Jude (Part 1)

Jude (Part 1)

Let me start here: if you have not read Jude (an introduction), stop now and go read it . . . it will make more sense that way. However, as a reminder to those who did read it let me refresh your memory. Jude is one of four brothers of Jesus and at some point led the Church in Jerusalem. He came to faith after Jesus’ resurrection. This same Jude then pens this letter and it is powerful! As a call to repentance, as a reminder of judgment, and as a warning to stay alert as we contend for the faith.

He doesn’t waste time with small talk, antidotes, or gibber, he is very matter-of-fact. In the verses, we will look at this week, we will see his heart, and his understanding as the brother of Jesus and leader of the Church. Let’s look at verse 5, “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.” Here is an interesting point, there are a couple manuscripts out there as well as a few versions of the Bible that use “Jesus” in place of “the Lord”. Could these early manuscripts be more accurate to Jude’s point? i think so. Jude had come to an understanding of who Jesus was and was not ashamed of it.

We love grace, i love grace. We preach grace, i preach grace, and it is glorious! However, we mustn’t lose sight of Jesus. Jesus, actively a part of the Old Testament, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, saves us by His cross. He leads us free from the chains of sin, out of bondage and into freedom. As the Israelites out of Egypt and still, subsequently (lit. the second time) He destroys those who did not believe. Folks, there is judgment. There is a hell and it has been preached since the formation of the Church. Do not be led astray. We must continue to contend for the faith in a world that would pervert the grace of God, even some in the Church.

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that [e]the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, [f]subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after [g]strange flesh, are exhibited as an [h]example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (NASB)

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved[c] a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,[d] serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV)

Pray with me for insight, for understanding, for fresh revelation into God’s Word. Let the Spirit of God speak to our hearts through these words written by Jude inspired by the Spirit. May we grow in wisdom and faith, as we seek to walk humbly with Jesus, contending for the faith. Until next week . . .

you are loved,

cj

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117, it is just two verses. Yet these two verses are immensely profound in their simplicity. You want to boil things down to the minimum and just look at the core of human existence? Then here you go:

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship Him, all you peoples! Because God’s faithful love towards us is strong, the Lord’s faithfulness lasts forever! Praise the Lord!”

It doesn’t get much simpler than this, Praise the Lord. Worship Him. Because, He is faithful. His love is strong towards us and He is forever faithful. Thus, we should, Praise the Lord! No matter what you are facing, no matter what difficulties or trials befall you, Praise the Lord! In the good and in the bad, Praise the Lord! In the sun and in the rain, Praise the Lord! In life and in death, Praise the Lord! In sickness and in health, Praise the Lord! In the hardest of times and in the best of times, Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord,

you are loved,

cj

The Cross

The Cross

The cross was a Roman form of torture and death. Jesus found innocent by both Herod and Pilate was still sent to death by crucifixion with the shouts of the people. An innocent man put to death because the “Religous” feared Him. “I have examined him thoroughly on this point in your presence and find him innocent. Herod came to the same conclusion and sent him back to us. Nothing this man has done calls for the death penalty.” ~Pilate Said. Still, with the shouts of the crowd, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate allowed it. Little did they know that His death was for the sin of the world and what looked like defeat was actually the victory the world needed.

When Jesus cried out His last few words, “It is finished,” He breathed His last. Soon the guards would recognize Jesus had died, the few faithful that remained asked for His body. Placing Him in a tomb, they went home to observe the Sabbath and to mourn. The darkest day of their lives, filled with shocked silence, quiet weeping, peppered with mournful cries and shouts of agony. Everything they thought, hoped for, dreamed about was pulled down from a crucifix dead, wrapped, and laid in a tomb.

They didn’t have the benefit of this side of Sunday, the third day. They didn’t have the benefit of seeing the completion of the promise. They didn’t have the benefit we do. Perhaps that is part of the reason our response to Sunday pails in comparison to theirs. So maybe, just maybe, if we sit in darkness as they sat in darkness, with mournful hearts, we too can rise on Sunday, hear of the Resurrection and run to the empty tomb in search for Jesus!

Matthew 27:45-61 NLT

the-crucifixion

The Death of Jesus

45 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 46 At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[a] lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”[b]

47 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 48 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. 49 But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”[c]

50 Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, 52 and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. 53 They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

54 The Roman officer[d] and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

55 And many women who had come from Galilee with Jesus to care for him were watching from a distance. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James and Joseph), and the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee.

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The Burial of Jesus

57 As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus, 58 went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. 59 Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. 60 He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left.61 Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching.

You are Loved,

cj

Happy Resurrection Day

Happy Resurrection Day

Tonight, i watched a Christmas show. It’s not Christmas, if you were wondering. It is however, the Jewish Feast of Passover. To put it into perspective, if Jesus were fulfilling the Messianic prophecies in 2016, we would be looking for His resurrection tomorrow. i know what you are thinking, we celebrated “easter” already. You are right…but…i hate easter!

