonder of Jesus' enemies, it was said: from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

We are in a crazy world right now.  The newly appointed Justice of the Supreme Court does not have the moral courage to define a woman. USA Today calls a man ‘Woman of the Year’.  A recent witness in our congress advises that men can get pregnant and have an abortion. All absurdities. Where will it end?  Well, our text from Psalm 110 said, evil has its season, but God will have the final say.  Be encouraged that our world is not out of His control.  We follow in faith and trust that, in our lifetime or after, all matters will be set right, in righteousness and justice, both in the heavens and in our world.  Best to you this week. 

Time Posted: May 30, 2022 at 12:09 PM Permalink to The Week of the Cross – Unavoidable Truth that Jesus is the Messiah Permalink
John Moore
 
May 23, 2022 | John Moore

How to be Great in the Kingdom

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom, and great crowds began to follow him.  Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals. We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples, and the courage to face the cross contrary to his will but in obedience to the heavenly Father.  Final instructions for the disciples include inheriting eternal life and greatness in the Kingdom

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:34-40.

1. Greatest of the Commandments.  For all the 513 commands and laws of the Old Testament, the greatest commandment is not what we do, but what we are. We are to be lovers of God. We are designed for that, we are made in His image, and our greatest joys come in restoration of relationship – first beginning in salvation through Jesus and then in obedience, in loving God and His people because of the grace and mercy given to us. No wonder 1 Corinthians affirms: Now remains, faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

2. Loving my Neighbor [Rather] than Myself. This is often misunderstood as permission to become self-absorbed, self-indulgent, and selfish toward my needs and interests before others. After all, if we don’t love ourselves, how can we love others? Now it is true that we need to care for ourselves, and that fundamental care will impact those around us. But it is contrary to everything about the New Testament, and particularly the Good Samaritan of Luke 10 that we are to indulge ourselves, contrary to the life of serving and caring for others. The ‘more religious’ priest and Levite ignored the wounded traveler.  The Samaritan took him in, cared for him, made provision for his added care.  And when asked by Jesus, who was the one acting toward his neighbor, the answer was ‘the one who took pity on him’.  My neighbor is one whose need I see, and whose need I can meet.  That is greatness in matters of eternity.

No wonder the early instruction in James is as follows: my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?  James 2:5. 

Blessings on you as you make this week count in matters that count the most.

- John Moore

Time Posted: May 23, 2022 at 12:04 PM Permalink to How to be Great in the Kingdom Permalink
John Moore
 
May 16, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – Part 3 – God’s Patience Toward His People

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him.  Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals.   We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life.  His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples, and the courage to face the cross contrary to his will but in obedience to the heavenly Father, and as such, in the parable of the King and the wedding feast, showing us the patience of God to those He has chosen and called.

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.  Matthew 22:8-10.

1. Salvation First to Israel and Sons of Abraham.  In understanding the Bible, we start with the foundation, ‘Christianity is Jewish’.  From the fall in the Garden, to the promises made to Abraham and his generations (Gen 12, 15, 22) , the promise of salvation started in God’s chosen people, Israel.  Yet the Old Testament is filled with the repeated grace of God and rejection of his instructions by Israel.  While in the OT the promise of salvation was also to be extended to the non-Jew, the message of Jesus repeated this message of the failure of Israel and the invitation to those of us outside Israel.  Such is now the case with the parable.

2. The King’s repeated offer to His guests to enjoy the wedding feast / the life of God’s people with Him in heaven.  The event is ready.  The wedding is set.  The guests are invited twice.  Not only do they refuse the King’s invitation, but they kill the messenger servants who brought the invitation.  No clearer message of the deserving loss of salvation to those who reject the invitation of the King.  And the introduction to this passion week, where the Jews and Romans will reject the message of Jesus and put him to death.

3. The Main Point of the Parable:  As symbolized by the king. God is patient.  It is God who first calls, and then invites those who have been previously called.  It is God who, when His offer is rejected, does not immediately pour out His wrath.  But makes a further urgent appeal, and takes in those who did not deserve to come to the feast – all those who are good and bad. 

For many are invited but few are chosen.  Matthew 22:14.  How can we go past this season without again our gratitude to God for His drawing us to Himself, and giving us what we do not deserve.  Best to you this week.

- John Moore

Time Posted: May 16, 2022 at 9:14 AM Permalink to The Week of the Cross – Part 3 – God’s Patience Toward His People Permalink
John Moore
 
May 2, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – Part 2 – True Repentance

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating greatness in the Kingdom, and great crowds began to follow him.  Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals. We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples, and the courage to face the cross contrary to his will but in obedience to the heavenly Father, and as such, modeling the true nature of salvation.

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this,  and it is marvelous in our eyes’[a]? 43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”[b]   Matthew 21:42-44.

1. The Promises of the Sermon on the Mount to Be Accomplished.  At the beginning of Jesus’ first ministry in Galilee, he promised, that to those who were poor in spirit, who would mourn, the meek, who would hunger and third for righteousness, to the merciful, to the pure in heart, to the peacemaker, and to those who were persecuted for righteousness – to them, they would receive the kingdom of heaven, would be comforted, would inherit the earth, would be filled, would be shown mercy, would see God, would be called the sons of God, would have the kingdom of heaven.  Now, because of the rejection of Jesus by Israel, the non-Jews – the Gentiles – would be grafted into the church, would become part of the foundation of the church, upon which the message of Jesus and the resurrection would expand.

