Tag Archives: Jesus

Bible Term: Atonement

In a generic sense, atonement is the act of making amends or reparation for a wrong or injury; it is to reconcile.

When considering God, atonement then becomes the action by which we are made right with him for the wrong things we have done.

Jesus provided that atonement for us when he was executed for our crimes (that is, when he died for our sins).

Prior to Jesus, in the Old Testament, the priests offered periodic sacrifices as a temporary atonement for the sins of the people.

Celebrate Jesus Throughout the Year

Yesterday was Christmas. Many people went to church to acknowledge the Christ behind Christmas and even more celebrated Jesus in other ways. For my family, the day marked the last of four celebrations.

Now Christmas is over; we put it behind us for another year.

Yet long ago, Isaiah looked forward to Christmas, anticipating what was to come with these familiar words:

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Christmas may be over, but the celebration of Jesus continues.

Thank you Jesus for who you are and what you did.

[Isaiah 9:6]

The 2014 Bible reading plans are now available:

Who is the Son of Man?

The phrase “son of man” occurs in 178 verses in the Bible. Sometimes it’s written as “son of man” and other times, as “Son of man.”

When used as Son of man, the references are to Jesus, as seen in all four gospels (28 times in Matthew; 13 times in Mark; 25 times in Luke; and 12 times in John). It’s also written this way in Psalm 80:17, Daniel 7:13, and Acts 7:56, again implying Jesus.

Additionally, I understand “Son of man” as a euphemism for Son of God, which occurs 41 times throughout the New Testament and is in all four Gospels, all referencing Jesus.

What’s really interesting is the use of son of man. It’s used 93 times in the book of Ezekiel as God’s pet name for his prophet. But God also uses this as a name for Daniel (Daniel 8:17).

Three other mentions of son of man are in Hebrews 2:6, Revelation 1:13, and Revelation 14:14, which somewhat seems to straddle these two understandings of the phrase.

So, how can the Son of man refer to Jesus, while son of man refer to people?

Here are my thoughts: Jesus is the only son of God. We, as his church, are his bride. Therefore, through this spiritual marriage, we also become children of God, that is, sons of God, or to slide back into the euphemism, sons of man.

Jesus Turning Water into Wine

Last weekend, my wife and I attended a wedding. The minister reminded us of Jesus at a wedding, too.

In his first recorded miracle, Jesus doesn’t address a big need, such as healing someone of a life-threatening illness or debilitating condition; he just turns some water into wine. Although this kept the host from suffering an embarrassing social blunder, it falls far short of Jesus’ purpose to heal and to save.

Today we trust Jesus to save us and may look to him for healing, but what about more wine?

Sometimes we try to handle the small things ourselves, turning to God only for those big items or when we’re in a jam we can’t fix ourselves. But Jesus is interested in the lessor things too.

If he can provide some extra wine at a wedding, what else can he do for us? If we don’t ask, we’ll never know.

His answers may just surprise and delight.

[John 2:1-10]

It’s Not My Fault

We live in a society of blame. People shun taking responsibility for their mistakes and shortcomings. Instead they blame someone else: “It’s how I was raised,” “He talked me into it,” “It’s her fault not mine,” “If only I had a better education,” “I had no choice,” and so forth.

In doing so, they fail to take responsibility for their own actions. They attempt to pass their error onto someone or something else and thereby avoid God’s censure for their sin.

In God’s perspective, that’s not how things work. Each person is responsible for the things he or she does. Through Moses, God said that each person would die for his or her sin, not the parents but them.

Fortunately, Jesus offers a different solution: Saving people from their sin.

[Deuteronomy 24:16 and Matthew 1:21]

Jesus is God’s Child and So Are We

The Bible says that Jesus is God’s one and only son.

However, God also calls the church his children. How can we be God’s children if he has only one son?

Although the Bible is full of paradoxes – which are hard for modern people to accept but not so difficult for post-modern people and certainly not an issue for ancient people – I don’t think this is one of them.

