Tag Archive | jesus

Visual Exegesis: Jesus Upholding the Universe

Full of Eyes is a support-based ministry of exegetical art that creates still and moving images intended to point people to the beauty of God in the crucified and risen Son. All art and animations are done by Chris Powers. Powers’ goal is to help people see and savor the faith-strengthening, hope-instilling, love-kindling beauty of God in Christ. And he does this by creating free exegetical art in the form of pictures, animations, and discussion guides. His work is at http://patreon.com/, Youtube, and his website fullofeyes.com

Upholding the Universe, by Chris Powers

Hebrews 1:3, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power.”
I’ve been teaching a small Wednesday night study at our local church and for the last few months we’ve been walking through the ecumenical councils. Last night we were discussing the council of Chalcedon–which substantially solidified orthodox Christology for the Church. One passage of the creed of Chalcedon reads:

“…one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledge in two natures, incofusedly, unchangeably, indivisible, inseparably…”
There are many implications that could be drawn from just these few words, but at least one of them is that when the eternal Son took humanity to Himself, He did so “unchangeably” and “inseparably.” In other words, since the incarnation, God the Son has never and will never cease to be fully man.

Again, beautiful implications abound, but the one I wanted to focus on in this image is that–even in His death–the “natures” of God and Man are not divided. Consider it, even while a “corpse” (Mark 15:45-46), Jesus was all that God is….meaning that all that God is (the “fullness of diety” Col. 1:19, 2:9) was once expressed in and true of the lifeless man, Jesus.

God the Son did not cease to uphold the universe with the word of His power according to His deity even as He Himself lay, according to His humanity, in the dust of death.

And an even more glorious reality flowing from these things is that, even while His body was veiled in the tomb, Jesus was still the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature.” Becuase He is ever and always fully God, it is always true to point at the man Christ Jesus and say, “Here is the radiance of God’s beauty and exact image of His identity”….and that did not cease to be true–indeed, it became definitively true–when Jesus gave Himself even unto death on the cross for our sins.

There is no God like YHWH.

What is Living Water?

In our small group discussion on Thursday nights, people come with Bibles in hand and the pastor opens the floor to anyone with a question. We search the scriptures and engage in a discussion regarding the person’s question. Last night someone asked about one of my favorite metaphors in the Bible. What is the Living Water?

It is from the scene from John 4, when in Samaria, a tired Jesus sat down in front of the well, and a woman from the village came out a noonday to draw water. An amazing conversation ensued. Here are verses 10-14:

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

From this verse, we understand the Living Water is eternal life in Jesus. Nowhere else but in Jesus does a person have eternal life. He is the fountain. (Jeremiah 2:13). He is the spring. (Isaiah 12:3, Revelation 22:14, John 7:38).

What about after the moment of regeneration, after the person has received eternal life? The waters do not stop flowing. The living water is eternal life in Jesus, as mediated by the Spirit. It is the flow of the Spirit’s guidance that transforms the newly forgiven creature into a person gradually conformed to Christ for all eternity.

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Further reading

Founders Ministries: The Model

GotQuestions: What did Jesus Mean when he said Living Water?

God needs nothing … but …

God, as God, needs nothing. He is above all things. He is Creator of all things. He is self-sustaining, self-sufficient. He needs nothing.

Nor is He served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. (Acts 17:26)

Think of this. As man, Jesus needed everything. As a babe He needed protection when his life was threatened. (Matthew 2:13). He needed shelter, the milk from His mother, the fostering of His father. He was weak, He grew strong. (Luke 2:40). As an adult, He needed sleep, food, rest. (John 4:6, Mark 11:12, Mark 4:38).

I’ve read and enjoyed the Prince and the Pauperand other switcheroo type stories, where the privileged character (usually royalty) accepts reduced circumstances either willingly or unwillingly and learns much from the experience, while the elevated one learns lessons too.

In life we are “upwardly mobile.” We’re standing on the provision and achievements of our parents, who give us opportunities and life-lessons. We then strive to exceed theirs. When we grow to adulthood we turn around and give a helping hand up to our children. We almost never willingly thrust it all aside and reduce our circumstances, just because.

Jesus did.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus knows hunger, weariness, grief, joy, stress. He knows our need because He needed too.

What a great Savior we have.

Christ In The Wilderness by Briton Riviere

Do you know how fast God can run?

I’m reading through Jeremiah. It’s been about ten years since I read through and so it’s time again. What a blessing God’s word is! I am overfilled and overwhelmed with just the first 11 verses in chapter 1.

And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” 12Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”

I enjoy the natural history aspects of scripture. As I read verse 11, I stopped to learn more. The first chapter deals with Jeremiah’s call to his fifty-year-plus long prophetic office, almost all of which was difficult, depressing, and discouraging.

