It seems radical to edit Paul, but if I were his editor I might advise him to begin with “The Lord is at hand” and then carry on with his first truth that connects “rejoice in the Lord” to reasonableness. Then I’d suggest he connect “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone” directly to “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.” Right there, after “thanksgiving” I’d ask him to place a big “.” [a full stop]. There’s something holy about connecting rejoicing to our “reasonableness”…reasonableness to our “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving”…and “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” to our belief. Those are the connections of holy truth that verify we do believe “the Lord IS at hand” in our life for his purpose .
Did you notice how personal everything Paul writes is, even without my editing? It’s about your rejoicing, your reasonableness, your prayer, your supplication and your thanksgiving. Today if you dare to believe that, use my “full stop” and take a moment to rejoice over the Godly reality that sometimes His truth really is about you! Then read on. Paul is going to make your rejoicing even more personal with God’s promise to “guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus“.”
That’s very personal for God too! “Again I will say, rejoice!” Take my dare! “Rejoice” over what He is making known to, and about, you. Rejoicing is reasonable evidence that you’re practicing “what you have learned and received and heard and seen” in your personal relationship with Him“.” He’ll love it!
John 17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. 6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.” ESV
What is the general theme of the passage?
It’s all BOLD, the circumstances, the content, the intent and the focus.
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus prayed. He’d accomplished His Father’s work on earth and now His glory would once again be displayed in the Father’s presence just as it had been before the world existed. Jesus was thankful for those the Father had given Him, who’ve received His Words as evidence for them from the true God.
What does it say about people?
Believers in Christ hold within themselves a part of His shared glory with the Father.
Is there truth here for me?
The disciples have shared life with Jesus in every possible circumstance. Over time the content of His life has become a real part of their own lives. That content is now going to reshape the intent and focus for the rest of their own lives. Jesus has declared these friends are God’s gift to Him and that He is glorified in them. There’s something familiar about that. What the disciples have experienced in Jesus’s presence is new birth! They were in the presence of Jesus! For us that experience is wrapped in the mysterious phrase: “born again.” It’s really hard to try to define “born again” because Jesus is so personal in what He speaks to those to whom He speaks the Father’s truth. But…now I’m excited because suddenly the familiar has become more real. Let these things marinate in your heart from this priestly prayer. Jesus is praying for you! You are God’s gift to Him! You are part of His glory! I didn’t restrain my use of exclamation points because I’ve just seen an exciting truth about “born again” that has changed the tense of what I’ve written to “You” into something very personal for me that has simplified my understanding of “born again.” I have been “born again” because “Jesus’s hour has come” in me!!!
John 11:45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. ESV
What is the general theme of the passage?
There are two damming verses in this passage for those chief priests and Pharisees. Verse 47 is not about the people impacted by Jesus’s “many signs” but that those miracles have narrowed the Pharisees focus to themselves and a different set of personal pronouns; “we and our” in Verse 48. They have forgotten what their God-given purpose IS. No longer are they maintaining God’s place and God’s nation for God’s purpose. They think the real threat to their future is Jesus, not that God remembers His plan.
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
God never forgets His purpose is Jesus, “and not for the nation only.” Jesus’s death IS the miracle of life that will display His purpose “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” throughout history.
What does it say about people?
God will reveal His truth even in the perverted context of man’s reasoning and the human tendency to focus on “we and our” instead of God and Jesus.
Is there truth here for me?
Many of those same people who “had seen what he [Jesus] did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees” and told them what Jesus had done. They’d all seen Lazarus come out of the tomb with their own eyes but now they’ve separated into two groups. I know there were other miracles where life was restored but the truth here seems particularly clear; “resurrection” is the dramatic separation between those who believe and those who need an expert to validate what they believe. Resurrection is how God has gathered in His children to validate their faith and make it personal!
EPH 4:26 “In your anger do not sin.” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. ESV
One easy response to conflict and anger is the the ostrich effect: a cognitive bias that causes people to avoid information that they perceive as potentially unpleasant.
The ostrich effect may be comfortable but it has no power to make things right. Anger is uncomfortable but it’s powerful and often feels right. Don’t miss the reality this Scripture warns us of; “In your anger do not sin.” Your personal faith is the power over those emotions of anger and conflict. “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” and give “the devil a foothold.” He plans to steal the power of your faith in the darkness.
MSG Eph 3:8 And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ.
ESV 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
NLT 8 Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ.
What you see above are three different versions of the same verse listed one after another. The first is an esteemed paraphrase and the other two are translations. The Word of God still has the power to remind us it’s purpose is our purpose too. Put yourself in Paul’s place and read these inspired words as if they’re your own.
“And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ.”
Combining three different versions of this one verse has become an exercise of the heart that makes use of repetition to emphasize the clarity of their purpose: the “privilege” to tell people about the “unsearchable riches of Christ.” It’s also become a contemporary application that confirms the Word of God is still alive and able to inspire the heart of His people to make it very personal.
