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Posts tagged ‘gospels’

Jesus I AM 1

77. Christian Disciple and Jesus’ I AM statements (1)

Exodus 3v13-14: Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’

Isaiah 41v4: “Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD -with the first of them and with the last—I am he”

John 8v58: “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “Before Abraham was, I AM”.

On seven other occasions in John’s Gospel, John records statements where Jesus said “I AM”. These are unique to John and are not recorded in the three other Gospels. For this Podcast we will look briefly at four of them and the next Podcast will discuss the remaining three. Here Jesus is reinforcing His claims to be God because when he says “I AM”, he is referring back to the time when God revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 3v14 and through the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 41v4 That’s why in John 8v59, they picked up stones in order to kill Him for blasphemy. This was in accordance, so they thought, with Deuteronomy 13, which dictates that anyone who tries to turn people away from the living God is to be stoned to death. They knew Jesus was claiming to the very God they thought they worshipped.

John 6v35, 48, and 51: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; this bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Three times in this passage, Jesus refers to Himself as the living bread. By this He meant that He was the only one who could satiate the appetite and yearning of every person’s spirit. For those He was speaking to, bread was a basic staple food for living, just as it is for millions of people today. Jesus indicates when saying He is the bread of life, that He will supply all needs! Just as He said to the woman at the well in John 4v4, that whoever drinks His living water, shall never again go spiritually thirsty. When Jesus referred to the manna in the desert (John 6v49) he talked of it being merely temporary despite being a gift from God. He however as the true bread of life would give permanent satisfaction and life everlasting to all those who believe and follow Him (John 6v51)! But this bread He offers, has to be eaten; has to be taken up by the person wanting spiritual life! Note the inference to His impending sacrifice on the cross at the end of John 6v51!

 

John 8v12: Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I AM the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

 

Jesus is at the Feast of Tabernacles! One of the great symbols of that Feast was Light! At the end of the feast, when the lights are extinguished, Jesus said that he was the light of the world! Throughout the Old Testament, light is an important symbol. There is the pillar of fire and cloud leading the nation of Israel on their journey (Exodus 13). In Psalm 27v1, the Psalmist describes God as “my light”. The nation of Israel was to be God’s light to all the world (Isaiah 49v6) so that God would be the world’s light (Isaiah 60v19-22). So by referring to Himself as the light of the world, Jesus is saying it is He who shines light into peoples spiritual eyes and gives them understanding which in turn leads to them seeing their need of God and His ability to satisfy their spiritual needs.

 

John 10v7-11 and 14-15: Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I AM the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

 

Throughout the Old Testament, God is seen as a shepherd and His people are the sheep of is keeping. The sheep are always God’s even though He temporarily entrusted them to people such as Moses to care and tender them. Therefore Moses and others like him such as the true prophets, were forerunners to Jesus. Here Jesus proclaims that He is the door or gate to salvation! It is through Jesus that salvation is found and through Him alone as the door or gate, people are led safe and sound into spiritual freedom, spiritual light and spiritual sustenance. Unlike others who come only to steal, kill and destroy, Jesus offers spiritual safety & nourishment. Jesus does not just offer a way out, but also a way in! The security offered by Jesus is because He is always in close proximity to those who follow Him. Jesus calls all those who follow Him by name (John 10v3) and they know each other.

Jesus is the great shepherd only through the sacrifice he must make for His sheep. Here Jesus is looking ahead to the sacrifice He makes on the Cross. His love for all of humanity compels Him to make the ultimate sacrifice. Just as all shepherds will endanger themselves for the safety of their sheep, so too will Jesus endure the pain and suffering of the Cross, so that people can be led into safety of God’s kingdom. It is in this role of shepherd, that Jesus exhibits true leadership, which is self-less and sacrificial. Ezekiel 34v11 tells of God searching out for his sheep among all nations, and this is fulfilled through Jesus. Through His perfect, obedient and voluntary sacrifice on the Cross, not only will salvation be available to the Jews but also to those of other nations (John 10v16).

 

For more to think about please do read XXXXX. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Read John 6v25-59. How does Jesus being the bread of life encapsulate His whole message?

Q2. Read 1 John 1. If Jesus is the light of the world, how am I to live as His follower?

Q3. Read John 10v1-21. As a Christian Disciple, what benefits does Jesus as the shepherd offer me?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.

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Jesus’ Teaching

76. Christian Disciple and Jesus’ Teaching

Luke records in Luke 4v31-32: Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people. They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority.”

This event in Capernaum was not a one off occurrence. Frequently the writers of the gospel remark how people viewed Jesus’ teaching as authoritative. But what was it that made His teaching authoritative?

