The Power of Service

Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve.

Jesus the Servant!

TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – WK I

Ant. 3 (Evening Prayer) “All power is yours, Lord God, our mighty King, Alleluia”

Jesus the Great High Priest

14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us, therefore, approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ~ Hebrews 4:14-16 New Revised Standard Addition (NRSV)

Reflection – Perseverance, Prayer, and Endurance!

We can come to God unafraid knowing what he will do for us! 

Reflection Question: What does it mean to enter into God’s Rest?

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As human beings, we are undeniably weak in our faith and because of this, we are also lackadaisy with our prayer lives. These two attributes of the Christian life are connected in profound ways. Namely within our struggles with the lack of perseverance when tempted or ridiculed because of what we believe. Jesus himself talked about this weakness in Mark 4:14-17;


The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 4 – Free Bible Imageshttp://www.bibleimages.ca

14 The sower sows the word. 15 These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. 17 But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.” 

There are many stories told in every age of man where the faithful are tested and in some regard fails to pass the test of faith. One of the greatest stories on this topic is Saul of Tarsus who for many years ruthlessly tortured and persecuted Christians until his fateful run-in with Jesus in the desert as he was headed to Damascus, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” ~ Acts 9:4. Truly I say to you; all of use in some way deny the truth of Christ’s Death, we all try to impose our own plan much like Saul – perhaps with less violence but the malice is all the same.  Before Saul, there was King David who yes, did many good things but he had a history of making profoundly bad mistakes as well which included, murder (2 Samuel 11:17; 12:9), lying (2 Samuel 11: 7-8, 12-13), adultery (1 Samuel 11:4), coveting a neighbor’s wife (2 Samuel 11:3) and even stealing another man’s wife (2 Samuel 12:9). Before King David, we have the case of Moses one of two crowned princes of Egypt who at the age of 40 became incensed when he discovered an Egyptian taskmaster beating a Hebrew slave. So Mose murdered him in cold blood then buried him in the sand. ~ Exodus 2:11-12. Women have also been tested and have fallen such is the case with Tamar, who left her family to marry into the house of Judah. After some time and three brothers later who she had married in preceding order after each one of them had died all leaving her childless she dressed as a prostitute, then coerced her father-in-law, Judah, to have sex with her. She conceived twins one of which was the ancestor of King David—a direct lineage to Christ.~ Genesis 38:15-18.  The list goes on and on right up to this very day of our human weakness and lack of keeping Gods covenants. However, all of these famous people of the Old Testament found favor with God, they were redeemed, and so it is possible for all of use to also be redeemed in the eyes of God. We can enter into Gods rest by hearing, understanding, persevering, and by enacting the power of prayer. These things Jesus also commented on back in Mark 4:20;

The Seeds Parable

20 “But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”
Mark 4:20

The possibility of entering into Gods rest is founded upon the very idea that Jesus Christ, the Son of the One true Living God, who was also tested in many of the same ways we are daily and who without sin prevailed. “For since He Himself suffered while being tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrew 2:18)  Jesus did not blindly come to fulfill scripture but yet was willing from the very creation of all things. Jesus intently listened to His father faithfully, Jesus persevered against the temptations of sin daily, and Jesus prayed constantly. His overall message to humanity was one of service, doing for others such as advocating for the helpless, giving comfort to the sick and those in need. Jesus stood for the poor, the downtrodden, oppressed, those who face tyranny, and who are martyred for their faith. But Jesus was not the only person who was connected to God in such ways for there was another who foreshadowed Jesus; a priestly king named Melchizedek, (Genesis 14:17-20), then again appearing in a prophecy of Psalms 110:4“The Lord has sworn and will not change, ‘You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.'” For according to this
Melchizedek was truly a great priest and king, whose very name means, “King of Righteousness”, and then also being King of Salem which means, “King of Peace.” (Hebrews 7:2). This King like Jesus had no Father, no Mother, no earthly accounting of descent, but rather made like Jesus the son of God so that he and his order of priests who Jesus was the greatest shall forever remain a priest. (Hebrews 7:3) This revelation not widely preached basically states that Jesus is the High Priest in an order of Priests greater than that of the Order from Aaron who represented the earthly temple, but Melchizedek’s Order represents the Heavenly Order of Priesthood. In this way, we can come before a thrown that is not one of damnation, but rather one of grace, mercy, love, and peace. We come before a God who is a servant first, giving to us what we need. In accepting Christ as our personal savior then going on to lead a life of service; in this way, we show that the seeds Jesus sowed within us surely have been planted in rich soil and have become fruitful many times over. Again, in this way, we enter into God’s rest – His everlasting forgiveness clean of any sin and reborn in Christ’s likeness as a son or daughter of God. “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of temptation in the wilderness where your fathers tested Me and tried Me and saw My works for forty years.'” (Hebrews 3:7-9). I urge you all to think hard about the meaning of the words Jesus left us with as he ascended into heaven;

Jesus on His Throne

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

John 14:27

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LET US PRAY!

