Thursday, December 21, 2006

The blood that cries a better word (2)

graced said...
  • hi, i agree. I am wondering if you can answer a question for me? If Jesus' sacrifice was enough to redeem lost sinners who accept that sacrifice, why then does Jesus need to be forever interceding on our behalf to the Father?

There's two things at work here as I understand it. first there is the work of the cross, the work of redemption through Christ's sacrifice on our behalf. This is the finished work of atonement. Second, there is the ongoing intercessory work of Jesus. This is neither redemptive nor atoning, it's part of what the writer to the Hebrews describes as his (Jesus) priestly function. It doesn't necessarily mean that Jesus is constantly praying for us, but that he represents us before God.

I guess if you take the courtroom image beloved by evangelicals, then the picture is that of Jesus providing a constant reminder to the Father of what he has done for us on the cross. Where we would expect judgement we receive mercy and grace because Jesus, by his presence, intercedes for us.

I'm sure there are other images at work, but I hope this helps.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Jesus: Friend of sinners

There's a song we sing sometimes at church that speaks about the name of Jesus. From memory it says:

Jesus, what a beautiful name, Son of God, Son of Man, Lamb that was slain...

When I think of all the names that we associate with Jesus, the one that most touched my heart is not a name, it's an insult: Friend of sinners.

The religious people used this to describe Jesus because they thought he spent too much of his time mixing with the wrong people. In fact they even suggested that he couldn't be who he claimed to be on account of the people with whom he chose to spend his time.

The argument went something like this:

If you've come from God then you should know who you're dealing with. You should know that this woman or that man is not a good person. They don't keep the rules, they don't use the right language, they aren't acceptable. If you are who you claim to be, you should not be friends with those kinds of people.

Sound familiar?

How often does has the church said something similar in the past?

I remember when I first came to Christ how I was warned about the potential negative influence of spending too much time with non-Christians. If I did spend time with them, then it was strictly evangelistic, and if I spent too much time with them I was probably falling away from faith.

My hope these days is that the church becomes known as a safe place for "sinners". I hope that one day our reputation will not be for being too religious but simply of being a friend to those who need a friend.

Cotton End Baptist Church, friend of sinners. It has a nice ring to it don't you think.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Surfulater-sorting and collating research

I know everyone who lives on planet Mac probably has a widget for collecting and collating information from the Internet and on their computers, but if you don't live in that world then you might like to try Surfulater.

I've just downloaded it and it looks quite useful.

At it's simplest it lets you link files and web pages together in a knowledge tree structure. you can add notes and you can edit pages and files form within the program.

I've been looking for something that might help me tame the information jungle and this looks quite good and it's cheap (less than £20).

You can find it here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Jesus: The Lord saves

The most amazing thing about the nativity story isn’t the unusual circumstances of the birth of Jesus, nor is it in the detailed fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies. It isn’t even in the wonderful thought that God sent his son into the world.

The amazing thing is that he came. God himself came into our world. And he came for us.
… he did what no man had ever dreamed. He became flesh and dwelt among us. He placed his hand upon the shoulder of humanity and said, “You’re something special”.

Max Lucado, In the Grip of Grace

Iraneus, an historian of the early church said:

The Word of God, Jesus Christ, on account of his great love for mankind, became what we are in order to make us what he is himself.

And in becoming one of us, he took a most common name, Jesus.

It’s a wonderful name. A precious name. A favourite name (1200+ times in the New Testament), although sometimes a name we hardly dare use in common speech. And therein lies the problem. Separated by two thousand years of history, we’ve forgotten one simply truth about his name.

It was a common name.

Jospehus, the Jewish historian, refers to around 20 people called Jesus. The New Testament knows of Jesus Justus, the friend of Paul, and Bar-Jesus the sorcerer on Paphos. Some manuscripts even suggest that Jesus was the first name of Barabbas.

Which would like me to release to you? Jesus Barabbas or Jesus called Messiah?

Perhaps few names speak so powerfully of both his divinity and humanity than Jesus. Jesus, the man from down the street. Jesus the one you’d invite back for tea a second time. Approachable, touchable. The kind of person who is so ordinary that you wouldn’t notice him except for his sociability.

But he’s also God. Able to still a storm with a single word, or to command sickness or worse to leave a person’s body. And if you met him, and if you fell at his feet and called him Lord, he wouldn’t reject your respect. But it’s just possible that he might take you by the hand, lift you to your feet and say, “Just call me Jesus”

Friday, December 08, 2006

Messiah—Anointed One

“Jesus Christ” slips off the tongue of saint and sinner alike. For one it’s simply an exclamation, for the other a name, albeit a very important name. But how often do we stop to think about the implications of such a name? What does it mean to proclaim Jesus to be the Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah. To the Jews of the first century it meant a lot.

For the Jews of the first century the long awaited Messiah would come and set things straight: sort out Rome and Herod, reinstate the nation, re-establish the kingdom and renew the religious practices of the people. So, when Peter declares Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God, it’s quite a statement. But what does it mean to be the Christ?

To be the Anointed One means to be the king.

Wise men saw a star in the east, so we are told. “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” they asked. To be king was the birthright of Jesus. While the Jews were waiting for a conquering king, Jesus turns this expectation upside down. He teaches his disciples about his betrayal and death. Nothing he says indicated a conquering hero putting right the wrongs of history. His purpose went deeper than that. He hadn’t come to provide temporary relief from the political ills of Roman rule. He came to put things right on an eternal scale. Changing governments can be accomplished through the ballot box, dealing with sin takes and event of cosmic significance.

This king came to die before he came to rule.