Tag Archives: Lazarus

Your Heavens

“When I look at your heavens, 
the work of your fingers, 
the moon and the stars, 
which you have set in place” (Psalm 8:3 ESV)

Who owns what you see when you look up into the night sky? That is an absurd question. Yet, humans are obsessed with ownership. We want to own because ownership gives control and security. Look at a political map of the world. How many countries are there? Some count 193 while others count over 200. Some places that recognize themselves as a nation are not recognized as a true nation by many other nations. There are physical places in the world where countries fight over ownership. But, does anyone fight over ownership of the Sun or Moon or any other star or planet?

God created everything. Does this not mean everything belongs to Him? In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in the universe and on the planet, He made Man in His image. He made Man with the ability to study creation so Man might know God, both intellectually and intimately by examining Creation.

It is arrogant to suggest and believe God does not own all that He created. Yet, sin has corrupted the thinking of everyone. God’s enemies, His foes, speak about Him in ways that reveal their complete misunderstanding of who He is. Their machinations and hatred for God do not affect Him and cannot change anything about Him. “You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? (Isaiah 29:16 ESV). 

People have intelligence and reasoning ability superior to animals, birds and fish. There is no other physically created being given the ability to intimately know God and thoroughly examine and understand His creation. Man has built equipment that can examine the heavens in the vast array of galaxies, solar systems, stars and planets. Man has built equipment that examines the smallest particles of matter. Yet, the heavens contain more than any one Man could ever know. Though we have seen the smallest particles there are things even smaller. God knows everything in the vast universe down to the hidden things only He can see and know. Still, even with these vast differences, Man, all people, can know God both intellectually and intimately.

But we do see. God gave man eyes to see and ears to hear and a mind to think. When Isaiah was commissioned as a prophet God told him what to expect from the people. He would speak and teach and rebuke and call to repentance, like every other prophet sent by God, but the people would not respond.

“Go, and say to this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:9-10 ESV)

People refuse to see and hear God. Jesus raised Lazarus from death, witnessed by many people. The evidence was a man walking around who had been in a tomb four days. Yet, though the people, especially the Jewish religious leaders could see the evidence firsthand, God closed their eyes because they refused to know the truth of who Jesus is. 

Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. (John 12:39-41 ESV)

God owns all of creation. Those created in His image have the unique ability to intellectually and intimately know Him. Does creation rebel against God? People do. Those who can know Him do not want to know Him. God wants us to know Him, making Himself knowable in all of His creation.

Just and Righteous

God is a righteous judge, 
and a God who feels indignation every day. (Psalm 7:11 ESV)

Psalm 7 poetically presents as a closing statement in a legal trial with God as the presiding judge. God is both just and righteousness. He is just in that He adheres to and upholds the laws of His nature and those laws which He has put in place to govern His creation. He is righteous in that He lives perfectly according to His laws and expects His creation to follow those laws. In the beginning, God created people and endowed them with His image, which gives them the tools needed to know, understand and act according to the nature of God in their every endeavor. Man, Adam and Eve, and all who follow, rebel against God, refusing to acknowledge Him as the eternal Lawgiver and breaking His laws. Since the laws broken are based upon Himself, He is the only One with the authority to judge those who broke the laws. “God is a righteous judge”  (Psalm 7:11 ESV).

God blesses the Righteous Man whose “delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2 ESV). As the eternal government of His creation, God judges the kings and rulers of the world who teach and train their people to rebel against Him by enthroning His King, His Son, Jesus Christ. “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill” (Psalm 2:6 ESV). Those found in Christ, His righteous King, who take refuge in Him are declared righteous and comprise the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Does God feel? Does God have emotions? Can we understand His emotions as we understand ours? God feels indignation every dayIndignation is anger, an expression of irritation and rage, a defiant posture, a denouncement and curse. God is enraged at the violation of His law, which is a direct assault on His character and being. There is never a moment in space-time history where God relaxes His hatred for sin. “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man” (Psalm 5:4-6 ESV).

Jesus felt. He wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). He showed His physical anger over the desecration of the temple by the religious leaders who allowed merchants in the temple courts (John 2:15; Matthew 21:13). He condemned the religious leaders for their hypocritical lives (Matthew 23). He felt deep emotions at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35). He had compassion on the hungry, the sick, the disabled, the demon possessed and the dead. Jesus, as Man, felt the full range of emotions given all people. Emotions are part of the image of God in Man, therefore, God also has and feels emotions. The difference is between us and God is neither God nor Jesus as a Man is corrupted by sin. Their emotions are pure and righteous. Our emotions are tainted by sin.

