Category: Christology

Who Do You Say Jesus Christ Is?

Who Do You Say Jesus Christ Is?

Peter’s confession of who Jesus is in Matthew 16:16 has been considered by many as pivotal and climactic in the entire narrative of Matthew. That’s because it was on this confession that Jesus built and established the Church. Who do people say Jesus Christ is? Who do you say He is?

We learn from the Gospel accounts that people followed Jesus around wherever He went during His earthly ministry, either to listen to Him teach, have the sick and demon-possessed healed and delivered, or in the case of the religious leaders, to test and trap Him.

Peter’s Confession of Jesus as the Messiah 

Matthew 16:13-17 

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”

Background of the Passage

After the account of Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth (Matthew 13:53-58), the feeding of the five thousand at or near Bethsaida (Matthew 14:13-21), His encounter with the Canaanite woman who has great faith in the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21-28), and the feeding of the four thousand on a mountainside near the sea of Galilee, Jesus and His disciples withdrew to the region of Caesarea Philippi.

This move was likely a retreat from the pressing crowds. Do you notice in the Gospels that whenever Jesus wanted to teach His disciples some very important “Kingdom” truths, He would take them to a private or remote place?

About Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi was a Gentile city at the northernmost region of ancient Israel, some 25 miles or 40 km north of the Sea of Galilee, 50 miles southwest of Damascus and situated in a beautiful location at the foot of Mount Hermon.

Something noteworthy is the historical fact that Caesarea Philippi was a region strongly identified with pagan religions and idol worship. In his commentary, Barclay says, “The area was scattered with temples of the ancient Syrian Baal worship.”

Originally, Caesarea Philippi was called Paneas in honor of the pagan god Pan. And during the reign of King Herod the Great, he built a temple there to honor Augustus Caesar.

Who Do You Say Jesus Christ Is?
Photo Credits: enterthebible.org

When Herod’s son Philip took over, he developed and expanded the city and renamed it Caesarea in honor of Emperor Caesar. He then added his name to distinguish it from other regions named Caesarea, hence, Caesarea Philippi.

What a setting for Jesus to ask a very important question. They had just left the city where there were a lot of false teachings about Jesus. (See Matthew 16:5-12 where Jesus warned His disciples about the yeasts/leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.)

And as they came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, they saw the temple built by King Herod with all the statues of gods. Some commentators even suggest that Jesus and His disciples could be standing in front of the temple when the conversation took place.

The Question of Jesus’ Identity

In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asked a pointed question – a question of His identity: “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man am?” In other translations, it reads, “Who do people say the son of Man is?”

In other words, Jesus was asking what men in general, whether high or low, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, are saying about Him. Why did Jesus ask this question? Was He interested to know who people thought He was?

Is Jesus having some kind of identity crisis? Didn’t He know who He was? Or was it because He’s so concerned about other people’s opinion of Him? Of course not! Jesus knew exactly who He was.

Some say that one probable reason for asking this question was the changing opinions about Him under the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Consider this scenario: Every time Jesus finishes teaching a certain crowd, the religious teachers would step right in to teach the people something else contrary to what Jesus taught them.

No wonder then that despite all the wonders and miracles that Jesus performed which the people witnessed with their own eyes, they still couldn’t figure Him out.

The Reply

“Some say John the Baptist, some, Elijah, and others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matthew 16:14).

Obviously, people who thought that Jesus was John the Baptist (such as Herod the tetrarch in Matthew 14:1-3) didn’t know much about Him; or they would have known that Jesus and John had ministered at the same time.

Apparently, some people thought Jesus was a herald of national repentance like John the Baptist.

What do people believe about Jesus
Photo Credits: Bibleinfo.com

But why Elijah? Because of the miracles that Jesus performed, some people believed He was the forerunner of the Messiah and a famous worker of miracles. The Jews knew their Torah so very well and were familiar with the various miracles that Elijah performed (in the name of God).

And still, others thought Jesus was someone who spoke the word of God, like Jeremiah and the prophets.

The Unbelief of the People

Notice that no group was officially confessing Jesus as the Messiah. Regardless of the fact that in His words and His works, Jesus gave every evidence to the people that He was the Messiah, the Son of God, the people did not get the message.

They never denied that Jesus was a great teacher and prophet; they did not deny that He performed many miracles. Yet they chose to listen to popular opinions and followed them, instead of diligently seeking for the truth, just as many people do today.

Instead of following their convictions, the people chose to rely on their opinion and the opinions of others, and this is what led them all astray.

While the opinions of the crowd were complimentary towards Jesus, they were inaccurate. Jesus was much more than a national reformer like John the Baptist, more than a miracle worker than Elijah and more than a prophet like Jeremiah.

We might think that the above answers as to who Jesus is are not in any way bad or negative. However, the general tendency was to underestimate Jesus and to give Him a measure of respect and honor but end up falling short of the honor due to Him for who He really is.

The Follow-up Question

Going back to the question of Jesus’ identity, Jesus asked the question as an introduction to a more important follow-up question.

Upon hearing the different opinions of men concerning Him, I find it interesting that Jesus did not make any reflections or comments. Instead, He immediately redirected the question to His disciples. He asked, “But what about you? Who do you say I am” (Matthew 16:15)?

The disciples had been with Jesus for three years. They left everything and followed Him when He called them and became His disciples. Why? Because they believed in Him. You wouldn’t follow someone unless you believe in him, right?

On the part of Jesus, He knew exactly what kind of faith His disciples had on Him. He could see right through them and that is why He often rebuked them for their little faith and told them to increase their faith.

Why did Jesus have to ask His disciples who they thought He was? Because it was not enough to just believe in Him, they must confess Him as well. A confession has to be made as Romans 10:9-10 clearly says.

Romans 10:9-10

Peter Confesses Jesus as Christ

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16)! In other translations, it says, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”

Note: “The Christ” is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew “the Messiah,” meaning, the Anointed One.

In his answer, Peter was saying, “You are the Anointed One, the only Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Life Everlasting.”

Peter understood that Jesus was not only the Messiah but also God Himself. In the Jewish context, to receive the title “The Son of the Living God” in a unique sense was to make a claim to deity itself.

Jesus Pronounces a Blessing

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).

You see, Christ’s messianic claims had always been subtle allusions to Old Testament prophecies, combined with miraculous works that substantiated those claims. Jesus had never explicitly taught His disciples the fullness of His deity.

So what happened was, God the Father had opened Peter’s eyes and heart and revealed to him who Jesus really was. When Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ (Messiah), the son of the Living God, it did not come out as a mere expression of an academic opinion about the identity of Jesus.