2. Looking at Loss in Perspective.  There is no question that the Christian life is looking at the eternal, not the temporary, the spiritual, not the physical, the eternal residence in heaven with God, not the temporary presence as aliens and strangers in this world.  No better illustration than the thief on the cross, who upon his request to "remember me." received the promise, "Today you will be with me in paradise."  As Christians, because we have chosen to believe in Jesus and follow Him, we have exchanged the temporary for the permanent, the mortal for the immortal, the things we cannot keep for the life we cannot lose, and as such, we continue to persevere.  By the grace of God, th promise of salvation from the Garden of Eden, through Abraham and Israel, is now our full portion as well.

3. From Ashes to Glory.  In the midst of the condemnation to those who rejected Jesus, do you see the promise – GIVEN TO A PEOPLE WHO WILL PRODUCE ITS FRUIT (21:43).  It is true that Christianity is Jewish, but it doesn’t stop there.  Even to the Samaritan woman with the demon possessed daughter, who argued that the dogs (the non-Jews) received the crumps of the bread given to Israel – Jesus both healed her daughter and commended her faith!  Matthew 15:21-28.

53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[a]55 “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”[b]  56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  1 Corinthians 15:53-58.

We will continue to see the promise of God in Jesus during this passion week of the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus.  Stay well.

- John Moore

Time Posted: May 2, 2022 at 9:00 AM Permalink to The Week of the Cross – Part 2 – True Repentance Permalink
John Moore
 
April 25, 2022 | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – Part 1 – True Repentance

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating greatness in the Kingdom, and great crowds began to follow him.  Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals. We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples, and the courage to face the cross contrary to his will but in obedience to the heavenly Father.

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”  “The first,” they answered.  Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.  Matthew 21:28-32.

Understanding the True Nature of Repentance.  In this paragraph of the two sons, a number of misconceptions about faith, the kingdom, and repentance are addressed:

First, repentance comes from one who has failed, has recognized their failures, and has turned to a different way to follow Jesus.  Do you see this?  God honors one who starts in the wrong direction but CHANGES HIS OR HER MIND.  The pilgrim who stumbles and falls but gets up, gets his or her bearing toward the Kingdom and commits to that course.

Second, repentance is never counted to one who with a good start, turns a different direction and does not follow through.  The true measure of faith is a life that follows.  One of my favorite verses in this regard:  19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” 2 Timothy 2:19.  There are at least two applications to this verse, but for sure, confession, repentance should lead to a life that does not turn back, that is marked out as different, as honoring to God.

Third, the Kingdom of God is marked out by the poor, the outcast, the marginal in our society, the ones who have not, but have learned of their need, have repented, and turned to Jesus.  The tax-gatherer, the prostitute.  Heaven will never be marked out and attended by the "who’s who" as we know them in our world.

This passage is primarily about discipleship, about honor in the Kingdom, about "who is first," to follow the context of the Zebedee family and their request.  Do you see Jesus word?  "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you."  Greatness in the Kingdom is for the least, the lowest, the most humble, the child, the unworthy, and unfit who have in faith reached out to Jesus.  What an honorable message at the beginning of this Passion week, and the message of grace and mercy at the cross. This theme is continued next week with the message of the church – Jesus who was rejected by Israel has now brought us in, the Gentiles, and He will say, ‘it is marvelous in our eyes. Matt 21:42.   Best to you this week.

- John Moore

Time Posted: Apr 25, 2022 at 11:25 AM Permalink to The Week of the Cross – Part 1 – True Repentance Permalink
John Moore
 
April 18, 2022 | John Moore

Easter – Jesus and the Cross – A Ransom Paid – Understand Easter (Part 3)

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him.  Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life.  A sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals. What is the main point of the cross? A ransom paid, the freeing of a slave, in this case, the slavery of sin and condemnation.

1. The Great Example.  ‘Just as the Son of man did not come to be served but to serve’.  This is the beginning, middle and end of the gospel message.  The purpose of Jesus life, following the instruction to the Zebedee boys and mother wannabes, was ‘whoever wants to be first shall be your slave’.  From he instruction that the last shall be first, and the greatest shall be the slave of all, the text moves seamlessly into the work of the cross – Jesus as the example of greatness, looking not to be served, to serve, by his life and death for mankind.  This humiliation in the place of, and for the benefit of, his people, must be their example and motivation.

2. The Great Payment - A Ransom Price Paid.  ‘and to give his life as a ransom’.  A ransom is a price paid to free a slave, common fare and knowledge in the first century.  In fact, 70% of the first century church were converted slaves, and this message had to resonate with great joy to the early believers.  Because even while physical slavery and bondage continued, they were released from the bondage and condemnation of sin, and restored as children of God and able to follow in the example of Jesus.  This was the purpose and climax of the Great Incarnation. 

