Perfect God, Perfect Man - 7 April 2020

Louise Gevers

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3

“Consider him … so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” urges the writer of Hebrews. Focusing on Jesus and the events of His last week on earth as He approaches the cross gives us a sense of the struggle He endured, as man and God, which can encourage us. When times are hard we can trust Jesus to understand us and intercede for us with God, our Father, because He is able “to sympathise with our weaknesses” because He “has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

We’re confronted by two things: His awareness of the sin that separates a human being from a Holy God, and His humanity that identifies Him as one of us and brings us closer to Him because He understands our situation. In the week leading up to His death He showed the seriousness of the effects of sin when He cursed the fig tree, symbolic of Israel, for not having fruit. He also cleansed the temple of merchants and money-changers and He spoke parables of judgment against those who had rejected the prophets God had sent and who were about to kill  His Son. 

As God, Perfect in His love for creation, He became the only acceptable sacrifice to save the world from sin and He opened the way to salvation for all, making the cleansed temple “a house of prayer for all nations”. (Mark 11:17)

As a man, He experienced the struggle against the power of temptation and evil in all its deception and pain; He, too, knew the frustration of being misunderstood and opposed by unjust, unrighteous people and the agony and humiliation of the cross. When we consider Jesus, we are inspired by His single-minded purpose of redemption, never allowing suffering to deter Him or take away His will to endure. 

When our focus is on Jesus and on what He can do through us at this crucial time, wherever we may be in our lives, and not on ourselves and the obstacles in our way, we will find inspiration, faith and strength to persevere no matter how difficult our conditions. The perfect man who completed His mission on earth is now with God in heaven. 

Will you turn to Him in your time of need? 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are perfect in every way. Thank You for coming to earth as a man to identify with us and understand our condition. Help me to focus on You at this time, to be encouraged by Your love and grace and remain unwavering in my purpose. Amen

Volkome God, volkome mens - 7 April 2020

Louise Gevers

… die oog gevestig op Jesus, die Begin en Voleinder van die geloof. Ter wille van die vreugde wat vir Hom in die vooruitsig was, het Hy die kruis verduur sonder om vir die skande daarvan terug te deins, en Hy sit nou aan die regterkant van die troon van God. Hou Hom voor oë wat so 'n vyandige optrede van die sondaars teen Hom verdra het. Dan sal julle nie geestelik moeg word en uitsak nie. Hebreërs 12:2-3

"Hou Hom voor oë … dan sal julle nie geestelik moeg word en uitsak nie," sê die skrywer van Hebreërs. Deur te fokus op Jesus en die gebeure van sy laaste week op aarde terwyl Hy die kruis nader, gee ons 'n idee van die stryd wat Hy, as volkome mens en volkome God, moes verduur en dit kan ons bemoedig. Wanneer ons moeilike tye beleef, kan ons Jesus vertrou om ons te verstaan en om by God, ons Vader, vir ons in te tree want Hy kan kan medelye met ons swakhede hê want "Hy was immers in elke opsig net soos ons aan versoeking onderwerp … " (Hebreërs 4:15)

Ons word deur twee sake gekonfronteer: die feit dat Jesus bewus is dat sonde die mens van 'n Heilige God skei, en sy menslikheid wat Hom as een van ons identifiseer en ons nader aan Hom bring omdat Hy ons situasie verstaan. In die week tot aanloop van sy dood, beklemtoon Hy die ernstige gevolge van sonde deur die vyeboom, simbolies van Israel, te vervloek omdat dit geen vrugte dra nie. Hy het ook die handelaars en die geldwisselaars in die tempel uitgejaag en deur gelykenisse het Hy diegene veroordeel wat die profete verwerp wat God gestuur het, asook diegene wat beplan het om sy Seun dood te maak.

Jesus as God, volmaak in sy liefde vir die skepping, was die enigste aanvaarbare offer om die wêreld van sonde te verlos, en Hy het die weg tot verlossing vir almal oopgemaak en die skoongemaakte tempel " 'n huis van gebed vir al die nasies" gemaak. (Markus 11:17)

As 'n mens, het Jesus die stryd teen die kragte van versoeking en die bose, met al sy bedrieglikheid en pyn, ervaar. Hy het ook die frustrasie om misverstaan en deur ongeregtiges veroordeel te word beleef, asook die pyn en vernedering van die kruis. Wanneer ons die oog op Jesus hou, word ons geїnspireer deur sy opregte verlossingsplan, en dat Hy nooit toegelaat het dat  lyding Hom afskrik of sy wil om dit te verduur, verander nie.

Wanneer ons op Jesus fokus en wat Hy in hierdie kritieke tyd deur ons kan doen, waar ons ons ookal in ons lewens bevind, en nie op onsself en die hindernisse in die pad nie, sal ons geȉnspireer word, geloof en krag ontvang om, ondanks hoe moeilik ons omstandighede mag wees, te volhard. Die volkome mens het sy sending op aarde voltooi en is nou by God in die hemel.

In jou uur van nood, sal jy jou tot Hom wend?

Gebed: Here Jesus, U is in alle opsigte volmaak. Dankie dat U as 'n mens na die wêreld gekom het om met ons te identifiseer en vir u begrip vir ons omstandighede. Help my om in hierdie dae op U te fokus, deur u liefde en genade bemoedig te word en om onwrikbaar my doel na te volg. Amen

Perfect Liberty in Jesus - 6 April 2020

Louise Gevers

“Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches … Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,’Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!’ ” Mark 11:8-10

Celebrating Palm Sunday indoors yesterday would’ve been a very different experience for the many Christians around the world affected by the current lockdown, and the complete opposite of what happened that day in Jerusalem two thousand years ago. In some ways the lockdown may reveal more accurately the true state of peoples’ spirits, than when movement is unrestricted, because having no restrictions can dull the inclination to self-awareness. 

Was this perhaps the case for many of those making up the happy crowd on that first Palm Sunday? They were keenly aware that they wanted to be liberated from Rome and saw in Jesus their long awaited Messiah. Were they aware that they carried an even greater bondage which was a far heavier burden? Were they aware that they shared this need of liberation withthe Romans, and indeed all mankind, to know true freedom?

There were those in this crowd, though, who had already had a personal encounter with Jesus. Their joy emanated from who He was and what He had already taught and done amongst them, never turning any of them away. These had already experienced some degree of healing of body or mind – or glimpses of spiritual freedom through Jesus – and joyfully joined the throng: the seeing blind, the walking lame; men and women in their right minds and even a dead man recently brought back to life – all with their grateful families and friends.

The exuberant scene in Jerusalem on that momentous day embraces all of time and all of humanity, fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy about the expected Messiah come to free us all from our bondage, of people joyfully shouting ‘Hosanna’ because the long anticipated freedom for all had come.

Jesus’ mission of redemption to save and set people free from sin, and its devastating effects, was in motion but so many people in that triumphant crowd, anticipating imminent physical liberation, didn’t see it. Likewise, we, in lockdown, are eagerly awaiting our physical liberation but are we as keenly aware of our need for liberation of the spirit which Jesus brings? 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You entered Jerusalem triumphantly, knowing where it would lead, knowing that You alone would endure the cross to bring perfect liberty to us sinful, captive human beings. Open our eyes to your love and our hearts to your grace that we may be set free. Amen. 

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