Who do you say Jesus Christ is?
Photo Credits: rainbowtoken.com

Instead, it was a confession of personal faith that was made possible only by a divinely-regenerated heart.

The carnal man does not have any idea who Jesus is (2 Corinthians 2:14). Only true believers are the ones who understand who Jesus really is. Unless God reveals to us in our spirit, we will never truly understand who Jesus really is.

Closing Words

We know that many people today do not believe Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God and Savior of the world. But what about us as individuals, what do we believe about Jesus. Who do we say Jesus is?

“Who do you say I am?”

This is the question placed before us today and all who hear of Jesus. Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ? The Messiah? The son of the Living God? The Life Everlasting? Did you confess with your mouth His lordship over your life? Do you believe in your heart that Jesus is who He claimed to be?

Believing Jesus is the Messiah is one thing, confessing Him as Lord and Savior of your life is another thing, especially these days when talking about Jesus, Christianity and the Bible is not the most popular thing to do.

What you and I believe and confess about Jesus is a matter of life and death. We deserve the death penalty as a result of our sin but we receive eternal life as a gift from God when we place our faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.


*Recommended Resource: 

Who Do You Say that I AM?: A Fresh Encounter for Deeper Faith
By Becky Harling

Who Do You Say That I Am? is an 8-week study of the “I AM” statements of Jesus that will help women draw deeper into the Word of God for a more personal relationship with Christ. He wants your answer to his question, “Who do you say that I AM?”

The Study Book contains five days of study for each of the 8 weeks along with reflection questions.

Jesus Christ is the King of Peace

Jesus Christ is the King of Peace

Prior to His departure, Jesus uttered these words to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 NIV).

Jesus Christ, who is the King of Peace, does not give us the same peace that this world gives. While the peace that this world offers is the absence of conflict which often results from a positive way of thinking, the peace that God gives us is the state of being confident in knowing that He is in full control.

Knowing that Jesus Christ is not only the Prince and Ruler of Peace but also the King of Peace gives us the confidence under any circumstances that we do not have to fear the present and the future. He gives His peace to those who accept it as a result of the Holy Spirit working in their lives.

Jesus Christ: The Prince and Ruler of Peace

In John 12:12-16, we read the account of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey’s colt and a multitude of people came out to meet Him spreading palm branches while shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!”

The Triumphal Entry
Photo Credits: Free Bible Images (Pinterest)

This event is the fulfillment of the first coming of Jesus as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9. And if we continue on to Zechariah 9:10-11, we read about the prophecy on Jesus’ second coming which is yet to come.

We refer to these Scriptures among other Scriptures, to see clearly the attributes given to Jesus as not only the “King of Righteousness” but also the “King of Peace.”

He Pardons Our Sins

The King of Peace has the authority to pardon or forgive us from our sins (Matthew 9:6 NIV).

Pardon is synonymous to forgiveness. They have a common denominator, that is, “cancellation of sins.”

In Matthew 9:2 where Jesus forgives and heals a paralyzed man that was brought to Him, He said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” It could have been easier for Jesus to say, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”

But He did this to make known to them that the Son of Man has authority on earth to pardon sins (v.6) and He does pardon our sins!

From this passage and also the Healing of the Lame Man by the Pool near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem (John 5:14), we can say that sickness is directly associated with sin.

Jesus is the King of Peace

Sickness, however, is part of life in this fallen world as a result of our collective rebellion against God. We can see a lot of convicted murderers and criminals who have sinned against the law of man and the laws of God and yet, are in much better health than some pastors and other faithful servants of God.

This tells us that sickness befell man indiscriminately as we can read in John 9:1-3. Whether sin is associated or not with the sickness of men, one thing is for sure; and that is Jesus our King of Peace has been given the authority to forgive our sins.

This is exactly what He has done in the past, is doing at present and will continue to do in the future for those who will turn back and repent of their sins.

“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” – Colossians 1:13-14

He Enriches Our Lives

The King of Peace is generous to enrich our lives (2 Corinthians 8:9).

The apostle Paul was writing to the believers in Corinth about the generosity of the Churches in Macedonia, Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea, that despite their poverty, they have given beyond their ability.

The Corinthian church excels in many ways and Paul desired that they may also excel in the grace of giving (2 Corinthians 8:7). In Paul’s exhortation, he used the example of Jesus who has given all He has.

Jesus who is “rich” in every way became “poor,” in submission to the will of the Father. He assumed human nature and became subject to time, place and other limitations of a man through His incarnation. He did not cease being God but set aside the right to His glory and power.

And He did all these to make us “rich” the moment we received His gift of salvation and eternal life.

“For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, He will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.” – 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (NLT)

Just like the “seed” used by Paul in his illustration, God wants us to “plant” rather than to hide the provisions that we are receiving from Him in order to produce a greater harvest. God wants us to invest in our service to Him so that He can bless more abundantly for greater service. (See Matthew 25:14-30, The Parable of the Bags of Gold.)

Jesus is the King of Peace

Our God and all His children are rich. But what is the definition of rich in this context? Being rich means sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; has nothing, and yet possessing everything (2 Corinthians 6:10). We declare that we are rich with the riches that God has in store for us.

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”– 1 Timothy 6:17

He Abides in Us in Trials

The King of Peace never leaves His people (Hebrews 13:5).

God has repeatedly assured us in His word that He will never abandon us; He has promised to be with us even to the end of the age. But why do we feel at times that God has abandoned us? The time that you feel abandoned by God could have been the time that you abandoned God.

It is often said that promises are made to be broken and that’s because we’re humans. But with God, there’s no such thing as broken or unfulfilled promises. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not human that He should lie, not a man that He should change His mind.”

Jesus Christ is the King of PEace

Isaiah 43:2 is another promise of God that we can trust. He said that He will be with us when we pass through the waters and won’t allow us to be swept away. Also when we walk through the fire we will not be burned and the flames will not set us ablaze.

Deep waters, rivers of difficulty and fire of oppression all represent calamities, which in turn represent the different trials and difficulties that God allows to happen in our lifetime. But the time that we go through these calamities is also the time when God says, “I will be with you.”

Other Scripture texts where God promised to abide in us include 1 Chronicles 28:20; Joshua 1:5, Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Genesis 28:15; Joshua 1:9 and Romans 8:39.

He Comforts Us in Troubles

The King of Peace is our comfort and our resting place (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

The kind of comfort that God gives us is far higher to the highest level than the comfort that this world gives us. To be comforted by God does not necessarily mean that we are spared from any trouble. It means we receive strength, encouragement and hope to deal with whatever trouble that comes our way so that we can also comfort those who are in any trouble.

Sometimes God brings us to the oceans not because He wanted us to drown but so that we would learn how to swim. You know what? Our enemies do not know how to swim. Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord, to those who have been called according to His purpose.”

