A Snapshot: The Truth Series, An Introduction

A Snapshot: The Truth Series, An Introduction

The The Truth Series is a course I have developed over the years. It is aimed at bringing the faith once for all delivered to the saints to those who are seeking it (Jude 1:3-4).

I have received much inspiration and guidance on my own truth journey. One such breakthrough and quantum leap forward was the Apostle Paul’s message on Mars Hill in Acts 17:16-34. As I was desperately groping for truth Paul’s speech opened my eyes to presenting the summary yet comprehensive nature of the faith in a way that spoke to the issues of the Athenian culture. As a new, young, but un-discipled believer in a crisis of faith I needed something, and it was clear that the church—at least the churches I knew—were not going to provide it for me. So by God’s sovereign grace I began the several year long hard and painful journey of discovering what I needed for myself. What I am offering you is but a snapshot of what the Lord provided for me, and what I have come to call The Truth Series.

I believe, as influenced by classic reformed theology, that there are three components, three phases, that are integral to knowing and living the truth.

First is doctrine. The question to address here is: What is the Truth and How Do I Find It?

Second is apologetic. The question to face here is: How Do I Know that I Have the Truth?

Third is mission. The question to dig into here is: How Do I Know if I Genuinely Believe the Truth?

Under each heading (doctrine, apologetic, mission) there will be approximately 6 to 9 brief, challenging articles that bring definition to each heading.

On the one hand, far more can be said regrading the truth. For example, what are the means, the spiritual disciplines, for walking as a Christian? How do I do relationships and finances? Along with many other subjects and topics. On the other hand, what is presented through these three components (doctrine, apologetic, mission) is a simple yet comprehensive overview of the faith once for all delivered by the saints. This, in my view, is the essential framework for everything else about the Christian Faith. Therefore, let us primarily focus on building the major framework as we seek to fit in the many other pieces of truth.

As I said, this blog series is merely a snapshot of the The Truth Series. I hope it wets your appetite for more so that you might reach out and contact me about signing up for the full meal deal.


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The Brokenness of Life and the Hope of the Gospel

The Brokenness of Life and the Hope of the Gospel

My father passed away recently and quite suddenly. Two things were a heavy burden for me. First, to put it mildly, I never knew a real father-son relationship with my dad. And second, I had to carry the full weight of organizing and officiating his funeral. I want to share with you the sermonette I delivered during his funeral.


I would like to take you to the biblical Book of Ecclesiastes. It is that book that paradoxically follows Proverbs—both of which are written by King Solomon.

While Proverbs provides divine wisdom for living life, Ecclesiastes screams the meaninglessness of life. Thus, it may seem that these two contradict each other. But the word of God does not contradict itself, all of it is flawless and perfect.

There is a heavenly wisdom, says James (3:13-18). But we also live in what is called a “fallen world.” We live in a world that was made for the glory of God, for perfection and abundance for all, but it is now a world that has fallen, due to our unbelief and sin, fallen from that wondrous height, down into pain, suffering, misery, and death.

Therefore, on the one hand, we need God’s wisdom in Christ; while, on the other hand, life in this world will never be easy. It is only when Jesus—who died for our sin and rose again to give us life, when he—returns that all things will be made new again.

Until then, we really need the message of Ecclesiastes!

I describe Ecclesiastes with a “yo-yo” analogy. You have all seen great yoyo-ists. They can do amazing things with a round piece of wood and some string! They can “walk the dog,” “rock the baby,” “skin the cat,” and so on and so forth, and it is pretty amazing.

The only things I have managed to do with a yoyo is “go up and down” a few times before losing it—I have broken some stuff and acquired a scar or two on my noggin (I had the same problem with nunchucks). It is from “my” failing attempts at yoyo-ing that I draw my connection.

Life is like a yoyo, the kind of yoyo-ing “I” do. Some things start out seemingly good but do not last. Life is up and down and all around, and we can not get life to do what we want it to do most of the time. Life is crazy.

The Preacher, who is Solomon, calls life the vanity of vanities (1:2)—a vapour, a mere breath, a mist, here for a moment. While there is a time for everything, good and bad, it seems everything ends up being totally meaningless. Good people suffer the same fate as bad people without distinction. A productive person passes before his prime and the irresponsible one lives to a rip old age. One’s great accomplishments get wasted by the next generation. And I could go on and on. Life will leave you wondering what is the purpose other than getting a little bit of temporary satisfaction and happiness.

And that is exactly the point. That is exactly where God, in his mercy and love, brings us. Why? So we can see our desperate need for him! God knows perfectly what is going on, for he is in full control, and he is doing what he has always said he would do. He wants us to see we are not in control but out of control. He wants us to see we are out of step with him and we need to get back in step with him … before it is too late.

Read Ecclesiastes 12:1-8.

Therefore, in light of the crazy, short-lived, and meaningless yo-yo nature of life: Remember your Creator (12:1). Get this figured out earlier rather than later! Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.

