Jesus' Footprints

Archive for September 2011

One Saturday (Sabbath) my husband and I were watching The Gospel of John one of my favorite movies about the life of Jesus (the other is Jesus of Nazareth).  I made the comment, “No wonder God was well pleased of Jesus.  He was the perfect Son.”  My husband agreed.  I said this as I watched Jesus giving His disciples final instructions and telling them things they needed to know before His arrest, trial and crucifixion.

Jesus was an obedient Son to His Father and to His parents Joseph and Mary.  Luke 2:51 tells us, And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them.

Jesus was an obedient Son to His Father. Last week Sabbath my husband and I were watching the movie, “The Gospel of John” and it hit home just the kind of Son Jesus was.  He was focused on doing what the Father had sent Him to do. 

He followed His Father’s example, something which parents want their children to do.  “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”  We must lead by example. 

God is the ideal Father which is why it wasn’t a problem for Jesus to go out of His way to do His will.   “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.  For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to [them], even so the Son gives life to whom He will.”  God was happy to show Jesus the work that would bring so much joy and healing to many. 

It pleased God to see His Son doing what was expected of Him.  At the river when John the Baptist tried to prevent Jesus from being baptised, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” Jesus explained to him why it was important for Him to take this step.  He said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires” (John 5:21, NLT).  When Jesus came up from the water, His Father was happy to send the Holy Spirit down to Him and to declare, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

It has always been  Jesus’ desire–to carry out all that His Father required of Him.  Paul said that Jesus And being found in fashion as a man, “humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). 

I always think about when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethesemane and how much agony He was in.  The prospect of being separated from His Father because a righteous God cannot be in the presence of sin was really daunting for Jesus.  He and His Father had been One since the beginning–inseparable.  Now they would be separated as our sins cover Jesus as He hangs on the cross and receives God’s wrath. 

In the Garden, Jesus knelt down and prayed.  One Bible commentary makes this interesting point which brought tears to my eyes, “The usual manner of prayer at that time was to pray in a standing position. That Jesus knelt down proves the violence of His struggle in Gethsemane” (Geldenhuys).  O precious Saviour, the agony You endured for not only my sake but for the sake of the world. 

“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me.”  The cup Jesus is talking about here is a bitter cup.  One that He should not have had to drink from.  It is the cup of God’s fury.  We read  in the Old Testament that a cup is a powerful figurative of God’s wrath and judgment:

For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is fully mixed, and He pours it out; surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth drain and drink down. (Psalm 75:8)

Awake, awake! Stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk at the hand of the Lord The cup of His fury; you have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling, and drained it out. (Isaiah 51:17)

For thus says the Lord God of Israel to me: “Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it.” (Jeremiah 25:15)

This is the cup Jesus was given to drink.  He became a Sinner, an enemy of God when He offered to die for our sins.  He would drink from the cup of wrath so that we would not have to drink from it.  Taking this cup was a source of great agony for the righteous and sinless Son of God yet, He submitted to His Father’s will, resolving, “Nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

After He said that, He prayed even more earnestly.  So earnestly that His sweat were like drops of blood.  In answer to His prayers, God sent an angel to minister to Him.  God did not take the cup away from him.  Paul explains why.  “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19, 20).  In the Garden of Gethsemane, God gave His Son the strength He needed to take and drink from the cup.  He gave Him the strength to finish His mission.

Jesus said, ““Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father” (John 10:17, 18).  Jesus has the power over life and death but His death or His sacrifice on the cross was voluntary.  He willingly gave His life to be a ransom for many.  He became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13).  Jesus went through with the plan of salvation which required Him to submit to death from which He rose from.   He followed the command  He received from His Father.

Jesus accomplished all that His Father had sent Him to do.  He was able to say, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.  And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.  And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:1-5).

Jesus is the perfect Son because He laid down His life for us out of love for His Father who loved the world so much that He sent Him so that all those who believe in Him (Jesus) would not perish but have everlasting life.  A Son who would lay down His life for a world in which some of the people would not receive Him; would reject Him is the kind of Son any father would be proud of.  And that is why it gave God great pleasure to say to His Son, “Sit at My right hand” (Acts 2:34).  The author of Hebrews and the apostle, Peter share these sentiments.  “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool” (Hebrews 10:12, 13); “…Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him” (1 Peter 3:22).