Jesus Christ is the King of Peace

Before leaving His disciples, Jesus promised that He will not leave them as orphans for He will send the Holy Spirit to be their Teacher and Comforter (John 14:16-17, 26).

Are you weary and heavy-laden? Jesus is inviting you to come to Him and He will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus our King of Peace not only promises comfort but also rest. The kinds of rest found in the Lord include physical rest (Psalm 127:2), peace of mind (Philippians 4:6-7) and healing for our soul (Jeremiah 17:14).

He Ensures Us His Love

The King of Peace gives us divine assurance of His everlasting love (John 15:13).

God did not simply tell us that He loves us; He showed us by voluntarily laying down His life for us. He did not have to but He did it anyway in order to assure us of His love and to secure our salvation.

God has given us His unconditional love even when we were so unworthy of Him (Romans 5:8). He gave up His life so that we may be reconciled with God and gain access to the Father. No matter what we do, we can never out-love God. We only know love and are able to love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Should there be times when you feel defeated and you hear the devil telling you that it’s over, stand on the promise of God that you are more than a conqueror and that nothing and no one can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

Jesus Christ the King of Peace

Being more than a conqueror means winning with an overwhelming victory. It is not just simply being victorious but going beyond the normal scale of quantifying the win. This is all because we’re not fighting our battles anymore; Jesus is.

Because Christ is living in us (Galatians 2:20), nothing else can separate us from the love of God. This is God’s way of letting us know His great love for us so that we can feel totally secure in Him. Nothing can stop His constant presence with us.

We are also secure in the love of God because we have become an heir and legitimate son to our heavenly Father (Romans 8:17). We have lost our rights to our old family and gained the privilege of being led by the Holy Spirit, and as such, nothing can separate us from His love.

Closing Words

To sum it up, Jesus Christ the King of Peace:

Pardons our sins

Enriches our lives

Abides in us in trials

Comforts us in troubles

Ensures us His love

We can surely receive the peace that God offers us if we only learn to put our trust in Him while we remain prayerful, thankful and present our request with a believing heart.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Do you accept the peace that Jesus Christ the King of Peace is offering?

What We Believe in Life Matters

What We Believe in Life Matters

Do you notice how relativistic our society has become today? Society says that all religions lead to God. Actually, they lead to gods. They say it does not matter that we believe; it does not also matter that we believe different things.

Know what? Jesus came to earth to tell mankind that what we believe in life does matter.

Bible Verse: John 14:6 (NKJV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Reflection

The idea that all religious views are equally valid and all that matters is that we’re sincere in what we believe is so absurd. Sincerely believing in something does not make you right. No matter how sincere you are in your belief that the answer to the mathematical equation two plus two is four does not make you right.

In the same way, sincerely believing that you will go to heaven without Jesus Christ in your life because you and your good deeds are enough does not make your claim true.

Good Enough

It is human nature to think that “I am good enough.” They say it does not matter that the Bible says, “You must be born again” (John 3:3). It does not matter to them that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. They think they are good enough.

Guess what, we aren’t. If we were, there would be no need for the Son to come down to the earth He created, live a life of perfect obedience to the Father and suffer and die on the cross to purchase man’s redemption.

The world needs to hear that they’re dead in their sin and they need a Savior. But many won’t listen. They say it does not matter what the Bible says. But it matters!

God will lead a handful to Himself but have you done your part? Have you told someone the truth recently?

The Challenge

The real problem is that the relativistic mindset has gotten into the minds of Christians. It is true that we have been born again, but since we are still sinners, we still have sin issues. Where is our humility to admit we all have our issues?

We would not be able to criticize other believers if we were humble. Each denomination has its members and pastors that brag about being more right than anyone else. That is just pride.

What You and I Believe Matters

Not to mention, it is beside the point. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 says it is pointless to be more right than other Christians if you do not have love. Love translates into humility.

If our walk does not match our talk, we are just as bad as the unbelieving Pharisees, who Jesus called hypocrites in the gospels.

It is not the business of any other church or individual to criticize other peoples’ personal standards. I will be honest. I did that for years till God showed me that they are responsible for themselves.

Closing Words

What we believe in life does matter. More importantly, what we believe about the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit matters. Jesus made a strong statement in John 8:24: “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

Jesus claimed to be God and unless you believe He is, you are not going to heaven. Jesus is the only way to heaven and no one comes to the Father but by Him as John 14:6 says.

The next time you hear other people say that it does not matter what they believe, tell them that it does!

The Powerful Statement That Can Save You

The Powerful Statement That Can Save You

“It is finished!” This is the last statement of our Lord Jesus when He was crucified in Golgotha two thousand years ago. After uttering this statement, He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit (John 19: 30).

My brothers and sisters, this statement summarizes what Jesus has done for you and for the entire mankind. Indeed, a strong statement that can redeem you from your sins and hell.

It envisions what Jesus did from the beginning He was born here on Earth and what He did for you. Lead time to contemplate this statement and recall what Jesus has broken done to redeem you.

Jesus is the Son of the Highest

Jesus, the Son God, with all humbleness and obedience to God the Father became a human being. Why would a great God become a mortal man?

In the Book of Luke 1:31-32, an angel appeared to Mary and said, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.

John the Baptist described Jesus and he said, “It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” And when He saw Jesus coming toward him, John said, “ Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1: 27- 29).

The Blood Sacrifice

It is written in Hebrews 9:22, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”

Since the Old Testament, blood plays an important role in the lives of people. They see blood as the source of life. In Leviticus 17:14, “for it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life.

On the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), there is an offering of blood sacrifice from the bull and goat for the atonement of sins of the people. Usually, the high priest would sprinkle the blood on the altar.

Even Moses sprinkled half of the blood of oxen on the altar. And the other half on the Israelites (Exodus 24:6-8). Blood sacrifice with burnt offering is also a sweet aroma to the Lord. (Leviticus 1:13).

The Power of the Blood of Jesus

People have become sinners and could not follow God’s commandments. Nobody is righteous in the eyes of God. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

The wage of sin is death. And the blood offering and burned offering are not sufficient to atone for the sins of people. It requires blood that is blameless and spotless and will be offered in a sacrificial way.

For this reason, God gave His only Son Jesus Christ as a sacrificial Lamb for the whole of mankind. (John 3:16) This is how God loves all people and wants everybody to be saved.

Jesus Christ, a God who turned into a man became an everlasting sacrifice for the sins of all people. And through His blood, people can enter into God’s presence and forgiveness.

The Powerful Statement that Can Save You

It is written in Ephesians 1:7, “In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

Jesus also became the High priest. In Hebrews 9:11, “But Christ came as a High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not of this creation.”