Now, God is abundantly gracious and long-suffering with us. So, if you missed the early sailing, provided you still have breathe in your lungs and some wits left, you can still make the later sailing: Remember your Creator … before the silver cord is snappedeven if you are old and grey … but before you “buy the farm,” “kick the bucket,” before you “pass way”!

How? The Preacher also speaks of “one Shepherd” (12:11), and that is Christ Jesus, the Good Shepherd (John 10:7-18). He laid his life down for his sheep, his lost sheep, to bring them home and to make them ready for glory—there is more than life in this crazy world.

Yet, the Preacher is clear (12:13-14)—you and I are accountable for our lives. Even though life was out of control, out of your control and mine, God, who is always in full control, is always near, is always accessible to us, and all we had to do was reach out and he would have taken our hand (Acts 17:26-28, 30-31). You can do this, and he will.

Dad’s life was yo-yo chaos! And, in the latter stretch of his life, the madness of it finally broke him and brought him to the feet of Jesus, to the foot of the cross, and he was reconciled to his Good Heavenly Father. He missed the first sailing but he made a later sailing. And I know he is with Jesus hoping for the rest of us to join him there.

Let life teach you that you need to remember your Creator and then do just that … before it is too late.


My father was so deeply dysfunctional and unsafe that he had to leave our home by the time I was 6 years old. And I did not see or hear from him for years after that. Yet, to make a long story short, my Heavenly Father stepped in, adopted me by his Spirit, made me his Son in Christ, promised me eternal glory with him, and then put in my heart compassion and love for my father, to honor him, and, when the time came, to care for my earthly father to his final day. Even though I wish things had been different for our relationship, I am grateful and overwhelmed for what God has done, and that some day, on the other side, I will see my dad as he was meant to be.

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Lent Meditation #7: The Goal of the Cross

Lent Meditation #7: The Goal of the Cross

What is the point of the cross? Probe this further: What is the goal of the cross? As in, where does the cross take us? 

Asking the question with goal and destination in mind aligns our focus on all that Christ died to purchase for us, and how all of that will become a reality because Christ is risen.

Therefore, the goal of the cross is the resurrection of all things to new life, which includes us, and also, our entire cosmos, forevermore!

This is an absolutely staggering gospel truth claim.

Let us, then, walk through three passages that greatly broaden our grasp of the implications of this staggering claim. While each passage speaks to the broader redemptive picture, each narrows to a particular aspect of that broader picture.

The first is Romans 8:18-25, which speaks with an eye to our collective and individual human experience. Slowly read through this passage.

The Book of Romans brings our gospel hope to a climax in these verses. The fallenness of creation is set in the light of the glorious future God has for his children, and thus, all creation. Moreover, our sufferings, which are due to our fall in Adam and Eve, are trivial in comparison to the glory that will be revealed. Thus, we can eagerly wait for it!

However, until that day of final revelation of Christ in all his glory, “the created world” remains subject to the futility—emptiness, vanity, folly, powerlessness, this is the futility that was—introduced through the fall into the whole of our human experience, individually and collectively. We still have to endure the tragedies caused by human atrocities and cruelties of nature, though none of that has the last word. For we hold to the promise of him who does not lie and cannot be thwarted:

Isaiah 65:17 For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. (We will not hurt and groan any longer.)

We are looking forward to a world where the groanings of our present world are utterly left behind. Our world will be liberated with us, the children of God in Christ, “free from frustration and blight, from death and decay, from sorrow and sighing.”

Furthermore, we have the deposit of the indwelling Holy Spirit, who does not suppress the groanings so as to pretend they aren’t there but who intensifies them into an unwavering longing for what Jesus has for us in his glory with him. Our hurting, dying bodies will be redeemed, our hurting hearts will be redeemed, sin will be no more, and our world will be all that it was meant to be, and so much more. Yet, until the promise is completely fulfilled, we groan.

Yet, because Jesus died on the cross, the fall must give way to resurrection. Keep in mind, though, we don’t see everything, not even close. But that is okay, for we will see at the appointed time—this is the beauty of hope, especially in our sufferings and groanings (8:24-25). Draw perspective from the Book of Ecclesiastes.

The second passage is 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, which speaks with an eye to the rule and authorities of our world. Have a careful read through this passage. 

While it is most certainly true that Christ is risen from the dead—the very answer to our #1 problem, which is death—we must persevere by faith during the temporal interval and temporal implications preceding our guaranteed resurrection in Christ.

The major implication in these verses is that Christ is currently reigning until all his enemies are brought under his feet, which includes all the rule and authority of the earth—every king, president, prime minister, dictator, you name it, including Satan and every other fallen angel, culminating in our greatest enemy and tyrant, death.

Psalm 110:10 The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

When Jesus has completed this process then he will place all things in subjection to God, himself included as the last Adam, and God, our good, good Father, will forever be all in all.

How do you feel about our world leaders? Are they leading for the glory of God? Are they fulfilling their divinely appointed position and role for his namesake and thus for the good of all? Could you or I do a better job? Absolutely not! There is only one King who is able, who is capable, who is perfect, and who carries the government of the world on his shoulders. He is, Jesus.