1. How he taught with authority:

Jesus’ manner of teaching shared much in common with other teachers of 1st century Palestine. His teachings frequently included Old Testament texts; exaggerate hyperbole, telling of parables, rhythmic poetry aiding memorisation and the predicting of future events were common teaching practise at the time in both religious and secular circles. Most of the teaching we have in the Gospels did not arise out of formal settings but rather through personal encounters, engaging with the religious leaders and the inherent need to teach His disciples. However it is not so much his manner of teaching that created the air of authority about him, but rather what He taught that did (Matthew 7v28-29).

2. What did he teach?

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus appeals to the Old Testament scriptures in every facet of His teaching. Founded on Old Testament texts, were His moral and legal teachings (Matthew 5v17-48), the historical stories (Matthew 24v27-29) and in His debates with the religious leaders, Jesus frequently used Old Testament Scripture (Mark 7v6-13).

Quite possibly, the supreme example of His teaching can be found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5v1-7v29). Whilst mainly speaking to His disciples, he allowed the crowds to listen. In this discourse, all of Jesus’ teachings are exhibited. Key themes from the Sermon on the Mount include: a Christian Disciple’s character, influence, righteousness, religion, devotional life, ambition and relationships.

The Kingdom of God

Jesus preached that entrance to the kingdom of God was through repentance (Matthew 3v2) and this repentance led to a spiritual rebirth (John 3v1-8). He calls all Christian Disciples to seek it first (Matthew 6v33) and to pray for it (Matthew 6v10). But what is the Kingdom of God? The Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus, was not a political uprising against the Romans, as thought by James and John (Mark 10v35-45) and nor is it the church. The kingdom of God was and is both a personal inner spiritual relationship with God as ruler over the life of the Christian Disciple, but also the Christian Disciple exhibiting this relationship with God in a visible new society (Matthew 25v34; Luke 13v29). Parable such as the corn and weeds (Matthew 13v24-30) and the mustard seed (Mark 4v3-32) typify Jesus teaching on this.

Regarding Himself

Whilst Jesus never directly claimed to be God, He did things only God could do. He claimed authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9v1-7). He also claimed that He, and He alone, was the only way to the Father when he said in John 14v6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. His claim to be the Messiah, or Son of Man, is an appeal to Old Testament texts and their subsequent fulfilment and completion in Him (Mark 8v29-33). Primarily His teaching that the Messiah must suffer and be glorified was also an appellation to Old Testament scripture (Luke 9v31; Luke 12v50; John 10v11-15).

3. The prime method He used was with parables:

Throughout the Gospels, we see that Jesus spoke a lot in parable form. A parable is an allegories or picture story. He did this in order to get His message across completely. The parables as recorded in the Gospels mainly fall into four categories:

Society and its God – an example of this would be the parable of the sheep (Luke 15v1-7) whereby God is seen as a God of grace.

Society and the individual – an example of this would be the parable involving the rich fool who thought his wealth would make God love him more (Luke 12v13-21).

Society and the community – an example here would be the parable of the Good Samaritan whereby everyone is to show love, even for their enemies (Luke 10v25-37).

Society and the future – an example here would be the parable of the great feast whereby the future climax of the kingdom is seen (Matthew 25v31-33).

4. Who did He teach?

The Gospel writers attributed Jesus as a teacher (Mark 5v35; John 7v15) despite his lacking the formal requirements usually attained by rabbis. The Gospel writers also refer to him as a prophet (Luke 7v16; John 6v14), and he was recognized as such by people (Mark 6v15; Mark 8v28). There were three main groups of people that Jesus interacted with and taught. There were large crowds, his twelve disciples and the religious leaders.

The Crowds– Sermon on the Mount

When Jesus taught large gathering of people, it was always based on evidential facts and it was always as Luke described “good news” (Luke 4v18), because God gave it to Jesus. Crowds recognized that Jesus had a confident manner of speaking (Mark 1v22). It must be noted that in the presence of crowds, Jesus didn’t actively reveal who he was (Mark 1v44; Mark 3v11-12; Mark 9v9).

The Disciples

Many of Jesus’ recorded teachings were to His disciples, but in the midst of crowds, such as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5v1; Matthew 7v28). However on more precise requirements of discipleship, or about Himself or the future of God’s Kingdom, Jesus usually only taught His disciples concerning His true identity, even though they failed to grasp it (Mark 8v27-33).

