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Hostile combatants

Have you ever felt that you and the Word of God were hostile combatants? Like you didn’t like the truth and you had to wrestle or fight with it until you could agree with it and become one mind with God? I have many times.

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“When anyone hears (akouo) the message about the kingdom and does not understand (suniemi) it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears (akouo) the word and understands (suniemi) it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matt. 13:19-23 NIV)

In the parable of the sower everyone heard (akouo) the word, but only the last understood (suniemi). This was the only one who bore fruit. Akouo means to hear, consider, and even to understand[i]. But the Greek word suniemi (συνίημι) takes it further – it means to bring together, or join together in the mind. It also has a meaning of bringing together opposing or hostile combatants. In the Greek world it was used for the bringing together of two hostile combatants and letting them duke it out (Homer, Illiad 1,8; 7,210)[1]. The scripture says that we are naturally hostile to God. “… the sinful mind is hostile to God” (Romans 8:7), but “while we were enemies (hostile ones, opposing) we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10). I think this implies that three of the hearers in the sower parable did not make the effort to adjust themselves to God’s word, to wrestle with the word, until it changed them and became part of them. But, they let the worries and temptations and ultimately the enemy of our souls wipe it out, and they went on unchanged and unfruitful. They looked into the mirror of the Word and then walked away (James 1:23-25).

Have you ever felt that you and the Word of God were hostile combatants? Like you didn’t like the truth and you had to wrestle or fight with it until you could agree with it and become one mind with God? I have many times. I know that I can read the Word or hear the Word and understand perfectly well what it means, but until I wrestle with it, until I can agree with God about it, line up my thinking with His, I will not bear fruit. Even worse, I run the risk of losing the truth altogether.

Praise God! He is not offended when we wrestle with Him, but rather He is pleased. Lord help me not to merely hear but to suniemi.

Continued Hostile combatants two

[1] Thayer’s Expanded Greek Definition, Electronic Database https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/greek/4920.html

[i] All definitions are taken from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible unless otherwise noted.

 

Put on Jesus, Part One

I am not, intrinsically, loving and compassionate, kind or humble. Definitely not patient. I am not incorruptible, imperishable, or immortal. I even have to put on faith and hope.

Rather, clothe yourselves with (put on) the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Romans 13:14 NIV)

I have really struggled with this concept. How do I “clothe” myself with (or “put on”) Jesus? Galatians 3:27 Paul also writes, “all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”  The New Living Translation translates that last part of the verse as “have been made like him” and I think that is a good clue. In both verses, the Greek word is enduo (ἐνδύω).

“Clothe yourself” or “put on” sounds like slipping into a jacket or something. In fact, in the parable of the Prodigal Son it is used that way, “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on (enduo) him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet” (Luke 15:22).

The word enduo means to sink into “in the sense of sinking into a garment,” “to invest with clothing … array, clothe, endue.” It comes from a word that means to “go into, enter, go under, be plunged into, sink into” and is used of the setting of the sun.[i]

“Sink into” reminds me of the feeling when you put on a favorite piece of clothing, a shirt or something that just makes you feel good, even secure. It also reminds me of John leaning back unto Jesus, sinking back unto His chest at the Last Supper (John 13:23). In fact, the word used for Jesus’ chest or bosom in that verse is kolpos (κόλπος), which in addition to meaning “the front of the body between the arms” also means “the bosom of a garment, i.e. the hollow formed by the upper forepart of a rather loose garment bound by a girdle or sash, used for keeping and carrying things” like a fold or pocket. It is the word used in Luke 6:38, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom (kolpos). (KJV)” It also means a bay, as in a place of safety.[ii] In John 1:18 it says that Jesus is in the bosom (kolpos) of God.

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (NASB)

I love that! Jesus explained God to us. He is a loving Father who wants to keep us safe and carry us in the fold of His garment, in His bosom. And if we are in Jesus, if we have clothed ourselves with Jesus, endued ourselves with Jesus, have become like Him, we are there with Jesus. Paul says this is something that we can choose to do – clothe ourselves with Him. To be enveloped in Him.

“Sink into” or “plunge into” indicates complete commitment. You can’t plunge into a pool and at the same time just get your big toe wet. Jesus demands full commitment, giving up everything to follow. Romans 13:14 is translated in the New Living Testament as, “But let the Lord Jesus Christ take control of you, and don’t think of ways to indulge your evil desires.” Oswald Chambers said in Disciples Indeed, “Jesus Christ is always unyielding to my claim to my right to myself. The one essential element in all our Lord’s teaching about discipleship is abandon, no calculation, no trace of self-interest.” Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” In denying ourselves we identify with Jesus, we put Him on, and gain so much more than we might lose.

