Holy Mystery Advent Devotional

Day 18 

“But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”” 

Matthew 26:63-68 ESV (Psalm 2:1–12, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22, Acts 4:25–28, Acts 13:33, Hebrews 1:5, Hebrews 5:5) 

The Son of God. 


Just sit in the weight of that title. 

We are so irreverent in our culture; in our humanity. We were made in the image of God and yet so often we cast God in the image of man. We would like to think that we are wise. We point to our technology and our accomplishments, but we forget that it is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom. Where is our fear? 

This isn’t even the main point of today’s devotional. I just can’t simply read the passage above and not be taken back by the arrogance of man in the face of God and not be reminded of my own sinful pride. 

The Son of God. 

One thing we have to understand is that “Son of God” is a title, an identifier of which Person of the Trinity that we are talking about, not a reference to some sort of eternity past birthing event. 

In the ancient Jewish culture, the adult son had the full legal weight of his father to buy, sell and make deals and transactions in his father’s name. The son carried the authority of the father and it was assumed that whatever he said was coming from and on behalf of the father. In carrying the title “the Son of God,” Jesus was saying that the authority by which He spoke was from the authority of God. It wasn’t, “I’m the Son of God, so if you don’t listen to me, I’ll tell my daddy.” It was, “Everything I say and do has the full weight of the words of God.” 

“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” 

‭‭John‬ ‭5‬:‭19‬ ‭ESV‬‬ 

“Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” 

‭‭John‬ ‭14‬:‭9‬-‭10‬ ‭ESV‬‬ 

This is a convicting truth for those who wish to unhitch from the Old Testament or who believe that Jesus is somehow saying anything different or inconsistent with the message of God throughout the first 39 books of the Bible. Jesus has not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it to completion. He is the image of the invisible.

Day 17 

“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”” 

Matthew 21:12-13 ESV 

It is so interesting to me that the first thing Jesus did after His triumphal entry in Jerusalem was to cleanse the Temple. This was actually not the first time that He had done something like this. Another, separate instance of Jesus cleansing the temple in this way is recorded earlier in Jesus’ ministry in John 2. At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and immediately following His triumphal entry, days before His crucifixion, He made a very public point of casting out those who had turned the house of the Lord into a den of thieves. 

These pictures of Jesus tend to clash with the “Jesus, meek and mild” that many of think about. Jesus, in His time on Earth, was an extremely polarizing figure to the outside world as well as to the religious leaders. Today, Jesus is still equally as polarizing. The problem many of us make is that we want to focus on the parts of Jesus that we like while ignoring the parts that make us uncomfortable. Some people don’t like “their Jesus” to turn tables, confront sin or speak of judgement. I’ve seen others use the first instance of Jesus cleansing the temple, the time when He fashioned a whip to drive the people out, as a green light for them to own guns and “own” their political rivals on social media. (That is not a statement for or against owning guns or engaging in politics, but pointing out that that is not what that passage is about!) 

To be clear, Jesus is not “on” any of our sides. What we need to be heavily concerned with is, are we on His. Are His priorities our priorities? Jesus came in peace to Jerusalem and then started flipping tables in the temple. That is what happened. That should give us an idea of what peace with God looks like. There was plenty of corruption in the city. Ample opportunities for Jesus to upend the power structures, right various wrongs and set the record straight. While, over the next week He did confront the religious leaders and legal authorities, His mission was clear from the moment He stepped into the temple. 

There is an important truth that we need to understand and make sure we get grammatically correct; The Gospel will affect every area of our lives but the Gospel is not about every area of our lives. The Gospel is about Jesus. His mission was to reconcile us to Himself; to create peace between us and God. When Jesus cleansed the temple, He was proclaiming a very clear statement that “this” is what it was all about. The temple was overrun with greed and corruption as people used the law as a means of extorting people trying to offer their sacrifices. Their sin became an obstacle, a hinderance that kept people from being able to be made right with God. The temple was the old covenant house of the Lord, but all of this was a foreshadowing of a greater reality that Jesus was ushering in. Jesus was zealous for the house of the Lord. (Psalm 69) He drove out the thieves who preyed on the people trying to worship God. In the new covenant, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 6:19) Jesus violently paid for our sins so that we can have a redeemed relationship with God, worshiping Him for all of eternity. 