God hates evil and sin yet loves the one who commits evil and sins. His compassion for the sinful does have a boundary yet knows no end. Those who continue to reject Him, even after receiving the grace of His forgiveness through the sacrifice of Christ, have no other path into His presence.

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. (Hebrews 6:4-6 ESV)

As part of the image of God, our emotions are directional and like warning flags, which tell people when they are in God’s will or tempted to sin against God. Those who take refuge in God may feel joy and love toward God. Those who are facing temptation or have fully embraced sin, feel fear and anger and guilt. Many philosophies have taught we should not trust our emotions. When corrupted by sin, nothing we do conforms to the original intent God had for Man, including our emotions. Those filled with the Holy Spirit have an Interpreter who directs and confronts and counsels the citizen of His kingdom. We are given spiritual tools in the image of God. We are given the Holy Spirit, who is God Himself, embedded in a recreated being stuck in a sinful physical body.

God wants those who are His to hate sin as much as He hates sin. We are to hate sin in the world and to hate sin in those who exist around us. We are to hate sin in ourselves and purge sin from our lives. At the same time, we are to love those who are in the world, created in the image of God and loved by Him. We are to hate sin every day. We hate sin because He hates sin.  Conversely, like God, we are to love people as He loves them. We can only accomplish this though the work of the Holy Spirit giving us the discernment we need to recognize sin yet love those who sin, who are created in God’s image.

Peace and Rest

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.(Psalm 4:8 ESV)

Peace and rest go together, like justice and righteousness and repentance and faith. You cannot have one without the other. Peace and rest do not demand a circumstance outside of knowing God and being known by Him. Temporal circumstances may rob temporary peace and rest but cannot change that which God has established in eternity. Peace and rest are spiritual realities sometimes reflected through physical circumstances.

In this world there is neither peace with God, nor rest in Him, outside of a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. In the Psalms God tells us He intimately “knows the way of the righteous” (Psalm 1:6 ESV). They are those He has declared righteous because they are in His Son. He then directs those who are unrighteous to “kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way” (Psalm 2:12 ESV). He offers an escape from His wrath through His Son. Jesus Christ is the One who is their life and the Righteous Judge of all. Only in Jesus Christ is there deliverance from the sentence of sin and rescue from separation from God for eternity. “Salvation belongs to the LORD” (Psalm 3:8 ESV). Only in Him who faced God’s wrath as a righteous man, living His earthly life without sin, is there peace and rest. Only in eternity with God is there life and rest and security from the presence and effects of sin.

It is better to have the eternal blessings of God than the temporal, haphazardly found lack of conflict that masquerades as peace in the world.

As Jesus walked among the people, working and teaching and confronting sin, He never acted or spoke out of a place of turmoil or desperation. His actions and speech were measured and filled with pointed compassion for those He met. He was not in a hurry, driven by anyone to do or act or be in a particular place.

As Lazarus lay dying, Jesus and His disciples were a two-day journey away. When word reached Jesus that Lazarus was sick, He did not immediately arise and go to him. John tells us Jesus’ feelings toward the sisters and brother. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was” (John 11:5-6 ESV). He knew Lazarus would die but still told His disciples “this illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4 ESV). How could Jesus say the illness would not lead to death knowing Lazarus would die? Jesus knows what He will do. He will raise Lazarus from the dead, restoring his life, even after four days in a tomb. He will do this as evidence of who He is and of His purpose for coming.

Knowledge gives control. He who knows all, has control over all. God is both omniscient and omnipotent. Jesus works from a place of peace and rest, able to lie down and  of His peace with God, who gives Him rest from the havoc of sin and makes Him dwell in safety.

Everything Jesus did fulfilled the purpose given Him by God for coming into this world as a human. After raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem, where He would endure an agonizing death. As completely God, He eternally knew the outcome of His sacrifice would bring absolute glory to God. His sacrifice is the ultimate worship of God. As a servant found in human form, He faced the physical and emotional anticipation of His coming agony.

