Do You Know Who Jesus Is?

Jesus drew large crowds. People noticed his ministry. Among those people who noticed his ministry was John the Baptist. John is the one who baptized Jesus at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. John is recorded to have said about Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29b).

John was well-acquainted with Jesus. He knows who Jesus was—or at least he thought he knew who Jesus was. In Luke 7, John appears to be having doubts. He seems to be second-guessing himself.

He calls two of his disciples to himself, and he tells them to bring a message to Jesus. And this is the message that they were told to deliver to Jesus. They were to say,

Luke 7:19b
Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?

It seems like John has lost his nerve. He’s lost his confidence. Does he know who Jesus is? What are we to make of this? Has he lost his nerve? Is his confidence waning? Is he having doubts?

Well, yes, in a way, he is having doubts. But let’s remember a couple of things.

First, let’s remember that John was a man. He was a flesh and blood human being just like any other person. He would’ve been prone to the same emotional ups and downs to which all of us are prone. We sometimes wonder if everything we believe in is really right. We may not have an overwhelming internal battle or an internal angst about our faith, but sometimes we wonder about it all.

We hear about a tragedy striking a small church in a small Texas town and it sends our heads spinning. But this is part of what it is to be a fallen human being. These things happen. From time-to-time, doubts creep in. John was a human being—no different than us.

Second, let’s remember this. John and most of his contemporaries had a mental picture of what they were expecting from their coming Messiah. And Jesus didn’t necessarily check off all the boxes. They were expecting someone who was going to deliver their nation from Roman occupation. They were expecting a military-type leader. They were expecting a political leader.

They were expecting one thing, but in many ways Jesus didn’t meet their expectations. Jesus didn’t appear to be the type of Messiah for whom they’d been waiting.

So, when he has doubts, John goes straight to the source. He sends his disciples to talk to Jesus—to ask Jesus this question.

Luke 7:19b
Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?

And what happens next is interesting. They ask Jesus this question, and then before he verbally answers them, Luke tells us in verse 21 that

Luke 7:21
In that hour [Jesus] healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight.

Before he says a word of response to John’s disciples, he performs these many miracles right there in front of them. And then, after they’d seen all of these miracles, Jesus answers the disciples and says this, in verses 22 & 23.

Luke 7:22–23
22 
And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

As with all of Jesus’ responses, this is an amazing response. There’s much to learn from it. His reply is instructive to our ears. He’s doing far more here than simply giving a run down on the things he’s been doing. HE’s doing more than sharing his resume. Jesus is alluding to scripture here. Any well-trained Jewish man would have known this. They would have heard Jesus’ words and they would have thought about the prophet Isaiah.

John has a question about whether Jesus is the one for whom they’d been waiting or whether they should wait for someone else. And Jesus replies by pointing John to the scriptures.

In essence, this is what Jesus is saying to John—and to us. “Do you want to know if I’m the one that you’ve been expecting? Do you want to know if I’m that guy? Do you want to know if I’m the long-awaited Messiah? Well, first, you need to forget what you think you know about this person. You need to forget that you think he’s supposed to be a military leader. You need to forget that you think that he’s supposed to be a political leader. You need to forget that you think that he’s supposed to free us from the Romans. Forget all of that and do this one thing. Look and see what the scriptures have to say about your long-awaited Messiah. If you want to know who the Messiah is supposed to be, forget about your individual expectations and turn to the word of God.”

That’s what Jesus is telling John. “If you want to know who the Messiah is supposed to be, forget about your expectations and turn to the word of God.”

That same advice is true today, friends. That same advice!

There are SO MANY people who have their own individual mental pictures about who Jesus is. We’ve created a Savior in our own minds. We think we know what to expect of the Messiah. We think we know what to expect of God’s anointed one.

But sadly, so many times, our idea of what to expect just doesn’t match up with what the Bible teaches. We often have a false idea of who Jesus is.

  • We have an idea of a Jesus who’ll look the other way at our sin.
  • We have an idea of a Jesus who’ll just sweep our sin under the rug.
  • We have an idea of a Jesus who was really good man, but not God in the flesh.
  • We have an idea of a Jesus who cares more about outward appearance rather than issues relating to the heart.