On that day when this process is complete the world, all creation, will forever be under the perfectly holy and loving lordship of Jesus for the glory of God and the good of all. Politics, economics, social life, and our natural environment will be a sheer delight (lol)! Can you imagine that? I can’t, but I believe Jesus can do it.

The third passage is Revelation 21:1 to 22:5, which speaks with an eye to what the whole of our cosmos will be like when resurrected to life. Prayerfully read through it, looking for the meaning of the symbolism.

Coming through the dark terrifying, overwhelming chaotic battle of a fallen rebellious world, bound and driven by Satan, and the absolutely staggering scale and resolution of the final divine judgment—like coming through dense brush and trees as you crest a mountain to a breathtaking view, so—the Revelation vision just opens to a beautiful, gloriously new and everlasting creation (21:1; cf. Isaiah 65:17; 66:12; 2 Peter 3:10).

In the wondrous vision John “sees the new Jerusalem” the final piece of this grandest of visions “descending from heaven” as a bride prepared and adorned for her husband (21:2; cf. Isaiah 54:5-6, 11, 61:10). This is the church, the people of God who inherit the earth.

What we are seeing in 21:1-2 is an ultra-upgraded version of what was supposed to follow from Genesis 1-2, but now through Jesus. This is saying to us that God’s covenant purpose, throughout the entire scope of salvation history, is at long last perfectly fulfilled by, in, and through the resurrected Christ (the last Adam).

God is fully with his people forever and the world is what it’s meant to be, per 21:3-8 (Leviticus 26:11-12; Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 37:27; Isaiah 25:8, 30:19; 35:10).

As one commentator wrote: “Just as Jesus cried at the cross, “It is finished” (tetelestai, John 19:30), so now the one who sits on the Throne—the sovereign God of the ages” says to “tell John, “It is done” (gegonan, 21:6).””

In 21:9-22:5 John, once again in the Spirit (21:10; cf 1:10), elaborates with the best language and imagery he can muster, bringing to a most appropriate closure, the grandest and most epic of visions, “the splendour of the celestial city, the eternal destination of the followers of God and his Christ” as he is wed to his bride and they take up residence in their new home.

This is astounding: The “description of the new Jerusalem as Christ’s bride symbolizes the union of Christ and his church in the form of a wedding and marriage.” This shows us that what “started out as a union between the first man and the first woman in the book of Genesis is now consummated as a spiritual union between Christ and his bride, the church” (Ephesians 5:22-33).

So we are not surprised, though we are awed, that the “new Jerusalem is described in resplendent, glorious terms (cf. Isaiah 6:1-4; Ezekiel 43:2-5)” and I would add, the glory for which we hope, the glory which makes our current sufferings seem as nothing (Romans 8:18).

But here is the most important gospel truth of this entire vision, which we find at the start and at the finish of this vision (21:3, 22:4):

In their heavenly dwelling, believers will see God’s face, indicating that the divine human relationship has now been fully and irreversibly restored. His name will be on their foreheads (i.e., they will be completely his), and they will reign with him forever (22:4-5).

This is what it’s all about folks! Strange, though, how most of us never meditate on these apocalyptic passages for the rich blessings they contain.

We seldom think about eternity in our daily lives, but one day the new heaven and a new earth will be very real and palpable, and the things of this world will be passed. The book of revelation holds up a beautiful vision of life forever in the presence of God in Christ that should serve as an encouragement and incentive to continue to follow Christ even in the midst of adversity and opposition. (Andreas J. Köstenberger, “Revelation” in the Handbook on Hebrews through Revelation, 257-60).

The Lamb and his Bride, Jesus and his Church, are portrayed as newly weds stepping into their first home together as they move from betrothal to consummation of their marriage. Isn’t that exciting!

Think also about all your fears and frustrations in this broken, corrupted, and exploited creation. You’re heart’s desire will be fulfilled, the world will be perfectly balanced between green space and development, it will be “the garden city” of abundance and fulfillment. Moreover, all of your tireless, tiring efforts to reach people, to serve them that they may know Christ, and to improve and protect the environment, all of that is a foretaste of what is to come for which your efforts will be greatly rewarded beyond your wildest imaginations. Nothing is in vain in light of the resurrection of Christ Jesus, so press on (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Perfect fulfillment and complete resolution! Just think of the best holiday you’ve ever been on, where you experienced full rest and enjoyment, and times that 100, and you might have a small glimpse of what we who are in Christ are headed for.

Therefore, embrace the cross! This is the only way to that which is to the goal of the gospel. As you think of the kind of world that is to come, the kind of universe that will be, and the kind of people who are going to populate it: Keep serving! Keep denying yourself, keep taking up your cross daily and following after Jesus into resurrection glory! Amen.

Happy Easter!