Jesus was both eager to complete His mission and troubled by what He would endure. “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (John 12:27 ESV). Facing death, Jesus felt inward agitation and was anxious and distressed. His human part wanted release from what awaited Him outside of Jerusalem. Though facing the opposite of peace and rest, Jesus submitted Himself to God and finished that which He purposed from eternity.

God answered Him for people to hear. “Then a voice came from heaven: ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again’” (John 12:28 ESV). God is glorified by what His Son does on the cross. His sacrifice brought peace with God to those whose sin He took upon Himself and who are covered by His blood. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV). In peace He, and we in Him, lie down and sleep, even die. For God alone makes us dwell in this world and throughout eternity, in His secure presence. Jesus is our refuge and our peace and in Him is eternal life, and with life, eternal rest.

Relentless Joy

Meditations on the Psalms

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.(Psalm 4:7 ESV)

Our expectations, because of the image of God in us, are to naturally do that for which we were created. God created us for relationship with Him. Sin brought rebellion, making the world a dangerous place. Our expectations of God are He must bless us, and when He doesn’t according to our arbitrary standard, we curse Him. We cease to rely upon God, not realizing all we have, our very lives, are given us by His grace and sustained by His decision.

Jesus tells us God gave Him more delight and contentment, because of Their relationship, than any person could have, even when all their perceived needs and wants are met. God put joy in His heart.

Joy means mirth, gladness, gaiety and pleasure, and can mean happiness. Spiritual joy is more than happiness. Spiritual joy is the relentless pleasure of intimately knowing God. Abound means to increase or become many, great, or long. We measure our riches with physical belongings, pleasurable and sensual activity, or manipulative control like power, grasp that which will last only a short time. If our measure does not last for eternity then we settle for failure.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 ESV)

Mary, the sister of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from death, demonstrated her joy in intimately knowing Jesus. John tells us she was the one who anointed Jesus. “It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill” (John 11:2 ESV). John tells us this fact before it happened in the sequence of the story because her devotion is important to Jesus, bringing Him great pleasure and joy. What she did for Jesus is given prominence in the declaration of the gospel. “Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (Matthew 26:13 ESV; see Mark 14:9). God is not selfish in accepting the worship of those He created for relationship with Him.

Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with an expensive perfume, pure nard, or spike nard. “Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3 ESV). Spike nard perfume was expensive because the plant from which it is derived, Nardostachys jatamansi, also called Indian spike, grows only in the Himalayas. Nard also means having the power of persuasion, skillful in producing belief, trustful, relied upon. Mary used a perfume to anoint Jesus which symbolically described His character and personality. Mary showed her devotion to Jesus by cleaning His feet with the perfume and drying His feet with her hair. She would, if necessary, die for Him.

But there was one present who thought more like the world than like one abandoned to God. Judas, who would betray Jesus, who was charged as the Disciple’s treasurer, who stole money from the moneybag for himself, was displeased with Mary’s devotion.“Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” (John 12:5 ESV; see Matthew 26:9, Mark 14:5). His focus was upon what God should do for him, not what he was obligated to do for God. He who walked with Jesus, saw His miracles, heard His words and teachings, spent enough time with the Son of Man to intimately know Him, hated Him. Judas betrayed Jesus to the authorities that wanted to kill Him, for a handful of money. Perhaps his hatred grew over time as he saw missed opportunities to increase his own wealth and standing in the world. He wanted an abundance of grain and wine, measuring his riches with a temporary, transient standard, refusing to see those riches would be destroyed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. (1 Corinthians 15:50-52 ESV)

Jesus tells us to find our joy in Him, in eternity and in knowing God, which is the natural product of having the image of God. Our eternal joy cannot be found in the world or in anything of the world. Our worship of Him brings God great joy. He looks to eternity, where those who are His will no longer rebel against Him. They will have a righteous and healthy relationship with their Creator and will enjoy Him as He enjoys them. There is no sin in eternity in God’s presence.

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. (Isaiah 65:17-19 ESV)

Jesus looked toward His death with anxiety and anticipation. “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44 ESV). Before His crucifixion He raised Lazarus from the dead knowing He, though He would soon die on a cross, would not stay dead. We who believe His resurrection, who find ourselves in Him for eternity, give God the greatest joy. In turn, He fills us with His Spirit who gives an abundance of joy, with peace and rest, to we who are God’s.

