Jesus

King of Kings: Reflections on the Coronation of Charles III

On Saturday 6th May 2023 my wife Pat joined twelve other ladies to watch the coronation. I wasn’t particularly interested but, back home, I decided to catch the start of the pageant to see what all the fuss is about. Within a few minutes, it hooked me in, I viewed it all from start to finish, and it got me thinking about the parallels between the King of England and the King of Kings.

Talk about the Greatest Show on Earth, well this was it from the superb organisation and precise orchestration right through to the uniforms, golden coaches, and magnificent trumpets. However, it was more than this; it was also moving in parts, joyfully solemn, but most of all it was God-honouring. Right at the outset a young boy presented himself before the king and addressed him with, “Your Majesty, as children of the kingdom of God we welcome you in the name of the King of kings”. This set a tone of reverence that continued throughout the service. For instance, a church leader presented a new bible to Charles with the words: “Sir, to keep you ever mindful of the law and the Gospel of God as the Rule for the whole life and government of Christian Princes, receive this book, the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is Wisdom; this is the royal Law; these are the lively Oracles of God”.

Another example is the oaths that Charles swore on the bible. Here is an excerpt from that part of the ceremony:

‘The King kneels at the Chair of Estate. The Archbishop says: “Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England?  And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?” The King replies: “All this I promise to do”.

In this article, I want to compare six aspects of the coronation of Charles with the coronation of Jesus two thousand years ago. Then I want to apply these six aspects to the life of us ordinary, although not less royal, disciples of the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, Jesus.

The Arrival

The king of England arrived at Westminster Cathedral in a golden carriage pulled by six magnificent horses and accompanied by Lords, Ladies, and high-ranking soldiers. The throng of humanity watching from the sidelines cheered and waved and the greeting party at the entrance bowed their heads before their king as he alighted and stepped onto the red carpet leading into the chapel. Two millennia ago, the King of Kings, Jesus of Nazareth rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, the humblest of beasts. He wore no golden livery nor was his borrowed donkey decked out in any way, yet the crows watching knew what was happening. They gathered Palm branches and spread them on the road before the approaching king and some even laid down their cloaks (Mark 11:8).

‘The great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” (John 12:12-13)

From the time of King David, people waved Palm branches as a sign of victory and honour. Spreading garments before someone to walk over was a powerful sign of submission and respect, usually reserved for a king.

The Anointing

One of the most impressive moments for me at Charles’ coronation was the anointing ceremony. This is the order of service at this point in the preceding’s : The King is divested of the Robe of State, and moves to sit in the Coronation Chair. The Anointing Screen, borne by representatives of the Household Division, is then held around the Coronation Chair. The choir sings “Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon king; and all the people rejoiced, and said: God save the king. Long live the king. May the king live for ever. Hallelujah. Amen.” The Arch Bishop then anointed the king with special oil prepared in Jerusalem and flown in for the occasion. Jesus, on the other hand, was anointed by and of the Holy Spirit of God when he rose out of the waters of baptism. Peter later remarked on this with the words, ‘How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.’ (Acts 10:38) When he started his three-and-a-half-year ministry, Jesus attested to this by quoting from the Prophet Isaiah;

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  (Luke 4:18-21)

The Sword

One of the first things presented to the newly anointed king of England as part of his investiture is the heavily bejewelled Sword of Offering as a symbol of justice and mercy. Jesus Christ did not carry a sword during his time on earth, but a vision in the book of Revelation pictures him as having a sharp double-edged sword proceeding from his mouth (Revelation 1:16).  Later in Chapter 19:11-16 Jesus’ ultimate triumph is described as follows:

‘I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice, he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron sceptre.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.’

The Garments

After the presentation of the sword, the Archbishop invests the king with the Robe Royal and the Stole Royal with the words: “Receive this Robe: may the Lord clothe you with the robe of righteousness, and with the garments of salvation”.  Jesus, on the other hand, was not invested but divested of his one-piece linen garment before the soldiers mocked him by draping a scarlet robe over his shoulders.

The Crown

The high point of the ceremony was when the Archbishop placed the crown on Charles’s head to the cries of “God bless the king!” That crown alone is valued at somewhere between three and five billion pounds (For South African readers that is, at the time of writing this, R94 839 400 000,00) Oh, and by the way, the Sceptre the king carried, with its Cullinan diamond, is worth about half a billion pounds). But Jesus’ crown was made of wickedly sharp thorns woven together by the Roman soldiers and rammed onto his head. When Charles was crowned his son kissed him on the Cheek, but when Jesus was crowned they struck him through the face and plucked out parts of his beard.

