Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Jesus Flips the Script: Reversals During Passion Week

unsplash-logoJungwoo Hong

A Passion for Reversals

A few weeks ago, a series of thoughts came to mind during the Lord's Supper which I did not have the opportunity to share but have been bouncing around between my ears. Jesus, naturally, is a fascinating subject of study and passion week is the most fertile, poignant period of his earthly career. During this week, Jesus either offers to reverse the fortunes of many. In fact, he reverses the fortunes of the entire world whom he so loves.

Specifically, however, Jesus tries to flip the script for three persons as he marches to Calvary. He extends his arms to them as they were stretched out on a cross. He offers the olive branch while facing death on a tree.

Jesus Calls The Traitor, "Friend"

And Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you have come for." Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.  —Matthew 26:50, NASB
Judas had worked out a deal to betray Jesus. Leave aside the details of why this was done and whether or not it was truly necessary for anything other than prophecy, it was clearly a slap in the face. It was a clear act of treason for a supposed subject of the King of Glory to turn him over to the priests for any reason. And by kiss no less!

How does Jesus respond? Friend1. Jesus knew Judas' intentions, however noble or ignoble they may have been. Yet, he still calls Judas friend. In this simple phrase, Jesus illustrates his entire atoning work: to reconcile a hostile populace back to himself. Scripture tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. —Romans 5:8

Jesus Reveals Truth to the Judge

Therefore Pilate said to Him, "So You are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." —John 18:37, NASB
Pilate is quite the cynical judge to ask the question, What is Truth? Did he now know truth from falsehood? Was he disillusioned from moral philosophies, religions, politics, and other schemes of men? Here he has the embodiment of Wisdom that was spoken of in Proverbs 8:22 who was both present and active in the creation of the universe. But he could not recognize the Truth.

Jesus brings a lesson on Truth to this judge. He brings his testimony to all the world and says, Now, you be the judge. Can you discern truth from falsehood? Can you decipher between truth and the noise that the world makes around it? Jesus says quite simply, I am the way, the truth, and the life.  —John 14:6

Jesus Grants Paradise to the Condemned

And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." —Luke 23:43
Jesus was numbered with the criminals. When people looked up, they saw no difference between the dregs of humanity and the Lord of All Creation. Not only that, but these filthy dregs joined in and mocked the Holy One, hurling insults and profanity at him as only the profane can. Certainly, such scum has a special hole reserved in hell for their torment.

Yet, Jesus reverses even this disdainful scene. One criminal recognized both his own woeful state and his only chance for salvation: Jesus, the Christ. He calls out to the King of Kings and pleads for entry into the kingdom; Jesus was willing and able to make that promise. He offers this to any and all who realize that they are destined for a lost eternity on their own and call out for his salvation.


Jesus is in the business of reversing man's standing before God. Where we were once traitorous heathens, we can now be called friends. Where we were clueless judges of our own lives, we can now have the truth. And where we were alone and lost, we are now found in him.


1. There is good textual evidence that this may be a gracious interpretation of the Greek term employed by Jesus. While friend works, the term might actually be applied as punk or knave. Comparable texts even use this word as a condescending term, like when referring to a child as buddy. Still, for the purposes of the devotional, Jesus offers reconciliation to those who are hostile to him. That truth is evident from scripture.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Gates of Thanksgiving

Photo by Peter Mason on Unsplash

A quick thought while on the go...

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.   Psalm 100:4. NLT

THE GATE: Usually part of a fence. Fences are used to keep property and loved ones safely inside while keeping predators and malicious ones outside. The gate is the way through which one is translated from the outside in or booted out from within.

There is a common phrase, “I’m on the fence about it...” meaning “I’m not so sure. I can see from both sides.” Have you ever seen someone literally on a fence? It looks ridiculous. It’s not sustainable. You either need to be in the perimeter or out. There’s no middle ground here.

Another case where one might be found on the fence typically happens in the middle of the night... when a thief jumps the fence to do evil. To penetrate. Thieves rarely enter through the gate. They are not welcome.

We can enter the gates of heaven because they have been opened wide for us. We come in and should be overcome with gratitude. We are thankful for the privilege of close community with Almighty God.

