The Effect to Righteousness

The work of righteousness will be peace,                                                                                  And the effect of righteousness,                                                                                                    quietness and assurance forever.                                                                                                                        Isaiah 32:17

“The effect” Hebrew avodah [H5656] literally-service.

Used 44 times in the book Numbers alone, primarily to describe service toward God’s tabernacle performed by the Priests and Levites, as well as prohibition of all work on a Sabbath.

The derivation is from man’s original calling: to serve.

Avad [H5647] to serve. (21 times in Numbers)

And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. Genesis 2:15.

And after the Fall:

Therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. Genesis 3:23.

This quickly devolved into servitude of man to man.

Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. Genesis 14:4.

Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. Genesis 15:3.

And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage—in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.  Exodus 1:14.

This was to prepare them for a life of service to God.

So He said, “I will surely be with you. So that will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you. When you have brought the people out of Egypt: you will serve God on this mountain.” Exodus 3:12.

We serve the Lord with the heart of a stranger and sojourner in this world.

Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.                                                                                     Exodus 23:9.

Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.                                     Psalm 39:12.

These all died in faith without receiving the things promised—but they saw them and welcomed them from afar, and they confessed that they were strangers and sojourners on the earth.                                                                                                                                   Hebrews 11:13.

 

You have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered. Then they that feared the Lord spoke often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of memorial was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spares his own son that serves him. Then shall you return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves God and him that serves him not.                                              Malachi 3:14-18.

The children of the Resurrection are like the angels of God in heaven.

In Luke 20:27-36 and Matthew 22:23-30, Jesus is questioned by members of a sect called the Sadducees:

The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

They attempt to make a mockery of the resurrection using the Law of Moses by concocting a strange scenario. In this example,  the oldest of seven sons dies leaving no heir. Ultimately all seven brothers have his widow. (I think after three or four they may of grown suspicious of this woman!) Finally they ask this question as their punch line:

Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.

Jesus replies and cuts right through their feeble attempt.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. Matthew 22:30

The gospel of Luke reports this statement:

And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage. But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage. Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.   Luke 20:34-36.

We don’t know that much about what our relationship to each other will be in the kingdom of God. What we do know is that there will be no “gender distractions.” All eyes will be on the Bridegroom.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 1 Co 2:9.

 

Every Word of God

Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.  Psalm 105:19.

There is an unction upon every word of God for man to live by and receive empowerment from for victorious living.

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.  Luke 4:4, Deut. 8:3.

To access this divine power, we first enter into a relationship with the “author of life” by faith.

What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.  Romans 9:30-32.

Once we receive the word in the spirit of truth, we have access by acts of obedience.

Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.  James 2:18.

We see this as a clear example in the life of John the Baptist. His anointing flowed directly from Isaiah 40:3;  “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness.” The Lord described him as the greatest of prophets. And yet, when he came out of the wilderness and went to Jerusalem and condemned a king’s behavior, he found himself in prison. From there he sent word to the Lord, “are you the one who was to come, or should we expect another.” This crisis of faith came upon one who had declared “behold the Lamb of God” and bore witness to Him receiving the Spirit from heaven. Jesus replied to him: “blessed is whoever is not offended in me.” Please read the John the Baptist trilogy in this blog for more on this narrative.

Whenever I engage in a study of the word of God, I keep my faith centered on the words of Christ found in Matthew 13:

Then said He unto them, Therefore every scribe  instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like a man that is a householder, which brings forth out of his treasure things new and old.  Matthew 13:52.

When I am struggling, I find inspiration from this proverb:

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter. Proverbs 25:2.

Whenever we minister to one another, we must always rely on the gifts of the spirit, even more so interacting with the world. I could never have survived managing the intake at a rescue mission without the gift of discerning of spirits. 1 Co 12:10.

To engage in any type of outreach or street ministry without an anointing is a formula for failure, if not disaster. God has not called us to do anything that He has not empowered and equipped us for in Christ. Until your word has come, expect to be tried by the word of the Lord.

Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him. James 1:12.

A Lover not a Grumbler

Be a lover of hospitality. Titus 1:8.

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9.