So the coronation of King Charles III was a glorious affair while the coronation of King Jesus was ignoble to humans yet unspeakably glorious to the angels of Heaven.

Now, what can we draw from these comparisons to apply to our lives?

APPLICATIONS:

King Charles began his coronation journey at Buckingham Palace and ended at Westminster Chapel; Jesus began his coronation journey at the entrance to Jerusalem and ended at Golgotha; we start our life journey at birth and it ends after physical death when we stand before the throne of Jesus in the New Jerusalem. We travel, not in a golden carriage, nor even on a humble donkey, but on foot burdened with the vicissitudes of this life.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

King Charles was anointed  with expensive oil mixed in Jerusalem, Jesus was anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit … and so are we! Charles’ anointing was symbolic, but Jesus’ was living and effective … as is the anointing we receive!

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

King Charles held a jewelled sword when seated upon his throne. Jesus referred to himself when he dictated to John that his words ‘are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.’ (Revelation 2:12) We have the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God as faithfully recorded in the bible (Ephesians 6:17).

‘For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.’ (Hebrews 4:12-13)

King Charles was clothed in golden robes with ermine trim, Jesus was clothed during his time on Earth in a simple robe, but is now clothed in light and glory. We are clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49).

‘But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.’ (1 John 2:20)

King Charles received a Royal Crown of gold, silver and jewels. Jesus currently sits enthroned in Heaven crowned with all glory and majesty (Revelation 19:12), We bear on our heads the invisible crown of Righteousness representing our right standing with God (2 Timothy 4:8).

‘Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.’ (James 1:12)

Conclusion

I think the best way to end this article is to present you with a vivid biblical picture. The coronation of King Charles was indeed a spectacular event but it pales into near insignificance in the light of the heavenly reality we will one day perceive. Here is what God showed John the revelatory:

‘At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.  And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the centre, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:2-11)

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-5)

 

 

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Who World Religions say Jesus is

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Almost two thousand years ago Jesus asked his disciples who people said he was. The account reads as follows:

‘When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” ‘ (Matthew 16:13-16)

In this article, I ask, “Who do world religions say Jesus is?” I think the answers will be interesting and shed light on how we, as Christians, should be answering.

A Brief Summary of six religions

I have selected six religions, ranging from two that are thousands of years old to one less than fifty years old.

Hinduism

It is unknown when Hinduism started, but it dates back to more than 4,000 years. Hindus believe that god, the universe, human beings and everything else are essentially one thing. They regard their plethora of deities as emanations and manifestations representing the many facets of ultimate reality. They regard Jesus as a holy man and wise teacher and number him among their gods.

Judaism

Jews trace the origin of their religion to Abraham, about 4,000 years ago. Some of their major teachers over the years have mentions in their writing of Jesus of Nazareth. They present him as born to Mary and Joseph, an itinerant teacher with many disciples, and a man who performed miracles and drove out demons. They acknowledge that he and his disciples proclaimed him to be the Jewish Messiah, but they vehemently deny the truth of this claim. They hold that Jesus did not meet the requirements or fulfil the prophecies that would qualify him as Messiah. They deny that he was the Son of God or even a legitimate prophet, for they believed that Malachi was the last of the true prophets. They reject  the idea that Jesus is divine and they think the concept of more than one God (a Trinity for instance) is blasphemous.

Islam

Muslims trace their religion back to the 7th century Mohammed. They base their doctrine on his writings and respect Jesus as a prophet and wise teacher who worked miracles and healed many. They teach that he indeed ascended into Heaven and will one day return to Earth. However, these beliefs are different from Christian teaching. They hold, for instance, that Allah (God) sent Jesus to guide the descendants of Israel with a new scripture. However, they teach that the original ‘Gospel’ was lost and that the existing documents are much altered and therefore of little current value. They teach that Jesus was but one of several messengers sent by Allah but that Mohammed was the last messenger and therefore superior to all others. They teach that Jesus survived the crucifixion and did not ascend bodily into Heaven. However, when he eventually died, Allah gave him a place of honour and the mission of returning to Earth one day to ultimately validate Islam. They reject that Jesus was God, or Son of God, or a member of a Trinity.