Through the blood of Jesus, our consciences were cleansed (Hebrews 9:14). Hence, we could live and think right because of Jesus.

We are delivered from enemies through the blood of Jesus. It is written in Revelation 12:11, “And they have conquered him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”

No Greater Love Than This

When Jesus said, “It is finished!” Have you thought of how much He suffered? He was regarded as a criminal, yet without committing a crime. He was beaten many times, yet without fighting back. He was betrayed, yet He remained loyal.

He was accused as a blasphemer, yet a true Messiah. He was ridiculed yet kept silent. He carried a big cross on His back over the heat of the sun yet endured it. He was nailed on the cross, yet without sin.

Blood gushed forth all over His body. Finally, He said, IT IS FINISHED!

After three days, Jesus has risen. Jesus is victorious, and He conquered the grave. Salvation is now achieved for you and to all mankind.

Closing Thoughts

Nobody can do this for you. You are precious, and God wants you to be saved. This is the perfect and unconditional love of God the Father for all mankind to the point that He gave His only Son Jesus.

Take time to pray and accept the redeeming blood of Jesus for you to be saved. Thank Him for what He has done for you. You may worship Him with this beautiful hymn titled “At the Cross” by Hillsong on the video below.

Be blessed everyone!

Jesus, the Rock of My Salvation

Jesus, the Rock of My Salvation

The Bible tells us that God is the Rock and He is the only rock on which we must build our lives (1 Samuel 2:2). Did you know that the title “Rock” is a Messianic and a divine title?

In Psalm 18:2, David called God “my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my strength in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Jesus claimed to be the Rock, and thereby claimed to be both Messiah and God.

This is also clearly stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:11, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” When we recognize Jesus as Messiah and Savior we place our lives on Jesus, the Rock of our salvation.

Building on a Solid Foundation

All buildings must be placed upon a strong, solid foundation if they are to endure. The same is true with our lives; if we are to build an enduring life, we must place it on a sure foundation.

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus gives an illustration of the two builders, the wise and the foolish, who both undertook to build houses. Both of them persevered in building, both finished their houses, and to a considerable extent achieved the same design. (See also Luke 6:46-49.)

Indeed, each house looked the same from the outside. But the real foundation was hidden and was only proven when the storm came and the floods arose. The house that was built on the rock stood firm while that which was built on the sand fell with a great crash.

The Wise and the Foolish Builder

A man’s character can be likened to a house. Every thought is like a piece of timber in that house, every imagination a window that could be well or badly placed and every habit a beam. All these are gathered together and decide how that house is constructed.

Unless one builds his character on the rock-solid foundation of God’s Word, he will surely be swept away by any storm or flood that will come.

How Strong is Your Foundation?

The storm and the flood represent the trials of life. Often times, the trials of life descend upon us either through our own lack of character or because of events in the world. Is the foundation of your house strong enough to withstand the onslaught of the horrendous events of the end times or even your own weaknesses?

Time and the storms of life will prove how strong one’s foundation is, even when it is hidden. It’s pretty easy to assume that this or that person’s foundation is strong based only on what we see on the outside. But we may be surprised when we see who has truly built upon the good foundation.

We are warned that the foundations of our lives will be shaken at some time or another, both now during difficult times and in the ultimate judgment before God. That is why we must test the foundation of our life now rather than later when it is too late to change our destiny.

Where did the foolish builder fail? Definitely not in deliberately seeking a bad foundation, but in taking no time to consider what kind of foundation he was to build upon. He wanted to avoid the hard work of digging deep to ensure a strong foundation and also took a short-range view.

In the end, his fault was not an error of judgment, but thoughtlessness and inconsiderateness.

Staying on Jesus the Rock

For years my grandfather used to say, “Stay on the Rock.” That saying had a literal meaning but I believe he meant it to have a spiritual meaning as well.

Jesus is the Rock; the only true Rock. He is our firm foundation. A rock does not move or change and the truth is that Rock. Jesus is the Truth as John 14:6 says, but are we staying on the Truth?

There are two conditions to stay on the Truth. One, listen to God and His word. Many unbelievers and Christians refuse to listen to wise counsel. They could not care less about what others say, because they are good enough. Their hearts are full of pride.

Jesus is the Rock of My Salvation

Jesus uses the adjectives wise and foolish. A wise man is a listening man. Not filled with pride. The Jews had disdain for the Samaritans but in spite of that the good Samaritan in Luke 10: 30-37 had compassion on a Jew that was robbed and beaten.

Everyone is our neighbor. How much love do we have for people? Everyone has been robbed and beaten by sin. Everyone needs a friend. Why can’t we be friendly?

The second condition to stand on the Truth is to live your life according to the Truth. Doesn’t that imply applying Scripture to our lives? Doesn’t that imply reaching out to those steeped in sin? Or praying for those that are hurting?

It does not matter where people have been, they are still people that need God’s love. Are you a wise or foolish person as Jesus described in Matthew 7?

Obedience to the Word

Our Lord’s emphasis in His illustration of the wise and the foolish builders is on obedience. It is not enough to simply hear God’s Word and call Him “Lord.” It is necessary that we also obey what He commands us to do.

Our profession of faith in Christ will ultimately be tested, and obedience to the Father’s will is the test of true faith in Christ. True faith does not say, “Lord! Lord!” as if believing but then disobey the Lord’s commands (Matthew 7:21).

*Related Article: Blessing Through Obedience

It’s easy to learn a religious vocabulary and even memorize Bible verses and religious songs and yet not obey God’s will. Those who are truly born again have God’s Spirit living within them and will enable them to know and do the Father’s will.

Those who have trusted Christ and have proven their faith by their obedience will have nothing to fear. Founded on the Rock, their house will stand. But those who have professed to trust Christ but have not obeyed God will be condemned.

Closing Thoughts

Many times, seemingly good people seem to build their lives well and wisely in terms of money, friends, material possessions, etc. And while all these things seem good to the human mind, their end can be disastrous without a Rock foundation.

Some people build on their religion or on their church; others build on an organization, on themselves or on another person. But if we are to build a lasting life we will have to build on something more solid than mere humans or ourselves.

We are to build on a firm foundation, Jesus Christ, the solid rock of our salvation!

What is the Cost of Our Salvation?

What is the Cost of Our Salvation?

People often say, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” That is sound advice in the world of business where there is always someone – or crowds of someones – trying to separate you from your money. A famous quote by P.T. Barnum, “There’s a sucker born every minute” expresses the starting point of every con artist.

