Friday, October 12, 2007

Luke #38 - Family Tree

Luke #38 – Family Tree

“And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Amos, which was the son of Naum, which was the son of Esli, which was the son of Nagge, which was the son of Maath, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Semei, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was the son of Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Addi, which was the son of Cosam, which was the son of Elmodam, which was the son of Er, which was the son of Jose, which was the son of Eliezer, which was the son of Jorim, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim, which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David, which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson, which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor, which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala, Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech, Which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God” (Luke 3:23-38 – King James Version).

I have a great aunt who declares she can show proof that we are descended from the same family that Queen Elizabeth II descends from. I don’t know about that…no one has invited me over to London for fish and chips and a spot o’ tea. I have gotten no “Dear Sir Timothy…” letters from Cousin Charlie; he didn’t even tell me that he and Lady Diana were having trouble with their marriage a few years ago…maybe I could’ve helped! Some way to treat family, ain’t it? I sure would like a crown; my title would be “Duke of Mayonnaise” or maybe “The Duke formerly known as Prince.” Which one do you like better? I get no respect from my family across the pond. It serves to make me more thankful than ever that through Christ I am in the family of God.

Believe it or not, this is a rich passage. It’s easy to get caught up in all the names and trying to make sense of Jesus’ family tree. If we were to lay it beside Jesus’ family tree found in Matthew we would find several noticeable differences, one huge difference of note that we will talk about tomorrow. First, in Matthew’s Gospel he was writing to a Jewish audience. With that in mind the Holy Spirit gives the Jewish Matthew Jesus’ genealogy in a way to satisfy their Jewish minds; Matthew moved forward from Abraham to Jesus. Luke, on the other hand, moved backward from Jesus to Adam. Matthew was connecting Jesus with His Jewish family and Luke was connecting Jesus to the whole of the human race. Also of note, Matthew record of Jesus’ family tree is the genealogy of Joseph and Luke’s is that of Mary. Pretty neat, huh?

It doesn’t stop there. As Matthew’s account connects Jesus to the line of David through His legal father, Luke’s account connects Jesus to the line of David through his mother, thus connecting Jesus both legally and physically. That’s important for the fact that Jesus came both to fulfill the law and prophecy. Matthew establishes Jesus connection to David through David’s son Solomon. Luke does that through David’s son Nathan. Joseph came from Solomon’s line and Mary from Nathan’s line. (MORE on that tomorrow…good stuff!)

Luke, led of the Spirit, went through the pains of connecting Jesus to Adam that he might correctly establish Jesus as the true Son of God as a man on earth. The first Adam lost his title because of his sin. Jesus came to reclaim that title by being sinless and thusly being accepted by the Father. Jesus took on the same difficulties of Adam, yet He did so with success. By Jesus’ success at remaining sinless and subsequent offering of Himself for our sins, He bought back (redeemed) the privilege of mankind to be called the children of God again. Of course, we know that only happens as we accept this gift that Jesus has purchased for us.

Many folk may think that Jesus has no connection with them. By Jesus’ family tree alone, we can determine that He is connected to all men. By His death on the cross and His rising from the dead we can join with Him in the everlasting family tree and be connected as heirs to the grace of God forever.

I do not think that the royal family of Great Britain will go through any pains to connect themselves to Tim Bowes. I do not think they will even try! God, on the other hand, went through great pains to reestablish contact with me. He reached out across the centuries and sent me a personal love letter / invitation calling me to a great family reunion. That letter was signed in blood by Christ Jesus who bids me come and enjoy the bonds of family again.

That same invitation is open to all who would come. I am so thankful to be in the family tree of Jesus. He purchased that right and privilege for me and for you. This earthly family may forget me; they may disown me; they may not even recognize my existence. God has done none of those things. No, indeed not; in fact, He remembered me even when I wouldn’t think of Him. Thank you God for bringing me back to your family!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Luke #37 - Beginnings

Luke #37 – Beginnings

“Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, ‘Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased’” (Luke 3:21-22 – King James Version).

I don’t show my emotions a lot of the time. It’s not that I don’t feel like crying, the tears just don’t come out. Baptisms get the tears flowing every time. I cry for three reasons, two of which are very different. Whenever I see someone being baptized or have administered baptisms I always think back to the joyous day of my own baptism. That was a monumental day for me; one I’ll NEVER forget. I know what a great new PUBLIC beginning that was for me and when I watch others being baptized I wonder about their new public beginning. I watch in silent awe as I try to imagine how God has become real to that person and how different their present and future has become having met Jesus. I always wonder if that person is just getting wet. Baptism without salvation is just getting dunked. Nothing more; period. If that is the case I get very, very sad when I think about that. I think What if this person is getting baptized and does not know Jesus? Will they think THIS is salvation? One second I am filled with joy at the possibility of someone letting the world know about their NEW LIFE in Christ and the next second I am mourning at the possibility that a person just got dunked for nothing.

Some may wonder why Jesus got baptized; He wasn’t a sinner was He? No, indeed not! There are several good reasons why Jesus was baptized. He was identifying with our humanity and our sin (concerning sin, the keyword being IDENTIFYING). Jesus’ baptism gave us an example to follow. Also, Jesus’ baptism served as the beginning of His public ministry. Whatever the reason (and there are probably more), God was “pleased” with what Jesus was doing.

