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Posts tagged ‘Glimpses of the Divine’

Otherworldly Window – Glimpses of the Divine

glimpses-of-the-divineOn the surface, Psalm 8, which the author of He-brews cites in this passage, is expressing wonder that God should appoint human beings to such a prominent and responsible position in his creation.

But building on the Greek translation of this psalm, and using the term “son of man” as Jesus did—appropriating it as a personal title—the writer takes a different tack.

Interact with God’s Word:  Hebrews 2:6-15

  1. What (v. 10) is God’s chosen outcome for the “many children” he created?
  2. What obstacles to this outcome are implied here (vv. 11, 14-15)?
  3. How (vv. 9-10) did God overcome these obstacles?
  4. Why (vv. 14-15) did the Son have to become human to achieve our salvation?
  5. When (v. 8) did the Father give the Son of Man authority over all things?
  6. Why does this authority sometimes appear to be successfully defied? When will it be fully realized?
  7. In what sense does being adopted into God’s family (v. 11) make Jesus your brother?
  8. Verse 11 notwithstanding, do you think this family tie is sometimes a cause for embarrassment to our Savior?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Thank the Son for “tasting death” for us, breaking its power, erasing its fear, and making us his adopted brothers.

Hebrews 2:6-15

6 For in one place the Scriptures say,

“What are mere mortals that you should think about them,
or a son of man that you should care for him?
7 Yet you made them only a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
8 You gave them authority over all things.”

Now when it says “all things,” it means nothing is left out. But we have not yet seen all things put under their authority. 9 What we do see is Jesus, who was given a position “a little lower than the angels”; and because he suffered death for us, he is now “crowned with glory and honor.” Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone. 10 God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.

11 So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters. 12 For he said to God,

“I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.
I will praise you among your assembled people.”

13 He also said,

“I will put my trust in him,”
that is, “I and the children God has given me.”

14 Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. 15 Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

Adapted from Adapted from Relationships: A Mess Worth Making (New Growth Press, 2006)

Prayer for the Week:  Thank you, Jesus, for glimpses of your divinity, with markers of your humanity retained, that preview life eternal for us.



Otherworldly Window – Glimpse of Deity, Foretaste of Glory

glimpses-of-the-divineKey Bible Verse: Christ appeared in the flesh and was shown to be righteous by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and was announced to the nations. He was believed on in the world and was taken up into heaven.  1 Timothy 3:16

Bonus Reading: John 13:31-14:6

The time between the resurrection and the ascension was, in the words of McGill University professor Douglas Farrow in Ascension and Ecclesia, “a new coming of Jesus himself with his humanity intact and his divinity no longer veiled. It was the time in which God was clearly seen and known to live as this man, and this man as God.”

What do we actually know about the ascension? We know where Jesus went, for he told us that he was going to the Father from whom he had come (John 16:5-11). We know why he went: to prepare a place for us with his Father, to which he will bring us. How he went is through the entire route of the incarnation, culminating in the cross and the resurrection. “And the consequence of his going,” writes Farrow “is a mission of the Spirit aimed at the proclamation of the Father’s open house.”

Because Jesus ascended, Christians live in a unique place of both “waiting eagerly” and “groaning.” We are “the prophetic sign to the world” that at Jesus’ ascension God enthroned him at his right hand, at the center of all existence throughout space and time.

—Marva Dawn in Talking the Walk

My Response: I’ll thank Christ that he “has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again” (1 Cor. 15:20).

Thought to Apply: The one who judges us most finally will be the one who loves us most fully.    —Frederick Buechner

Adapted from Talking the Walk (Brazos, 2005)

Prayer for the Week:  Thank you, Jesus, for glimpses of your divinity, with markers of your humanity retained, that preview life eternal for us.


Otherworldly Window – Departing in Broad Daylight

glimpses-of-the-divineKey Bible Verse: He was taken up into the sky while they were watching, and he disappeared into a cloud.  Acts 1:9

Bonus Reading: Acts 1:9-11

Attempts to discredit the literal, historical ascension of Jesus should be rejected for two main reasons.

First, Luke relies heavily on the testimony of eyewitnesses. Jesus was taken up “while they were watching” until a cloud hid him from their sight. As they “were straining their eyes to see him,” the two angels spoke of their having seen him go.

Second, the visible ascension had an easily understand-able purpose. In the transition from his earthly to his heavenly state, Jesus could have vanished, as on other occasions, and gone to the Father secretly and invisibly. The reason for a public, visible ascension is surely that he wanted the disciples to know that he was gone for good. During the 40 days, he’d kept appearing, disappearing, and reappearing. But now the interim period was over. This time his departure was final. So they weren’t to wait around for his next resurrection appearance. Instead, they were to wait for the Holy Spirit.

As the two white-robed messengers pointed out, prolonged gazing into the sky was out of place when they’d been commissioned to go to the ends of the earth. Their calling was to be witnesses, not stargazers.

—John Stott in Through the Bible Through the Year

My Response: How can I “eagerly look forward to his glorious return” (2 Timothy 4:8) without becoming a star-gazer?

Thought to Apply: At his ascension our Lord entered heaven, and he keeps the door open for humanity to enter. —Oswald Chambers (British teacher & chaplain)

Adapted from Through the Bible Through the Year (Baker, 2006)

Prayer for the Week:  Thank you, Jesus, for glimpses of your divinity, with markers of your humanity retained, that preview life eternal for us.



