Read: Acts 17:1-9
And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” (Acts 17:2, 3 ESV)
Jesus died. But he didn’t stay dead. He returned to life. He ascended, bodily, into Heaven. He went before us into death, and then into resurrected eternity, to prepare the path that who belong to the kingdom of God will one day travel.
Upon his conversion Saul of Tarsus, an infamous persecutor, became an enthusiastic proclaimer of Jesus. He often went into Jewish Synagogues to teach about Jesus, no doubt hoping to bring the truth to his people. He was articulate, and intelligent, persuading a great many people to open their hearts to Jesus—the Christ and King.
It was Jesus’ role as Christ which infuriated the Jews; but it was his role as King which the legality of persecution stemmed from. Salvation can come from no source but Jesus. That hasn’t stopped a multitude of people from attempting to save themselves, but it is folly.
Just as errant is the rejection of Jesus Christ as King. People often refuse to acknowledge any authority that is not of their own making. They want the throne of their lives left alone. We like to play King, Jesus is both Christ the Savior and the King of kings.
When I set out to write a daily year long blog called “A Year With Jesus” I spent a lot of time reading the four gospels. In fact, I have spent over twenty months studying them constantly. Here we are, just forty days away from the end—and every entry so far has had an accompanying scripture, until this one.
I wanted to write “A Year With Jesus” because Jesus is everything to me. Every part of my life revolves around doing what I believe he has called me to do. My family is in this with me. Right there in bold letters in our Family Vision Statement (you should think about writing one) it says “To love and serve Jesus.”
To me, Jesus is my savior.
To me, Jesus is my Lord.
To me, Jesus is my friend.
To me, Jesus is my King.
And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25 ESV)
Pilate washed his hands as a symbolic gesture. A sign that he had given Jesus over to the mob, but did not recognize or understand their desire to see him crucified. He wanted no blame.
The mob took the blame. They knew according to their laws and traditions that they would be held responsible for Jesus’ death. They accepted the notion that his blood would be on them—without even understanding that that was the whole point.
Jesus’ blood was the permanent replacement for the Old Covenant’s sacrifices. It is through the spilled blood of Christ that our sins are forgiven. It is the faithful acceptance of his work that salvation takes place. Yes, God, please let his blood be on us and on our children.
John 19: 12-16
They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15 ESV)
Who is your king? We all have one. For the Jews of Jesus’ day they identified their king as Caesar simply out of spite. But who is our king? For many of us, our king is the person we see in the mirror every day.
And the question is a question of kingdom. What do you pronounce ownership over? Do you owe allegiance to yourself? There are a lot of good questions stirred up by the example of a bunch of super religious Pharisees rejecting God himself as their king to proclaim false homage to a pagan dictator and conqueror they showed no true love for.
The reality is that under Caesar the corruption of the Jewish Temple greatly benefited the religious bureaucracy. With Jesus as king they would lose their power base while seeing equality, fairness, and justice brought to the common people.
Just to be clear, Jesus is King. In fact, he is the King of all kings. It’s not a matter of who actually is the king, rather it is a question of who we each proclaim as our king. Self-worship and humanism are the order of the day. Placing our pride upon the thrones of our own choosing are the trend. But acknowledging Jesus as your true King, and stepping into his Kingdom is the better future.
Read: Luke 2:39-40
And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him. (Luke 2:40 ESV)
When Herod the Great died Joseph returned to Nazareth with his young family. It was in Nazareth that the young boy Jesus grew into the mighty God-man we read of in the Gospels. Jesus became strong as he grew. He was filled with wisdom. But it was a process as relates to his human nature.
Growing is an essential part of all life. We start small and young and progress in age, size, and capability, or at least we should. Growing up on a farm I got to be pretty familiar with growing things. Whether it was an animal or plant, the phrase if its not growing its dying held pretty true. We should have a desire to continually grow in our relationship with God.
When we begin our personal journey with God we are like children. We may have great passion, enthusiasm, and faith, but we often lack the kind of maturity that fills us with strength and wisdom. Spending time with the Father gives us both strength and wisdom. Not so we can better manage things on our own, but so that we will trust God even more.
Jesus enjoyed the favor of God because of his growth. Yes, he was the Son of God, but he was also a man. And as he grew from boy to man he followed the Law of God, sought after the heart of God, and it produced in his human nature the strength, wisdom, and favor of God.
Read: Hosea 11 & Matthew 2:13-25
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. (Hosea 11:1 ESV)
In 700 B.C. the prophet Hosea wrote that Jesus’ family would flee to Egypt as refugees. It was a courageous and faithful act on the part of Jesus’ adopted father Joseph that saved the young Messiah’s life. But to further fulfill prophecy, and ultimately the mission of God for mankind, Jesus had to leave Egypt.
I really believe that along the way God sometimes directs us to places that are more like pit stops than they are destinations. We can, and should, do whatever good we can at these stops, but ultimately they are small parts of our journey. Whatever reason God has for sending us to those places, it is usually more about protecting us, helping us learn and grow, or helping someone there, than anything else. Sometimes you have to flee to your own personal Egypt to become who you are supposed to be, but you almost always have to leave it behind to step into your destiny.
Jesus didn’t spend an incredibly long time in Egypt. Joseph only kept him there until the danger had passed and it was time to return to Nazareth. It would still be many years before Jesus would begin his public ministry. Sometimes God takes us from one season of preparation to another. These seasons look different, are often at different locations, and come with a plethora of diverse learning experiences. Don’t be in a hurry to speed through these times. God can still use us in times of growth and learning. He will call us out of it when we’re ready for the fullness of His plan.
Read: Matthew 2: 13-18
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” (Matthew 2:13 ESV)
Herod did not respond well upon learning that the wise men had tricked him. When the secret identity of the would-be king eluded him he turned up the crazy and went into full tyrant mode slaughtering an entire generation of boys. It was a horrendously evil act born of desperation, insecurity, and selfishness. Thankfully Jesus escaped unscathed because of his adopted father Joseph.
Joseph was such a courageous man. He risked incredible personal danger and disaster to protect his wife and adopted son. He obeyed commands that he didn’t even fully comprehend in order to keep Mary and Jesus from harm. There is a lot to learn from the continued faithful response of a man we actually do not know a great deal about.
First of all he listened when God spoke. Whatever the means of communication used to reach Joseph, he paid attention. Some of us just have to much noise in our lives. It makes it hard to hear when God speaks. Secondly, Joseph obeyed God. Not only was he willing to listen, but he was willing to respond with faithful courage and obedience. I know sometimes I feel like God is trying to tell me something but I’m just too scared to do anything about it.
Think about it. Joseph was courageous. He not only listened to God, but he obeyed. And in his obedience he rescued Jesus from an insane tyrannical puppet king by taking him into Egypt.