note – the audio with slides is at the bottom of the manuscript
Companions of the Cross: Companions of Glory
† IHS †
May you know and depend upon the grace, the incredible loving-kindness, and peace that is yours because the God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ did what it took to make it yours!
Times of Anguish
Even though Micha-el stands guard?
If one wasn’t knowledgeable about scripture, one might wonder if these are the days in which the prophet Daniel spoke of when there will be a time of anguish greater than any time since nations first came into being.
The numbers climb, as people in Lebanon, the Sudan, and as we have heard all over the news, France, have been killed this week. The numbers climb as well, as lives are taken here in the US, as violence sweeps over our cities. And less we forget, our state has now mandated that centers that hope to give women an option to abortion now have to advertise those places that will provide them, without offering any option. That was driven home to me this week, as I talked to a Crisis Pregnancy Center director, whose office is surround by 9 of the largest abortion clinics in California.
There are days which are scary, and it was brought home Friday evening as a bomb was found in an Anaheim hardware store.
Certainly these are days of anguish, throughout the world.
Yet the prophets words talk of a messenger, actually “the messenger” standing guard over the people of God.
Where is He? Where is this messenger who is supposed to be standing guard over us?
And what is to come next?
Like the Book of the Revelation, should Daniel’s words today bring us anxiety and fear, or comfort and peace?
I suppose that is determined by the judgment, and what we face for our eternity.
Everlasting Life or Everlasting Disgrace?
But which do we deserve?
There are two options that Daniel tells us,
The first is the for those who will rise up, and enjoy everlasting life because their name is written in the book of life, and they will have been rescued, delivered, and saved. The word for life is incredible, it is not only life but everlasting nourishment, everlasting abundance,
The second is those who will have to experience shame and everlasting disgrace, a word that is far stronger, everlasting abhorrence and scorn. It is reminiscent of the anguish described in the gospels, as Jesus talks of Gahanna, of hades, of the destination prepared for Satan and that which is demonic, which wasn’t intended for mankind, yet in stubbornness and rebellion and self-centeredness is their choice.
It is the place we all deserve, yet in because God loves some are rescued and delivered from that path, that destination.
For that is what the one called Michael does, as this prime messenger comes from God.
So who is this Michael, who is this who stands guard over the nation.
Michael – One Who is Like God.
Well, one of the challenges is whether in Hebrew “michael” is a name or a title. What Michael means in Hebrew is “One who is like God”, or “One who is as God.”
Consider these words from Colossians,
15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, Colossians 1:15 (NLT)
Add to that the term archangel simply means, “the first of all messengers.” In this case, the primary messenger; the primary message of God.
Who then cares for, and guards the people of God, who is the prime messenger of God, who is like God in every way?
If it is, then consider this, the anguish that is greater than any since before the beginning of the nations was His, and He embraced the entire wrath of God to provide and guard our hearts and minds.
It is this anguish that provides our rescue, our deliverance from the power of sin, Satan and death into the presence of God our Father.
It is He whose death and resurrection, as the wrath of God for all of our sins is poured out on Him, that is the cause of our rescue, our deliverance.
And finally, it is united to Him that we see the promise of Daniel fulfilled. The promise that those who are wise and depend on God’s providing Christ for us shine as bright as the sky.
Here the apostle Paul again
27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you the assurance of sharing his glory. Colossians 1:27 (NLT)
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT)
This is too good not to share!
This is so incredible, this Lord, who is the image of God the Father, As we approach the end of the year, the readings all focus on the end the ages and the incredible blessing that is knowing Jesus.
It is so good, how can we not share this hope with all who need to know it!
That is why the Holy Spirit inspires Daniel not just to tell us we will share with the Christ’s glory, but repeats the promise with a slight modification.
and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.
For it is natural, as we learn the depth of God’s love, to pour out our praises, praising God with all we are, praising Him to those around us, desiring that they would come to know the love that resonates throughout our lives.
hear it again.
Jesus, the one who is like God, stands guard over us, taking all the wrath we deserve; He has rescued us, and we will rise to everlasting life, shining as bright as the sky, and as we lead people to Him, we will shine like the stars…forever.