The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, opening with the famous line-

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

This is an example of foreordination, where God does not merely react to events on earth, but ordains them from before He created the world. He not only knows the end from the beginning, He authored it, ordained, it and performs it.

I was curious about the linkage of the almond tree with God’s word. What it is about an almond tree that I need to know so I can understand this verse better? How is an almond tree like God’s word? Why is an almond branch being used as a promise from the LORD that He will perform His word?

Spurgeon helped here, preaching an entire sermon on just verse 11. (sermon #2678, THE LESSON OF THE ALMOND TREE)  His sermon is ripe with meaning, insight, and background. It was extremely illuminating.

The almond tree is the first tree to awaken in the winter, hastening to put out leaves and then ripe fruit before any other tree. Spurgeon said that the Hebrew word for almond is wakeful.

Observe, first, that THE ALMOND IS A WAKEFUL TREE. The Hebrew word which is rendered “almond” comes from a root signifying to be wakeful, so this passage might be read thus, “I see the wakeful rod.”

Now, to my question about the linking of the almond tree with God’s word. In the section of his sermon explaining the almond tree with God being quick in performing His promises, Spurgeon said in part,

“Oh, but!” says one, “There are often long delays before peace is enjoyed.” Then it is because you make them, for God does not. “But sometimes we have to wait,” says one. Yes, yes; I know all about that waiting. Do you remember, in the parable of the prodigal son, where he waited? Why, with the harlots and others with whom he wasted his substance in riotous living, or with the swine, when he was feeding them with the husks with which he would gladly have filled his own empty belly. That is where he waited; but when did he end his waiting? When he said, “I will arise and go to my father.” He did not wait any longer, for we read, “And he arose, and came to his father;” and then it is written, “When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him,

and”—”and”—”and”—”and stood still, and waited for him to come”? No, no; I know that God waits to be gracious; but, according to the teaching of that parable, “when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran.” Do you know how fast God can run?

But again I ask, can you tell me how fast God can run? No, you do not know, you cannot tell; but you do know that He is all on fire with love to embrace a poor penitent sinner, and He speeds towards him at an amazing rate. … Swift as the lightning’s flash is the glance of divine compassion that brings life to a penitent soul.

I’ve always been slain and humbled by this fact. In my own conversion, I was in a dire spiritual circumstance, at very rock bottom. My next stop was the pit to be lost forever. At the end of myself, the only place I had to look was up. I was 42 years old, having pursued sin all my life. Yet when I cried out to Him for “help”, He helped me immediately. He didn’t say, ‘Wait, you decades-old sinner.” He did not say “Let me think about it.” I pled for my soul and He answered immediately. He ran!

He is a good God, a just God. I would have deserved my place alongside other sinners in hell. Yet he hastened to fulfill my appeal. Do I know how fast God can run? Yes, I do. I am eternally grateful.

There’s no such thing as tragedy in a Christian’s life

This will be among the shortest blog essays I’ve ever written, but it will be one of the most powerful. At least, it was for me. I pray it is for you as well.

John Gerstner was a Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Knox Theological Seminary and an authority on the life and theology of Jonathan Edwards. He produced many edifying works in his life, most famously, his “Handout” series. Handout Church History, Handout Theology, and Handout Apologetics are among some of the most wonderful series of lectures and handouts he ever produced. They are easily available online, foremost at Ligonier.org but also in books and videos elsewhere.

Anyway, in his Handout Theology series I’m watching at Ligonier, he did several lectures on the Doctrine of Providence, which is my favorite doctrine. He referenced Romans 8:28 which I’ll post. Then his comment below.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I was once asked, ‘what is tragedy?’ It is whatever happens to the unconverted. No matter how great a blessing, it is a curse to the unconverted because he does not receive it with gratitude to the Giver. On the other hand, no matter whether a snake bite, or whatever, it is a blessing to God’s children for whom all things work together for the good. ~John Gerstner, Handout Theology lecture on Providence, part 2

When we focus on Jesus in His heaven, it changes our perspective. When our worldview changes, we settle into the peace that Jesus gives us, the peace that passes all understanding.

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Further reading

John Gerstner, Handout Theology lecture on Providence, part 1

John Flavel: The Mystery of Providence

Spurgeon sermon: Providence

Our compassionate Lord

This world is so depraved it shocks me still, sometimes. The depravity of my own heart shocks me, especially as I recall the person I was before salvation. Ow! What weight of memory burdens my soul! What dark corners leap out to poison my psyche!