When talking about our salvation, people often question how it is even possible to gain eternal life just by believing in Jesus as stated in John 3:16. Modern readers ask by reflex, “What’s the catch?” There has to be more to it than just believe. It’s a simple fact that nobody gives away anything of great value. There has to be a hidden cost.

John 3:16

Still, many others are offended by the Bible’s offer of free salvation. Why? Because they don’t want anything for which they didn’t work hard and pay dearly.  If God forgives them, they want to be able to say that He had to because they earned it. You know what? That’s a pride thing.

Is God’s Forgiveness Cheap?

Is our salvation really cheap because we can have it for free? If not, how much does it cost? And why did God choose to pay for it? What would He get in return for sacrificing His only begotten Son to die on the cross for man’s redemption?

British Pastor G. Campbell Morgan who spent considerable time in the United States in the period between the two world wars, shared how in one of his evangelistic meetings in England, encountered a coal miner who told him that he would give anything to believe that God would forgive sins, “but I cannot believe He will forgive me if I just turn to Him. It is too cheap.”

In reply, Dr. Morgan said to the man, “You were working in the mine today. How did you get out of the pit?” He answered, “The way I usually do. I got into the cage and was pulled to the top.” “How much did you pay to come out of the pit?” Morgan asked. “I didn’t pay anything.”

“Weren’t you afraid to trust yourself to that cage? Was it not too cheap?” The man replied, “Oh no! It was cheap for me, but it cost the company a lot of money to sink that shaft.”

The Cost of Our Salvation

In today’s world of credit cards and electronic banking, it’s pretty easy to disregard the cost of a lot of things that are rather important. This is exactly true with sin. The society we live in teaches us to enjoy temporary pleasures while ignoring the price that God had to pay for the forgiveness of our sins.

Sin is like credit card; enjoy now, pay later

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ suffered the following for our sake:

1) Abandonment

In Jesus’ final hours, He was separated from His Father and their fellowship was broken for the very first time since eternity past (Mark 15:34). Some might think that Jesus feared the cross that is why He was in anguish moment before His crucifixion and started to sweat blood.

Jesus was in extreme, deep anguish as He faces the reality of being separated from His Father, resulting in a rare medical condition known as “Hematidrosis.”

2) God’s wrath

At the cross, the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus because of man’s sin. Christ took on upon Himself the penalty for our sins and the condemnation we all so deserved (Romans 5:9; Isaiah 53:5-6).

Although Jesus lived a perfect life of obedience to the Father, all of mankind’s sins were placed upon Him and experienced the fullness of our guilt, shame, and transgressions.

3) Physical pain

During the hours that led to His crucifixion, Jesus was mocked, beaten and humiliated (John 19:1-16). And in His weakened state, He was forced to carry the cross on His shoulders which He was eventually nailed to and died an excruciating death.


*Recommended Resource:

He Died for Me: A Physician’s View of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
By Mark Marinella, M.D., F.A.C.P.

When you meditate on Jesus’ death, do you ever wonder what He really went through? Offering a physician’s view of Christ’s last hours, Dr. Marinella provides historical background on crucifixion as a method of execution; and offers a medical analysis of the physical and physiological pain Jesus endured.


Closing Thoughts

When God offers forgiveness for our sins if we believe in His Son Jesus, that forgiveness did not come cheap. Jesus suffered the agony and shame of the cross as the bearer of the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:2). He gave His life in our place. That was a payment of infinite value, and it involved infinite suffering on the part of Jesus.

Jesus Christ our Savior has suffered greatly on our behalf. He shed His blood so we might become part of God’s family (John 1:12), all because He loves us so much and He desires that our broken fellowship with God be restored.

*Read here: What Does John 3:16 Teach About Salvation?

In light of what our salvation cost, we are to give up the pride that insists we don’t want anything we haven’t earned. Instead, let us accept His offer of free salvation and respond to His call for us to live a sacrificial life of service, doing the Father’s business and living to please Him.

Why Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Why Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Do you notice how the ambiance or mood changes whenever the “BER” months start? As early as September 1st when radio stations begin playing our favorite Christmas songs, we all get very excited knowing that Christmas is just around the corner. But what is the true meaning of Christmas and why should Christians celebrate it?

While many Christians today celebrate Christmas, there are others who don’t because they claim that Jesus Christ wasn’t really born on Christmas day which falls on the 25th of December. And they are right.

As I said in my article, Jesus: The Reason for the Christmas Season, historians and Bible scholars have found no solid, documented evidence that Jesus was born on December 25th. But based on Luke 2:8 and other indicators such as the birth of John the Baptist, they place the birth of Christ in the late summer or early autumn (that is September).

A Powerful Story

Before going any further, I would like to share a story that was told by Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias in one of his Christmas sermons. It’s about a shepherd from New Zealand who woke up one morning and finding himself in a dilemma.

This shepherd had two mother sheep that were ready to give birth to their lambs. But each in its own way ended up with a misfortune. One of them had just given birth to its little lamb but shortly thereafter, the mother had contracted various problems and died, leaving this lamb without a mother to take care of it.

Then shortly thereafter, the other mother sheep gave birth to its own little lamb and rather than her developing complications, the little lamb ended up with problems and lost its life.

So all of a sudden the shepherd looked at that situation which he found himself. On the one hand, he had a kind of a “motherless” lamb. On the other hand, he had a “lambless” mother. The solution looked rather obvious, didn’t it? All the shepherd needed to do was to get this little lamb over to that mother, have it nursed this little one and give it strength and life.

But it’s not as simple as that, because every time he made an attempt to bring this little lamb over to that mother to be fed, the mother, smelling a different aroma on the body of this lamb sensing it wasn’t its own, would turn away and back off from it.

The shepherd came up with a genius plan. He went and found the dead body of the actual little lamb, took the skin off its body, formed a little coat and put it on this one that was still alive. And then he carried this little lamb over to this mother to be nursed. The mother was ready to back off, sensing it was not its own. But suddenly it smelled a different aroma, one that was familiar to it and began to nurse this little one.

Mother sheep feeding little lamb

Meaning of the Story

This story is a powerful little illustration but really points beyond itself to the predicament to which we find ourselves as human beings in a sense of alienation from God. Because of sin, man who used to have an intimate relationship with his Creator was alienated from God (Isaiah 59:2).

Without God, man’s destiny is hell. We can read this in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. But God who is love does not want anyone to perish (1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9). So what did He do? He sent His only begotten Son to take upon Himself the penalty for our sins, to die on the cross so that everyone who believes will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

*Related Article: What does John 3:16 Teach about Salvation?

God is love but He is also holy and just. He will not just let sin slide and let man get away with it. God made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might bec0me the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

In theology this is called the “Doctrine of Justification.” Not only is Christ’s righteousness imputed to us through faith, but our sin is imputed to Christ. That is how Christ paid for our sin debt to God. By having the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, we can be seen as sinless, as Jesus is sinless.