Unreasonable Expectations

Meditations on the Psalms

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!” (Psalm 4:6 ESV)

We are faced with a paradox. In this Psalm, Jesus now speaks in the second person, telling us one aspect of the thinking of those who rebel against Him. People who dishonor God, who love to hear themselves talk, speaking vain words and lies, want God to listen to them and give them their desires. Built into the thinking of their hearts is the false idea God exists to serve them, not they Him. They believe they control God by offering sacrifices. In the space-time history of creation and the earth, people look to any who could offer them refuge and benefit from the constant presence of the danger they face because of sin.

Those same peoples who rage against God, the kings and leaders who conspire against Him, demand He bless them. They wonder why God has abandoned them and not given them that which is good, or pleasant and becoming, making them happy and glad, rich and secure in their welfare, given prosperity. They want Him to lift up the light of His face, to shine about them and on them, revealing the wonder of His countenance, blessing them and giving them all they desire. They are self-centered, self-absorbed, selfish individuals who care nothing for God, but still want Him to give them all they want and need and then leave them alone.

Light is a major theme throughout Scripture, beginning with Genesis. Before there was anything other than chunks of matter, God spoke and said “Let there be light,” and there was light” (Genesis 1:3 ESV). Light is the opposite of darkness, or the absence of light. Light is necessary for growth and health, for learning and understanding, for safety and security. Light exposes while darkness hides. Spiritually, God’s light exposes the darkness of sin while revealing His holiness. When many ask God to give them happiness without imposing Himself upon them, what they are asking is for God to bless them and let them live happily in their unrighteous behaviors. They want all the blessings of God without the presence of God.

When told by His disciples the religious leaders wanted to stone Him, therefore it was not a good idea to return to Jerusalem, even to heal a sick friend, Jesus responded with a metaphor of light. “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him” (John 11:9-10 ESV). There is no reason to fear anyone while living in the absolute will of God.

After raising Lazarus, Jesus told His disciples He would die, being lifted up, a righteous sacrifice for them. He had already called Himself the “light of the world” (John 9:5 ESV). Now He tells them to live and act according to the knowledge and wisdom given by God.“The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light” (John 12:35-36 ESV). They will be assaulted by darkness, by sin and sinful behavior. Yet, Jesus promises they will be transformed by light, the intimate knowledge of God, becoming light themselves.

Just before the Passover, the time of His sacrifice, Jesus declared the practical application of faith in Him. Either people believe in Him or not. Those who believe in Him walk in the light, while those who reject Him continue walking in darkness

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (John 12:44-50 ESV)

God is not going to bless anyone because of their unreasonable expectations of Him. No one can demand He do anything, for He is not controlled by any created being. His righteous light reveals the unrighteousness of rebellion. We should expect wrath. In Christ, He has given grace, mercy and salvation.

Trust

Meditations on the Psalms

Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.(Psalm 4:5 ESV)

Sacrifices and offerings mean nothing when there is self-focus, not on the Object of the gift. A self-focus shows the thinking of the heart is not on God but on an idol. What can this idol do for me? How can I influence or control this idol to act in my favor? Self-absorbed offerings to God dishonor Him. This is why slaughtering a righteous sacrifice is important and why that offering must first be the person presenting the gift.

The writer of Hebrews gives a lengthy and concise description of the sacrifice of Christ shown in the sacrificial ordinances of the Mosaic Law. These sacrifices pointed to Christ and are fulfilled in Him. “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:15-16 ESV). Our righteous sacrifices and offerings are no longer clean animals but ourselves, abandoned to Him, living in the world as a testament to Him as He prepares us for eternity.

Though the Psalms show the thinking of the heart of Jesus Christ as He lived and ministered in the world and His trust in God, this is the first time in the Psalms the word trustis used. Trust means to have confidence in and to be bold for the Object of trust, because one is secure and safe in His presence. Trust is one of the basic elements of faith. Faith is always in an object one believes has worked and made promises and demands obedience.

Believing is the intellectual element of knowing the truth of God’s works in creation. Obedience is the willful, volitional element doing that which is a natural, essential part of the image of God in obeying the direction given. Trust is the emotional-moral element based on the promises of God. All three elements make up faith. Remove or lessen the action of any one of the elements and faith becomes something other than faith. It is always the Object which determines the truthfulness of faith. Only God can deliver that which He promises. No idol can ever promise anything let alone deliver on a promise. Idolatry becomes the person infusing a non-living, non-existent, or demonic entity with a fantasy promise based on a superstitious and unfounded belief.

