Easter Meditation: Behold the Man!


The Holy Spirit convicts men of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come. Christians still remain in the world as salt and light. The creation testifies to the glory of God. Everyone, saved and unsaved, has a conscience. God does not presently permit mankind to be as depraved as possible. He also promotes good in our world in the form of kindness, compassion, and charity.

Pilate is an example of an unsaved, pragmatic leader who wants to do the right thing when faced with what he deems is an impossible situation. He believes that Jesus of Nazareth is innocent. He has done nothing worthy of a death sentence. He worked hard at advocating for the our Lord. When he could not overcome His enemies, he still looked for a way to release Him. Maybe the enemies would be satisfied if Pilate scourged Jesus within an inch of His life. Presenting Jesus before them arrayed in the mocking robes of a king, all bloodied and beaten, he said, “Behold the Man!”

Why does Pilate do this? He cannot dismiss the Jewish religious leaders without putting himself and his position in jeopardy. But he still has hopes of releasing Jesus. The presentation of Jesus after His beating was designed to invoke sympathy in His fellow countrymen and shame them for their unreasonable hatred toward Him.

Once people see Jesus beaten, bloodied and bowed, perhaps they will relent. Once they see the end of their hatred, perhaps they will have compassion because of the undeserved pain and suffering they have caused Him. An expansion of Pilate’s thoughts are in order: “Behold the Man! You have demanded that I crucify Him. I have told you over and over again that He has done nothing worthy of death, but you maintain that He has. I have scourged Him and still find no fault in Him. Even if He has broken your laws, surely He has suffered enough for it. Be satisfied! Don’t make me go through with what you’re asking me to do. Behold Him! Where is your compassion? Won’t your anger dissipate? Behold the Man!”

Pilate gives voice to Jesus’ defense before His persecutors. “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which has been brought on me, which the LORD has inflicted in the day of His fierce anger” (Lamentations 1.12). Yet, they will not hear Pilate’s advocacy or anyone else’s. “Reproach has broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness’ I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none’ and for comforters, but I found none” (Psalm 69.20).

There is no sympathy in Jesus’ enemies. There is no shame either. Jesus is a rebel as far as they are concerned. Pilate presents Jesus to His blood-thirsty detractors hoping to convince them that such a gentle and lowly man is no agitator or zealot. Even His closest disciples and friends had deserted Him. No one advocated for Him save Pilate himself. “Behold the Man! How can you say that He is a threat to you or to Rome. There is nothing special about this Man. Yet you fear Him. You are jealous of this Man? You want to put this Man to death? Even if He had influence over the nation in the past, how could He ever hope to gather a following again after all that has happened to Him on this day? Leave this Man be. He is no longer a threat. Behold the Man!”

Pilate views the nation’s religious leaders with contempt. They pursue a dead dog …a flea. The scribes and Pharisees had connived and planned for this day. They would not let it pass. They would not be satisfied until Jesus was crucified. If Pilate did not comply, they would make him an enemy of Caesar. “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar” (John 19.12).

“Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them [other religious detractors of Jesus Christ], ‘You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.’ Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad” (John 11.49-51).

Caiaphas unwittingly prophesied of the saving benefits of Christ’s death when he intended simply to recommend the execution of a trouble-maker. Pilates desire is to save the Man who would save him by His death. Even Pilate’s wife understood Jesus was a just man. She advised her husband, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him” (Matthew 27.19).

Behold the Man!

  1. Behold the Man and gain confidence! The sheer weight of fulfilled prophecy indicates that Jesus is the Christ. Was this Man treated with contempt by the whole nation? Was this Man mocked, reviled, and spit upon? Was He beaten with many stripes? Search the Scriptures. If it is so, then He must be the Christ. “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before it’s hearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53.7). He could have called 10,000 angels to defend Him and obliterate us. But then prophecy would not have been fulfilled. Our redemption would not have been secured. If He endured this for us while we were yet enemies, what will he not do for us when we beg for His mercy?
  2. Behold the Man and gain gratitude! The love of Christ is past finding out. A finite mind cannot comprehend an infinite love. We desire to know the love Christ which passes knowledge, but we cannot plumb the depths of such love. But what we do find out and experience, leaves us grateful. “Behold the Man!” A crown of thorns, a reed for a scepter, a royal robe, and blood flowing down. He is ready to lose consciousness. He carries our shame and contempt. He demands more than lip-service from us. He will win our heart if we behold the Man.
  3. Behold the Man and gain motivation! If you love Christ, keep His commandments. “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14.21). “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15.14). People sought to make Jesus king, but he refused. He hid Himself from His would-be subjects. They desired a bread-king. But when they mocked Him and plated a crown of thorns for Him, He submitted willingly to this. Why? It was because such submission would set us free to love and worship God. It would free us to exalt, honor, and worship God. We would say, “Behold the Man!” We would say it with new meaning and perspective. He endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself. He endured the cross, despising the same. We follow Him and bear His reproach. He gave Himself for us, to purchase a people who would be zealous of good works. Let Christ be magnified in our body, whether it be by life or by death! Behold the Man!

