September 20 “Equal”

Equal

No one can say that Jesus was overly concerned with what the religious leaders thought about Him.
He was a man on a mission, a three-fold mission:

  1. As the Living Word of God, to reveal God the Father to the People of God,
  2. As Immanuel, God with Us, to show us how life should be lived, and,
  3. As the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World, to live a sinless life and thus qualify to pay the price for our sins and conquer evil at the cross.

With such a Messianic mission, He did not have much time for critics.

The Lord of the Sabbath
Both Luke and Matthew record Jesus’ statement that He was the Lord of the Sabbath. In John’s gospel much of what Jesus said and did exemplified His lordship over the Lord’s Day. This was the behavior that confounded His enemies.

  • He walked in power the leaders did not possess.
  • He spoke with an authority the scribes could not match.
  • He brought a new understanding of worship the priests could not begin to comprehend.
  • He had real answers for the questioning hearts of the people and a healing touch for their frailties and diseases.
  • He walked in a joy that exuded strength, just as Nehemiah had promised.
  • His laughter could brighten the darkest hour and His very word could calm a storm.

How could the leaders ever hope to match Him? They didn’t try; they criticized Him for doing such wonderful things on the Sabbath.

News of The Father
Jesus presented Jehovah in a new way—He was their Heavenly Father. To do this, Jesus made it clear that He was the Son of God. It was an outrageous claim. They were all children of Abraham, children of the Covenant, but to claim to be the Son of God was novel and ridiculous. Yet, this was the justification Jesus gave for His radical attitude toward the Sabbath and for His miracles and revolutionary teaching.

Thinking of Jehovah as the Heavenly Father, placed Him in an understandable frame of reference. The “heavenly” Father must be far superior to any earthly father. He would be trustworthy and unfailing, holy and compassionate, wise and understanding. This was the Good News of the Gospel. As the Son of such a Heavenly Father, Jesus represented Him perfectly—the Word made flesh and dwelling among us, to use John’s words. Later on Jesus would sum up this part His mission by telling His disciples that when they had seen Him, they had seen the Father. They were equals.

Blasphemy
The religious leaders seized this confession as the most damaging evidence against Jesus:

“Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.”

To answer their charge, Jesus explained His relationship with God the Father:

  • He did nothing on His own, only what He saw the Father doing;
  • He walked in the Love of the Father, in constant communication with Him;
  • He had life from the Father and could share it with whomever He pleased;
  • The Father would judge the world through the Son; and
  • He was worthy of the same honor as the Father.

The battle lines were drawn. There was no ambiguity, no misunderstanding. Jesus claimed to be Messiah. What could the leaders do about that?

Scriptures:
John 5:16-23

For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
Nehemiah 8:10 NKJV
Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Mark 2:27-28
And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I remember the words of Paul, that in all things You “must have supremacy.” It is only right. You are Lord of all! You are Lord of the Sabbath and every other day of the week! You are the Victor over death, hell, and the grave and the Lord of Life. I will honor Your Holy Day for it is a precious gift. It is an outflow of Your mercy and wisdom. I will worship and I will rest. Throughout the week I will remember that You, the Lord of the Sabbath, are with me always! Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Jesus Is Lord of All

Words and Music: Bill and Gloria Gaither

1. All my tomorrows, all my past, Jesus is Lord of all.
I’ve quit my struggles, contentment at last, Jesus is Lord of all.

Refrain:
King of kings, Lord of lords, Jesus is Lord of all.
All my possessions and all my life, Jesus is Lord of all.

2. All of my conflicts, all my thoughts, Jesus is Lord of all.
His love wins the battles I could not have fought, Jesus is Lord of all.

Refrain

3. All of my longings, all my dreams, Jesus is Lord of all.
All of my failures His power redeems, Jesus is Lord of all.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

August 8 “Lord!”

Lord!

A personality as many-faceted as that of Jesus tends to collect names.
His many names were not random gifts from friends or enemies. They were holy names, full of promises and describing his mission and character: Messiah, Son of David, Lord of All, Emmanuel—God with Us, Son of God/Son of Man, Lamb of God.

Jesus asked His enemies a question.
Speaking in the abstract, Jesus asked the leaders who the Christ—the Anointed One—would be. Would He be called the Son of David? Must Messiah come from the family line of King David? The answer was known to all, so this was a rhetorical question. Then Jesus asked the question behind His question. If Messiah was to be the Son of David, how is it that King David called Him “Lord?” How could David’s son also be his Lord?

Son of David
The Jews were a people of histories and carefully kept genealogies. Their family lines were carefully drawn from generation to generation. This information was held as sacred to them. It was not to be tampered with and it could not be faked. There was no way for any man who claimed to be Messiah could fake his genealogy. Jesus was a product of David’s family line on both Mary and Joseph’s side. He was the Son of David.

Lord of All
The answer to the second question Jesus asked was in the process of being revealed. His daily life was proving this title with every miracle. To be called Lord, one must be the absolute master.

  • He was Lord over sickness and disease.
  • He was Lord over the spirit-world.
  • He was Lord over nature for the winds and waves of violent storms obeyed Him.
  • He was Lord of material things for food multiplied at His blessing.
  • He was the Lord of life for the dead rose to life again when He called them back.
  • He would soon prove to be the Lord of death itself.

Jesus was Lord of all.

Emmanuel: God with Us
Matthew quotes the prophet Isaiah to proclaim that Messiah would be born of a virgin and His name will be Emmanuel-God with Us. This tender name for Jesus brings God near to the human soul.

  • He is not far away, dwelling in distant disregard for His creation, for us!
  • He is as close as our breath for our breath comes from His Spirit.
  • He has dispatched angels to watch over us every minute. His care for us exceeds that of the birds of the air and the flowers of the field.
  • Our lives are His dwelling place, our bodies His holy Temple.

Jesus was and is Emmanuel—God with Us!

Son of God/Son of Man
The holy mystery of the Incarnation is expressed in two almost interchangeable names. Jesus has always existed. He is the Son of God. The ancient Trinitarian confession says it so well:

“Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.”

Somehow, the Son of God emptied Himself of heavenly majesty and took on human flesh and became the Son of Man, tempted in all points wherein we are tempted and yet never yielding to sin.

Lamb of God
Standing in the waters of Jordan, John declared that Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus was on His way to the cross of Calvary where Justice and Mercy would finally embrace when sin’s debt was fully paid.

A personality as many-faceted as that of Jesus tends to collect names.

Scriptures:
Luke:20:41-40 NKJV

And He said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is the Son of David? Now David himself said in the Book of Psalms: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”‘ Therefore David calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?”
Matthew 1:22-23
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Philippians 2:5-11
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Psalm 85:10
Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed.
Revelation 5:9-10; 12-13
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” …saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

Prayer:
You Are God

Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer
You are God: we praise You; You are the Lord; we acclaim You; You are the eternal Father: All creation worships You. To You all angels, all the powers of heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of Your glory. The glorious company of apostles praises You. The noble fellowship of prophets praises You. The white‑robed army of martyrs praises You. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you; Father, of majesty unbounded, Your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide. You, Christ, are the King of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When You became man to set us free You did not shun the Virgin’s womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come and be our judge. Come then, Lord, and help Your people, bought with the price of Your own blood, and bring us with Your saints to glory everlasting. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Song:
He Is Lord

Traditional

He is Lord. He is Lord
He has risen from the dead and His Lord.
Every knee shall bow,
Every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.