Saturday, 29 December 2012

New things

As we look towards another New Year my mind has been exploring some 'new things' that we read of in the scriptures. I hope these thoughts are encouraging and uplifting and may spark further study among you.

New doctrine - Mark 1:27

"And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him."

Correctly rendered, the question is more of an exclamation; "what new or fresh teaching!". As we approach the end of 2012 and look to the year ahead, we do well to continually meditate upon the incredible earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. The people of his day had never seen anything like it! Time and again we read in the gospels that the people were 'astonished', 'amazed' or that they 'marvelled' in fact there are over 40 mentions of these 3 expressions alone. Shouldn't we ever be amazed by the life of our Saviour whilst down here upon this earth? His walk, his ways and his words, every facet was filled with power, purpose and authority. Surely testifying to that truth that here was one who is God manifest in flesh!

A new testament - 1 Cor 11:25

"After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me."

There are several passages that relate the institution of the remembrance supper, and each brings out a subtle shade of meaning:

  • Paul here brings out the remembrance aspect. When we gather on a Lord's Day morning, it is always to remember him, his person and his work. Sometimes we may dwell almost exclusively on his death on Calvary, or on our blessed position and our future in heaven with him, but Paul correctly reminds the believers that it is to remember him.

  • Matthew in his account identifies the cup as speaking of his blood which was shed "for the remission of sins", and this too brings out another aspect. Remission means pardon, deliverance, forgiveness and all this has been made possible by the shedding of his precious blood.

  • Mark says that it was "shed for many" and we should thank God daily that we are included in the many!

  • Finally Luke brings a more personal meaning as his account says "shed for you" and this should move us as we hear the words of the Saviour to us personally. How it should move us to serve him and worship him with all the more dedication and fervour!

A new tomb - Matt 27:57-60

"And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock..."

This reference reminds us that the Saviour became despised and rejected by men, and suffered and died on the cross. However, throughout this tremendous event we as believers can rejoice in that we see God's will being carried out and fulfilled to the letter at Calvary! Nothing was done that should not have been, and all things were done that should have been. Matthew tells us that the new tomb was Joseph's own, fulfilling the prophecy found in Isaiah 53:9 "And they assigned him a grave with the wicked... yet he was with a rich man in his death" Surely here was a perfect work, finished and completed by our blessed Lord and Saviour. As we go into a new year we take heart in the fact that God's Word is perfect and endures forever, and his purposes will be fulfilled, always!

A new song - Psalm 40:3

"And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God"

Now finally as we close these thoughts my mind went to this verse in the Psalms, which reminds me of the daily occupation of worship and the joy that should be ours as we consider our Saviour and offer praises to God.

David, the sweet psalmist of Israel tells us 3 important things about the new song:

  • It is FROM God - He has given us this new or fresh song, and has put it into our mouths.

  • It is ABOUT God - the subject and character of the new song is spiritual, as the word song here means a psalm or a hymn and it is described as praise unto God.

  • It is TO God - He is the object and recipient of the praise!

What a lovely thought as we celebrate the beginning of a new year - To be found meditating upon the person of Christ and occupying ourselves with the praise and worship of God! We have been given a new song when we came to know him as Lord and Saviour, so let us live with this in mind for 2013!

May God richly bless his people everywhere and may we all be encouraged and strengthened in our testimony, both collectively and as individuals.

Happy New Year

Yours in Christ, Mark

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Things that weren't told

John 21:25

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.

It seems that from what John indicates here at the close of his gospel, that we are only told a fraction of all the things that could be told about the earthly ministry of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. When one looks at the first chapter of Mark's gospel we see there an action-packed full day from v21 to v34 for the tireless servant of God. We see also in v35 that the next day he rises a great while before day for prayer! Sometimes we think we've had a busy day but I think nothing compared to the full days of the Son of Man. The example of Creation in Genesis 1 must surely be our guide as to how God uses his days. Each day there was mighty accomplishments and awesome creatorial feats, each divided by the statement "and the evening and the morning were the xxx day". There must have been so much more that went unrecorded in those 3 and a half years f public service! Perhaps we will know more of this when we get to glory and spend eternity with Him.

1 Corinthians 2:9-11

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

If our first reference took us to the PAST, then this reference takes us to the PRESENT. Sometimes we here v9 quoted in relation to our future in Heaven, but then v10 reminds us that these things are for us here and now, as revealed by the Spirit of God!

We are reminded that these things are the deep things of God and v11 may be better rendered "the thoughts of God", what a tremendous thing! That we can know the thoughts and mind of God should surely thrill the heart of every believer. They have not been told or revealed to the world, they can know nothing of this, these things are revealed to believers by the indwelling Holy Spirit, later on we read "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." What a privilege! There is always more we can obtain from God's Word, we shall never exhaust it, the Spirit will always reveal new things to us, but we must apply ourselves and read and study the Word if we are to benefit from it. As we have learned though, these things are not obtained by academic achievement or intellectual prowess, but are available to every believer by the Holy Spirit who "shall teach you all things."

1 Kings 10:4-8

And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built,
And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her.
And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom.
Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.
Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.

Sometimes we apply these verses to our present experience with coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ, but I would like to look to the FUTURE with this reference. After all, these words were spoken as the Queen of Sheba met King Solomon face to face, so I would like to encourage our hearts by reminding us that one day soon we shall meet the "greater than Solomon", great David's greater Son. John tells us in Revelation 22; "And they shall see his face..." how this should lift our hearts!

So the Queen surveys the scene before her and she took it all in - the glory of the king, and surely nothing will compare to the glory of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in that coming day. She takes in the glorious abode he had built, and surely our minds turn to John 14; "In my Father's house are many mansions... I go to prepare a place for you." She sees the multitude of servants and their apparel, and my mind went to Revelation 19 when John describes the Church - "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." 

The Queen proclaims - "Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom" and my mind once again turned to the future scene described in Revelation 22 - "And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him" No more sadness, sorrow or suffering!