We are thankful that we are considered guests.
No! We are friends.
No! We are family.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Holy Mobile! July 09, 2017 at 10:26AM

A quick thought while on the go...

High Priest of the good things that have come. 

Hebrews 9:11 What a title for the Lord Jesus! What good things have come?
* A single, effective sacrifice for all
* A promised eternal inheritance
* A covenant not based on a physical place, but which spans both time and space
* An ultimate deliverance when our spiritual state is fully actualized physically

Most importantly, we have an eternal mediator who is both faithful and true. Israel had good, bad and wicked priests. They could only hope the next one would be as good as or better than the last. We have the High Priest of Good Things forever.

Friday, June 23, 2017

All Your Strength: The antihero

Samson: The Antihero

A cautionary tale

When I embarked on this study several years ago, I intended to seek the scriptures for a positive example of each command (heart, mind, soul, strength). Sadly, the Bible doesn't go out of it's way to fabricate success stories. Sometimes we need to learn from failure.

When thinking of strength in the Bible, you have to think of Samson. There really is no one who compares to the lore of Samson's strength. Sure, Caleb is a close second. He did conquer the land of Giants in his generational twilight years. But Samson is the icon of strength--it is the thing for which he is known.

It was also his downfall.

Samson is an interesting case study. We have 4 episodes of his life. Four snippets of a 20-year ministry. (Or 40-year ministry depending on you interpretation of the two verses stating he judged Israel for 20-years.) This begs the following question:

What if...

What if God decided that your four biggest failures were more important to posterity than the remainder of a successful ministry? What would your weaknesses be? Samson's Achilles heel was women and pride. What are yours? Where are the weak points in your love for the Lord?

I would not like that and I doubt anyone would feel comfortable writing down their failures for the world to see. I've seen many people lay into Samson. I've seen precious few who use Samson's life as a mirror reflecting the human condition--a condition inside me/you--right back at them.

A Revealing Prayer

It's easy to gloss over Samson's prayer in Judges 15:18-20. After all, he just fought with the jawbone of a donkey! But it is his first prayer in the narrative, and it reveals some interesting details.
  1. Consciousness: He acknowledges God's work through him.
  2. Relation: He considers himself God's servant, even if his behavior is inconsistent.
  3. Victory: He recognizes the enemy and desperately wants to avoid falling victim to the enemy.
I think these elements, if we're honest, can be found in our prayers.We know what to say to God. Sometimes we actually believe what we say. However, we fall so short. We don't have the strength.

The First Step...

So where are we? How can we live a successful life and love the Lord with all our strength? I guess our first step is to realize our weakness. We must admit that the strength we have in the flesh is not enough, though we wish it were.

The next step is to acknowledge the desire we have within us to please God. And to realize that this desire is likely only there because God placed it in us to begin with. Note the frequency with which "The Spirit of the Lord" comes upon Samson. It's not something he prays for or waits on, it's something that takes hold of him. 

At first, it comes upon him for every mighty act. But, slowly, it becomes replaced by his own strength. Finally, in the case of Delilah, he doesn't even realize that the Spirit of the Lord was not with him. It is a sad state of affairs that has direct correlation with the ability of a believer to grieve the Holy Spirit.

I'm sorry that this is not an "uplifting" message. But it is an important warning to hear and realize as we journey towards a more perfect love for the one who loved us and gave Himself for us.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bible Map Viz: The Pauline Epistles

Bible Map Viz: The Pauline Epistles

In getting ready for an overview of the first Epistle to the Corinthian church, I decided to create an all-out visualization of this data to complement my Bible Maps. Hope you enjoy it! I also like feedback. So if you have any information to share, I'd love to incorporate it.

As with my other visualization, here's the link if the embed code doesn't pan out. It gets kinda crunched in Blogger sometimes...
Bible Map Viz: The Pauline Epistles

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Little Flock. Large Transfiguration

Data Visualization and Digital Scholarship is HUGE in my profession. So I thought I'd play around with Tablaeu and some data I came across on the development of the Little Flock and other hymnals used by the Plymouth Brethren. If the embed doesn't play nice in the post, check out the viz on it's own here: https://public.tableau.com/views/HymnsoftheLittleFlock/Story1?:embed=y&:display_count=yes

Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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