Who’s at the top?

Here’s a puzzler: why did demons know who Jesus was while religious leaders did not? And why were they so eager to declare Who He was? In Mark 1, the account says: “So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons. But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak.”

Had they met Him, had a run in with Him, been briefed on Him? Or did they already acknowledge Him as Lord of All? Was Jesus the adversary they had been warned about, or was He the King of Kings they had bowed down before? Since higher powers exist – angels, demons, cherubim, etc. – they know Who’s at the top.

One church at the beginning got the message from the Apostle. He said that “at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord” — not just here on earth, but above the earth and under the earth. They, by virtue of position, had to announce who he was. Because they had already acknowledged who was at the top. And… that would be Jesus! Let that make a difference in how you pray.

Recognizing The One Who Rules it All.

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Not business, but personal

I’ve heard the “it’s full of contradictions” comment on occasion when dialoging about the Bible. Here’s one that turns up occasionally. Why do Matthew have two ladies at the tomb after the resurrection and John only has Mary Magdalene?

A couple of simple insights clear this one up. The Jewish culture called for two or more witnesses to validate a truth. Mary, Salome, and probably a few other women were there. OK, so the truth is validates (of course, they are women, so some of the most strict would discount the testimony anyway – it was Jesus, and Christianity that return the worth to women’s importance.)

And, for John, the story is about the personal touch. He writes as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” Relationship is the thread of insight throughout his story from chapter one — remember that Jesus (the Word) was with God in the beginning (emphasis “with”) and came to earth to dwell among people (emphasis “among”) — to chapter 25 when Jesus recast the call to “follow” and do life with and in Him. Mary Magdalene, for John, got the nod in his account because Jesus had done so much in her life, to forgive and restore.

So, when we are about the business of sharing the Great News, it’s not business, it’s personal.

The Greatest Act of Worship

Have you even wondered how the beauty of goodness and the ugly of evil can exist in such close proximity? Just inside the entrance to the Sistine Chapel, covering the wall is Michaelangelo’s “Judgement Day” fresco. He depicts heaven, Jesus enthroned, worship and redemption graphically juxtaposed with hell’s fires, anguish, hopelessness and evil. The light of heaven is above; the darkness of hell is below. And pulling toward the dark those who long for good are the demons of hell. He had insight!

I see this juxtaposition of goodness and evil every day around me (and unfortunately, the battle of this inside me, too.) In Matthew 26 you can read about the greatest act of evil happening right alongside the greatest act of worship.

The Pharisees plot Jesus’ death. They do so in a politically correct way, of course, by trying to avoid Passover — a sort of Jesus-gate collusion.

While they look for a breakthrough to this “Nazarene problem, Jesus experiences the greatest act of worship possible. He is with his disciples dining at the house of a man he likely healed of leprosy, and “the woman” brings the alabaster jar in and breaks and pours out this expensive gift in adoration onto his feet.

The writer of this account uses two key “transition words” that indicate these two events were happening side-by-side – different locations, down the street from each other, but at the same time. How revealing!

When I break open and pour out what I am before the Lord, the fragrance is sweet – not because of the good I have done or am, but because of the good He has poured in. And when this happens, the aroma can overwhelm the place I’m in and draw others to the Source of this perfume. No matter the evil “down the street” or the pull the enemy has to tempt us toward the darkness, the fragrance of God’s grace and the goodness through a life poured out for Him is greater!

As you and I seek the Father, live by the Spirit, and pursue the Son’s command to follow Him and build disciples of all nations, keep pouring out the good He has poured into you.

Broken and splashed – Rick