Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Are You the Messiah???

Psalm 69:30-36
30 I will praise God’s name in song
and glorify him with thanksgiving.
31 This will please the Lord more than an ox,
more than a bull with its horns and hooves.
32 The poor will see and be glad —
you who seek God, may your hearts live!
33 The Lord hears the needy
and does not despise his captive people.
34 Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and all that move in them,
35 for God will save Zion
”Then people will settle there and possess it;
36 the children of his servants will inherit it,
and those who love his name will dwell there.

Reflections: Remember the psalmist began this psalm with complaints and was not in a good place. But he ends with a commitment to praise God in song, and give thanks to Him as well. He cites that as he does this others will see his true God and it will draw others to seek God as well. Worship is at the heart of how God renews His people and draws all people unto God’s self. As Jesus said, “If I be lifted up I will draw all people unto me.”

Worship is the antidote to complaining and an “attitude of ingratitude”. It takes the focus off our own situation, and onto who God is, what He has done, and what He will do. Such an attitude of praise and thanksgiving brings joy and hope to our hearts despite our circumstances.

Numbers 18:1-24
18 The Lord said to Aaron, “You, your sons and your family are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the sanctuary, and you and your sons alone are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the priesthood. 2 Bring your fellow Levites from your ancestral tribe to join you and assist you when you and your sons minister before the tent of the covenant law. 3 They are to be responsible to you and are to perform all the duties of the tent, but they must not go near the furnishings of the sanctuary or the altar. Otherwise both they and you will die. 4 They are to join you and be responsible for the care of the tent of meeting—all the work at the tent—and no one else may come near where you are.5 “You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that my wrath will not fall on the Israelites again. 6 I myself have selected your fellow Levites from among the Israelites as a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord to do the work at the tent of meeting. 7 But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain. I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary is to be put to death.

Reflections: After some of the dreadful consequences of the last couple of chapters when the Israelites misjudged God’s holiness, the Lord sets up a new iteration of the priesthood for Aaron and his sons serving in the tent and sanctuary. He also gives him the Levites to assist in service of the tent (but not the most holy place). Here we see the privilege and honor given to Aaron and his sons, but also the responsibility they bore to stand in the gap for their fellow Israelites. We also see God’s describes this calling as a gift, and also graciously gives Aaron the first-fruits of the offerings and sacrifices for he and his family. He also gives him the Levites and makes they favorably disposed toward him, which will make his life a whole lot easier, than the ordeals he had in the past with the contentious ones.

In the New Testament, God will make a new covenant with His people, the Church. Jesus, the most High Priest, will make atonement for all of our sins and do away with the sacrificial system. Yet, God will still call some to be pastors and teachers to administer the Word preached and the Sacraments administered with faithfulness to the Good News Jesus came to bring. The New Testament also brings us the concept of the “priesthood of all believers”, which Martin Luther brought new meaning with the Reformation movement of the 16th century. He describes us all as priests, in that God is working through us to reconcile the world back to Him through Christ. He has given us the ministry of reconciliation, as we stand in the gap for others in Jesus’ name and in His power. And just like Aaron and his sons were given privilege and responsibility, so we too have been each been given a calling to represent God in the world with His power and authority in all we do and say. This is where Paul will say in Ephesians 4, “Live a life worthy of the calling you have been given.”

Do you see your faith and walk with Christ as a calling? How is God calling you to live more as a disciple of Jesus and an ambassador for the Good News?

Mark 14:53-65
Jesus Before the Sanhedrin

53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. 57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree. 60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

Reflections: We see two things happening here. The religious leaders are trying to come up with a way to condemn Jesus according to their law. And we see Jesus’ closest friend cowering in the distance not sure if he should stand up for his friend. As the high priest (quite an irony that he is interrogating the Most High Priest!) grills Jesus, Jesus calmly admits that He is the Messiah. This is enough for them to conclude He has committed blasphemy to claim to be God, even though Jesus is God and has done everything to prove He is God.

This gets at the heart of why Jesus was crucified and the heart of the Christian faith, Jesus is God! There is no other religion where the leader claims to be God and if they did, they died and did not rise from the dead thus proving they were not God, because a true God cannot die! This is the heart of Jesus’ testimony and the heart of ours as we stand on trial for being a Christian in the world being always ready to give an answer for the hope we have within us!

How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. Genesis 28:17

The house of God is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:15 (NKJV)

Holy One, we bow in silence before you. May we find in that quiet center the heart of our lives. Amen.

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