"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Lion

During a time of deep emotional and spiritual wounding, when I went to sleep with a plea for Jesus' presence in my heart, I dreamed of a lion. The lion in my dream lived with us. He was not a pet but had well deserved respect from us. As I lay on the rug in front of a fireplace beside the lion, suddenly he had me in a bear hug from behind, his mouth covering my head. My first reaction was fear, until he held me there for a while and I realized the gesture was one of loving control and protection. The lion had my back.

In Christian tradition, the Lion of Judah represents the triumphant Jesus. Jesus was from the tribe of Judah and he is mentioned as the Lion of Judah in Revelation 5:5; "And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." Many Christian organizations and ministries use the lion of Judah as their emblem or even their name. The use in C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia of a lion named Aslan is known to represent Christ.

Jesus first appeared on earth as a sacrificial lamb. He was literally led to slaughter to provide a bridge between this fallen world and the holiness of God. He was not a victim but a willing participant in our redemption, if we trust in his righteousness (and not our own) to save us. The second chapter of the book of Philippians shows us that because Jesus descended from heaven and humbled himself in this way, he is given the "name above all names" and everyone, eventually, will worship him.

In Revelation, we see the risen Christ, triumphant, certain of his victory over sin and our mortal enemy. His message to you, wherever you are is this: "Dry your tears. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah has prevailed." He has your back.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Man

Remember the popular phrase, "You da' man?" We used it whenever someone surpassed our expectations in some way. From a friend or partner it was a badge of camaraderie, the gold medal of brotherhood, so to speak. I suppose it was a rather sexist way of saying, "well done." A hundred years earlier there might have been in its place a rousing chorus of "He's a jolly good fellow..."

Of all the things that Jesus is called in the gospels, the one I find the most intriguing is "the Son of Man." Jesus used it to refer to himself more than any other, possibly because it was not a title already used in the culture, therefore unsullied by pre-existing ideas. This title just means, "The Man" and Jesus gave it a whole new significance as he used it in 3 distinct ways.

First, he used it generally to refer to himself, often in place of the pronoun "I." For example, when he warned a would be disciple of the cost of following him he said "the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" (Luke 9:58). It was his way of saying that those who follow him must be willing to share his homeless existence if called upon to do so.

Second, Jesus used it when he referred to his need to fulfill prophecies, specifically those which foretold his suffering. This usage is seen in "the Son of Man must suffer" (Mark 8:31), in reminding them it was "written concerning the Son of Man, that he must suffer many things and be treated with contempt" (Mark 9:12). He referred to his being taken captive and his crucifixion at the Last Supper declaring "The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him" (Mark 14:21), and when he submitted to his captors he said "The Scriptures must be fulfilled."

Ultimately, Jesus referred to himself as "Son of Man"--the one who had and exercised exceptional authority. This authority, he was clear, was given to him by God the Father. When he said "The Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins" (Mark 2:10), he was declaring this authority. This special use of Son of Man got him into some trouble with those who just wanted a rabbi, not a Lord: "The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:28). The Son of Man spoke and acted in these cases as the ultimate prototype human being. In Genesis, God had given people dominion over all the works of His hands and, the Son of Man was in a position to exercise that dominion in very literal ways.

Looking into the future, Jesus promised (and warned his opponents) that the Son of Man will be seen "coming in the clouds with great power an glory" (Mark 13:26), and "sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Mark 14:62). The illusion, at the time, was that he was the victim of their illegal proceedings and political intrigues but, a reversal of fortune was coming when He comes with the authority of God Himself.

Stephen, the first martyr of the early church, was the only other person on record as calling Jesus the Son of Man. While he was being stoned he declared he saw "the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56). In this vision, Jesus stood as his witness in fulfillment of his promise "Whoever confesses me before men, him the Son of Man will confess before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8).

In the title "Son of Man" we see Jesus humility, poverty, past and future fulfillment of prophecy, the ultimate example of humanity, and Lord of the Sabbath.  In every sense of the word, he was and is--The Man.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014


People often bring into my office the opportunity for reconciliation. Two people, once in love, have grown apart. Misunderstandings piled upon hurt feelings and the walls of defense are only outmatched by their growing arsenal of ways to hurt one another. Yet something brings them in--a glimmer of hope for paradise regained. In all my years of working with all kinds of issues, there is nothing more miraculous than seeing a relationship healed, reconciled, redeemed.

Reconciliation is simply the act of bringing two or more disagreeing people into agreement. It implies that motives and feelings of hostility are abandoned for the purpose of restoring damaged or broken relationships. There are people, like me, who make a profession of it.

The ultimate reconciliation came to the world to reconcile fallen people and a broken world to a holy and blameless God. "Religion" was and is about people trying to reach God through  personal effort and human goodness. Jesus brought a new deal. He became righteousness for us because we could not become righteousness (completely blameless before God) on our own. And he did it (pardon Paul's lack of political correctness by mentioning it) through his blood, shed on the cross.

"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." Colossians 1:19

So, today is the day to take a deep breath and drink in peace. You do not have to be perfect or even good enough. You are already loved beyond description and, if you have trusted in the righteousness of Christ, you are reconciled with God through his sacrifice.

Part of his ongoing redemption, his reconciliation, is to write his will on the hearts of those he loves so that they respond not out of fear, but out of love.  Jesus referred to this kind of relationship redemption when he said the peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called the sons of God.

In making your personal applications, please do not lose sight of what the Apostle Paul is saying about Jesus: there is One who reconciles the vast chasm between God and man. No other philosopher, theologian, intellectual or mystic became the eternal sacrifice for you. Admire who you will--but worship the one and only Jesus.