Another truth may explain this seeming contradiction. One metaphor in understanding our relationship with God is that of a bride and groom, with Jesus being the groom and the church being the bride. Therefore, by virtue of this union, Jesus, the only son of God, brings the church into his family through marriage, thereby making us, the church, become children of God.

This is just a thought, but it’s an interesting one.

[John 3:16, 1 John 3:1, 2 Corinthians 11:2]

Thoughts on July Fourth and Freedom

Today is the fourth of July. Everywhere in the world, it’s the fourth of July. However, in the United States it’s a special one, it’s the Fourth of July, a national holiday, officially known as Independence Day: the day we celebrate our freedom as a country.

Freedom is important to Jesus, too. Once, when teaching at the synagogue, he read from the book of Isaiah. Isaiah proclaims freedom for the captives, the nation of Israel.

Jesus reads that text and says he fulfills it. But the captives he proclaims freedom to is not just Israel but everyone, including you and me.

Though it took a war for the United States to find freedom, freedom through Jesus is much easier, we just need to believe and follow him. That’s real freedom!

[Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:16-20, and verses about Freedom in the New Testament]

Is God Mad At Us?

The phrase “the Lord’s anger” occurs 29 times in the Bible. Is God an angry god, frequently mad at us for messing up? Does he enjoy punishing those who disappoint him? The answer is no.

This phrase only appears in the Old Testament of the Bible (before Jesus) but not at all in the New Testament, where Jesus places the focus on God’s love.

The Old Testament seems to show God is angry, while the New Testament reveals his love. Is the Bible talking about two different gods? Did God change from mad to loving?

Again, the answer is no. Anger and love come from the same God. We need to keep both traits in mind – and remember that Jesus made the difference.

[See the occurrences of “the Lord’s anger” in the Bible.]

What Does “An Eye For An Eye” Really Mean?

The phrase “an eye for an eye” occurs four times in the Bible.

The first three are in the Old Testament, in the Law of Moses. In these verses it seems that Moses grants us permission to seek revenge.

However, putting it into an historical context, some scholars say it was actually a command for moderation, to have the response match the injury. An excessive reaction to you stole my sheep is I’ll take all your animals and burn down your barn. Or you broke my arm, so I’ll kill you and your family. No, an eye for an eye may mean that the punishment must be proportional to the offense.

Regardless of the interpretation, Jesus dismisses the concept entirely. Instead he offers a curious replacement. He says to go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, and give more than required. However, it’s hard to know exactly what he means by all this. Is this a passive-aggressive response, a prohibition against retaliation, a command for generosity, a ploy to embarrass your enemies, or a lesson to let people take advantage of you?

There’s much to consider. But the one thing for sure is that Jesus dismisses the idea of an eye for an eye. It’s old school and he has a better way.

[Exodus 21:22-25, Leviticus 24:17-22, Deuteronomy 19:16-21, and Matthew 5:38-42.]

Are You Working for Jesus or Watching for Him?

In Doctor Luke’s biography of Jesus, he shares some of the things Jesus said. Two accounts appear to contradict each other.

One time Jesus says the master will have his servants sit at his table and he will wait on them.

Another time Jesus said to not expect any such treatment; the servants will not be served or thanked for merely doing their jobs. After a hard day’s work, they can’t rest but need to prepare their master’s meal.

Assuming these illustrations have application for us – and since Jesus said them, I believe they do – which is it, to be served by our master or to serve him some more?

That’s a great question.

While we all desire to receive a reward, it seems silly to expect recognition from an almighty, all-powerful God. (Set aside our culture’s practice of rewarding every child for simply showing up.)

Although I’m not ready to turn this into a principle, I do see one difference between the two accounts.

In the first instance (where the master served the servants) he found them watching for him, waiting and ready. In the second account (where the master wanted to be served), the servants were working, doing what they were supposed to do, performing their assigned tasks.

Could it be that Jesus elevates watching over working? Perhaps expectancy is more important than action.

Furthermore, is there a parallel here to the debate over faith versus works (good deeds)?

It’s your turn, what do you think?

[Luke 12:37-38, Luke 17:7-10, and James 2:14-26]