We often have these and other false ideas about who Jesus really is. We’d do well to ask the same question that John is asking. Are you the one, Jesus? Are the one that came to take away our sins? We’d do well to ask these questions and then turn to the Word of God to find the answer.

God loved us enough that he didn’t leave us without a written record of who he is.

It’s important that we believe in the right Jesus. You may believe in a Jesus of your imagination, but that Jesus can’t save you. Only the real Jesus can save you. Do you believe in the real Jesus?

Search the Word of God and learn who Jesus really is, and believe on that Jesus.

We need to make sure we know who Jesus is.

Jesus Is Worthy of Our Praise

As Jesus makes his way into the town of Nain (Luke 7), he’s greeted by a funeral procession. In ancient Israel, it would have been customary to bury the deceased soon after death. There weren’t any long waiting periods like today’s funerals. And unlike modern funerals and unlike the ancient Egyptians, there were no embalming techniques used. The body would have been put in the ground right away. No coffin. Just the body wrapped in material.

So, as Jesus makes his way into the town, he’s greeted by this sad sight. But what makes this situation all the more sad is that the dead man is the only son of a widowed woman. Her husband is already dead. And now her only son has died as well.

Now, to our ears, we hear this as very sad news. We feel bad for this woman, but we’re sure glad that society has “safety nets” built in to help this grieving widow. We’re glad that she’ll have access to social security. We’re glad that she’ll have access to Medicare. We’re glad that there’s an assisted-living apartment complex in her county. Now, that her family is gone, we’re so glad that she’s going to have access to these and other helpful services.

But wait a minute, she didn’t live in 21st century America, she lived in 1st century Israel. There wasn’t any social security. There wasn’t any Medicare. There weren’t any assisted living apartments. This widow would have been on her own. She would have been at the mercy of society around her. She had no standing in society for herself. So, this is more than an only son dying. This is a matter of life and death for this widow as well. The whole town knew it. That’s why there was such a large crowd with her.

But notice how Jesus reacts to this widow.

Luke 7:13
And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”

His first reaction toward the woman was one of compassion. I hope we see something of the character of God here. Our God is a God of compassion. He cares for his creation. Maybe your idea of God is someone who’s vengeful, someone who keeps score, someone who’s going to let you get what’s coming to you. But that’s not who God is.

When Jesus sees this woman, his first reaction is that of compassion. Our God is a God of compassion. He cares for the widow and the orphan.

And then he tells her not to weep. Now if the story ended there, we’d wonder why he would say something like that to this grieving mother. After all, if anyone has a reason to weep, this woman sure does. She has plenty of reason to weep.

But then Jesus does something remarkable. He comes up to the funeral procession and touches the bier. The bier would have been a flat board on which they would have been carrying the wrapped-up body. He touches the bier and at that moment, he becomes ceremonially unclean. A good Jewish boy would have known better than to touch the plank which was carrying a dead body. Jesus is now unclean. But Jesus isn’t worried about ceremonial uncleanness. After all, he’s moved with compassion for this widow.

But it gets better. After the funeral procession had stopped, Jesus begins to speak to the dead person. Now the crowd thinks he’s nuts, right? I mean you don’t talk to dead people unless your nuts. Dead people don’t listen that well. He says to the dead man, “Young man, I say to you, arise” (7:14b).

And then the craziest thing happens. Verse 15, “The dead man sat up and began to speak” (7:15a). WHAT!!!??

Yes, at the sound of his voice, the dead man was made alive again.

And do you want to know something amazing? Jesus is still in the business of bringing life where there was death. Where once there was spiritual death, now Jesus makes alive. As you place your faith in him, he takes you from spiritual death into spiritual life.

Have you experienced that transformation from spiritual death to spiritual life?

And after he raised the young man to life, the crowd was amazed. Luke writes,

Luke 7:16
Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!”

In Deuteronomy 18, Moses old the people that there would one day come a prophet greater than him. This prophet would visit God’s people. For over a thousand years, the people of Israel had been waiting for this promise to be fulfilled.

And that’s what happened with Jesus. A great prophet had arisen among God’s people. But Jesus was more than a prophet. God had visited his people.