All Things for the New Year


“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things” (Romans 8.32)?

Assuredly, we want to begin 2016 with confidence and to live it victoriously.  Confidence for the year ahead is based upon God’s goodness extended to us in a singular event.  Specifically, it is rooted in the fact that God did not spare Jesus Christ, His own Son.  Instead, He delivered Him up for us all. 

God delivered His Son up for us even before we became children of God:   while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Our situation was desperate.  Our hearts were desperately wicked.  We could not earn the grace of God.  We did not deserve the grace of God.  And yet God did not spare His own Son. 

What does the Bible mean when it states that God did not spare His own son?  It means that God did not prevent His wrath from being poured out fully upon His Son.  The wrath of God for the sin of mankind was poured out in full measure upon Jesus Christ in order fully satisfy the Father.  Jesus was not spared. 

This was done for us all.  Which means it was done for every person that has ever lived or ever will live, but it was done especially for those who believe (1 Timothy 4.10).  And those who believe are in view as you read Romans 8.

Jesus became a man so that the Son of God could die for the sin of all mankind as the Second Adam.  God loved us so much that He delivered Jesus up for us all.  He didn’t spare Him. 

Jesus was delivered up because of our offenses (cp. w/ Romans 4.25a).  God is not willing that any person should perish but that every person should come to repentance ….that every person should have a change of mind when it comes to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (2 Peter 3.9).  God desires that once we trust in Christ, we continue to to trust in Him.  This leads to a change of direction in our lives.  We turn from self and run toward Christ.

Jesus did not come to primarily teach us an ethical system or how to be morally good and right.  He was delivered up by the Father as the propitiation for our sins and for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2.2). 

Jesus was delivered up for us all.  But not all people benefit by this great Gift.  Yet the Gift of Jesus’ redemption is sufficient for us all.  To deny this is to say that God’s gift is insufficient.  But, of course, nothing God gives is insufficient.  If a person will not receive the gift of God through faith, they will not be able to say that God did not extend His love and mercy toward them.  The LORD God asks, “Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die ….and not that he should turn from his ways and live” (Ezekiel 18.23)?  The answer to this rhetorical question is that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.  God desires repentance and faith from all. 

Any person who desires acceptance with God through the person and work of Jesus Christ may have it.  That person may be assured that Jesus Christ was delivered up for them.  This is the teaching of the Word of God.  If you are reading this, you too, can receive the gift of God.  You too can trust alone in the death of Jesus Christ for all your sin …you can trust in the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day for your justification (Romans 4.25).  Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2.8-9).  My hope is that you are not only aware of these facts, but that you are depending upon them. 

But it is the latter portion of this verse that is captivating for the coming year:

“How shall He [God the Father] not with Him [Jesus Christ the Son] also freely give us all things?”

We can get very confused by statements such as these.  God loves His children too much to give them everything they want; however, God gives them everything they need, and I do mean everything.  If we need a lot of money, God will give it to us.  If we need a father, God will give him to us.  If we need a brother, a sister, or a mother, God will raise one up.  There is not anything that we need that God will not give.

But notice the adverb freely.  God will freely give us all things.  I don’t need to send Him a seed-gift through some other mediator.  I don’t have to practice extortion or go into debt to freely get all I need from God.  Actually, God is more willing to give than I am to ask.  Sometimes God gives even when I fail to ask.  What a humbling experience that is!  God freely gives to us all things.  Therefore we ought to make 2016 a year when we ask for all things. 

The greatest gift God ever gave me was the gift of His only Son.  It only makes sense that He will give me the gifts that are smaller and lesser in value than the salvation of my eternal soul.  God will not forget you, leave you, or forsake you this year.  Believe it.  It would be absurd for you to not believe it.  God will not act contrary to His giving nature.  He is God. 