For many people the mention of hospitality calls to mind Martha Stewart more than the gospels. While it is worthy to mention the value of opening your home to others, there is a bit more being conveyed in these words. The word being translated hospitality actually means loving kindness to strangers. And the word strangers refers to resident aliens, minorities, and sojourners in the land. In other words, these scriptures are dealing with the age old problem of ethnicity, prejudice and racism. Do you really think that will ever be properly dealt with outside of Christ?

To demonstrate this truth, let’s start with a narrative from Luke 17 where Jesus is met by 10 lepers seeking their healing. He orders them to go show themselves to the priests. As they departed they discover that they have been cleansed and one of them returns to glorify God in giving thanks before the Lord’s feet, and he was a Samaritan. Jesus comments “there are none found that returned to give glory to God, besides this stranger.” Luke 17:18. The Samaritans were the despised people living among the most despised people in history, and are enshrined in the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ by the words “Good Samaritan”. These strangers stand out among the members of society by whose treatment the Lord will judge the nations. Matthew 25:31-46.

So what does the Law and the Prophets have to say about this thorny topic? Let’s consider this survey:

You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Exodus 22:21.

Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Exodus 23:9.

The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:34.

One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly and for the stranger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord.  One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you. Numbers 15:14, 15.

He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.  Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Deut. 10:18, 19.

Do not let the son of the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord speak saying “The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”. Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants. Even them I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.  The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him others besides those who are gathered to him.”                    Isaiah 56:1-8.

Thus says the Lord: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3.

The people of the land have used oppression, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger.    Ezekiel 22:29.

And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts. Malachi 3:5.

So we see beyond the prophets condemning society’s injustice, a Law given to Moses that was acutely concerned for the rights of strangers. How then did this wall of separation come to exist that Paul speaks of in his letter to the Ephesians chapter 2?

At that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Verse 12.

How could this be true when the Law of Moses had made every accommodation for the foreigner who desired to seek the Lord? In verse 15 he says that the enmity was created by the law of commandments in ordinances: nomos entole en dogma. This expression refers to what Jesus referred to as the traditions and rules of men undermining the Word of God. Because of the mutual hatred and distrust that existed between the Jew and all of the neighboring societies, no Jew would even sit at a table and eat a meal with a gentile. This is something that even the apostle Peter was called out on by Paul, the apostle for the gentiles. In contrast, Jesus always ate with publicans and sinners.

Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?” Galatians 2:11-14.

Even though he had fully embraced the gentile as a fellow believer when the Lord had given him a vision that corrected his views in Acts chapter 10, his fear of men resulted in hypocrisy.

Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful (Pharisee) it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Acts 10:28.

And finally he concludes:

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with him. V. 34, 35.

As an elder of the first church in Jerusalem, Peter was fully acclimated to the complications of a Jewish/gentile fellowship. When he wrote in his letter to show hospitality without grumbling, the word used is more often translated murmuring. This grumbling or murmuring began early on in the church.

And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Acts 6:1.

Note the clear racial overtones to the situation at hand. The solution the apostles came up with to deal with the problem was to have the congregation choose for themselves seven men to appoint over the administrative duties.

The apostle Paul recalls for us in 1 Corinthians 10 how murmuring and complaining was the “original sin” of the congregation in the wilderness. The people had just passed through the Red Sea and witnessed a great deliverance when they soon were murmuring against God and Moses.

And the people murmured against Moses, saying, what shall we drink? Exodus 15:24.

 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: Exodus 16:2.

Now in their defense I would point out that they had traveled three days in the wilderness and not found any fresh water. Most Christians have murmured and complained about far less. The point is that this is far more serious than most give consideration.

Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10:11.

When Paul says that this is the issue where the ends of the ages meet, he was ushering in the end of the age of justification by works of the Law and bringing in the age of justification by grace.

 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17.

But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 1 Corinthians 10:5, 6.

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; While it is said, today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom He swore  that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.  Hebrews 3:14-19.