Do you remember what the angel told Mary to call her baby? You “‘shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:23b).

God was with his people. God had visited his people, and the people were rejoicing.

I wonder how you’d react if your favorite singer or your favorite actor or your favorite athlete showed up at your front door today. Would you “ooh and awe”? Would you ask for an autograph? Would you take a selfie?

Well, friends, somebody far better than any singer or actor or athlete who’s ever lived has come to live among us. His name is Jesus.

And he’s worthy to be praise.

Loving Your Enemies

Jesus said a lot of countercultural things when he walked on this earth, but near the top of that list has to be when he told his followers to “love their enemies.” It’s hard enough to just love our neighbor—which is something else that Jesus told us to do—but to love our enemies—for many of us, that’s just a bridge too far. Why should I love my enemies?

Many people will recall that in 2012 the whole idea of same-sex marriage was in the media almost every day. It’d be another three-years before the Supreme Court would make same-sex marriage the law of the land, but in 2012 the movement was already gaining widespread momentum.

In May of 2012, President Obama addressed his “evolution” on the issue—he was for it, then he was against it, and then he was for it again. The whole country was in an uproar. There wasn’t any middle ground. There wasn’t a safe space to hide and avoid the controversy.

That summer, Dan Cathy—COO of Chick-fil-a—announced his opposition to same-sex marriage, and as a result of his announcement, Chick-fil-a was immediately thrown into the cultural firestorm.

There were those who adamantly disagreed with Chick-fil-a’s stance and they threatened to boycott Chick-fil-a, and there were those who equally as adamantly agreed with Chick-fil-a’s stance and they rushed to Chick-fil-a in droves. It was—if you will—a political stalemate.

But maybe you wonder, what did Dan Cathy do? What did Cathy do while some were threatening boycotts and others were cheering support?

According to media reports, here’s what he did. He decided to move toward his “enemy.” Cathy decided to reach out to Shane Windmeyer—the founder and executive director of Campus Pride, a pro-LGBT campus group. Windmeyer was a gay activist and an openly gay man.

Cathy reached out to him because Cathy wanted to hear more about LGBT concerns regarding Chick-fil-a. Cathy said this about why he reached out to Windmeyer.

“We don’t have to agree with our enemies but we still have to honor and love them.”

Not long after that meeting, Windmeyer told the Huffington Post that he considered Cathy a friend.

How might our lives—how might our culture—look different if instead of cutting off relationships, we chose to say, “I don’t share your convictions on such-and-such topic, but I would like to hear more about why this is so important to you.”

How might our lives and our culture look different if we began to be civil to one another again? How might our lives and our culture look different is we began to love our enemies?

Kathy Litton, a pastor’s wife in Mobile, Alabama, wrote this profound statement. “As long as I think of my enemies as ‘bad’ people, they will remain my enemy. The moment I choose to see them with a gospel lens, is the moment I can truly love my enemies.”

Jesus has called us to live counter-cultural lives. There are any number of ways we can live a counter-cultural life for Jesus, but we can start by loving our enemies (see Luke 6:27b). Straight away we notice the counter-cultural nature of Jesus’ call to discipleship. He tells us that we’re to love our enemies.

The word that used here for “enemy” means to “hate someone and wish them injury.” This isn’t just someone with whom you don’t get along. This is someone who wants to see you get hurt. And Jesus tells us that we’re to love that individual or that group of individuals.

There are several different Greek words that are variously translated as “love.” Some of these words are more powerful words for love than others. The word used here is the most powerful of all of those words. It’s agape love. Agape love is a love that seeks the best interest of the other. It’s the kind of love that God has for us.

When God so loved the world—in John 3:16—he “agaped” the world. That’s the type of love that we’re to have for our enemies. That’s the type of love that we’re to have for those who want to bring us harm.

To love someone with agape love is to delight yourself in them. It’s a love that’s not motivated by what the other person can do for you. Agape love is volitional. It’s making a decision of the will to love another.

If we “love” only because we know that we’ll be loved in return, friends, that’s not what Jesus is talking about here—or anywhere else in the New Testament, for that matter. In Luke 6:32, Jesus says, “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.”

Here’s what Jesus is saying.