Here is a list of things that the New Testament says that we can put on (enduo):

Power from on high (Luke 24:49)

The Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14, Galatians 3:27)

Incorruption, imperishable body, immortality (1 Cor. 15:53)

New man (Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10)

Armor of light (Romans 13:12)

Faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet (1 Thess. 5:8)

Whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11)

Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience (Colossians 3:12)

Love (agape) (Colossians 3:14)

Pure, fine linen, white and clean (Rev. 15:6, 19:14)

All these things are only found in Jesus, are only available to us because of what Jesus did on the cross. Having to “put on” these things indicates to me that they are not in me. I am not, intrinsically, loving and compassionate, kind or humble. Definitely not patient. I am not incorruptible, imperishable, or immortal. I even have to put on faith and hope. If I don’t choose to put on Christ Jesus, I am left with myself; if I don’t put on incorruption and immortality, I am left with corruption and death; If I don’t put on His power, I am left with weakness; I am left with fear, hopelessness, bitterness, anger, sin and darkness. From the beginning God had to clothe us.

The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)

I am not, but He Is!

There is another word in the New Testament that means to clothe or put on. It is only used once, but it is very powerful. We will look at that word in part two of Put on Jesus next time.

 

Image from Holly Else https://www.timeshighereducation.com/content/holly-else

[i] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

[ii] Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary

Command Joy

“Considering” afflictions as joy is not a victimized resignation or an unpalatable duty. It is leading with joy, commanding joy, it is taking authority [over self] and ruling, deeming, esteeming, judging my testing and trials as joy.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2-3 (NASB)

Wait! Don’t delete yet. I know, this is probably everyone’s least favorite verse in the Bible. I know I have secretly heard an accusing “You should” at the beginning of this verse. It is a very hard verse and one that I have wrestled with. Amplified a little it says:

Consider it all – each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything – joy when you encounter or fall into as to be encompassed, fall into something that is all around, be surrounded with various trials, or putting to proof, knowing that the testing, or proving or trial, of your faith produces endurance – steadfastness, constancy, cheerful or hopeful endurance.

I have been there, fallen down the hole, encompassed, surrounded with affliction and trouble. “Consider it all joy” sounds almost flippant when you are having a very hard time seeing light let alone joy. But looking at the Greek meanings of some of the words in this verse, especially the word translated “consider,” helps a lot in our understanding.

First, what is joy? The Greek word for joy is chara and means cheerfulness, calm delight, gladness.i It also means “joy, gladness, the cause or occasion of joy, of persons who are one’s joy.”ii People who are our joy, as when Paul wrote the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:20), “Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” It is the word Jesus used when he said, “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7 NASB). And also in Hebrews 12:2 where it says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” And in Matthew 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Jesus is the treasure in the field and we find Him with joy. So, we are His joy and He is ours. He promised to be with us always, through all the trials, and in His Presence there is fullness, abundance, satiety of joy (Psalm 16:11b).

The last word in James 1:3, translated “endurance,” is hupomone in the Greek. Hupomone means cheerful, or hopeful endurance, perseverance, steadfastness, constancy. The very root of hupomone is the word meno, which means to abide or remain, as in abiding in the Vine (see The Art of Remaining Present). The only way we can learn to endure or persevere through refining and pruning, is to remain present, remain in the Vine.

I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful … Remain (meno) in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me … I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15: 1-2, 4, 11 NIV)

So, it is possible to have joy in troubles, knowing that God is pruning us and that the pruning makes us more fruitful in this life, and it means that he considers us his children (Hebrew 12:5-8), and that, most wonderfully, he is always with us through it all.

And lo! (behold! see!) I am with (amid, among, together with) you always (daily, individually and collectively, all manner, all means, thoroughly, whatsoever, wholly, whosoever), to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20b (NASB)

Through all those “alls” in “consider it all joy,” he is there with us.

But, the most amazing, and hardest word, in this verse is the one translated “consider.” Many English words seem wimpy and almost apathetic in comparison to the original languages. The Oxford English Dictionary defines consider, in this context, as to “regard (someone or something) as having a specified quality.” So, the verse would say, Regard troubles and afflictions as having the quality of joy. Or, it can mean “believe; think,” as in, Believe it all joy. It also means to “look attentively at,” as in, Look attentively at joy when you encounter various trials. Finally, it can mean to “take (something) into account when making an assessment or judgment.” So, the verse could say, Take joy into account when assessing or judging the meaning or value of your afflictions.