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Lent Meditation #6: The Garden and the Cross

Lent Meditation #6: The Garden and the Cross

Our passage, John 18:1-12, which follows Jesus’ preparation of his disciples for life after he is gone, takes us into a garden from where Jesus was apprehended, tried, and condemned before a Jewish Court, and then a Roman Court, having been sentenced to the worst from of execution the world has ever seen.

Who doesn’t like gardens? Please note, I didn’t say, ‘Who likes gardening?’ I’m one of those people who likes gardens but doesn’t “dig” gardening. I have really enjoyed walking through the Butchart Gardens in Victoria with my family. It’s quite a work of art. I like my neighbour’s gardens and their well designed and kept yards. I really like my mother’s huge, baseball-diamond-sized garden with perfectly straight and beautiful rows of produce with no weeds. But I really don’t like the work of gardening, of getting it to a place of beauty and productivity and then keeping it that way. I didn’t like gardening growing up on my grandparent’s farm. Yet, I did love raiding my grandma’s garden for carrots, strawberries, and the like. As you can see, I have no problem being the consumer—and that has to count for something! There’s also probably some room for repentance, for gardening is a great gospel analogy in the Bible, even more so when it comes to God’s purpose for all creation.

“Garden” is a big theme in the Bible. It is major. It runs through the entire Bible from the first chapters to the last chapters.

In the first chapters of Genesis (2:14-17) we see in Eden what was meant to be the Garden of all gardens. Seeing that this is how “we” began in Adam and Eve, we should ask what the biblical idea of “garden” is about?

On its own, this Hebrew term, “garden,” means a space, an enclosure, where you grow whatever it is you want to grow in a garden. When combined with the term, “Eden,” “garden,” comes to include connotations like “beauty,” “intimacy,” “paradise,” and “luxury”—the very thing Jesus promised a repentant person crucified beside him (Luke 22:29-43). Thus, the Garden of Eden was a beautiful and blessed place of perfect intimate fellowship with the Lord our God. We clearly see this wonder as the Lord walked in this garden in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8-9). This made the Garden of Eden the first temple, the Garden in particular the holy of holies.

Isn’t it interesting that our text, 11:1-2, says that Jesus regularly met with his disciples in a garden!

To make a long story short, this “garden” has grown, since the 1st century, into what we know as the church, which is Jesus’ “temple” (1 Corinthians 3:10-17). This amazing gospel truth is further reflected in the rich symbolism of the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven as the center piece of the new creation, which garden-city is in the shape of the holy of holies, and is also called the bride of Christ, enriching the image with a wedding metaphor (Revelation 21:1-3, 9-18). Then there is you and me, believers, who are each temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Back to the bigger picture: The original plan, all of creation, heaven and earth and everything therein, with man as the pinnacle, was to become God’s garden-temple.

All of this means that the original Garden of Genesis 1-2—which had been planted in the rich, fertile, and blessed land of Eden—was meant to be developed and extended throughout all the earth under the blessed rule of heaven. That is what was behind the command to be fruitful and multiply and so fill the earth with more and more image bearers (Genesis 1:26-28). By so doing they would extend the garden throughout all the earth. The heavenly city and country we read of in Hebrews is what Eden was originally meant to become (with plenty of green space!). Joy of joys, this is still the plan. But now, through the cross.

But take a moment and step into a time machine with me and wonder: Had Adam and Eve not fallen into sin, what a wonderful world ours would be right now! Just imagine, what would your perfect world be like? Tragically, though, the fall is exactly what happened. And, ever since, falling short of the glory of God in sin, we have not been able to realize God’s wonderful original purpose for all creation, where he is all in all and everything is perfect and blessed, and all creation becomes his temple through his image bearers. No, that didn’t happen. Instead, Satan entered into the most holy and intimate place and disrupted the good and right worship of God (Genesis 3:1-24), and now the world is no longer a safe and blessed place. It is not the wonderful, world-enveloping garden-temple it was meant to be. We live in a very sad reality now with a very bleak future.

Yet, even after the fall, our good Father never gave up on his garden plan. Even though Adam and Eve blew it they could not derail God’s good plan for us and our world. How do we know this?

We see this wonderful gospel fact being worked out later in the biblical narrative, after the fall and exile from the garden, with rich Edenic and cosmic imagery throughout the design of Israel’s Tabernacle and Temple (Exodus 25:1 to 30:38, 35:30 to 40:38; 1 Kings 5:1 to 8:66; 2 Chronicles 2:1 to 7:10; Ezekiel 40:1 to 44:31). In fact, the entire creation is portrayed in the design of the Temple, and even in the priest’s attire—it was a representation of the heavens, the earth, and the sea, intertwined with strong imagery of the garden of Eden—showing us that what was meant to be will in fact come to pass in Christ Jesus. Hence, we also see images of Eden and the Temple in the final chapters of Revelation, all of which gives us a picture of how the garden Eden is to grow, spread, and extend throughout all creation, by becoming a garden city, country, and world filled with the glory of God forever! Amen.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves, even though we had to for a moment to catch a glimpse of the bigger picture. Let us back up and behold Jesus in a garden in John 18:1-12.