This was His mission, from the very beginning. Are we about what He is about or are we co-opting the aspects of Jesus that we like in order to fit Him into our way of living? May Jesus purifiy the temples of our hearts and remind us that it is all about Him.

Day 16 

16 - “Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”” 

Matthew 21:1-11 ESV 

“Jesus was so humble that He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem by riding on a donkey!” 

Jesus is absolutely the most humble person to ever walk the face of the earth. That’s not in question. HOWEVER... His riding into the city on the back of a donkey is not actually representative – only – of His humility. Think about the rest of the scene – Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Does this processional sound like a particularly humble affair? Not really. In fact, it sounds a lot more like the entrances of the Ceasar’s when they would have entire parades as all of Rome ushered their ruler back from foreign wars. Those scenes were so NOT humble that there were literally men in the processional whose sole job it was to walk beside the emperor and cry, “Memento Mori” or “Remember your death” so the whole thing wouldn’t go to the Ceasar’s head. 

Rather than being simply a declaration His humility, Jesus riding in on the back of a donkey was actually a declaration of both His royalty and His Messianic authority. Ancient Kings and dignitaries would enter the city gates similar to this frequently, but they would ride either horses or donkeys. If the leader was riding on a horse, it signaled to the people that he was on a militaristic conquest – that he was coming because he had conquered and was establishing his rule or that he was coming with the intent to conquer. However, if the leader was riding on a donkey, this signified that his entrance was done in peace and civility. Seeing either type of entrance, the people would instantly know what the intentions of the entering king were. By riding in on a donkey, Jesus was telling everyone that He was, in fact, the royal authority but that He had come to bring peace. He was inspiring people to come to Him safely rather than recoil from Him in fear. 

His Messianic claim was evident to the Jews as His entrance was also in direct reference to and fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9. Not only was He saying that He was a king, but that He was The King; the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior they had been looking for! The people clearly understood this because of how they responded to His arrival. They were jubilantly praising God for the coming of their Savior King. Can you imagine the hope and joy that they were feeling in that moment? Jesus had come to bring peace, but it was not the peace they expected. They were looking for a Jewish Messiah who would overthrow the Roman occupation and make them great again. Instead, they were welcoming a King who, in just a few short days, they would be shouting to crucify. And He let them. He wasn’t the King that they wanted so they wanted Him dead. But, the crazy thing is, that was exactly the peace that He came to bring them and to us – an everlasting peace with God that could only come by His atoning sacrificial death. He came to bring us peace and, by His death, He did! 

When He entered Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago, Jesus was humbly riding on a donkey as the King who had come to bring peace. Soon, Jesus will return again and when He does He will be coming on the clouds, riding a white horse and armed for battle – a conquering King, coming to conquer once and for all.

Day 15 

“Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” 

Matthew 13:10-17 ESV 

I must have read this passage hundreds of times before I actually took in what it said. I have even heard multiple sermons over the years who had taught that the exact opposite of what Jesus said here was true. “He spoke in parables to share spiritual truths in a way that was accessible to the common people.” “He talked about the things they understood – fishing, planting, harvesting – so that they could understand what He was saying.” Jesus said, “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” This is how smart we really think we are; Jesus can very clearly tell us exactly what He is doing and why He is doing it and we will ignore that and go on preaching the opposite. “There’s no way He could mean what He is very clearly saying here. Very sneaky, Jesus.” The fact is that Jesus spoke in parables with the express purpose being that not everyone would understand the message. The parables were like speaking in code, only those with the key could unlock the hidden truths. So, the obvious question that follows is, “Why wouldn’t Jesus want everyone to understand?” 

