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Having Been Filled

“having been filled with the fruit of righteousness because of Jesus Christ to the glory and honor of God.”

“Having been filled…” Notice the language that this verse begins with. We do not “fill” ourselves but we are filled. It is God’s work in us from the beginning to the end. We take no credit, we can only ever give praise for what our God has done in and through unworthy lumps of clay such as we. With the Apostle Paul, I can say that my works are but dung…something to be cast out lest they defile the holiness of the camp. Yet, in Christ, I can also say (again, with the Apostle Paul) that I have been filled with the fruit of righteousness. What a blessed tension there is between the two.

Thus, the righteousness that I have been given — the righteousness in which I stand  clothed before the throne of God — is not my own. It is Christ’s. Everything that is good or admirable that is found within me is because of Jesus Christ. I bring nothing of my own to the table when it comes to things of value. Without Christ’s work, I would be but a hollow shell in line to be crushed…destroyed under God’s wrath for God’s glory. Such is the man that I am and such is the cause for my praise. He has done for me that which I could never have done for myself. My debt of sin has been paid and I have been redeemed from death and Hell. I have been purchased by the blood of Christ, forgiven, reconciled to God, adopted as a son of the Most High, and am being prepared, along with the rest of the church, to be part of the bride of Christ. What more can we say but, “Glory!” and “Hallelujah!” What more can we do but to tell others the good news of this wonderful Savior!

And to whom is the honor given for this work? To God himself. May we never be “stingy” with our praise to our Redeemer-King. May we never hold back the honor that he is due. May we sing our praises to the Triune God without compromise and may we strive to live lives that are honoring to Him in everything we do. Such is the heart of a believer. Such is my prayer for you.

Justice Being Served

“And while they ridiculed him, they took off the cloak and put his own clothes on him and took him to crucify him.”

(Matthew 27:31)

 

“And while they ridiculed him, they took off the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him and took him out in order to crucify him.”

(Mark 15:20)

 

“Then they entrusted him to them that he might be crucified. Therefore they took Jesus.”

(John 19:16)

 

Thus we arrive at the end of a section; what follows will be the crucifixion and the death of our great and glorious Lord. All that will take place follows directly from this wicked trial. Justice is being served…yes, you read this right, but not in the way that you probably think. Justice is being served not in Jesus’ case and not because of this wicked trial, but because God is bringing us to justice but is substituting his Son in our place. The wrath we deserve will be meted out on the cross — that is justice. God’s Son, though, is on the cross in our place — that is grace.

What strikes me as this section wraps up and as we anticipate the following sections of the Gospel accounts, is how little description that the Gospel writers give on the physical events of the crucifixion…even the events here that speak of Jesus having been whipped and mocked and beaten. Very little physical detail is being given.

Now, granted, the physical event must have been horrifying, but it as if the Gospel writers don’t want us dwelling there…instead they want us dwelling on the innocent man who is making atonement for us as our Great High Priest. They want us to focus on the completed work of the cross and the guilt of all of us who sent Jesus to the cross. As horrid as the event on the cross was, this substitution should be even more scandalous to us…and even more wonderful at the same time. Our guilt being paid for…justice being served, just on the head of another.

Yet, if this is the case, why is it that those who produce films and books about this event spend so much time emphasizing the gore of the cross and so little time emphasizing the wrath of God being poured out or the atonement that is being worked. Perhaps could it be that we “moderns” have become so desensitized to gore that we need to be shocked? Could it be that we moderns have become so desensitized to our own sin that the substitutionary atonement of Christ no longer shocks us? Could it be that the film producers simply want to tell a story and don’t want to offer (or don’t understand themselves) truth? Whatever the reason, in communicating the truth of this event, should we not endeavor to place emphasis where the Scriptures place emphasis and tread lightly where the Scriptures also tread lightly?

Thus, as we close this section, Jesus was entrusted to the Roman soldiers and they took him to crucify him that on the cross of Calvary he might bear the wrath of his Holy Father and pay the penalty for my sins…every single one…that I might be made clean and whole…and not just for me, but for all of the elect through the ages. What a wondrous Savior we have…how can our response be to do anything but worship?

How Much are You Indebted? (Luke 16:5)

“And calling in his lord’s debtors one at a time, he said to the first, ‘how much are you indebted to my lord?’”

(Luke 16:5)

 

            So now we see this steward coming up with a solution—he is going to bring in the debtors and deal with them—likely, as we have already suggested, dealing specifically with those who have brought such accusations against him.  The first thing that we should note about the language that is used is of the reference to debtors.  The term employed is creofeile/thß (chreopheiletas), which only shows up twice in the New Testament, here and in the parable of the moneylender with his two debtors (Luke 7:41-42).  What is interesting about this is that both of these uses are employed in the context of a parable about forgiveness that is designed to be a rebuke towards Pharisees.  The use of the term in the Septuagint does also give us a little bit of light, as in both cases of this term’s use, it is used to speak of someone who has been humbled and put in their place unjustly.  In Job 31:37, Job is speaking of how he would present himself before God—righteous and unjustly oppressed—seeking justice, and in Proverbs 29:13, the writer is speaking of how God provides light to both those who are crushed by debt and those who have kept them in poverty.  What does this imply?  It very well may imply that the reason that this kind of debtor is in debt is because they have been forced unjustly into that debt.  Does that imply that this steward really is a crook?  Not necessarily, let us explore the parable further before we jump to a conclusion.

            There is another question that we must ask.  Why does the steward ask the debtor how much he owed to his master?  Isn’t that the steward’s business to know?  The steward has yet to be released from his position, so the books should still be at his disposal.  Why then does he not say, ‘you owe this much…”?  In a sense, it is almost as if this steward is asking the debtors how much they say they owe to the master.  Could the steward have been charging unlawful interest or fees?  Possibly.  But it almost seems that there may have been a debate in what the debtors owed and what the steward may have been seeking to charge them.  We will bring this question up once again when we look at the steward’s strategy with the debtors, just ask the question, what is it that our Lord is teaching us here?  What is this steward really like and how does it fit in with the larger context of the passage?  Beloved, don’t take the easy way out of trying to come to terms with some of the more difficult passages of scripture; God has given them to us for a reason and it is our responsibility to learn just what our Lord is saying.