Jesus is the perfect example of how God’s children should be–humble, obedient, forgiving, compassionate, selfless and willing to serve others.  Jesus once said who are truly his brothers and sisters.  “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:21).

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My family and I have watched the story of Jesus from the Read and Share Bible series a few times.  I absolutely love the movie.  It was so refreshing and the colors were bright–really tailored for kids. 

The character that stood out for me in this story was Judas.  When we first saw Judas he was hurrying along the road, with Peter calling him and carrying the money bag.  He was stopped by a man and a little boy.  The little boy wanted to make a donation because of what Jesus had done for him.  Judas eagerly opened the bag and the little boy dropped the coin in.  Judas promised to pass along his message of thanks to Jesus and hurried off.

We saw Judas have supper with Peter, his family and Jesus after Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law.  The next time we saw Judas he was standing aside watching Jesus as He taught a crowd.  A pharisee approached the disciple and started asking questions about Jesus.  Then the Pharisee said, “This is for you.” Immediately, Judas opened the money bag. 

The Pharisee took out a coin and it seemed as if he were going to drop it in the money bag but then he dropped it in Judas’ pocket.  He left and we know that there would be future meetings.  Judas stands there looking down at his pocket, startled.  However, he doesn’t take the coin out of his pocket and put it in the money bag.  What Judas should have done was take the coin out of his pocket and put in the money bag.  He didn’t.  This was the beginnings of his dealings with the religious leaders which would ultimately lead to his betrayal of Jesus.

The next time the Pharisee has a word with Judas it is when Jesus is blessing the children.  This time when the Pharisee has the coin, we see Judas’ hand reach out and take it.  It seems as if taking bribes has become easy for him.  The Pharisee warns him that things could get dangerous for him and the disciples before he walks away.  Judas is startled, wondering what he meant by that.  Jesus watches him and Judas catches him watching him and he looks both guilty and sheepish.  Jesus’ eyes move past him and spots the retreating figure of the Pharisee.  He looks sad.

It is interesting how initially Judas was taken aback when the Pharisee gave him money for himself instead of for the ministry but it seemed that after a while he no longer had any qualms about accepting the money.  In the Bible we learn that he was a thief who helped himself to the money.  In this movie he was singled out and his weakness or love for money caused him to compromise himself and easy for the devil to tempt him.

When Jesus stomped the religious leaders with his question about how David could be the Messiah’s father when he addressed Him as Lord, I watched Judas’ face.  He wasn’t happy that Jesus had gotten the better of them.  The Pharisee whom he had dealings with was among the men. 

Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray him.  He told Judas to go and do what he was to do quickly.  In this animated movie, Judas became angry, he jumped to his face, threw the bread back on the plate and stormed out.  The disciples didn’t seem to notice.  One of them asked him to bring back some raisin cakes for them.  As I watched Judas march down the stairs, shoving the servant out of the way and tossing the napkin on the ground, I wondered why he was so angry.  If anyone had a right to be angry, it was Jesus.  He was the One who was about to be betrayed.  I always wondered how Judas could betray the One who helped, healed and taught so many people.  How he could betray the One who got down on his knees and watching twelve pairs of dirty feet?  And I find it curious that it is when he took the bread Jesus gave him that Satan entered him. 

Judas went to the religious leaders and took them to where Jesus was.  He witnessed when Jesus asked the soldiers whom they were seeking and they said His name and how they fell back when He asked “I AM He.”  That was the name Jesus had used to identify Himself to Moses at the burning bush.  He saw Jesus heal the servant’s ear whom Peter had struck.  He saw Jesus ask the soldiers to take Him and to let the others go.  He saw the other disciples desert Jesus.  When Judas dropped the money bag, Jesus picked it up and gave it to him.  He looked ashamed.  He had every reason to be ashamed.  He had stolen from the bag and he had betrayed his Master for thirty pieces of silver.

In his gospel, Matthew writes that Judas is remorseful when he saw that Jesus was condemned.  He brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What [is that] to us? You see [to it]!” They remind me of the Devil who tempts people and encourages them to sin and when they do, he hangs them out to dry.  In despair Judas threw down the pieces of silver in the temple, left there and went and hanged himself (Matthew 27:3-5). 

What a tragic end for someone who had been with Jesus for three and a half years.  He had allowed greed and his love for money to get the best of him.