In other words, regardless of the covenant, grumbling and complaining are an offense to God and will be considered an act of unbelief.  And now we can look to Abram to complete the picture and find the purpose. Paul taught that Abram was the father of justification by faith, for when he was told his offspring would be as the stars of heaven, he believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. James pointed out that Abraham later proved his faith by offering his son Isaac in obedience to God. But in Hebrews we are reminded that the first great act of faith, without which nothing else would have followed, was his departure from his home land.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went… he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country…for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God… and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:8-16, highlights.

James wrote that true religion is to care for widows and orphans and to keep ourselves unspotted by the world.  James 1:27

Why then does he not mention strangers along with widows and orphans as the Law of Moses and the prophets do so often? Because we are called to be the stranger, the pilgrim, the sojourner in this world. We cannot conform to this world and expect to be translated into a heavenly homeland. A community church may compromise to be inoffensive and socially acceptable, but any individual who hopes to go from the called to the chosen, or elect; must be willing to step outside that comfort zone. To set hands on the plow and not look back until you have completed your course and remain faithful. Here is how:

Do all things without murmuring and disputing, That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life.                    Philippians 2:14-16.

 

Bearing Our Burden

  Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Gal. 6:2.                                    For each one shall bear his own burden. Gal. 6:5.

The word translated burdens in verse 2 is used in Acts chapter 15 to describe the burden placed on the Jews of a covenant by the Law of Moses. First Peter speaks:

Now therefore why tempt God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? Acts 15:10.

James then summarizes the discussion and dictates a letter to the gentiles in which he concludes:

For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things. Acts 15:28.

The expression “to shoulder a burden” is a very prominent one in the bible, even though “a yoke upon the neck” used in Acts 15:10 is more accurate to the word meaning. The place-name and word Shechem is said to mean shoulder, but a discussion of the word in the references reveals that it actually refers to the upper back from shoulder to shoulder, where one would carry a burden.

The city of Shechem is a place where many important events took place in Israel, one of which is significant to this discussion. It is located mid-way between Mounts Ebal and Gerizim along a ridge, or “shoulder-blade” of land above the valley. Joshua gathered all of Israel here to perform the commandment given by Moses in Deuteronomy.

Now it shall be when the Lord your God has brought you into the land which you go to possess that you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. Deut. 11:29.

In Joshua chapter 8, an altar is built before Mount Ebal, “the mount of the cursing” upon which Joshua offers sacrifices of peace offerings. He then writes out the covenant upon the very stones of the altar, a copy of the Law of Moses which is Deuteronomy 27.

And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the Law of Moses which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel. Joshua 8:32.

He then placed half the people over against mount Gerizim and half of them over against mount Ebal, again as commanded by Moses, in Deuteronomy 27:12, 13. Joshua 8:33.

And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and cursing according to all that is written in the book of the Law.  Joshua 8:34.

After Joshua completes the conquest of the land, he again calls all the nation of Israel to Shechem and insists that they now make a final decision as to whom they intend to serve. He first reminds them of all that the Lord had done for them in driving out their enemies and then warns them of the task they will take on to be a people unto God.

And Joshua said unto the people, you cannot serve the Lord, for He is a Holy God, a passionate God, and He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve strange gods then he will turn and do you harm and consume you after that he has done you good. And the people answered Joshua, Nay, but we will serve the Lord. And Joshua said unto the people you are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord to serve Him. And they said, we are witnesses.        Joshua 24:19-22.

And so the nation of Israel of their own free will took on the burden of the Law, by which no one could attain to true righteousness. We should understand the significance of this and be ever grateful for grace.

Now on the other hand, In Galatians 6:5 (top of page) the word translated burden or load is the same found in Matthew chapter 11 when Jesus said:

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Mt. 11:30.

An even deeper revelation can now be obtained from the root word for Shechem, for it is the word meaning early. What is the connection between rising early and shouldering a burden? The idea is that each day would begin by first preparing everything that would be needed, either to travel or just spend the day out working in the fields, as your burden for the day. For example:

And Abraham arose early (shakam) in the morning and took bread and a bottle of water and gave unto Hagar, putting on her shoulder(shekem), with the child, and sent her away; and she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. Genesis 21:14.

We are often reminded to arise early to pray, so that we can find strength from the Lord to prepare for our burdens of the day. When Jesus said “seek first the kingdom of God”, He then added:

Take therefore no thought for tomorrow, for tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:34.