This downloadable PDF file has directions on how to use your internet access to read many versions of a single verse Bible reference in list form.
Matthew 21:8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” [NIV]
Today is Palm Sunday. I know many of us will have the opportunity to hear the message of Christ provided by our Pastor’s via the internet. That’s a blessing. We are living in a new reality where dependence on community worship is restricted. We won’t be surrounded by a crowd of like minded people gathering together to remember this day as the moment of triumph when Jesus begins His final journey to the day of our salvation. We won’t be hearing other voices raised with our own as we shout Hosanna! There are no waving palm branches to prompt our memory of the past.
The pomp and circumstance of public celebrations has been temporarily swept aside but Coronavirus can’t deprive you of your Hosannas, “help” or “save, I pray!” Today we are the ones who must prepare the way for Jesus to enter into the midst of our exile. “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Blessed is he who comes to complete His identity in you right there in your own home and offers you the opportunity to complete your identity in Him through a different kind of personal experience. Today Palm Sunday worship is up to you.
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
NRSV Matthew 12:29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property, without first tying up the strong man? Then indeed the house can be plundered. 30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
NRSV Mark 9:38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 Whoever is not against us is for us.
NRSV Luke 9:49 John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.”
After reading several versions of these passages and looking at commentaries written by people at various levels of prestige from St. Augustine to names I didn’t recognize this is my #1 question. Is Jesus speaking more about people outside the disciple’s experience of faith rather than those in opposition to Jesus? Is Jesus challenging us to check the balance of our focus on the relationship between doctrine and comfort?
Apparently doctrine is an age-old conflict. What if Jesus is speaking of people who operate outside the body of faith as we know it but don’t actually oppose Him? What if Jesus’ emphasis is about “tying up the strong man” with dependence on doctrine, rather than Himself. Can that be what makes the “strong man’s house” vulnerable to plunder? What if these three passages reveal the very words of Jesus that lead us from doctrine to comfort?
That makes sense to me when I read the Mark and Luke versions of this passage. I feel like I can read between the lines of John’s words in Mark. Sure the man is “casting out demons in your name” but how can what he’s doing possibly be OK “because he was not following us”? John’s concern for the corporate integrity of their ministry was real. Jesus matches his assurance to John with the same group-inclusive pronoun, “us.” “Whoever is not against US is for US.”
John’s invested his own life and identity in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus knew the question of integrity was still very personal to John. John’s own conflict was finding the comfort between doing things the way they “should” be done [doctrine?] and his commitment to the ministry of Jesus. Jesus words from Luke challenged John to move from doctrine to the exclusive assurance of comfort of a personal pronoun, “you.’ “Whoever is not against YOU is for YOU.”
NASB John 1: 35–39 As John the Baptist stood there with two of his disciples, Jesus passed and John stared hard at him and said: “Look, there is the Lamb of God.” Hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus, and Jesus turned around, saw them following, and said, “What do you want?” “Rabbi [which means “teacher”], where do you live?” “Come and see,” he replied. So they went and saw where he lived and they stayed with him the rest of the day. It was about the tenth hour.
There’s no simpler or more effective way to tell people about Jesus than to invite them using His own words…“come and see.” They are gentle words with a mystery about them. That invitation to a one-on-one engagement with Jesus is what makes that relationship a “personal” and effective one. “Come and see” for yourself.
NASB Isaiah 32:18 Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places;
Colossians 2:1 I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is…9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness…13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled tqhe charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
The word “you” is used twenty-two times in the first fourteen verses of this Chapter. You is a personal pronoun. The Apostle begins with simple words “I want you to know how hard I am contending for you… and for all who have not met me personally.” It only takes a couple more verses before he’s swept away that separation of knowing him personally, and time. I’m certain grammar and pronouns were the furthest things from Paul’s mind when he wrote this Word but his goal is still alive and well because of them. We’ve become part of the inner circle of “the mystery of God, namely, Christ” in you. “God made you alive with Christ,”
The impersonal has been swept away because of these words written so long ago by a man we’ve never met. Here’s the grand finale. It’s very personal, we’re now part of the inner circle of Christ. The indisputable confirmation of Scripture being Living Word is it still speaks loud and clear to the heart today with two more pronouns – us and our.
“He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”
Matthew 2:1-2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”…11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The Magi were men who still had the desire for God in their hearts. Desire was why they watched for a sign. When they recognized the star they prepared their gifts and took that first step of a long journey expecting God would to lead them to a king.
People really do still have the desire for God in their hearts. God has pulled out all the stops for us during this season with many different and personal signs to guide us to “the one who has been born king,” the Big Event. This is our modern-day version of the journey but it’s still all about desiring God, watching for the signs, preparing our gifts of worship and then taking that first step expecting God will lead us to the King.
These are the perfect gifts of worship if you’re short on gold, frankincense and myrrh.
• Give Jesus your desire.
• Offer this new born priest your long journey.
• Let him be King of all your expectations.
God bless our journey.