forgiveness

A little over three and a half years ago, my mom died. She had a strong faith, and I have no doubt she is in heaven with Jesus. When she passed, I wrote a tribute for her. Even though she’s been gone for a few years, I’m still learning from her.

None of us are perfect, and the past few years provided me the opportunity to evaluate my mom’s life and acknowledge her strengths and weaknesses. I’ve also had the privilege of learning from my wife and mother-in-law. The observations below are not exhaustive, but they have been spiritually formative in my life.

My mom taught me to spend time with Jesus. For many reasons, my mom struggled to sleep through the night. In her latter years, she was diagnosed with sleep apnea and had a breathing machine. Most of the time during my formative years when she would wake up at night, she would get her Bible and begin praying and reading. The memory of seeing her pray and read is imprinted on my mind.

My mom modeled selfless service. Nothing made mom happier than serving her family. That’s just who she was. She loved having us close, feeding us meals, and enjoying the company of her family. Her model challenges me often. Too many times, I connect my acts of service to rights or privileges. I think my service deserves recognition or appreciation. Mom’s example reinforces the concept that we are to serve Christ and trust that he sees, not worrying about any one else.

My mother-in-law reminds me to be compassionate. My mother-in-law has taken in and cared for lame dogs and feral cats. She cares about God’s creatures and will help a person in need with astounding quickness. She even took care of her mother-in-law on her death bed. My mother-in-law’s mother-in-law was mean and cruel with her words for many years. But instead of ignoring her, my mother-in-law returned compassion to the woman who treated her with cruelty. May I have her Christ-like and forgiving spirit.

My wife exemplifies love and grace. Being a pastor’s wife is not easy, and I’m not the easiest person to me married to (especially on Sunday afternoons after preaching three services). But she cares for our family in everyday and important ways: planning grocery orders, making meals, managing our money, and parenting our children. She overlooks my insensitivities and loves relentlessly. Her love inspires and encourages.

My wife teaches me to focus and follow through. In any task she undertakes (writing for a grant, refinishing cabinets, organizing a fundraiser, or planning our family calendar), she is able to concentrate and complete her work with quality and competency. In our age of social media, news on my smartphone, and constant interruption, I am too easily distracted. I envy her gift of concentration and follow through.

My mom, mother-in-law, and wife have modeled sensitivity to others. Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate, but it is also a difficult day for many. Infertility, grief, and broken relationships are experiences that are more acute on days like Mother’s Day. Our prayers, public comments, and interactions with others should reflect this sensitivity. We all need to remember that wherever we are and whatever we’ve been through Jesus sees and Jesus cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

I’ve been reading lately about spiritual formation, growth, and leadership development. And I have a long way to go before God is through with me. But however far I am along in this spiritual life, I owe much to the godly women God has used to shape me. I’m thankful for these Proverbs 31 women in my life.

Here’s a prayer for this meditation.

Father, thank you for the godly influences in my life. Thank you for the models of forgiveness, grace, and compassion that form my spiritual history. Give me eyes to see you at work in the lives of those closest to me. Grant me discernment to see patterns of selfish and sinful behavior in my life. Guide me in applying lessons like these in my daily walk. Glorify your name in my life as you form me into the likeness of Christ.

Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash

The word, Messiah, comes from the Old Testament. It means “anointed one.” Transliterated into the New Testament, Messiah, is Christ.

Jesus, or in Hebrew Jeshua, is the given name for God’s Son born to Mary (Matthew 1:21). Jesus means “savior” or “Yahweh saves.” We should not think of Christ as a family lame or last name like we use names today. When we use the combination Jesus Christ, the Bible is reflecting the given name of God’s Son, Jesus, and his title, Christ or Messiah. Jesus is the anointed One come from God.

Messianic prophecies span the Old Testament.