The religious leaders

Because of Jesus’ popularity and the activities He was involved with, the religious leaders soon took notice of him. Jesus respected the Law of Moses and Moses authority (Mark 1v22). He gave his own unique interpretation and as such attracted the opposition of the religious leaders who had taught a different interpretation. An example of this is in Jesus interpretation of the Sabbath (Mark 2v23-38); the healings He performed (John 5v1-18); fasting and ritual cleanliness (Mark 7v1-5) and for consorting with sinners (Luke 7v34). Jesus criticised the religious leaders for amongst other things: their lack of compassion and the weighty burdens they placed upon others (Matthew 23; Mark 12v38-40; Luke 11v37-54).

For more to think about please do ask your self the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Read Matthew 5v13. How can I as a Christian Disciple be salt and light to my community?

Q2. Read Mark 4v10-20. How does Jesus speak to me as a Christian Disciple and how does the Holy Spirit help me to interpret what Scripture says?

Q3.? Read Matthew 7v24-27. In what ways am I as a Christian Disciple sometimes like the wise builder and at other times like the foolish builder?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.

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JOG – Jesus’ Birth

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Jesus Overview in the Gospels – Jesus Birth

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Matthew 1v1-17 – The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:
2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king.

David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. 7 Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. 9 Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. 10 Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. 11 Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. 13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. 14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. 15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. 16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.

Christ’s Birth Announced to Mary Luke 1v26-38

Luke 1v26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”

38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Christ Born of Mary – Luke 2v1-7

1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

That Jesus was a man is not really disputed. The birth of Jesus is extraordinary at every level. The primary documents about Him, found in the Bible, says that he was born of a woman, which in itself tells us that at least in a prenatal state he was nurtured and formed as any other male baby was and is. On the physical level, Jesus was born as any person is, but as regards his conception, He was conceived like no other person – conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1v35). This was so that Jesus would not be given the sinful nature passed that all humans have. Jesus was fully human and fully divine. Other documents, outside of the Bible from that time period also attest to Jesus and his existence.

Throughout the Old Testament, there is a witness to the birth of the Messiah, the Saviour. From the time of the first sin done by Adam, through the creation of Israel, the life of the Patriarchs and Kings and the oracles of the Prophets – all looking forward to the Messiah coming. The 5 Covenants that God made with people all look forward to this Messiah, this King. This King was to be their hope, their Saviour. His genealogy takes his physical line back to Abraham via David. Abraham the father of Israel and David the first King. He grew into maturity as any young Jewish boy did.

When Jesus was born, his name imbued the very reason he was born. His conception and birth were extraordinary at every level. So important is our understanding of the birth of Jesus that no fewer than 4 angels come to give us a full picture of the event. Do you think that his parents, Joseph & Mary, or God, ever gazed upon him, and thought “How misnamed He is”! They did not, because they knew the very purpose for which He was born. Did Jesus ever think of how misnamed he was? Certainly not! His name means one who saves or a rescuer. The entirety of His birth, life and death were centred on this very role. His role was to save all those who would follow Him.

He is the most talked about person in history. Almost everyone has an opinion about Him. He was born to confirm God’s promises, to reveal God as a Father, and to be our representative before Him. He gave us an example of how to live a holy life to the full. He was not merely a man who received some special power. He was not some strange creation that was half man and half God, with his human nature somehow absorbed into the divine. He was, as we shall see in this series, much more than those ideas!

One of the church father’s, Anselm, wrote that God’s salvation plan for humans’ involved triumphant victory over sin, death and the grave. However no person could be found that was eligible or capable to do this. Because of this, God stepped into the human history, so that this victory could be achieved. This God-man would be fully human, so as to live every feature of humanity, including suffering and death. This God-man would also need to remain fully God, so as to defeat sin, death and the grave. Jesus, being sinless, was this God-man, consisting as he did of two complete natures, the God nature and the human nature. That is why Jesus being both fully God and fully human is all important – without either, He could not be the long awaited for Messiah and Saviour.

That Jesus is both human and divine is what makes Christianity unique amongst the world’s religions. It is why Jesus’ claims to be the only way to God are true and make sense, and it is why millions of people today worship Him and acknowledge Him as their Lord and their God.

From what we know of his childhood and early life, we know that he grew in stature and wisdom (Luke 2v52)

For more to think about please do read Matthew 1v18-2v23. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close

1. How important to me is every aspect of the conception and birth of Jesus Christ?

2. What lessons can I learn from other characters in these early chapters of the Gospels – Joseph, Mary, Shepherds, Wise Men, Simeon and Anna.

