“He found them sleeping from sorrow”

One of the most prevalent misconceptions that people have about the gospels is that the disciples of Jesus were dummies. They’re always misunderstanding things, coming to the wrong conclusions, and even showing moral failure. But this isn’t true at all. When the disciples misunderstand things, it isn’t because they are dummies. It is because the situation was mysterious and the teaching of Jesus was challenging. When the disciples exhibit moral failure, it is because the situation was difficult and nearly-overwhelming. The disciples were fallible men, to be sure, but they were men who had been trained by Jesus and walked with him for three years. They would have been impressive to us. And we need to remember this when we read about them falling asleep in Gethsemane:

When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” (Lk. 22:45-46)

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Death is Swallowed Up in Victory

1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.  Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

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The New Adam’s New Body

1 Corinthians 15:35-49

But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?”  Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.  And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain.  But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.

All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.  There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.

So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.  It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.  It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.”  The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.  The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.  As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

 

Well here I am again getting my holidays all mixed up. 1 Cor. 15 is certainly an Easter text, and I could give you all a noble-sounding reminder that as Christians we are free not to keep seasons, days, new moons, and the like, but really I’m just trying to finish my ongoing series on the book of First Corinthians. Still, it is not inappropriate to connect Christ’s birth with His resurrection, as each phase of ministry was connected to the other, and the resurrection does have a direct relationship to the incarnation. You see, Christ’s first birth was really a preliminary to his second, as He had come to triumph over death and secure regeneration for all believers, and this required resurrection Continue reading

12 Days of Christmas Carols- God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

Over the next two weeks I’d like to highlight some of my favorite Christmas carols.  Since the 12 Days of Christmas start on Christmas Day and last until Twelfth Night, I’m actually a day early, but I don’t plan on doing any sort of work, not even blogging, tomorrow, so I figured I’d start early.  The first one will be “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentleman.”  

Mr. Fezziwig's Ball

I like “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” because of the minor mode (I like pretty much anything in a minor key), but also because of the rich and unique words.  As with most hymns and carols, the number of stanzas differs from place to place, and you might even find, to much chagrin, that a few words get changed here and there.  Most versions of this carol have five stanzas, but some have less.  A few even have as many as eight!  I’ll just stick with the first stanza and the refrain, since they are the most famous.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.

O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

The first thing to note is the grammar of the opening line.  It is not actually “God rest ye, merry gentlemen,” as most people assume.  It is instead, “God rest ye merry, gentlemen.”  The “gentlemen” are being addressed, and the song is wishing that God will “rest” them “merry.”  The verb “rest” simply means “to be” or “make,” much like we might tell someone to “Rest assured.”  And so what’s being sung is a request for God to make us merry.  Why?  Well, that’s what the rest of the song is about.

I also appreciate this carol’s inclusion of Satan.  The big man downstairs is too often left out of the Christmas season, but that just can’t be.  In a certain sense, Satan is the reason behind the “reason for the season.”  He was the one who held all mankind under his sway, causing the people to dwell in darkness and needing to be set free.  It was Satan who Christ came to defeat, and that meant that Christ had to come.  So I say, “Keep the Satan in Christmas.”  You really can’t tell the story any other way.

Never forget, the gospel is good news in the face of bad news.  It is salvation from sin and death.  Jesus is God’s answer to sorrow, suffering, alienation, and despair.  Christmas has to have room in its story for the darkness, or else it becomes just one more romance among the many sentimental stories we tell this time of year.  But of course, Christmas is also the story of how Light came into the darkness and filled it from within.

And that’s precisely what gives us hope, what gives us comfort and joy.  We remember that Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day.  That’s good news.  Christ is born!  Glorify Him!

Merry Christmas, y’all.

This is the Word

John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it…

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

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… And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.  For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

The prologue of John’s gospel is as majestic as it is mysterious. The Apostle is giving us a picture of deity, a view from eternity, as well as what it means for that Eternity to enter into time. John is telling us that God became man, and this message can find no more appropriate time of the year than Christmas. As we celebrate so many things: family, gifts, and love, let us remember the foundation of it all. God loved us so much that He gave us His son so that we might become His children. In response, we should show forth His son to the world so that they too might become children of God through faith in His name. Continue reading