Five Points Blog
- JJ Sherwood
- Jan 26, 2011
There are so many excellent things in today's reading that are worthy of our humble reflection. The final plague changes everything. At first, it seems that God's deliverance would be from slavery and oppression, but the tenth plague clearly deals with redemption and death. John Mackay writes, "God provides a way of deliverance from the midst of death for the promised seed." Israelite families who would not follow GOod's instructions and put blood over their doors, would face judgment. Destruction was going to go door-to-door, regardless of ethnicity. If they wanted deliverance, they needed to trust God and follow His commands to escape the coming judgment, which is very similar to how God came to Noah in Genesis 6. Through all this, God's people would be delivered from their oppression and would be free to serve the Lord. Israel's deliverance from Egypt became so much more than a feel good story with the final plague. It points to our ultimate exodus from sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the cross. Here we have signs, symbols and foreshadows of the far more amazing and glorious redemption of ALL of God's people at Calvary. Jesus is our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). Praise be to God that he did not leave us in our slavery to sin, nor simply free us from our oppression, but won for us forgiveness, adoption and glory through our Passover Lamb!
This parable builds on Jesus' reponse to Peter in verse 22 dealing with forgiveness. We should forgive our brothers and sisters as extravagantly as we've been forgiven. There is no humanly possible way for the servant to repay the debt he owes. It is astronomical, yet the Master (who is the Father Jesus later expains), erases his debt. He is free and clear. Knox Chamblin writes, "Jesus' portrayal of his followers as debtors who deserve punishment, who cannot escape it through deeds of their own, and who must therefore depend utterly on sovereign grace, is a vitally important truth in view of Jesus' attendant call to radical obedience. The two go together, but the order is vital: disciples do not obey the law to merit God's forgiveness; rather they obey the law - including its command to forgive one's debtors - in grateful acknowledgment of and in response to the amazing grace of God's forgiveness." Those who have been forgiven of much, forgive much.
Five Points will be offering a Bible study on forgiveness. You can click here for the details.
- JJ Sherwood
- Jan 25, 2011
In chapter 9, God brings destruction and punishment upon Egypt and the Egyptians, yet he spares His people and keeps them safe. What a picture of grace this is! It reminds us of the end times and points us to the cross. God will one day judge all sin and He will punish all evil and bring justice to bear. Yet, His people will be spared. Why? Because God chose to not spare His one and only Son. Jesus was sent into the world to bear our sin upon the cross. God put the weight of His people's sin upon Jesus' shoulders and then poured out the wrath and punishment our sin deserved. Even though Jesus did not deserve it, He becamen sin and took our punishment so that we might become the righteousness of God. Amazing grace!
"Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?", the disciples asked Jesus. Jesus calls a child into their midst and says, "Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." In those days, children were on the low end of the totem pole. So Jesus is calling his disciples to follow His example of becoming the lowliest of the lowly. Jesus, King of the universe, become a man, identified with sinners (3:13-17), and will give His life as a ransom for sinners (20:28). Humility is a chief characteristic of disciples of Jesus Christ.
- JJ Sherwood
- Jan 24, 2011
Here we come to Moses and Aaron standing before Pharaoh and the Lord bringing the first four plauges upon Egypt. It is stunning to see the reason why God hardens Pharaoh's heart and brings the plagues, namely that "The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord." After each plague, we read that Pharaoh hardened his heart, did not listen and did not let Israel go. This is the typical nature of the rebellion that lies in the hearts of fallen men and women. The Bible also never excuses Pharaoh for his hardness of heart and even says he hardened his own heart, even though the Lord said that He would harden it (4:21). This is quite similar to what we see of the religious leaders in the days of Jesus. They could not refute what was clearly miraculous events going on around them. However, since Jesus' message did not get them what their hearts ultimately wanted for themselves, they rejected and harden their hearts. The hearts of sinful men do not want nor accept God's authority over them no matter what events and evidences are placed before them.
The Transfiguration is one of the most amazing events in the gospel of Matthew. The Transfiguration, framed by suffering on both sides of our narrative, confirms that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. It is striking that Matthew goes through such great lengths to tell us that Jesus was alone when this event was over… even Moses and Elijah, great as they are in the unfolding drama of redemption, need a Savior and it is Jesus alone that saves. “For if he had not become like us,” one church father wrote, “who among us could endure the God who breaks out from above, and who could endure his radiant, unspeakable glory?” No one. Not one. At the end of the age, when God comes to judge the living and the dead, if Jesus had not become a man, living in perfect communion with the Father, taking our sin upon his shoulders and dying upon the cross, there would be no one to come and touch and say, “Rise, have no fear.” We would be alone, facing the just wrath of the righteous Father. But He has given us His Son and we have seen His glory revealed in this chapter. Do you see it? Jesus, Son of the Living God, Suffering Servant of the Lord, glorious supreme over all things, reaches out to sinners from the glory he enter through suffering, saying “Rise”. Do you see it?
- JJ Sherwood
- Jan 23, 2011
In 4:21 we read that God "will harden [Pharaoh's] heart, so that he will not let the people go." In today's New Testament reading, we read that it is God who reveals to men who He is. Here, we see that God also hardens hearts against Him. He reveals and hardens according to His good pleasure and plans.
4:31 says, "they bowed their heads and worshiped." This was after Moses and Aaron tell the people God has heard their cries and has seen their affliction. He has not rescued them yet, but they worshiped Him. That is the right response. At the end of chapter 5, Moses gets upset that after obeying God and going to Pharaoh, the people of Israel are dealt with more harshly than before. Moses says, "Why did you send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all." Our timing is not God's timing. God does not have to work within our timetable. In the very next verse, 6:1, God says to Moses, "Now you shall see what I will do". God is accomplishing His plan. We have to trust, even when it seems like the very opposite is happening.
In verse 16, we read one of the most important events in this gospel. Simon answered Jesus' question, saying, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus then tells him two things. First, the Father revealed this to Simon. No person can come to this understanding of Jesus apart from God the Father revealing it to them. Secondly, he changes his name to Peter and tells him, "I will build my church." Jesus will build His church. We do not have to worry. It is a promise. We must pray, we must proclaim His name, we must preach the Word. Yes, he has given us a mission, but the ultimate accomplishment of it is not up to us. We, "flesh and blood", cannot give people eyes to see and ears to hear Jesus. But we are not without hope, because Jesus promises to build His church.
May we never think that we build the church. If that were the case, we would get the glory. But all glory to God who reveals the Savior of sinful men and who builds HIS church.