zealous for our hearts

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” [John 2:13-17 ESV]

When considering the money-changers in the house of the Lord, I think that it is so tempting to speak of church foyers where money is changed as books, music and coffee are sold. It would be so easy to take pot shots at these things and miss the real issues of this passage.

Jesus was not purely speaking to the legalities of this practice of selling sacrificial sheep, oxen and pigeons but to the heart of it. Man had made something profitable out of something that was meant to be prophetic. Man had taken something sacred and made it something crass.

When I think about things that are sacred I remember this question that the Apostle Paul asks:
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?"
Christians are indwelt by the very Spirit of God. Our bodies house new hearts that have been fashioned for the sacred. When I think about my heart I remember that, like that ancient Jewish temple, Jesus is zealous for it - he will drive out things that hinder me from entering that holy place of prayer.

Lord, help me to remember that my new heart is prophetic and made for prayer.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

manifestations of glory

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. [John 2:1-11 ESV]

It is apparent that Mary had seen her son perform some amazing things before this day.
I wonder if she had seen him heal someone in the quiet of their home?
I wonder if miracles were commonplace in their family?

The interaction between Jesus and his mother is so interesting.
I can almost sense a bit of annoyance in his response to her.
In that response we sense that the Lord is preparing to take his ministry public.

I wonder what was going through the servants' minds when Mary spoke to them?
And when do you think they saw the water turn to wine?
Can you imagine the awe they felt in that moment?

Interesting how John reports that Jesus "manifested his glory".
Perhaps that is a definition of a miracle?
Perhaps all miracles are simply manifestations of the glory of God?

I wonder if such miracles are what John referred to when he said "we have seen his glory".
I imagine that they never got used to such glorious things.
Walking with Jesus had to be like nothing anyone could ever imagine.

Like Moses we all say “Please show me your glory.”

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

the word became flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. [John 1:1-4,14 NLT]

There is a divine mystery that has surrounded humanity since the very first Christmas.
Doubtful that anyone in that stable really understood the significance of what had just happened.
The event is both normal and supernatural. It is somewhat beyond our understanding.

Who could have grasped that God Almighty was taking on human flesh?
Who could have understood that this was not an earthly king come to sit on an earthly throne?
Who looking at this helpless babe could have ever imagined that he was their savior?

Yet John says here that he was one of the ones who saw the glory.
He knew the Messiah and he embraced the nature of his divine mission.
As John writes you get the impression that he was realizing that he had walked with God.

John witnessed the miracles, remembered the teachings and agonized over the cross.
And he saw the resurrected Messiah - the living Word of God.
These verses bind together the miracles of Christmas and Easter.

Open our eyes Lord that we might see the glory of the one and only Son who is full of grace and truth.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

the friendship gospel

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these." [John 1:45-49 ESV]

As I read this passage I am caught up in the excitement of the experience.
Jesus is a virtual unknown and people are bringing their friends to meet him.
And when these men meet him for the first time they are challenged.

These did not think that the Messiah would appear first to them.
Philip was probably invited by hometown friends.
He is so excited he invites another friend to meet Jesus.

Excitement is in the air.
The Christ has come to earth and is befriending ordinary people.
No one expected him to come in this way.

This is the gospel story.
Friends bringing their friends to Jesus.
I am so thankful that in my life friends brought me to Him.

Yet this is merely the first step.
Once Nathanael is in Christ's presence everything changes as the Lord speaks to him.
It amazes me how Nathanael's attitude changes after Jesus speaks prophetically to him.

Yet it does not really amaze me.
I can relate to having my heart laid open that first time I prayed.
Like him, meeting Jesus changed my life and brought greater things into my life.

Thank you Lord for bringing challenge and change into my life.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

he is more

One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). [John 1:40-42 ESV]

This passage follows the description of Jesus as the Divine Word who became flesh.
It is in this context and understanding that John the Baptist calls Jesus the Lamb of God.
It is in this context that these disciples leave the Baptist and follow Messiah Jesus.

And it is in this context that disciples throughout the past 2,000 years have followed Christ.
We all follow Jesus because he is more than a great teacher or a great prophet.
For believers, Jesus is the Lamb of God and He is God in the flesh.

John and Andrew were first drawn to Jesus that day when the Baptist identified him.
I love how these two knew immediately that Jesus was the Messiah.
And they wanted Peter, a brother and a friend, to meet him.

Little did Simon know that this day would be the day that would change his life and future.
This was the day when the Lord changed Simon's name to Peter.
And such it is with all of us who meet Jesus for the very first time.

We come ignorant of the effect he will have on us.
We are clueless of how he will totally change our lives from within.
He have no idea about how he will call us by a new name.

Thank you for the day that Ellen brought me to meet you Lord. I have never been the same.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

the divine king

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders ... delivered him over to Pilate the governor. ... Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” [Matthew 27:1,2,11 ESV]

The silence of Jesus during this time speaks volumes to mankind.
During this whole process of judgment the Lord refuses to participate in his 'trial'.
He does not make any statements in his defense.

In Matthew's gospel, he only answers when he is asked questions about his identity.
In each response Jesus affirms his identity as King.
Consider this passage from John's account before Pilate:
So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” ... Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
The placard that hung over Jesus on the cross would read "King of the Jews".
Yet his divine kingdom is so much more than Israel - he is a king like no other.
In the book of Revelation he is called the King of kings and Lord of lords.

He has always held this title.
When Adam sinned in the garden he was King.
When Moses delivered the Israelis from bondage he was King.
And on that cross so many years ago he was King.
And I bow before his throne today.

You are worthy King Jesus! Of my strength, my mind, my love and all that I am.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.