Jesus Practiced What He Preached

jesus_teachingJesus practiced what he preached, perhaps the greatest understatement ever made, and of course what he preached was the Gospel. “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” Mark 1:14-15 

Jesus preached the Gospel.

Let’s deconstruct that passage. Jesus said “the time is fulfilled.” His first century Jewish audience would have been familiar with the many messianic prophecies. Jesus didn’t spend a great deal of time trying to convince people he was the Messiah; by contrast he told his disciples to keep to themselves even as they began to figure it out. Without announcing that Messiah (or Christ in the Greek) was present he began his first sermon by declaring in effect “now is the appointed time, today is the day of salvation.” Continue reading

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Jesus Preached the Gospel, and Then Some

jesus_teachingIn Mark 1 (also Matthew 4) Jesus began his public ministry. Before healing the sick or calling disciples, Jesus preached his first sermon:

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15, ESV)

Jesus preached the gospel. Gospel is one of those words we borrowed from Greek when translating the scriptures. It means good news. You can easily recognize Christians that share the gospel by one simple test: is what they are sharing good news? At the first opportunity, Jesus preached the Gospel. He did not preach a four part message series on having a happy marriage or managing a successful business. The Bible has a lot to say about marriage, business, raising children and so forth. But those things are not of the most importance. Where Jesus spent the balance of his time and energy was on spreading the gospel. Continue reading

Real Victory

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
-John 12:12-13

On Palm Sunday we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem for the last time. All four Gospels record what is known as the triumphal entry. By the end of the week the crowd had turned, and those shouting “Hosanna” would shout “crucify him.” The triumphal entry appeared to be Jesus’ finest hour and the crucifixion appeared to be his greatest defeat.  Things are not always as they appear. Christians recognize that Jesus’ most important work was done on the cross, as he humbly submitted to the will of the Father. Continue reading

Child of Two Worlds

Moses before PharaohMoses was born during the time the Hebrews were enslaved to Egypt, and male children were being thrown into the Nile.  Because Pharaoh’s daughter had found Moses floating in a basket and raised him as her own, he grew up in the house of Pharaoh.  Moses became the product of two cultures; his adoptive mother immediately identified him as Hebrew and found a Hebrew women to nurse him.  (Which just happened to be, if you believe in that sort of thing, his real mother.)  But he was raised as a prince of Egypt.  He had a crisis of identity when he saw a Hebrew being beaten by an Egyptian, one of his own people (Ex 2:11) and he struck and killed the Egyptian.  The very next day he tried to resolve a conflict between two Hebrews and was asked who appointed him as judge.  “Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”  The Hebrews rejected his leadership because they identified him as a member of Pharaoh’s house, and after learning of the Egyptian’s death at his hand Pharaoh sought to kill him.  This is when he fled Egypt for Midian, where he laid low for the next 40 years. Continue reading

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

In Luke 2 the sky was filled with the heavenly host proclaiming the gospel of peace to a few lowly shepherds.  Last week, Joy, was about the shepherds.  They found the baby as the angels had said, and went out of Bethlehem rejoicing and praising God.  This week we celebrate Peace and light the Angels’ Candle. Continue reading

Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and the Kingdom of God

Lincoln, King and the Kingdom: what’s the relationship?  I’ve always wondered who in the government decided to put Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) together.  Although my students will tell you that sometimes I get a little preachy when I teach history, I’ve always tried to not lecture history from the pulpit.  This time, I’m going to ask that you indulge me just a little bit.

It’s always around this time of year that my American History class studies the Civil War.  It just so happens that right in the middle of that, my wife and I visited D.C. over the Christmas break.  I stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and looked across the reflection pool toward the Washington Monument.  The words of the Gettysburg Address are carved into Lincoln’s memorial in 12″ letters.  It’s hard not to come back and say something about it. Continue reading

Parable of the Talents

Jesus gave many different analogies of what the Kingdom of God is like.  In Matthew 25 we read the parable of the talents.  After he finishes this parable, he goes on to describe the final judgement.  Earlier in chp. 25 is the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, which teaches us to always be prepared.  We do not know the day and hour of his return; but he will return.  The parable of the talents is a lesson to believers to take good care of what has been entrusted to them. Continue reading