I leave you with three thoughts for the year ahead:

  1. Since there is not greater gift than God’s Son, then “thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9.15)! 
  2. Since no one is worthy of such a gift, then let’s all open our mouths wide knowing God will fill them (Psalm 81.10). 
  3. Since God will freely give us all things “with Him” (that is, with Christ), then let us approach God’s throne with Christ as our Advocate.  Paul writes, “All things are yours …all are yours.  And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3.21-23).   

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

The Wonder of Christ at Christmas – Part 2

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this (Isaiah 9.6-7).

The prophecy which unfolds in Isaiah 8.22-9.7 has both a near and far fulfillment.  Yesterday, we looked at this context and compared it with the New Testament (Part 1).  God has revealed Himself in a progressive manner.  Since it is Christmas Day, let’s examine the wonder of Christ in Christmas by unwrapping the gift of His person.

Jesus is a Child Born

John 1.14 states, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Galatians 4.4-5 state, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

1 Timothy 3.16 states, “Great is the mystery of godliness:  God was manifested in the flesh.”

All of this New Testament revelation illuminates that which people in Isaiah’s day could not understand.  Unto us a child is born.  He is a child born of a virgin woman under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law.  The Child born would also become the Son God gave to the world.

Jesus is a Son Given

“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3.16).  Jesus is the Son given (grace).  He is the gift of God who Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.  “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us” (1 John 3.16a).  Jesus is the Son given.

2 Corinthians 5.21 tells us that the Father made the Son who knew no sin to be sin for us.  He stood in our place and absorbed the wrath of God that we deserve.  He drained the dregs of judgment in the cup of God’s fierce indignation.  Not for Himself but for you and for me.  He died and was buried in a tomb.  The third day He arose!

The Father raised up the Son, Jesus our Lord, from the dead.  Jesus was the Son given because of our offenses and the Son raised because of our justification (Romans 4.25).

Jesus is a King Forever

1. He is the Wonderful Counselor – The Bible exhorts us as believers to be knit together in love, and attain to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2.6).  Jesus is wisdom personified.  He is the Word become flesh!  His ways and judgements are beyond our comprehension.  We look to Him for wisdom and guidance!  He is the King Forever and the Wonderful Counselor!

2. He is the Mighty God – He is not only God with us; He is God over us.  If Jesus is not God, then He could not be the Son given.  If Jesus is not God, then He could not reign as King.  He shares in all the attributes of the Father.  He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present.  The Mighty God is the Lord of glory crucified.  It is His blood that is the purchase-price of our redemption:  matchless blood and flawless blood.  He is King Forever and the Mighty God!

3. He is the Everlasting Father – This text is not saying that Jesus the Son is actually God the Father.  We believe in the triune nature of God:  Father, Son, and Spirit, three persons and yet one God.  So how is Jesus the everlasting Father.  He has begotten us as children by His word and Spirit.  Jesus is the second Adam.  He is the giver and source of everlasting life.  Through His blood, He has opened the new and better way to God.  We are adopted into the family of God through supernatural rebirth.  Jesus made this possible.  He is the Everlasting Father in this sense.  He is the King Forever and he Everlasting Father!

4. He is the Prince of Peace – While Jesus will reign upon David’s throne and bring peace to the entire world for 1,000 years, we as believers experience the benefit of peace today.  He redeemed us and reconciled us to the Father.  We are no longer enemies but children.  Not only that, we have peace garrisoning our hearts to this day.  Nobody is able to take this peace away from us.  He is the King Forever and the Prince of Peace!

Father, all we can do is meditate upon these verses and simply get lost in wonder and in praise for Jesus, the Child born, the Son given, and the King forever.  The more we think about this passage, the more devoted to Christ we become.

We are filled with wonder.  He is the Child born:  God in the flesh.  You have revealed that the angels themselves are lost in wonder and desire to consider this great truth.  Great is this mystery of godliness!  Thanks be to You for Your indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9.15)!

We are lost in praise.  Our gratitude is heightened when we consider the incarnation of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  That He would be a Child born in order to become a Son given as a sacrifice compels gratitude within us.  You put it there in our souls though the power of your Spirit.  What can we give in return?  We can never repay You for the Child born and the Son given, but we can give You our lives anew this Christmas morning.

Let us be filled with devotion and commitment.  Let Your will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven.  We submit ourselves to the King today and every day.  We accept the gift of His reign over us.

You have bid us come.  We have labored and we have been heavily burdened by our sin.  We receive the rest only You give.  We take Your yoke upon us.  We will learn from You for you are gentle and lowly in heart.  You will give us what we seek this Christmas:  Rest for our souls.  Lord Jesus, Your yoke is indeed easy; Your burden light.  We bless You in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

The Wonder of Christ at Christmas – Part 1

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this (Isaiah 9.6-7).

