jesus

Do You See This Woman?

Do You Have Eyes Like Jesus? Do You See This Woman?

Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” John 9:40

Some people wonder what Jesus meant when he asked: “Do you have eyes, but fail to see?” The Pharisees, of course, thought they had better eye sight than anyone; so good they could see every sin in the world; they were experts in seeing the sinner in the crowd. Perhaps that was the very thing that caused them to be blind?

When Jesus looked upon the people of his day, he didn’t see ‘sinners’, rather, he saw the lost sheep that God so loved he sent Jesus into the world to rescue. Jesus looked upon people with a different perspective than the Pharisees:

“When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36

When Jesus was invited to dinner in the house of a prominent Pharisee named Simon, their dinner was interrupted by a woman, so touched by her interactions with Jesus that she fell to his feet and covered them with tears, and wiped them with her hair. What did Simon see? He didn’t see what God wanted him to see; he was blind to the very work of God. Simon’s perspective was this:

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Luke 7:39

Simon saw the sinner; but he didn’t see the woman. He put her in an inhuman category in his mind, that allowed him to cast his judgment upon her without consulting his heart, or the heart of God. But Jesus was different, he didn’t see the sinner; he saw the woman. He saw the true person, not the pain and corruption that life had pulled her into. He saw the child. He saw the one he came to rescue. The woman, now set free, was overflowing with thankfulness. Heaven was erupting with joy and dancing. God was rejoicing – but Simon missed the whole thing. Jesus asked him: “Do you see this woman?”

Do you see this woman? Do you see this man? Do you see them as lost sheep? Do you see them as the very reason Jesus came? Do you see God’s plan for restoration? Do you see the pain they are in? Do you see their need for love? Or do you see the sinner? Jesus words ring in my heart all the time: “Do you see this woman?”

It’s easy to see the sinner, but do you see the person? Do you see the lost sheep that belongs to God; that God came to find? Do you see the lost sheep, helpless and harassed, like a sheep without a Shepherd?

Simon, the Pharisee who was the host of the party, was blind to the miracle; he had eyes, but he couldn’t see. He only saw the sinner, he saw her sins, he saw her past, but he didn’t see what truly counted; he couldn’t see the unfailing love Jesus had for this woman. He couldn’t see the acceptance Jesus offered her. He couldn’t see how the love of God had led this woman into freedom. He missed it all, because what we saw was ‘a sinner’. What he was blind to was the transaction that had happened in this woman’s heart through the love and kindness of Jesus.

The multitudes were amazed at how Jesus multiplied a few loaves of bread into a feast for 5,000 people by the miracle hand of God, but the woman who cried at the feet of Jesus, washing his feet with tears of joy, was far more amazed at how Jesus transformed her heart through his love and grace. A transformed heart and life, that is received freely through the grace of Jesus, is the greatest work of God there is.

When we see people the way Jesus sees them, then we truly do see. Love is the eye sight of God. Love is his opinion of everyone. Love is his way. Rescue, salvation, reconciliation and new life is God’s agenda. For Jesus came, not to condemn the world, but to save the world through himself. We serve a king who saves. A king who loves.

Let us also see those who have not yet met him as the lost sheep whom our great Shepherd is seeking to save, and by the unfailing power of his love, will do just that.

Who else but Jesus?

Who Else But Jesus?

There is something beautiful about Jesus that none of us can fully put into words. Something about his nature, his ways, that captivate us. He was nothing like any rabbi, pastor, preacher or prophet that came before him, or after him. He was unique; a one of a kind. Who else but Jesus could love like he did? Who else could love so consistently? Who else could publicly embrace all the people the religious condemned; who else could love knowing the religious would kill him for it?

Who else could stand before a half naked woman surrounded by the most honored scholars and teachers of the Bible, all with stones in their hands, and defend her case?

Not only defend her case, but succeed in justifying her. Who else could touch the untouchable, accept the unacceptable, love the unlovable, forgive the unforgivable and befriend the outcast?

Who else could be completely convinced of his oneness with the Almighty, and yet create 600 liters of the best wine humanity had ever known of for a bunch of people, so drunk at a wedding that they had already drunk the bar dry, to the disgust of the religious? Who else could care so little for his reputation amongst the religious? Who else but Jesus?

Who else could embrace the worst of sinners with such genuineness?

Who else could stand in the courts of the temple and expose the hypocrisy of those yoking such heavy religious loads upon the people, while not lifting a finger to help them? Who else but Jesus could walk into God’s temple and be so distraught with the corruption and hypocrisy that he took it upon himself to turn the place upside down? Who else could overturn tables; who else could chase those peddling God’s word for profit out of the temple area?

