Originally posted on Christian Heritage News:
It is basic to historic Christian teaching and confession that Jesus is reigning and ruling now. In the sixth article of the Apostles’ Creed all Christians confess, “He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” Our interest just now is in second clause of this article: “and sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty” (sedet at dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis). This is a truly ancient confession. Ignatius of Antioch, writing well before 150 AD confessed, “and sits at his right hand” (καὶ ἐκάθισεν ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ).1 In the early 3rd century Tertullian confessed, ” sitting now at the right hand of the Father” (sedentem nunc ad dexteram Patris). He used virtually identical language in his summary of the Rule of Faith (regula fidei)
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I am the Resurrection and the Life
Text: John 11:17-27
Jesus and His disciples have left the safety of Galilee and gone to Bethany, and the narrative now moves on to the arrival of the travellers at Lazarus’s home. What will they find when they get there?
1. What Jesus Found at Bethany!
Now to really get a picture in our minds of what Jesus would find when he arrived at Bethany requires that we find out just a little about Jewish burial customs. For this purpose, a great resource is Alfred Edersheim’s ‘Sketches of Jewish Social Life’. It’s really helpful for background.
- Burial was almost immediately after death. So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. Cf Acts 5:10 Burial was immediately after death, probably for hygiene reasons, and the mourning was conducted after the actual burial, not before.
- The cost of burial. This is not directly referred to in the text before us, but we see an interesting incident in the very next chapter. John 12:3-7 In first century Judaism, funerals were a costly business, probably financially ruinous in some cases!
- Periods of mourning. 19 And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Now notice that when Jesus arrived at the home, many of the Jews had joined the women at the home.
It was in those circumstances that Jesus returned to the home at Bethany which he had visited before in times of happiness and rest. Let’s look at a conversation between Martha and Jesus:- Read more…
Raising of Lazarus, (Part 2)
Where Jesus Calls His Disciples to Witness God’s Glory at Work
Text: John 11:11
1. Real Friendship and Plain Speech! These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” 12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.
These verses show the tenderness in Christ’s heart for his disciples. He speaks with great affection about Lazarus, and words of comfort for Hs disciples, but they misunderstand, and He must speak to them with great forthrightness…
- Jesus is a REAL friend! Notice the way he speaks of Lazarus. Our friend! To have Jesus as our friend is to have the closest friendship imaginable. He will carry all our burdens and cares, and he will keep us close, even after this life is over, and He will remain our friend right throughout eternity. To have Jesus as our friend is to share him with others. It’s OUR friend Lazarus.
- Jesus is a REALISTIC friend. He knows us so well, and he fully understands our frailties, and He speaks to our troubled condition and he speaks plainly:-
- He makes the message COMFORTING. Lazarus SLEEPS, and Jesus is going to go and to awaken him. The disciples don’t understand, and they think Jesus is referring to sleep, – and what’s so wrong with that, if Lazarus is sleeping, he must be recovering! When the disciples have indicated their confusion, he clarifies it with plain speech, that they can’t fail to understand. So:-
- He makes the message PLAIN. There is no point in letting Christians labour under a delusion, – and when they fail to understand God’s Word we must sometimes speak very clearly indeed, as Jesus does here, for sometimes ‘sleep’ has a more solemn meaning. LAZARUS IS DEAD. Acts 7:60, 1 Corinthians 15:6, 1 Thessalonians 4:13
So Jesus has broken the news to the disciples that Lazarus is dead. But they have still more information to digest… Read more…
The Raising of Lazarus (Part 1)
Where Jesus loves Lazarus so much that he waits two days!
Text: John 11:1-10
We are looking at an incident from the earthly ministry of Jesus, one that brought great glory to God, so amazing was it. It’s hard to believe that when God sent his Son into the world to redeem mankind, he was a homeless man, an itinerant teacher and preacher. Matthew 8:19
But there was a family who appear in John’s gospel, who seem to have been particularly close to Jesus. So we are going to explore this particular close relationship with Jesus, and how his fondness for these people brought Glory to God. But first note:- Read more…
A Direct & Searching Question
Text: John 21:15-19.
It was morning. Peter and some of the other disciples had been spending the night fishing, with no success. As dawn broke they saw a man standing in the shore, and that man asked them whether they had caught any fish.. On their negative reply, he instructed them to let down their nets on the right hand side of the boat, and they brought in such a draft of fish that they couldn’t bring them into the boat. John caught on first. The man in the shore was Jesus! Peter put on his coat and jumped into the water and waded ashore, while the other disciples brought the boat in. Ashore a fire had been lit, and fish and bread already in it. They had breakfast on the beach with the risen Lord!
But after the meal came the question, and it was addressed to Peter. A very simple question, yet a heart searching question too, “Do you love me!” Let’s look at that question, and it’s profound implications for Peter and for us:- Read more…
The Importance of Correct Doctrine
1 Corinthians. 15:1-4
Paul is going to correct some error in Corinth about the doctrine of the resurrection and to teach such a great truth will mean that Paul will have to explain and expound the doctrine of the resurrection. In many sections of the visible church today, the preaching of Christian Doctrine is studiously avoided!
1. Excuses for Avoiding Doctrinal Preaching and Teaching.
- That Doctrine is divisive, and that therefore we should avoid it! Doctrine is very important to the Lord, for His Word is full of it! Correct biblically sound doctrine is God’s Truth, and unity without truth is false unity, for it is not based on the Word of God.
- That all that we need is a simple belief in Christ, and we should go no further! It is absolutely true that all that we need to come to Christ and be saved is a simple childlike trust in Him. But the Lord expects each of His people to GROW IN GRACE, and to learn more. 1 Cor. 3:2
- That doctrine leads to dogma, and dogma to intolerance! I would argue that doctrine does, without doubt lead to more certainty in the faith, and I would further argue that in this so called ‘age of tolerance’ what the church really needs is to be MORE CERTAIN about what it believes, and not less certain!
Paul had obviously encountered these arguments himself, for he opens this chapter with a rigorous defence of Christian Doctrine! Let us see:- Read more…
Where art thou, Adam?
Reading: Genesis 2:7-10 16-25.3:6-9
Heidelberg Catechism LORD’S DAY 3
6. Did God create man thus, wicked and perverse? – No, but God created man good and after His own image, that is, in righteousness and true holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love Him, and live with Him in eternal blessedness, to praise and glorify Him.
7. From where, then, does this depraved nature of man come? – From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise, whereby our nature became so corrupt that we are all conceived and born in sin.
Text Genesis 3:9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
Adam is hiding in the Garden! Adam is ashamed and God calls out to the man, “Where are you Adam?” But why was Adam so ashamed? What had Adam squandered when he surrendered to sin? Perhaps the man was ashamed because of:- Read more…