Those last two English meanings are getting very close to the Greek, but still not everything that I need when I am sinking over my head and reaching up for the third and last time for something to grab unto – all but “look attentively at,” if what I am fixing my eyes on is the joy of Jesus. But the original Greek word, hegeomai, is amazing.

I was so surprised to find out that the word translated “consider” in this verse has a prime and root meaning of “to lead.” Strong’s defines it as, “to lead, i.e. command (with official authority); figuratively, to deem, i.e. consider,” to “(be) chief, count, esteem, governor, judge, have the rule over, suppose, think.” So James 1:2 could say, “Lead with joy” or “Command joy.” It means to command in an official authoritative capacity, and in that capacity to judge or assess. It means to rule over, to govern. So, what does this mean? “Considering” afflictions as joy is not a victimized resignation or an unpalatable duty. It is leading with joy, commanding joy, it is taking authority [over self] and ruling, deeming, esteeming, judging my testing and trials as joy. This verse is not unlike the psalmist’s command to self in Psalm 42:5 (NASB):

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.

This is still not any easy thing to do. But fixing my eyes on Jesus – as the joy set before me, as he fixed his eyes on me – makes it easier. Douglas Taylor, when dying of liver cancer, wrote in his blog (Works Worth Declaring Oct. 11, 2012), “[Thomas] Watson has some very encouraging things to say [in his book, All Things for Good, 1663]. He actually affirms that afflictions make us happy. How can that be? The answer is that, if they are blessed to us, they bring us nearer to God … When the dove could not find any rest for the sole of her foot, then she flew to the ark. When God brings a deluge of affliction upon us, then we fly to the ark of Christ. Thus affliction makes us happy, in bringing us nearer to God. Faith can make use of the waters of affliction, to swim faster to Christ.”

Help me Lord not to sink in despair and self-pity, but to lead with joy, to command joy, and to swim faster to You.

i Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible ii Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament

Image copyright Sheila Bair 2018

In the Morning Let Me Hear

In the morning let me

(shama) hear, listen to, obey, agree with, yield to your
(checed) unfailing love, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, mercy, pity, for I
(batach) trust, have confidence in, am bold and secure, in you.
(Yada) Show me, teach me, make known to me, help me to understand, discern, perceive and see, find out, recognize, admit, acknowledge, confess the
(derek) road, way, path, journey, direction, manner in which I should
(halak) walk, live, go, move, proceed, be lead,

for to you I lift up my soul,
You I long for, desire.

Psalm 143:8

 

Photo copyright Jack Bair

Hope Deferred

Love happens in the pain of hope, in the gritting of teeth and walking forward carrying the cross.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

Have you ever felt heart-sick waiting for a prayer to be answered, a dream to come true, for the longing of your heart to be fulfilled? The Hebrew word in this verse translated “deferred” is mashak (מָשַׁך) which means to draw out, postpone, drag along. The waiting for hope to be fulfilled can definitely feel like that. But this word also has a surprising positive meaning too. It means to draw back the bow or to trail seed, as in drawing out seed from the bag and sowing it along behind you. In a previous post I explored how praising God is like shooting arrows (see notes on the Hebrew word yadah Prisoners of Hope). So, drawing back the bow is getting ready to praise Him for what we hope He will do. Keeping on believing and hoping, no matter what, no matter how long, is also a way of sowing seeds of life in others.

The word translated “sick” in the above verse is chalah (חָלָה) which means rubbed or worn, weak, sick, afflicted, grieved, diseased, in pain, but also to pray and make supplication, and a woman in travail. It is the same word as in Isaiah 53:10:

Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer (chalah), and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

Jesus was afflicted, grieved, suffered pain, bore our disease. He also was praying for us (and is!), and travailing for us. He was sowing the most wonderful Seed:

I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24

Connecting the ideas of sowing seed and being grieved reminds me of Psalm 126:5-6

Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro (walks and walks, continually walks) weeping, carrying his bag of seed (trail of seed, drawing out of seed), Shall indeed come (shall come, shall come! Shall surely come, shall doubtless come) again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. (NASB)

