[in]complete: Why didn’t Jesus simply come and out and say “I am God?”

The first Christians did not get in trouble for saying “Jesus is God.” The Romans believed in a myriad of so-called “gods,” so saying Jesus is another one of those is just to add Him to the pantheon of supposed gods they could worship. That wasn’t the offense of their message.

Instead, the message was “Jesus is Lord,” which is much deeper and far-reaching in the claims about the God-Man (and is “sneeze-able“).

Those three tiny words were actually hugely offensive. Why?

Who was the so-called “Lord” of the Roman Empire?

Caesar.

He was the “God of the gods,” who ruled over all, on earth and in the heavens. Or so they thought. Pagans saw gods in everything, and everything was a god. So, calling Jesus “God” isn’t as forceful as what believers more commonly called Him: Lord.

When we say Jesus is Lord, we must become like the first believers, who were not using religious jargon. They were saying that Jesus replaced Caesar, and anyone else, as the one receiving their worship. These thoughtful Jesus-followers were making a whole-life claim as to who they will obey and follow in this life. They were saying He is above all, the one true ruler, the God who calls the shots. He is in control of all; He is the Caesar of the Caesar.

More than saying “Jesus is Lord,” they were living as if Jesus is Lord, which maks all the difference in the world.

Jesus was not an add-on. They realized that before Jesus they were busy serving other kings and masters, who abused them and let them down. In contrast, Jesus is a good Master, who will not let us down.

He wants our whole life. When He is Lord, life becomes good. Because He is the one Good God.

Mark 12:13-17 (NLT):

 13 Later the leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. 14 “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. You teach the way of God truthfully. Now tell us—is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay them, or shouldn’t we?”

Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me a Roman coin,[a denarius] and I’ll tell you.” 16 When they handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

17 “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

His reply completely amazed them.

Image credits: “Caesar’s or God’s” by Lawrence OP, and “The Biblical Tribute Penny: Tiberius AR Denarius 16-34 AD” by Icarus Kuwait, both on Flickr

Romans: the more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.

On Romans:

“This letter is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian’s while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.”

—Martin Luther, The Letter of St. Paul to Romans, written 1546

Chart source: Mark Barry, Visual Unit

Our God Above.

Our God Above,” a song of God-centered renewal, from Andy Melvin’s album The Human Engine Waits:

Come and fill us Father
with Your living water
’cause these wells we’ve dug are dry
the world we have befriended
has left us empty-handed
and only You can satisfy
 
as we return to You
our spirits are renewed
and our hearts are moved to worship You alone
 
our God above
we lift You up
to the place that You deserve
within our hearts
and we glorify
the Lord on high
You have no equal on the earth
No equal on the earth
 
Lord, we claim the promise
that the work You started
You’ll be faithful to complete
so we trust in Your might as we offer our lives
as a living sacrifice of praise to You
 
and we! declare! our love! to You!
yeah we! declare! our love! to You!
 

Live recording of “Nothing Compares” by Andy Melvin and the Unlikely Sons [see in HD]:

Weighty Words: SENT.

(Maybe it should be called Pure Words instead. Read on.)

[John 17] Jesus is about as calm as the eye of a hurricane as He awaits an inevitable betrayal, arrest, conviction and crucifixion. So He intently goes to a familiar place to pray. An urgent conversation awaits Him. His closest friends are oblivious to the weight of the scene; the only weight they feel is their eyelids shutting as they sleep instead of watch. I would chide them expect for the fact that I would have done the same.

What Jesus prays is both shocking and re-assuring. He wrestles with the Father, resigning His will to what must be done. (For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, despising the shame [Hebrews 12:1-3].) Then His prayer takes the tone of a man giving his final resolution, a battle cry of certainty. Jesus doesn’t say much after this, at least not for a few days. The risen Christ had much to say on the other side of the grave.

He had just said His peace to His betrayer, Judas, who would come onto the scene soon after this hour of prayer. Earlier, at the Last Supper, celebrating the substitution of the Passover Lamb, Jesus told His adversary to get on with what he intended to do.

What Jesus needed to say next He said to the only one who did not betray Him. Though the Father would soon turn His face away, He is the only One in Jesus’ life who would keep all His promises.

This was a moment of sweet communion and a glimpse into the most pure conversation to ever take place on planet earth. No pretense or manipulation. No one ‘winning,’ and getting his way through whining or verbal abuse. The strength of Their wills is unfathomable, their rights as Deity immeasurable. But — check this — neither asserts His rights.


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First thoughts.

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.”
—A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: HarperCollins, 1961), p. 1.

Perpetually thankful.

“Our heavenly Father, finally, is good (Psalm 135:3). His goodness extends throughout our lives. Perhaps the best way to apply the doctrine of God’s goodness is to live a perpetually thankful life (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In so doing we will honor Him who gave His Son for us — the greatest expression of mercy and kindness the world has ever known.

Meditation on these attributes is meant to provide fuel for faith and love of God. Every Christian would do well to consider them in personal devotions and to be involved in a God-centered local church dedicated to a “high view” of God, with preaching that expounds the truths of God’s nature. A vibrant devotional life and involved congregational life cannot trouble-proof one’s Christian walk, but each will greatly assist the believer in looking beyond this world to the realm where our Redeemer dwells.”
—Owen Strachan & Doug Sweeney, “The Beauty of God,” Jonathan Edwards On Beauty (The Essential Edwards Collection), p. 45.