The Queen is overcome and amazed, for the half was not told her and surely this is will be our response when we see all that God has in store for us! I think of that chorus we sometimes sing:

"Wonderful Savior, wonderful Friend,
Wonderful life that never shall end;
Wonderful place, He has gone to prepare,
Wonder of wonders I shall be there!" 

Monday, 19 November 2012

There's no disappointment in Heaven

I was talking with an older brother in our assembly at the weekend who isn't enjoying the best of health but was able to make it to the meeting on the Lord's Day. He recited most of an old hymn to me which I have looked up online and thought I would post here for our mutual encouragement. It is written by Frederick M Lehman in the early 1900's.

"There's No Disappointment in Heaven"
There's no disappointment in Heaven,

No weariness, sorrow or pain;

No hearts that are bleeding and broken,

No song with a minor refrain.

The clouds of our earthly horizon

Will never appear in the sky,

For all will be sunshine and gladness,

With never a sob or a sigh.


I'm bound for that beautiful city,

My Lord has prepared for His own;

Where all the redeemed of all ages

Sing "Glory!" around the white throne;

Sometimes I grow homesick for Heaven,

And the glories I there shall behold;

What a joy that will be

When my Saviour I see,

In that beautiful city of gold.


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Fire - first 3 mentions in Bible

Genesis 19:24-25 - God's judgement against sin

Interesting the first and last mention of fire in our Bible's is in relation to the judgement of sinners. In Genesis 19 God steps in and judges the sinful people of the plain, and in Revelation 20 and 21, the wicked and unrepentant are cast alive into the lake of fire, described as the 'second death'. I don't want to dwell on this today, only to say that we are reminded again that our God is holy and righteous and must and will judge sin!

But, it reminds us afresh that we live in a day of grace, for God has not intervened in our day as he did with Sodom and Gomorrah! The Bible says that "God is not willing that any should perish" despite the sin on every corner today - such is his long-suffering with man! It also reminds us that our Lord Jesus Christ has died to provide us with a way of salvation, so that believers now fear no condemnation, we have passed from death unto life. Christ bore that fearful judgement for our sin so that we would not have to! There is now no judgement or fire for the believer, praise God!

"Jehovah lifted up his rod; O Christ it fell on thee!
Thou wast sore stricken of thy God - There's not one stroke for me"

 fireGenesis 22:5-8 - Sacrifice and worship

Not now judgement, but the second fire reference speaks to us of worship and sacrifice as Abraham takes his only son Isaac up Mt Moriah with the fire in his hand, ready to offer him to God. God was testing the depth of his devotion, the question was would he withhold his only son, that which he treasured most? Abraham was willing to offer him, such was his love for his God.

The account points forward to the ultimate sacrifice in the giving of the Lord Jesus Christ, God's only Son on Calvary for us. Interestingly similar words are used: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all" - He was not withheld! What love was shown for us there at Calvary.

Bearing in mind our first point about fire - who can tell the fierce temperature of the flame there at Calvary? The magnitude and intensity of that all-consuming fire that was borne by our Saviour there at the hands of a righteous sin-hating God? He was 'made sin for us' and 'offered himself without spot to God'...

Exodus 3:1-4 - His presence and guidance

Here in the third mention in our Bible, the fire reminds me of another aspect of Gods character - his desire to be with us and speak with his people, guiding them daily. Here God appears to Moses and converses with him! Remember also that God led his people by night through the wilderness by a pillar of fire, assuring them of his presence and guidance - He did not leave them alone in the dark hours!

We remind ourselves of this for our mutual encouragement, in fact we often sing "he walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way". No matter how difficult life gets, or how bleak the outlook may appear, remember that we have the assurance of God's presence with us and his guiding hand always.

Think about the situation in Exodus 3, the situation could hardly have been any bleaker - the people were oppressed, captive and in bondage in a land that was not theirs! All seemed hopeless, but it is at this time that God steps in and assures them of his presence and guidance. He had not left them, he still cared for them and had a purpose and design for his people! We do well to remember this when our spirits fail us, remember Romans 8 -

"Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"

We trust these simple thoughts will be of blessing and encouragement to all.

Yours in Christ, Mark

Sunday, 7 October 2012

3 incorruptible things in 1 Peter 1

Peter in the first chapter of his first epistle reminds us of 3 unchanging, incorruptible and eternal truths for the believer in Christ. They stand in stark contrast to the unstable, ever-changing, unreliable and restless world in which we find ourselves:

"For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away" v 24

An incorruptible inheritance (v 4)

Peter reminds his readers that although they were enduring present testing and  sufferings, there was a glorious prospect ahead of them. The inheritance was:

  • incorruptible

  • undefiled

  • it wouldn't fade away

  • it was reserved in heaven for them

What a word of encouragement for them and for us today!

An incorruptible redemption (v 18)

Peter reminds them that they were bought with a price (1 Cor 6 and 7) and that this payment had not been made with the corruptible measures of man, but with something invaluable and precious! The precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It's value is inestimable before God, it never devalues or diminishes, and it can never be cancelled out! What was paid at Calvary is for all eternity, praise his name.

The incorruptible Word of God (v23)

Finally Peter reminds us that we have been born again, we have new life from that seed that was planted, the incorruptible Word of God.

I think the words of the Lord Jesus were in Peter's mind here as he recalled the parable of the sower. The seed was dispersed by the sower, with differing results. Both Mark's and Luke's Gospel make it clear that the sower sowed the Word of God (the Gospel) and it is this that germinates and grows into fruit (salvation). The Word of God is incorruptible and endureth forever, it is his Word and is perfect, complete and inerrant.

"And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you"

Give thanks and praise God!

Yours in Christ, Mark


Monday, 10 September 2012

7 'W's at the well of Samaria (John 4:3-30)

The Way to the well

"He must needs go through Samaria"

There was always purpose in the Saviours direction, he never wandered! He walked the length and breadth of that land and never once was lost - he knew exactly where he was going, when he was going to be there, who he was going to meet there and why.

