Advent Day 19 – Promise Maker – Promise Keeper

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come and has redeemed His people” Luke 1:68.

When our son was born 25+ years ago, my husband and I were thrilled.  We had experienced seven years of infertility and heartache, but God heard our prayers and this little baby boy came bursting into our lives.  But in those seven long years of waiting I watched with an aching heart as my friends became Mamas – I hosted their baby showers and bounced their sweet babies in my arms.  I cried and prayed and cried some more.  I know God heard my prayers and saw my tears, but the time wasn’t right.

The Jewish people lived under the bondage of Roman rule and they cried out for a savior.  The Messiah had been promised for hundreds of years yet they were still oppressed by a cruel and heartless enemy.  Would God ever fulfill His promise?  Would salvation ever come?  Generations of Hebrews prayed the same prayer for relief, yet they went to their grave without ever seeing rescue.  Yet the God of Heaven had not abandoned them or His promise.  He had heard their prayers and saw their tears, but the time wasn’t right.

Until that moment when the angel visited Nazareth and spoke the words every Jewish girl had hoped to hear: “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28).  Until all of heaven held its breath as the Son of God became the son of a young woman.

That day in the Garden sin came rolling in like a dark cloud of destruction and despair.  The human race was placed under the bondage of evil and death.  Even the planet felt the weight of the curse as it groaned for relief (Romans 8:19-22).  Yet even before man could cry out to God He promised to send Someone who would crush the head of the evil one.  He promised to redeem the world from the curse of sin and death. He promised to save the souls of men and women and break the chains of human bondage.

The first part of that promised was fulfilled in a stable in Bethlehem.  The final fulfillment is yet to come when the Lord Jesus Christ – that baby in the manger – stands on the Mount of Olives and ushers in the end of evil and sin and death.  God kept His promise when Jesus was born.  He will keep His promise of final redemption.  Don’t despair beloved, but keep your eye on the sky.  The God who promised is faithful. It is as good as done.

Read Zechariah 14:3-9

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On that Glorious Day

sunrise“The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers.  They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.  And they began to call out to him, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’  Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him” (Mark 15:16-19)

The scenes are riveted in our minds having been played out over and over in countless passion plays, movies and church Easter dramas.  Jesus praying in the Garden, dragged before the High Priest, standing before Pilate, beaten and mocked, stumbling under the weight of His burden, then finally hanging on a cross.  While the events are staggering, they also offer a key prophetic glimpse into the future.  You probably know the story as well as I, but let’s revisit the final hours of Jesus’ life and see what awaits.

All four of the gospels record a similar account of the soldiers’ mocking of Jesus (Matthew 27:27-31; Mark 15:16-19; Luke 23:11; John 19:2-3). In each one, Jesus is held up to ridicule as the “king of the Jews”. Matthew, Mark and John also mention Pilate’s sign placed on the cross above Jesus’ head: “the king of the jews.” (The sign angered the chief priests, but Pilate refused to change its wording, perhaps an indication that he believed Jesus was indeed the rightful king of the Jews.) Both Matthew and Mark point out the soldiers’ actions as well as their words: they fell to their knees in false homage to Jesus. Little did they know that their mocking act was indeed a prophecy of what will come.

The Bible tells us that one day – very soon I believe – Jesus is coming again. One of the Old Testament prophets describes it this way: “On that day his

Mount of Olives in Jerusalem

Mount of Olives in Jerusalem

feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name” (Zechariah 14:4, 9). This prophecy declares His return will be an unmistakable spectacle, and the proclamation of His name of will heard throughout the world. Think the news media will notice? Do you believe the world leaders will be aware of this phenomenon? He will be on everybody’s radar. How different from His first visit to earth.

The world did not recognize Him when He came as a helpless infant, nor did they see His greatness when He stood and read Isaiah’s words proclaiming His mission. They did not see Him as the Messiah when He healed the sick, cast out demons and raised the dead. They missed his majesty as He rode into Jerusalem on a lowly beast. They failed to perceive His righteousness when He stumbled under the burden of His cross on the Via Dolorosa. They did not know that the bloodied, battered man that hung on the cross bore the weight of every sin they ever committed. Even the disciples at first still did not quite understand His divine nature when they saw Him resurrected from the dead.

And today He is still mocked and scorned, His name often spat out as a curse soaked in venom. His story is held up as a fantasy and a lie. His teachings are misconstrued at best, dismissed, and even considered “hate-speech” today. His followers have been ridiculed, imprisoned, battered, beaten and martyred for His name. His church, His bride, is attacked from every angle, her wounded lay dying in the dust.   Even though His story has been told and retold throughout the ages, even though lives have been transformed and mighty things have been done in His Name, after more than two-thousand years the world still doesn’t recognize Him.

