Tears for Lazarus

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(This poem is based on John 11:35: “Jesus wept,” and explores reasons why the Savior cried at the tomb of Lazarus.)

Why cry for friend laid down on stone
Dead, covered, buried in a tomb
When power to raise does He possess
And restored life with him to bless

Was it for pain of certain knowing
If He had been there for consoling
Sickness would have fled in fear
If only He had lingered near

Was it for hurt to loved ones shown
When Mary and Martha asked Him come
Their words of doubt cut deep inside
“If You had been here, he would not have died.”

Was it for seeing injustice done
The curse of death imposed by sin
A world broken, bleeding, dying
Was this why at his tomb stood crying

Our Savior, Lord of all creation
Whose death would give us entrance to heaven
Whose sacrifice, only, made us alive
Whose love means we will never die

Were they tears of hope and love
That one day the dead will rise above
And join the righteous of all the ages
In singing the praises of the Ancient of Days

Death cannot live within His presence
Life cannot die with Christ ascended
His love is deep and long and wide
Displayed by tears for friend who died

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Christmas Verses – Matthew 1:18-25

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife, and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25.

In these verses an angel (Gabriel? we don’t know) appears to Joseph to stop him from divorcing Mary. In doing so, he tells Joseph about the son Mary will bear, and that He would save His people from their sins. Matthew then tells us readers that this fulfills the words of Isaiah 7:14. Jesus is “God with us.” Joseph demonstrates his faith in the Lord in that he gets up and does what the angel commands, taking Mary as his wife.

Jesus is a Savior who delivers His people from their sin. Jesus is Immanuel: God (in the person of the eternal Son) with us.

Christmas Verses – Galatians 4:4-5

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“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5.

These verses show that God’s timing in sending Jesus to this earth was not sporadic, but instead at just the right time. He was born under the Law, that is, subject to it, so that He would be able to save all those who were under the Law. God’s Son came to this earth to redeem us in order that God the Father might adopt us as His children.

Christmas Verses – John 1:1-5

Jesus took on humanity in the incarnation, but the person of the eternal Son of God has always existed with the Father. Nowhere in Scripture is this more clearly communicated than in John’s Gospel:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:1-5.

Here we learn that Jesus (the Word made flesh, v. 14) was in the beginning with God, and was God. This shows the unity and diversity within the Triune God: God is one in essence, and yet three persons. Jesus possesses all the totality of the divine nature (Colossians 2:9), and yet is distinct from God the Father.

Jesus was also actively involved in creation (“all things came into being by Him”). He is pictured here as true life and light, bringing life and light to all, and shining light into a dark world. Jesus’ entrance into the world in His birth was the coming of God among men in a human person, bringing life and light, now available to all. The words of the familiar Christmas hymn “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” show the divine and human natures of Christ united in one person. Ponder the words of the second verse especially:

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with th’ angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
late in time behold him come,
offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’ incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Christmas Verses – 2 Samuel 7:12-16

“When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” 2 Sam. 7:12-16.

These are some amazing promises made to David that applied first to 1) Solomon and 2) Davidic kings of Judah, but 3) ultimately, to Jesus the Messiah, Israel’s one true king. The birth of Jesus is the birth of the last and final Davidic king. The kingdom of this king is an everlasting kingdom that will endure forever.

Christmas is a reminder that God always keeps His promises. A promise made to David around 1000 BC was fulfilled in a sense in the coming of Jesus a thousand years later, and will be fulfilled in a final sense when Jesus returns (at present, three thousand years after David lived).

God has also promised through His word, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9). Have you been cleansed from your sin through faith in Jesus?

We can thank God today that He is a God who keeps all His promises.

The Enduring Value of the Participatory Lord’s Supper

CommunionI grew up in a Bible-believing church that celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ once each week in a meeting called “The Lord’s Supper.” It was also know in our family as “The Breaking of Bread” or the “First Meeting.” The meeting is unlike communion services in mainline evangelical churches in that it is a service where men who have trusted in Jesus Christ can stand up sporadically and share something about their Savior from their heart. I heard a lot about the importance of that meeting growing up, often from within the meeting itself. Many people over the years have testified about its’ significance in their life. Some have identified it as the main reason they choose to fellowship at a particular local church. Others qualify that service as the most important hour of their week.

Many have written about the biblical foundation for the participatory Lord’s Supper. That is not the purpose of this article, though it is an area of continued need. Neither do I intend to make sweeping generalizations about the churches that employ this kind of a service, as seems to be popular among some today. In what follows, I simply want to offer seven reasons why I value the Lord’s Supper. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, as if I could in a few words encompass the immeasurable worth of remembering the Savior in this way. While these reasons are very close to my heart, they are in no way exclusive to myself alone. I hope in reading them you also will be moved to marvel at the manifold wisdom of our Lord Jesus Christ for instituting this remembrance meal. Continue reading