What Child Is This? #4

Monday, December 2, 2019

“O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (Psalm 95:1,2 KJV).

The final verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

As the shepherds and angels gathered around Baby Jesus’ manger, we can only wonder what immense joy filled their hearts. In that world of old—plagued by the same basic problems of our modern world—He was a Beacon in the dark and a Solace in the misery. They undoubtedly sang right in the midst of all those farm animals! They were so thrilled to see God working in their presence. They were now standing before His baby crib!

Sinners today are greatly encouraged—yea, urged—to come by faith to God’s Son, Jesus Christ, right this moment. They are not to come by faith to His crib, for He is no longer a Baby. Rather, they are to come by faith to His cross, where He gave up that life for us! “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). What we need to do is rely exclusively on Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, His shed sinless blood and His resurrection, as sufficient payment for our sins.

As with Jesus’ birth, for those who do not want to see anything, they do not see anything. Those who see are people who want to see. It has nothing to do with God hiding anything from anyone. What did Jesus tell the Jews? “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).

Although Jesus Christ is not physically here today, we can still haste to bring Him laud. We can praise Him highly in a public context. First, we can believe on Him and His finished crosswork. Then, we can tell others how they too can be saved through Calvary!

What Child Is This? #3

Sunday, December 1, 2019

“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20,21 KJV).

The third verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

While commonly assumed the wise men came to visit Baby Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem, a careful study of Matthew chapter 2 shows us that they met Jesus in Joseph’s house in Nazareth, when He was as much as two years old (verse 16). The Bible never specifies “three” wise men or three “kings,” either. Regardless of their number, these wise men, Gentiles from the East, came to Jerusalem looking for Israel’s King. Upon hearing the wise men, King Herod and all of Jerusalem were “troubled” (verse 3). Israel should be ready to receive her Messiah-King, but she is not. Gentiles are seeking Israel’s King, and they, the Gentiles, are ready! How odd!

The wise men learn that Israel’s Messiah was born in Bethlehem-Judah (verses 4-6), but a “star” (angel) leads them to Nazareth (verses 7-10). Verse 11: “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Jesus is a King, so the wise men have brought gold to Him. They have brought Him frankincense because He is a Priest. Myrrh has been brought to Him because He is a Prophet. Gentiles treat Israel’s King with more respect than Israel does!

Nothing has changed today. Some reject Jesus Christ while others accept Him. The songwriter, as does this author, urges people to accept Him!

Bible Q&A #675: “Why is the God of the Bible called “‘the living God?’

Children of Light #1

Sunday, August 25, 2019

“While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them” (John 12:36 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is one of three instances of the expression “children of light” in the Bible. What is the significance of this title?

We move on to the second occurrence, Ephesians 5:8: “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:….” The last appearance is in 1 Thessalonians 5:5: “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” We will start with the context of today’s Scripture, and return to these later.

“[34] The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? [35] Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. [36] While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.

“[37] But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: [38] That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? [39] Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, [40] He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. [41] These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.”

John chapter 12 opens with six days before Passover (verse 1), meaning the Lord has less than one week to live. He has conducted His earthly ministry for three years now. Unfortunately, the Holy Spirit through John reports that Israel has overwhelmingly disregarded her Messiah….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What are ‘vanities’ in Scripture?

Art Thou He That Should Come? #4

Thursday, July 25, 2019

“Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2,3 KJV).

How can John the Baptist question if Jesus really is Christ/Messiah?

Father God had sent John the Baptist to announce the arrival of His Son, Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:1-8; Matthew 3:1-17; Isaiah 40:3). Yet, John, just a man, did not have unlimited insight concerning God’s Son. John had not been given Divine revelation as to the timing of the events of Christ’s life. It was not that John had grown apostate; he just did not understand that Christ’s healing miracles would continue beyond his imprisonment and execution. John had no idea that we would be here right now—20 centuries later—still waiting for God’s enemies to be judged and Earth’s governments to be cleansed of wicked rulers.

Jesus’ answer to John was, “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended [skandalidzo] in me” (Matthew 11:6; Luke 7:23). In other words, “John, happy is the man who will not find scandal or an occasion of stumbling in Me. You have no need to be embarrassed that you endorsed Me. I am who you announced Me to be. Do not lose faith.” Christ had not come to judge sin—as in, overthrow evil kings—at His First Coming. No, He had come to die for sin.

“[52] And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. [53] And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. [54] And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? [55] But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. [56] For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village” (Luke chapter 9).

“He that should come” will return at His Second Coming, to finish fulfilling the rest of the Messianic prophecies.

Art Thou He That Should Come? #3

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

“Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2,3 KJV).

How can John the Baptist question if Jesus really is Christ/Messiah?

Today’s Scripture is key to understanding John the Baptist’s changed mind. John is “in the prison,” having never expected to wind up there! Not only was he stunned at what Jesus was doing, he was also shocked by what Jesus was not doing. John has been incarcerated for at least a year—possibly two. Why had the Lord Jesus not overthrown that corrupt king, Herod, who had imprisoned John? While free, John had warned unbelieving Israel of “the wrath to come.” Yet, the Lord was not pouring out wrath, was not liberating imprisoned John (His forerunner or heralder), and was not taking away the sin of the world (John 1:29). John was puzzled, so he sent messengers to Jesus.

Jesus had a message for John, reassuring him that He was Christ/Messiah. He was already beginning to fulfill Old Testament passages and—in due time—He would accomplish the others (namely, the wrath verses). Read today’s Scripture in context: “[2] Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, [3] And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? [4] Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: [5] The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. [6] And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”

Luke 7:22, the companion verse: “Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.” (Jesus was indeed Messiah, for when Messiah would come, healing miracles would abound—see Isaiah 35:4-6 and Isaiah 53:4 cf. Matthew 8:16-17.) John should not lose faith….

Art Thou He That Should Come? #2

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

“Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2,3 KJV).

How can John the Baptist question if Jesus really is Christ/Messiah?

John the Baptist preached in Matthew chapter 3: “[7] But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? [8] Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: [9] And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

“[10] And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. [11] I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: [12] Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

John proceeds to water baptize the Lord Jesus (verses 13-17). The Lord undergoes a series of temptations in the wilderness (4:1-11). Just beginning His earthly ministry, Jesus hears about John the Baptist’s imprisonment (4:12; cf. Luke 3:19,20). (The details of John’s arrest, incarceration, and death can be found in flashbacks recorded in Matthew 14:1-12 and Mark 6:14-29.)

The Bible says in Matthew 11:1, “And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.” Here is where today’s Scripture appears: “Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” John, in jail, is quite surprised to learn what Jesus is doing….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Does 2 Corinthians 12:16 mean Paul was dishonest?

Art Thou He That Should Come? #1

Monday, July 22, 2019

“Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2,3 KJV).

How can John the Baptist question if Jesus really is Christ/Messiah?

John the Baptist conducted his ministry along the Jordan River, just north of the Dead Sea. Matthew chapter 3: “[13] Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. [14] But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? [15] And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. [16] And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: [17] And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Now, John chapter 1: “[29] The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. [30] This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. [31] And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. [32] And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. [33] And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. [34] And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

John the Baptist confessed that he knew Jesus was the Son of God, the Anointed One whom Israel had been expecting for many centuries. Yet, ironically, in today’s Scripture, John expressed doubt concerning Jesus as Christ/Messiah. What made John change his mind? Let us search the Scriptures….