Otherworldly Window – Turning Point

glimpses-of-the-divineKey Bible Verse: “I have been given complete authority … Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations.”  – Matthew 28:19-20

Bonus Reading: Philippians 2:9-11

In the Old Testament, Johannes Blauw pointed out in his book The Missionary Nature of the Church, the prophets’ vision of the last days was of a pilgrimage of the nations to Jerusalem. Mount Zion would be exalted above all mountains, and all nations would flow into it like a river. In the New Testament, however, the direction is reversed. The prophets’ “centripetal missionary consciousness” is now replaced by a “centrifugal missionary activity.” Instead of the nations flowing into the church, the church now goes out to the nations.

And what was the turning point? It was the resurrection. Only after Jesus had risen could he claim universal authority, and only then could he exercise that authority by sending his disciples into the world. “Mission,” Blauw concludes, “is the summons of the lordship of Christ.”

In [today’s Bonus Reading], we’re told that God has super-exalted Jesus and given him a rank above every other rank so that every knee should bow to him and every tongue confess him Lord. If God wants universal homage to be given to the risen Lord, we must want it too. So the Great Commission stems from the resurrection.

—John Stott in Through the Bible Through the Year

My Response: To seriously acknowledge the authority of the resurrected Son, I need to …

Thought to Apply: Who God means to invite to the feast isn’t ours to define. We’re not put in charge of the guest list. —Don Skinner (author)

Adapted from Through the Bible Through the Year (Baker, 2006)

Prayer for the Week:  Thank you, Jesus, for glimpses of your divinity, with markers of your humanity retained, that preview life eternal for us.



Otherworldly Window – Fantastic Fish-Fry

Key Bible Verse: No one dared ask him if he really was the Lord because they were sure of it.  – John 21:12

Bonus Reading: John 21:1-14

Imagine you and your friends going on a pre-dawn fishing outing to the lake. You cast for hours by starlight, but catch nothing. Gradually the surrounding hills and woods become distinguishable as daybreak approaches. Then, as sun rays burst over the eastern horizon, you make out a man standing on the shore about 100 yards away. “Have you caught anything?” he shouts.

“Nothing!” you yell back in unison.

“Cast your lines near that stump and see what happens!” You do, and start hauling in one trophy-size fish after another, until your boat is in danger of sinking! Amazed, you realize it is Jesus standing on the shore. You start your motor and quickly come ashore to see him standing over a Weber grill with glowing charcoals. He’s grilling fish, with loaves of bread nearby.

“Come get some breakfast, and bring some fish so I can cook more.” Imagine the joy and exhilaration of sharing an early-morning breakfast with Jesus—God himself—on the water’s edge with a breeze coming off the lake.

Today’s Bonus Reading describes something like this happening to the disciples during Jesus’ third recorded post-resurrection appearance. For me, it’s a moving depiction of life with him now and forever.

—James Hilt in Wisconsin

My Response: I’ll picture myself as included in this encounter with the God-man.

Thought to Apply: Jesus is God with the skin on. —Source Unknown



Otherworldly Window – Wound Probe

glimpses-of-the-divineKey Bible Verse: “The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the beauty of the earthly bodies”  1 Corinthians 15:40

Bonus Reading: Isaiah 53:1-12

Paul explains about the earthly and heavenly forms of embodied humanity in today’s Key Bible Verse without dispelling the mystery. In both, we know from the “doubting Thomas” account, Jesus carried the scars of crucifixion and spearing.

Thomas had a broken heart from Jesus’ execution, but wouldn’t give himself to an illusion. “I won’t believe it,” he said, “unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side” (John 20:25). Eight days later Jesus met his demand.

The Italian Renaissance artist Caravaggio captured the meaning of this encounter in his The Incredulity of St. Thomas. Theologian Walter Hansen describes this painting: “Jesus places his hand on the arm of Thomas and gently, firmly guides that dirty hand into himself … The other two disciples … are looking with utter amazement [as] the hand of the risen Lord guides the search.”

To piously ignore his wounds is to neglect our own. Jesus invites us to thrust our hands into them. As we accept his dare, we experience his overwhelming love and grace. For, as Isaiah proclaimed, “by his wounds we are healed.”

—Dan Russ in Flesh-and-Blood Jesus

My Response: Why does a Lamb bearing the marks of slaughter figure prominently in John’s vision of heaven?

Adapted from Flesh-and-Blood Jesus (Baker, 2008)

Prayer for the Week:  Thank you, Jesus, for glimpses of your divinity, with markers of your humanity retained, that preview life eternal for us.



Otherworldly Window – Smoltification

glimpses-of-the-divineWho Said It … Philip Yancey

Philip Yancey grew up in a strict, fundamentalist church in the Deep South. At one point he jettisoned his faith but then warily returned to it.

Now one of America’s most popular Christian authors, he cut his journalistic teeth onIgnite Your Faith (then Campus Life) magazine. He served on its staff for 19 years, 5 of them as its editor. Philip still writes regularly for Christianity Today.

What He Said … Smoltification

We occupy bodies of skin, bone, fat, and muscle on a material planet. But the apostle Paul reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).

Standing by a series of concrete fish ladders in Seattle one raw day, I learned a new word, smoltification, from a placard describing the life stages of a young river salmon.

After several months of solitary contentment as a bottom-dweller and jealous patroller of its modest territory, the fish takes a sudden interest in the larger world. One day it embarks on a journey far downstream, where a vast new world awaits it—the Pacific Ocean.

Scientists are just beginning to understand a whole complex of bodily changes that accompany this strange behavior. The fish becomes more streamlined, the color of its scales changes to silver, endocrine activity increases, and its gills adjust to allow for a greater tolerance of sodium and potassium. The salmon, a freshwater creature, is preparing to do something exceedingly rare: switch to a saltwater environment.

Adapted from Rumors of Another World (Zondervan, 2003)

Prayer for the Week:  Thank you, Jesus, for glimpses of your divinity, with markers of your humanity retained, that preview life eternal for us.