Category Archives: Life of Christ

Spending the Night in ICU

I am in the Emergency Department for a complete workup. Where, in the normal doctor’s office, results from medical tests can take days, in the Emergency Department results from tests can take minutes, maybe a couple of hours at the outside. Before I see a Doctor, several RN’s start placing needles in my arms so they can administer medications and draw blood. Before I see a Doctor, they hear the words “chest pain” and work toward that diagnosis. Then the Doctor came in.

He listened to my story. Exercise. Eating. Fires in Yosemite and Northern California. Asthma. Bicycle riding. Chest pain that goes away. He looked at my record. Listened to everything. Ordered blood work and chest x-ray. Then calmly explained why He did not think I had GERD and why I did not have exercise induced asthma. Looking at my previous tests, EKGs, blood work, he calmly told me the problem is my heart. RN’s come in to take blood and he said he would be back in about 90 minutes with the results. I wish I knew what he was seeing that the other Doctors had not seen. Thousands of hours in an Emergency Department gave him insight. He looked at the evidence, ordered more conclusive evidence be gathered, and waited until he had enough information to draw a more accurate conclusion.

I am not trying to hide my intent of using my experiences to understand my relationship with Christ. When Jesus came it was with the express purpose of keeping people from being separated from God. Everything He did was with the objective of showing who He was.  He was raised from the dead which validates everything He did and every word He spoke.

Jesus healed people. However, He did not heal everyone He encountered. We have accounts of Jesus healing lepers of their leprosy, the blind and lame and deaf and mute of their congenital physical disorders, the mentally deranged and demon-possessed of their mental/emotional instability. He raised dead people, giving them life where their bodies were completely dead. He did all of these things in front of crowds. The religious leaders watched Him, could easily verify His actions, and knew for a fact He was doing these things. Many of them did not care where the evidence of His life pointed. They wanted Him to go away so they could continue on as they were without change. They wanted Him dead so that His miracles would stop drawing people away from them and their age-old rituals.

There is too much evidence pointing to who Jesus is. Even when God speaks people hear and describe their experiences.

“Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:28-32 ESV)

Every Doctor and Nurse I met worked with the focused intent of keeping me alive. I expected nothing less from any of them. I cannot express enough gratitude and admiration for their work.

A couple of hours later the ED Doctor returned with test results. “You have heart damage.” There is an enzyme in your heart that is at 3.5. Heart damage happens at .5. We’re going to check you into the hospital (to get you out of the Emergency Department and free up a bed for someone else) and tomorrow morning we will do an angiogram, which will tell us exactly what is wrong. The Doctor never said the phrase “heart attack” though it is implied. While the Doctor was talking to me an RN placed another IV in another appendage with a blood thinner drip.

Okay. I’m spending the night in the hospital.

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Pain

Studies in Genesis 3

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16 ESV)

God now turns His attention to the woman. His curse for the serpent was that it would crawl on its belly and eat dust. His curse of the Deceiver is that the offspring of the woman, someone down the line, would crush its head while it vainly struck at His heel. God’s judgment to the woman is two-fold, that she would have pain in childbirth and that her husband would rule over her even as her desires would be contrary to his.

Life, after the fall, is filled with suffering. I am a man and have no concept of the pain experienced in childbirth. Yet, the life of a child moves from the safety of the womb to the harsh environment outside the womb. But it is not the life and pain of the child God is addressing but the pain the woman will experience by having children. Her suffering begins during pregnancy, spikes during delivery, then continues throughout the life of the child even when the child matures into an adult.

When God declares “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children” the word pain is also translated toil, sorrow, hardship, hurt. This word is used only three times in Scripture. God uses the word to describe the pain of childbirth in this verse. God also describes the pain of eating the fruit of the man’s labor in the next verse, “cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life” Genesis 3:17 ESV). The word is then used in Genesis 5:29, the hopeful prophecy of Lamech for his son Noah, to bring relief from the painful toil of work.

Jesus talks about the pain of childbirth as preceding the joy the child brings to the parent. In the context of His statement He alludes to the pain of losing Him to death is similar and will bring eternal joy of having Him after His resurrection.

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16:20-22 ESV)

Why pain in childbirth? Is the pain supposed to be a reminder for all women that their first mother rebelled against God? Is the pain supposed to point to the sentence of the Deceiver, who will strike out at the children of the woman and hurt them, or Him, but will then be crushed? Can we assume there would have been no pain in childbirth had the first couple had children before rebelling? According to Jesus, the pain of childbirth points to the pain of His passion, for Him and for those who are His, because it also points to the eternal joy of being with Him (see also Romans 8:18).

Please note, neither the woman or the man are cursed. They are judged and sentenced. They will die physically because that was the determined consequence for eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They will bear the consequences of their actions and those who follow them will also suffer because of their rebellion. One of the consequences of their rebelling is pain, suffering and sorrow for all, including Jesus who was fully God and fully man the way God originally intended.

