Tag Archives: Mary

God’s Care

What is man that you are mindful of him, 
and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:4 ESV)

God is mindful of not only all people but also deeply cares for His Son. To care means to pay attention or observe, to seek and visit, to appoint and assign. Jesus does what the Father wants because of His love for His Father. 

Before Jesus was born God set the stage of the world for His Son. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5 ESV). God did not randomly decide that Jesus should come at a particular time and place but diligently planned everything from before the fall of Adam. God knows exactly what He is doing.

Before Jesus was born, God decided who would be His forerunner, John the Baptizer, and His parents, Mary and Joseph. An angel visited Zechariah while he was offering a sacrifice (Luke 1:5-25) and Mary (Luke 1:26-38) and gave Joseph a dream (Matthew 1:18-25). Prophecy, written in the Hebrew Scripture,  tells that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the birthplace of David, the king of Israel. God directed the Roman government to bring Joseph and his pregnant with Jesus wife from Nazareth to Bethlehem. After Jesus’ birth, God warned Joseph to take his family to Egypt because of the murderous paranoia of Herod. Then God brought them back to Galilee, to Nazareth, where Jesus matured and then began His ministry.

John was Jesus’ cousin and The One sent to announce the coming of Messiah. “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’” (Mark 1:2-3 ESV; Malachi 3:1; Isaiah 40:3-5).Jesus came to John and was baptized by him, though Jesus did not need cleansing though baptism. God uses baptism as evidence of identification. Jesus identified with sinful people through identification so that those sinful people could identify with Him through His resurrection. At Jesus’ baptism God declared Jesus, a man, His Son.

“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17 ESV; see also Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:23).

God, the Father, spoke verbally to those who could hear, His love for and pleasure with Jesus.

Toward the end of His earthly ministry Jesus took three of His disciples up a mountain to pray. Often, He would go to a desolate place to pray alone. While on the mountain, Jesus was transfigured before them. Jesus may have been transfigured other times as well, but there were no witnesses at those times or in those places. This time there were three witnesses. God spoke to these three.

And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. (Luke 9:35-36 ESV; see also Mark 9:7 and Matthew 17:5)

Before Jesus’ passion, His crucifixion and resurrection, He was in Jerusalem speaking to the crowds about what was going to happen. He was troubled.

“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.” 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. (John 12:27-30 ESV)

God spoke to Jesus, demonstrating His love and pleasure in His Son, showing that He cares about Him and what Jesus will endure to redeem those who are His. 

Praise to the Most High God

I will give to the LORD 
the thanks due to his righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD,
the Most High. (Psalm 7:17 ESV)

For the first time in the Psalms, beginning with Psalm 1, God is given thanks for whom He is, and is praised, honored and worshipped. Thanks means to laud and praise. David gives thanks to the LORD for His righteousnessPraise means to sing, make music. David sings devotions to the name, the reputation, of the LORD. Then he calls Him Most High, a name of God which means as high up in the ranks as any can attain. God is the only god and there is no other as high as He. He controls all created things, which is everything in the heavens and in eternity.

God’s name, the Most High, is first used in Genesis to describe the position held by Melchizedek, the king of Salem, before God. “He was priest of God Most High” (Genesis 14:18 ESV). David calls God Most High here and then again in Psalm 9:2. “I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High” (Psalm 9:1-2 ESV). These two verses thank God and offer Him praise, honor and worship. In between Psalm 7:17 and 9:2 is Psalm 8, considered a Messianic Psalm, devoted to declaring the works and wonders of God and His favor toward Jesus Christ, His Son. This progression in the Psalms suggests the order in which they are delivered is vital to our understanding of who Jesus is, what He did and how He felt while living in a sinful world as a Man.

God alone can claim true righteousness. He alone can state those He has created are righteous. Those who intimately know Him understand that He is the source and foundation for their righteousness, even when they are surrounded and attacked by enemies who would harm them because of their relationship with God. “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!” (Psalm 4:1 ESV). Jesus is both true God and true Man. As God He is the source of all righteousness. As a Man He recognized that in God alone would any person be declared righteous and be directed in the way of righteousness, as they live in the midst of those who are enemies of God. “Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me” (Psalm 5:8 ESV). Those who follow Christ face the wrath of the world and the Deceiver. Following Christ brings God’s love and compassion. Christ gives His righteousness to those who are His, covering them so that God sees the righteousness of Christ and not the blackness of their sin. “The LORD judges the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me” (Psalm 7:8 ESV). His righteousness is given to those who are His and should bring shouts of thanksgiving and the joyful music. Those found in Christ, who take refuge in God, cannot be harmed by the Deceiver, those of the world and even their own sinful flesh. “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you” (Psalm 5:11 ESV).

Who is the Most High? He is God and His Son is Jesus Christ. Gabriel came to Mary and told her God was blessing her and the world through her. She would give birth to the Son of God.