Walks and walks, continually walks – hope deferred. And, really, isn’t all hope deferred? It may be five minutes, or it may be 40 years, but if what you’re hoping for isn’t happening right now you have to hope for it. Paul said these three remain: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest is love.† You must have faith to have hope, faith in the One who promised, or there is no reason for hope. And love happens in the pain of hope, in the gritting of teeth and walking forward carrying the cross. Sowing the seed in tears, praying and travailing, pushing into the pain to bring forth life in death. Hope deferred, for me then, is the drawing back of the bow believing that I will be shooting the arrows of praise some day for answered prayer and fulfilled promises. “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13 NASB). Hope deferred is continuing to walk forward, following after Him, letting Him work in me, changing me. It is praying and travailing, speaking life, sowing the seeds of hope and redemption and salvation, in hope that they will spring up to His Life in me and – in His mighty power – others, sometime, somewhere.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. Romans 8:19-25 (NASB)

Image: The Sower (After Millet) by Vincent van Gogh [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

† 1 Corinthians 13:13

Every When

It’s not easy self – listen self I’m talking to you! – but open your mouth and start praying, start thanking him, start praising him, start giving out his love to people, and he will give you the strength and grace, even more than you need.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up (despair, be discouraged, become faint, be weary, fail in heart). Luke 18:1

The word translated “always” in this verse is the Greek word “pantote” and literally means “every when,” i.e. at all times, at any opportunity, all the time, evermore.[i] At every when we are to pray and not give up – when we are depressed, when things look hopeless, when we have no friends or support, when we fail, when others fail us, when they turn against us, when we are angry and frustrated, when we just don’t get it, when we are in need, hungry, desperate, when our dreams are shattered and our hearts are broken. At every when we are to pray and not give up or give in to despair, discouragement, weariness, faint-heartedness.

Here are other things we are commanded to do at every when:

Be joyful always. 1 Thess 5:16[ii]

Rejoice in the Lord always. Phil 4:4

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Eph 5:20

Let your conversation (speech) be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Col. 4:6

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Cor. 4:10

Always give yourselves fully to (abounding in) the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Cor. 15:58

See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. 1 Thess. 5:15 (NASB)

Therefore we are always confident (of good courage, of good cheer, bold) and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:6-7

And if all that seems impossible, it’s because it is impossible – for us, by ourselves. But our Lord does things too at every when:

And God is able (has the power) to make all grace abound to you, so that always – at every when! -having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance (superabound, have an excess, more than you need) for every good deed. 2 Cor. 9:8 (NASB)

Therefore he is able (has the power) to save (to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction, to make well, heal, restore to health, deliver, protect, make whole) completely (completely, perfectly, utterly) those who come to God through him, because he always – at every when! – lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:25

But thanks be to God, who always – at every when! – leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 2 Cor. 2:14

He is able! Abound! Superabound! More than you need! Triumphal! That doesn’t leave much room for failure. But we have to remember – and I’m talking to myself here above all – we have to remember that He is able, He has the power, He is the Wonderful one (Isaiah 9:6). He’s always up there praying for us. “I can do all things (have strength to overcome) through Christ who strengthens me” Phil. 4:13 (NKJV). It’s not easy self – listen self I’m talking to you! – but open your mouth and start praying, start thanking him, start praising him, start giving out his love to people, and he will give you the strength and grace, even more than you need.

There is another verse that uses pantote in the Bible. It reflects his great heart of love, that we should always be in his Presence, every when, at all times, at any opportunity, all the time, evermore:

Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thess. 4:17

 

Image from Flickr, Praying Woman Hands by Long Thiên

[i] All definitions are from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible and Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament

[ii] All verses from the New International Version unless otherwise noted

Lead Me into Exile

The Hebrew word, nachah (נָחָה), translated “lead” or “guide” in this verse has an implication attached to it of being led into exile or as a colonist somewhere. Isn’t that what we are here on this Earth – exiles from our real home and colonists, strangers?

Search me (penetrate, examine intimately), O God, and know my heart; test (prove, try by trial, as with gold) me and know my anxious thoughts (from a word that means ambivalence, divided mind, wavering between two opinions, paralyzed by indecision). See (look at, inspect, perceive, consider, gaze at, look at each other, face each other) if there is any offensive (hurtful, painful, way of sorrow, idolatrous) way (road, distance, journey, manner, direction, path, manner, habit, course of life, moral character) in me, and lead (guide, bring, transport into exile, or as a colonist) me in the way everlasting (long duration, antiquity, unending future, forever, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, from the beginning of the world). Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)[i]

I have been meditating on God’s commandment to have no idol before him (Exodus 20:4). Anything can be an idol if it separates you from God or is more important to you than following God. Even greed can be idolatry (see Ephesians 5:5). But basically, idolatry is setting up your own god of your own making. A.W. Tozer wrote:

“The idolatrous heart assumes God is other than He is—in itself a monstrous sin—and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness … The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. It begins in the mind and may be present where no overt act of worship has taken place.”