For until that day, Jesus stands guard over us, His companions, protecting our hearts and minds as we dwell in God’s peace until we are revealed fully in His glory! AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day
27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. 28 So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me. Colossians 1:27-29 (NLT)
“The key is not to offer commentary but to help the people in the pews understand what is happening in the text so that they can understand what is happening now and respond in faith,” (1)
Just as steel must be warmed before it can be molded or bent, the human heart must be warmed by the love of God in order to overcome fear and be molded by the truth of Gospel, the archbishop said. Without encountering the love of Christ, “the faith simply looks like rules and regulations.” Ultimately, priests and deacons foster an encounter with God when they preach Christ crucified, he said. (2)
When I was a Bible College Student, the method of preaching that everyone was being trained in was called expository or exegetical preaching. You went through a book of the scriptures, chapter by chapter, sometimes verse by verse, explaining the background, the language, the details so that people would have a deep knowledge of the passage. This was the method of greatly admired preachers like Chuck Swindoll, John MacArthur, Haddon Robinson, and within my brother at the time, pastors like Ben Merold and Max Lucado. Denominations like Calvary Chapel still make the claim that this is the only way to preach.
It was such a popular method that 3 of my four undergraduate courses in preaching were based in it, as were most of the 40 units I had in Bible. I have a good friend who has his MDiv and another graduate degree in it. I was trained in that way, and I still teach some Bible studies that way.
But I don’t preach that way anymore. Haven’t in a while.
And as I am teaching a course in preaching (called Homiletics) at the present moment, I’ve been thinking about it. How do you describe the style of preaching? I was reading the article the blue quotes come from, and I realized the word I was looking for to describe the style of preaching.
Now, before you get the idea that I am talking about end times scary stuff, that is not what apocalyptic means, nor for that matter what the apocalypse is about.
Apocalyptic preaching is revelatory! It reveals! It is about teaching what was hidden, what was concealed. Apocalyptic preaching is about that which was hidden behind the curtain (not the Wizard of Oz’s curtain, but the one in the Tabernacle/Temple.) It is what Paul is talking about to the church in Colossae – our hope is found in the secret being revealed. The secret of Christ being in us, being united to us, and us to His cross and resurrection. That united to Him, we will share in His glory, we will live eternally in the presence and love of God the Father.
Revealing that secret to people who are broken by this world, by its sin, just as the people ere in the days of Jesus, and all the days since Adam and Eve were broken. That God desires to bring healing to them, not just understanding. That God wants to reconcile them, not just demand from them. The sermon is to reveal Him to them, the relationship He desires to have with them, it should strengthen that relationship, help they trust Him, depend on them.
That isn’t always done if you are worried about defining the minutiae. What needs to be done, – show them their need for God, and show them, God, not just wanting to meet that need, but desiring to, no matter what it costs. Or what it costed. This is what gets us through the tough days, this is what gives us hope as we try to cope without our brokenness and the worlds. It is what gives us hope, even as we deal with death.
One last quote from the article.
“Sobering recent statistics reveal many Catholics (I would say Christians of many stripes) don’t even think it’s possible to have a friendship with God, so they certainly don’t know, with every fiber of their being, that they are loved, infinitely and passionately, by the One who has made it all,” he said (3)
Helping then know that, this is the nature of apocalyptic preaching. It is giving them the reason we have hope. To know that are cry, “Lord have mercy” is heard.
May everyone who preaches this weekend do that, and may people see revealed the love they need… and have. God’s.
Alleluia! He is Risen! And Therefore
We Recognize the Lord!
May you become more aware of the grace of God that is yours, the love and mercy revealed in Christ Jesus!
Why didn’t He Reveal Himself Sooner?
Two men, walking down the road together, trying to get home for dinner.
Distraught, emotions all over the place as they try to make sense of Jesus’s death. Emotionally drained, they desperately need rest.
Even as Jesus begins to walk with them, He will comment about the deep discussion they are having, which leads me to one question.
Why does He wait so long to reveal Himself to them? Why?
Or is there a lesson for us, in how Jesus ministers to these men, who are crushed and broken
including perhaps, realizing how God ministers to us?
Our Struggle to Hear God!
It seems sometimes, like everyone has gone, or is going through a walk like these men.
You don’t even have to hear their voices, to hear the stress, the anxiety, the despair as they speak.
The Man they thought was the answer not to just their dreams, but the dreams of a nation. The Messiah, the long awaited anointed one of God, who was to deliver them to change their lives, to fix everything, from their economy to their families.
They had the kind of dreams that we see in one of those California Lottery commercials, as the winner dreams of the new yacht, the chaffered limousine, the mansion up on the hill with the heliport.