It’s a legitimate question; if Jesus is sharing the truths which lead away from Hell and into eternal life, shouldn’t He want everyone to be able to hear, understand and enter in? Is Jesus intentionally being unclear so that only certain people whom He deems worthy or even just the ones that He likes can get in and everyone else can, quite literally, go to Hell? What kind of a good God is that? If even lowly, depraved sinners like us can clearly see that seemingly arbitrary and meritless picking and choosing like that is inherently wrong, then how can God be loving, just, righteous and good if this is how He treats the people He created? 

Well, that escalated quickly. 

Do you notice how what started as a fair and legitimate question quickly spiraled into rebellion? Or, to be more precise, do you see how quickly our own harbored rebellion can be brought to the surface when we are in situations we don’t understand? Questioning is not the sin, in and of itself, rather the questions we ask reveal what is in our hearts. From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34) When we come across situations in life that seem unfair, or even when we read passages in scripture that don’t seem to make sense, our true beliefs will be brought to the surface. It’s like when we read a text message from a friend; they could be sharing a harmless joke that they thought we would enjoy, but if I’m not in the right frame of mind I attribute that message with all kinds of ill-intended malice and choose to be offended by it. My response actually has little to do with the message and much more to do with what I choose to believe as the recipient. If we choose to read evil or wicked intent in how Jesus shared the Gospel message, it has nothing to do with the message, the Messenger or even the delivery but is actually a reflection of the hearer. Our response – what we choose to focus on versus the actual meaning of what was said – reveals to us the sin issues we have buried within. 

So, what then is the message at the heart of this passage? 

Jesus wasn’t being selective in who heard His parable; He presented it to the whole crowd. This particular parable was the parable of the Sower and the soil and everyone listening was one of the soils Jesus spoke of. He also told the disciples that they were, in fact, the good soil. What made them different? They didn’t understand the meaning of the parable, either. They were just as in the dark as everyone in the crowd. What made them different had nothing to do with their ability to understand. It also had nothing to do with Jesus singling them out; giving them special treatment that wasn’t available to everyone else. Here was the difference – when they didn’t understand the meaning, the disciples took their questions to Jesus. Not in an angry, accusing way assuming that their morality was greater than His, but in a humble way built on trusting that there was indeed an answer and that He was good enough to share it. Now, Jesus doesn’t give us the answers for every difficulty that we face in life, but He does give us more than enough for us to be able to trust His goodness even when we don’t get to see His reasoning this side of eternity. When our trials cause us to doubt, to worry, to respond to Him in anger, perhaps that is exactly why He allowed those tests to come; so that we can realize what we are truly believing underneath and allow Him to perfect our faith. (James 1: 2-4)

Day 14 

“Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.” 

Matthew 19:13-15 ESV 

Once again, this is one of those passages that just seems so obvious to us that it’s easy to gloss over. “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world...” Of course, the disciples were being too uptight in keeping the children away from Jesus. That being said, I don’t think that most of us would have a much different response if we were in their position. 

For those of us who have children or have already raised them and released them out into the world, you probably understand the social pressure that comes with parenthood. Our culture tends to see children as cute inconveniences. Kids get in the way of our plans. Toddlers throw tantrums at the most inopportune times. Children have no concern for decorum, for civility or for status. Childhood today seems like it is something that needs to be stifled and mitigated until maturity starts to set in. Our culture is task oriented, goals focused and driven to succeed. In fact, a number of prominent women in our culture have been particularly outspoken about how their choices to end the lives of their own children have freed them to have the lives that they wanted to live. They attribute their successes in large part to their infanticide. 

We know that this is all wrong, and yet we continue on in small ways affirming this same mentality. In our church gatherings we shuffle kids off to children’s church so that we can have a civil adult service without the distractions. We (hopefully) attempt to train and disciple them to follow Jesus in the few moments we have after work, between meals and when they’re not driving us so crazy that we just need a few moments to ourselves. At the same time, we thoughtlessly send them off to be discipled by the world for at least eight hours a day by a school system that doesn’t share our faith, our values or our goals. 

