Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category
In the aftermath of World War II, many European intellectuals (later joined by Americans and many others) were forced to ask this question: how could this have happened? This referred to two world wars, and especially the Holocaust. [...] They diagnosed the sickness that had befallen Western civilization in general and “Christian” Germany in particular to be excessive confidence.
Mark 1:21-28 (NIV*)
21They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.
Strange thing to say, isn’t it? Rabbis certainly did have authority to teach the Scriptures. But when Jesus spoke, something else happened.
And as if to prove it:
23Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24″What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
Remember, we’re in Chapter 1 here. Who else in the room would have even thought this? Virtually no one but Jesus himself. How shocked they must have been to hear it. What a statement!
And what a source! Jesus reacts immediately. First:
Why would he shush, if it’s true? Why would an evil spirit say it, anyway? Read the rest of this entry »
[This sermon was first posted in January of 2007. Rick Reilly's comment reminded me that many may be working on something similar, so it seemed good to update and re-post it. Best wishes! - Monte]
I have often thought of Jesus as pretty uncertainty-free: so totally God that humanity is just a minor irritation. So certain, so unsurprise-able, so un-swayed by what’s up.
For instance, I might think of his baptism like so: I imagine he becomes off-to-on aware that it’s time (click!), appears on the banks of the Jordan (click!), where the crowds part and everybody understands the obvious (click!), and he all but comes up out of the water with one finger extended for the dove’s perch. Of course he knows it all before it happens.
We’ve been talking about the three audiences to the events of the Bible, especially regarding the gospel of Luke. Remember them?
1. The A.D. 30 Jews, who see it all first-hand.
2. The A.D. 80 or so Jews and Gentiles who first read Luke’s gospel.
3. And us. Now. Read the rest of this entry »
Abraham Lincoln famously said (or is famously said to have said) that if he could find a church whose credo was the golden rule, he’d join it. He never found one.
Religious leaders confronted Jesus with a question of essence rather like that. You’d think it would be the first thing Christians learn, and that for which they’re mostly known.
“Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”
Jesus said, “”Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ 38This is the most important, the first on any list. 39But there is a second to set alongside it: “Love others as well as you love yourself.’ 40These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” Read the rest of this entry »