Isaiah (whose name means “God saves”), lived through the reign of 4 Kings (1:1). He began his ministry in 740 BC, the year King Uzziah died (6:1).
The people in Isaiah’s time had arranged their life in 2 separate boxes marked “religion” and “life.” They were good at celebrating the temple rituals but their practical faith stopped at the temple gates. They ignored the poor and the widowed, the neglected and the vulnerable
Serving God and following His call involves many choices; one of them isn't the distinction between "faith" and "life" - the two go together. When they are separated, as they were in Isaiah's day, it becomes more about us than it is about God. This ultimately brings judgment but that's not God's intention from the beginning - with Him there is always a way back.
For us to be able to see Jesus for who he really is, is not simply a word thing.
True discipleship consists of those who continue the journey of the cross Jesus began. The retreat to the safety of talking about Jesus is simply an exercise of arms length faith: it’s easy then to get bogged down into what someone else says!
Seeing Jesus, knowing him is beyond safety for it is experiencing the power of God for ourselves. True discipleship is seeing Jesus and following him, wherever he leads, irrespective of what we do or do not understand – we are to be, first and last, Jesus followers
How would you like to be remembered? Well, an American company based in Utah have come up with an ingenious suggestion- get mummified. The owner of the company says that his clients don’t want to be ‘covered with dirt and forgotten’. They want to be remembered after death: to live on in some way.
When you think about it, what that company has tapped into is a deep seated instinct that there must be something more to life than death. That if death really is the end, then all our achievements in life are ultimately rendered meaningless.
But what if it could be shown that life can come out of death? What if it is the grave that is made a mockery of by someone leaving it like a prisoner breaking out of the confines of his cell? Then maybe life isn’t so meaningless after all, especially if the person who does is to be an example for the rest of us
Reading the right books and coming to the correct conclusions will only take you so far.
To believe is to understand why Jesus had to die. Then, as now, people concerned about their reputations and status and struggled to make sense of the work and nature of Christ. It all becomes clearer as our heart are moved and our minds engage with the reality of God’s plan.
Estimates vary. No one counted and there wasn’t an entrance fee to make the calculation easier. It’s likely that there well over half a million people crowded into the narrow winding streets of the old city. There were all there for a spectacular show but they got more than they ever bargained for.
Passover remains the highlight of the Jewish Festival Calendar. It’s an opportunity for people to celebrate God’s deliverance with communal feasting and worship which engages all the senses. This year, it would be different.
Just as Jesus rode into that city, so he comes into our lives. It’s often unexpected, occasionally unwelcome (we have to rethink our goals) but always for our benefit. The fast of Lent and repentance is almost over, the feast of Easter is nearly here
Jesus is moving centre stage and to His "enthronement" on a Cross crowned with Thorns. His seventh sign, the raising of the dead man Lazurus, his name means "God helps"! completes the proclamation of Light coming into the world.
The rest of John's Gospel shares how the Light Is full of grace and truth - God's glory. Raising Lazurus, in this Bethany "House of bitterness", is the sign that He, the Divine Word, brings life, to that which is well and truly stinking dead. The hardest test of all - the redemption of a sinful creation - stinking in its dead state" but tetalesthai! It will be accomplished..
What’s it like on your front line today?
Paul leaves us in no doubt that our resolve, as well as our faith, will be tested. Whether we can readily identify the issues we face or if they crop up without warning, there’s no doubt that being committed to Christ will provoke a reaction.
Whether it’s a conflict over the way we behave or a direct assault on our faith we aren’t left to our own devices. We have the means to confront the worst of enemies with the promise of God’s presence and power.