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus was betrayed and arrested at night in a garden (18:1-3, 12)?

One commentator has said: John is recalling the garden of Eden, which inference is supported by the use of the same term, “in Jewish literature as a reference to the garden of Eden … .” Something big is going on here! (See Genesis 2:8, 3:8, Luke 23:43, 2 Corinthians 12:3, Revelation 2:7; a garden is noted again in 19:38-42.)

The point I want to bring to your attention is this: There is no entering back into edenic intimacy with our beautiful, holy, and loving God without the sacrifice of Jesus. There is no garden plan without the cross, there is no restoration of all creation to its original purpose without the sacrifice of Jesus (18:8-9, 10-11a, 11b). There is none of this without Good Friday.

John 1:29: Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (See Revelation 4-5.)

But there is something else to carefully note in our text, 18:3: Judas shows up, filled with Satan (John 13:21-30, Luke 22:3-6), the serpent who deceived Adam and Eve. Judas leads a group of armed soldiers and officers to Jesus who is then forcibly removed from the garden, just like Adam and Eve were exiled from Eden under the sentence of death, having been cut off from the tree of life and intimacy with God.

What’s going on here? Jesus is standing in their place. He stood in our place. And he is taken out of the garden, he is taken outside Jerusalem, he bears our sins away, he is forsaken by God on our behalf, so that people like you and me, who would repent and submit to the Spirit, can return to the garden, to intimacy with God again, now and forever. Amen.

What was meant to be a place of paradise and intimacy with God has become a place of conflict and opposition with God. Yet, because of Jesus, the garden is where the journey to atonement for us begins (John 19:38-42)—so that the place of wonder and nearness to God is fully and forever redeemed and restored.

The Story of God in John’s gospel account is revisiting the tragedy in the garden of Eden, but it is going to be a very different outcome this time around then it was with Adam and Eve. For Jesus is going to overcome Satan so that, through faith in Jesus, his people can be free from Satan’s bondage; free to know God in unhindered intimacy.

What is the garden of your heart like, what condition is your temple in? Is it redeemed and being restored back into a “green” space of intimacy and worship of God? Are our churches redeemed gardens and temples that are being restored into a place where people can see how Jesus loved us and laid down his life so as to restore us to abundant life in God?

Considering the intended expansion of the garden throughout all creation: What kind of a world do you look forward to? What will it be about? What or who will be the central focus? Is your heart merely yearning for a better deal in this world, or are you looking for that which is to come?

18:2. Where is the devil interfering in your garden of intimacy with God? Where is the devil interfering in our churches, hindering intimate worship of God in the Spirit? What footholds have we allowed him to keep, what ground have we given up to him? 

Jesus has undone all of that by his finished work on the cross—so let him have your heart, and all of your life, as his garden-temple, let the Spirit open it to Jesus, submit and do not harden your heart. Let our churches do the very same thing.

Jesus continues to walk in and through our disastrous gardens, the ruined paradise of this world, with the desire and plan to make all things new and right. Therefore, heed our loving Father’s good command to repent, respond, receive, let Jesus into your garden so he can make it beautiful again! And together, combined, we can experience a foretaste of his garden spreading throughout Castlegar, the West Kootenay’s, and beyond.

This is the message of Good Friday, this is the message of the cross.

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Lent Mediation #5: The Humility of the Cross

Lent Mediation #5: The Humility of the Cross

There is a great deal of “action” these days on human rights, particularly on systemic injustice regarding certain ethnicities, which is good in principle. But there is also a great deal of “clamouring” about “my” rights, as in self-entitlement, which is not so good. We do have God-given rights, there’s truth to that, which means we should stand up to those who try to remove basic human rights for whatever reason. 

However, whatever our focus is in human rights and social justice, it’s so easy for us to morph into obsession and villainization of others, which is where it seems to have largely gone in our NA context. Feeding into this sad reality are differing views on human rights. What counts as a human right and how are those rights applied? The Bible says if someone doesn’t want to work than they don’t get to eat! But trudging through the diverse and conflicting views is a can of worms we won’t open in this meditation on the cross. I want to address the negative, dark, self-serving side of the human rights movement. It’s nothing new. This is what we see happening among Jesus’ 12 disciples as he is literally on route to the cross. Two of them thought they deserved a status over the rest in Jesus’ coming kingdom, as if they were more important and deserving than the others.

Mark 10:32-52 is a powerful gospel remedy that turns the matter upside-down, or shall I say, right side-up. Now let’s ponder this passage together:

(1) Jesus makes a key, strategic gospel statement while he is on route to Jerusalem to face his opposition, those who want him dead and gone (10:32-34).

Thus, his disciples are shocked! As in, they are fearful! It’s quite possible they were thinking: “What is Jesus doing? This can’t be in his best interest or mine! Should I be following him? I don’t like where he’s going, I don’t like where he’s taking me!”