In the same way that the little lamb was eventually cared for, love and nurtured by the mother lamb because it smelled the aroma of its own little lamb that died, we too can come to the Father. Because when God looks at us, He does not see us for who and what we are – sinful and unclean. Instead, He sees the holiness, perfection, and righteousness of Christ.

The True Meaning of Christmas

What then is Christmas all about?

A. Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Man sinned by deliberately disobeying God and so he deserves to be separated from God for all eternity. But because God is forgiving and merciful He made a way for man’s relationship with him to be restored. How? Through Christ!

We are forgiven because Jesus took upon Himself the penalty for our sins on the cross. Jesus gave His life; He shed His blood because without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22 NIV). God did not only forgive us our sins, but He also reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). It’s important to emphasize that God initiated the reconciliation, not man.

Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness

This is what Christmas is all about. Jesus came so that our sins would be forgiven and be reconciled with God. What then should our response be? We must separate ourselves from the world. This is what it means to be holy (1 Peter 1:16). We are to share the love of God and the good news of salvation to everyone but we are not to conform to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2).

B. Love which is demonstrated by Giving

You know what they say, “You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving.” God proved this to be true when He sent His Son to die on the cross, even when we were still in our sins so that everyone who believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (Romans 5:8; John 3:16). God gave first and He gave us the best gift; a gift that we did not deserve.

Isaiah 9:6 says, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given …” We have to understand that Jesus as man has been born but as God, He existed eternally with the Father. And again, this verse tells us that God gave us Jesus Christ His Son, not because we asked Him to but because He knew exactly what we needed.

For God so loved the word - John 3:16

When Christmas comes, are you more focused on what you want to receive or on what you can give to God and your loved ones? There’s nothing wrong with exchanging gifts as part of the Christmas celebration. However, let us not forget that the true meaning of Christmas is love which is demonstrated in our giving. We should aim to be the giver, not the recipient.

C. Life (Physical, Spiritual & Eternal)

Can man live without God? Someone once said, “God without man is still God, but man without God is nothing.” And while we do not find this exact phrase in the Bible, this truth is explicitly stated in many places in Scriptures such as John 15:5, John 1:3 and Jeremiah 10:23 among others.

We are also familiar with the acronym CHRISTIAN which means without CHRIST in my life I Am Nothing (I-A-N). What about those who continuously reject Christ, are they dead? Yes! They may be physically alive but they are spiritually dead and do not have eternal life.

For the wages of sin is death - Romans 6:23

We are all spiritually dead because of sin but the moment we receive God’s offer of salvation, our spirit gets regenerated or born again and we will receive eternal life. Romans 6:23 says, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Without God, we would have no life at all. There is no reality outside of Christ; no logic, no reason, and purpose for anything. But all these have changed because Christ came on that first Christmas eve.

D. Hope

It’s because of Christmas that we have hope. And unlike ordinary hope, the hope that we have in Christ does not disappoint (Romans 5:5). Why? Because biblical hope – the hope that is found in Christ – is a confident expectation of what God has promised and there is moral certainty in it because it is rooted in the faithfulness of God.

What is biblical hope

When God promises something, He is sure to fulfill it. God remains faithful to us even when we are unfaithful to Him because He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). The Bible says that faithfulness is part of God’s nature. Being faithful isn’t just part of what He does; it’s part of who He is.

Conclusion

So why should Christians celebrate Christmas? We celebrate this season for one reason and one reason only – Jesus Christ. We celebrate Christmas because a Savior has been born to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21).

Christmas is all about God coming in human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life of obedience to the Father, set an example for us to follow, to suffer and die on the cross for our sins and to rise again to conquer death and hell, in order to set us free from the power of sin and death and to rescue and deliver us from the wrath of God and the judgment that is to be poured out upon all flesh on the earth in a future event known as the “Great Tribulation.”

If that is not enough reason to celebrate the Christmas season, I don’t know what is. What about you, do you celebrate Christmas? Why or why not?

Understanding the 70 Weeks of Daniel

Understanding the 70 Weeks of Daniel

The prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 which is often called the “Backbone of Bible Prophecy” and “God’s Prophetic Clock” tells us that God has put Israel’s future on a time clock. As I said in my article, “Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Timeline,” this prophetic passage is quite detailed.

Daniel 9:24-27

“Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.

And after the sixty-two weeks, Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself, and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war, desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week, but in the middle of the week, He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.”

In order for us to have a better understanding of its astounding accuracy and significance, let’s break it down into ten basic keys.

Ten Keys to Understanding the Seventy Weeks of Daniel

1. It’s about weeks of years.

The term “week” refers to sets of seven. It could refer to sets of days, weeks, months, or years. The context determines its meaning. In the context of Daniel 9:24-27, we know that this refers to sets of years because Daniel had already been thinking in terms of years in Daniel 9:1-2.

2. The total time is 490 years.

The period involved is a time period of 490 years (seventy sets of seven-year periods using a 360-day prophetic year).

3. It’s about the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem.

It’s very important to note that the 490 years concerns the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem, not the church. Gabriel tells Daniel this time period is “for your people (Israel) and your holy city (Jerusalem)” (Daniel 9:24).

The Jewish people and Jerusalem

4. The purpose of the seventy weeks.

The purpose of these 490 years is to accomplish six divine goals. The first three have to do with man’s sin, and the last three have to do with God’s righteousness:

  • to finish the transgression
  • to make an end of sin
  • to make atonement for iniquity
  • to bring in everlasting righteousness
  • to seal up vision and prophecy
  • to anoint the most holy place

Christ’s death on the cross made provision for sin, but Israel’s acceptance of this sacrifice will not be realized until they repent at the end of the seventy weeks, in conjunction with Christ’s second coming. The last three of these goals look ahead to the coming Kingdom Age.

5. When the clock starts ticking.

The divine prophetic clock for the seventy weeks or 490-year period began ticking on March 5, 444 BC, when the Persian king Artaxerxes issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to rebuild Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-8).

6. The first sixty-nine weeks (483 years).

Sixty-nine sets of seven (7 X 69) or 483 years would transpire between the beginning of the countdown and the coming of the Messiah. This exact period of time – 173,880 days – is elapsed from March 5, 444 BC, until March 30, AD 33 – the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem for the Triumphal Entry (Luke 19:28-44).

The precision of this prophecy is staggering! I call it the greatest prophecy ever given. It stands as a monumental proof of the inspiration of the Bible.