Isaiah 8 ends with the words, “Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness” (Isaiah 8.22).  Nevertheless the gloom or judgment would not oppress forever.  The Lord lightly esteemed or treated with contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali.  But later He would bring blessing upon them.  Verse 1 says that afterward He more heavily oppressed her, but the phrase would be better translated, “He will make it glorious” (heavy weight of glory not oppression as in the NASB) by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan or on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.  The area occupied by the half tribe of Manasseh will benefit from this specific blessing.  Galilee of the nations or Gentiles will also be blessed.  The phrase Galilee of the Gentiles only occurs here and in Matthew 4.15, which cites this passage.  Galilee is from a word that can mean “circle”.  It seems best to take it to mean the Gentile nations that encircled Israel.

Isaiah 9.2 says that “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light (better will see; sometimes the perfect tense communicates future events as already having taken place in order to communicate certainty).”  The OT sense of this prophecy portrays God’s people walking in the darkness of sin and rebellion.  The great light would be God’s judgment shining upon them at the hands of the Assyrian army.  But the NT sense of the fulfillment of this prophecy is the great light of the Lord Jesus coming and releasing His people from their captivity of sin and darkness.  He would absorb the judgment of God for us.  We know this because of Matthew 4.15-16.  Jesus is the light that has shined:  “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.”

Jesus grew up in Nazareth within the confines of Zebulun in Isaiah’s prophecy.  There was darkness in Nazareth and a great need for spiritual light.  The Lord Jesus is the light that shined in the land of the shadow of death.  Luke tells us how He introduces the light of His fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy:

Luke 4.16 states, “[Jesus] came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.”

Isaiah 9.3 states, “You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy.”  Of course, this refers to the Lord Jesus as well.  They rejoice as in the joy of harvest and dividing the spoil of battle.  There are two ways to look at this:  1) The Lord Jesus multiplied the nation and increased its joy by bringing in the Gentiles under grace; 2) He will multiply the nation and increase its joy when He sits upon the royal throne of David during the Millennium.  I have no problem accepting both interpretations because both are true.

Verses 4-5 clearly refer to the day of Midian, a time when Gideon delivered Israel from the Midianite invasion in Judges 6-8.  I believe that it is abundantly clear that this prophecy has not been fulfilled by the Lord Jesus as of yet.  I think it is a reference to the cleansing of the land after the close of the Great Tribulation period.  The Lord Jesus prepares for His rule in verse 5.  John the apostle writes of this specific time in the Revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelation 19.11-21):

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

This Child born is the Son of the virgin mentioned in Isaiah 7.14 (although there is a near fulfillment of this prophecy in Isaiah’s time).  The first two phrases tell us that a Child is born (birth of Christ) and a Son is given (crucifixion of Christ).  Everything following in Isaiah’s prophecy points to Christ’s coming Millennial Kingdom.  Then, the government will be upon His shoulder.  He will be the King reigning.

There are four descriptive phrases of the King (wonderful should modify Counselor in my opinion):  1) Wonderful Counselor; 2) Mighty God; 3) Everlasting Father; 4) Prince of Peace.  First, He has wisdom to govern the people of the world perfectly.  Second, He has the power to carry out His rule with an iron scepter.  Third, He is the everlasting Father in the sense that He is the Father of all those who are redeemed.  Adam is the father of all living beings.  Christ is the last Adam and became a life-giving spirit (1 Corinthians 15.45).  Finally, He is the Prince of Peace.  The 1,000 year reign of Christ will be marked by the absence of war and violence.  It will fulfill the Davidic Covenant and satisfy the promises of God.  It will be a time of great blessing.

Of the increase of Christ’s government and peace there will be no end.  The government of Christ does not increase through war but through peace.  His justice and judgment are characteristic of His reign during the Millennium.  His reign and rule is forever after that initial 1,000 year period to fulfill the Scriptures.  This will be a fulfillment of the promise God made to David in 2 Samuel 7.12-17:

“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.”

So our text is all about the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is a Child born, a Son given, and the King forever.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Christ in the Old Testament

We focus today on three portraits of Christ presented in the Old Testament book of Isaiah:

  • Immanuel:  God with Us (Isaiah 7.14)
  • Rod of Jesse:  God Our Hope (Isaiah 11.1)
  • Key of David:  Access to God (Isaiah 22.20-25)


God is with us, revealed in the person and deity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  We sing to beckon the coming of Immanuel to ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.  He has appeared from our perspective.  He came to pay the ransom as the promised Messiah.  He suffered great rejection because His own would not receive Him.  Yet the promise remains.  All the nations may avail themselves of the greatest miracle of Christmas:  God in the flesh, Immanuel – the Lord Jesus with us!

