JESUS IS THE LAMB OF GOD

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

John 1:29

I wonder what God’s people expected when they thought about the promised Messiah. Did they expect trumpets and fanfare as a King descended from above with a sword to eliminate all evil in the world? Certainly they must have expected He would be born to someone of prominence—to a king or a prophet.

We looked at Jesus as Servant. He did not come with earthly power but with an attitude of humility. When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming and proclaimed He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world his words must have held so much wonder at the same time so much promise.

Throughout the Old Testament when people sinned god required blood to be shed as a payment for that sin. Most often a lamb was sacrificed—killed in place of the one who had sinned and deserved death, or separation from God. The lamb that was chosen wasn’t random. It needed to be perfect, without defect or blemish, no lameness. It had to be a spotless, perfect lam. Of course the lamb had done nothing to deserve death. Sheep are some of the most docile and meek animals who follow their shepherd and go where they are led. When a lamb was sacrificed it went willingly to the altar.

This sort of sacrifice was exactly why Jesus came to earth as a baby. Scripture tells us he was fully God yet fully man. While He lived on earth Jesus never sinned.

He followed His Father’s plan for Him and allowed God to lead Him eventually to be sacrificed on the altar of the cross. When the Lamb of God was sacrificed it was the last sacrifice God required. His blood was exchanged for ours and by His death our sins are forgiven.

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While we are not Jesus and do not live perfect lives we can follow His example of allowing God to lead us through life, echoing the words of Paul: “follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Jesus gave up all He had in Heaven to be the sacrificial Lamb who opened the door for us to live there one day with Him. I wonder if there’s anything we could sacrifice this Christmas season to follow His examples and lead others to Jesus.

 

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JESUS IS THE HOLY SERVANT

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve,

and give his life as a ransom for many.   

Mark 10:45

Have you ever gone hiking along dusty trails or worked outside in the heat of summer and gotten dirty? I’m not talking about needing to wash your hands dirty, I mean grimy, dusty, “I can’t wait to get in a shower” dirty. Now think about that feeling as a way of life. Walking along roads of dirt and stone either barefoot or with open sandals on your feet you were grimy all the time. Besides occasionally bathing in a lake or stream the only relief you had was to wash your feet, or have them washed by a servant in the home where you were visiting.

How would you like to be that servant, kneeling before men who had a higher position than you, carefully removing the dusty, perhaps mud-covered sandals and immersing their feet into a basin of clear, cool water. For the recipient this was a soothing, refreshing gesture but for the servant it was humiliating. It was one of the worst jobs a person could have.

Now imagine being one of Jesus’ disciples. For three years or so you had walked with Jesus, listening as He taught and watching as he healed the sick and returned dignity to those whose lifestyles brought them shame. You believe He is God’s Son, just s He says and has the power to forgive sins. There s no one greater in your eyes than Jesus.

Then one day as you join Jesus for the Passover celebration—the most holy and special meal of the year—you watch Him remove His outer cloak and gather together a towel and basin of water. Soon He is kneeling before you preparing to remove your sandals.

You try to protest, but Jesus won’t hear of it. He washes your feet, then the feet of every other person in the room.

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Suddenly your world is turned upside down. Everything you’ve ever thought about leadership and power has now been reduced to this. The most powerful man you know has just lowered Himself to the place of a servant and calls you to do the same.

This is the Jesus who wants a relationship with each one of us. While He is God and already knows everything about us He relates to us on our level—if we allow Him to.

Jesus was born in a smelly, cold stable among the animals and common folk to show us from the beginning of our lives how important our lives are to Him. He doesn’t look down on us with judgment and wrath if we are choosing to follow Him. Instead He reaches out to help us. He strengthens us where we are weak and loves us in the midst of our mess-ups.

Jesus expects us to do the same. Throughout the days leading to Christmas, lets examine how we can serve others. Let’s keep our eyes open for unexpected opportunities and serve with a cheerful spirit in the name of Jesus. You never know whose life might change because of your gesture.

 

 

 

JESUS IS THE GOOD SHEPHERD

 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
John 10:11

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Most of us are familiar with Psalm 23—”The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..” We see pictures depicting Jesus in a clean whet robe with pure white sheep in His arms and around Him. While this is part of the shepherd’s role—loving, comforting, even protecting his sheep. But the life of a shepherd isn’t always glamorous. At times the shepherd has to force the sheep to go where they will be safe, even if they want to go somewhere else. The shepherd puts his life on the line for the sheep when robbers or wild animals want to harm them.

