March 20, 2012
The betrayal and arrest of Jesus exhibit the power of darkness in the human heart. When we see such, we turn away. We shutter at the capacity of the human heart for sinful conduct. We wince at the darkness that can envelope the human soul. When we see the true nature of sin and its capacity to reign in the hearts of men, confirmation is made of the need for salvation.
THE BETRAYAL OF JESUS
In Luke 22:3 we learn of the conspiracy made by Judas Iscariot and Jewish leaders to betray Jesus. While Jesus was completing His discourses in the upper room, a conspiracy to take His life had commenced. Judas was a key player in this event. The chief priests and scribes actively sought to kill Jesus. The treachery born in their hearts involved evil thoughts, motives and actions. Now, they waited for the right time and place to carry out their dark intentions.
Satan entered into Judas (Luke 22:3). Satan suggests to Judas evil thoughts that develop into evil intents and eventually bring forth evil actions. Judas does not resist. Satan does not flee. Judas was one of the twelve apostles. His treachery will forever mark him as a traitor. Judas’ role in the plot to kill Jesus involved identifying Jesus and delivering Him to the captains of the temple for arrest. The Jewish leaders feared the people (Luke 22:2) so they had to plan to arrest Jesus in some obscure place and under secrecy if possible. Jesus sought a place of solitude to fortify His spirit. He chose the Garden of Gethsemane. In this garden, late at night (around midnight)–the perfect time and place–the arrest was made. Earlier that night, Jesus had revealed that Judas would betray Him. Yet, this exposure did not deter Judas. Evil intents gripped his heart. It is the power of darkness.
Judas agreed to betray Jesus for money–thirty pieces of silver (Matt. 27:9; Luke 22:5). Judas was a thief (John 12:5-6). Money adds to the motive and helps fire the evil intent. Judas made a profit from the conspiracy, but afterward, the blood money tormented his conscience and he rid himself of it. The devil says everyman has his price. What’s yours? It is the power of darkness.
After Jesus’ agony in the Garden, while He yet spake the words of warning to His disciples, the band of men who would arrest Him entered. Judas led them (Luke 22:47). The betrayal was accomplished with a kiss. A kiss would normally be the sign of friendship. The incongruity of the moment caused Jesus to say, “Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” The breach of trust is obvious. It is the power of darkness.
Jesus’ friends did not remain passive. They were ready to fight as promised. Peter draws his sword and cuts off the right ear of Malchus, a servant of the high priest. Jesus rebuked Peter and healed Malchus.
Jesus then spoke to the chief priests, captains of the temple and elders and said, “Be ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves?” The Lord was not a violent man. He had never been a violent man. When He was teaching daily in the temple they did not attempt to arrest Him (Luke 22:53). What would they arrest Him for? For teaching eternal truths? For the miracles He performed? Their actions were unfounded. It is the power of darkness.
They led Jesus away to the house of the high priest to begin to interrogate Him. Nothing He said would stop them from doing what they had imagined and schemed for so long. Their envy and jealousy was fully developed. They will kill Him. It is the power of darkness!
Satan tempts the human heart to think, intend and do evil things. In the moment of temptation, we have the will to decide to act to either glorify God or succumb to Satan’s lies. In that moment, either the power of righteousness and truth will prevail or the power of darkness. We decide. When we sin, it is the power of darkness.
Is there any hope for people in the grip of evil? Yes. Jesus died to liberate them from sin–its practice and its eternal consequences. It is the power of love! (Acts 2:38; Eph. 1:7).
March 9, 2012
I have recently published a new book review. The book is The Secret of Contentment by William Barcley. Barcely addresses the problem of discontentment. According to Gregg Easterbook’s book, The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse, we are living in an age of discontentment. Barcley draws upon Easterbook’s work as well as some Puritan classics including Jeremiah Burrough’s, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment and Thomas Watson’s, The Art of Divine Contentment.