We can never obtain strength from the Lord for tomorrow’s burdens, no matter how early we got up today. And if you find yourself today under a great burden, know that someone in Christ is already assigned to share that with you, to fulfill the Law of Christ.

Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7.

 

A Memorial for Lazarus

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister (Mary) and Lazarus.   John 11:5

For a moment in time, the town of Bethany was at the center of God’s story, and these three people were at center stage in the narrative concerning Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We know more about these three people than we do most of the apostles, . This chapter in the gospel of John gives the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The story told exemplifies the work of Jesus in reconciliation, restoration, and resurrection.

After Lazarus has died and been laid to rest, Jesus returns to Bethany after informing His disciples that the glory of God is about to be revealed unto them, and the Son of God will be glorified. Martha is the first to approach Jesus and says “Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died.” Jesus tells her “your brother will rise again”, to which she replies, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day”. Jesus tells her “I am the resurrection and life”, and then asks her if she believes in Him. She then makes the true confession of faith, showing how far she had come in receiving the Gospel. She said unto Him:

Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who would come into the world.   John 11:27.

When Mary comes on the scene she is only able to say “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died”, as she continued weeping, along with those who came to comfort her; and Jesus wept with them. (John 11:35).   The witnesses exclaimed, “Behold how He loved him!” Jesus then commands them to take away the stone covering the entrance to the cave where Lazarus lay. Martha advises Him that he has been dead four days, and expects a foul odor. Jesus then says to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe, that you would see the glory of God?” He then calls Lazarus forth from the grave.

For those who are interested, the name Lazarus makes for a very interesting study. The name is Greek to English, for the Hebrew name Eleazar, a very prominent character throughout the Old Testament. El ‘Azar means God is helper, and is first identified as the third son of Aaron. The two older sons of Aaron are devoured by the fire of God’s presence when they make an unauthorized offering of incense before the Ark. By the time of Aaron’s decease, Moses is instructed to strip the garments of the High Priest from Aaron and put them on his son Eleazar. During the conquest of the land of Canaan under Joshua, Eleazar stood before the Ark of the Covenant and oversaw the division of land by lot for each tribe’s inheritance.

During the time of Samuel, another man named Eleazar, son of Abinadab kept the Ark of the Lord at Kirjathjearim twenty years. Later, in 2 Samuel 23, one of David’s mighty men named Eleazar, the son of Dodo the Ahohite is listed as one of the three mighty men with David, who stood against the Philistines when the army of Israel fled, and fought until his sword stuck to his hand and the Lord gave a great victory. The people only returned after to divide the spoil.

During the time of Ezra and the restoration following the Babylonian exile, one of the priests named Eleazar oversaw the return of the silver and gold vessels to the House of God, and a Levite named Eleazar was on hand during the time of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem. It would seem during the greatest exploits of God’s people, a priest named Eleazar, God has helped, was always present.

In the Gospel of Matthew chapter one, in the genealogy we find Eleazar begat Mattan, and Mattan begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. Mt. 1:15 &16. And finally, in the Gospel of Luke chapter 16, we read an illustrative narrative given by Jesus concerning a poor beggar named Lazarus, who sat at the gate of a certain rich man, full of sores and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. How far had man fallen from the place where God was his help? Was Jesus resurrecting more than just an individual when he raised Lazarus from the grave?

Continuing his narrative in Luke, Jesus goes on describe the death of the beggar and the afterlife from the biblical perspective. Lazarus was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom, a place of comfort. Meanwhile the rich man has also died and sees Lazarus with Abraham and cries out for mercy, for he was in a place of torment in Hades. Unfortunately, he is admonished by Abraham, and reminded that in his lifetime he received good things while Lazarus suffered evil things, but is now comforted, and you are tormented. “Besides, there is a great gulf fixed between us that cannot be passed.”  Luke 16:19-31. 