Yet the Light of Jesus’ salvation is the balm to a poor, aching soul. He ministers peace and joy to us in abundance. If I focus on Him, all is well. His endless and infinite qualities bear pondering. His love is something in which we delight, like birds at the fountain or children on the playground. As the song says, the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

More and more I feel the Spirit’s growth in me. I know this because I am more patient with the lost, and I feel a burden for them increasingly. This is not due to any natural capacity I possess for loving other people. I opened the essay reiterating my own depravity. Such patience and compassion are entirely due to the Spirit. Ultimately, the wellspring of such compassion comes from Jesus. See how many scriptures refer to his longing to save, His compassion for those who wander in the dark. Yes, we’re all aware of His wrath upon such poor souls. I speak of His wrath often. But His compassion is magnificent also. Let’s see what the Savior says.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (Luke 13:34)

When He stepped ashore and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:14)

As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it. (Luke 19:41).

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36).

Barnes’ Notes says of the KJV of the verse (i.e. fainted v. harassed)

Because they fainted – The word used here refers to the weariness and fatigue which results from labor and being burdened. He saw the people burdened with the rites of religion and the doctrines of the Pharisees; sinking down under their ignorance and the weight of their traditions; neglected by those who ought to have been enlightened teachers; and scattered and driven out without care and attention. With great beauty he compares them to sheep wandering without a shepherd. Judea was a land of flocks and herds. The faithful shepherd, by day and night, was with his flock. He defended it, made it to lie down in green pastures, and led it beside the still waters, Psalm 23:2. Without his care the sheep would stray away. They were in danger of wild beasts. They panted in the summer sun, and they did not know where the cooling shade and stream was. So, said the Saviour, is it with this people. No wonder that the compassionate Redeemer was moved with pity.

We serve a great and compassionate King. He is not distant, nor is He uncaring. As much as we are longing to see Him, He is longing to see us, to bring His Bride Home safe as a hen gathers her chicks.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Earthly Footsteps of The Man of Galilee: the thorny fence

I love the old book, Earthly Footsteps of The Man of Galilee and the Journeys of His Apostles.

The book contains 400 original photographs by Robert E.M. Bain, taken in Egypt, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. Descriptions for each photograph are written by James Lee. These photographs depict the life of Christ and the influence of his ministry—the locations where Christ was born, baptized, crucified, as well as scenes from his prayers, miracles, and sermons. This resource also contains photography of sacred sites between Jerusalem and Rome.

In these photographs taken in the late 1890s, not much had changed in Palestine from the time of Jesus until then. When one sees the vintage, sepia photo of a lone colt tied to a tree in front of a house, one can easily imagine the scene when Jesus told the disciples to go find the young donkey so He could ride into Jerusalem. When one sees a cracked and browned picture of an oil or a flour mill, we can easily imagine commerce and trade as Lydia had with her business of purple.

Here below is a fence in Palestine. The caption explains what the reader is seeing and also contains thoughtful ponderings about Jesus and His Gospel. What I think of when I see this photo, is the impenetrable aspect of the fence and the strong deterrent of thorns. The verse from the Parable of the Sower springs to mind.

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. (Matthew 13:8)

The agricultural and localized references written in the Bible are so much better appreciated by us in our day when looking at photos like this, or when I seek to learn about the plants and animals of the region.

Sadly, the book is out of print and very rare and expensive, but fortunately, it has been digitized and I can look at the photos on my Logos 6 software. By the way, if you are reading this before noon on this day, Tim Challies has a Free Friday Giveaway that runs until noon on Saturday, raffling off a Logos 7 Silver package. A hefty gift, if you sign up and become the lucky winner.

Earthly Footsteps of The Man of Galilee and the Journeys of His Apostles caption-

‎The thorny cactus abounds in Palestine. It forms a most secure fence, growing sometimes to a height of twelve feet. Beyond this wall are fig trees and olive trees, pleasant vines and fragrant flowers. The man in the picture with white head dress and staff held behind him is the dragoman of the photographic company of 1894.

We linger at Dothan because, besides the memories of Joseph and his brethren, there is an Old Testament picture which must have been recalled by Mary on her pilgrimage to Bethlehem. The prophet Elisha lived here for a time, and it was to Dothan that the Syrian King sent an army to surround and to capture him. By night they came—”horses and chariots and a great host.” And they “compassed the city.”

In the early morning, when Elisha’s servant arose from his bed and went forth “behold, a host compassed the city both with horses and chariots.” Then the prophet’s servant was afraid and he said: “Alas, my master; how shall we do?” And the prophet answered: “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed and said: Lord, I pray thee open his eyes that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”—2 Kings 5:13–18.

The reality of the invisible realm, of God and His angels, of life immortal, of the protecting influence of heaven in all the struggles and endeavors of earth—these are doctrines which the Man of Galilee came to proclaim to the race of man. These are doctrines which gave strength and comfort to Mary in her pilgrimage from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

Jesus is utterly fascinating. These long-ago glimpses into the lands upon which He walked are endlessly interesting and encouraging. I hope you find them encouraging also. Of course, nothing can compare to the lands that await us, a renewed earth and domicile in New Jerusalem. Jesus is worthy to be praised, for His earthly sinless life, and His holy sovereign reign over all the earth and universe beyond.

I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)