What we are seeing, though, is something very important. This is a procession. Jesus is leading his disciples forward in battle and his aim is victory, though they see it not. The disciples hear the parts about condemnation and death at the hands of the Jewish and Roman authorities but they do not hear the part of Jesus’ victorious resurrection. Just put yourself in their shoes, how many of us would be encouraged to endure brutality and even death even if guaranteed resurrection on the other end? It’s more than worth thinking it through and counting the cost. Notwithstanding, Jesus’ action is the greater and final fulfillment of the promise way back in Exodus 23:30:

Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.

”The messenger” way back “in Exodus 23 is tasked with waging war against the pagan nations who occupy the land of Canaan (who’s unrepentant wickedness had reached the heavens!) and escorting the Israelites” into this land that has been prepared for them, which is the promised land—“depicted as a giant sanctuary” in Exodus 15:17:

You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain, the place, O Lord, which you have made for your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established.

In the final and eternal fulfilment of that, Jesus is portrayed “as a warrior headed for the eschatological battle where he will vanquish his enemies through his death and resurrection.” He shows himself by these means to be a very humble warrior, and thus the mightiest of warriors.

(2) However, Jesus’ disciples are not yet at a place of connecting his prophetic gospel statement to themselves in their context. This shortcoming is seen in how two them are grabbing for the highest position in Jesus’ kingdom while the rest become indignant toward the two of them. They’ve all missed the blatant fact that Jesus has done nothing but humbly serve them, and everyone else, and that he is now going to ultimately serve them all through the cross (10:35-45).

Jesus takes the wind out of their sails by making it clear that his kingdom is utterly unlike the kingdom of the nations, for in Jesus’ kingdom servants and slaves are honoured over those in positions of status, wealth and power. Jesus, as the Son of Man, is a very different brand of king, he is a one of a kind, which is seen in how he becomes the ultimate servant to all of us through the humility of the cross (10:45).

The point is that we are to become humble like he is humble. Furthermore, in principle, we are to become like him in that what he has done for us we are to do for one another and others.

(3) Thus, to wrap the scene up, Mark provides a powerful illustration of what Jesus meant by becoming a servant and slave of all—the King of the Universe, the Lord of glory, willingly abases himself and gladly serves the least of his subjects (10:46-52).

This miracle of healing a blind man is illustrative of what he has just taught his disciples for three reasons that I can see:

(a) Bartimaeus’ interaction with Jesus (10:49-52) essentially parallels Jesus’ prior interaction with his disciples (10:35-38). In both cases there is (i) a request, (ii) there is Jesus’ initial response, “What do you want me to do for you?”, and (iii) there is Jesus’ final response to the request. These three elements are present in each interaction.

(b) Also of great importance is that Jesus’ identity and purpose is stated twice. First it is stated by Jesus to his disciples (10:32-34) and second it is stated by Bartimaeus to Jesus (10:46-48). This means that attention is being drawn to Jesus’ identity—he is the Son of Man, the divine-human being prophesied in the OT who is to rule the earth, and he is the Son of David, the eternal king promised to take David’s throne over Israel and over the entire world. This is who Jesus is, and now we are meant to see how this King exercises his power, rule, and authority, which shows us what he is like, and how we are to thus walk in his steps.

(c) Lastly, there is a comparison between the request of the two disciples (10:36-37) and the request of the blind man (10:51). The blind man rightly links Jesus’ identity to what the rightful King of Heaven would do and asks for that which is in keeping with what this rightful King would do; while the two disciples fail to make that link and ask for something that is out of step with what this rightful King would do. We’re meant to see and learn from this distinction.

The identity and mission of Jesus, along with his nature and character, is being demonstrated in a way in Mark 10:32-52 that brings it to the forefront. Jesus is the long-awaited Christ whom the blind man, Bartimaeus, readily identifies when he calls Jesus of Nazareth the Son of David.

It’s interesting that a blind man is able to do this when Jesus’ disciples, who have seen with their own eyes what he has done for three years, can not do! This literal, historical healing also has a deep theological and symbolic meaning about our spiritual blindness and lack of humility.

I would also add that Bartimaeus is in acute need, and so his heart is very tender and open. Perhaps we could also speculate that his sense of hearing and perception are fine-tuned to compensate for his blindness, and this has helped in allowing him to really listen to the circulating accounts of Jesus so that when the time comes he has no problem declaring who Jesus is (Isaiah 35:5-6, 61:1-2, Matthew 11:2-5, Exodus 4:11, Hosea 6:1-2, Psalm 146:8) and to decisively act on this gospel truth (10:47-48, 51b).

We are seeing what kind of a king Jesus is. He is one who loves and cares for his subjects, even the least of them, bringing healing and liberation from the blinding work of Satan and the fall of man, awakening them to the wonder of God among them, the one who walked with us in the Garden of Eden before the fall.

Jesus’ kingship has also been brought to the forefront, into plain day, in preparation for what comes next, which is Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem (11:1 to 13:2).