As a father, my goal is not only to let my children come to Jesus, but I also want to be careful not to hinder them from doing so in any way. Jesus loves our children more than we do. They are never a burden, an annoyance or a distraction. In fact, if we want to be able to come to Him at all, we need to come to Him the same way that they do. 

2 “And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” - Matthew 18:2-4 

We seem to have this idea that we have something valuable to offer Christ in our service, our skills, our wisdom, our wealth. We have nothing. We know nothing. We’re kids. If we look at Jesus’ response to the disciples with any amount of surprise or even like He is doing them such a favor, we’re missing the whole point. Those children are us. The ones with nothing to offer and our sin was far more than an inconvenience to Him, and yet He bids, “let the little children come to Me.”

Day 13 

“No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” 

‭‭John‬ ‭3‬:‭13‬-‭16 ESV‬‬ 

What did it mean for the Israelites to look upon the serpent that was lifted up in the wilderness? What does it mean to believe in the Son of God? Jesus intentionally tied these two thoughts together even though most modern Bible translation place a new sub-header starting at verse 16. In fact, this entire dialogue stems from Nicodemus asking about how to be born again. (John 3: 1-4) Everything that follows down through verse 21 is Jesus’ response to that question and it is in this context in which Jesus makes the connection from the fiery bronze serpent on a staff being lifted up for the healing of the Israelites in Numbers 21 to the soon coming lifting up of the Son of Man for the salvation of those who would believe. This connection is known as an example of biblical typology - a foreshadowing Old Testament event used as a prophetic picture of something greater still to come. There are numerous examples of this throughout scripture but what makes this one especially poignant is that we would not have this particular connection without the direct attention drawn to it by Jesus, Himself. Clearly, Jesus wants us to see that Old Testament story as an example of what believing in Him means and, thereby, how we are “born again.” 

In Numbers 21, the Israelites were doing what they often did during their 40 years in the desert, grumbling and complaining against Moses and God. It’s easy for us to criticize their foolish behavior; they had just witnessed the plagues of Egypt, they had been led by a pillar of smoke and a pillar of fire, the had physically walked through the parting of the Red Sea, witnessed the lighting on Mt. Sinai and heard the voice of God and countless other demonstrations of His power and authority and yet the still revert to complaining every time they don’t like the way things are going. Like I said, it’s easy to criticize them but how many times have you and I been the unworthy recipients of God’s favor and kindness only to return to fear and doubt when things don’t seem to make sense? The Israelites are prime examples of the human condition; they are not humanity at their worst, they are humanity at our most common and natural state. Don’t underestimate how many times Jesus refers to us, his followers, as sheep. As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool to his folly and, more often than we realize or care to admit, we are those fools. 

So, the Israelites complain against God. Don’t let the mundane commonality of this sinful act lull your senses; this is a lazy man’s rebellion but rebellion nonetheless. All sin is an act of rebellion against God and we are traitors to the Kingdom of Heaven! This is why sin carries the death penalty. God’s just response to the sin of Israel was to send flaming serpents in their midst to bite them and cause them to die. Why serpents? Potentially as a callback to the fact that it was a serpent who introduced the thought of the first act of rebellion to humanity in the garden. Why were the serpents on fire? Probably to distinguish them as an act of God and not just any old snakes. (Think of the flaming swords guarding Eden, the burning bush that was not consumed, the tongues of fire at Pentecost.) The Israelites were receiving their wages for, once again, rebelling against God, so what did they do? 

“And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.” 

‭‭Numbers‬ ‭21‬:‭7‬ ‭ESV‬‬ 

They repented. 

So, what is repentance? 

I know there are a good number of Christians who say that the only requirement for salvation is to believe in Jesus, as stated in John 3:16. I also know that there are many of committed followers of Christ who make the claim that we must repent and believe. (Mark 1:15, Acts 17:30) To repent is a dual action - it means to turn away from one thing while turning towards another. Christian repentance is to turn away from sin/rebellion and to turn towards Christ. So, is repentance necessary for salvation or is it just belief? 