Praise of God’s Power and Providence

Psalm 33: 1-22

Ant. “All power is yours, Lord God, our mighty King, Alleluia”

I

Rejoice, you righteous, in the Lord;
    praise from the upright is fitting.
Give thanks to the Lord on the harp;
    on the ten-stringed lyre offer praise.
Sing to him a new song;
    skillfully play with joyful chant.
For the Lord’s word is upright;
    all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right.
    The earth is full of the mercy of the Lord.

Ant. “All power is yours, Lord God, our mighty King, Alleluia”

II

By the Lord’s word the heavens were made;
    by the breath of his mouth all their host.
He gathered the waters of the sea as a mound;
    he sets the deep into storage vaults.

Ant. “All power is yours, Lord God, our mighty King, Alleluia”

III

Let all the earth fear the Lord;
    let all who dwell in the world show him reverence.
For he spoke, and it came to be,
    commanded, and it stood in place.
10 The Lord foils the plan of nations,
    frustrates the designs of peoples.
11 But the plan of the Lord stands forever,
    the designs of his heart through all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people chosen as his inheritance.

Ant. “All power is yours, Lord God, our mighty King, Alleluia”

IV

13 From heaven the Lord looks down
    and observes the children of Adam,
14 From his dwelling place he surveys
    all who dwell on earth.
15 The One who fashioned together their hearts
    is the One who knows all their works.

Ant. “All power is yours, Lord God, our mighty King, Alleluia”

V

16 A king is not saved by a great army,
    nor a warrior delivered by great strength.
17 Useless is the horse for safety;
    despite its great strength, it cannot be saved.
18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear him,
    upon those who count on his mercy,
19 To deliver their soul from death,
    and to keep them alive through famine.

Ant. “All power is yours, Lord God, our mighty King, Alleluia”

VI

20 Our soul waits for the Lord,
    he is our help and shield.
21 For in him our hearts rejoice;
    in his holy name we trust.
22 May your mercy, Lord, be upon us;
    as we put our hope in you.

Ant. “All power is yours, Lord God, our mighty King, Alleluia”

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2018

Reflection 2: Jesus As God? Part 2

47 “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.’ 49 ‘Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’” ~ Luke 2:48-49.

Children have a spectacular way of looking at the world around them. They say some of the wildest things, all of which in the beginning is by-in-large truthful in a very naive way. They have this ability to sum things up and spit them out without regard to anyone else’s agendas, goals, purpose, feelings, and or wants for the information to be shared. Parents cringe each time their three year old says something on a topic the parent wanted to keep private, or teachers who have given examples on something the children misunderstood. It is all about perception, and Jesus not just silenced his parents even though they had a reason to be upset with him, but also thge 12" src="http://listeningfaithfully.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/jesus-as-boy-temple.jpg?w=300" alt="" width="229" height="220" />e pharisees who would later come to hate him and work for his destruction.  Children and adults alike work off of their own world view, their own varying opinions, and of course wants and desires. Because God gave man free will we have always had conflicts which have riddled our collective human history with wars, death, and disease, all of which has been justified based off of our perception of right and wrong, morality, and immorality, justices and injustices. As children we share freely, but as we grow some of us become secretive and in some cases those secrets manifest themselves in the most inhuman ways. Good can become evil, and evil can be justified if done for good purposes. Our lives the older we get become more complicated because of our learned perceptions soley based off of our collective experiences.  With all this stated and accepted as fact by most educational and child development experts, then the real questions that need to be asked about Jesus as a boy is, “What major world view, or learned experience could Jesus have had at his tender age of twelve? What knowledge base was he drawing off of which amazed the Pharisees so?” To truly answer these questions we must admit, no normal twelve year old would have such insight without formal training. Most normal children of his age group could not exhibit their knowledge in such a manner as to not be confused or fooled by older, wiser,  and  or learned people such as the Pharisees were. In addition there is no other child in history so filled with the correct interpretation on legal issues and matters of religious belief as Jesus proved his understanding within that specific visit to Jerusalem for Passover.