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” (Luke 1:31-35 ESV)

Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, is fully God and fully Man. Scripture is filled with the evidence of His divinity. The most substantial evidence is His miracles and especially His resurrection from death. There are spiritual beings, fallen angels, who are demons, who recognized Jesus as God. “When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me’” (Luke 8:28 ESV; see also Matthew 8:9; Mark 1:24-27; Mark 5:6-8; Luke 4:33-36; Acts 16:16-18).  These demons do not submit with joy and worship but cringe in fear and loathing. Those who belong to God worship God with joy and thanksgiving because of all He has done and is doing.

Introduction to Psalm 7

A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD 
concerning the words of Cush, a Benjaminite. (Psalm 7:1 ESV)

Who is Cush, the Benjaminite? What did he say? Why was David concerned about the words of this man? What are the circumstances of the confrontation between Cush and David? When did this happen? There are many unanswered questions about Cush in Scripture. 

In the Hebrew Scripture Cush means one of three things. First, Cush is the country of Ethiopia, a land south of Israel. “The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush” (Genesis 2:13 ESV). Secondly, Cush is a name, first used for a grandson of Noah, the son of Ham (see Genesis 10:6). Finally, cush means black and may refer to skin color. The tenor of this Psalm suggests the person David is speaking about has an unrighteous character. However, there easily could have been a person, a Benjaminite, named Cush who opposed and challenged David. If he is a person then he is mentioned in Scripture only here.

Cush spoke against David. His words, and even his business and occupation, were against David. He was a vocal, active opponent of David. David was the enemy of Cush. Very possibly, Cush may have been a servant of king Saul, who continued his loyalty and allegiance for Saul after his death and David’s coronation. Saul was a Benjaminite and Cush may have been a close relative. In any case, it appears that Cush violently accused, criticized and blamed David for something and David responded with a song to God.

We do not have every circumstance of David’s life recorded in Scripture. Nor do we have every circumstance of the life of Christ recorded in the Gospels. Neither the annals of the kings of Israel or the Gospels are designed as a biography of the people mentioned. We are given information about these people so we might know God and recognize how He works. David sinned, reaping the consequences of his sin. Jesus never sinned, yet, felt He the brunt of the eternal consequences of sin.

We know that the Deceiver (from Genesis 3) is also an accuser, who brings charges of wrongdoing against those who belong to God “day and night.” “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God” (Revelation 12:10 ESV). We know that he (the Deceiver) lies and tempts people to walk away from the God who created them. He is a murderer and cannot speak the truth. “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). From the beginning, when the serpent tempted Eve and Adam to rebel against God, the Deceiver has done everything he can to defeat God and destroy those created in God’s image.

David is speaking the words of Jesus in this Psalm. We know Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man. Speaking to Mary about the child she would bear, Gabriel called Jesus the Son of God. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35 ESV). Jesus called Himself the Son of Man and had authority to forgive sin. “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he then said to the paralytic— ‘Rise, pick up your bed and go home” (Matthew 9:6 ESV). God, in the Psalms, calls Jesus His Son and makes Him King over the rebels who would throw off His authority.“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you” (Psalm 2:6-7 ESV). God’s decree includes giving Jesus, His Son, dominion over all creation (Psalm 2:8-9; Psalm 8:6-8). Yet, even though He is the Son if God with God’s full authority, people will still attack Him and those who identify with Him. 

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.

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.

Righteous Anger

Meditations on the Psalms

Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah.(Psalm 4:4 ESV)

Why do any fight against God? Isn’t the knowledge of God inherent to people enough to tell them they will lose? How can those created in the image of God war against the One who created them and possibly prevail?

Angry does not mean angry, as we understand the word, in every instance used in Scripture. Angry may mean rage, agitation or being perturbed. But the word also means to quake, to fear, to tremble or be excited. The Authorized Version translates the word as stand in awe. We misinterpret the Psalm when we do not understand the meaning of the words. The Psalmist is still speaking to those people who have turned His Honor into shame and who love themselves and their own thinking more than they love God. He has told them He will make holy those who are His, those identified with His Son. They may have anger at this declaration, but they should feel awestruck with the power of God to do that which they could never do for themselves.

Do not sinis not a request. No one has permission from God to sin, which is to miss the mark of His righteousness, to go the wrong way, to bring upon themselves guilt, to forfeit their righteous standing before Him. Sin is any thinking of the heart translated into action that violates the moral law of God inherent in the image of God given to everyone. Sin is violating the essential nature given to all people, bending and breaking them, making them unable to do that for which they were created. Though we now have a sin nature, we are still told to not sin.

Acknowledging the truth and consequences of sin require all ponder, which means to say, answer, think, to speak to oneself the truth presented and then to command, to promise and intend to do that which rectifies the wrong. Every person must come to the conclusion sin exists and is true and take responsibility for their own sin. No one has an excuse.  Contemplating the truth of sin and its ultimate consequences brings one to the realization of the broken relationship between their Creator and themselves, His creation. Coming to this conclusion should drive everyone to their knees. Silent means to be still, struck dumb, to make oneself quiet.