The Woman at the well

Simply - she was a sinner that needed to meet the Saviour, and the Saviour went out of his way to meet her and have that interview. Sometimes we hear people say "I found Jesus" and we know what they mean but it is probably more true to say that the Lord finds us! He said "I am come to seek and to save that which was lost".

Weariness at the well

The Saviour was weary with his journey and sat upon the well. I am sure there are many believers today who are weary with the journey. We can be weary physically, as ailments or old age come upon us; we can be weary mentally, due to illness, stress or deterioration; we can be weary emotionally as circumstances and pressures mount upon us.

But take comfort! The Saviour has experienced weariness and has been here before. Remember; Heb 4:15  "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

Water at the well

There is refreshment at the well! I realise this really refers to the waters of the Holy Spirit that spring up in salvation to the soul, but there is surely a practical application here. Ps 23 - "he leadeth me beside the still waters." The still waters like the well are deep and refreshing! Surely closeness to the Saviour, to the well and the water, and the Word of God will refresh our souls and help us with the weariness of the journey.

Wonder and Witness at the well

It's lovely to the se the simplicity of the woman's witness, it was a simple invitation to "come see a man... is not this the Christ?"

Surely there are lessons here for us as we sometimes over-complicate our one to one outreach, and perhaps we avoid opportunities, but not this woman! She freely told all with boldness and conviction and as a result many went out to him and many were saved from that city! A salutary lesson for us all surely?

The Water pot at the well

We read that she left her water pot and went on her way to witness to others! I picture the water pot still lying there redundant and unused by the well at the end of the day. She had a new perspective, new desires and new ways to spend her time. I wonder if we too have gladly 'left the water pot' behind us, or whether we still like to take it with us? Do we still care too much for the routine things of this world? Does it still command a disproportionate amount of our time? Do we spend time developing other areas of our life instead of that which should take priority and command our focus and affections?

May the Lord challenge our hearts and desires and encourage us on the journey.

Yours in Christ, Mark

Sunday, 2 September 2012

"Behold what manner of love..."

1 John tells us so much about the love of God. It would tell us that "Love is of God" and "God is love"Love is Gods very nature, his essential characteristic, and he defines what true love is!

In this epistle we learn that love came first from God and that he made the first move in love toward us, when we were far off; "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins"

We also learn that God's love toward us can be seen in the gift of his Son"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him"

The epistle tells us of the love of the Father for his children"Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" What manner of love indeed, what a subject to occupy our hearts and minds!

So we are taught much about Gods love for us, now what about our love for God in return? Well we are told once again that "we love him because he first loved us" and that should never be forgotten. We also learn that love for God is very definitely linked to obeying his commandments and keeping his word - "for this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous." May this be a challenge to our hearts.

In the epistle we are also told what not to love - "love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of  life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever." I think there is very little else to say to this, over and above the solemn and clear word of God!

We are however, instructed to love one another"we should love one another... and this is his commandment... love one another, as he gave us commandment... let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth." Here is another challenge to our hearts, as it is all too easy to pay 'lip service' to these things, and very easy to put on a front to our fellow believers! But this is not how God loves, and neither should we. The epistle reminds us that there is no greater evidence of our salvation than this - "we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." Let us be encouraged in this exercise, and be characterised by love for one another.

I trust these simple verses and thoughts from 1 John regarding love will be of benefit and a challenge to all believers on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Yours in Christ, Mark.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Desert places in Mark's Gospel

It has been a lovely little study to look at desert places in Mark's Gospel, and I've been enjoying some simple thoughts from these 3 passages.

"he was without in desert places" (Mk 1:14)

Many times we see the Lord alone in the wilderness. We also read that he went to the solitary place to pray, he was found alone on the land, he would often rise a great while before day and that he went apart in the mountain to pray. This in contrast to the many times we see the Saviour in the midst of the multitudes.

The Lord was often alone, but I don't believe our Saviour was ever lonely for He always had fellowship with the Father, and the Father was ever with Him; "I and my Father are one". The Lord Jesus ever walked in step with Him and nothing broke their communion. Even on the cross he was forsaken by God but importantly not by His Father!

When he was "without in desert places" this was time exclusively for fellowship and communion with the Father, and is it any wonder that there should be the case when you consider that they are one and the same! Christ is God manifest in flesh - "who being in the form of God (being essentially one with God and possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God, God)" (Phil 2:6, Amplified version)

"come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest a while" (Mk 6:31)

Within the context of this verse, the disciples had been sent out to minister to the locality, many mighty deeds had been done in His name and the gospel had been preached!

Yet at this point the Lord invites the disciples to come apart into a desert place to rest awhile. It is lovely to see the Saviour's care for His people, and He teaches us here that balance is important and that rest, recuperation and fellowship with the Lord and each other would be just as important for His people as activity and service.

It is lovely to see the intimacy of the invitation; "come ye yourselves..." not now the blessing on the crowds and the multitudes, but this was going to be quality time alone with the Lord. They would be with Him for fellowship and communion, away from the world and it's distractions! We also do well to draw aside to the 'desert place' away from the world, for there we can rest and recover with the Lord and enjoy his presence and fellowship. Surely if more time were spent in this manner then surely there would be such a positive impact on our spiritual lives.

[caption id="attachment_239" align="alignright" width="300"]A picture of the Judaean Desert A picture of the Judaean Desert[/caption]

"This is a desert place, and the time is far passed" (Mk 6:35)

The disciples' above observation was simply reflecting their physical surroundings and environment and also the time of day. However we can make application here - as the follower of the Lord Jesus looks about surely we would share the observation of the disciples?

A desert place - surely we realise as we look around at the world that there is no spiritual sustenance for our souls here. A desert can sustain life of course, but these creatures are made for the desert and bear the character of the desert! But this is not for the believer. We are in the world but not of the world and we are exhorted to love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.