The other unexplainable issue which is presented that must be fully explored is Jesus’s ability to simply know things, to have certainty about the world and his role in it. Few people pocesses such self awareness as to convenience older more scholarly people as adults, let-alone as a child no matter how clever they are. Jesus was working off of a higher intellect, a source of wisdom beyond his years. The idea that a desert dweller who up to this point had no formal education other than working with his hands with Joseph could have possibly gone toe-to-toe with the Pharisees as Jesus did for about three days straight. I would also like to include a comment my daughter made to me as she helped to flesh out this point, “Jesus continuously gave flawless answers with amazing confidence without the help from anyone.” (Des, 2012). I would just like to add to this comment that Jesus’s family was not there to help him, there was no one who could have been giving him the answers as the Pharisees had surrounded him asking him questions. There was no intermediary, it was just God and man, Jesus as a boy and religious scholars. It is also important to note that the Jewish people where a repressed people at this point in history, and formalized education was almost none existent. Most Jewish boys learned a trade or skill to help pay their families taxes, few had time to learn the laws of Moses and or interpret them with such clarity as Jesus. This is not discounting that his father Joseph did not take him to the Synagogue, because he must have as a practicing Jew, but still this does not account for the extent of knowledge Jesus exhibited, nor his confidence in this knowledge. So we must ask again, from were did Jesus get his learned knowledge?

“39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.” ~ Luke 2:39-40.

Briefly, the Bible mentions an Angel of the Lords coming to Joseph in a dream telling him to flee with Mary and the new born baby Jesus and go into Egypt.  This is found only in Matthew 2:13-23, then in Chapter 3 Matthew starts straight off with John the Baptist. Mark starts straight away with John the Baptist and the temptations of Christ. Then John starts with the creation of man and then dives straight into John the Baptist. It is only Luke who gives us an insight to the boy Jesus. Thus, it is important to state that Luke is was referencing to the accounts found in Matthew 2:13-23 then scripture would read something like this; and so it was from Egypt the family of three was returning from, “39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.” ~ Luke 2:39.

It is also important to note that the Laws of God included Jesus to be circumcised and then to be presented to God in the Temple in Jerusalem to be purified all of which is according to Jewish law handed down from Moses. Luke tells us that Jesus was presented in the temple according to this law, but if King Herod the Great had indeed ordered the deaths of hundreds of babies as it is written in Matthew, then logic would dictate that Joseph and Mary would be playing straight into King Herod’s hands by going to Jerusalem. It would not have been safe for them to have done so. Thus, Luke is most likely referring to the accounts found in Luke 2:21-38 which tells a completely different story than the one found in Matthew. So the Laws of God handed down by Moses according to Luke was fulfilled in the Temple in Jerusalem.

Another interesting point to make is that Jesus would have been  circumcised to fulfill the Law of Moses. This is also done to all male Jews at this period. So it would appear the Bible has a conflict in facts and events. However, because the writers of the Bible were less concerned with exact dates as we are today, there is a Book which does a very fine job at making the Bible come together in a chronological order, that book is called, The Book of Jesus, written by Dennis F. McCorkle, ISBN-13: 9780595258925. I am in no way endorsing this book, but it does do a nice job at sorting out this controversy.

Historical Chronology of Jesus
Fact 1: Jesus was born and fulfilled proficy as the Son of God. (More of this found in future blog posts)
Fact 2: After Jesus was born Shepherds from the hills sides came to see him.
Fact 3: According to Luke Jesus was circumcised and then taken to the temple to be presented. (Luke 2:21-38)
Fact 4: Then King Herod ordered the slaughter of all the boys under 2 years of age and Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt. (Matthew 2:13-23)
Fact 5: Joseph and Mary came back from Egypt after all the Laws of the Lord had been fulfilled and after the death of Herod. (Jesus would have been about 10 years old)

Therefore, it could also be said that Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem to present their new born son in the temple. Then they went back to their home in Nazareth, where by Joseph wanted to return to his ancestral home and place of Jesus’s birth in  Bethlehem in Judea. This is where Matthew begins his story. Upon this second visit to Bethlehem did  the Magi enter into the picture finding the child Jesus, (not the new born) for Jesus was about two years old at this point. Then Joseph received the dream from the Angel of the Lord telling him about Herod’s desire to kill the child. It is then that Joseph left his home and took his family to Egypt until the death of Herod. Instead of returning to Bethlehem for fear that Herod’s son Archelaus would search them out Joseph took his family back to Nazareth and settled there.

No matter the order of events, no matter the amount of traveling to keep Jesus safe, it is clear than God went to great pains to both forewarn and protect Jesus. It is very clear that people in the region saw Jesus as someone special. It is very clear that Jesus had been brought up with the blessings of God upon him. So in the final analysis all these prior events of supernatural interventions which really began at the conception of Jesus within Mary and then the protective hand of Joseph, all leads to one date in time that will serve as the precursor of things to come. That being the Passover celebration where Jesus demonstrates the power of God as a twelve year old boy, without any formal training, without any help form scholars, and without any need of books and intense studying, Jesus as a boy, proves that he alone is God manifest in human form. Interestingly Jesus does not appear again until his baptisum by John the Baptist, which is an indicator that Mary was more than just upset at Jesus for losing track of him, but chose to protect him in a very quiet secluded area of the country in hopes to save him from his own future, as any loving mother would attempt to do.
Amen
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Reflection 1: Jesus as God?

