Sibling rivalry
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The Bible tells some intense stories of sibling rivalry. Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers . . . their drama is worthy of the Jerry Springer Show! Most of us have experienced sibling rivalry, but probably to a lesser degree. I doubt that you murdered a sibling, stole his birthright, or sold him into slavery. So what does God teach us through these stories? Do you notice a common theme? Jealousy and hurt. “When [Joseph’s] brothers... Read More
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You probably know people who make up their own version of Christianity based in part on things they’ve heard, part on their own logical conclusions, and part on wishful thinking. Quoting the “Good Book,” they say things like, “God helps those who help themselves,” unaware that those words don’t come from the Bible. Jesus spent a lot of time in his Sermon on the Mount correcting various aspects of the “folk religion” of his day. For instance, he saw that... Read More
By his wounds: Crucified!
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Of the many paradoxes of Good Friday, one of the strangest is the way in which Jesus’ death transformed something totally ugly into something stunningly beautiful. Crucifixion was a punishment reserved for the worst of the enemies of the state. It was cheap—prisoners could be nailed to any tree and left to hang there till dead. It was public—the passersby could come by and gawk, suitably discouraged from committing such crimes. And it was excruciating—beheading was instantaneous, but a crucifixion... Read More
By his wounds: Crowned!
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If you visit the Tower of London, you may wish to see the dazzling display of the royal crown jewels. Included in the treasury is Queen Elizabeth’s consort crown, platinum and purple velvet, encrusted with a dazzling array of gems including the 105-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond. Its value is beyond estimating. King Jesus was given a crown to wear as well, but there was no velvet, platinum, or jewels. The “obeisance” he received from the Roman soldiers was mockery and jest.... Read More
Be one of his
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The Irish are really on to something. For at least one day every year, everyone wants to be one of them. The Norwegians missed that boat. But the Irish own our alter egos. With enchanting customs and good merchandising, things Irish are everywhere on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not aware of any resentment from the true Irish that a bunch of imposters are crashing their party. They say, “Be one of us.” That’s in keeping with the work of St.... Read More
3:16 on 3/16
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There’s a reason why Christians like to hold up signs at sporting events that read, “John 3:16.” Those 25 words express the mystery and beauty of the gospel of Christ more clearly and tenderly than almost any other Scripture passage you could think of. It helps people remember what Jesus is all about and gives them a simple but powerful vocabulary for sharing their faith. To a learned but simultaneously ignorant Pharisee named Nicodemus, Jesus once gave an insightful explanation... Read More
A word of trust
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Ever see children play the “falling game”? One kid stands about two feet behind the other. The one in front intentionally leans backward and falls, trusting that the one behind will catch her. That momentary buzz of terror is what makes the game fun—you’re pretty sure the other person will catch you, but there is still that little jolt of fear and panic that makes your adrenal glands fire. Jesus had come to the final moment of decision—would he use... Read More
A word of victory
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Have you ever noticed how time crawls when you’re sick or undergoing major stress? What seemed like an hour you found out later was only five minutes. Can you imagine how long Jesus’ six hours on the cross must have seemed to him? Every minute was an hour and every hour a day. Worse even than the physical torment was the tension over whether or not Satan would make him crack. His obedience to the Father had to be perfect,... Read More
A word of fulfillment
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Jesus once told his disciples and the Pharisees a parable about a beggar named Lazarus who went to heaven and a rich man who ended up in hell. So severe are the torments of hell that not even one drop of water would be given to relieve the agony. Perhaps Jesus knew already then that he would be describing his torments on the cross. Though offered something to drink Good Friday morning, he refused. He was determined to experience the... Read More
A word of desolation
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The fourth word Jesus spoke from the cross was the worst. It revealed how utterly alone Jesus was in his death struggle with Satan. This battle was fought not with swords or spears, light sabers or lightning bolts, energy blasts or physical strength. The battleground was in the mind of Christ himself, where he fought Satan’s temptations alone and physically exhausted. He had been abandoned by his disciples (save one), condemned by the religious leaders of his own people, and... Read More