Except, the odds of Jesus being the Messiah were about a trillion to one better than the lottery. You see, as they informed “undercover Jesus”, they had based their hopes on the fact that Jesus had done miracles, and had talked with great authority. That He was a leader, confirmed not only by people, but by God himself. Blind could see, people who never walked, completely healed, those who had been dead, raised to life. Even the Samaritans and Gentiles knew hope because of Jesus. It had to be him.
They knew that Jesus spoke for God.
Then, they killed him.
If that isn’t a reason to put your trust in Him, to look for Him to fulfil the promises that were so well known, the promises they heard about in their synagogues ever Sabbath all their lives…
Those hopes, those expectations, everything they know about the Messiah, were crushed. Everything they had hoped for, taken away in a few hours on Friday…
So why didn’t Jesus relieve their suffering, calm their storm by simply revealing His presence?
Yet God hid himself, even though they saw Jesus, they didn’t know Him….
Who Are These Two That Hear the Whole Story?
Beyond that question, I have another question about these two men, walking so defeated, so overwhelmed on the road to Emmaus. Why them? Why do they get to hear Jesus explain they entire Old Testament?
Shouldn’t it be Matthew or John? They will be writing the Gospels…
Shouldn’t it be Peter and James? Why aren’t the leaders of the apostles
Why Cleopas and some guy we don’t even know the name of?
Why did Jesus choose to minister to these two? Having chosen them, why didn’t He reveal Himself sooner? Why did Jesus deliver to them a lecture about the Old Testament, instead of simply revealing Himself so that their pain would cease?
The Story Reveals
When we hear, that over several hours as they walk, Jesus explained that everything from the first five books of the Bible that Moses wrote, through all of the prophets, we have to hear the conclusion that is drawn. Look there in verse 27, the things concerning Him. Jesus explains that the Bible is all about Him. That is what it reveals, or rather, who it reveals.
In this way the Lord shows us the proper method of interpreting Moses and all the prophets. He teaches us that Moses points and refers to Christ in all his stories and illustrations. His purpose is to show that Christ is the point at the center of a circle, with all eyes inside the circle focused on Him. Whoever turns his eyes on Him finds his proper place in the circle of which Christ is the center. All the stories of Holy Writ, if viewed aright, point to Christ.
What these men needed to know, was that Christ’s death was from the beginning, the plan. Jesus had to suffer, Jesus explains, it needed to be done. Over and over that was the plan revealed in the Old Testament. The word of God, the Old Testament Covenant promises, the Old Testament pictures of Christ like Isaac on the altar, the sacrificial system, the picture of the tabernacle and the temple and the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea….
They needed Jesus to be revealed to them, and He was. Not the way we would expect at first. Rather, they learned that God had planned, from before the foundation of the world, to have Christ suffer and die. It was necessary, it wasn’t a detour, but the very way in which we are saved. They needed to understand this, so that they understand the depth of the love of God for His people.
Jesus taught them, He revealed Himself to them, without revealing Himself to them.
They couldn’t let Jesus leave. Not that they realized there was one revelation left that had to happen to them.
He Reveals Himself
That is where the most miraculous moment for these two men, and for all of us like them occurs.
Thanks is given, bread is broken, and even as they lose sight of Jesus, yet they finally know Him.
They realize He is with them, and all of the hopes and all of the blessings come flooding back. These men, moments before, weary, tired and broken, know Him in the breaking of the bread. The presence of Jesus overwhelms them, even as it gives them the strength to climb back up the mountain to return to the apostles. We aren’t talking about a hike from here to the Towne Center – we are talking about walking from here to Disneyland – if Disneyland was uphill.
Why didn’t Jesus reveal himself earlier?
I don’t know. What I do know is that when He did reveal himself, it was the perfect time, they had heard, they knew of His love. They got it, and their life was forever changed. Even as they confirm what the others had seen, had known, what matters in that moment, was Jesus appearing, and how they recognized him in the breaking of the bread.
Why don’t we see God all the time? Why do we have to walk these roads, knowing the despair? Knowing the pain, and wondering, “where is God in all of this?”
I don’t know. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt He is here, with His people. But I don’t know why sometimes we walk that same road, not hearing the testimony of those we would normally trust.
I do know that we have all the same promises that God will redeem His people. We can know Christ through the pictures of Him that are drawn all over the Old Testament, We can hear all the prophecies and know that God has never, and will never abandon His people. We know He walks with us, even if we aren’t always aware of His presence.