My answer? 


To believe is in Christ is more than just thinking that He existed. Remember, the connection that Jesus drew to the bronze serpent was to Himself being raised up on the cross as the perfect sacrificial atonement for our sins. That is what we believe about Him. But, that belief requires the understanding that I am a sinner and also that Jesus has paid the death penalty for my sin. This belief is a radical shift in theology or what we think about God. If sin is rebellion, then who is on the throne of our hearts and minds? Ourselves. If I believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be, then I know that I am wrong to sit in that throne and it is His rightful place of authority. When we are lost in sin, we do what seems right to us. We actually believe, to a certain degree, that we are right in doing whatever we want to do in that moment. We continue to do things our own way until the consequences of our actions begin to sprout and we are drowning in the wake of our sinful decisions.(Proverbs 14:12) To believe in Christ, it means that we see Him as our only means of salvation. We look upon Him to save us from death as the Israelites looked upon the brazen serpent, because He is our only hope. We cannot save ourselves, He can. We are wrong, He is right. This is what it means to believe. 

Now, does this belief equate to immediate transformation into a sinless follower of Christ? No. For some, their salvation experience was a dramatic shift of every aspect of their lives like Zacchaeus and Paul, but even Paul described his internal conflict with sin as doing what he hates and not doing what he truly wants. Was Paul then an unbeliever or a backslidden Christian? No. Faith in Christ, or belief, is described as a seed which is planted and yields a hundredfold harvest. (Matthew 13:23) The process takes time and, often in the beginning, that process isn’t even visible to those around. Did the thief on the cross have any visible evidences of a transformed life. I would say, yes, but only if you know what you’re looking for. 

“But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”” 

‭‭Luke‬ ‭23‬:‭40‬-‭42‬ ‭ESV‬‬ 

He verbally expressed a fear of God, meaning He knew that God would judge them or that God was their true authority, not themselves. He also acknowledged that he was deserving of death and that Jesus was sinless. Then, he turned to Jesus and asked to be remembered by Him when He came into His kingdom. This isn’t a “remember me” like, “think about me sometimes after I’m gone.” This is an act of submission. He’s saying that Jesus will be the one rightfully judging him and is putting his hope, his faith, his belief in the only one who can save him from what he deserves. He didn’t have the opportunity to “go his way and sin no more,” like others in the gospel narrative, but the thief was surely repentant, believing and putting his trust in the only One who saves.

Day 12 

“Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 

John 14:5-6 ESV 

Guys! Jesus is the life! 

I’m talking, “your best life, now!” But probably not in the American dream version of your best life you may have heard about on megachurch infomercials or on the covers of certain New York Times bestsellers. Apart from John, who enjoyed a luxurious oil bath, drank exotic liquids and then retired to the Greek island of Patmos to work on his apocalyptic literature, the disciples didn’t exactly live lives of health, wealth and prosperity. No, instead they experienced hardships, persecution, torture, imprisonment, regular beatings and agonizing deaths… and they counted it all joy! 

It’s amazing how full our lives can become and yet be so completely empty at the same time. Especially around this time of year, the temptation to accrue more stuff is almost palpable. I mean, you literally have multiple people in your life asking you, “What do you want for Christmas.” When I was a child, I had no difficulty at all filling out a full page, front and back, for my Christmas wish list. Now, as a parent, my greater joy is found in being able to pick out gifts for my kids and seeing them opened. (Full disclosure, I am definitely the guy who wants my kids to open the presents as soon as I buy them because I just hate waiting, but my wife has taught me the discipline of patience in this particular area.) One of the things we are intentional with them about when it comes to Christmas presents is that we set a limit of just 3-4 gifts for each of them. We want to observe the holiday and celebrate by giving gifts, but we don’t want Christmas to become associated with getting stuff. We have our own family traditions that we keep and add to each year in order to keep our thoughts about Christmas fixated on the blessing of Christ coming into the world. The presents are fun, but our kids know that these little things will never bring them true and lasting joy. That can only be found in Him. 

