Whiter Than Snow

Agnus Day appears with the permission of www.agnusday.org
Agnus Day appears with the permission of www.agnusday.org

 

 

2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a

Psalm 51:1-13

Ephesians 4:1-16

John 6:24-35

 

Even murders on death row would agree that David was wrong. He wanted Uriah’s wife, so he killed Uriah. Few of us can put ourselves in David’s sandals; the sin is so disproportionate. Yet, we all too often commit the same sins without seeing them.

Who has not looked at a man or woman and thought, Oh my? Who has never wondered what life would be like with another partner? Who has not had at least a fleeting thought that if he/she were out of the way, I could move in?

That is the natural state when we are searching for a partner and the first two thoughts above are a part of the process. Without it there would be no procreation.

The third thought is where the trouble begins. She has a boyfriend, how can I break them up? He is married; can I get him to notice me? Maybe a little poison will do the trick. It is too easy to slide into the next level as David did.

In fact, David did not slide; he jumped in with both feet, even knowing that she was married to his best warrior. He used his position of power to acquire that which he wanted and that was his greatest sin.

David was all about righteousness. Justice was his mode of operation. God called him to be the forerunner of the Messiah and until he saw Bathsheba he did very well. Then one sleepless night he threw it all away.

As we know, that is not the end of his story. In time, he was able to pray to God what we record as Psalm 51. A thousand years later Jesus stood before the crowd and said, “I am the bread of life.” David pleaded to have his sin erased and Jesus said that he could do that. My sin means that I must die. Life can only come by accepting the unwarranted and unexpected gift that David prayed for. Rejection is death.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

 

Feed a Hundred

from Unsplash
from Unsplash

 

2 Kings 4:42-44

Psalm 145: 10-19

Ephesians 3:14-21

John 6:1-21

 

The background of the passage in Kings is of a famine in the land. The prophet Elisha is found in the process of feeding the faithful, following the instructions of God. Elisha spoke the Word of God to the kings of Israel in the midst of three corrupt kingships. He was generally ignored, but he remained faithful.

Some in the Northern Kingdom listened and it is they who received the help of the Lord. One of the faithful brought 20 loaves of barley bread to Elisha. These were small loaves, more in the range of a modern dinner roll. We are told that 100 people ate from the loaves and there was bread left.

The similarity with Jesus feeding the 5,000 is obvious, but there is one point that we too often overlook. For Jesus, in addition to meeting the needs of people, it was about fulfilling the prophecy regarding the Messiah. When John was in prison and sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if he was indeed the Messiah, Jesus told them, “Go back and tell John what’s going on:

The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side.

“Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!” MSG

Not only was Jesus going about the business of being the Son of Man, he was proving that he was the true Son, the promised Messiah.

Look at all the recorded miracles of Jesus and you will see a lesson. This lesson is that God feeds us the Bread of Life. Jesus even said I am the bread of lifeNIV This is not a promise that all of God’s faithful will eat all they want every day. Some of the faithful will starve to death and many will go hungry most of their lives.

The Bread of Life is the gift of God that will be rewarded to the faithful in the New Jerusalem.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

 

The Lord is My Shepherd

from Unsplash
from Unsplash

 

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Psalm 23

Ephesians 2:11-22

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not wantKJV

When the Son of God came to earth 2,000 years ago to be the Son of Man, he also became the Good Shepherd. Good in the sense that he did not fail God, not in the sense that he was able to cure everyone. That cure could only be accomplished with his death.

God gave a message to Jeremiah that was a condemnation of the shepherds of the day. The kings, governors, even the prophets were doing evil and encouraging the people to do evil. Leading others into evil is a great sin.

Today, many pastors and priests stand condemned by the words of God through Jeremiah. Yet, we all have a share in that condemnation. Each of us has followers that we mislead, at least occasionally. My children survived my parenting, but not unscathed. Students often wished for a better teacher. The needs of fellow workers were too often ignored. Worst of all, in my search for the Truth of God, I too often follow the vain of fool’s gold.