The book is divided into two Parts. Part I deals with the pursuit of contentment. Part II addresses the mystery of contentment. Here are some of the important quotations from the book. John Piper stated, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Jeremiah Burrough’s defines contentment as: “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” Contentment is being satisfied with God’s sufficiency (His grace).
There is much more to read and learn. You can start by reading the full review on the book review page of this blog. Good reading!
March 7, 2012
Jesus was pursuing His earthly ministry in Galilee. Luke records the miraculous drought of fishes in the first few verses of Luke 5. Then, he relates an incident in which Jesus heals a leper (Luke 5:12-15). Leprosy was greatly feared by the Israelites. There are two reasons for this. First, leprosy caused severe physical damage. Second, leprosy resulted in isolation from the community. The disease stigmatized lepers and made them “untouchables.”
There are basically two types of leprosy, i.e. lepromatous and tuberculoid. Of the two, lepromatous leprosy was the most severe. Both types start with discoloration of a patch of skin. This patch may be white or pink. It is most likely to appear on the brow, nose, ear, cheek or chin. In the lepromatous type of leprosy, the patch may spreak widely in all directions. Portions of the eyebrows may disappear. Spongy, tumor like swellings grow on the face and body. In advanced stages, the growths multily and nearly cover the face. The disease becomes systemic andinvolves the internal organs as well as the skin. Marked deformity of hands and feet occur when the tissues between the bones deteriorate and disappear. Oftne the senory nerve endings no longer respond to heat or injury and the unwary patient may be suject to further destruction of his limbs before he realizes his danger. Leprosy is a long-lasting disease. In untreated cases, the person may be sick from ten to twenty years. Death occurs from the disease itself or from an intercurrent invasion of the weakened body by tuberculosis or someother disease. What a wonderful feeling it must have been to be pronounced “clean” of this dreaded disease (see Baker Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, II, 138-139).
Jesus creates interest and sparks curiosity wherever He goes. When the leper sees Jesus, he fell on his face and said, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” The leper manifests several admirable qualities. First, he was humble. He does not demand anything of Jesus, but rather he requests Jesus’ help. He knows it is up to Jesus to decide whether or not to bestow the blessings he seeks. The leper is willing, if Jesus so decides, to remain in his living death. Second, he is full of faith. His knowledge of Jesus’ power was the basis of his faith in Jesus. He is willing to put his life into Jesus’ hands. This is the nature of trust. Third, he is hopeful. The leper sees Jesus as his hope for a complete cure. His leprosy was advanced. He had suffered for many years. Jesus’ appearance in his city gives him hope.
Jesus put forth His hand and touched him and said, “I will: be thou clean.” Jesus exercised His divine perogative regarding a temporal blessing. He executes His divine power to perform the miracle. The divine will and the power of His divine words come together to create the miracle. The miracle was instantaneous and complete. Imagine the moment. Before, this man was suffering from a horribly debilitating disease. After, he was cleansed, healed and whole. Before, he was hideous to behold. After, he was beautiful. Jesus’ power never fails! Jesus told this man not to tell anyone about the miracle. Why? Jesus wanted him to go to the priest at Jerusalem and have the priest declare him clean as the Law of Moses required. The religious leaders among the Jews would learn of this miracle at that time and they would have to realize that Jesus was a great miracle worker. Jesus wanted this man to testify before these religious leaders so that they would know who He is and what works He had accomplished.
Temporal Blessings Vs. Spiritual Blessings.
If you could receive a miracle and be healed of some dreaded disease, or you could be forgiven of your sins and become a child of God, which would you choose? As great as a physical blessing might be, the spiritual is greater! Jesus touches this man on purpose. He touches the untouchable. Jesus can touch your life in an even more significant way. He can save you from your past sins and transform your life. He can give you spiritual and eternal life. Because of sin in our lives, we might consider ourselves to be “untouchable,” “unlovable,” or “unworthy.” Yet, the Lord Jesus Christ has compassion for us and in His love desires to save us. Jesus wills to give us this blessing. We must be willing to receive it.