Jesus was the only person who has ever lived who both completely trusted God and made promises to us only He can keep. Speaking to His disciples about Lazarus, Jesus declared He was going to raise him from the dead. “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him” (John 11:11 ESV). Jesus told Martha that those who believed in Him, which means trust Him, will not die spiritually. This declaration is a promise. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26 ESV). There are two more incidents which follow the raising of Lazarus found within the context of the story. Jesus promises that those who follow Him and serve Him will be with Him in eternity. “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:26 ESV).

Jesus worked to glorify God. His promise follows God’s voice, thundering from heaven, that God will glorify His name and the Name of His Son. “But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again” (John 12:27-28 ESV). Jesus then promises to draw all people to Himself as He is crucified, hanging on the cross. He also promises to defeat the Deceiver. “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 12:30-32 ESV).

Jesus trusted God. Facing physical trauma, being tortured to death, produced emotional reactions from Him. He agonized over completing God’s will on the cross.

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:42-44 ESV)

Trust is an emotional act of the will believing that God will fulfill the promises He has made. We can trust God because Jesus trusted God. God always delivers what He promises.

Righteous Sacrifice

Meditations on the Psalms

Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD. (Psalm 4:5 ESV)

Jesus speaks in the first person to those people who dishonor His name and who love vain words, lifting themselves up above God. They do not stand before God with awe, refusing to ponder their own actions and motivations. He told them to contemplate their position before God and to silence themselves and their self-centered thinking. Jesus does not ask them to do anything. He commands them, with an expectation of obedience.

He tells them to offer the sacrifices of righteousness, not just a right sacrifice. Offer and sacrifice are words so closely related they mean almost the same thing. Offer means to kill or slaughter. Sacrificemeans the thing being killed or slaughtered. Slaughter your sacrifice. Commit your sacrifice completely and wholly to God so that it can never be taken back.

We think of form and function when we say right. We want to be correct in what we do and how we act, according to our policy and procedure manuals. This is not what He means by a right sacrifice. Yes, God gave them detailed instructions about what kind of sacrifice, when and where to offer it, and how they were to honor Him with their sacrifices. God told them why they were to offer sacrifices. But He also told them the thinking of their hearts affected their sacrifice. Cain’s sacrifice was not accepted because he was angry. He tried to buy God’s favor, to control God, with a sacrifice, as those who give superstitious offering to an idol. “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:6-7 ESV). Speaking through Isaiah, God is blunt about what He thinks of the offerings of a people who hate Him.

“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings. … When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. (Isaiah 1:11-13,15-17 ESV)

When did an offering become a sacrifice? When Abel and Cain brought their offerings, they were gifts to God. Sacrifices are required. God uses both words in the Pentateuch when giving instructions on worshiping Him. Sacrifices are obligatory, while offerings are gifts. Every person offering a sacrifice does so under compunction of the law, caused by sin and circumstance, while the one giving an offering does so out of the gratitude of the thinking of the heart toward God.

There was only one righteous sacrifice slaughtered for God. All other offerings and sacrifices point to the One Sacrifice, when Jesus offered Himself as the propitiation, the covering, for the sin of all. Jesus tells those who would follow Him the cost of discipleship. “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27 ESV). Those who follow Jesus, who are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, abandon themselves to Him in complete devotion and offering. The identity of the Christian, those chosen by God, is complete. In God’s eyes, what He does the Christian does. The word appeal means to call or summon for encouragement or instruction.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

We know what we do is not always true to God as we live out our lives in the world. It is not what we do but what Christ has done for us.

Martha didn’t understand what Jesus could do yet still declared she believed Jesus was loved and known by God and that God would give Him whatever He asked. However, she did not believe He could bring life back to a dead body. Her brother Lazarus died. Jesus told her Lazarus would rise again. Martha’s response was “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (John 11:24 ESV). Jesus’ response to her is game changing.

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 ESV)

 Our lives are His. His life is given for us. Our identity is in Him. We slaughter ourselves as a righteous sacrifice to Him because He was slaughtered as a righteous sacrifice for us. Dying physically means nothing in the eternal scheme of things. Losing anything the world has to offer is of no consequence when we gain life in eternity.

You are the righteous sacrifice.