The time is far passed - surely we would recognise that the return of the Lord to the air cannot be far away and that we are indeed in 'the third watch of the night'. The time is short, there is no further prophecy to be fulfilled and the Lord must come soon! The words of the Lord Jesus are pertinent; "surely I come quickly"

The challenge to our hearts must be to redeem the time. This phrase is used in Ephesians 5 in relation to our Christian walk for ourselves - to maximise our spiritual gain in our days down here. The phrase is also used in Colossians 4 where it is used in relation to our walk outwardly towards others - to seize opportunities to bring spiritual benefit and blessing to others whilst we live for Him in these last times.

We trust these simple thoughts concerning desert places will be useful and encouraging to all who read.

Yours in Christ, Mark

Monday, 27 August 2012

Fellowship - not just a cup of coffee and a biscuit!

I've been enjoying a few mentions of fellowship in the New Testament and I don't intend to add too much comment other than to say that this subject is huge! Sometimes our understanding of true Christian fellowship can be far too simplistic and really isn't what God means when he talks about 'fellowship' in His Word. Here are some references to provoke further thought and consideration:

"That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 Jn 1:3)

Number one fellowship - with God our Father and His Son! What a tremendous privilege and calling is ours! Surely this fellowship should mark our character and walk, both before God and before the world.

"...if any fellowship of the Spirit..." (Phil 2:1)

Something we share with all true believers - we enjoy the company of and participation in the Holy Spirit! Remember the Spirit is known as the Comforter, the Paraclete one who 'draws alongside'... what a comfort is ours to know we have a present aide who travels with all believers.

"But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another" (1 Jn 1:7)

Here is a reminder of the practical implications of fellowship with each other, it is conditional on our day-to-day living. An alternative rendering says: "but if we really are living and walking in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have true, unbroken fellowship with one another". What a challenge this is, to know that fellowship isn't just about attending dinners and suppers but should have a bearing and impact upon our daily walk!

"...your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now" (Phil 1:5)

The Amplified version has a helpful alternative rendering: "I thank my God for your fellowship (your sympathetic co-operation and contribution and partnership) in advancing the good news (the Gospel) from the first day you heard it, until now". This really challenges us in relation to our zeal and energy in our evangelical outreach, this is something we can have fellowship in!

"...the fellowship of the ministering to the saints" (2 Cor 8:4)

We can have fellowship in helping each other, and meeting need where we can see it. This may be financial, but also may be in many other practical ways. The Amplified reads "the ministration for the relief and support of the saints". Truly fellowship is a noble, humbling and practical thing indeed!

"That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death" (Phil 3:10)

I have no real comments on this lovely but incredibly deep and challenging verse, but I did particularly enjoy the thoughts that are brought out by the Amplified rendering: "For my determined purpose is that I may know Him (that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognising and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly), and that I may in that same way come to know the power out-flowing from His resurrection (which it exerts over believers) and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed (in Spirit into His likeness even) to His death."

May the Lord help us understand the wonder of fellowship for the Christian, and the many different facets and meanings it brings.

Yours in Christ, Mark


Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Seven Sayings on the Cross (7)

We now come to that poignant final saying from the cross:

"Father into thy hands I commend my spirit"

Thinking about all the things that were said at the foot of the cross I would like to contrast this with that other shameful comment of the Chief Priests and Scribes;

"He trusted in God, let him deliver him now, if he will have him, for he said I am the Son of God"

The sheer mocking and scorn of their unbelief! "He said I am the Son of God..." This for them was victory and proof that they were right, for how could God allow his son to be treated so, and put to death? It was the affirmation that he was the Christ the Son of God that had caused outrage before the High Priest remember, so this was now what they spat back at the Saviour now he was on the cross where they had wanted him all along. "for he said I am the Son of God" - Now we turn to our final saying, and how appropriate it is, considering the scornful language at the foot of his cross! Having endured the judgement for sin, abandoned by God he now speaks for the final time; "Father..." How significant, and how lovely to see that despite the mocking and hatred of men around him he can lift his gaze once again heavenwards and address the Father!

They said "if he will have him..." they didn't think God would accept him at all, this worthless blasphemer from Galilee! Why would God have him at all? What does the Saviour say? "...into thy hands I commend my spirit" How lovely to see that the Saviour gave his spirit into the tender care of his Father - of course he was accepted! He was the perfect servant, in whom God's soul delighted.

The work which the Father had given him to do was finished and perfectly complete! He had glorified God on the earth, and on the third day he rose bodily from the dead and ascended to God's right hand, the very place from where he had come - "sit thou at my right hand..." 

What an answer to the world! How triumphant are those final words of the Saviour, as he completed Calvary's work. How our hearts should respond to our Lord Jesus Christ! The world's estimation is still the same today, even more reason for us to worship him and serve him with greater zeal and fervour!

I trust that our short and simple study comparing the statements of the Lord's from the cross and those from the foot of the cross will have been beneficial and of blessing to all.

Yours in Christ, Mark

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Seven Sayings on the Cross (6)

"It is finished"

As we reach the penultimate statement of the Lord from the cross I have put this alongside "descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe"

The Chief Priests mocked him in this way, and of course they would not have believed even had the Saviour come down from the cross - they hated him, they had rejected him and had condemned him to death. More than this however, the Lord Jesus could not and would not come down from the cross, as he was there fulfilling God's will and the work that he had been sent to do! His meat was to do the will of him that sent him, and to finish His work (John 4:34), and this meant going to the cross and giving himself for sin. Philippians 2 says that he became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. The Saviour would go to the cross and would endure that judgement and cry "it is finished" in order that we might be saved.

It is interesting to know that the phrase in our English Bible "it is finished" is a single word in the Greek original - "teleo" which means simply "finished" or "to bring to a close" but an additional meaning is the idea of a transaction which is complete, so really it means "paid". I like that, it's a lovely thought. The price for sin had been paid, the judgement had been borne and God was well satisfied with the work.

The Chief Priests said "come down, so that we may see and believe" but of course they had it the wrong way round! He must go to the cross and be lifted up, so that people would see and believe. Remember he said that just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. The people of that day were healed if they looked in faith to that work, and so sinners are saved today if they look in faith to Calvary.

As we consider these words of the Saviour we realise once again the necessity and value of those words "it is finished"! Without the finished work of His at the cross there would be no salvation at all! We praise God for Calvary afresh today.

