All in Lord's Day Morning
We have already seen some of the attributes of the Word, in that he is full of grace and truth. But now we see the character, nature and essence of the Word since he is the only begotten of the Father. The title ‘the Word’ conveys to us the disclosure of God’s mind but as the only begotten Son we see the disclosure of God’s heart.
After the mountain top statement of “the Word was made flesh” we see again that John the Baptist gives testimony to the Lord Jesus. This is a parenthesis in the narrative between v14 and v16. It’s an uncontainable interjection, John is almost bubbling over as he declares the arrival of the Messiah. This echoes the feeling of the Psalmist when he said “my heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King” (Ps. 45:1, NKJV). Just as “the noise of the trumpet” (Ex. 20:18) signalled the presence of God in the wilderness, the trumpeting of John’s voice announced the coming of the Word.
One of my favourite hymns is Daniel Whittle’s classic, The Crowning Day is coming. In four carefully crafted verses, drenched in theology, he takes the congregation from our Lord’s current rejection, to the Crowning Day when ‘our pain will all be over.’ The sentiment of the hymn is clear; the Lord is rejected now, but will be crowned as King in a day to come.
The Ark of the Covenant is a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus. It was the single most important vessel of the tabernaclebeing the very throne of God. It was constructed of shittim wood (incorruptible humanity) inlaid and overlaid with gold (deity) – how blessed to remember that God (gold) was manifest in the flesh (shittim wood)! These were twoseparate and different materials, but one glorious vessel. Likewise the Lord Jesus is perfect humanity and full deity in one glorious person. This Ark was the meeting place between God and His people – so the Lord Jesus is the one Mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2.5). But, as one year closes and another opens, I would like to leave a word (or three!) of encouragement in relation to the movements of this most holy of objects. The Ark was…
Every week we get another opportunity to do exactly as David instructs in this Psalm: "O magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together."
What a call! "Magnify" means ‘make strong' or 'declare the greatness of.” “Let us exalt" or ‘raise up' or ‘lift high.’ To be clear, the Lord does not need us to declare His greatness, for He is great; nor does he require us to lift His name high, for it is already so. But, He wants us to, and commands us to, for no other reason than He delights to hear His people worship Him. David knew this, and he understood the immense spiritual benefit that came as a result.
This famous portion of First Corinthians gives a full-length picture of agape love in action. The fifteen behavioural qualities paint a beautiful portrait of the Person of the Lord Jesus, himself being the one in whom the love of God has been fully manifested
John has described the Lord Jesus in some fairly abstract terms until now; we have seen him as life and as light, but here in wonderful succinctness we read that “the Word was made flesh”. This is personal, relational and close. The eternal Word who was in intimate union with God and is essentially God became man.
It is possible to fall into the trap of assuming that Old Testament saints knew very little compared to what we know. This is especially true of some of the early saints, such as Abraham, Moses and Job. However, we must bear in mind what the scriptures say about such individuals; the Lord Jesus told the Jews that ‘Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad’ (Jn. 8:56, KJV). What degree of revelation Abraham had is the matter of debate, but one thing is certain; he believed in a coming Messiah. Of Moses, the Hebrew writer states; ‘He regarded abuse suffered for Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for his eyes were fixed on the reward’ (Heb. 10:26, NET). He didn’t know Christ in the way we do, but again, he believed in a coming Messiah, and considered Him worthy of his suffering. Far from being unenlightened, disadvantaged saints, these were individuals who had received revelation from God directly.
Last week ended on a rather gloomy note where the Word was rejected by those that should have received him. Though many shut the door on Christ, some warmly embraced him and became children of God.
We have previously seen the Lord Jesus as light coming into the world as the fulfilment of God’s revelation. God had communicated with man and this climaxed in the person of Christ. He was light streaming into the world, but now we see him in his personal nearness. God had shone the search and rescue light into this world to seek the lost, but now we see the person behind the light as Christ comes in his personal manifestation.
In our final meditation of this series we consider the last of the sayings of the cross recorded by John (19.26-30). First was a cry of sympathy (vv.26-27) followed by a cry of suffering (vv.28-29) and, finally, a cry of service (v.30). ‘It is finished’ is the translation of a single Greek word, tetelestai, the root word being teleo meaning ‘not merely to terminate a thing, but to carry out a thing to the full’ (WE Vine).
Not much is said about Jabez in scripture, but much has been made of his prayer. Probably too much. Whether this is the reason for his commendation by the chronicler, we can’t be sure, but what we do know is that it was never intended to be the catch-all guarantee of physical and material blessing it has become. But I digress.
“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” This question is what Amos rhetorically asked when pronouncing judgment upon disobedient Israel. This Scripture reminds us that when two are walking together to accomplish a goal, they are agreed in the task and united in will to see it accomplished. We can see Abraham and Isaac, having left the two young men behind, climbing hills and descending valleys together. As they walked, their goal was to arrive at Mt. Moriah. Let us examine the beautiful picture that God gives us of Himself: the Father with the Son walking together with Calvary in view.
We have learnt previously that John the Baptist was a witness to the light, just as the moon reflects the sun John was but a faint reflection of the true light. This verse is like the dawning of a new day as rays of sunlight stream into the world. We learn that Christ is greater and brighter than every other man and past revelation. Every witness prior to the coming of the Lord was partial and fragmentary. The expression “true” here is used of what is ultimate, final and complete. Everything else was a shadow but Christ is the substance.
Consider (verb): to think about carefully
We might use the word, but the definition that follows is foreign to most of us if we were being totally honest. We are technology rich, but time poor, and that lethal combination means we only ever scratch the surface of anything worthwhile, and waste a lot of time on things that are ultimately worthless. Economists talk about the paradox of choice which describes the situation where we end up with less choice in a world of unlimited choice because we don’t have the time to investigate the options available to us. The result is that we end up taking the first option that meets our basic requirements, thus the paradox of choice. In our internet age this is the norm, and it is part of the reason consideration is an alien concept to us.
In our penultimate meditation of this series we come to a consideration of the sayings of the cross (vv.26-30). John records three of the seven sayings from the cross, the first being a cry of sympathy in relation to His mother (vv.26-27).
This week we publish a hymn written by Canadian preacher Albert Benjamin Simpson (1843-1919).
Having announced blessing and woe on different disciples, the Lord now addresses those “which hear”. The implication being, there are those who hear his voice and desire to obey. They are his sheep – they hear and follow him (Jn. 10:27). Although they will suffer for his sake he details how they are to react against such opposition. The Lord calls his followers to the highest standard in the face of severe opposition. This was no hypocritical call that was proven empty by the Lord’s example; rather he would live out exactly what he had announced. He was consistent in word and deed. As the faithful shepherd he would go before his sheep.