Fix the Value

I can only set his value as precious beyond anything in the heavens and earth, if I know, know, know what he has done for me.

Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. John 5:22-23 

Jesus uses the word “honor” four times in this passage. The last time I read it the thought popped into my head: what does it really mean to honor? What does Jesus mean by “honor”? 

The word in the Greek is timaó (τιμάω), and the definition was surprising to me. It means “to fix the value or price of something.” It means properly to “assign value (give honor), as it reflects the personal esteem (value, preciousness) attached to it by the beholder.”1

The value and preciousness! Think of that and replace the word “honor” above. “… that all may value the preciousness of the Son just as they value the preciousness of the Father.”  

Now think about this. This is the same word used in Matthew 27 about the Pharisees giving Judas thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus to them, and then using it to buy the potter’s field when Judas returned it: 

Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price (timaó) of him on whom a price (timaó) had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.” Matthew 27:9-10 (ESV) 

Zechariah also prophesied about this fixing of a value, saying: 

And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—this magnificent sum at which they valued me! So I took the thirty coins and threw them to the potter in the Temple of the LORD. Zechariah 11:13 (NLT) 

Zechariah sarcastically called it a “magnificent sum” because thirty silver coins was the price or value of a slave set in Exodus 21:32. 

So, the value or preciousness of Jesus Messiah was set by the Pharisees as the price of a slave. The ironic thing, of course, is that Jesus agreed with their valuation, at least partly. He called himself a servant or slave. 

“… 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 10:44-45 

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he [Jesus] made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant (doulos = slave), being made in human likeness. Philippians 2:6-7 

Jesus said that he honored (timaó) his Father and that in doing that he was seeking to bring glory to the Father. 

“I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory (doxa) for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. John 8:49-50 

Interestingly, the Greek word doxa, translated here “glory,” also has a meaning of valuation. Doxa means having a good opinion in the New Testament. It means “exercising personal opinion which determines value.” According to Joseph Thayer2, it literally means “what evokes good opinion, i.e. that something has inherent, intrinsic worth.” 

Inherent, intrinsic worth. Jesus honored, valued as precious, his Father – and pointed us to that same good opinion – because of the Father’s inherent, intrinsic worth. Just because of who He is. Because He is our enduring-loving forever, faithful and unfailing Father. Always and forever through all generations. And Jesus came as a slave that we might know the precious heart of God – a heart that is for us and loves us – and in knowing, have life. 

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10b 

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3 

This all made me think: what is his value to me? Is he precious to me? Does his value to me rest on his intrinsic worth, who he is? Or does it rest on what he can do for me? Like an insurance policy? A ticket to riches and success? A slave to fill my needs and obey my wishes and whims? A life preserver to be thrown out in case I get into trouble?  

For many, his value is less than even that. To them he is a well-meaning person who can be a good role model in some situations. Or he is of no value at all, like he was to those of his day who despised and scorned and rejected Him, walking by the cross shaking their heads. 

I can only set his value as precious beyond anything in the heavens and earth, if I know, know, know what he has done for me. If I have really understood and acknowledged and owned my sin and the ongoing, infectious horror of it. If I have fully comprehended from what dark pit his death on the cross has delivered me. Then I know his worth. Then I know he is worthy of all my honor, all my praise and gratitude, all my life. 

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18-19 

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor (value, esteem of the highest degree, preciousness, price) and glory (because of inherent and intrinsic worth) and praise! Revelation 5:12  

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound 
That saved a wretch like me 
I once was lost, but now am found 
Was blind but now I see 

Was Grace that taught my heart to fear 
And Grace, my fears relieved 
How precious did that Grace appear 
The hour I first believed 

— John Newton 

1definitions from HELPS Word-studies by Discovery Bible, 2021 

2Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament 

Image in the Public Domain, Judas Returning the Thirty Silver Pieces by Rembrandt https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judas_Repentant,_Returning_the_Pieces_of_Silver#/media/File:Judas_Returning_the_Thirty_Silver_Pieces_-_Rembrandt.jpg  

70th Anniversary Tribute

My Mom and Dad will be celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary in a few days and I hope that you will forgive me for using this space to honor them, their perseverance and love, and the passions and values that they have passed down that have affected my life, and the lives of many others.