“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” – which means, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” ~ Matthew 27:46

No person willingly marches to their death. No one willingly places themselves in such torture that bodily functions begin to shut down do to the damage. No normal human-being chooses the hour and manner of their death, nor chooses who will betray them. No mortal man nor woman or child would be able to exhibit such faith in an afterlife, let alone accomplishing a self proclaimed resurrection. No man has ever done any of these things to the precision of Christ Jesus. Now if by chance these things where accomplished they would not have been done for the sake of all mankind if a normal human was doing it, rather wouldn’t it be fair to say the reasons would have been far less loving, perhaps a tad more selfish. Why would anyone be so concerned about salvation for others. Especially those who would be strangers, after all the Chief Preists where not so concerned, nor was the Kings and Queens that came before and after the birth and death of Christ. See when we break this down only God would be so concerned, only Satan would be concerned, and only those who do Gods bidding would understand this fact. In fact the Bible tells us only the men and women of God where concerned about salvation, and they understood the function of sacrifice. So in this event of our Lord’s death we must take note that no normal man and woman, clergy, rulers, and or those people who believed in nothing were all blinded by this basic mortal need to be saved, because the separation between God and man was so great that that only illustration which comes close would be to reference the distance between one galaxy to another. The sheer volume of testimony recorded in the Bible not to mention the volume of prophecies which Jesus full filled points to only one thing, that Jesus is the Son of God, and in that statement is God and one third of the full power of God. It is hard to wrap ourselves around this fact but even Jesus proclaimed that His ways are not our ways.

“45 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over the land. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” – which means, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” 47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” ~ Matthew 27:45-49.

Even until the last second the Sanhedrin mocked Jesus, their remarks about calling forth a prophet to save a living God was more than just insulting, it was and in and of itself blasphemy. The same act they accused Jesus of they committed within the final seconds of our Lords life. The Romans who executed Jesus would have a far better chance to be saved than those who mocked Jesus in these final moments.

“50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.” ~ Matthew 27:50.

In Matthew we see the last and final remarks of the Sanhedrin, or the Chief Priest, and those who supported them in the prosecution and then execution of Jesus play an extraordinary role in the human saga of denial, failure to believe, and in the utter lack of faith in God. In no other text can it be found other than in the remaining three Gospels were man so utterly failed to believe in the might of God. For they lived and saw his miracles, they witnessed him speak, preach, raise the dead, heal the sick, and make the blind see, the maimed walk, and the sinners be forgiven. In no other time period had any human being have such access to God, to feel his presence in their lives with such a personal touch as when Jesus walked the Earth, and still they refused to believe. In a way that says something about our man made religious beliefs, our since of justice, and the laws we pass. For these things have something more sinister about them, they serve only a few men’s interests leaving everyone else out in the dark. In comparison to Jesus the men who falsely accused Him, who spat upon Him, who knowingly rejected Him suffered more than Our Lord and Savior because they were influenced and deceived by Satan. The old adage that makes a stab at defending the Sanhedrin and in their disbelief in offering the question, (how were they to really know that Jesus was the Son of God in the face of so many who claimed to be the messiah, most of which lived in the same time period as Christ Jesus), leaves all who dare to ask or believe this question to be true in such an utterly defenceless position in full view of all the facts it would be embarrasing to even ponder. For after reviewing the life of Christ this question can not be properly supported as none of the other fake messiahs accomplished in their lifetime what Jesus did in four years. None of them where as concerned about man’s salvation as Jesus, and none of them went to the lengths to peaceably accomplish man’s salvation as did Jesus.

“44 It was now about the sixth hour , and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 for the sun stopped shinning. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.‘ When he had said this, he breathed his last.” ~ Luke 23:43-46.

In the Gospel according to Luke, those final words of Jesus was proceeded by darkness, as he clearly states, “the sun stopped shining”. This text makes a reference to the curtain of the temple tearing in two halves, symbolizing the ending of the Old Testament Jewish Laws of Moses, and the starting of a New Convent between man and God. In this moment just prior to Luke’s Gospel accounting in chapter 23:46, and Matthews accounting found in chapter 27:49 The Gospel according to John tells us that when Jesus cried out and then was offered the sponge filled with wine vinegar our Lord made the most awesome proclamation before everyone and for all to hear for Jesus uttered,

“30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” ~ John 19:30

All of these final words from Jesus just prior to his death proves he was sent to accomplish his mission, and part of that mission was for him to die. In all of these words from Jesus we find that he is focused on one task and that is mans salvation. So again I must state, no mortal man would have willingly sacrificed himself for other men’s sins nor to save their immortal souls be we, members of the human race would have never been able to carry out that mission. In this thought our walk with God can become close again because of the sacrifice of Jesus, who had Godly strength, direction, and who is and of himself God.

Amen

May God be with you and bless you all the days of your life.

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