Jesus gave us a pattern to follow in the shepherding business. Slipping away to rest, Jesus faced people who followed him even to a far place. Instead of resting, he met their needs.

Being a keeper of sheep in Jesus’ day was not a job, it was a life. The shepherd spent the entire summer watching his herd, sleeping in cat naps, often while standing. If a rock holding pen was close, he led them in, sleeping in the opening to defend them from wolves and lions. In the winter, he could take a day every few weeks to visit family and share the night guard duties with other shepherds the rest of the time.

That is what it means to follow Jesus. We prefer to take a day every once in a while to do something for God; that is backwards. Every person I meet gives me an opportunity to be a shepherd, though often it is a chance for me to be the sheep.

At work, at play, watch for the needs and meet the needs.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

 

We Were Chosen

from Unsplash
from Unsplash

 

Amos 7:7-15

Psalm 85:8-13

Ephesians 1:3-14

Mark 6:14-29

 

When God and His Son sat down to discuss how they were going to create a new universe in which humans could live forever in perfection, they also decided to create a complex (to us) plan to return us to Their favor when we turned away from Them. The plan culminated in the Son of God becoming the Son of Man, defeating death and evil with his own death.

There were and are many actors in the drama that is our salvation. Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Isaiah, Daniel, Mary, Elizabeth, John, and thousands more played key roles. John was on the stage for a short time, at least in our records, but that does not diminish his importance. He introduced the Messiah, the Son of Man.

The faith of Abraham, the devotion of David, the love of Mary fell short of salvation. As great as they were, they could not save themselves, let alone anyone else. The Son of Man alone could do that.

When God and the Son planned, they knew that sin would enter the world, so they planned an escape route for us. The Son agreed to take on the role of the sacrificial Lamb, so that his blood could substitute for the blood we would need to shed. We have all been convicted of crimes against God and the punishment is death. Our lawyer stepped in to die for us so that we may live.

God created a universe knowing that it would wobble off course and need correction. He knew his humans would fail to be true sons, so he also created a way to save us from ourselves. He chose us and will not let us go without a struggle.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

 

A Rebellious People

from Unsplash
from Unsplash

 

Ezekiel 2:1-5

Psalm 123

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

Mark 6:1-13

 

Why does God call Ezekiel Son of Man and why does Jesus call himself Son of Man? It is a title which was not fully developed in the Old Testament but was well developed by Enoch between the testaments.

God used the term 90 times of Ezekiel to emphasize his humanity. While Jesus used it of himself in part for that reason, the idea is much more important than that. Yes, Jesus accepted his humanity, but he was also God.

Consider Matthew 12:8:  For the Son of Man is Lord of the SabbathNIV He is not saying that we humans have control of the Sabbath, that we can do what we want. He is saying that the Sabbath was given to us by God to refresh and renew us. But it is not so restricted that we cannot do the other things God commanded, i.e., care for those in need.

Daniel used the Son of Man title in the sense of the promised Messiah in 7:13. Both Daniel and Ezekiel spoke the Word of God during the last days of the Sothern Kingdom (Judah) and the Assyrian exile of the Northern Kingdom (Israel).  In the final decades of both exiles, the people of God came to understand that God would indeed renew the greatness of His people; that he would do it by sending a representative called the Messiah.

When Jesus began his ministry, the people of God had a well-developed notion of the Messiah, the Son of Man; the two titles were interchangeable. For Jesus, Enoch’s understanding fell short of completeness. Enoch stressed judgment, Jesus stressed justice.

The passage for today from Mark clarifies the difference. He was amazed at their lack of faithNIV Jesus did not deny that judgment would occur for those who opposed God, but he preached that our failings, our sins, would be forgiven if we placed our faith in God. By stressing mercy over destructive judgment, Jesus redefined the role of the Son of Man.

Our role is to imitate Jesus, the perfect Son of Man. We are to be as much like the perfect humans that God created as possible. In that role, we are to be true friends to everyone. We must seek to do nothing that causes harm to anyone. We will often fail , but with our faith always in the Son of Man, we will join Him in that perfect New Jerusalem.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence