Sunday, September 5, 2010

How was Jesus able to live without sinning?

Think about it. You, an imperfect being, love your son. Sometimes you even mess that up, but because you are who you are - not because you stop loving your son.

God also loved His son, a part of Himself that chose to be found in every respect just like every other man - with one exception: who he was. Becoming a man changed the power at his disposal, changed the way he saw things (new perspective - from inside human skin), and changed the way he he had to operate among men so that his example meant and counted for something special. But becoming human did not change who he was. Jesus could still say, "I am that I am" just like the Father could, because he was still, in who he was, God - even though he gave up practically everything else that we think of God being and being able to do.

In a very limited way, it is kind of like Bill Gates becoming a pauper. Bill would be just as penniless as any other poverty-stricken person, but there would still be something different about Bill - who he was as a person. Bill the person would still have the entrepreneurial spirit that got him into that group with Steve Jobs and the others in college. And he would still have that internal drive that took him from a kid on student loans to having more money than the banks who make those loans. He would be poor, at least for a while, but he would never stop being Bill Gates. If he wanted to regain the power and prestige and perks of being the founder of a Microsoft empire, he would have to do again what he did back when he was first trying to design a PC in his parents' garage.

That is, in a very limited way, what Jesus did. Why did he not sin, if he was just like you and me (who definitely have, and sometimes still do, sin)? Because of who he was Jesus did not sin - for even while fully man, he was still God who became man - with the same drives and will and love and mercy and sense of right and wrong and so on that makes God who He is. Jesus could do what we cannot because in the end, whether in heaven on a throne or on earth in human flesh, he was still God at the very core of his being. Living according to his Father's will was living according to his own will. He could do what his Father wanted perfectly because his Father's sense of perfection and will for mankind was still in the make-up of who he was without omniscience and without omnipresence and without being omnipotent while in the flesh. Whi he is and was while on Earth are the same as who he was and ever will be while in heaven. What changed was the packaging and the power, NOT the identity and sense of self.

This is why when we come to Christ, the more we self-identify with Him, the easier it is to see temptation for what it really is and resist it...even for us! It is transforming and progressive and so powerful it can take a murderous hater of disciples of Jesus and transform him into an amazing missionary and evangelist of God's power in Christ through the speaking and living of the gospel to the Gentiles.

He transformed Paul and all the other apostles and disciples we read about in the NT, just the same as He has been transforming you and me. We sin because we self-identify (deservedly) as sinners. He did not sin because he self-identified completely with God.

I hope that helps.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Looking for a follower of Jesus

Looking for a follower of Jesus
(a traveler’s short story)

One day a visitor walked into a village and asked if there were any followers of Jesus living in the village. Eventually he was directed to the village chief among the elders of the village. Again the visitor asked if there were any followers of Jesus living in that village. The chief replied, “There are three men in this village who claim to know a man named Jesus. I do not know this Jesus, but I will send you to these men and let you decide for yourself if they know this Jesus.” The visitor gladly wrote down directions to the three men’s homes who claimed to know someone named Jesus. Taking his leave of the chief and the village elders, he went in search of the three men.

When the visitor came to the first home, he found a sunburned man lounging in a pool of water that had been created by damming up the little creek that ran through his property. The visitor greeted the man and asked if he could have a drink of water and was told that he could have a bottle of water for his shirt. The visitor was very thirsty, so he gave the man his shirt in exchange for the bottle of water. Then the visitor continued on his way.

When the visitor came to the second home, he found a man who was sitting down and caring for his blistered feet near a table piled high with food. The visitor greeted the man and asked if he could have something to eat and was told that the man would give him a bag of food in exchange for his socks and shoes. The visitor was very hungry, so he gave the man his socks and shoes in exchange for the bag of food. Then the visitor continued on his way once more, taking his bottle of water and his bag of food to find the home of the third man who claimed to know Jesus.

As the visitor was on his way to the home of the third man, now sunburned and with sore feet, a servant came pulling a rickshaw that had a top to provide shade and gave the visitor a ride the rest of the way to the third man’s home. It was quite a ways up a hill to the third man’s home and so the visitor asked the servant to pull over in the shade of some trees where he offered to share his bottle of water and bag of food with the servant in a small picnic meal. Before the servant would eat, though, he found an aloe plant and broke open the leaves and squeezed out some aloe oil on the visitor’s sunburned shoulders and sore feet. Then they shared their small picnic together and continued to the third man’s home. When they arrived, the visitor was stunned when the servant turned and welcomed him to his home, bringing him an ‘I Love Jesus’ T-shirt and a pair of sandals for his feet. Then he asked the visitor if he would consent to stay over for the evening and enjoy his hospitality. Until they went to sleep, they spoke together about Jesus and the visitor told the man how good it was to find someone who knew Jesus as he was traveling. And so the visitor stayed at the third man’s home and prayed for God’s blessing on the man and his home before leaving the next morning to return to the village.

Being now well rested and well fed and no longer thirsty, and wearing his new shirt and sandals, the trip down the hill and back to the village seemed to take only a fraction of the time it had taken to visit the three men’s homes. There the visitor was greeted by the village chief and the elders and was asked if he had found a follower of Jesus. The visitor said, “Yes, I found one follower of Jesus.” The chief and elders congratulated the visitor on completing his quest, and then they asked how the visitor knew that only one of the men who claimed to know Jesus was actually a follower of Jesus, and also how he could tell which one it was.

The visitor said, “When the first man saw I was thirsty, he would only give me water in exchange for my shirt. When the second man saw I was hungry, he would only give me food in exchange for my socks and shoes. But when the third man saw me coming along the path, he gave me a ride up the hill and aloe oil for my sunburn and he gave me these sandals and this ‘I Love Jesus’ T-shirt and a place to stay for the night.” Then the visitor took out his Bible and read these verses to the chief and the elders:

“John 13:34-35
(Jesus said) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

1 John 3:16-18
(Jesus’ apostle, John, wrote) By this we know love: that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."

The visitor closed his Bible and looked at the chief and the elders and continued his explanation. “I knew him by his love. And when he gave me this T-shirt and these sandals, I knew why he loved a stranger traveling on the road. You should ask him about Jesus. I am sure he would enjoy telling you about our Lord.” And so the visitor went on his way and continued his travels.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Why I Love Him

(Adapted by Glenn Ziegler from Why I Love Her by John Mitchum)

You ask me why I love Him? Well, give me time and I’ll explain.
Have you seen the Father’s glory in the sunset or the rain?
Have you felt the Spirit’s presence as you walk the narrow way?
Have you heard the Savior weeping just outside Lazarus’ grave?

Have you seen the boat full of disciples in the storm - and heard them whine?
Have you seen the Master walking cross the water to their side?
Do the Beatitudes inspire you as you sit at Jesus’ feet?
Have you traveled days to see Him, just hoping to hear Him speak?

Has your life been changed forever by the One who built God’s kingdom on the rock?
Do you think of Him as you pass a homeless person who only has one sock?
Have you seen the way He treats sinners? Have you heard our Savior sigh …
As He watches us ignore the lost, have you heard Him softly cry?

Did you sing Hosanna to heaven as He rode into the city?
Did you feel the Father’s disappointment as He cleared the Temple street?
Have you eaten the bread He blessed, remembering the body of our Lord?
Have you sipped the cup He offered, considering the blood that He outpoured?

Have you felt the disciples’ loneliness as they hid themselves away?
Felt the shame of their self-protection as He gave His life that day?
And were you as doubtful as was Thomas until you saw His hands and feet?
Have you longed to fall as he did confessing his love at Jesus’ feet?

Every day in every place we go, there is someone feeling pain.
Do you seek to share their burden just to help them ease the strain?
Is it the Master’s steps you follow? Is He your reason? Is He your ‘why’?
My Jesus is my greatest love, the One who for us died.