Buddhism

Some Buddhists regard their belief system more as a philosophy than a religion. Gautama Buddha lived and taught in the fifth century and held that Jesus was an enlightened man and wise teacher.

Bahia

Bahaullah established this religion in the 19th century promoting the essential worth of all religions and the unity of all people. To them, Jesus was a wise teacher with an aspect of divinity in that he was one of several who projected divine attributes into the world.

New Age

The New Age movement is made up of several strands of esoteric Gnosticism that emerged into literature and media in the 1960s. Most New-Agers believe that Jesus was an enlightened master who manifested a divine power that is potentially available to all who enter the New Age. New Age adherents, and those like them, have more of an impact and penetrative power in today’s church than the other religions, so I will elaborate a little on their beliefs:

  • They respect Jesus as an enlightened soul along with other religious leaders like Buddha, Krishna, and Confucius.
  • Although respected, Jesus is not worshipped or regarded as the exclusive Son of God.
  • Some accept Jesus’ crucifixion as historical, but not essential to restoring humanity to wholeness.
  • They deny his resurrection and ascension.
  • They generally spiritualise Jesus’ Second Coming to refer to the evolutionary ascent of an awakened humanity
  • They cite the bible as one of ten sources of information about Jesus but regard it as secondary to the other texts.
What they all have in common

If Jesus asked representatives of the six religions listed in this article, “Who do you say I am?” they would unanimously answer, “You are a wise moral teacher who emanates something of the divine into the world”. However, Simon Peter answered very differently because he said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. Several years later, another Jew by the name of Paul developed this statement of Faith, and if I present it in the form of a personal response to Jesus’ question it would be:

“You are the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being (Hebrews 1:3). You are the image of the invisible God for God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in you. You are the Christ and in you, all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. (Colossians 1:15,19 and 2:8)”

What do Christians say?

So now, if Jesus were to ask YOU who you thought he was, how would you answer? Let’s play this out a little:

Jesus: “Who do you say I am?

You: “You are the Christ, the Son of God”

Jesus: “Yes, that is what you have been taught, but who do you actually think I am?

You: “You were a wise teacher, a worker of miracles, the founder of the Christian Church, and you are coming back one day to judge the living and the dead.”

Jesus:Yes I am, but is that all I am to you?

So far, these hypothetical responses are much like what any religious person would say. However, if Jesus were to ask them “But am I God?” they would all say … “no”. Some religions (and I hope you all know by now that I don’t regard authentic Christianity as religion) regard Jesus as divine, in the same way that all their gods are divine, and as all people are potentially divine, but none believe that Jesus is God and that God is Jesus. This is the great differentiator between religion and true Christianity.

Do YOU believe this? Do you believe what Paul wrote concerning Jesus? Do you believe the accuracy and veracity of what the Gospels record of what Jesus said about himself? He said “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58) The Jews of his day understood that he was calling himself God, the Great I am of Exodus 3:14, because they tried to stone him for blasphemy. In a response to one of his disciples, Jesus said, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

Most Christians would probably have no problem agreeing with Jesus and Paul’s statements, because this is what we have been taught and what we profess. However, the proof of what we confess is in how we live it out.

Where the rubber hits the road

In South Africa, we have a variation of the saying ‘where the rubber hits the road’ that you have to be born here to appreciate – ‘where the takkie hits the tar’. Both versions mean ‘the moment of truth when we have to give tangible evidence of what we claim’. I guess a biblical version of this is ‘his faith was made complete by what he did’ (James 2:22)

So, what we profess concerning our faith in Jesus is of little worth unless proven by our actions.

  • If I profess that Jesus is God, then what he said and did whilst on Earth is of the greatest importance because it is God instructing and demonstrating. So,
    • I should try to live out his mandate to love others, to draw others into a relationship with him, and to evidence his ethics and morality in my life.
    • I should also live in dependence on the Holy Spirit and be guided and empowered by him.
    • I should minister powerfully to those who are sick or oppressed.
  • If I profess that Jesus is the divine author and interpreter of scripture, then I should;
    • Accept the inspiration and authority of the bible as he did.
    • Seek to interpret the scriptures from a Jesus-centered perspective by taking what he said, did and revealed of the nature and character of the Godhead as my hermeneutical starting point and primary tool.
    • Build on the fact that, as God, Jesus is the ultimate model for all things that truly matter.
If the Godhood of the Lord Jesus Christ is the key thing that separates religion from true Christianity, then what real difference is there between me and a Jew, Hindu, or Muslim if I do not believe this truth and validate it by the way I live?