Sometimes the shepherd actually has to break the legs of a disobedient sheep to keep them safe and actually protect them from themselves. After they are broken the shepherd puts the lamb around his neck, carrying it on his shoulders everywhere they go. As the lamb heals it hears the shepherd’s voice and grows to know the shepherd intimately. After the lamb’s leg is healed it will stay close to the shepherd without being forced to be there.

It seems fitting that Jesus’ birth was first announced to shepherds as this is one of the roles He plays in our lives. The shepherds were living out in the fields with their sheep. They didn’t leave them to fend for themselves while they went to an Inn where they could warm themselves and get a hot meal. The shepherds stayed with the sheep, even going after them when they went astray.

The shepherds were also not important in society. In fact they were considered some of the lowest people because they were often dirty and smelly and not always well educated  by the world’s standards.

These shepherds probably understood something many of us struggle with. They also learned to grow close to God as they faced life and death decisions. They may have considered the words of David as they dwelt among their sheep, walking through valleys and finding clean, still water from which to drink. They welcomed a chance to rest, and I imagine when they looked up at the sky they were often reminded of the greatness of God.

Imagine being one of the shepherds gazing at the sky that night outside of Bethlehem, contemplating, when suddenly the sky was filled with angels proclaiming the birth of Jesus. The shepherds didn’t wait long but went to town to find this baby. And when they saw Jesus and worshipped Him they went out and told others. I don’t think they stopped to think about their position in life or what people would think of them shouting the news. They had seen the Savior of the world—the Good Shepherd and wanted everyone to know.

Are you proclaiming the great news of the Good Shepherd this Christmas? You don’t have to run through the streets of town, but be sure you are telling those around you of the precious gift of Jesus this season, just as the shepherds did so long ago.

 

JESUS IS LORD OF ALL

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in Heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:10-11

The birth of Jesus really doesn’t make sense….at least not by earthly standards. Jesus is the Son of God, yet when the time came for the prophecy to be fulfilled He did not appear from Heaven in power. He was not born to a powerful family, but to a poor virgin and her betrothed. He was raised in the  poor rural village of Nazareth, a town that was often looked down upon. In fact throughout Jesus’ ministry people would exclaim, “can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46)

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Jesus left behind all that He had in Heaven to come to earth and be laughed at, questioned and mocked for saying He was the Christ, the promised Messiah. Through all the ridicule and scorn Jesus reached out to those who were often left behind by the church leaders.

Jesus came to offer eternal life to everyone. He didn’t come for the elite crowd of rich church leaders, but to reach those who perhaps had begun to think God didn’t have time for them. Jesus healed lepers, had supper with tax collectors and spoke with outcasts. He was Lord of all, not the select few.

Do you consider the story of Jesus’ birth at Christmastime and think that it was nice of Him to come to the people of earth those thirty-three years and love on them, but then He went back to Heaven where He can’t walk or talk with humans anymore.

I want to encourage you this Christmas can be different for you! While it is true that Jesus is in Heaven it doesn’t mean He can’t love on us here on earth. I am grateful to experience that love each day as I talk with Him in prayer and allow Him to love on me through the Holy Spirit.

If you doubt me I want to encourage you to take some time to be quiet and let the Lord know your doubts. He wants to be Lord of your life too. He wants to forgive your sins, but far beyond that Jesus wants to heal your hurts and help you know Him in a real way just as if He was sitting beside you.

Jesus didn’t come to be Lord to the rich or the perfect. He didn’t change who He loves when He went back to Heaven. Just like the shepherds on the hillside, the wise men who brought gifts and the hurting, prideful sinners who repented and opened their lives to His Lordship Jesus wants to be there for each of us.

All you have to do is ask. What better day than today?

 

JESUS IS THE TRUTH

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:32

Rumors can be so damaging yet sometimes so enticing. As Christians we are not immune to gossip and rumor—in fact, sometimes we “Christianize” it under the guise of concern and prayer requests.

Have you ever noticed that when the truth comes out about  a rumor  there is a sense of relief—of freedom? Even if the rumor is substantiated often some of the facts have been eschewed and the truth straightens it all out. If the rumor or gossip has been about you the sense of freedom is even greater!

