Set Free

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Isaiah 35:5-6

 

Our world is in a continual state of conflict that originated in Eden. Not just a conflict involving swords, or guns, or armies who leave battlefields strewn with the deadly results of conflict, but the cosmic conflict between the Kingdom of God and the powers of darkness.

 

This is the focus of the Prophet Isaiah’s words from the Lord. On the one hand the Prophet speaks God’s warning and judgment against the nations and specifically against Edom who arrogantly rejoiced over the tragedies and trials that hammered Israel, God’s people.

 

In  contrast with God’s anger toward the nations we have God’s promise of salvation to his people. In a world aligned against God’s sovereign rule and his saving purposes the Lord’s word is clear and comforting to the fearful in heart, “Be strong and do not fear for your God will come, he will come to save you.”

 

Then comes a powerful testimony to a coming visible witness to the arrival of God’s  salvation. Namely the blind will have their sight restored, the deaf will hear again, the dumb will once again speak and the lame will run and jump with joy. Isaiah testifies to a witnessed evidence of the saving God who comes in the person of his Son Jesus the one who comes with full freeing power. A freedom that not only addresses our physical bondage but addresses the root problem, a problem of the heart. This is the significance of Ezekiel’s word from the Lord, ”I will give you a new heart and put a new Spirit in you.” This promise was given to those who walk in the WAY. The early Christians were called the ‘people of the WAY.’ People who believed in Jesus and walked in his WAY, of which he said, ” I am the WAY the truth and the life , no one comes to the Father but through me.”

 

Jesus accused the religious leaders of seeing but not seeing and hearing but not hearing. In Christ Jesus, by faith, from a new heart, our eyes are opened to see Jesus, to hear the truth and to speak it boldly with Joy and Gladness as God’s free sons and daughters.

~Pastor Jack Matheis

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Exceeding Expectations

But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”
Luke 4:43

As we found out in the wake of last week’s tragedy, news travels quickly, but not always accurately. Names and motives become confused and soon we are only left with a fragment of the truth. The same is true of God’s Word. We have exchanged the truth for a much easier lie. For many in 1st century Judea that lie was one of establishing right relationship with God through rigorous covenant adherence. For others, it was the belief that the Messiah would re-establish Israel as a political power. For many today it is the belief that social justice or mere proclamation is enough to communicate the full truth of the Gospel.

Christ, in his incarnation, shows us something radically different. He is both truth and action. He looked on the people following him and saw that their understanding of His ministry was incomplete. He was not simply here to heal. He was not here to only be seen as the Son of God. He came full of compassion, knowing that he had to join truth and action for a world which had lost sight of both. This advent season, we anxiously await a Christ whose kingdom will not fit our expectations, but exceed them. Come Lord Jesus, come.
~Ben Gibson

The Lamb

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
John 1:29

John the Baptist is the only one who actually calls Jesus a Lamb to His Face.  It seems a curious label to put on the Messiah expected to bring the Kingdom of God to His people with great power, might and fanfare.
A lamb?
A defenseless helpless lamb?
How could God send a mere lamb?

The label is particularly apt for this Messiah.  This mere lamb is marked for slaughter, destined for sacrifice.  The Jewish people well understood the age-old directive to find a “year old male lamb without defect”, the perfect lamb, as only that blood would demarcate their Passover rescue in Egypt.  There would be no mistaking what “Lamb of God” implied to the Jews who knew their Passover history.

But John is being even more revolutionary than simply calling Jesus a Lamb of God.  He is not talking about a sacrifice meant only for his own people.  He is talking about a sacrifice on behalf of the world.    For the Jews, for the Gentiles, for the enemies of the Jews, for the millions of people as yet unborn.  His words cannot be clearer, ringing through to the unsettled times and people of today.

The perfect lamb is sacrificed, his blood marking the hands of the slaughterers, and washing them clean.
No mere lamb would forgive the holder of the knife.  Only the Lamb of God.