If God is with you providing eternal salvation in Christ then is He not able to provide for your physical needs?  Is anything too hard for Him?  Shall we trust in the ransom Jesus paid for our eternal life and deny Him the power to heal, strengthen, and encourage us by His presence with us?  God is with us; therefore, who can rise up against us?

Rod of Jesse

Isaiah 10 is an unfolding of God’s judgment upon a tool He used to chasten His people.   The tool happened to be a rebellious nation named Assyria.  What is significant for us in trying to determine the title of Jesus in Isaiah 11.1 is the fact that God likened the judgment He would bring against the harsh Assyrians to the destruction of a forest.  Hewn stumps were left with only enough trees for a child to write upon.  There would be no hope for this nation again.

Isaiah 11 opens with the same imagery with one significant difference:  there is life in the stump!  Isaiah 11:1  states, “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”

  1. The stem of Jesse has the sense of a stump of a tree that has been cut down.  Of course, this represents the failure of David’s line and the collapse of the nation of Israel.
  2. The new Rod and Branch of Jesse grows from the stump’s roots.  The word for Branch is netzer which calls to remembrance the prophecy in Matthew 2:23:  “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
  3. The sprig of life in the stump comes from David’s roots or family line.  Jesus is the promised fulfillment of the continuance of David’s eternal throne.  God always keeps His promises!
  4. Jesus will fulfill God’s promise literally during the Millennial kingdom on earth.  He will continue to fulfill His promise throughout eternity.

God gives victory over the grave.  Hope belongs to those in Christ.  The world is filled with the stump-like, barren countries that resemble ancient Assyria.  All writhing without hope.  There is one who extends hope to all nations – the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ – the Rod of Jesse!

Key of David

Isaiah 22 tells the story of a man named Shebna.  This man was the king’s steward in Jerusalem, a position of great power.  But he was a proud man with great authority represented by keeping the keys of the city.  He was also an evil man deserving of God’s judgment.  Isaiah 22:18 says that God “will surely turn violently and toss [Shebna] like a ball into a large country…”  there he would die.

Verses 20-25 explain that God will replace Shebna with a godly steward named Eliakim.  The Lord states that Eliakim will be given “the key of the house of David (22:22).”  God would also lay this key upon his shoulder – imagery we find in Isaiah 9.  The key of the city’s steward controlled access to the treasures of the city.  It was something that the ancients would equate with authority.

Revelation 3:7 reveals a title of the Lord Jesus:  “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.’”

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.  – Isaiah 9.6-7

The key of David unlocks our heavenly home where all the saints with Him dwell.  Access to God comes from the uncontested authority of Jesus Christ.  He holds the keys and all the world is being driven to one destination – the base of His mighty throne.  We will either reject or accept the authority of this Great King at Christmas.  We must choose.


An Early Christmas Gift

I went through a time when I really struggled with the concept of celebrating Christmas.  Most of my objection to the holiday has to do with the pagan origins of it and our modern-day commercialization of Christ.  I could do without much of the baggage that comes along with the holiday, but find it very difficult to deny my children the experience of it.

Christmas is tailor-made for children.  Wide-eyed wonder as they notice all the lights in the neighborhood for the first time, warm-hearted movies that make eyes misty, traditional hymns and carols, and gifts on Christmas morning are just a few examples of what a special time of the year it is.

It is the concept of a gift that I’ve been thinking about today.  Christmas is a beautiful illustration of the grace of God.  Grace means gift.  The Father gave the gift of His Son at the incarnation.  Of course, there is no mention of the concept of giving gifts at Christmas in the Bible.  But I wondered, “What did Jesus, the gift of eternal life in His Person and Work, say about the concept of a gift when he was on this earth?”

  • Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23–24)
  • If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11; cp. w/ Luke 11.13 which says, “give the Holy Spirit” instead of “give good things”)
  • But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God…” (Matthew 15:5; cp. w/ Mark 7:11)
  • And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?” (Matthew 23:18–19)
  • Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”” (John 4:10)

Jesus uses the concept of a gift to teach us the power of His grace to reconcile relationships and answer persistent prayer with good things (the greatest of those good things is His presence in the Holy Spirit).