Let’s take the matter one level deeper. If Jesus is not God then how can I be saved, for only God can pay the penalty for my sin of rebellion and only God can give me new spiritual life? Jesus put it this way: “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.  I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”  (John 8:23-24)

The primacy of faith in Jesus

In a previous article found HERE I wrote the following:

‘Our churches are, in many cases, filled with members and adherents who are little different to non-Christians in belief and behaviour. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is the failure of preachers and teachers to clearly articulate the fundamental need for spiritual New Birth.

Unless those who profess to be Christians experience the supernatural rebirth of the spirit then the following will most likely be their reality:

  • Their salvation testimony will be either that they were born into a Christian family, that they try to live their lives in a Christian way, or that a church incorporated them and taught them how to be good Christians.
  • They will be unable to recall a time when they repented of rebellion against God, accepted the deity and exclusive way of salvation in and through Jesus, etc. There will have been no radical and memorable life-changing moment for them, but just gradual conformity to the Christian way.
  • Some might recall and rely on a while-all-heads-are-bowed form of altar-call or water baptism, but they will not be able to attest to either the spiritual reality or impact of what happened on that occasion or how their lives changed from that moment.
  • They will have no real sense of assurance that they are in a relationship with the Lord Jesus and they will be uncertain of their eternal destiny.
  • They will have no experience of supernatural ministry to others. Perhaps they might recall times when they prayed for someone who later got well or was blessed in some other way.
  • For them, the bible will be simply a religious history, a rule-book, or a source of promises.

This is not the radical discipleship that Jesus requires and nor is it a satisfying, meaningful, and effective way to live’.

An invitation

Don’t you just hate moralistic sermons and articles, especially the ones that contain lots of ‘you/we should’ statements? In this article I have only used the ‘I should’ expression because whatever I write to you I must first apply to myself.

We, you and I, are reborn and empowered only by the grace of God. What we say and do cannot earn or attain salvation; only what God does in and through us counts. However, how we live out our professions of faith is the evidence of what God has done in us… or not done in us. If you have any doubt at all about the validity of your faith-relationship with Jesus, then please chat with your pastor or another mature believer. If, after reading this article, you have some nagging doubts or unresolved questions then please also take them up with a church leader or other mature man or woman of the Faith.

A purpose of an article such as this is to stimulate reflection leading to a deeper relationship with the Lord Jesus. More than that though, it is an attempt to set out a fundamental and essential truth.

Time is short for all of us and it will not be long before we will appear before the one who said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

 

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Glimmers from Hebrews

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‘Glimmers from Hebrews’ may be a strange-sounding title for an article, but it is appropriate to how I am thinking about this fascinating book. In its first paragraph, the author writes that

‘The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being…”

‘Radiance’ is a translation of a word in the scriptures that occurs only here in the bible, and means something like ‘off-flash, a beam of bright light emanating from a radiant light. Hebrews is an off-flash from the radiant light of the New Testament, and within its thirteen chapters, it contains many little rays of light

Join the Bible StudyI am starting a weekly online bible study, mainly for my faithful Truth is The Word readers, but also for other interested people everywhere, which will be on this very book. So, this article might serve to help folks decide whether a study of Hebrews is for them at this time. In any event, I hope the article will encourage you to read this unique book. Actually, Hebrews is not a booklet or letter as much as it is a sermon, carefully crafted to bring doctrinal truth, practical application, and most of all, a glorious revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here are five glimmers from Hebrews.

Glimmer Number One

The first three verses contain a description of Jesus equalled  only by Paul’s description in Colossians 1:15, 19, 2:3, 9: ‘He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation in order that we may know the mystery of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.’ Now, following on from this revelation come the words from the author of Hebrews:

In the past, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven’.