My Mom has always loved to dance. As a teenager she went to the “sock hop” dances at the YMCA with her sisters. It was at one of those dances where my Mom and Dad first met in December of 1948. Dad was staying there while he attended WMU. He wandered down to the gym and noticed Mom through the crowd, but was too shy to ask for a dance. But Mom spotted him across the crowded dance floor and told her sister, “That’s the man I’m going to marry.” As the dance was ending my Mom went over and introduced herself. My Dad never had a chance. They were married a little over a year later. My Dad still talks about the sweater she wore that night.

They loved to dance together and they wanted to share that passion. They became expert ballroom dance instructors, owning their own studio for a time. Altogether, they taught ballroom dance for 63 years, at various studios including, the Fred Astaire Studio in Kalamazoo, the Arthur Murray Dance Studios in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, The Douglas Dance Studio, at area schools, privately at home, and ten years at the Coover Senior Center, where they taught for about $2.00 a lesson, just for the love of teaching and sharing it. They are dearly loved by their students. They were both in their 90’s when they were forced to finally give it up. It took a broken hip, two strokes, and a heart attack to stop them.

Dad has always loved to sing, and he has a beautiful tenor voice. In high school he sang in the boys’ chorus, the a cappella choir, and the boys’ quartet. One of my most precious memories is standing next to him at church listening to him sing out loud and clear, completely unashamed, always, without fail.

Another passion of his is making people laugh. He always says, “it’s better to laugh than to cry,” and he always has a joke to make sure that happens. No matter where they go he is determined to make someone smile. To my Dad there are no strangers. He will stop cars in the parking lot to ask the driver, “did you know that all four of your tires are going around in the same direction?” Even though he has a beautiful voice, he started an unbreakable tradition in our family of always singing the Happy Birthday song completely off key – everyone in a different key, everyone singing as horribly and loudly as they can – no matter where we are, even in public places. This, much to the continued mortification of grandchildren, and now, great-grandchildren. Sometimes, when they were out dancing, my Dad would follow my Mom out onto the dance floor faking an exaggerated limp and as she turned to him he would straighten right up and they would sweep away like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. She never knew, but it made a lot of people smile.

Mom has had a life-long love of learning. Hard times during the Great Depression forced her to quit school midway through her senior year of high school and help support the family of thirteen. But she never gave up the dream of graduating and she received her GED in 1969, the same year I graduated high school. Mom went on to take classes at Orchard Lake Community College, University of Michigan (earning an A in psychology), Western Michigan University, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, where she received her Associate Degree in Computer Science.  She always told me, “You can learn something from everyone you meet, and every situation.” Though they were expert ballroom dance instructors, teaching at the “gold” level, Mom never stopped learning – and creating – new steps and techniques. Her message was clear: Don’t ever think you are done learning. Don’t ever think you know it all.

My Dad’s all-time favorite saying has always been “Keep your nose clean.” Whenever we left the house to go to school, for a date or a party he always said it. When we each moved out of the house, he said it. And still today, whenever I pull out of the driveway, he taps the side of his nose and we smile at each other. Keep your nose clean. Do the right thing. Stay on the good path.

Wherever they have lived they have always left the place better than how they found it. They fixed it up, sometimes finishing the whole inside. They also always landscaped the yard, planting lots of trees and flowering bushes. I can still drive by our old houses and see the trees they planted. And flowers. My Mom’s amazing flowers. Even if they only had a postage-stamp square of dirt at an apartment complex. Even if just a cement stoop, it displayed flowerpots. Nobody has a green thumb like my parents. People still slow down to look at the flowers.

Thank you Mom and Dad.

Leave the world better for you having been there

It’s better to laugh than to cry; cheer somebody up today

There is no such thing as a stranger

You can always learn something else; don’t ever think you know it all

Be who you are; share your passions and gifts

Praise the Lord with all that is within you, completely unashamedly

Do what you love, even if you don’t get paid much for doing it

Keep your nose clean

 

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