Jesus cam to earth to, in a sense, set the record straight. Over the years well-intending (for the most part) spiritual leaders had sometimes adjusted the truth to fit their egos, and sometimes even fill their pockets. They began to blur the truth and make it more about following rules than knowing and serving God.

Jesus tells us, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” John 14:6

Jesus told anyone who would listen that He cam from God and all that He taught came from God. The truth of Jesus’ message is as true today as it was many years ago.

The birth of Jesus in the stable opened the way for each of us to know God in a new way. As we celebrate the truth of Jesus’ message this Christmas season let us also testify that truth to those around us. Jesus came to earth so that we can know God personally and be granted His grace and a forever home in Heaven.

May the truth of Jesus’ love and the way to the Father and eternal life become real this season to many who do not yet believe.

 

JESUS IS THE ALMIGHTY

“I am the Alpha and Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8

The Miriam Webster dictionary defines the word almighty as having absolute power over all. How much power can a tiny baby have? And this baby was bone to a poor carpenter one night in a barn! This is not exactly the kind of birth that makes people wonder!

One might say there is a power every baby has to woo even perfect strangers into baby talk and mesmerizing stares of wonder over every coo and giggle. But absolute power—that is another thing entirely.

Jesus had absolute power. Through the years of His ministry we see  His power over sickness as He healed the ill and lame. He had power over evil, casting out spirits. Jesus had the power to elude captors. When those against Him tried to imprison or harm Jesus He slipped away…until His time had come. Ultimately Jesus had power over sin and death. He forgave the sins of some of the worst men, and then called them to be his disciples—His best friends on earth. When the time was right Jesus had the power to give up all of His rights as the Son of God and take upon Himself the sins of every man, woman and child. He died the most painful, shameful death so we may enter Heaven.

On one glorious morning Jesus destroyed the chains of death, rising from the dead and then ascending back to Heaven where He reigns in Sovereignty with His Father. There is no one greater, yet no one who loves us more than Jesus.

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From the manger to the cross to eternal life in Heaven Jesus shows His absolute power.

I pray today you will feel the incredible love of our Sovereign Lord and share that love with those around you.

 

JESUS IS “I AM”

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered. “Before Abraham was born, I am!” John 8:58

When we introduce ourselves we often say, “I am ______” and give our name. We may also use descriptors to give more detail and better identify ourselves. I am a writer, a carpenter, a doctor, a student. I am the child of ______ or sister of______. But how does the Son of God identify Himself? We have already seen that He was there at the beginning of time and even though He is the Son of God He also IS God. So How does God identify Himself? Two simple words—I AM.

The Pharisees and other religious leaders of Jesus’ day loved their traditions. They followed the laws of Moses strictly, and sincerely believed this kept them from sinning and made them better than anyone else. They practiced their traditions with grand gestures out in the open for all to see. Jesus was the greatest leader of them all and yet he didn’t need to flaunt it or prove it to anyone. I think this was one of the reasons the leaders of Jesus’ day didn’t listen when they were told of His birth and didn’t recognize Jesus when He walked among them.

I think Jesus wanted people to understand that He came to save every person from their sins and to give the gift of the Holy Spirit to anyone who asked. If He had come as a powerful leader or earthly king He would have been untouchable by the very people Jesus’ loved, needed Him and would believe He is the Son of God.

 Jesus was so secure in His identity and the mission given by His Father that He was born to a poor couple in a foreign land, surrounded by animals in a stable. The angels could have announced  His birth to anyone but God chose the shepherds. They were smelly and dirty and looked down upon by many people, yet they were the ones God chose.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry He walked among those shunned by others. He concentrated on reaching the lost and hurting, showing His love for them and the grace offered by God. Jesus didn’t need approval or promotion from leaders of the church. He was God’s Son, “I Am” – there from the beginning of time.

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We, like Jesus can be secure in who we are if we have asked Him to forgives our sins and lead our lives. We don’t have to look to the fads and popular leaders of our day to be good enough or liked by others. We are children of the King – heirs to the kingdom of I Am—Jesus Christ. We can live in the security of this great truth no matter what the world around may say.

Let’s try to let Jesus’ example lead us this Christmas. May we not get caught up in rituals and fads but be looking for those who need the love of Jesus, the I Am. Let’s introduce ourselves to them, and introduce them to the Christ child.