Glimmer Number Two

Everyone knows that angels play a role in the biblical revelation of God’s plans and purposes. Some people write them off as euphemisms, like regarding the angels of the seven churches of Revelation as either human messengers or church leaders. However, Jesus spoke of them as sentient spiritual beings who were very real to him. The Gospels contain over fifty references to angels, the book of Acts has 25 references, and Revelation nearly 80. In total, the word angel or angels occurs 186 times in the New Testament. We know that angels worship and serve God, but only Hebrews discloses their prime function on Earth:

‘Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14)

Glimmer Number Three

Theologians debate whether Christians can lose their salvation and anxious mothers agonise over whether their backsliding children could ever return to the faith. Only in Hebrews can we find clear answers to these questions. Hebrews contains five solemn warnings against ignoring God’s Word, disbelieving in Jesus, falling away, renouncing salvation, and refusing God. So, if you want a little peek into what apostasy  looks like then just read Hebrews 6:45 and 10:26-31. However, don’t stop there because, in addition to five warnings, Hebrews has five exhortations… it is not all doom and gloom.

Glimmer Number Four

The three great principles of responsible biblical interpretation are Context, Christocentricity, and exhaustive reference. Hebrews is a concise case study in all three. The whole ‘sermon’ is Jesus-centred and its dominant theme is the superiority of Jesus, or in more colloquial terms, ‘Jesus is just the best!’. The first audience for Hebrews was a group of Jews who had become followers of Jesus but who were considering returning to Judaism. Without this context, it is very difficult to understand parts of the sermon. For instance, what is Hebrews 6:1-3 all about and what is its relevance to us today? The exhaustive reference principle is about reading any particular passage in the light of the greater biblical revelation, and the author of Hebrews constantly connects his readers to Old Testament texts.

Glimmer Number Five

The Old Testament contains many symbols and types, and Hebrews picks up on several of them. Here you will find references to the enigmatic Melchizedek as well as a description of the Old Testament Tabernacle/Temple that is subtly different to the Old Testament description. I am not going to spill the beans here, but it is something I definitely will include in the bible study. For the time being, read Hebrews 9:1-6 and compare it to Exodus 30:1-11. Spot what item of furniture has been moved and think on why this should be.

Conclusion

Hebrews is in two parts with the practical section starting at chapter 10 verse 19. From there on until the end it is all about such things as

  • Drawing near to God in faith
  • Holding fast in hope
  • Encouraging one another in love.
Therefore, Hebrews is not just a fascinating doctrinal discourse, but also a source of practical direction and encouragement, and something everyone needs to read and study. So why not get started with at least reading it … right now.

Join the Bible Study

The online bible study will start on the 15th February 2022 and I will send out the link to you  on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and WhatsApp to take you to the study on YouTube. Thereafter I’ll be sending reminders every week. I look forward to going on this journey with you!

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His Unmerited Kindness

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We usually think of God’s glory as manifested in his acts of power, his absolute authority, and his irresistible will. Well, of course, God is all-powerful, supremely authoritative, and unstoppable, but how does he best display his power, authority, and will?  The life and witness of the Lord Jesus Christ provide the answer.

He displayed his power through healing, delivering, and recreating. He exhibited his authority by delegating and trusting his disciples with it. He demonstrated his will by saving and including the children of men in his heavenly family.

The Nameless Reject

All three of the Synoptic Gospels recount the story of the Leper who asked Jesus to heal him. In Mark 1:40-42 the story reads; ‘A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”  Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured’.

Ponder on this story for a moment.

The text does not reveal the man’s name and he had no standing, wealth, or handsome presence. On the contrary, he was a feared reject from society, afflicted with an infectious and disfiguring skin disease. The Jewish law commanded him to stay out in the wilderness areas and to ring a bell and call out “Unclean, unclean” whenever people approached. I do not know who this particular man was, but he probably once had a wife and children, a house, a job, and a circle of friends. Now he had nothing; no dignity, no comfort, and no hope… until he saw Jesus approaching. He must have heard of Jesus as a great healer and miracle worker sent by God to the people of Israel. Violating the laws that isolated him he came and fell on his knees at Jesus’ feet, and instead of ringing his bell and shouting out “unclean, unclean” he looked up into the face of God and said, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” There is so much in that simple statement. It is an acknowledgement of Jesus’ ability to heal even a leper like him. It is also a recognition that Jesus had absolute authority to heal or to cast him aside. And in between the words, is a desperate plea to be made whole again.

Jesus’ heart filled with compassion for this wretched man. He did not see him as an opportunity to display his power and authority. No, his compassion motivated him to reach out and touch the untouchable disease carrier. Then Jesus simply said, “I am willing. Be clean!” Now, what does that tell us about the power of God, his authority, and his will? Everything we need to love him, trust him, and obey him. 