But He also speaks of those who use the concept as a form of abuse.  Religious leaders actually proclaimed certain property they possessed as a gift to God (corban) in order to default on their responsibilities to their parents.

These same religious leaders thought the gift was the important thing.  But it’s God’s altar which sanctifies the gift.  God makes everything valuable …eternally valuable.

John speaks of the infinite worth of the Father’s love gift in His Son, Jesus Christ.  He is the Living Water.  Once we drink from the cup of God’s grace, it is certain that we will never thirst again.

An Indescribable Gift

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:10–15)

I grew up in economically challenging times …relatively speaking.  I had plenty to eat each day and shelter to protect me from midwestern winters.  Imagine a Sudanese father longing to provide food and shelter from the heat for his own son but unable to do so.  America has been blessed with many charitable organizations whose purpose it is to relieve distress and hunger at every turn.  Every need we can think of is provided for those humble enough to accept it.

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)

However, as noble as these causes are, if they do not provide for eternal and temporal needs, then they fail to demonstrate true compassion and grace.  Christians would do well to remember this this Christmas season.  Temporal gifts are merely describable; eternal gifts are indescribable.

God provides in abundance in this country.  Believers ought to pray that God not only supply but multiply material resources in proportion to our willingness to generously give them away.  God provides so that we might be generous and compassionate.  Thanksgiving is a result of sacrificial, grace-filled giving.

God makes it clear for us:  as we provide the needs of our brothers and sisters, many thanksgivings abound to Him (9.12).  Serving and supplying for the needs of others glorifies the God who created us (9.13).  Our obedience to the Gospel of Christ and our liberal, generous sharing with with those of the household of faith (and even with all men for that matter, see 9.13) provide evidence that the grace of God is with us.   Then, our generosity leads to intercession from those for whom we have cared; they long for us because they see the exceeding grace of God in us (9.14).  So, 2 Corinthians 9:15 serves as the penultimate statement for God’s plan in grace-giving.

God would certainly want us to support those who would provide relief for the body and the soul of those downtrodden.  Better yet we ought to provide for the physical and spiritual relief of others directly.  We should do so as evidence of the grace of God working in and through us.

Grace-giving starts in our local churches and is governed by the multitude of godly counselors within them.  Good churches are magnanimous churches which relieve the poor, magnify the grace of God, preach the Gospel, and glorify God.

Relieving the Poor

Solomon wrote, “All the brothers of the poor hate him; how much more do his friends go far from him!  He may pursue them with words, yet they abandon him” (Proverbs 19.7).  If God chooses to give you wealth, you must become a protector of the poor to be a godly man.  You cannot abandon them!  If I myself am impoverished, my affliction may separate me from a friend, but it will not separate me from my God!  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Magnifying the Grace of God

Make no mistake!  God’s exceeding grace is at work in us strengthening our hands, confirming the needs around us, and providing through us.  How true the statement of our Lord Jesus:  “It is more blessed to give than it is to receive.”  The one who waters is indeed watered abundantly himself.  Any sacrifice of love we make becomes a spiritual feast for us.  Imagine relieved poor people knocking on Heaven’s door and interceding for us.  Do you think that is a small thing in the eyes of God?  Just as the blood of the slain cries out for vengeance; even so, the cries of the oppressed are for our blessing.  God will hear!  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Preaching the Gospel

We herald the good news that God has given us the gift of His Son, the only begotten One.  Christ is the love-gift of the Father.  The sacrifice of His life’s blood for our redemption cannot be repaid.  Yet as believers, gratitude drives us to try.  This truly is what thanksgiving is all about for the believer.  Grateful hearts filled with the grace of God are energized to meet the needs of others.  It is a wonder that God would allow us this privilege.  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Glorifying God 

We cannot glorify God in the abstract.  We must know what it means and how it happens.  A Christian glorifies God by internalizes the character of God communicated to us by His grace.  Once this occurs, inward transformation takes place and outward giving abounds.  I cannot add anything to the character of God; I can only reflect what is already there.  As a believer, I yearn to be a sacrifice pleasing to God.  This should be your aim as well.  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

This thanksgiving, realize that stewardship of what God has allowed you to have is key in moving forward in your relationship with Him.  May God place upon our hearts a burden to tenderly meet the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ …the needs of all men.  We do not say that we can meet every need, but we can meet those God enables us to meet.  And we must remember that if we sow sparingly, shall we not also reap sparingly?  But if we sow bountifully, we shall also reap bountifully.  Blessed are those who learn to give.  Blessed are the truly thankful.  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!