Who Is the Greatest?

It’s fun to laugh at the disciples sometimes, isn’t it? Read the gospels and you’ll find them providing us plenty of opportunity. Like in Mark 9 when they have arrived in Capernaum and have settled into a home for a meal and a rest. Jesus asks a simple question: “What were you discussing on the way?” They had obviously been in deep debate during that long walk and Jesus is interested to know what it was all about. But there …

The Incomparable Christ

All across the world today, Christians are gathering to worship. They worship Jesus Christ. Why? This great little quote (published as “The Incomparable Christ”) tells us: More than nineteen hundred years ago, there was a Man born contrary to the laws of life. This Man lived in poverty and was reared in obscurity. He did not travel extensively. Only once did He cross the boundary of the country in which He lived; that was during His exile in childhood. He …

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The True Hero

The story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 is one of those accounts from the life of Jesus that is in danger of becoming cliché. And it will become that if we fail to see the true hero of the story. Luke sets up a contrast between two sisters: Mary and Martha. Jesus has come to visit, and he has brought a crowd with him. Martha is likely the older sister here and the owner of the home. The …

Why We Know So Little About Jesus’ Birth

We know so little about Jesus’ birth. While it has been the subject of billions of dramatizations and endless speculations, the historian Luke gives it all of one sentence: “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” It is almost frustrating, isn’t it? If I had been writing the story of Jesus’ life, I would have written paragraphs …

No Low Too Low

No one expected that the Messiah would come how he came. Yes, the people knew that at some point God would send a Savior, but they could hardly have expected that he would be born to unknown parents and that he would enter this world in a barn. They would hardly have expected that their Messiah would be born in the lowest possible circumstances. Why was it important to God’s purpose that Jesus be born so low? There are many …

If Dead Men Don’t Rise

Almost 2,000 years ago, a Christian named Paul wrote a letter to a group of people in Corinth, a city in Greece. People in that city had at one time been enthusiastic about the Christian faith, but had then begun to have some second thoughts. They had written a letter to Paul to ask something like, “You told us that this man Jesus died and then came back to life. We’re pretty sure you don’t actually expect us to believe …

God’s Masterpiece

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Since the dawn of time humans have looked to the sky and marveled at its immensity, its vastness, the sheer unfathomable number of stars dotting the dark night. The heavens declare God’s glory in all of these ways, but also in this: the heavens provoke wonder. The heavens provoke wonder and that wonder calls us to worship. The sky declares God’s glory through the fact that …

The Essential: Incarnation

This is the sixteenth installment in a series on theological terms. See previous posts on the terms theology, Trinity, creation, man, Fall, common grace, sin, righteousness, faith, pride, election, revelation, atonement, adoption, and sanctification. We sing joy to the world at Christmas, says Spurgeon, “because it is evermore a joyous fact that God should be in alliance with man, especially when the alliance is so near that God should in very deed take our manhood into union with his godhead; …

How the Incarnation Humbles Me

Christmas is fast approaching and, as I so often do at this time of the year, I feel tension between Christmas as a day to commemorate the birth of Jesus and Christmas as a day to exchange gifts and spend time with family. I don’t think there is any good reason to feel this tension, as if these things cannot co-exist, and yet it is there year after year. As Christmas draws near, my church is spending four Sundays looking …

Humiliation

Yesterday I had the rare opportunity to preach for just one Sunday which meant that instead of beginning a sermon series or continuing a series, I could preach any text that seemed fitting. As I thought and prayed, I was drawn to Luke 10 and the short story of Mary and Martha and the sibling rivalry between them. My purpose in going to that passage was not primarily to teach on the contrast between the life of busy service and …