We might have status in society, some power, and a degree of authority, but from an angel’s perspective , do we not appear as worthless and unappealing as a leper?

Yet Jesus came to this little planet to reveal the glory of the Godhead, to reach out to us to make us whole, and to adopt us into his family. Glorious, unfathomable, and unmerited kindness!

Foot Washing

Many years ago, I went to the Ukraine on a ministry trip. While there I preached in a Pentecostal church where I learned that they practised three Christian sacraments, Baptism, Communion, and Foot-washing. I have a real problem with the way the church, in general, has reduced the richness of the Last Supper to a ceremonial sip, and the powerful witness of water baptism to a sprinkle. Now, I had to work through my reactions regarding their third sacrament.

Of course, their foot-washing ceremony derived from Jesus’ actions at the Last Supper. The essence of the account is in John 13:3-5, which records: ‘Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him’.

In those times, people came to a meal like this with feet dusty from walking on dirt roads. If there were no servant present to wash the guests’ feet then the least important in the host’s household would assume the duty. They would have arranged the table in the U-shape common in those days and placed the people around it in a traditional order. At the end of one arm of the ‘U’ would be the master of ceremonies and to his left would be the host. On the host’s left would be seated the guest of honour and then the others would be distributed in descending order of importance. The person sitting at the end of the other arm of the ‘U’ would be the least important and the one expected to wash everyone’s feet. Now, we can deduce from what happened just who was seated where. John was in the place reserved for the master of ceremonies. Jesus was the host and Judas Iscariot was assigned to the seat of the honoured guest. Peter, who saw himself as Jesus’ right-hand man, was seated at the end of the table.

Peter should have assumed the duty of a foot-washing servant. Instead, Jesus, the lord of all, come from heaven with all power and authority, took it on himself to perform this act of kindness.

However, there is an even greater act of kindness embedded in this story. Judas Iscariot was the disciple who betrayed Jesus. The Lord knew that in just a few hours this man would lead the Pharisees and their thugs to grab him and lead him off to be tried, tortured, and crucified. Yet Jesus seated him in the place reserved for the guest of honour. This was no act of cynicism, but a great display of unmerited kindness.

My Own Experiences

During one of my visits to Israel, I accompanied about twenty of the members of the church I pastored. One of them had organised and led many such trips to the Holy Land and he performed this function for our group. My job was to be the spiritual leader and to provide the group with bible studies at each of the sites we visited. Part of our itinerary was to participate in a recreation of the Last Supper. The people providing the experience set up a traditional meal of lamb, flatbreads, and herbs at the sort of U-shaped table I have described. I wanted all the people to be seated and settled and so I came into the room last. The trip organiser had seated himself at the one end of the ‘U’ and had reserved a place for me next to him. I don’t quite know why I didn’t accept that seat. Instead, I sat down at the end of the opposite leg of the table – at that time I did not know the significance of the traditional seating arrangements. The woman who provided the experience started to tell us all about how the guests would have been seated in Jesus’ day and then asked, “Where is your pastor?” I held up my hand and she smiled and explained that I was sitting where Peter would have sat, in the least important place, and then concluded with, “You have chosen the right seat pastor”. I was overwhelmed with emotion and my eyes filled with tears because at that moment I sensed Jesus powerfully yet kindly impressing upon me my key role as a pastor.

He had called me to serve his people and to follow his example of becoming the least important of all. 

My second experience was very different from the first. After about ten years in full-time pastoral ministry, I was suffering a form of burnout with the typical symptoms of tiredness, discouragement, and depression. One day a lady congregant arrived at our door with a basin, soap, and a towel in hand. She asked to speak to my wife Pat and, having obtained her approval, told me that she had come to wash my feet. She sat me down and soaped, washed, and carefully dried both feet. She said nothing the whole time but the way she carefully and gently carried out the task spoke more eloquently than any words could. All she said afterwards was that she was being obedient to what Jesus had instructed her to do on his behalf. The unmerited kindness of the Lord impacted me powerful through this dear woman.

Jesus is kind and considerate to those who have no right to expect this from him. It is part of who he is and a manifestation of his glory.

His Unmerited Kindness Read More »

TruthTalks: His Amazing Wisdom

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Last week, Dr Christopher Peppler wrote THIS article on the amazing wisdom of Jesus. Listen as he talks us through the examples of this as well as his personal experiences with Jesus’ wisdom.

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Until next time, Admin

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.