Monday, July 30, 2012

Greater works than these...

Jesus did many miracles when He walked the Earth.  He was and is God, so of course He could do them....but here's the question: was He acting as God or man when He did the miracles?

It's a BIG question, and our answer to it will determine how we see those miracles....and whether we believe miracles are possible today....and, most importantly, whether we believe WE can "do" miracles as Jesus did.

Western Christianity has believed since the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD that Jesus was the "hypostatic union" of God and Man, separate but unified in the person of Jesus.  (This question has led me into a lot of fascinating reading,)  That brings us back to the miracles:  who did them?  The God part or the man part?  

If Jesus healed people as God, then it is awe inspiring that He would enter human history and touch and heal sickness and demonization and even raise the dead.  But on the other hand, if Jesus healed people as a man, then it fills me with hope that we who follow Him can serve as conduits for God's power in healing many, many more through all time.

I have come to believe that it was "the man part" of Jesus that "by the finger of God" did miracles. (Luke 11:20)   I believe Jesus chose to hold back His divinity and live life and meet death just as we do....and the miracles we see today are done by the finger of God through men and women who follow Jesus.

Jesus addressed this question.  John recorded His words "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

God has used my hands for healing a few times.  So what is it hat holds me back from doing more?  What holds you back?

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Buying the Pearl

I have always been fascinated by the Gospel of Matthew the tax collector.  I have read it many times, but for days recently I couldn't get past Matt 13:44-46.  Here's how it reads in N.T.Wright's excellent "Matthew for Everyone" version.
’The kingdom of heaven’, Jesus continued, ‘is like treasure hidden in a field. Someone found it and hid it, and in great delight went off and sold everything he possessed, and bought that field. ’Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a trader who was looking for fine pearls, and who found one that was spectacularly valuable. He went off and sold everything he possessed, and bought it. 
Wright, N.T. (2011-05-31). Matthew for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-15 (New Testament for Everyone) (pp. 174-175). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.  
I like to read the Bible in different English versions, and even in Swedish.  What happens is that I see things I have never seen before when the text is expressed in different ways.  That's what happened here.

So -- What does it mean "sold everything he had and bought it"?  I mean, what does it really mean "sold everything he had"?

A friend once told me that a way to really get inside the Bible is to engage the imagination with the text.  Picture yourself in the story, the friend said.  Imagine the pieces of it.  Really think deeply about it. 

I did that. I could see myself having found an incredible pearl that I knew I could sell for a great profit.  I did not have enough cash on hand, but by selling our house, our car, and all of our possessions, I knew I could afford it.  Then when I turn around and sell it, the profit would allow us to replace it all with newer and better.

That is a great picture of a person who has found Jesus and committed to following Him.  Particularly those of us who have made this decision as adults have "sold" all of our old ways so that we could "buy" better in the Kingdom of Heaven.  That is part of my life story.

But as I meditated on this, I see another level for me as a man who has walked the Jesus Way for 27 years now.  There is still more in my Christian life...I know there is more!  And so I am back in the market yet again looking for more magnificent pearls.  And I have found one.  

What will I have to sell this time to buy the pearl?  What among my activities and my possessions will I "sell" so that with my profit I can "buy" an even deeper relationship with Jesus?

How about you?  What are you willing to "sell" in order to purchase the pearl of great price?