7. The gap called grace.

The first sixty-nine weeks have already run their course. But what about the final period of seven years or what is called the “seventieth week?” When Israel rejected Jesus Christ as its Messiah, God suspended His plan for Israel. So there is a gap or parenthesis of unspecified duration between the sixty-ninth week and seventieth set of seven.

During this parenthesis two specific events are prophesied in Daniel 9:26:

  • The Messiah will be killed – this was fulfilled on April 3, AD 33.
  • Jerusalem and the Temple will be destroyed – this was fulfilled on August 6, AD 70

God’s prophetic clock for Israel stopped at the end of the sixty-ninth week set of seven. We are living in this gap between week sixty-nine and seventy – it’s called the church age. The church age will end when Christ returns to rapture His bride, the church.

After all, since the church was not around for the first sixty-nine weeks from 444 BC to AD 33, it makes sense the church will not be here for the final week of years either. The seventy weeks have to do with Israel, not the church. This rationale supports the pre-Tribulation Rapture view.

8. The Antichrist’s treaty and the final seven years.

God’s prophetic clock for Israel will begin again after the church has been raptured, when the Antichrist comes onto the scene and ratifies a seven-year treaty with Israel (Daniel 9:27). This is the seventieth set of seven years, which awaits fulfillment.

Because the first sixty-nine weeks of years were literally fulfilled down to the very day, it stands to reason that this future time of seven years will just as literally fulfilled in the future.

The Antichrist signs a 7-year treaty with Israel

9. The Antichrist breaks the treaty.

In one of the greatest double-crosses of all time, the Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel at its midpoint (after 3 ½ years) and set an abominable, sacrilegious statue or image of himself in the rebuilt Temple of God in Jerusalem (Matthew 24:21); Revelation 13:14-15). The final 3 ½ years will be the “Great Tribulation” Jesus talked about in Matthew 24:21).

10. The end of the seventy weeks.

At the end of the seven years, God will slay the Antichrist (see Daniel 9:27, 2; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:20). This event will mark the end of the seventy sets of seven and the beginning of the one thousand year reign of Christ when the six divine goals in Daniel 9:24 will be completely fulfilled (see Revelation 20:1-6).

Closing Thoughts

As mentioned earlier, predicting a time period of 173,880 days to the very day is the greatest prophecy ever given. Be reminded that when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on March 30, AD 33, the first sixty-nine weeks of years (483 years) were fulfilled to the very day.

Jesus knew the significance of it when He said to the people, “If you have known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace” (Luke 19:42 NASB). He added those sobering words, “Because you did not recognize the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:44 NASB).

Jesus emphasized “this day” and “the time” to the Jewish people because He stood before them fulfilling this astonishing prophecy. The time of visitation had come on the exact day prophesied but they had missed it due to their unbelief.

Jesus is coming again someday, maybe very soon. There is a final future “time of visitation” that will also occur right on time according to God’s timetable


*Reference: The End (A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days) by Mark Hitchcock

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet: An Act of Love and Humility

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet: An Act of Love and Humility

We live in a society where it is the “norm” for the rich and powerful to be ordering people around, while the poor and the lowly people are the ones serving. In this article, we will delve into a passage where our Lord Jesus changed this standard through His example.

You must be familiar with the scene where Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, recorded in John 13:1-17. (See also Matthew 26:14-39 & Luke 22:24-27.) But for us to conclude this as an act of love and humility on the part of our Lord, a good grasp of the Jewish custom of those days is much-needed.

Background of the Passage

Prior to Jesus’ meeting His disciples at the Upper Room, we read that Jesus had entered Jerusalem on Sunday, and on Monday He had cleansed the Temple. Tuesday was a day of conflict with the religious leaders as they sought to trip Him up in order to get evidence to arrest Him. Wednesday was probably a day of rest, but on Thursday He met with His disciples in order to observe Passover.

*Note: If you’re wondering how I came up with this flow of events, they are recorded in Matthew 21-25.

And reading from Luke’s account (Luke 22:24), we see that while Jesus was nearing the time of His death, His disciples had been arguing who of them would be appointed to the highest cabinet post in Jesus’ coming government.

Jesus Loved His Disciples to the End

When Jesus asked to meet with His disciples, He recognized that it was the time for Him to be glorified through His death, resurrection, and ascension (John 13:1). From the human point of view, it meant suffering, but from the divine point of view, it meant glory.

Jesus knew He would soon leave this world and return to the Father who sent Him, having finished His work on earth (John 17:4). At the Last Supper, on the night before He was about to suffer and die and be betrayed by Judas, Jesus did something interesting for His disciples to show them that He loved them even to the end.

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

Here’s the scenario: The evening meal was in progress and as the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot to betray Jesus and knowing that the Father had put all things under His power, Jesus got up from the meal, took off His outer garment, wrapped a towel around His waist and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him (John 13:2-5).

Yes, the Savior did all that! So, what’s the big deal? It was customary in those days that whenever guests came to dinner, the house slave would wash the guest’s feet which were dirty from the dusty roads. There were even garbage and animal wastes on the roads because animals traveled up and down the same streets.

People in the olden times wore sandals

People wore sandals without socks in those days, making their feet very dirty. Take note that in the Jewish custom, people eat dinner around a low table so they didn’t sit on chairs. Instead, they leaned on pillows with their dirty feet exposed behind them. (This could be similar to Japanese or Korean dining today.) Isn’t it hard to enjoy a meal when there is a very bad smell?

However, at the last supper which was held at a private home, there was no slave present, and apparently, none of the disciples had offered to wash the feet of Jesus and the others. Then Jesus did something that must have almost seemed crazy; He began to do the job of the lowest household servant.

Imagine the reaction of the disciples. They must have been so shocked that there was stunning silence while Jesus was washing their feet one after the other. He comes to Peter who probably was able to regain his composure to echo what each of them must be thinking (John 13:6).

Customary Jewish or Japanese Dining
Photo Credits: Vix.com

Regarding the relationship between a teacher and his disciples, a teacher had no right whatsoever to demand or expect his disciples to wash his feet, in accordance with the Jewish laws and traditions. How much more unthinkable for the master to wash his disciples’ feet?

The Meaning & Significance of What Jesus Did

There are several reasons that prompted Jesus to wash His disciples’ feet. Apart from the obvious reason that their feet were dirty and needed washing, Jesus wanted to teach them humility and love. And as their Lord and teacher, He wanted to teach them by setting an example for them to follow.

Jesus knew better that actions speak louder than words. The disciples who had been following Jesus for 3 years must have heard Jesus preach multiple times about love and humility. Yet, they were still quarreling among themselves who should be greater.

And why was no one willing to humble himself and wash Jesus’ feet? Because they could not do this without having to wash the others’ feet as well – a clear admission of inferiority among their fellow competitors for the top position in their hierarchy.