This is when Jesus walks through the Temple, evaluating what’s going on, and then rebuking the leadership for hindering the ministry and mission of God to his people and to the nations (Isaiah 35:5; and Isaiah 35:2 cf. 61:1-2, Matthew 11:2-5).

This passage rightly ends with Bartimaeus throwing off his garments and following after Jesus, just like the disciples left their nets to follow him (Mark 1:18, 20). This symbolizes an abandonment of whatever it was one previously clung to in this life. Therefore, imitate Bartimaeus, humble yourself thoroughly, no strings attached, let no one stop you (10:48a), and cry out to Jesus who he will hear you.

It’s all too easy for pride to rise in our hearts so as to think too highly of ourselves and to selfishly focus on our own rights. Or to be worried about what others will think or how they will react to us. It’s too easy for us, in trying to save ourselves and grasp for our rights, to step on others (10:35, 41) and push them aside (10:46-48b).

We do have rights, and our good Father in heaven does care for us. He looks after us, he provides for us, he vindicates us, he is our Good Shepherd and the Overseer of our souls. But the focus he has for us in Christ, by his Spirit, is the wellbeing of the other—the one another’s of the Bible—caring for the other, and looking after one another. 

Consider Philippians 2:1-11 sometime.

Just think about how our churches would be, how our homes would be, how our cities would be, how our countries would be, how our world would be, if we humbly walked in Jesus’ humble steps, and if we let our Father lift us up in Christ at his set time as he raised Christ from the dead. What an amazing world it would be! And there is no reason stopping us, especially in this season of Lent, from such a demonstration and foretaste of Jesus’ coming kingdom.

Many years ago, when I was reading Matthew’s version (Matthew 20:32), I was struck by the Spirit with imitating Jesus’ humility, beginning with my wife and my kids. My immediate, automated response was: “What about me?!” That’s what came out of my heart. I could rephrase that to be: “What about my rights?!” The Spirit made no further response but left me with Jesus’ humble example. So I repented and began asking my wife when I walked in the door after work: “What I can I do to help?” When I get home it is my aim to be useful and helpful, humble, and serving my wife and kids. I’m not perfect at this, I do stumble and become un-useful at times. But I seek to be humble as my Lord and Savior is perfectly humble—and who has served me to the nth degree.

Go and do likewise.

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Lent Meditation #4: The Power of the Cross

Lent Meditation #4: The Power of the Cross

Power is where it’s at! Is it not? Is not life a power struggle? Think about election time. Think about the culture war and seismic shift we are undergoing in Canada. Think about the recent truckers convoy to Ottawa, challenging the powers that be. Think about the major war currently taking place in the East.

While we are not all power hungry, we’re all grasping for power. Who of us doesn’t want power over our own lives? Who wants to feel powerless and unable to work for their happiness, security, health, and future? Who doesn’t want to be able to help others? In this sense we all want power, and that sounds reasonable. But why the pervasive struggle for power, from our small lives throughout the nations?

As I was meditating on the power of God through the cross, a movie I had seen in theatres came to mind, The Batman, to which I was reluctantly drug by my kids. To my surprise, it wasn’t bad.

Being DC lore and mythology, The Batman portrays a type of anti-hero with an alter-ego who struggles, shall I say unconventionally, against the evils of human civilization, which evil is metaphorically and symbolically portrayed by Gotham City—a dark, dangerous city where it always rains and the sun never shines. In this particular iteration of The Batman—spoiler warning—as the story comes to a conclusion, the message is: “Yes, the city is absolutely corrupt. Remove the bad people and new ones immediate spring up like weeds. It will be the death of The Batman to try and save the city. And his response was, “I know! But I have to try!”” All of Bruce Wayne’s wealth, all of his tools as Batman, all the power he had was not enough … but he was going to die trying. That was the noble moral of the story. It was well done, well acted, but pointless and without hope, appealing to the the last vestiges of human pride that ‘we can fix it.’ I get it. When you have not the gospel what else are you going to do! It doesn’t help that the entire Batman story begs the question by ignoring God and the fall of man while assuming distinct categories of good people and evil people, and that good must triumph over evil. Sadly, a part from emotionalism, the story has no philosophical basis for right and wrong, nor for explaining the reality of moral evil, much less resolve it. The DC Universe is lost at sea, tossed to and fro by stormy waves, it is pointless and powerless mythology set in the tumultuous transition from Christendom to Secularism, while running on the final dissipating fumes of what once was. Thus, it is never able to produce permanent change for the good. Life is a power struggle where evil seems to dominate much of the time, and there is nothing The Batman can do about it.

I will say, even thought it has no gospel, Batman’s Gotham is a pretty good, generalized caricature of the world in which we live.

Fortunately, there’s a superior and complete narrative of reality where ultimate power resides—not with man but—with God.

Our Triune God is the Sovereign Lord of all, King and kings and Lord of lords (Psalm 136:3, Deuteronomy 10:17, 1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14, 19:16).

It is our good Father, who is Lord of heaven and earth (Matthew 11:25), who has appointed government for our good and his glory. And when those appointed abuse their power he deals with them justly in his time and way.

