The True Ladder

October 14, 2005

John 1:50-51
Jesus answered him,
“Because I said to you, ‘I saw you
under the fig tree,’ do you believe?

(51) And he said to him,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will
see heaven opened, and
the angels of God ascending and
descending on the Son of Man.”

Nathanael is obviously greatly impressed by what Jesus has done – impressed by the proclamation of the omniscience of Jesus – but Jesus points out that this is nothing compared to what will occur. And we see Jesus refer back to the dream that Jacob had as the reality of that dream – Jesus is the ladder – the connection between men and God – and that this would occur and Nathanael would see it.

How easily our emotions are stirred at the miraculous! At the extraordinary!

We look in the Old Testament – The parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, battles won by the lifting of hands, the sun standing still, a boy killing a giant, a strong man killing 1000 soldiers with a jaw bone, an axe head floating on water, a prophet riding a chariot of fire to heaven and on and on – we are captivated! Even Jesus, the Apostles – the miracles they performed! And we look around now – and we say, there is nothing really extraordinary going on like it was back then.

But we forget, these extraordinary things that we long for – these miracles that we feel would be so great – if only we could just see something miraculous, then I would really feel better about all of this – we forget – these extraordinary gifts – they are common!

It is a great privilege to see or even to perform a miracle, to behold extraordinary things – healings, demons being cast out, dead men rising again – a great privilege – but this privilege is common. Common in the sense that the privilege to see, the privilege to perform extraordinary deeds is not only given to God’s people – not only to those who have saving faith – not only to the children of God – We forget, even Judas cast out devils, the betrayer of the Son of God, even he healed people – King Saul, rejected by God, even he prophesied – Balaam was a wicked man, and yet he performed extraordinary feats and witnessed extraordinary things!

Do not seek after these common things – but seek after that which is uncommon, that which is rare, – as a treasure hidden in a field – a treasure that when found because joy over it you go and sell all you have in order to buy that field and posses the treasure

Your highest happiness does not lie in how many miraculous things you see in your lifetime or whether or not you even perform an extraordinary act – rather your highest happiness lies in holiness – for it is through holiness that you are united to God, the fountain of all good.

And what of this holiness – from where does it come? Where is this rare jewel? This jewel that Judas knew nothing of – for this jewel is only for the children of God – it is given only by the Father to His children – not to outsiders.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will
see heaven opened, and
the angels of God ascending and
descending on the Son of Man.”

It is Christ – to see Him, to know Him and to behold the ladder – the true ladder from you to God – The Lamb of God – the one sacrifice for sin – He is the greatest thing, the most precious jewel, the pearl without price! The grace of knowing Christ – it is greater than the parting of the Red Sea! Greater than men rising from the dead! There is no greater thing than this – turn your eyes to Him – Behold Him, and wonder, follow after Him, for He is calling – Come and you will see.


Finding the Messiah

October 9, 2005

(John 1:40) One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.

(41) He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).

For the soul that comes to know Christ – that is the greatest one event in the history of that soul – to come to know Christ is the greatest single event in the life of any soul. On that day – all the past changes – for a new light is shed and the soul sees God at work, working, ever working to bring that soul to salvation. And though before that soul lived in sin, now that sin has been blotted out to be seen no more – for they are as far as the east is from the west. How great is that day, when your sins are forgiven – when you find that the raging storm of God’s wrath has been calmed, and blue skies are over you! On the day that a soul comes to Christ, what sort of change there is on that day – no longer dead, but alive – liberty, rather than slavery – heaven rather than hell – it is such a change that words are unable to express it – as trying to explain to a blind man, so it is with those of us who now know Christ – for what can we say? What can we say to the joys that we have experienced? To the happiness that comes from our Savior – from the cleanliness – the purity? Who is there that understands these things, outside those who have experienced it for themselves? Perhaps before you heard Christ exalted, and lifted up and hear men speak of how excellent He is – saying that He is all they want, all they need, more than all things – while you did not yet know Him. And you longed to have that which they had – you longed to have the thing you lacked but you did not know Him personally. Maybe you were waiting to talk with a pastor, maybe you were reading the Bible alone in your room, maybe you were on your knees crying out to God that He would reveal His Son to you – or maybe you were just going about the normal routine of your day when all of a sudden, the Man who had before been only a name was revealed to you by God as a living reality – so that you can say,

Job 42:5

“I had heard about you with my own ears, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.”

And what happened after that? After He was revealed to you – what happened?

In Acts, when Peter and John went up to the temple to pray, a lame man was begging and asked them for money, Peter said,

Act 3:6-8

(6) Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

(7) And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

And what did that lame man do?

(8) He leaped up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

People around him who did not know him must have wondered, “what is this guy doing jumping up and down like that – what, is he crazy or something?”

Before you had heard His name spoken of, but now He is a living reality! If you had lost the use of your legs for such a long time – years, maybe your whole life – would you not be jumping up and down for joy that they were healed? Would you not jump up and praise God?

We are that lame man – we were lame before we knew Christ – Oh, how happy that day that I found Christ! How happy the day that Christ found me! When His hand reached down and took away my sickness of soul, reached down and gave me life! Do you leap with joy? Do you know of this joy? For certainly all those who have known Christ know of the joy that comes from knowing Him – Do you feel it, in the depths of your soul – do your eyes lighten up at the name of Jesus?