3. What aspects of the whole story of Jesus physical conception and birth am I not familiar with?

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JOG Sample

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Sample chapter of JOG – Jesus Over in the Gospels. Eighteen study chapters where we jog together through the four Gospels of the Bible.

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Will release the full e-Book soon…

Who is he – 11. Messiah’s Proclamations

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Messiah’s Proclamations

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Isaiah 61:1–11; 63:1-6

61:1 The Spirit of the Lord Yahweh is on me;
because Yahweh has anointed me to preach good news to the humble.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to those who are bound;
61:2 to proclaim the year of Yahweh’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 61:3 to appoint to those who mourn in Zion, to give to them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Yahweh, that he may be glorified.
61:4 They shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. 61:5 Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and foreigners shall be your ploughmen and your vinedressers. 61:6 But you shall be named the priests of Yahweh; men will call you the ministers of our God: you will eat the wealth of the nations, and you will boast in their glory.
61:7 Instead of your shame you shall have double; and instead of dishonour they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be to them.
61:8 “For I, Yahweh, love justice, I hate robbery with iniquity; and I will give them their recompense in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. 61:9 Their seed shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which Yahweh has blessed.”
61:10 I will greatly rejoice in Yahweh, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 61:11 For as the earth brings forth its bud, and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord Yahweh will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

63:1 Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this who is glorious in his clothing, marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
63:2 Why are you red in your clothing, and your garments like him who treads in the wine vat?
63:3 “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the peoples there was no man with me: yes, I trod them in my anger, and trampled them in my wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on my garments, and I have stained all my clothing. 63:4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redeemed has come. 63:5 I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore my own arm brought salvation to me; and my wrath, it upheld me. 63:6 I trod down the peoples in my anger, and made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”

In this passage from Isaiah 61 through to Isaiah 63, we have two contrasting certainties. They can be found in Isaiah 61:2. The two certainties are “the year of Yahweh’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God”. There will be the year of favour and the day of vengeance. The year of honour, as we shall see has already started. We don’t know when it will end, but we know that it will. The day of vengeance will be in the future sometime. Again we don’t know when that will be either. But we know it will all happen quickly, suddenly and without warning (Isaiah 60:22). Therefore people need to be ready and alert! The time of when it will occur is not known, but it is known who will end it – Almighty God.

Messiah’s Good News

The Servant Messiah speaks without being introduced this time, and is the preacher in the year of the Lord’s favour. This preaching is probably a referral to the rams horn that ushers in the Year of Jubilee as established in the Mosaic Covenant (Leviticus 25:8-55). The Servant Messiah’s preaching will usher in a time of grace, justice and freedom – just as the ram’s horn introduced the Year of Jubilee. The phrase to “proclaim liberty” is used in both the year of Jubilee and in this the year of the Lord’s favour. This proclaimed year of the Lord’s favour starts when the Messiah comes the first time and will cease when He returns again. The word year, is not a fixed period of time as we know it, but is rather symbolic of an extended period of time. This Servant Messiah is anointed with the Holy Spirit of God. This Good News was to be preached to the humble, the poor and poor in spirit – the Good News is news of freedom, liberty, grace and justice! The comfort they will receive should the offer be taken up, is one of being released from condemnation for sin through the Messiah’s offer of forgiveness – that is grace! Because of this grace, three things will be occur for these people who have accept the offer, here referred to in Isaiah 61:3 as “trees of righteousness” : they will display or reflect the Lord God’s glory and splendour; they will be priests of the Lord God service; and will inherit all things!

Messiah’s Grace & Justice

What is the outcome and result of grace? We see it in Isaiah 61:7-9. Almighty God’s grace, available only through the Messiah, will bring bountiful blessing, ecstatic joy and a rich inheritance instead of shame, dishonour and exile. Grace may well be free but it is not cheap. What was the price? The relationship bridge to God that is the Messiah, is only through the Messiah’s suffering atonement as described in Isaiah 53. Isaiah moves to justice quite naturally therefore, for grace and justice are like twins – they go together naturally. Justice is grace in action just as much as it is the judging of those in sin (Isaiah 61:8). Liberating people from sin freely (grace) is as much a part of justice as punishing those who reject the gracious offer of pardon and continue to live sinful lives. Grace and justice are also available, because God is always full of grace and justice and this is seen in the new covenant He makes with those who have heard this Good News proclaimed by the Messiah and responded by taking up His free offer.

This Good News of the twins Grace and Justice brings an offering of thanksgiving and praise (Isaiah 61:10-11)! Clothed with salvation from and through God’s Messiah, robed with the righteousness of God’s Messiah! And because God has done it for this one man, He will ensure that all those who respond from all nations will also be like that in a responsive praise and Godly righteousness.