The point is, power doesn’t innately reside in any created being. It has always been given and sustained from above. This is equally true of the power by which you and I seek to live out our lives.

Power for living, from the get-go, all the way back to Eden, has always been known and experienced in and through the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God, Christ Jesus our Lord (John 1:1-4). But the free flow of this power to live was disrupted by our fall into sin, which fall put us under the awful lordship and bondage of the father of lies. Hence, the deep and chaotic power struggle of history. Yet, power is being restored in Christ, and part of that is us continually learning to let him live in us and through us (Galatians 2:20) till this restoration comes to everlasting fullness and perfection at the appointed time. Until that great day of the Lord, we live in the chaotic mess of a massive struggle for power.

Thankfully God is sovereign and cannot be thwarted.

This is what the cross is about, restoring power to its rightful place. And, it begins with Jesus and his redeeming and transforming work in us. Let’s look into that.

Go to and read Colossians 2:6-15.

(1) The purpose of the cross is to personally and relationally root us “once again” in the second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is the Light and Life of all people (2:6-7; cf. John 1:1-5).

This is exactly where we need to be for he is the one through whom and for whom all things were made, and in whom all things hold together (1:15-18). Therefore, the purpose of the cross is to “re-establish us” now and forever in Christ as our rightful Lord (reversing the usurping work of the serpent; see Genesis 3).

This is an inherently good thing because Jesus is the most humble Sovereign Lord you will ever find! Go to Mark 10:35-45 and note the power-grab and how Jesus disarms it. Assuming the sufficiency of the cross to save us, how does Jesus command to us look in action? Read on in Mark 10:46-52. What a wonderful exercise of power! What if we all walked around every day asking one another “What do you want me to do for you?” and then used whatever powers we are endowed with to serve one another? That would be heaven on earth! This is the invitation of the cross, by which God works these wonders in us and through us.

(2) Therefore, we are to guard against being swayed from Christ as Lord (2:8; cf. 2:4), being alert to the finest of human philosophies, promises, and spiritual experiences, all of which, at the end of the day, amount to empty deceit, having been sourced from demons and packaged in human tradition. Rather, we must be thoroughly grounded in Christ. For we are made complete in Christ, in whom alone dwells the whole fullness of God (2:9-10; in whom alone are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, 2:3).

What is particularly tricky is that these Colossian believers are unwittingly being exhorted to “add” to Christ from Jewish and Hellenistic sources, which deceit appears to be wise and godly. But these deceptions are implicitly saying that Christ is not enough, that they need more, which in reality is enticing them away from Christ by implying an inadequate Christ. The fact is no supplement is required to Christ.

And so Paul struggles (1:24-2:23) to warn them that they need nothing other than Christ, in whom they both find the gift of God himself and his power to truly live as they were meant to live (3:1 to 4:6).

They couldn’t ask for nor find a more heightened experience than knowing Christ crucified and raised (3:1-4).

Nothing has changed in the 21st century and nothing will. Watch out for the wisdom of the age, of our age. Every age will always have bits of “truth,” as we are God’s creatures living in God’s world, but outside of Christ there will not be “the truth.”

(3) Let us now dwell on the means by which God’s power works in our lives (2:11-14).

First, there is coming under the lordship of Jesus (2:6) through the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul combines two metaphors to aid our understanding and submission. One such metaphor is spiritual circumcision. That is, the Spirit puts off the body of flesh—also known as the old man, the unregenerate unbelieving person we once were—through the cross of Christ. This can happen because our sin-debt to the law has been paid in full by Christ, and so we can be released from the judgment-bound, sin-prison in which we were confined. The other metaphor speaks to the same reality in the symbolism of going down into the waters of baptism, which is burial into death with Christ, so we can be raised up, symbolized by coming out of the waters of baptism, to new life in the resurrected Christ (2:11-14).

This is powerful imagery revealing the power of God (2:12), what God does in us by faith! This is also why Paul sternly warned the Colossians about, and lovingly rebuked them for, being duped into adding to the work of God in Christ. There is simply no room for demon-inspired, human addition. What could we ever do to improve upon God’s work? Nothing! It is Jesus alone who is over all (2:9-10).

Second, and this is the bottom line, is that the complete, all-powerful work of God through the cross frees us who believe from all that would bind us, our sin, the demonic, and human harassment, opposition, and persecution. No one, not even ourselves, has anything on us, we are fully cleared and truly free in Christ (2:15).

Third, we are never to go back to what once enslaved us (2:4, 8, 16-23) but onward in learning to live out our new life in Christ (3:1 to 4:6). This is the power of the cross.

The cross of Christ is where we seek, again and again, to give up the lie of power from Genesis 3:5, the lie that we can stand in God’s place over our own lives and the lives of one another. That’s the usurping and abuse of power, and the reason for all the moral evils of the world. Realize that God in Christ is enough for you, you have all you need, you just need to ask, seek, and knock and you will receive.

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