Who else could stand up against all the injustice the religious leaders selfishly lorded over people, and yet, all along, being prepared to die for them?

Who else can love the lost with such an embrace, and love those who counted themselves as his enemies with the cross? Who has such a love like Jesus? Who can compare to his courage, his honesty, and his selflessness? Who else but Jesus?

Who else could declare: “I am the light of the world” and have us believe it?

Who is his equal? Even Pharaoh’s magicians could copy miracles; but tell me, who could love like Jesus? Who has ever loved like Jesus? Does he have an equal? Who else but Jesus could love enough to be the savior of the world?

What a heavenly blessing it truly is to be made one with Jesus; to be given the gift to participate in his love. To know his love on a personal level. To be embraced by his love. To know him; to know the One and only. To be made one with the Love of God. What a blessing to know Jesus continues to live and love in us. What a gift God gives us; that we can partake in the interaction of his love in this world.

Life has many wonderful moments, but none so wonderful as when we feel the love of Jesus in us reaching out to others around us. Oh, to love! To let Jesus love through us – what a grace to be given! For to feel the love of Jesus living and active within us, to be part of his love in motion, is to experience heaven on earth.

Coins In The Temple

Jesus With His Whip In The Temple (short story)

“Settle down!” Peter cried out, as people fled the Temple in fear. Before them a madman was on a rampage. Jesus spun around, his eyes locked onto Peter.

“You want me to settle down? Can you not see what is happening here? God’s Temple has become nothing more than a way to earn a few more coins; a way to create income!” He belted the floor with the whip; the same weapon he had just driven most of the Pharisee’s out of the Temple with. Its sound echoed off the magnificent stone walls.

Someone else dared to step forward and confront the madman with the whip. “This is still God’s House,” an old man said. “How dare you desecrate it. If you were from God you would do no such thing. I’m an old man, I care not for money or power, but this place is holy! Who are you to do such a thing?”

“This place,” Jesus called out in reply, not just to the old man, but to everyone who was listening on the outskirts, “is not holy; it is God who is holy. It is his people who are holy. This place, with all its marketplace and divisions is nothing more than a den of thieves!”

“Blasphemer! Blasphemer!” People began to cry out.

“He is no blasphemer,” a woman screamed at the crowd. “He is a man who is mad as hell at the state of our faith. We’ve lost our way, and it shows in the way we have traded prayer for commerce. Everything now comes with a price; we cannot live out our simple faith with our Lord, now we must pay for everything! Can you not see the priests getting fat of this way of religious living? They tax us in the name of God, they create new ways of draining more coins from our pockets, and you call this man a blasphemer? No! He is a man of faith, true faith.”

Peter hid his face in shame. This was not how it was meant to be. Jesus should be thinking about his reputation. If he towed the party line, respected the way things ran, he could be high priest one day. He could then have a position of authority and bring about change. He could do so much, if he would only bow down for a short period of time to the powers that be.

“Please Jesus, put down the whip.” Peter begged.

Jesus turned, still breathing heavily, his eyes not yet calm.

“Tell me Peter,” Jesus said, “who then shall I give it to?

Suddenly the woman who had just addressed the crowd ran up and grabbed Peter by his coat. “Don’t you see?” she asked. “Don’t you understand anything? There will always be someone with a whip in their hand. Most will use it to enslave you; this man is using it to set you free.” She tuned and addressed everyone listening. “Doesn’t anyone see what this man is doing for us all?”

“Blasphemer!” The men at a distance cried out. Others joined in.

“Blasphemer, Blasphemer!”

They’ll Know You By Your Love: But What Is Love?

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35

love

It’s amazing that God, in flesh and blood, would speak to us about how others in the world will know that we belong to him, follow him, and have an active relationship with him.

They will know it by seeing love in our lives.

It is a wonderful thought, but what is love? We often think about love as a work; good works that we do. But good works can be done out of duty and with little or no love. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post the Apostle Paul, a huge ‘doer’ testifies that if we, as Christians, do, do, do, but the doing is not done with love, it’s worth nothing. (Pretty big statement he made there, huh?)

So if love is not the ‘doing’ of things, what is love?

Maybe love isn’t recongnised by what we do, but rather, it is seen through what we don’t do.

Perhaps living a life of grace that doesn’t judge people or think bad of people speaks the language of love louder than we think? When I think of God’s love for me, and how he shows me his love, I’ve come to realise that often the most powerful way is through all the things he doesn’t do.

Below are some of the ways I see God’s love shining through all that he doesn’t do:

God doesn’t judge us.
He doesn’t think bad about us.
He doesn’t blame us.
He doesn’t gossip about us.
He doesn’t reject us.
He doesn’t leave us.
He doesn’t forsake us.
He doesn’t get angry with us.
He doesn’t talk negatively to us, or about us.