WHAT!? No, really, i hate “easter”. Wait, let me clarify for the record, its the term or label, “easter” that i hate, and yes, i do “hate” it. i struggle with it every year about this time…until it has passed and then i struggle with other things. i have enough struggles to keep me occupied all year. Now, since we find ourselves in the Spring of the year and with it the season of “easter” i only found it fitting to write about it here.

i have friends on either side of this discussion, (mostly in favor of the term…ok all of them really and) all of which are far more intelligent than i and yet i still struggle. Why, you ask? i know not, except that it burns with in me each and every time someone refers to the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus, as “easter”. First however, my copout, i mean my disclaimer; this is my struggle, it is not intended to be your struggle but i write to find some release.

Somewhere around two thousand years ago an event occurred, of such great magnitude that it has shaped history ever since. It’s scope and grandeur are of epic proportions, yet its origins were simple. A young couple, poor and weary, find themselves in a place more fit for beast than man. A meager beginning, finds a baby, wrapped in rags lying in a manger. A moment, witnessed by shepherds, heralded by angels and later visited by Magi; it was the beginning of things told of generations before.  (Read some Awesome Scriptures here)

The reason for this child’s birth, death. Not just any death, a sacrificial death. Innocent yet guilty as He bore our sins all the way to the grave. His motive, Love. Redemptive love. The “Passion of the Christ” is more than a Mel Gibson film. It is a love story that is still unfolding today. You see what the world saw as an end, death, and burial. We know as triumph, “it is finished,”  wasn’t a gasp of giving up, but rather a shout of victory. “Up from the grave He arose…” On the third day the stone that was placed over the tomb was found rolled away and the tomb lay empty.

What sort of language is there, a word that can describe such an event? Well the feast that this week of Passion fulfills is known as “Pesach” or “Passover”. It was after all what Jesus and His disciples were celebrating in the upper room that fateful night of His betrayal. We as Christians should remember Passover, when we remember His death and Resurrection as the two are really un-separable. Part of the Sedar Meal was looking ahead at the coming of the Messiah, the Deliverer, the King. Jesus was that fulfillment right down to the broken bread and spilt wine. That is where we get the Christian tradition of the “Lord’s Supper” or “Communion”. And of this tradition we are told to remember, “do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19

Yet in light of this we choose to celebrate “Easter”, often times apart from the passover, as they don’t always aline. i don’t mind that so much as we celebrate it as it happened for the most part given the Jewish leaders cries to have it finished before the Sabbath day, Saturday. And Passover follows a lunar calendar and varies in when it is celebrated not always aligning each year as was the case this year, as you pointed out already, we already celebrated “easter”. However, the Passover Feast on the Jewish calendar is this week.  i believe we should try to keep the two close and always remember the Passover regardless of where it lands. But the term Easter, has some questionable origins. If they are true, and again there are far smarter, more learned folks than i on this, yet my struggle continues; why would we choose the term Easter for our most Holy Week? What is the origin that i question, well, it is said, that Easter gets its name from “Astarte” (there is a lengthy description of this you can read online by looking up that name or Estre, Estara, Eastre, Ostara…etc.) i recently read an article put out by “Answers in Genesis” in favor or just not opposed to the term Easter, you can read it here.

 1 Peter 1:13-16 “So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”

Let’s say, for arguments sake, that the origins i fear are true and accurate. That Easter does derive from Astarte and she was the goddess of fertility. How would one celebrate fertility? Maybe with eggs? But probably not a bunny…although you know what they say about bunnies!? i just think that we as a Church should be different than the world instead of conforming to it. i am not a fan of easter egg hunts, i have come to the point in my struggle that i no longer participate in them. As a pastor i did not ban them but i was as little help in that department as possible. Again, this struggle is ongoing, i did share my opinions but i also understand the heart of the idea. “We don’t use easter eggs, we have Resurrection Eggs.” So, they’re empty? Usually not.

But i digress. my point is simply this, why use a term, “Easter” to describe something so amazing as Victory over the Grave through the “Resurrection of our Lord Jesus”? Isn’t “Resurrection Sunday” or “Resurrection Day” a more fitting term? Why do we not put more emphasis on the Passover? Although we do, for the most part highlight “Good Friday”, i just think we need to get back to basics. Back to a simple understanding with simple terms that are not easily misinterpreted or lost in translation. We don’t need anymore confusion in the minds of our Children…so this “Easter Season” i mean Passover, share the good news of the Resurrection, the empty tomb, the Passion of the Christ, the Love of the Messiah, in that, through His blood…we will be passed over, in a good way, by the angel of death.

Happy Resurrection Day my friends,
You are Loved,

cj