He paid a debt He did not owe;
I owed a debt I could not pay;
I needed someone to take my sins away.
And now I sing a brand new song,
"Amazing grace" the whole day long,
For Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.
Yours in Christ, Mark

Saturday, 5 May 2012

The 7 Sayings on the Cross (5)

"I thirst"

What a tremendous mystery is here, that the very Son of God should ever utter the words "I thirst"... For the purposes of my little mini study I have put this saying alongside the following question from the foot of the cross;

"If thou be the Son of God..."

Surely these two statements bring together that great mystery of godliness, that God was manifest in the flesh, he is the Son of God and yet equally the Son of Man and on occasions in his life we can see the humanity of the Lord Jesus. There were times when he was tired or wearied, there were times when he wept, and there were times where he desired water to drink. Now at the cross the very Son of God cries out, "I thirst"

When we consider these 2 simple yet incredible words of the Saviour from the cross, remember once again that here was the one who in the beginning had divided the waters from the waters, who had gathered the waters under the heaven to one place and who had separated the waters from the dry land. Yet here at Calvary we see from Psalm 22 that his "tongue cleaveth to my jaws" and that his "strength is dried up like a potsherd". A potsherd - a small piece of pottery that had been long baked in the kiln, with not a molecule of moisture in it, small wonder he cried from the cross "I thirst"

"Verily God, yet become truly human,
Lower than angels to die in our stead"
Yours in Christ, Mark

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The 7 Sayings on the Cross (4)

"My God my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

This is the middle saying from the cross and it surely shows us the solitude and abandonment of the Saviour there on the cross. We have said previously that the first and last sayings address the Father, but here at the 9th Hour having endured those 3 hours of darkness alone, bearing our sin in His own body he cries from the cross the 4th and middle saying.

I have put this most mystifying of statements alongside the mocking of the High Priests when they said:

"If thou be Christ, the chosen of God..."

They had mocked him and questioned his identity as Christ. Of course they knew that Christ would be the Messiah the chosen of God and this is what they refused to believe, in fact they regarded it as blasphemy and it enraged them so! Remember that it was the Lord's answer to that question of the High Priest "art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" that caused the High Priest to rend his garments in rage. Even today it is this acknowledgement of Christ as the Son of God that brings so much opposition and confrontation with the world.

It is a great mystery to us that Christ the chosen of God, the very Son of God should be caused to cry out from the cross "my God my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" A fellow believer reminded me recently that the middle word of this the middle saying from the cross is that little word "why?" and we may ask ourselves this afresh today! Why should it be so? Why must he die and be forsaken of God? The believer in question pointed out that the answer perhaps lies in Psalm 22 where this middle saying is found prophetically: "for thou art holy". God is holy, and Christ was bearing the burden of sin in its entirety! The scriptures say he was made sin for us, and that the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was forsaken of God as he bore the judgement of a righteous and holy God for our sin... Surely we stand on holy ground as we consider again this tremendous truth and marvel at the mystery of the cross.

"How didst Thou humble Thyself to be taken,
Led by Thy creatures and nailed to the cross,
Hated of men, and of God too forsaken,
Shunning not darkness, the curse and the loss"
Yours in Christ, Mark

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The 7 Sayings on the Cross (3)

"Woman behold thy son! ...behold thy mother"

This is the third saying from the cross and I have twinned it with a recurrent comment from the foot of the cross, and one that was absolutely true:

"He saved others..."

His life was all about others, and so was his death both in terms of its sacrificial nature and that even on the cross the Saviour is here thinking of others. He turns to his mother and ensures that she is cared for and provided for in the days, weeks and months following the Saviour's death and eventual ascension.

We mentioned in our previous post that some people who were at Golgotha that day were affected for eternity, such as that thief on the cross. But in this instance we see that there were also individuals at the cross who were affected for the rest of their earthly lives, and here is such an example. How touching that in the most traumatic and sorrowful of circumstances there at the foot of the cross, these 2 individuals were brought together by the Saviour and given a solution that would bring them blessing for life! Here in this new relationship they would find comfort, solace, support and encouragement at a time when they would most need it.

I find it no coincidence at all that it is John who is chosen by the Lord for this particular task - was he not the 'disciple whom Jesus loved', the one who leaned upon the bosom of the Lord Jesus? John presents Christ as the Son of God in his Gospel, yet also understood something of his incarnation(John ch 1).  Mary also knew that He was the Son of God, as she had been told this from the very beginning (Luke ch 1) but of course she was also best placed to understand the fact that He was the Son of Man also, God manifest in flesh!

I am sure that Mary the mother of the Lord Jesus would have appreciated the close fellowship and encouragement of the one who had seemed most close to the Lord Jesus, who seemed to understand something of His character perhaps more than the others at that time. Together they would both be able to contemplate and consider the tremendous person and work of Christ!

Is it not true that the Lord does the same work for us today? When the Lord saves us we enjoy a new relationship, one that has been made possible through the work of Christ at the cross and one that affects us for time, not just for eternity! In our last post we appreciated the eternal significance of our salvation, whereas here we contemplate the new relationship that we have with him as our Saviour, enjoying fellowship and help, strength, encouragement and guidance in our daily pathway down here.

What a wonderful salvation is ours!

Yours in Christ, Mark

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The 7 Sayings on the Cross (2)

"Today thou shalt be with me in paradise"

Naturally I have paired this with that direct request of the thief on the cross to the Lord Jesus:

Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom"

This is indeed a lovely scene in the midst of all the pain and suffering there at Golgotha. It is lovely to see amidst all the mocking, scorn and the flagrant wickedness of man at the cross, that we also see a glimpse of repentance and faith from a single individual.

Here we see dialogue between a thief and the Saviour. It is interesting to note that the thief was someone who took from others that which wasn't his to take, but the Lord Jesus was one who freely gave to others that which only he could give!

The repentant thief is rewarded with the sure promise of eternal life in response to his faith. It is lovely to see the dramatic context of this conversion - that at the last opportunity that life afforded him, this man's eternal destiny was changed forever!