Oh, but one day they will.

John the Revelator penned these words: “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him” (Revelation 1:8). Did you catch that? Even those who pierced him! All those who have mocked Him and ridiculed him will suddenly and clearly see Him as “the Lord of lords and the King of kings” (Revelation 17:14). And what will be their reaction? The Apostle Paul tells us “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10). Every knee. Every tongue. Do you see the irony of the soldiers mocking? Do you see how they were doing in jest what all of humanity will be doing on that glorious day? They will not have a choice. Every person will, out of the sheer power of His majesty and holiness, be compelled to fall to their knees, as if an unseen hand is forcing them to buckle under an irresistible pressure. Every tongue will proclaim His identity and His sovereignty, as if the words were being pulled from their very soul. Paul says even those under the earth will respond to His appearing. For those who reject Him in this life, it will be a moment of abject terror as they confront the truth they so long tried to deny.

But for those who have received Him, who have believed in His Word, who have stood fast in the face of persecution and endured the slings and arrows of the culture in which we live, our knees will gladly bow in honor of His grandeur and our tongues will joyfully confess the Name and praise of Jesus Christ who is forever exalted in heaven and earth. I bow before Him now and offer Him my praise, so that when that day of days comes, I am so well practiced that I slip into the posture of worship as naturally as drawing a breath.

I pray you know Him today as your Savior and Lord. I pray on that day you will greet him as your King and His Name will roll from your lips with delight. I pray that He is as real to you today as He will be when your eyes take in the glorious sight of His face. If you do not know this Jesus, please let this be the day that you say “Yes” to the king of Kings and the lord of Lords.

 

Jesus, my Savior and Lord, every day with You is filled with joy. Every thought of You draws my breath in amazement. And to think, one day I will see Your glorious face and bow before You as my King. Oh what a wonderful day that will be!

Beautiful Feet

jesus_feet2“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation” (Isaiah 52:7).

On Holy Thursday I wrote about washing the feet of Jesus and I have not been able to shake that thought nor the image of Jesus’ feet since. I’ve thought of those feet carrying Him away from a quiet life in Nazareth and into a mission that would change the world for all time. I’ve envisioned His dusty feet on the streets of Jerusalem or wet from standing at the edge of the Sea of Galilee. In my mind’s eye I see Him with children gathered all around him, sitting on the grass beside His feet. I think of John the Baptist who said he was not worthy to untie Jesus’ sandals, and Mary of Bethany who anointed his feet with perfume and wiped them with her hair, later sitting at His feet to hear Him teach.

Those feet carried Him into the lives of sick children, and broken, sinful women, demon-possessed men, and to the grave of his dear friend Lazarus. At least seven times the gospels record people falling before the feet of Jesus to plead for healing for themselves or someone they loved. Matthew 15:30 says that crowds of people came to Jesus, “bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at His feet; and He healed them.” In every instance, Jesus responded with compassion and love. He never walked away from those who needed him.

His feet carried him to dine in fine homes and to break bread for thousands of hungry people. Countless times He walked the streets of Jerusalem to the temple that was built for his glory. His feet walked through the home of the high priest where He stood trial and through the halls of the palace of Pilate who sentenced Him to death. His feet carried Him up to Golgotha where Roman soldiers nailed them to a cruel, wooden cross. His nail-scarred hands and feet were the proof of His resurrected body before His disciples.

All His glory was bound up in that human body, those human feet carrying Him to souls in need of mercy, freedom, grace and life. He walked into my life with those beautiful feet bringing good news, peace and salvation to this weary sinful woman.

There is one more place in Scripture where the feet of Jesus are seen. Zechariah 14:4 says “On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives will be spit in two from east to west.” When Jesus Christ returns to earth in all His glory, His feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives – the place where He surrendered His will to the will of the Father – and His glory will be so great that the mountain will split in two. Those beautiful feet will stand atop the mountain, and those scars that spoke of the humble servant of God will now shout of the mighty King of kings. “The Lord will be king over the whole earth” (Zechariah 14:9).

The feet of Jesus bring us healing, wholeness, freedom and life. The feet of Jesus bear the marks of His great love for you and me. His feet that once bore nails will one day bear power – earth shaking, mountain breaking power.  And at His feet all of humanity will fall in worship and proclaim that He is Lord.

Have you invited Him to walk into your life?

Lord Jesus, Yours are the beautiful feet bringing good news of peace and salvation. You walked into my life and left Your footprints on my heart and I have never been the same. Amen.