Head and Heel

Studies in Genesis 3

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 ESV)

What does the word “seed” or “offspring” mean? How is it used in relation to both creatures? What does it mean to “bruise” heel and head.

For the woman, the word offspring means children. But not just the immediate children of the woman. It means all of the descendants which will come from her because she is the first woman. It could also mean one individual who will come from her somewhere down the line of descendants.

For the Deceiver, the word seed or descendants is not it’s offspring through physical union of male and female but those who decide to follow, emulate and be trained by the Deceiver to hate God. Many of the descendants of the woman will also be descendants of the Deceiver.

To bruise means to fall upon or crush. God, through one of the descendants of the first woman, will finish the war begun against Him. The Deceiver will strike out and hurt the One who is coming. It will wound Him but will not defeat Him. He will fall upon the Deceiver’s head, crushing it and ultimately defeating the being who rebelled against God.

We now know this statement is a prophecy of Messiah, fulfilled in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. From the moment Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit the Deceiver began its assault against Jesus in the vain exercise of trying to kill Him.  From requiring a pregnant woman to move a great distance riding a donkey, to Herod seeking to kill Him when he was a child, to the temptations of Christ and His passion, the Deceiver sought ways to stop God from fulfilling His promises. Nothing can hinder God’s will. He used all of the devious tricks of the Deceiver to fulfill prophecy and finish His will.

Ultimately, the Deceiver struck at Christ’s heel, hurting Him but not killing Him. Jesus was tortured to death on a Roman cross. But His resurrection followed His death and finished His work of redemption.

We are still deeply embedded in a struggle, a rebellion, fueled by the hatred of the Deceiver. God has tried, judged and sentenced the Deceiver, who is not awaiting the execution of the sentence. During this time, the conflict rages as God separates those who are not His from those who are.

Enmity

Studies in Genesis 3

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 ESV)

Does God create hatred and loathing? Is hatred part of His eternal character?

When God stated that He placed enmity between the woman and the Deceiver, or the serpent, He is speaking about a level of hatred that moves beyond simple displeasure. This hatred and loathing is the deepest and longest lasting antagonism coupled with a desire to destroy and annihilate. The woman wants the Deceiver destroyed. The Deceiver want anything and everything God has done corrupted, unusable and taken away from HimimH.

There is an eternal difference between the “hatred” of God and that of His creatures who have rebelled against Him. God’s hatred is against sin. Scripture is replete with instances of God declaring His hatred and loathing for sin and for those who refuse to repent, who actively and purposefully rebel against Him, and who promote sin in others.

If a man does not repent,
God will whet his sword;
he has bent and readied his bow;
he has prepared for him his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts.
Behold, the wicked man conceives evil
and is pregnant with mischief
and gives birth to lies. (Psalm 7:12-14 ESV)

In the Gospels Jesus condemns the Jewish leaders by saying they are related to the Deceiver, telling them their father is the Devil. It, the Deceiver or the Devil, slanders man to God and God to man. It, the Devil, is both a murderer and a liar. Those to whom Jesus is speaking do the exact things done by the Deceiver.

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44 ESV)

God is not the author of sin. He did not decide to corrupt the heavens and the earth He created. Nor, was His objective that Man rebel against Him when He created Man in His image. Yet, He did foresee from the beginning the reality of sin in His creation. There was darkness on the first day of creation (see Genesis 1:1-5) and then God created light, and separated the darkness from the light. From the beginning, God separates darkness from light whether in the spiritual realm or the physical. If I am correct in my thinking that God created the physical realm with representative characteristics of the spiritual then from the beginning God’s plan and decree was to swallow darkness with light.

When God declared enmity, hatred and loathing between the woman and the Deceiver, between the seed of the woman and the seed of the Deceiver, He announced the outcome of the conflict between those who love and those who hate Him. God is completely and ultimately in control.

Breath of Life

Studies in Genesis 2

Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:7 ESV)

God filled Man’s nostrils with a puff of His breath and the dry clay and dust He formed into the shape of a Man came alive. That which was not alive, lived.

Ezekiel had a vision of a valley of dry bones. It was not uncommon for a victorious army to take their captives to the top of a cliff and throw them off. Exposed to the weather and the carrion it would not take long for the flesh to be stripped off the bones and the sun to bake them dry. God showed Ezekiel a pile of that which had lived but was now dead.

God’s question suggests a “yes or no” answer. “And he said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’” But that is not the answer Ezekiel gives. “And I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, you know’” (Ezekiel 37:3 ESV). Ezekiel cannot bring these who have died back to life. No one created by God can bring back to life that which has died. Does he think God cannot? Though we carry the image of God we are not God. Only God can give life.