And so the cross changes our destiny too. It is easy to forget that we too met the Saviour at the cross and as a result of that meeting we also are bound for heaven and have eternal life in Him. Our conversions may well have been less dramatic in terms of their situations and circumstances, but the end result was the same - a sinner was saved by grace! Saved from judgement and wrath, and won for heaven!

We praise the Saviour for showing a care and interest in us, that ever he should come and give himself so that we might be saved.

Yours in Christ, Mark

Monday, 30 April 2012

The 7 Sayings on the Cross

I have been enjoying some thoughts recently on the 7 sayings of the Lord Jesus from the cross (as we like to call them). In particular I have been contrasting and comparing them with things that were said either to the Lord or about the Lord by those at the foot of the cross at that time. It is interesting when you consider this as it tells us so much about the character of our Lord Jesus, and I hope you too find them beneficial. We will look at one each day so it is in nice bite-size daily amounts!

"Father forgive them for they know not what they do"

It is true that the first and last statements from the cross both address the Father, but how interesting that this very first saying, should be in grace and mercy on behalf of those who were putting him to death and treating him so shamefully! I have 'paired' this first saying of our Lord Jesus with the mocking accusation from the foot of the cross:

"Thou that destroyest the temple and rebuildest it in 3 days, save thyself and come down from the cross"

I realise that this first saying was possibly directed at and in response to the actions of those cruel Roman soldiers, but for the purposes of this small study I have put it alongside this statement for comparative purposes. Their statement shows just how much they had misunderstood the teaching of the Lord Jesus, and in particular the temple analogy. Remember that 'threatening to destroy the temple' was one of the things they had accused him of before Pilate, in an attempt to add some sort of credence to the trial. It only showed how little they understood of him, for the scripture says "but he spake of the temple of his body". They didn't appreciate what they were doing in terms of eternity and God's plan of salvation, they thought they were putting an end to this man who said he was the Son of God, but in reality they were fulfilling God's will in relation to His Son. They were fulfilling the original meaning of his teaching regarding the temple of his body! He would die and rise again on the third day. How tremendous to remind ourselves once again that they could do nothing that had not been permitted by the Father, they would only fulfil the scriptures concerning him and his death! He would not and could not come down from the cross, for he had humbled himself in coming into the world and had become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. He would complete the work that the Father had given him to do, and would not turn aside from that pathway. Remember that it was this pathway that made a way of salvation for you and me, and we praise God for that today!

Tomorrow we will look at the second saying from the cross...

Yours in Christ, Mark

Thursday, 22 March 2012

"Fairer than...greater than...lower than...higher than..."

Just a few short thoughts on the subject of our Lord Jesus Christ and hopefully you will enjoy them as much as I have in recent days.

"My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever." Ps 45:2

It is always a good place to start at to consider the beauties of our Lord Jesus Christ, particular perhaps when we gather on a Lord's Day morning to remember and worship him. The verses above really capture the enthusiasm of the Psalmist as he considers his subject and tries to express his worship. His heart is overflowing, his tongue is eager to give voice to his thoughts, willingly and abundantly! Oh that we might be able to catch hold of that zeal!

Of course the Psalm is Messianic, that is a Psalm that speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ and surely as we consider him we would agree that he is fairer than all others we would care to consider. Think of the beauties of the Saviour that we see in the gospel records - his grace, compassion, holiness and purity, his wisdom and love  for those in need around him! His meekness and humility despite his rejection and sufferings... Surely his beauty surpasses all others, he is the altogether lovely one and the gospels bear record to his lovely character.

"Fairer than all the earth beside, chiefest of all unto thy bride,
Fullness divine in thee I see, beautiful man of Calvary!"

"...greater than the temple... than Jonas... than Solomon" Matthew 12

Our verses bring together that 3 fold cord, that wonderful trio of thoughts here in Matthew 12.

The temple - the temple system had failed at this stage, it merely represented empty ceremony, ritualism and was corrupt and ineffective and the Lord pronounced this diagnosis throughout his earthly ministry. It should be obvious to us that Christ is greater than the temple! Hebrews tells us of "a new and living way", "a better covenant" and "a greater and more perfect tabernacle". The temple was where the priests served, and Christ is indeed the greatest priest, for who better to represent man before God than a man who was God himself? This is an amazing truth, that the Son of God was also the Son of Man, God was manifest in the flesh!

Jonas - The reference to Jonah would surely remind us of a message and a messenger from God (as Jonah was a prophet) and Christ is surely greater! As we said in our previous point, who better to bring a message to men from God than God himself? Indeed the scriptures say "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us"

Solomon - The mighty and glorious king Solomon was the greatest king in Biblical history, God said there would be none like him, yet the Lord Jesus is greater than Solomon! The verses remind us of his rejection, as the Queen of the south (a gentile outsider) came to see Solomon if all that was said of him was true, and she saw and believed! The Jews of the day lived alongside the Saviour, he came unto his own, but his own received him not. They rejected him and despised him, they would not have this man to reign over them! How sad.

Thankfully scriptures such as 1 Tim 6:15 and throughout the book of the Revelation remind us that he is "King of Kings, and Lord of Lords" surely he is greater than Solomon, and will be universally proclaimed as such in a coming day (Phil 2:9-11)

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." Heb 2:9

It is always worth remembering that the Lord's incarnation brought him lower than the angels, what a monumental stoop that must have been for Him who is "better than the angels"... I think that sometimes we forget this immense stoop to "lower than" so easily, possibly because we cannot fully understand what it means when the scripture says that "though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor". We have mentioned Philippians 2 already and this passage would also tell us much about that humbling downward stoop he took, in fact it mentions a 7 fold humbling in verses 7 and 8.

The verses tell us why he was incarnated, it was so that he might die. What a strange yet marvellous thought, that here was one who was born so that he might die! Even stranger still when we consider that he knew nothing of death from his position with his father God in eternity past. Yet he tasted death for every man, he knows all about the suffering of death, he went through it all, the agony and shame of it! What is more he bore the judgement for sin at the hands of a holy God, and forsaken he bore it alone.