There is much more to be found in this chapter, but this description of the afterlife is most startling. I have often wondered what the notion of people dying and going to heaven is based upon. Of course, I don’t doubt the existence of such a place, just preaching that people who are saved by confessing Jesus as their Lord and Savior can expect to go there, if they died tomorrow. Just saying that the Gospel is never presented in that way by the apostles, and the house of God is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. Ephesians 2:20. Paul says in Galatians chapter one “if anyone or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any preach any other gospel unto you that that you have received, let him be accursed.” Vs. 8 & 9.

Far be it that anyone would bring a curse in preaching “another gospel”, thus we should take the greatest care to be consistent in the message. Acts chapter 4:1&2 says: and as they spoke unto the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.  The focus of Jesus’s teaching always centered on the resurrection.

Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son and shall come forth, they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. John 5:28, 29.

Of course, at the time Jesus was saying this, he was claiming that all authority to execute judgment has been given unto him by his Father. To avoid preaching the resurrection is to avoid preaching the judgment. From Genesis to Revelation, judgment is spoken of nearly 300 times. Paul testified before kings and queens in Acts. In chapter 24:24, 25 he reasoned with them of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about the righteous judgment of God. The empowerment of the Holy Spirit is all about being able to live a life that will allow us to stand at the judgment, as prophesied by Zacharias, father of John the Baptist; that we may serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. Luke 1:75.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of life everlasting, and a victorious life in the here and now. Of course in so doing we await a new heaven and a new earth wherein abides righteousness.  2 Peter 3:13.

 

Memorial of Mary of Bethany

Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, wherever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she has done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.                              Mark 14:9; Matthew 26:13.

Ironically, in these two accounts, the words are spoken on behalf of an unnamed woman who came in during a dinner with Jesus at the table. “There came a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment and poured it on His head.” In this account, there was general indignation among His disciples who said; “to what purpose is this waste?”  They thought this could have been sold to provide for the poor. Jesus defended her saying that she has done a good work, in that she anticipated His burial. Then He adds; “for you have the poor always with you, but me you have not always”. The gospel of John fills in the missing pieces. Chapter 12 of his gospel identifies the woman as Mary, the sister of Martha, and Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead. Of course, Martha is serving the dinner. In this account, it is specifically Judas who questions the waste of expensive ointment, and John informs us of the hypocrisy, saying in verse 6; “this he said not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and carried the moneybag” for the group. This set the stage for Jesus to enter Jerusalem, for word of Lazarus having been raised from the dead had ignited the large crowds on hand for the Passover. The chief priests consulted to also see Lazarus put to death, because by reason of him many of the Jews believed in Jesus.

We are also informed by John 11:2 it was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair. This account can be found in Luke chapter 7:37-50. The Lord uses this opportunity to make a very important point: “to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” This is not to say that some people are less of a sinner and need less forgiveness, but some fail to acknowledge their condition and need for reconciliation with God. The Pharisee saw himself as having a relationship with God, while looking down on Mary as a sinner. Thus she is told; “your sins are forgiven”, and “your faith has saved you, go in peace.”

In Luke 10:38-42, we find another narrative involving Mary and Martha, with Jesus a guest in their home. Martha was busy with much serving while her sister sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. Martha exclaimed, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Bid her to come help me.” To which Jesus replied unto her, “Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things but one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” We cannot imagine wrong in someone with a heart to serve, but can see where there is a time for everyone to be still and know the Lord. However, Jesus is not just speaking to a willingness to serve. We can see a greater concern for someone who is careful and troubled and should fully consider what the Lord is addressing.

The word translated careful here is used by Jesus repeatedly in His sermons, but the more typical translation in the KJV is “take no thought”, and means to be anxious. Consider in Matthew 6: Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than clothing?  V. 25. Take therefore no thought for tomorrow, for tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. V. 34.

Jesus also uses the same word to tell us not to worry about what we should say if our faith is put on trial, saying if we are delivered up, “take no thought how or what you shall speak, for it shall be given you in that same moment what you should speak.”           Matthew 10:19.

In His parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus describes the seed among thorns as someone who hears His word, but are choked with “cares” of riches and pleasures in life, and brings no fruit to maturity.    Luke 8:14.

Paul tells us: “be careful” for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which transcends understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6 & 7.

In the next post we well look closer at Mary’s brother Lazarus.

Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7.