Then God tells Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones. A prophet tells the truth, whether about what is before them or about the future. Only God can give the truth about the future. When God commanded Ezekiel to prophesy He was telling him to tell the truth about what will happen to these dead, dry bones.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 37:4-6 ESV)

 God assembled the bones into people and covered them with muscle and flesh. But they were not alive. They were still dead.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” (Ezekiel 37:9 ESV)

“Breathe on these slain, that they may live.” “Breathe” is the same word used in Genesis 2:7. “Live” is closely related to the word “living” used in Genesis 2:7.

God told Ezekiel to tell the truth about what God was going to do and then did. Only God gives life. Yet, God uses people to deliver His truth and act upon His will.

Jesus, when He sent out the twelve, instructed them to tell the truth about the coming of the kingdom of heaven. He told them to announce “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7 ESV). He then gave them authority to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay” (Matthew 10:8 ESV). His disciples raised the dead. Those who died and could not live were given the breath of life and lived.

God tells us the truth throughout Scripture. He took a handful of dust and breathed on it and Man lived. Adam, the first Man, knew God. He told Ezekiel to tell the truth and those who were slain were given life. When they were raised they knew God. “And you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 37:6 ESV).  Jesus gave His disciples authority to tell the truth and raise the dead. Jesus told the truth about His death and His resurrection. All of the circumstantial evidence, from the beginning of the history of Man to now, tells us the truth of His resurrection and validates every word God has said. Jesus’ disciples know God and are His witnesses of truth to the world.

God Rests

Studies in Genesis 2

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:2-3 ESV)

God finished His work and then He rested. Do not think God is exhausted from His work or that He needs to sleep so He can get up after the weekend and do it all again.

We need to have an understanding of God’s work for us to understand God’s rest. God worked in creation. His work is everything He does which is natural to His being. He does not work for someone else but acts according to His eternal nature. What He begins He finishes, perfectly completing all He determined to accomplish. He then ceases working on creation. He finishes creation, because there is nothing left to do. His finishing creation and ceasing to work He calls “rest.” God “rested.”

“Rested” is a verb and means to cease or desist from labor. It is the word shabat from which is derived the noun shabbath translated Sabbath. So, on the seventh day of creation, the sabbath, God rested, shabat.

One of the questions which arises is whether after God rested He again began to work. We are told God finished His work. If He were to begin working again it would be to do something different, unrelated to that which He created. A new project. We don’t know about God’s “projects” other than the space-time universe in which we live. Yet, Jesus tells us He and His Father are still working. “My Father is working until now, and I am working” (John 5:15 ESV). John uses a word for “work” which is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word “work” used in Genesis 2.

Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and the Jewish leaders are incensed. One of the rules the Jewish leaders extrapolated from Scripture was no one was to “work” on the Sabbath. Apparently healing a person on the Sabbath was considered “work.” That, and Jesus told the man healed to “get up, take up your bed, and walk” (John 5:8 ESV), which is also considered work by the Jewish leaders. Not only was Jesus working but encouraging others to work on the Sabbath. How scandalous.

Jesus’ response to the superstitious tradition of not doing physical labor on the Sabbath was that God works and is still working, regardless of the day of the week. These Jewish leaders misunderstood what it means to work and rest. They also have a skewed understanding of God. They do not know Him either intellectually or intimately.

Jesus is God. It was He who created the heavens and the earth, every atom in the universe, accomplishing exactly what He intended. It was He who wrote the Scripture, inspiring the writers to record, in their own voices, that which He wanted. It is He who declares Himself “Lord of the Sabbath” “for the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8 ESV). It is He who created the beginning of the space-time universe and it is He who will bring it to an end.

God’s rest is in our future. He is not constrained by the space-time universe He created but exists outside of it. Those laws which hold the universe together are sustained by Him until He decides to bring the universe to an end. The laws of the universe, like the moral laws, are a reflection of Him but do not control Him. Scripture tells us He rested after He finished His work. Those who are His know how to rest in Him because they are looking forward to His rest in eternity.

Blessed

Studies in Genesis 1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28 ESV)

God blessed those He created in His image. This is the second of three times the word “blessed” is used in the Creation story. God blessed the sea creatures and the birds of the air in Genesis 1:22, telling them to be fruitful and multiply. God blessed the seventh day “and made it holy because on it God rested from all the work He had done in creation” in Genesis 2:3.

God blesses Man, who is created in His image. Man is male and female.

To bless means to kneel before, but not as one subservient to another. There are two images which may help us understand the use of the word. First, think of a father kneeling before a child to give the child a gift. Secondly, imagine one serving another by kneeling before them to deliver a service. In both instances, the one kneeling is not subservient but greater. With the father and child analogy, the father is greater than the child and is giving a gift the child needs but may not understand. In the second illustration the servant, or better, the one serving, is offering an act of mercy and compassion. In both instances the idea of blessing by kneeling strongly implies the greatest love of one for the other.

Part of the image of God is the desire to serve God and people and in doing so love them. Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is twofold.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40 ESV)

God declares His eternal love for people when He kneels before them as a Father giving the greatest gift needed through the greatest act of service imaginable. He gave His image. Then, He gave His Son.