The real, nefarious message that can get wrapped up in the packaging of the presents we give in receive is the subtle belief that the joy of my life will be found in the accumulation of worldly treasures, but even deeper than that is the idea that our happiness is even the point. It’s not. Your best life, the life that Jesus presents, is not in conflict with the suffering that the disciples endured, but is actually part and parcel of it. It is, in fact, often our pursuit of happiness that conflicts with our experience of true joy. We fixate on what we want, what we are convinced that we need, that we don’t even recognize the immensity of what we have. There is an old hymn which sings of this truth, “Take the world, but give me Jesus.” He is the life. He is all-sufficient, all encompassing. We literally have no need but Him. If the Gospel we preach isn’t a Gospel that equally humbles and equally inspires hope to all - if its message cannot be an equally obtainable reality to the affluent lords of the western world and to the starving child in Sudan - then it’s not the Gospel at all. Jesus isn’t the means to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; He is the pot of gold, He is the rainbow, He is everything and from the moment of salvation, He is ours! We already have the greatest treasure of all time! We already have the final source for the fullness of joy! He is life! There is no substitute. What can man do to us? What circumstance could life throw our way? 

Romans 8:36-38 

36 As it is written, 

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; 

    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Jesus is the life! Amen.

Day 11 

“Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 

John 14:5-6 ESV 

Jesus is the truth. Well, if you believe in Him then I guess He is the truth for you. But, truth is subjective, right? 

Well, that is the prevailing philosophy of the day. “What’s true for you is true for you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true for me.” The claim is that truth is relative and those who make this claim will state it as absolute fact… You see how this can be logically problematic? It’s a nonsensical conclusion based in what it rejects and not founded on anything that it holds to. In essence, the concept of relative truth is actually just a simple rejection of absolute truth rather than a positive claim about reality. What they really mean when they make statements like these is, “I don’t accept your truth claims, but I’m pretending to be nice about it and I also don’t have any other grounded position to replace your view.” In other words, “You’re wrong, even though I have no good reason to believe your wrong.” At it’s core, it’s a very infantile form of argumentation. 

So, if they don’t have another established view, why are they so adamantly against the Christian worldview? According to the Bible, the truth of God is made plain to the world. So, rather than being ignorant or unaware of the truth, people instead actively suppress it. In the first chapter of Romans, Paul has a strong word about a people who had done this that sounds almost like he was talking about our current world, today. 

Romans 1:18-25 

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 

People reject Christ as the truth because of what that truth means for how they live their lives. If Jesus is more than a nice or wise teacher, but actually the true Lord of all Creation, then that means that we are not our own masters. 

Furthermore, in claiming to be the truth, not just truth in general or a truth amongst others, He is also making a claim of authority over reality. If we could fully understand this, our lives would look radically different. Our world, the one we experience with our five senses is not the deepest reality. Jesus preexisted on a plane of reality wholly outside of what we know. According scientific theory, if a being were to exist outside of our 3 dimensional universe, they would potentially be able to hold time itself like a physical construct; manipulating, acting and interacting with it in a similar way that we would hold an object or turn a Rubik’s cube. They would be able to see the end and the beginning simultaneously. A being on existing on a higher dimensional plane would be as incomprehensible to us as we would be to a two-dimensional stick figure we drew on a piece of paper. Now, if such a being were to enter into our plane of existence, they wouldn’t cease to be a higher dimensional being, but they would have to simplify their essence and translate themselves into a form that could exist in a lower dimensional state, but they would then be able to give us information from their perspective outside of time, space and matter that was 100% accurate as well as conceivably maintain the ability to manipulate our reality. If our existence is in reality, then they would exist in super-reality. If our universe abides by the laws of nature, they would be able to override those laws supernaturally. Now, this is some nerd stuff, for sure, but in this instance theoretical science might help us to develop a category for what it means that Jesus is the truth. He is so utterly beyond our levels of understanding that it’s not just what He says goes, it’s that our universe was entirely fashioned by His decree. When He makes prophecies, they are not at all predictive but definitive because He has always seen the end from before time began. 