Did you do as Andrew did? Go and get the one closest to you – your friend, your brother, your relatives and tell them with joy in your heart, “I have found the Savior!”

When was the last time you proclaimed the name of Jesus to those around you who have no knowledge of Him? If a man has good news it is impossible for Him to keep it from those who he is closest with – do you have the good news? Do you? It is easy to tell if someone has good news – do your friends know you have the good news? Or do they see nothing? Have they heard of the good news from you? Or is what you have not good news?


“Behold, the Lamb of God”

October 4, 2005

Joh 1:29-37

(29) The next day he sawJesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

John says: Behold – which gives the sense of surprise, wonder, exclamation

“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

There is no greater wonder than this, that God would send a Lamb as a sacrifice of atonement, at-one-ment – as a sacrifice that reconciles us to God, us who are wicked sinners, us who hate God, us who do not seek after the things of God, us who despise good and love evil, a sacrifice that reconciles us to God – the wonder of this – the mystery – even angels long to look into these things, but do not see, though they strain their necks trying to get a glimpse, they do not comprehend, they do not behold as we do – they long to look into this amazing wonder – God the Father sent His one and only Son to die for guilty men. How great and awesome this thing is – Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

May our mind be filled with awe and wonder at this – when we sing, “amazing love, how can it be?” wonder! When we wake up in the morning, wonder! When you survive another day of deadly traffic in Phnom Penh, wonder! Wonder and behold this great salvation that has been revealed to us – Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

When John said, Behold the Lamb of God – I think he also meant that his disciples should consider, think about, ponder, the Christ

The Christ being the focal point – learn of Him, study Him, – know all you can about Him – Greater than all subjects you study at school – the study of the crucified Christ – He surpasses all things.

Charles Spurgeon said, “He is most learned in the university of heaven who knows most of Christ. He who hath known most of Him still says that His love surpasseth knowledge.”

Consider Him – Do you know that He is a man, that He can understand what you are going through, He understands your weakest point for He has been there and below- do you understand that He is the Son of God – that He is God, all sufficient, the source of all joy, all satisfaction – He posses all things and lacks nothing.

We believe things that we cannot comprehend – things we cannot understand – He is the bridge between us, who are men, to the Divine.

Know Him – and then wonder, be in awe at who He is

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

To behold is also a study look – a look that sees, that looks and does not sway – Looking to Christ – take your eyes of all else – and look only to Him – for you cannot look at two things at once! And then, in your looking – look long

See how He came and took your guilt – the heavy burden of your guilt that is so heavy your legs break when you attempt to carry it – He took it, carried it, weary to the point of death, was hung on a cross and died – yet just before He died, as He hung there on the cross, cries out, “It is finished”

Accomplishing that which you could not – carrying your burden as far as the east is from the west and dumping it, never to be seen or brought up again. Paying that which you could never pay – your debt towards God – He took it upon Himself.

Trust Him – for He has completed the work, completed completely – look and live – it is not do and live – for the doing is complete – Look and Live – Look and Live!

How are we to live? By looking – by trusting, believing, confiding, resting in Christ – that is how we are saved – looking in faith to the Lamb.

Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world

When John saw Jesus on that great day – John first looked himself, he beheld Jesus first and then he cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

My brothers and sisters – we cannot preach what we first have not practiced. If I have never looked to Jesus, how can I call out to you to look to Him? I have beheld Him, and though my heart aches for the evil that is in me, beholding Him I am like a drowning man, looking to the one who reached His hand down and dragged me from the rushing flood – as one looking, as a thief, looking into the eyes of the One from whom I stole and who took the beating I justly disserved – as a murderer, looking in awe as the Judge interposes His own perfect life for mine – as an adulterer, condemned to die by the law, looking into the face of the One who said, “Let the man who is without sin, cast the first stone” And as all those who would have been my just executioners walk away, hear His voice say, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”

It is by Him, by looking at Him that I am being brought from death into life – from the depths of despair, to the heights of joy.

Oh, that each of you would believe our testimony and look to Him and live!

But I fear many of us fail to feel the urgency – we hear – and we wait – we feel but we push aside. We forget that death overcomes us soon – we do not hold tomorrow in our hands – we don’t even hold our next breath in our control. Isn’t it funny – we can command our hands to hold things, to move around. We can command our eyes to look at something, our legs to walk, run, skip – and so we feel like we are in control. But who controls how many beats his heart beats in a minute – who decides to breathe? Who decides to contract all the muscles in our hands in order that they might move? When these automatic functions of our body stop – we cease to be able to do what we want – don’t be fooled into thinking that you are in control, that you have time, that you need not attend to these matters of eternity until later.

Oh, how I struggle to take these things to heart! How far I am from knowing this Lamb – how far I am from understanding how great He is, and how far from putting Him first in my life – for I fail to see – I fail to see with eyes that are un-obscured this Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

How I long for the day that I will see Him face to face – to Behold Him as He is – for then I will be like Him – to see without obstacle – to see from eyes that know no sin – to think with a mind that is not tainted and defiled – to never struggle from the death grip of sin again!

So I follow – not in perfection, but I follow the One who is perfect – I follow, not without stumbling, but I follow the One who never stumbled – I follow Him, for He is my Savior – He is my sacrifice – my salvation – my Lord, my God.

May God grant us, eyes to see – ears to hear – that we might follow, with urgency – The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

 

Amen