August 17, 2018

His Mouth

Part 4 in a series on Jesus’ Body

“His mouth is full of sweetness.” So said that famous woman of Solomon’s song, regarding her beloved (Song of Solomon 5:16)! And so we can say of our Lord Jesus (although for different reasons than hers) – “His mouth is full of sweetness.”

One reason is because Jesus’ mouth reminds us that He really did take on our nature; that the Word really did become flesh. For, with His mouth, Jesus ate (Matthew 9:11). He needed bodily sustenance just like we do! Because He really is one of us!

And not only did He eat, but Jesus ate “with the tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 9:11) – so that this particular use of His mouth not only reminds us of His humanity, but also of His grace! He came to minister to those who were spiritually sick – and eating with them was an entry point to such ministry!

Further, not only did Jesus eat before His death, but also after His resurrection (Luke 24:36-43), demonstrating Himself to be no mere spirit, but bodily risen from the dead!

But then it’s not just what went into Jesus mouth that makes that mouth “full of sweetness” – but also what came out!

On more than one occasion, the physically impaired had reason to praise the Lord for even the very saliva that came from Jesus’ mouth (Mark 7:31-37; Mark 8:22-26; John 9:1-7). Did Jesus need to use His spit to perform these healings? No. He could have “just [said] the word” (Matthew 8:8) and the miracles would have been effective. But He chose to use the very secretions of His mouth to grant these healings. And the people who received them could surely never think of His mouth, again, without recognizing it as “full of sweetness”!

But, oh, it’s not just (or even mainly) the physical drippings from His lips that make Jesus’ mouth “full of sweetness” … but the verbal drops, as well! In Luke 4:22 “all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips.” Do you ever find yourself doing the same? Jesus’ mouth is what Solomon calls “a fountain of life” (Proverbs 13:14)! And we drink from that fountain, still, as we take in His word today! Drink from it, my friends! And as you do so, may God enable you truly to say that “His mouth is filled with sweetness.”

August 8, 2018

His Ears

Part 3 in a series on Jesus’ Body

A discussion of the various parts of Jesus’ body must surely include His ears, right? For one of the lovely qualities of our Jesus is His listening … both to His Father, and to His people.

In a beautiful messianic passage, recorded by Isaiah, Jesus speaks of the opening of His ear to the Father:
“He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.
The Lord GOD has opened My ear;”
Isaiah 50:4-5
Each day the Father would awaken His Son and open His ear to listen – to hear the Father’s words by reading and/or meditating on the Scriptures, and perhaps as the Father sometimes spoke to Him in other ways as well. And what a reminder this is of the value and weight of the heavenly Father’s words! And what a reminder that we need open ears, too; that we need to hear from God, day by day. And what a call this is for you to ask God to do for you what He did for Jesus – “morning by morning … awaken[ing your] ear to listen as a disciple.” Ask God to do so, and then open His word and listen. And as God gives you an ear like Jesus, the word of God will mold you into Jesus’ likeness in many other ways as well!

And then we also note that Jesus’ ears are not only tuned in to the voice of His Father, but to the cries of His people as well! I love the example of this which is given to us in Luke 18:35-43. Blind Bartimaeus is “sitting by the road begging.” And “a crowd [is] going by” (making the kind of noise, v.36, that you’d expect a crowd to make). And Bartimaeus hears that Jesus is in the crowd, and begins calling out to Him for help: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Will his voice be drowned out by the din of the crowd? Will Jesus perhaps not hear poor Bartimaeus, for all the other noises bouncing off His eardrums? Or will He, perhaps, even join some others in the crowd in telling Bartimaeus to pipe down? Not a chance! The Son of David does hear (and care about!) the blind man’s cry! And, oh, what a reminder this is of Christ’s dealings with you as well, believer! No matter how much clatter may be ringing out around you, and no matter how unconcerned others may be about your pleas, Jesus hears (and takes deep interest in!) the cries of each and every one of His people! His ears are open to us!

July 31, 2018

His Eyes

Part 2 in a series on Jesus’ Body

When we contemplate the parts of Jesus’ body, there is much to see and to learn by looking at, and into, His eyes! Consider them with me, now.

And we begin by noticing our Lord, in John 17:1, “lifting up His eyes to heaven” in prayer for His people. And it’s a reminder that, even though He is now in heaven, He is still praying for His people; still looking to the Father in prayer on their behalf. “He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Praise God for a Savior who sets His eyes on the Father in prayer for His own!

And then notice another beautiful mention of Jesus’ eyes in Mark 10:17-27. There Jesus encountered a man who foolishly overestimated his own righteousness (vv.19-20), and whose “much property” (v.22) was more valuable to him than following Christ. And, although Jesus heard evidence of the first folly in v.20, and although He knew the second even before the man “went away grieving” in v.22, we are told that “looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him” (v.21). Jesus’ eyes (and heart) saw, in this foolish and sinful man, not someone to hate, or to write off ... but someone to love; someone on whom to have compassion! Praise God for such a Savior!

But then notice that those eyes can look at us in less comfortable ways, as well. In Mark 3, we find Jesus’ eyes “looking around … with anger” at a group of uncompassionate Pharisees. And, oh, what discomfort came into Peter’s heart when, after his three-fold denial of his Master, “the Lord turned and looked at Peter” (Luke 22:61)! Let us live in such a way that Jesus need not set His eyes upon us in anger, or with a countenance that is grieved!