Whoever wants to be great must be servant of all

It must be pride and feelings of animosity. Apparently, their sinful nature was still very much a part of them. So when Jesus wanted to teach His proud and arguing disciples about love and true humility, He didn’t just say it; He showed it.

In the succeeding verses (John 13:12-17), Jesus explains the reason behind His action and calls His disciples to follow His example. Jesus is saying we should serve others. If Jesus who is our master and Lord of all would choose to lower Himself to do the job of the lowest and least important servant by washing His friends’ feet, then we should always be willing to serve others.

Closing Thoughts

The servant (slave) is not greater than his master; so if the master becomes a slave, where does that put the slave? On the same level as the master! Jesus said “we ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14-16). This is the attitude that marks His followers, especially among church leaders.

While the foot-washing is a powerful lesson in humility, let us not overlook the truth behind it, which is that Jesus did all this out of love. Love was what motivated Jesus to wash His disciples’ feet and He is telling us today that when we humble ourselves and serve, it should be out of love, not out of a sense of duty or responsibility.

Although foot-washing during Bible times was very common, it’s not common today. However, there are many things we can do to serve others as an act of love and humility. What practical examples from your everyday life can you give where Jesus’ example should be followed?


*Recommended Resource:

Full Service: Moving From Self-Serve Christianity to Total Servanthood by Siang-Yang Tan

Is servanthood a way to lead or a way of life? Leadership has its place in Christian ministry, but God calls us, first and foremost, to servanthood. Servant is not a modifier for some other activity but the foundation of the Christian life.

Siang-Yang Tan calls the church back to its primary role of being servants of Christ and other people. This genuine Spirit-inspired servant attitude will enable you to enter more deeply into God’s rest and grace and will revolutionize your life and ministry.

Lessons from the Transfiguration

Lessons from the Transfiguration

There are lessons to learn from every passage in the Bible. The incident known as the “Transfiguration” reveals to us four aspects of the glory of Jesus Christ as King. This event is recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and although the 3 authors do not use the word “transfigure,” they all describe the scene (See Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-13 & Luke 9:28-36).

Mathew and Mark state that the transfiguration took place “six days after” Jesus predicted His suffering and death while Luke says “about eight days after.” However, these statements do not contradict; Luke’s statement is the Jewish equivalent of “about a week later.”

4 Aspects of the Glory of Jesus Christ as King

1) The Glory of His Person

As far as the gospel record is concerned, the transfiguration was the only occasion during Christ’s earthly ministry when He revealed the glory of His person. The word “transfigure” or “transform” gives us the English word “metamorphosis,” which means “a change in appearance that comes from within.” It’s like when a caterpillar builds a cocoon and later emerges as a moth or butterfly, this is due to the process called metamorphosis.

When Jesus transfigured before Peter, James and John, the glory of His person was not reflected, rather, it radiated from within. In other words, the change on the outside that the three disciples saw came from within Jesus as He allowed His essential glory to shine forth (See Hebrews 1:3).

2) The Glory of His Kingdom

The appearance of Moses and Elijah is highly significant. These two particular persons from the Old Testament represent the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah), both of which find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ (Luke 24:25-27; Hebrews 1:1-2). Moses had died and his body was buried (Deuteronomy 34:5-6), but Elijah had been raptured to heaven (2 Kings 2:11).

When Jesus returns, He will raise the bodies of the saints who died and will rapture the living saints (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Every single word in the Old Testament will be fulfilled and God’s glorious kingdom will be established (Luke 1:32-33) as promised. And just as the three disciples saw Jesus glorified on earth, so God’s people will one day see Him in His glorious Kingdom on earth and will actually reign with Him for a thousand years (Revelation 4:4-6).

3) The Glory of His Cross

The disciples had to learn that suffering and glory go together. Peter opposed Jesus’ going to Jerusalem to die (Matthew 16:22) for he was thinking like a human being. After all, most people want to escape suffering and death. So Jesus had to teach Peter that apart from His suffering and death, there could be no glory. Peter certainly learned the lesson, for in his very first epistle he repeatedly emphasized suffering and glory (1 Peter 1:6-8, 11; 4:12-16; 5:1-4).

Discipleship means denying yourself, taking up your cross and following Christ (Matthew 16:24), but you cannot do that if you selfishly stay on the mount of glory. When Jesus said that anyone who wants to be His followers must do the above, He was saying that whatever happened to Him would happen to them as well. If there was a cross in His future, there would be one in their future.

*Note: Today, a cross is an accepted symbol of love and sacrifice, but in those days, the cross was a horrible means of capital punishment. The Romans who came up with this would not even impose it on a Roman citizen, for this terrible death was reserved only for their enemies.

Philippians 2:8-9

By the way, we need to keep in mind that Jesus is talking about discipleship in Matthew 16:24-26, not sonship. We are not saved by taking up a cross and following Jesus, but because we have placed our trust in the Savior who died on the cross for our sins. We become children of God first, and then we become His disciples.

To become a disciple, we need to “turn from our selfish ways” in order to give ourselves wholly to Christ and share in His shame and death, as described in Philippians 3:7-10, Galatians 2:20 and 1 Peter 4:12-16). The good news is, suffering always leads to glory and that is why Jesus ended His sermon with reference to His glorious Kingdom (Matthew 16:28).

4) The Glory of His Submission

When Jesus told His disciples that He would have to suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed but be raised the third day (Matthew 16:21), Peter could not understand why the Son of God would submit to evil people and willingly suffer.

The transfiguration was God’s way of teaching Peter and the other disciples that Jesus is glorified when we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. The Christian’s philosophy is “Yield yourself to God!” in contrast to that of the world’s which is “Save yourself!” And so, as Jesus stood there in glory, He proved to the three disciples that surrender always leads to glory.

Jesus, who was in very nature God, humbled Himself and submitted in complete obedience to the Father, even to the point of death on the cross. As a result, God the Father exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:6-10). Jesus has set the perfect example of ultimate obedience for us to follow. If we do as Jesus had done, that is, submit to God in all our ways, God is glorified.

Final Thoughts

We may have had glorious, personal experiences of encounter with the Lord Jesus during our devotion and worship; we may even have a spiritual “transfiguration” experience each day as we walk with the Lord. But as wonderful as “mountaintop” experiences are, they are not the basis for a consistent Christian life.

When we surrender our body, mind, and will to God, He will transform us from within so that we are not conformed to the world (Romans 12:1-2). As we behold our Savior in the Word, we are “transfigured” by the Spirit. This experience is known in theology as “sanctification,” the process by which we become more like the Lord, which is the Father’s goal for each of His children (1 John 3:2).