Sunday, May 03, 2015

An Idea Blossoms at the Right Time

Luke 3:1-3

     I was thinking about the part that says, "preaching a baptism for the forgiveness of sins".  This seems to me to be a fairly radical thing to even suggest.  Wasn't blood necessary for the forgiveness of sins?  That's what the temple and all of those sacrifices were for, weren't they?  Sin is a big deal, and under the law given to Moses there was a lot of stuff necessary in order for sins to be forgiven.  The high priest had to make special sacrifices for himself and the people.  Individuals could make sacrifices for themselves. Job, although living before the law was given, he made sacrifices for his children just in case they sinned.

     I don't get the impression that people took the forgiveness of sins very lightly.  Yet, here comes John preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  I think we need to look at what baptism and repentance mean.  Baptism was basically like a ritual washing.  It was and is ceremonial.  I suppose sacrifice was also ceremonial as well.  It just seems much more... serious.  What would give people the impression that you could just switch from one to the other?  From what little reading I've done, John didn't invent the idea.  Ritual washings and such were not uncommon in certain quarters at that time.  But it seems like a bit of a jump to get from blood to water without any other reasons to go along with it.   I imagine the key must be the repentance part, but what does it mean exactly?

   Repentance is found all over the Bible before John enters in.  The prophets are constantly calling the people to turn from their sin back to God.  Jonah was sent to Nineveh specifically to tell them to repent.  He didn't want to go because He knew that God would forgive them if they did.  Wow.  That didn't hit me until now.  Repentance wasn't a new thing that John came up with.  People knew how important it was all along.  That's why they latched on to what John was saying.  It was something people already cared about, and here was someone who was putting it into terms they could sink their teeth into.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Thinking for Ourselves

Luke 2:41-52

     As a parent, I think it would have been nice of Jesus to let his folks know what he was doing, don't ya think?  I mean they are leaving the city to head home and then they can't find him anywhere.  Of course, they could have kept closer tabs on him, but a 12 year old boy probably had a lot of latitude back in those days.  I do suppose that Jesus would have had a hard time trying to explain himself if he had asked for permission to stay back.  I'm not sure how to take this one.  Obviously, He isn't sinning or anything here.  I suppose this is one of those times where he doesn't work within the conventions set out for him.  At the end of this episode, the author does make sure he points out that Jesus went with his parents and was obedient to them.  And I think if you look at the water into wine miracle, Jesus showed at least some deference to his mom in that instance.

     I think I understand better what was going on with Jesus and teachers now that I have a bit of history to go with it.  From what I understand, regular teacher/ disciple arrangements basically involved learning and memorizing all of the reasons why such and such is the way it is and so on and so on.  I don't get the impression that Jesus had any sort of knowledge that God hadn't already made available.  He didn't have to conform to how he was expected to learn and think because he wasn't afraid of what people would think of him.  He allowed himself to ponder the scriptures and understand them and allow God to speak to him.  He didn't wait for someone to tell him what he was supposed to believe.  I think that's why everyone was so amazed at his understanding and his answers.  This is also why he will amaze the crowds with his teachings when he begins his ministry years later.
     If we believe that what was available to him is also available to us, then we can also have a full understanding of what God wants from us and what God has given us.  But of course that involves some work and dedication, both of which are lacking in me at times.  Jesus was confident in who he was in the Father, and I think that is where it must start with us as well;  confidence in Him and not being afraid of what others might think (whatever authority or peer figure they may be).

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

He was Born at a Young Age

Luke 2:36-40

So, He grew up, became strong, was filled with wisdom and the favour of God.  Nearly a whole lifetime summed up in one sentence.  Nothing like cutting to the chase.  I suppose there wasn't much of consequence to mention.  There was more than enough stuff to write about from His ministry years, that there wasn't much point adding back story.

Still, it would be nice to know.  There must have been something interesting going on?  Yes, interesting, but maybe not important.  We're left with the important parts.  And isn't that like God?  He gives us the important bits and leaves the rest for us to work out.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Thoughts of the Hearts of Many

Luke 2:25-35

The thing that jumps out about me is the part of the prophecy that says, "as a result of him [Jesus], the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed".

I look at it in a few ways.

Jesus, His teachings and His example, don't leave a lot of wiggle room.  He lays it out for us.  Are we going to love our neighbours?  Are we going to help the widows and the orphans?  Go the extra mile?  When faced with all of this, the thoughts of our hearts are exposed by our actions.

Thinking of repentance, the hearts of many have been poured out and set free from sin and shame and guilt.  These hearts have been made new with forgiveness and love and freedom.

On the flip side, the evil intentions of many have been laid bare, starting with the likes of Judas and the pharisees and the chief priests, etc.  How many have used the name of Jesus for their own gain?  How many for the oppression of others?

Jesus has the effect of bringing out what is truly inside us.  The thing is, whatever is found to be inside of us, He wants us to allow him to take our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh, filled with the things we are meant to be filled with.  We are equally capable of great good and great evil, and what is inside comes out eventually.  It is only in Him that what we are can become what we are meant to be.