3. The Great Exchange.  ‘in the place of many’.  And the substitutionary atonement of the cross had as its purpose the standing in the place of the condemned.  With great poignancy, Jesus was crucified between two condemned criminals.  Jesus lived and died for others, for the many who both had and would believe in Him as their Savior and follow Him as their Lord.  

But we live in a post-Christian era, if ever it was Christian.  Our country has gone a long way baby, and the trajectory is down.  We have had our basic constitutional tenants, our freedoms, our democratic way of life, our status as the country standing for a beacon for others – all challenged in the last 50 years, and the last year this freefall has escalated exponentially.  The photograph above was taken on Easter Sunday, 1956, in Manhattan, New York City.  America was a different place, back then. 

May God give us the grace and wisdom to live with grace and truth in our communities and countries, to speak the truth in love to others, and to never recover from the Kingdom message as siin during this season, and in Jesus.

Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,  being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!  9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,  10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:6-11

- John Moore

Time Posted: Apr 18, 2022 at 11:17 AM Permalink to Easter – Jesus and the Cross – A Ransom Paid – Understand Easter (Part 3) Permalink
John Moore
 
April 11, 2022 | John Moore

Easter – Understanding the Cross – Redeemed by Ransom Paid - Preparing for Easter (Part 2)

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom, and great crowds began to follow him.  Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life.  A sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals.  What is the main point of the cross? Redemption and a ransom paid, death for life, is now the message.

25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:15-18

1. The Competition Continues – First a Request Prefaced with Faith.  Having missed most of the message of Jesus and the cross, even to the disciples, mama now comes for her sons Zebedee and asserts a request for greatness in the Kingdom for her sons, just short of God Himself!  Another gospel accounts confirms this is ALSO the request of the two sons (Mark 10:35-41).  This request is twofold: first, it is asked respectfully, and we understand with faith.  Meaning that this woman and her sons believed what they ask could be granted by Jesus.  This alone acknowledges their understanding of who Jesus was, even if they were not clear as to what He was shortly to encounter in the passion week.  

2. Second, a Request Exchanging Earthly Status for Heavenly Gain.  Even so, this woman and her sons, asserting a request that would supersede even the predicted status of Peter as the Rock upon whom the Church would be built, now requests high standing before the throne of God.  Hendrickson notes that ‘[this woman] was guilty of confusing earthly realities with heavenly, as if what is generally happens on earth, when men who, after a tremendous struggle, have finally reached the top, will then from their lofty perch look down upon and hold down all those below them, also applied in the kingdom of heaven.  Of course, this woman is 180 degrees wrong and misdirected.  This misses Jesus repeated teaching that the last shall be first, the least shall be the greatest, the servant shall be lifted up, and certainly, that death will be swallowed up in victory in the short distance left to the cross and empty tomb.  

3. A Ransom Paid.  What it Was and How it is Applied.  Again, Jesus teaches about the ultimate purpose of his life and work, and the plan of the heavenly Father, to sacrificially send his Son as a payment for sin.  A payment of a ransom is redemption, of being ‘bought back’, the idea of deliverance or liberation from a state of bondage and captivity by the payment of a price. It is the exchange of God’s righteousness, in the blood of Jesus, for our unrighteousness, our rightful condemnation before God.  Following from the teaching and imagery of the Old Testament, and the Exodus following the Passover in Israel, it is payment of a price and liberation from slavery, in this case slavery to sin and condemnation to death separate from God.  The Passover led to the Exodus.  The payment of sacrificial blood redeemed or paid the ransom for Israel.  Such was Isaiah’s powerful message:

The Suffering and Glory of the Servant (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) – ‘A Man of Suffering and Familiar with Pain.’ ‘For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors’

13 See, my servant will act wisely[a];  he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. 14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him[b]—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness—
15 so he will sprinkle many nations and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see,  and what they have not heard, they will understand.  53 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,  and like a root out of dry ground.  He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,   nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,  a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4 Surely he took up our pain  and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted  5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,  so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression[d] and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested?  For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.[e  9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,  and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence,  nor was any deceit in his mouth.  10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes[f] his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life[g] and be satisfied[h]; by his knowledge[i] my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[j]  and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[k]because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

John Stott has said: ‘the emphasis of the redemption image is on our sorry state – indeed our captivity – in sin which made an act of divine rescue necessary.  

For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be.

God could quite justly have abandoned us to our fate. He could have left us alone to reap the fruit of our wrongdoing and to perish in our sins. It is what we deserved. But he did not. Because he loved us, he came after us in Christ. He pursued us even to the desolate anguish of the cross, where he bore our sins, guilt, judgement and death. It takes a hard and stony heart to remain unmoved by love like that.’

Such is our Easter season.  Can we spend time prayerfully thanking God for this incredible gift of grace and mercy to us through Jesus, and for all who believe in His name and receive Him?  Who can you pray for that God will draw to Himself also in redemption?   I have my daily prayer list.  Join me in the same.  Best to you this week. 

- John Moore

Time Posted: Apr 11, 2022 at 2:46 PM Permalink to Easter – Understanding the Cross – Redeemed by Ransom Paid - Preparing for Easter (Part 2) Permalink