Sunday, August 25, 2013

Along the Way ... for the week of August 25, 2013

"Make the picture bigger!"  This was the advice I received from a commentary as I was preparing to preach and teach about what we learn from the story of creation.

The reference was to God's intention in sending His Son Jesus to earth.  Colossians 1:15-20 captures the apostle Paul's attempt to "make the picture bigger!"  Too often we think God's only purpose in sending His Son was to bring salvation to His people.  We refer to the angel's words in Matthew 1:21, "you are to give Him the name Jesus because He will save His people from their sins." and we believe we have captured God's full intention in sending His Son to earth.  However, as Paul advises, we need to "make the picture bigger"!

In Colossians 1:16, Paul reminds us that "all things" were created by and for Jesus, "things in heaven and things on earth ... all things have been created through Him and for Him."  Then in verses 19-20, Paul reveals God's true purpose in sending His Son to earth, "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."  

God's intention was reconciliation between Himself and all things; peace brought through Jesus' blood shed on the cross.  Peace with God, peace between peoples, peace with all of creation; a complete restoration of everything broken and marred by sin.  As "all things" were made by Him and for Him so "all things" find their reconciliation in Him!  This is the good news, and the reason why we need to "make the picture bigger!" 

Can you think of other things that are included in God's purpose in sending His Son Jesus?  Are there specific examples of things that have been reconciled or could be reconciled because of Jesus?  If so, I invite you to share them.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Along the Way ... for the week of August 18, 2013

My children and I watched the movie "Man of Steel" this weekend, and we enjoyed it very much.   As I have reflected on the story of Kal-el, I have noticed lots of parallels between his story and the Jesus story.  Nevertheless, I have also noticed some profound differences, and it is the differences that I believe make the good news so good.

Let's begin with the similarities.  Certainly, Kal-el comes from another world.  He appears human, but he is not.  The symbol given to Kal-el by his father to wear means hope, symbolizing that he is the hope of both Krypton and earth.  Kal-el is often ridiculed, and persecuted for his righteousness as he refuses to fight back, choosing instead to "turn the other cheek".  Finally, my favorite quote of the movie also captures the similarity, as Kal-el tells the general, "You cannot control me and you never will, but that does not make me your enemy."  The religious leaders also desired to control Jesus, and their inability to control Him led them to believe He was their enemy as well.   I am sure there are other similarities as well, but now let's move to the differences.
It is the differences that I believe reveal the goodness of the good news.  Whereas, Kal-el comes from another world and appears to be human, he is not.  Jesus, however, is the eternal Son of God; i.e. He does come from another world, but He is also fully and completely human.  Kal-el is persecuted and bullied, but he knew his oppressors could not hurt him.  Jesus bruises and bleeds.  He can be hurt and actually is physically and emotionally hurt by His oppressors, yet He still refuses to fight back.   And I believe that is the main difference between Jesus and Kal-el.  Jesus was human.  He understood our weakness, He carried our sorrows, and ultimately Jesus was able to transform them into real hope and true redemption.

The goodness of the good news is found in Jesus' humanity because only as a human is He able to change our destiny from condemnation to reconciliation so that we can live right with God for all eternity.  Taking on our humanity and transforming it is what sets the Man of Sorrows apart from the Man of Steel.

What are your thoughts?   I look forward to reading them.