We can recognize His presence, here and now, even in the breaking of the bread.
Knowing those promises, that God will use even what was planned for evil for good, that nothing can separate us from Him, that all will work for good, and that He will complete the work He began in us, we taste and see He is good. Our eyes are opened to His presence. We are 21 days out from Easter, yet the season continues. We know He is Risen – just as we have learned this has been His plan…. But because He is risen, we can recognize Him, we can know Him, and rest assured of His love and work that we shall know His peace, even now throughout all eternity.
A peace that goes beyond our understanding – but guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN?
Devotional/Discussion thought of this day:
50 Jesus again gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 51 Then the curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split apart, 52 the graves broke open, and many of God’s people who had died were raised to life. Matthew 27:50-52 (TEV)
In the midst of the most horrifyingly beautiful scene in all of scripture, as Jesus dies, crucified as he takes upon Himself all of the sin, all of the injustice, all that is wrong in you and I, and all of humanity, Matthew gives us one odd detail.
A curtain is torn in two, ripped apart in the temple.
And to those gathered in this Holy Place, what is behind the curtain is revealed. It is unveiled. It is an apocalypse – the unveiling, the revealing.
We fear that word for some reason, but what it means is simply that – the revealing, in this case, what is behind the curtain. And the answer was nothing. There was no ark of the covenant, no mercy seat, just an empty room, where blood people counted on to cover their sins, was poured down the drain. Their sacrifices were revealed to be vain, and for those who trusted in their offerings, in the work of the priests who knew the truth, all of the empty liturgy that they took such pride in, and in the temple built to Herod’s glory, they realized their faith was misplaced.
But their cries for mercy, their prayers were answered, none the less.
For there was something else revealed – a few miles away, on another mountain, not just a apocalypse, but the Apocalypse, the power that caused the earth to shake, the rocks split apart – and God’s people who had died to rise.
God was revealed in all of His glory, the depth of His love for us unveiled, the greatest apocalypse man had ever known, even though they didn’t recognize it.
For it was God there, on the cross, Jesus the one annointed, chosen, humbled, crucified, for the joy that awaited Him, the love so manifested so overwhelming. He would die, for us, so that we would never be bound by sin, so that we would become the children of God, the prodigals returned home. For that apocalypse, that revealing of the love of God, was described in another place,
12 Because we have this hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who had to put a veil over his face so that the people of Israel would not see the brightness fade and disappear. 14 Their minds, indeed, were closed; and to this very day their minds are covered with the same veil as they read the books of the old covenant. The veil is removed only when a person is joined to Christ. 15 Even today, whenever they read the Law of Moses, the veil still covers their minds. 16 But it can be removed, as the scripture says about Moses: “His veil was removed when he turned to the Lord.” 17 Now, “the Lord” in this passage is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom. 18 All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory. 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (TEV)
The veil that was torn in two, the veiled that was removed unveiling Christ, unveiling His Love, Unveiling His Grace…
He Has Risen, and we with Him…
Let’s Boldly go – as our Savior has gone!
Devotion of the Day…well – the evening.
Today was supposed to be the apocalypse, the end of the world – well at least according to a rock tablet with some etchings chiseled into it.
Lots of jokes, lots of little cute pictures, yet there seemed to be some anxiety – as well. What if the world had blown up? I might be one of the few that are disappointed it hadn’t.
If only it had ended, if only God had come back… then those I care about – who are dealing with cancer – wouldn’t have to anymore. My aunt wouldn’t have to deal with broken legs, caused by a fall, my cousin wouldn’t be dealing with paralysis. And mostly, we would have to deal with our greatest enemies, sin satan and the fear of dying.
Therein comes the challenge – can we wait for the apocalypse… as we wait for the end of it all. The beginning of the time of no more tears, no more sorrow….
The Apocalypse, you might guess – is not something I fear, perhaps I would even welcome it.
That’s because the apocalypse isn’t some scary devastation of the world… the apocalypse is simply translated, the unveiling, the rolling back the curtain, the bringing to light…
Not the end, but the beginning. And more importantly – what the time unveils. Apocalypse, the greatest day in our lives..
To use the words of Isaiah – it is not what is revealed, but who …. Isaiah described Him this way…
The Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace……and the responsibility for the world will rest on His shoulders…
and as John says…
We have seen His glory…
And that is how we learn to wait… for His second coming… we know who He is… for us.