I think it is key to note that Jesus was there on the Jordan with the sinners when He began His public ministry. Those were the people He chose to associate Himself with. It would have made more sense to the human mind if Jesus had gone to the temple and had a big ceremony. That is still who Jesus wants to identify with, the sinner who knows change is needed. That’s who Jesus wants to be baptized…those who have turned to Him from sin and wants the world to know.

Baptism is a post salvation experience, or at least it’s supposed to be. When we get baptized it is to tell the world four things: (1) we’re turning from sin, (2) we’re starting a new life in Christ that we want known publicly, (3) we are identifying in obedience with Christ, and (4) our baptism serves as a public proclamation and profession of our salvation. It is also the asking of three things from the witnesses: (1) we are asking for Christian love from the body of Christ, (2) we are asking for prayer, and (3) we are asking for accountability in our walk with the Lord. Whether you were able to articulate your baptism in those terms, did it mean that for you?

There is a bunch of folks in churches across America that have been dunked but have no new beginning to go with the water. Granted, Jesus did not sin, but His baptism was nonetheless a new beginning. There are also a lot of people in churches today that were baptized as children, but did not really meet Christ until later on. If that is you friend, let me encourage you to receive a believer’s baptism soon. Sure, there may be some in attendance that remember your first baptism, but what a powerful testimony to tell them that the first one was just water but the new one is a result of having met Christ!

God is the God of new beginnings. Would you have a new beginning today? If you do not know Christ, today can be the day! Then follow Him into baptism and let the world know that you have decided to follow Jesus. Christian…look back at your baptism experience. What was it about? Let’s be sure that it was something in which God would say He was “well pleased.” Did you think that your baptism and joining the church saved you? (By the way…baptism is NOT salvation). Did you realize it was a proclamation and profession of new life in Jesus? That’s what it should be; a sign of a new beginning!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Luke #36 - Unpopular

Luke #36 – Unpopular

“But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison” (Luke 3:19-20 – King James Version)

It was a sickening scene to me; President Bill Clinton acted immorally and our nation basically shrugged our collective shoulders and did nothing. Hearings were held and sex was redefined and that was about the end of the whole thing. From that day until this one every time I hear someone say that America is a Christian nation I openly disagree. At best America is a nation with a lot of churches and some Christians. Every person that claimed any kind of morality at all should have been outraged and shouted that man right out of office. As usual the Christian community, with the exception of a few brave voices, did not rise up and take a stand. Many said it was Clinton’s personal business and had no bearing on his leadership. PHOOEY! I could see forgiving a man who openly admits his mistakes, is broken because of them, learns from them, and repents from such behavior. Not only did Bill Clinton not seem to feel bad about this wrong, but he tried to justify, ignore, and deny it. As an American, it was a sad situation.

John the Baptist lived in a time just like that. Herod was ruler of Galilee and fully cooperative with the occupation forces of Rome. He had basically stolen his brother’s wife and married her. To top it off, Herodias was Herod’s niece. That is both incest and adultery. John called it what it was and it got him in big trouble (Mark 6:17-28). He was imprisoned and later executed (Luke 9).

John’s boldness in speaking the truth made him unpopular to say the least. We should be careful to note that John called sin what it was not because he was being a jerk; rather, it was the opposite. Let’s not forget that John’s mission was to prepare people for the coming Messiah. He was not a man of hateful ways. When he discovered that his disciples were leaving him to follow Jesus, John said, “The bride will go where the Bridegroom is. A Bridegroom's friend rejoices with Him. I am the Bridegroom's friend, and I am filled with joy at His success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (John 3:29-30 – NLT). What tenderness! What humility! He was not trying to win people to John but to Jesus.

Why do I bring this up? It is of the utmost importance that we speak the truth about sin even it makes us unpopular. However, we cannot do it from a spirit of arrogance or pride. We must speak the truth in humility, brokenness, and love; being ever mindful of the grim future for those who will not repent and turn to the Lord.

Now, we must also be mindful that being witnesses of Christ will make us very unpopular. Are we willing to risk that? We may be thought strange; we will be ostracized; it will not be easy. I will tell you this much…I am so thankful that there were people who called my sin what it was. I am so thankful that I realized my guilt and met my Savior. I used to get mad at people like Vernon Wilkerson who always talked about God. Now I think Vernon is a saint! Personally, I will run the risk of making folks mad at me. I will be unpopular. I know that if I am bold for Christ this world may levy punishment on me, but if I make one hundred people mad and one of them realizes their sin and turns to God it will ALL be worth it!

Popularity is not my goal; pleasing God is my goal. Turning people on the love of God is my goal. I refuse to simply walk through this life letting people commit spiritual suicide while doing nothing. If that causes me to be unpopular, then let it be so. I want the approval of God, not that of men. I will call sin what it is. I will do my best to do that in love and humility. Will you join me on this holy mission? Will you risk being unpopular? Will you decrease so that Christ may increase?