"For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens" Heb 7:26

Praise God we can close our thoughts by considering the Lord Jesus in this way, as higher than the heavens. He has been down to the depths for us, but how good it is to know that he has been vindicated! God raised him from the dead and has exalted him above all others at his right hand, Philippians 2 follows the same theme; "wherefore God hath highly exalted him"

Praise God that we can sing the words of a hymn that is primarily taken up with his sorrows and sufferings;

"Now in heaven exalted high, Hallelujah! What a Saviour!"

We trust this post has been heart-warming and thought-provoking.

Yours in Christ, Mark




Monday, 13 February 2012


I've been enjoying 2 scriptures from Hebrews that tell us about 2 things which are IMPOSSIBLE.

"For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" (Heb 10:4)

How wonderful it is for believers to appreciate once again that our sin has been fully dealt with once and for all by the Lord Jesus Christ at the cross of Calvary! Hebrews tells us all about this better sacrifice, and it should warm our hearts as we refresh our souls and consider it once again.

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that the Lord Jesus gave himself as "one sacrifice for sins forever" and again that he "put away sins by the sacrifice of himself". Amazing words, especially when we consider that our verse here tells us that no amount of sacrifices of bulls, goats or any beasts would take away sin or deal with its penalty or power. This was an impossibility! Nothing we could ever offer to God would deal with sin and make us right with God once and for all, nothing would fully satisfy the claims of a righteous and holy God against sin. The blood of sacrificed beasts would only cover sins for a season, this was never a permanent solution.

We thank God that there was a better and perfect sacrifice in the person of his beloved Son and Hebrews tells us that he "offered himself without spot to God". This was the difference, here was a perfect spotless sacrifice! The Lord Jesus was the Lamb of God, which was sent to take away the sins of the world (as John the Baptist correctly identified). The scriptures tell us that his precious blood cleanses us from all sin, so we can have every confidence that this once and for all sacrifice has fully dealt with our sins, as he has paid the price with his precious blood and we are saved, forgiven and redeemed!

"but without faith it is impossible to please him (God)" (Heb 11:6)

We realise as believers in Christ that we were (and still are) sinners, and as such we could never offer anything to God, and we have seen this already as Hebrews makes this very clear. Hebrews also illustrates the importance of faith, and this is the response God looks for in men and women today. To respond to that perfect sacrifice by repenting of that sin that took his Son to Calvary to bear it away and to turn to him putting faith and trust in Him!

We thank God for the day we realised we were sinners and that Christ had died for our sin and put faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and his finished work at Calvary.

Day by day let us remind ourselves of these things and offer thanks and praise to God!

Yours in Christ, Mark.


Friday, 27 January 2012

Some thoughts on "all things"

Dear fellow believers, I had been thinking a few weeks ago at the beginning of a New Year about the phrase "all things new". This phrase comes from Revelation 21 as the Lord announces the new heavens and the new earth after all prophecy has been fulfilled and the Lord brings in a new heavens and a new earth fit for the eternal state.

As we look around at the world around us, we can't help but contrast this wonderful prospect with the sin and misery that we see around us! Surely we can echo the words of the apostle: "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."

This sparked my interest in a short study of other mentions of "all things" and I found it most profitable.

Where to start then? I often find myself thinking this and end up starting at the beginning, common sense I suppose!

"All things were made by him" John 1:3

There are other scriptures as well which would testify to the creatorial power of our Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1 for example) and of course this would point us into the past, showing us that the Lord Jesus was there at the beginning, displaying his power and deity bringing all things into being. This would surely reinforce to us his eternal sonship, there was never a time when Christ was not there!

"They wondered every one at all things which Jesus did" Luke 9:43

This scripture would direct us not now into eternity past but to the time when he walked upon this earth and his earthly ministry. An alternative rendering would read as follows; "they were marvelling at everything he was doing" what a lovely thought this is! We remind our hearts that everything our Saviour did was incredible and amazing! He was so different to the men of the day, in fact he is unique, his actions, words and motives marked him out as special. He was the sinless, spotless Son of God, and  because this so evidently flowed out into his daily ministry, men were constantly marvelling at him. Here was God walking amongst them!

"He hath done all things well" Mark 7:37

Here is another statement regarding the Lord's earthly ministry, and really it means "commendably and nobly". How unlike men! How pure and refreshing it must have been to see the Lord at work, to witness his great love and compassion for the people of his day. As you read the gospel records you become acutely aware that the Saviour continually reached out and touched people's lives and made a life-changing impact! Of course this he still does today, through his so great salvation which is freely offered to all and has the power to change lives for all eternity.

"Behold we go up to Jerusalem and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished" Luke 18:31

It never ceases to amaze me when I remind myself that the Saviour knew "all things". He knew all that the prophets had written concerning his life and death, for he was the very Word that was made flesh. He knew the evil and wickedness in mens hearts and all that they were capable of and exactly their intentions toward him, and yet he came and allowed himself to be taken. Philippians 2 really brings this out:

"But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

We praise God that the Saviour was willing to go to that cross and endure all things and fulfil all things, despite knowing all that this would entail and mean for him. Because he did, we are saved!

"Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt" Mark 14:36

It is sobering and humbling to think again that all things were possible for God, but he spared not his own Son! That was one thing he would not do, as Romans tells us. He made the heavens and the earth, he is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-present, he cannot fail, he cannot lie but he would not spare his only beloved Son who was daily his delight the shame and suffering of Calvary. He bore the judgement for our sin, in his own body on the tree:

"Death and the curse were in our cup;
O Christ 'twas full for thee!
But thou hast drained the last dark drop;
'Tis empty now for me;
That bitter cup, love drank it up - 
Now blessings draught for me"

"He hath given all things into his hand" John 3:35, "He hath put all things under his feet" Ephesians 1:22

I realise that these statements were ever true of the Saviour, and in particular the Lord's words from John's Gospel were before the cross, but it is refreshing and encouraging to think about these in the present and future contexts. Today he sits at his Father's right hand and he is over and above all things, and he has been given all things into his hand. He who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death is now exalted higher than the heavens and is over all things! Hebrews reminds us that at present we don't yet see all things under him, so although God has given him this position we do not yet see him fully exercising it. But one day soon he will - God has decreed it and it is as certain as if it were a present reality! We have quoted from Philippians 2 already and it is good to read on in that chapter which tell us so much about the lowly place he took:

"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

"That in all things He might have the pre-eminence" Colossians 1:18

The Amplified version is good to refer to here: "so that he alone in everything and in every respect might occupy the chief place..." What powerful and challenging words! We have learned that he is over everything in terms of creation but now we are learning that he is over all the Church, and should be at the centre of everything we do.

