Pressing On

with THE WORD

A study of the Scriptures to discover who God is, what He is like, and how to partner with Him now.

Filtering by Tag: Jesus authority

Authority in Eternity

We saw last time that Jesus promised Peter a reward of authority in the next life as a result of the sacrificial choices that he and the other disciples made as they followed Jesus here on Earth.  A cursory look through the gospel accounts reveals that the disciples frequently talked about their part in eternity future…however, most of the time they ended up arguing about who would be the greatest in Christ’s kingdom.

The argument about it even came up again, of all times, during the Last Supper.  Jesus even had to step in and correct their focus:

Luke 22:24-27
Then a dispute also arose among them about who should be considered the greatest.  But He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who have authority over them have themselves called ‘Benefactors.’  It is not to be like that among you.  On the contrary, whoever is greatest among you should become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving.  For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving?  Isn’t it the one at the table?  But I am among you as the one who serves.”

Once again, Jesus did not rebuke them for discussing – or even arguing about – levels of authority in His future kingdom.  Since He didn’t even address that part of their discussion, Jesus confirmed that the subject matter they were discussing was, in fact, a reality: there will be varying rewards and levels of authority in Christ’s kingdom!

Instead, Jesus corrected their assumption that those who are high up on the food chain now will also be the ones who later obtain the higher authority in Christ’s kingdom.

Jesus was quite clear when he pointed to Himself as the example.  If anyone had the right to claim greatness on earth, Jesus did above all others.  However, what He chose to do with His authority did not match the disciples’ expectation.  Jesus’ rightful seat was at the head of every table; however, He chose to be among you as one who serves.

To make sure the disciples understood this change in perspective, He continued:

Luke 22:28-30
You are those who stood by Me in My trials.  I bestow on you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one on Me, so that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom.  And you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Standing with Christ in His trials proves that they have understood the importance of imitating Christ’s choice of service enough to make serving others their priority over everything else.  The reward for this choice is clearly greater than any authority they could lord over others in this life.

And as John tells us in Revelation, we have the opportunity to make the same choice as the disciples:

Revelation 22:3-5
…The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will worship Him…and they will reign forever and ever.

Serve now, rule later…as Servant Kings.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Jesus is "all that"

Sometimes we accept large concepts as being true, but we don’t necessarily recognize “how true” the concept is until we break it down into smaller chunks and realize the parts of life it applies to.

We know that Jesus said the most important commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  The second is just like it – to love your neighbor as yourself.

Easy to say.  Easy to understand.  But when we start looking at all the specific ways that truth applies in our lives and in the grand scheme of humanity…our eyes open wider, we breathe in a little slower, and we mentally wrestle with how far-reaching Jesus’ words really are.

Similarly, when we read about Jesus as the “King of Kings” or “ruling over all the nations”, we usually acknowledge those statements as true and then move on.  We believe them; we’re not doubting those facts…we simply don’t take the time to think through those statements all the way to their natural conclusions. 

As Paul writes to the believers in Colossae, he wants them to have a complete picture of Jesus.  The rest of the letter will continue with the theme of Christ’s supremacy over all things and people.  It is here in the introduction that Paul begins with how much greater Jesus is, how comprehensive His authority is, and how far His governing reaches.

Paul makes this point by repeating one small Greek word over and over and over.  In these 5 verses, Paul says the word esti a total of eight times.  To help us English-speakers understand, the word esti is translated into two different words.  However, both English words convey the totality and completeness that Paul intended.  As you read this passage, look for anytime Paul uses the words all and everything.  What does Jesus have “all” of?  How far does “everything” go?

Colossians 1:15-20
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation;
because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities –
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.

He is also the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
so that He might come to have first place in everything.

For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him,
and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself
by making peace through the blood of His cross –
whether things on earth or things in heaven.

From the descriptions in these verses, we see that Jesus’ authority is both supreme and total.  He rightfully rules over all creation since He is the Creator.  Since Jesus created it all, that means He is also before all things, which boggles our minds to think that Jesus existed…before our timeline began.  Also, Jesus doesn’t lose track of any part of what He created – He holds all things together.  Which means He has intimate knowledge of every part of everything, at every second of every day.

Are we starting to see the immensity of who Jesus is?
Are we beginning to recognize His authority over everything?

Because Jesus is fully God – not a partial, not half/half, not a created being – His abilities and attributes are unmatched by anyone or anything else.  As such, Jesus has the greatest value in all creation…which is why the blood of His cross has the ability to reconcile everything.

This is our Savior.  This is our King.
This is the man who loves you enough to die in your place.

He truly deserves to have first place in everything.

Keep Pressing,
Ken 

Public prayer

Jesus and His disciples returned to Jerusalem the next day after clearing the money changers from the temple complex and severely rebuking the hypocrisy of Israel’s spiritual leaders.  Unsurprisingly, Israel's spiritual leaders wanted some answers and were eager to confront Jesus:

Mark 11:27-28 They came again to Jerusalem.  As He was walking in the temple complex, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came and asked Him, “By what authority are You doing these things?  Who gave You this authority to do these things?

Jesus then used a parable to convey God’s displeasure with their administration of the nation’s relationship with God the Father.  The religious leaders clearly got Jesus’ point…and begin to plan Jesus’ demise.

Mark 12:12 Because they knew He had said this parable against them, they were looking for a ways to arrest Him, but they were afraid of the crowd.  So they left Him and went away.

Other portions of the religious establishment were then sent to challenge Jesus:

Mark 12:13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and the Herodians to Him to trap Him by what He said.

And again:

Mark 12:18 Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and questioned Him

After rebuffing all their questions with wise answers that both amazed and delighted the crowd gathered to watch the dialogue, Jesus stopped to give them all a warning.

Mark 12:38-40 He also said in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who want to go around in long robes, and who want greetings in the market-places, the front seats in the synagogues, and the places of honor at banquets.  They devour widows’ houses and say long prayers just for show.  These will receive harsher punishment.”

The scribes were members of the learned class, with responsibilities for studying the Hebrew Scriptures.  They also served as copyists, editors, teachers, and jurists.  They were held in high regard, and as such, they were also prone to holding themselves in high regard.

Jesus gave a specific list of actions that would help the crowd identify scribes to be wary of.  Their actions betrayed the heart’s true desire – to be given honor, rather than giving honor to God.

It’s the last identifier that I find rather interesting – the scribes would say long prayers just for show.  Their words were for those around them, in order that they would be noticed and highly regarded.  They would go on and on in great spiritual-sounding dialogue…and yet their target audience was only those physically around them.

We would be wise to consider the prayers of the spiritual leaders around us.  When you hear them pray, see if you can identify whom they are talking to…are they talking to God, or are they talking to you?  Are they praying for God’s will or just communicating information with their eyes closed?

Don’t forget to do a self-evaluation as well.  If my prayer habits and phrases are different when I pray by myself vs. when I pray around others, then it would be a good idea to speak to God privately about the matter.  Ask His forgiveness and for instruction on how to pray to Him when other people are around.

The last thing we want is to end up like the self-seeking scribes, because after all, their choices eventually led them to receive harsher punishment.  God has a long track record of severely correcting those who misrepresent Him in the manner which the scribes were doing.

Let’s beware leaders who act like that, and also make sure that we don’t act like that either.  As Jesus pointed out, a good litmus test to evaluate the purpose of our hearts is to listen to what is said in public prayers.

Keep Pressing,
Ken