But, as Paul said, men exchange the truth of God for a lie and we worship creation, usually ourselves, instead of the Creator. If we continue to do this for long enough, God will give us over to the lies we want to believe. When I look around in our culture today, it’s hard to feel like that hasn’t already happened in large part. The good news is that Jesus is not just the way, and not even just the truth. Tomorrow, we will see what it means that Jesus is the life!

Day 10 

“Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 

‭‭John‬ ‭14‬:‭5‬-‭6‬ ‭ESV‬‬ 

Jesus is the way; what does this mean? 

There is both a singularity and an exclusivity to this statement. First, Jesus said that he is the way. There is a quote from Mahatma Ghandi where he said, “I like your Christ, but not your Christianity.” This is a sentiment that I have heard from many people even today who have the idea that Jesus was a nice guy, a good teacher and potentially even a wise moral leader. I have a hunch, however, that many of the same people who say these types of things are not referring to passages like this one in John 14. Even the current pope, the leader of the Catholic Church, has made numerous statements that seem to imply that all roads lead to heaven. 

“We must never forget that they (Muslims) "profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, who will judge humanity on the last day". 

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, what about the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us first class children of God!” 

Now, I do want to be fair. Defenders of the pope have stated that Christ paid for the redemption of all, not necessarily guaranteeing salvation for all. Others who take a more liberal approach, believe that Christ is the way, as in His death alone made a way for salvation, but that everyone goes through that door, regardless of their faith or lack thereof. So, what does Jesus mean when He says, “I am the way?” 

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” 

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7‬:‭13‬-‭14‬ ‭ESV‬‬ 

There is, in fact, a broad way that the great multitudes will travel by and pass through but, sadly, this way does not lead to life but destruction. There is one, exclusive way that leads to life and those who find it are few. This is a horrible reality and one that should drive those of us who have found the path to desperately want to share the Way with everyone we can!

Day 9 

““Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”” 

‭‭John‬ ‭14‬:‭1‬-‭5‬ ‭ESV‬‬ 

For my day job, I am often speaking in schools with teenage students. Often, I will ask questions for them to respond to which they already know the “right” answer to, but they don’t know exactly why it’s the right answer. I think, when it comes to understanding the Bible, those of us who have had the privilege of growing up in western culture where Judeo-Christian ethics and theology have had a profound, yet waining, impact on our worldview, we often know the answers but we haven’t done the work to understand why that is the answer. If you’ve ever been in a children’s Sunday school class, we always knew the answer was “Jesus” to every question. So, when we come across the wonderings of Thomas, it’s easy to forget that the answers we take for granted were, for the majority of human history, unknown. 

Where would Jesus be going? 

Backtracking just one or two verses, Jesus had told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house. We have to remember that, for as common as these phrases are to us, the first century Jews did not have a well developed understanding of God as Father, and definitely not one Who is accessible. They knew of the tabernacle. They knew of the temple. They knew of the bells the high priest would wear around his ankles just in case he was struck down dead during the sacrifices. When Jesus came, part of His ministry was to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. 

“From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”” 

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4‬:‭17‬ ‭ESV‬‬ 

Jesus brought access, among many other things. For the first time, regular people had the ability to enter into a real, personal relationship with their Creator. This is one of those incredible truths that we simply take for granted, but to those who heard it first hand from Jesus, it was so completely different from everything they had known that they didn’t fully understand it until He ascended into Heaven. 

For us, this is knowledge that has been handed down but, just like the disciples, we can hear without understanding. Pray that the Holy Spirit would illuminate the reality of what Jesus has done and what He is now doing on your behalf.