Of course it is very easy for Christ to fall from pre-eminence, just take a look at wider Christendom where men have replaced Christ as the focal point. How sad should that be the case for us whether in our private lives or as a collective in our local churches. On the flip side it is probably very easy to give him the pre-eminence on a Sunday morning or even throughout the whole day, but may God help us to give him that rightful place all the time! I found this very challenging and readily acknowledge my own failing and weakness in this fundamental aspect of Christian living.

May God help us to ensure he is at the centre of our lives both privately and collectively and may he be the focus of all our activities for Him. May our testimonies and service be strengthened by this resolve!

Yours in Christ, Mark





Friday, 13 January 2012

"Great David's Greater Son"

Sometimes we can enjoy looking at types and shadows of Christ in the scriptures, but recently I've been enjoying looking at the contrast between David's son Absalom and as the hymn writer puts it "great David's greater Son" our Lord Jesus Christ. What can we learn then?

Absalom's outward appearance:

"but in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him"

Clearly Absalom was a very good-looking man, the best in fact! However inside it was a very different story. Inside there was sin: hatred, malice, pride, ambition, ruthlessness and arrogance to name but a few!

How different from our Saviour! Here was one who had no outward beauty:

"he hath no form nor comeliness, when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him"

However inwardly of course we know that like Absalom on the outside, there was no blemish at all! The scripture records that he knew no sin, he did no sin, and in him is no sin.

What about the character of Absalom?

Certainly he was a man characterised by pride and vanity, hatred and malice, and bitterness as well! His behaviour with his half-brother Amnon in 2 Sam 13 certainly bears this out, no matter what you think about Amnon. He was also a proud and arrogant man. Just look at his obsession with his appearance and growing and cutting his hair (2 Sam 14:25,26); his entourage that travelled with him (2 Sam 15:1); and his clamour for position and power (2 Sam 15:4). He was a man with mis-placed ambition, he wanted a position that was not his to claim!

What a contrast with our Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 2 says that "he humbled himself" and that "he made himself of no reputation" and that he "thought it not robbery to be equal with God" and prophetically it was said of him "I am meek and lowly". Here was one who knew nothing of pride or self-promotion.

In contrast to Absalom our Saviour was kind, gentle, gracious and compassionate. "When he was reviled he reviled not again, and when he suffered he threatened not."

What about his relationship with his father?

The record shows that Absalom usurped his father's authority and rebelled against him, scheming for the kingdom and stealing the hearts of the people away. He also took glory from David and brought shame on him instead. Remember that following the incident with Amnon he fled from his father to Geshur to his grandfather, such was the severity of his behaviour! Furthermore he fulfilled the prophetic judgement of Nathan when he defiled his father's concubines in view of the whole nation.

With the Lord Jesus we can immediately see the contrast as he did "always those things that please the Father" he was "daily thy delight" and the Father was delighted and well pleased with his Son. He  did not seek a position that was not his to have, the position he has at the Father's right hand over and above everything else is his by right, given to him by his Father! In addition the Lord Jesus ever brought glory to his Father: "I have glorified thee on the earth". What a contrast to the rebel Absalom!

[caption id="attachment_216" align="alignright" width="230" caption=""And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away.""]Absalom caught up in the oak[/caption]

What can we learn about Absalom's death?

This very interesting, as it records in 2 Sam 18 that Absalom was "taken up between the  heaven and the earth"  as he rode upon his ass away from the battle in the woods of Ephraim. So like the Saviour he died on a tree, however there the similarities end. Absalom was there against his will, held there by his hair - that symbol of his fleshly pride and arrogance!

The Lord Jesus also hung on a tree between heaven and earth but of course he was there voluntarily as a willing victim. He was there according to the Father's will. The prophet records that "they pierced my hands and my feet" Unlike Absalom this is what held him to the tree at Calvary! His hands - symbols of his gracious works and acts of compassion! His feet - symbols of that perfect pathway and righteous walk whilst down here.

The epilogue that followed the death of Absalom:

Remember the abject grief of David? "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" There can be no doubt that David was grief-stricken and would have done anything to save his son from death, to the extent he would have died in his place! It is with profound thanks and praise that we read in Romans 8 "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all" God would not spare his Son, but delivered him up to die for us all!

Finally there is a further interesting point concerning Absalom. He was very concerned about his legacy: "Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance" We read in 2 Sam 14 that Absalom did have 3 sons born to him but they must have died in early life and so here was a man who was paranoid about having sons to remember him and a legacy left behind!

How lovely to compare this to the Lord Jesus. Unlike Absalom he has many sons who remember his name! "bringing many sons to glory" Heb 2:10 We have been made "by grace sons of God" We are His sons! We are in this blessed and privileged position through his grace and we gather together to keep his name in remembrance:

"this do in remembrance of me"

"for as often as ye take this bread and drink this cup ye do show forth the Lords death until he come"

How wonderful it is to return as grateful and blessed sons and offer up our praise and worship to our father God for our Lord Jesus Christ!

We trust that these simple thoughts will be enjoyed and bring benefit to our souls and much worship to God. As always, all comments are welcome.

Yours in Christ, Mark


1 Kings 19: Elijah and God

I was listening to a podcast the other day which was speaking about 1 Kings 19 and it reminded me of how very relevant this passage is to ou...