When God answered Job, he clapped his hand over his mouth to silence himself. He saw God and then saw all his empty arguments, so he restrained himself from speaking further. “Then Job answered the LORD and said: ‘Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further’” (Job 40:3-5 ESV).

Death is the undeniable evidence of the reality of sin. As Jesus stood before the tomb of Lazarus many suggest had Jesus been present the man would not have died. Martha was the first to speak. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you” (John 11:21-22 ESV). When Mary arrived, she exclaimed the same thought. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32 ESV). Finally, some of those standing around watching said “could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” (John 11:37 ESV). They believed Jesus could do something when a person was alive. They did not believe He could do anything after a person died. No one believed the evidence of His words and works, that He had already raised people from death (see Luke 7:11-16; see Matthew 9:18-26, see Mark 5:22-43, see Luke 8:41-56). Jesus was a mere man with certain abilities fed by their superstitious beliefs. He could heal. He could not raise from death.

Martha protested when Jesus told them to take away the stone covering the tomb. She who had just declared “but even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you” (John 11:22 ESV) now said “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days” (John 11:39 ESV). She did not believe Jesus with the thinking of her heart. Only after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and she and the other touched her brother and lived with him, did she begin to believe.

Jesus works, as God works, leaving behind the irrefutable evidence of His labor. In creation, we are surrounded by the evidence of God. We are filled with the evidence of God having His image. Yet, we are also assaulted by sin from the world and our own flesh. Ignoring the evidence of God and of sin is irrational and insane. Our anger toward the truth of sin needs replacing with the astonishment of intimately knowing God. Only by taking responsibility for our own sin and then seeking Him with our whole hearts will we receive His eternal blessing.

Holiness

Meditations on the Psalms

But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him. (Psalm 4:3 ESV)

Separation for God from the world is one of the major themes in the Psalms. We see God separate the wicked from the righteous in Psalm 1. Those who would separate themselves from God face His wrath and ultimately achieve their purpose in Psalm 2. In Psalm 3, Jesus, and those in Him, need not fear those who stand against them or God, for He will deliver. Here, the Psalmist declares God has set apart for Himself those who obey Him within the deepest thinking of their hearts. To set apart means to be distinct, marked out, separated, distinguished from others. God describes for us those who are His whom He has set apart. They are the godly, the faithful, holy, pious saints.

God reveals that those who exhibit and live holiness, He claims for Himself. These are the people who turn away from their sin toward God, who repent and walk toward Him in the faith He gives. They are His and cannot be taken from Him.

After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, some of those who witnessed the miracle went to the religious leaders of Judah, reporting to them what had occurred. They condemned Jesus and devised a premeditated plan to murder Him. They decided to murder Lazarus, the living witness to an irrefutable miracle. What were they going to do with Mary and Martha and all of the other people who witnessed Jesus’ miracle, who had seen Lazarus dead, then saw him walk out of a tomb after four days? They cannot kill everyone.

God uses the authorities of the world, whether they cooperate are not, to do His will and fulfil His purpose. In this case, the high priest, Caiaphas, prophesied what would happen by telling those under his authority what needed doing. In his mind and heart, the best solution to the problems Jesus raised by His presence, teaching and works, was to murder Him. Murder is against the law of God. Everyone who heard him, knew this. “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13 ESV; see Deuteronomy 5:17) is an explicit statement. Caiaphas declared Jesus had to die so the nation might continue to exist. His reasoning was that if Jesus continued to live the Romans would punish them all and take away their temple and disperse them throughout the world.

Let’s remember some of the history of the Jews. God had already destroyed the temple, dispersing the Jews throughout the world. He did this because they refused to trust Him as their God and obey His directives. In 586 BC, the Babylonians conquered the nation of Judah, the southern part of the divided nation of Israel. Around 70 BC, the Northern Kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrians, its people dispersed throughout the world. Judah was ransacked, the temple destroyed, and many of the citizens of Judah were exiled in 586 BC. Seventy years later the Babylonian nation was conquered by the Medes and Persians. It was the Medes and Persian leader, Cyrus, who sent a remnant of Jews back to Judea­ to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. The religious leader’s of Jesus’ time should have known disobeying the direct will of God was not going to save their nation. Murdering His Son only brings His wrath. Before the end of the century Jerusalem is destroyed again, the temple is razed and the Jews are exiled.

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. (John 11:47-52 ESV)

When the Jewish religious leaders killed Jesus using the Romans as their executioners, they ultimately accomplished the will of God. They were responsible for their actions, for the thinking of their hearts. Their physical, temporal nation was destroyed. But the eternal Kingdom of God is established and the eternal King is enthroned.

 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. (Psalm 2:6-8 ESV)

God’s kingdom is filled with those He set apart for Himself, beginning with His Son, Jesus Christ. Because the One Man is blessed, so those who take refuge in Him are blessed. “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:12 ESV). Peter describes the follower of Christ.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV)

We are set apart from the world for God.