  • The Messiah would be anointed king (Genesis 49:10; Psalm 2:7-9; Isaiah 9:6-7; 16:5).
  • The Messiah would be anointed priest (Psalm 110:4; Zechariah 6:13).
  • The Messiah would be anointed prophet (Isaiah 61:1-2; Deuteronomy 18:18).
  • The Messiah would be anointed judge (Isaiah 2:4; 11:3-4; Micah 4:3).
  • The Messiah would be anointed servant of God (Isaiah 42:1-4; 52:13-53:12)

The Jews of Jesus’ day were looking for the Messiah. They longed for the anointed One of God to free them from Roman rule and lead them back to prominence. The problem with the Messianic theology of Jesus’ day was that many were looking only for a political Messiah. Even the disciples were guilty of this perspective (Matthew 16:21-23).

In my previous word of the week posts, we have reflected on the doctrines related to Christology (Christ) and soteriology (salvation). Today’s post about Jesus as Messiah culminates the primary biblical storyline.

Jesus is the theme of the Bible. It is right and accurate to describe Jesus as the centerpiece of salvation history and biblical history. The Old Testament anticipated his coming in the Messianic prophecies. The Old Testament also prefigured his coming through salvation analogies (the Tabernacle and the Temples, the priesthood, the sacrificial system, the Law, and the Kingship).

When we read about Jesus in the New Testament, he fulfilled the prophecies and anticipations of the Old Testament.

  • Jesus Christ is the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2; John 18:37; 19:3).
  • Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest (1 John 2:1; Hebrews 4:14ff).
  • Jesus Christ is the Prophet who speaks God’s Words (John 1:1; Matthew 7:28-29).
  • Jesus Christ is the Judge (John 5:30; Acts 17:31).
  • Jesus Christ is the Servant of God (John 13:1-20; Mark 10:45).
  • Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Law (Matthew 5:17).
  • Jesus Christ is the Temple where we meet God (Matthew 12:6; 26:61).
  • Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36; 1 Peter 2:24).

There is no theme more central to God’s purposes in the Bible than the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.

On this special day in Christian liturgy, Good Friday, we should necessarily reflect and meditate on Jesus Christ (Savior and Anointed One).

It is because he is Savior that we celebrate today. It is because he is God’s Lamb slain once for all that we can have forgiveness. It is because he is our Great High Priest that our sins can be atoned. It is because he fulfilled God’s Law that he can take our place. It is because he is King that the powers and authorities (our enemies) are subject to him. It is because he is Judge that our sins are judged and that he is sure to judge the sinfulness of the world. It is because he is God’s Servant who gave himself for us that we can meet God.

None of what we celebrate on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday would be possible if Jesus were not all that the Bible declares him to be. He must be God. For only God can take on himself the sins of the world. He must be man for only man can adequately serve as our substitute. He must be perfect for only a perfect sacrifice will be accepted. He must be all that God promised he would be and all that God says he is. None of what we celebrate on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday would be possible if Jesus were not all that the Bible declares him to be. He must be God. For only God can take on himself the sins of the world. He must be man for only man can adequately serve as our substitute. He must be perfect for only a perfect sacrifice will be accepted. He must be all that God promised he would be and all that God says he is.

The reason that the tragedy of the false accusations, faux trial, injustice, hate, and suffering of Jesus does not negate the goodness of God is that it accomplished God’s plan for salvation. Good Friday is good not because of the injustice, suffering, and hate Jesus experienced, but because Jesus’ experiences bring us the privilege of salvation. Through the person and work of Jesus we can know God.

Our redemption could not have happened unless Jesus Christ faced the terrible tragedies of Good Friday.

It is because of this day, Good Friday, in human and Christian history that we can celebrate salvation.

The entire plan of salvation, from the purpose of God in eternity to its outworking in human history, comes to focus in Jesus of Nazareth. Just as the work of Christ cannot be separated from his person, so what he did and who he is are right at the heart of the biblical message. Christology is the heartbeat of the Christian faith.

Robert Letham, The Work of Christ, 23.

Good Friday encourages us to meditate on Jesus Christ, his person and work. Make some time today to look up the verses above. Consider who Christ is, what he did, and what that means for our redemption.

As the Old Testament anticipated the coming of the Messiah, so Good Friday anticipated the resurrection of the Messiah. Today is a day for contemplation and confession. But it is also a day to rejoice and celebrate the redeeming work of Jesus Christ: Savior and Messiah.

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