Messiah’s Vengeance

We have been warned in Isaiah 61:2 that not only will the Messiah usher in the year of the Lord’s favour, but He will also bring vengeance with him. People today don’t like the word vengeance because it conjures up images of maliciousness and vindictiveness. This vengeance is wrought by Almighty God as punishment for people’s personal sin against Him. His anger is a righteous anger and a wrath borne of holiness. His judgment will be final and also universal – every people of every nation of all time. In particular, however, those who would persecute, mock, abhor and reject those who have taken up God’s free offer of grace through the coming Messiah.

How is Jesus this Messiah?

In Luke 4:16-20 at the beginning of His public ministry at a synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus quotes this passage from Isaiah 61. This tells us that the year of the Lord’s favour has commenced. But note from the passage in Luke, that he doesn’t quote the full scripture. He stops in the middle of reading a sentence, just as soon as He says “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour“, rolls the scroll back up. Why does he do that? It can only be because while now until He returns, is the year of the Lord’s favour, the day of judgement and vengeance will wait until that day in the future – when those who are His followers will enter the City of God and those who rejected Him will have vengeance wrought against them.

Jesus went around, as we know, proclaiming the same Good News Isaiah writes about (Matthew 9:35, Luke 8:1). Jesus proclaimed in his words and his life about God’s love, grace and justice. When he healed the sick, forgave sins, gave compassion on the poor, spoke and ate with the outcasts, Jesus Christ embodied this message of grace, justice and freedom. When, as we saw on a previous day, death on the cross was the act of atonement required by God in order to punish the sins of the world, Jesus Christ did not shirk back from doing that.

As for the day of vengeance, nobody talked about hell and God’s judgement more than Jesus. But God is always reaching out, coaxing people to accept His free offer of grace, if people will only humble themselves and ask for it. God’s offer of freedom is still available in this the year of the Lord’s favour. But one day, the day of judgement will come and then it will be too late. That is why Jesus commanded with some urgency that His followers would tell all nations of this Good News, Isaiah wrote about. A Good News of salvation, grace, justice and freedom.

Jesus, reinforcing what Isaiah ahs said, tells us that the day of vengeance is for those who reject the Good News he preaches and lives (Matthew 10v14-15). God’s Day of Judgment is coming said Jesus (Matthew 12:36). What’s more, Jesus said in John 5:22-23 “For the Father judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He who doesn’t honour the Son doesn’t honour the Father who sent him.” Jesus claims here to openly be the Messiah, the long awaited for chosen One! An even more overt statement by Jesus on judgment can be found in John 9:39, “I came into this world for judgment, that those who don’t see may see; and that those who see may become blind.” Jesus tells us that the punishment will be both physical (Matthew 5v29-30), and in the soul (Matthew 10v28). This vengeance will consist of everlasting fire and punishment (Matthew 25v41-46) and will be Constant and outer darkness (Matthew 8v12). In other words, those rejecting the Messiah Jesus Christ, will face a lonely, impersonal God-less void. All this will happen when Jesus comes again, not as a baby like last time, but in glorious splendour.

But for all those who accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah and have grasped hold of the Good News message of grace, justice and liberty, there will be another place. According to Jesus, this heavenly city of God is only for those who are righteous (Matthew 5v20). In doing so, he concurs with Isaiah. This righteousness is not their own, but the robe righteousness declared upon them through the Messiah.

This heavenly city of God, Jesus proclaims to us is a place of ecstatic Joy (Luke 15v7-10), total peace (Luke 16v19-25) and a reward (Matthew 5v11-12) – all themes we have heard in these books of Isaiah and Zechariah.

There is one more study to come. As this is released on Christmas day, you may wonder why. My reason for doing so, was that yes we celebrate Jesus Christ coming to earth as a baby. Yes, His incarnation whereby God took on human flesh in the human form of Jesus Christ is important. That iw when the year of the Lord’s favour commenced. But that is only half the story, because this Jesus Christ is coming back again in splendorous glory, in order to gather all those who have responded obediently to the Good News of God’s grace, justice and freedom. For those, the heavenly city of God awaits. But for those who reject Him now, He will reject them and the day of vengeance proclaimed in Isaiah will be a terrible day. That is why even as it is now the year of the Lord’s favour; it is not too late to respond obediently to God’s free grace. It is also not too late for you, if you are already counted as one of the Lord’s followers to tell others of this free offer and the rewards of acceptance and consequences of rejection.

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