So much of what God doesn’t do reveals in such a powerful way what he does do: He love us

If we want to be known as disciples of Jesus, we don’t need to recite bible verses to the world, we just need to allow the love of God to be living and active in our lives, and let it overflow in our relationships with one another.

Love. It’s the nature of God, and the light that reveals him to the world around us.

The Old Song, The New Song & Unending Grace

I love finding imagery in the Bible that highlights the story of Jesus’ redemptive work for mankind. Especially when it spans from the beginning of Scripture to the end. One imagery I think it really great is to do with ‘the new song’ that is talked about throughout the Old Testament.

What is the new song?

The new song

In the Old Testament there is a lot of talk about singing to the Lord ‘a new song’, we find this coming up often throughout the Psalms and while beautiful, I guess at the time the people were thinking ‘but what is the new song?’ From what they knew, God had only given them one song, and that was a song to remind them of their disobedience. Hardly a song they wanted to sing, yet it was the one song God commanded Moses to write down and then teach all the people.

“Now write down for yourselves this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them.”
Deuteronomy 31:19

In the Old Testament, God’s people had a song given to them by God, a song of their disobedience. And yet the prophets continued to write about singing God a ‘new song’. But what was the new song? Well, fast forward to the full redeeming work of Jesus, the fulfillment of the ages, the establishment of the gospel of grace and the forgiveness of all. The end of era of disobedience by works and the beginning of an eternal era of obedience by faith.

Jesus established the new era, a new covenant and a new and living way to be in relationship with God. And through him the new song is finally revealed. We read the lyrics to his song in Revelation:

And they sang a new song:
“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!” Revelation 5:9-13

The old song was about man’s failure, but the new song is about Jesus’ success on behalf of man!

It captures the essence of the gospel message, don’t you think? Where we all failed, Jesus succeeded on our behalf. And through Jesus we will for all of eternity have a new song upon our lips and written in our hearts. Not one that focuses on our works, but upon this unending grace.

The Kingdom Of Love Is Within You

In the midst of Jesus sharing with the disciples the amazing revelation of love’s power, and the amazing privilege that we can live in God’s love, he also makes a statement that I’m sure caused the disciples to go a little cross eyed in confusion. He said:

If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 1 John 15:6

So what does this mean? Where is the burning happening? Well, let’s ask another question before we answer that. Where is the kingdom of God? According to Jesus, the kingdom is within us. It is in this kingdom he invites us to live in, for we can all rest, abide, and truly live in this love, and that love is with us. Yes, that glorious, divine love is within us; it is like the air we breath in the world around us. We need God’s love to live in God’s kingdom; it’s impossible to live in the kingdom of God without it, just as it’s impossible to live in this world without oxygen. Without love, we dry up.

Reading this scripture in context to the whole conversation, I believe Jesus was creating a visual picture to help the disciples understand the importance of remaining in his love. I believe he is explaining to all of us a divine reality that staying in God’s love keeps us out of self-righteousness. Staying in God’s love keeps us from pointing the finger; instead, it offers those in need a helping hand. Staying in God’s love keeps us from having eyes that look down upon people; instead, it keeps our eyes lifted high upon the finished work of our Lord and the abundant provision of God’s love and grace.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Jesus explained if the disciples didn’t remain in his love, they could do nothing. If God is to work his graceful truth through us, we need to remain in his love, because if we are not remaining in God’s love, then we are no longer a vessel of grace. God doesn’t need voices of judgment in the world; he needs children who remain in his love, who allow that place of love to be their home, and allow God to overflow that love into the world around them.

It helps to think of this spiritual reality in the visual Jesus presents us. If we don’t stay in the love of God, then we will find ourselves outside the kingdom, dried up spiritually, empty of grace and burning in our own self-righteousness. Of course, I’m not talking about losing your salvation, but rather about losing the benefit of living in the kingdom of God now. Everything is about love. In fact, although there are many things important to our lives as believers now, love is the only thing that is going to last forever.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13

Love is eternal; love keeps on going, even when we enter into the new creation. Even when we no longer need all the other elements of our current faith, we will still need love. For love is the very nature of God, and in the new creation it will be the very nature of all of us; it seems at present we can decide ourselves to remain in God’s love, or live religiously outside, burning in self-righteousness. One thing is clear: Love is God’s way of living, and love will live forever in glory.

The kingdom of Love is already within you. It will carry on into a literal kingdom in the new creation, but it’s a place we already live now in our spirit. Breathe in love, exhale love. Let God’s love be the very thing that sustains you and gives you life. Apart from Love you can do nothing, but with Love at work within you, nothing is impossible.

You can also read part one of this post here.