This morning I was reading stories about the prophet Elisha to my three year old and the one that stuck with me was of what happened after the Syrian army commander Naaman was healed of his leprosy.

Naaman was so grateful to Elisha for helping him that he wanted to give him gifts but the prophet turned him down, saying, “As the LORD lives, before whom I stand, I will receive nothing.”  Naaman tried to persuade him otherwise but Elisha refused. 

Gehazi, Elisha’s servant didn’t like that fact that his master didn’t take the gift Naaman was so eager to give.  He thought to himself, “Look, my master has spared Naaman this Syrian, while not receiving from his hands what he brought; but as the LORD lives, I will run after him and take something from him.”  He ran after Naaman.  Actually, he pursued him.  That’s how desparate he was to get something out of the army commander.

Naaman saw him running after him and he got down from the chariot to see what was up.  His question was one of concern.  “Is all well?” At that point my conscience would have pricked me.  But not so for Gehazi.  His response was,  “All is well. My master has sent me, saying, ‘Indeed, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the mountains of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of garments.’”

Of course, Naaman was obliging.  He gave Gehazi what he asked for, believing that Elisha had sent him and that he was helping two young men.  Gehazi hid the gifts and when Elisha asked him where he was, he lied to him.  Greed makes people lie, cheat and steal.  My husband and I marvelled that this man who had been a servant of a man of God for a long time would think that he could lie to him and get away with it.

Elisha was on to him.  He must have been so disappointed.  He confronted him with these words, “Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants?  Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.” When Gehazi left the room, he was covered with leprosy; his skin was white as snow.

Gehazi tried to profit off of Naaman and ended up worse for it.  He probably thought that Elisha was foolish not to receive Naaman’s token of gratitude but what he failed to realize is that Elisha did not help Naaman for gain.  That’s not how this man of God works.  He helped people without expecting anything in return.

It’s hard to believe that someone would risk so much just to take something from someone.   His actions not only affected him but his descendents.  What good did the things he deceived Naaman into giving him do him?  What comfort would the silver offer him?

Naaman was a far more honorable man than Gehazi.  When the servant had asked him for a talent, the army commander insisted in giving him two talents.  That was how generous he was and how happy he was to help Elisha (so he thought) who had helped him.   

We must never allow worldly possessions, money or anything lead us astray.  Our reward as servants of God is not material things but seeing the fruit of our labor–the satisfaction of knowing that we are making a difference–that we are glorifying and honoring God with good service.  Gehazi took advantage of Naaman’s generosity and was punished for it.

A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, And does not consider that poverty will come upon him (Proverbs 28:22).  This was the fate of Gehazi.  His greed brought his more than he had bargained for.  It brought upon him a disease that would plague him for the rest of his life.  His greed for money robbed him of life (Proverbs 1:19).  Naaman had a lot going for him but he was a leper.  Leprosy was a horrible, incurable disease and it slowly led to death.  This is why Naaman rejoiced when he was cured of it.  This is why he wanted to repay Elisha.

Now Gehazi faced a bleak future with this horrible disease.  The things he had gotten through ill gain no longer mattered.  They could not but be a bitter reminder of why he was in this wretched state he was in now.  “We see here a pagan who by an act of faith is cured of leprosy and an Israelite who by an act of dishonor is cursed with it.” (Dilday)  Gehazi coveted what Naaman had–his riches but he ended up getting his disease as well.  It’s like Eve who coveted the fruit on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  She got the fruit and more than she bargained for. 

What happened to Gehazi should be a lesson for all of us.  We should not covet what others have.  We should not be greedy and dishonest.  Gehazi hid the things from Elisha which meant that he knew what he had done was wrong.

What irony.  A Gentile received healing while a Hebrew received a curse.

What my husband learned from this story was Gehazi should have known better.  He should not have lied to Elisha, the man of God.  Elisha refused to accept Naaman’s gift because what he did for the Syrian was an act of kindness.  It was a free service.  Gehazi lied to a prophet which didn’t make any sense.  He should have asked Elisha outright why he didn’t accept Naaman’s gift.   My husband felt that being cursed with leprosy was too harsh of a punishment for Gehazi.  He was of no use to Elisha now.  My husband felt that Elisha should have just sent him away.  I think that Elisha’s reasoning was that Gehazi was getting exactly what he deserved for being greedy and dishonest.



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