And let us finally notice how the glorified Christ’s eyes are described to us in the book of Revelation: “His eyes” says John “are a flame of fire” (19:12). See also 1:14 and 2:18. Surely this is the shining forth of His holiness! And when we look into those eyes of flame, the church (Rev. 2:18-23) should take sin very seriously … and Christ’s enemies (Rev. 22:11-18) should be very afraid!

Praise God for the eyes of our Lord Jesus – for both the comfort, and the discomfort, that they bring! Observe them, and gaze into them … and give yourself in faith to their possessor!

July 27, 2018

His Head

See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Isaac Watts

We do well to heed these words of Isaac Watts – to fix our eyes on the head, hands and feet of our Lord on “the wondrous cross”, and to consider what these bleeding body parts communicate. And God, using Watts's call to consider these parts of Jesus' body at Golgotha, has put it in my mind that it would also be beneficial to consider and learn the lessons of Jesus’ head, hands and feet from other times and places, too … and to learn from some of the other parts of His body, as well. So I propose to put together a few articles, over the coming weeks, looking at Jesus’ head, hands and feet (at Golgotha, with Watts; and elsewhere, too), and at a few other parts of His body as well.

And we begin, first of all, with Jesus’ head.

And let me remind you, in the first place, that Jesus had “nowhere to lay” it. “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Luke 9:58). Jesus went about preaching, healing, and doing good for those three years, staying here and there, with no home of His own. He never ‘slept in His own bed’, as most of us so prefer to do. He never put His head on His own pillow at night. Why? Because He was committed to His mission – committed to doing the Father’s will, and bringing good news to the masses. Praise God for such a Savior!

And praise God, too, for that occasion when “a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head” (Matthew 26:7). This lavish gift speaks to us of the great value she saw in the Savior – and that we should see, too! He is worthy of all the blessing and generosity we can pour on His head! Her gift also (Matthew 26:12) points us forward to Jesus’ impending death – “she did it to prepare Me for burial.”

And, as Watts's words remind us, as Jesus made His way toward that death, His precious head was pounded with a reed (Mark 15:19), and crowned with thorns (John 19:2), as part of His suffering for the sins of His people. And He went through with these things because He loves His church! Indeed He loved us so much that He finally “bowed his head” in death for us!

So, my friends, consider the head of our Lord Jesus, learn its lessons, and lavish it with your praise!

June 19, 2018

Choose Your Companions Well

“He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
Proverbs 13:20

Who you hang with matters!

Spend time with fools, and it will surely bring you trouble. “The companion of fools will suffer harm.” Sometimes the harm may be ‘guilt by association’ and its attendant damage to your reputation. Other times the more tangible repercussions of your friends’ actions will slosh over upon you (your reckless friend crashes your car, for instance). And, worst of all (and I think probably what Solomon has primarily in mind), “the companion of fools” will often find their very foolishness rubbing off on him.

On the other hand, spending time with the wise has a rubbing off effect as well! “He who walks with wise men will be wise”! Solid, wise, God-fearing companions will have a good effect on what we think and how we live.

For better or for worse, says Solomon, our companions will rub off on us! So choose your companions well!

And let me say (influenced by Iain Murray’s The Undercover Revolution*) that surely this rubbing off principle applies, not only to our physical companions, but also to what we might call our virtual companions – those people whose company we may regularly place ourselves via television, movies, social media, song, magazines, radio, books, and video games.

If you regularly watch a particular television program, for instance – the men and women behind the content of that show become, in some ways, your companions. Their worldviews (and potentially agendas), passed on through the medium of that show, are washing regularly over your mind and heart. And, like water washing regularly over a piece of ground, these worldviews are bound to have an effect. If the ideas conveyed are wholesome and godly, then the effect will be a good one … shaping the clay of your heart more into conformity to God’s wisdom. But if their worldviews are unhealthy and foolish (for instance, in the belittling of certain people, or in how they portray gender roles, or sexuality, or the use of money), then you open yourself up to the eroding effect of the thinking of these, your chosen companions. Because the norms of those with whom you spend a good deal of time will tend to become your own.

The same could also be said of the kinds of authors you read, the people you follow most closely on social media, the song-writers whose lyrics and videos you admire, and even the creators of the games that you play.

And so … What if we determined to choose wise virtual companions – people who fear God, and whose worldviews and agendas therefore align with a biblical worldview? What if we read books written by the wise, and listened to podcasts created by the wise, and so on? What if we set aside our regular virtual ‘hanging out’ with people of faulty worldviews, and began to be the virtual companions of a much more God-fearing set of people? How would it affect us? Answer: “He who walks with wise men will be wise.”

This is not to say that you can’t learn anything from unbelievers, nor enjoy some of their art, or humor, or creativity. But it is to say that people of foolish worldviews shouldn’t be our companions; they shouldn’t be those with whom we walk; we shouldn’t make them our close friends – not even virtually. We shouldn’t spend a great deal of time imbibing the worldviews of those who don’t fear the Lord. And we should spend lots of time being rubbed off upon by the wise!

So choose your companions well!

*Murray points out how, through the medium of novels, ungodly authors in the past had a devastating influence on the culture that read them, and how we need always to beware such infiltration of our minds and hearts. Having learned from him how ungodly people can influence us through their creative works, I apply that lesson in this article.