If there’s one person in history who has the most personal reason to declare, “Christ died for me,” it’s Barabbas. All four gospels relate how Pilate wanted to release Jesus and how the priests’ mob demanded that he release Barabbas instead.
It’s easy to read past Barabbas and not think much about him. The possibility that he, too, bore the name Jesus gives us an opportunity to take a closer look. He’s much more important than he might seem at first.
A textual variant encourages us to take a closer look. Matthew’s gospel, at least in some manuscripts, identifies him as “Jesus Barabbas.”… Read the rest
Jesus is Lord. That’s the claim at the heart of Christianity. But “lord” is a term that long predates Jesus’ earthly ministry. The Greek kurios has several meanings.
Jesus’ conduct hardly ever looked like the most important ones.
Kurios can mean nothing more than “sir,” a term of respect addressed to social equals or superiors.
It can also mean owner. Owners have certain rights over what they own. The owner of a farm, for example, has exclusive rights to what grows in it. He has the expectation of profiting from it. He can choose to sell it. No one else has those rights over that same property.… Read the rest
Jehovah Nissi, an Old Testament name for God, points to God’s miracle working power. And above all, to the cross. The Old Testament foreshadows the cross in many ways and demonstrates that nothing else can accomplish the same purpose.
In the first battle Israel fought after leaving Egypt, Moses tried and failed to serve as banner, or battle standard.
In Exodus 17:8-16, the Amalekites attacked Israel. As Moses later described the incident in Deuteronomy 25:17-19, they attacked from the rear and killed stragglers. The Amalekites descended from Esau. They had always been bitter enemies of Israel. On this occasion, they attacked like cowards.… Read the rest
Lent gives us a chance to slow down and prepare for Easter by reminding us of some uncomfortable truths.
We’re all going to die. We’re all sinners. Apart from God’s grace, we all deserve hell.
But Lent also gives us a chance to consider God’s extravagant grace It’s free, but it costs us everything. In this post, I’d like to pay special attention to God’s extravagance. And what it can cost.
Extravagance can seem like wastefulness. Consider, for example, the life of William Borden, heir to the Borden dairy fortune. Instead of inheriting the family business and living a life of ease, he decided to become a missionary.… Read the rest
It’s just not a time to exercise will power and give something up for a month and a half.
Lent is a time of reflection. It’s a time to prepare ourselves spiritually to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection at Easter.
It’s a time to consider holiness.
Why did Jesus have to die and rise again from the dead? Because God is holy, and we are not. God created Adam in his image and breathed his own life into him. Adam chose to obey Satan instead and forfeited that life.
Lent is a time of preparation for Easter, during which Christians are encouraged to ponder their sin and their own mortality. Sin can be difficult to face. Quite apart from the fact that no one really wants to think of their own evil, it can be difficult to identify what sin is.
Despite the claims of an odd team of Christian legalists and enemies of Christianity, biblical Christianity has no list of rules or prohibitions.
“All things are lawful,” says I Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23. That’s not a blanket pass to do anything at all. Paul continues the former saying he will not be mastered by anything and the latter saying not all things are profitable.… Read the rest
Christians readily agree with the statement that God is all-powerful, all-loving, and all-sufficient. But when trouble turns up, how many of us really know how to respond as if we believe it?
We turn to idols instead.
Our idols aren’t quite the same as those of the ancients, but they work the same way. We trust our own resources more than we trust God. Certainly God expects us to use our own resources much of the time, but we must not trust them. We must trust God. Otherwise, whatever we trust instead becomes, functionally, an idol, the god we truly worship.… Read the rest
Surely everyone knows that Judas, one of the Twelve, accepted 30 pieces of silver from the temple treasury to betray Jesus. He attended the Last Supper with the rest, left early, and led a large armed group to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was arrested. After Jesus was sentenced to death, Judas threw the money back at the priests and committed suicide.
For centuries, many in the church have regarded Judas simply as the most despicable traitor in history. Even today, some writers seem to assume that he was a hypocrite who intended to betray Jesus from the start, that he gained nothing from three years of following Jesus, and that he hid his hypocrisy from everyone but Jesus.… Read the rest