Thinking about this led me to the above verse in Psalms. I have also been mediating on being in and dwelling in God’s presence and on the Mutual Gaze, so it’s interesting that the psalmist invites God to gaze at him or look at him in the face – that they face each other – as God inspects him for any offensive way.

The Hebrew word translated “offensive” here is otseb (עֹ֫צֶב), which also means idol. It is clear from the definition of otseb that idolatry is associated with pain and sorrow – to us and to God – for we don’t know him as he yearns for us to know him. We are off following another god and that affects the whole course and direction of our lives, the path we end up taking.

Also, very interesting is that the Hebrew word, nachah (נָחָה), translated “lead” or “guide” in this verse has an implication attached to it of being led into exile or as a colonist somewhere. Isn’t that what we are here on this Earth – exiles from our real home and colonists, strangers?

All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. Hebrews 11:13 (NASB)

Could it be that one way we are led into idolatry is wanting to belong here, to settle down here, to be accepted here, to follow the “cool” or comfortable path, not the old, ancient way from the beginning of the world? We don’t want to be exiles and strangers. We want security, even if it is of our own making.

Jesus had “no place to lay his head” and invited his disciples to cut their ties with this Earth and come follow him. Really, walking along with him on the path of exile, dwelling there in his presence, is the only thing I need in this life. In Luke 10:38-42 Martha is worried about the big meal she wants to serve to Jesus and the disciples, but Mary just sits at her Lord’s feet, listening. When Martha complains, Jesus says, “There is really only one thing worth being concerned about (or one thing that is necessary). Mary has discovered it (or chosen it)––and I won’t take it away from her” (NLT).

He who dwells (sits down) in the shelter (hiding place, secret place) of the Most High will rest (abide or lodge all night) in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1 (NIV)

Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me (lead me, transport me into exile); let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Psalm 43:3 (NIV)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Psalm 32:8 (NASB)

Lord, show me my sin, cut my ties with this world, lead me into exile, holding your hand and trusting in you, to where I can dwell with you all this dark night. 

“This disciple simply burns his boats and goes ahead. He is called out, and has to forsake his old life in order that he may “exist” in the strictest sense of the word. The old life is left behind, and completely surrendered. The disciple is dragged out of his relative security into a life of absolute insecurity (that is, in truth, into the absolute security and safety of the fellowship of Jesus), from a life which is observable and calculable (it is, in fact, quite incalculable) into a life where everything is unobservable and fortuitous (that is, into one which is necessary and calculable), out of the realm of finite (which is in truth the infinite) into the realm of infinite possibilities (which is the one liberating reality). Again it is no universal law. Rather is it the exact opposite of all legality. It is nothing else than bondage to Jesus Christ alone, completely breaking through every programme, every ideal, every set of laws. No other significance is possible, since Jesus is the only significance. Beside Jesus nothing has any significance. He alone matters.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship)

[i] My amplification based on Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

Image, The Internet Archive, from page 96 of “The life of our Saviour Jesus Christ : three hundred and sixty-five compositions from the four Gospels” (1899)

Behold the Lamb!

The day we call Palm Sunday in Jesus’ day was the day that the Passover lamb was selected which would be slain for the sins of the nation. When Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly on that day, unbeknownst to those crying out “hosanna!” (meaning “save us!”), he was offering himself up as that Lamb, the lamb that would lift up and carry away all our sins.

Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29 NASB)

The Greek word translated “takes away” in this verse is airo. It means to raise from the ground, raise upwards, elevate, lift up in order to carry away, take upon one’s self and carry what has been raised up, bear away what has been raised, remove, carry off, carry away, take off or away what is attached, loose.[i]

Jesus became all our sin for us and was raised up, elevated, on the cross. And when he died, he carried away, bore away, all that sin that was so insidiously attached to us and loosed us from it. God did this himself, as we were unable to do it ourselves. The day we call Palm Sunday in Jesus’ day was the day that the Passover lamb was selected which would be slain for the sins of the nation. When Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly on that day, unbeknownst to those crying out “hosanna!” (meaning “save us!”), he was offering himself up as that Lamb, the lamb that would lift up and carry away all our sins.

The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Genesis 22:7-8 (NIV)

Behold the Lamb! Hallelujah!

[i] Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary and Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

Thank you to Ian Livesey for the photo of the lamb on Flickr.