In Matthew 2 it becomes obvious people knew Jesus was going to fulfill the over 300 descriptions of the promised messiah in the Old Testament.
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, (Why?, there is a new king) and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 6 ‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH,
ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH;
FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER
WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.'”
The chief priests, the scribes, the magi, Herod the king, all knew Jesus was fulfilling the promise of a coming messiah. Later on in Matthew 2 King Herod even issues a decree to have all children 2 years and under in Bethlehem killed because he knew the promises had been fulfilled in Jesus. A new king was coming!
So how did they miss it?
8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
Verse 10 is teaching us if we stumble at just one point we are guilty of breaking all of the law because the law is the reflection of the character and holiness of God and if we are going to dwell in an eternal relationship with Him then we need to be perfect in character as well. We need to be holy.
The third one is to know that communion is individual.
As we enter into this celebration there is a picture of spiritual nourishment that takes place as we grow in the truth of the gospel because what Jesus accomplished at the cross is beautiful. The gospel is like a diamond and the more we turn it, the more we look at it, the more we study it, the more beautiful it becomes.
Might we never get tired of growing more infatuated with the gospel and that it would continue to stir in us more joy, peace, and love for Jesus and one another.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds
Notice in verse 2 it says “whenever” we face trials. It isn’t if, or might, but whenever we face trials. Trials are going to come. Life is hard. Some of us will push back and think that is a real negative way to look at life because Jesus brings joy, and He does, but it is important to get it in the right order. He doesn’t bring joy by the absence of trials, but He brings joy in the midst of trials. It is why verse 2 starts off with “consider it pure joy”.
For some of us when we are in the midst of trials and someone said this to us it would make us want to punch them in the face, but lets be clear that it isn’t teaching us to find joy in the trial as though we should experience smiles and dancing in the midst of pain like a bunch of masochist. It isn’t that we are to take joy after the trial which is what most of us want to do right? However, it teaches us to consider it.
What does it mean to consider? To reflect, to contemplate, to think carefully about “it” about the trial. This reflection will shape our attitude toward the trial and below is a simple way to help us move in that direction:
The depths of the cross are overwhelming to take in, it leaves me in awe continually that the blood of Christ that was poured out on my behalf. Below are a few truths to reflect on:
• Redemption: All Christ-followers have been redeemed and forgiven. Our salvation has been purchased, as a ransom, through the blood of Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God who died as a payment for our sins and took upon Himself our guilt and punishment for those sins (Ephesians 1:7).
It is easy in life to find ourselves in a place where we start thinking I wish I could have a “do over”. I wish I could go back in time and do some things different. Maybe you have experienced that in marriage where in a split second it goes from casual to chaos and you are thinking, “How did this happen?” How did we just blow up at each other like that? Can we just start over?
It is in the midst of those chaotic moments remember that God has a plan…
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Is Jesus really the only way? In an environment of such plurality and diversity this really seems an implausible or even arrogant claim of Christianity. Below are a few responses to common objections:
We live in a time where the Bible is seen as speculation and at best a suggestion to consider. We are skeptical, we doubt, we wrestle and often times the Bible can be intimidating. At the least it is literature that has been widely read and considered by many to be the word of God. Yes, it was written by human authors, but there was a supernatural presence that created a supernatural message that in the end communicates one central message.
There are 66 different books, 40 different authors from a variety of backgrounds, 3 different language, on 3 different continents, written over a period of 1,500 years and communicates one central message: there is a creator, he is loving, there is pain and guilt, and that pain has been removed through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The scriptures tell us that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. The unknown has been made known. However, many of us have an image of Jesus that is inaccurate. Some of us might see him only as a judge, only as a friend, someone who is impersonal, or one we try to stay away from and try to avoid at all costs.
This Sunday we will be meeting at Lucy Read for the first time as a core team to get a feel for the inside, pray about what God wants to do in us and through us, and dream about what it could look like. We are really excited!
There has been a passage that I have been reflecting on in John 15:
1″I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful.”
In Philemon Paul writes a letter to reconcile a relational conflict between Onesimus and Philemon and in this letter we see a communication pattern that we can apply between church and community.
8 Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9 yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
Toward the end of the apostle Paul’s life he writes a letter to a man named Philemon. Philemon had been intimately involved in the Colossian church and had built a reputation of being a man of character in the community. In the letter the apostle Paul goes on to affirm Philemon’s character and refers to him as a refresher. Leading me to consider, “What if the church was refreshing?”