If I love my wife (and I should love my wife and I do love my wife), it’s a pretty safe bet that I know my wife is going to love me back. And if I love my children (and I should love my children and I do love my children), it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ll love me back.

There’s nothing counter-cultural about that kind of love. Jesus tells us here that even “sinners” love those who will love them back. And by “sinners” here, he’s not referring to the fact that we’re all sinners (cf., Romans 3:23). He’s using sinners here in a more designated sense. He’s talking about those who consciously choose not to follow Christ.

Even they have no problem with loving someone who will love them in return. In essence, he’s saying, “Give me a break. Everyone does that. Everyone loves the person who will love them back.”

So Jesus asks, “what benefit is that for you?” The word translated here as “benefit” is the same Greek word that’s elsewhere translated as “grace” or “favor.” In essence, here’s what Jesus is saying.

“Why should God show you any grace, why should he show you any favor for loving those who love you in return?”

Christians—those who follow Jesus—ought to be different. We ought not to just blend into the crowd. There should be something distinctive about the way we live.

When we see racial injustice, we ought to reply in a way that’s distinctively Christian.

When we see oppression, we ought to reply in a way that’s distinctively Christian.

And here’s why that should happen. When a Christian grasps—I mean when she really begins to understand—what Jesus accomplished on her behalf on the cross, it’ll change everything.

When she begins to understand that it wasn’t because she was such a lovable person that Christ loved her, it’ll change everything.

When she begins to understand that before she came to Christ, she was God’s enemy (cf. Romans 5), and that while she was still God’s enemy, God sent his only Son to die for her, it’ll change everything.

The reason many of us aren’t regularly amazed at God’s great love for us is that we think that we somehow deserve his love. We think we had it coming. It’s almost as if we say to ourselves, “It’s the least God could have done for me.” That seems to be the attitude that many people have.

But no, no, no, friends, listen. We don’t deserve God’s love. We deserve God’s wrath. But listen closely, friends. Here’s the glorious news. Even though we deserve God’s wrath, God sent his wrath on his Son Jesus as he hung on that cross. Jesus took the wrath that we deserve. And in return God sent his love to us.

It’s what Martin Luther called the great exchange. Jesus takes our sin, and God gives us his Son’s righteousness. And why did he do that? For the joy set before him (Heb 12:2)—because he loved us.

And because he loves us, his love transforms us. John the apostle said it this way. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

His love transforms us. Because he loved us, we’re able to love even the vilest of sinners. Because he loved us, we’re able to love our enemies.

Do you see? Because of his love for us, our attitude toward others is changed. We now have an attitude of love for others—and not just those who love us in return.

So, why should we love our enemies? Because the love of Christ has transformed our hearts and his love for us compels us to love our enemies.

Was I Born This Way?

Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get a number of different answers about why some people are attracted to people of the same sex.

Some attribute this desire to the results of the fall (Genesis 3).

Some claim that unnatural maternal hormonal levels cause the fetus to gravitate to same-sex attraction.

Some claim that sexual attraction itself isn’t fixed. Sexual attraction is endlessly fluid. Today a person may be attracted to individuals of the opposite sex and tomorrow they may be attracted to individuals of the same sex, and then the next day they are simultaneously attracted to both sexes.

Because we live in a fallen world, there may be any number of reasons why people are attracted to individuals of the same sex. So, how are Christians to think about this? This topic is far too complex to address in a short blog post, but here are some principles through which the Christian should think.

First, we must be firmly committed to recognizing the dignity of life in every human person. To be “pro-life” is more than taking a stand against abortion. To be “pro-life” is to recognize the image of God in every human person—from the time of conception until natural death.

This means that we treat all people with dignity and respect. While Christians should rightly conclude that same-sex sexual activity is a sin (see below), we nevertheless treat those who are engaged in this lifestyle with dignity and respect. They bear the image of God. We don’t treat them as “untouchables” because of their sin any more than we treat a gossip or a liar or a person prone to angry outbursts as “untouchable.” These individuals need to know that God sent his Son for those engaged in every manner of sin.

Second, we must recognize that same-sex attraction by itself isn’t sinful. We live in a fallen world. The fallenness of this world has affected people in any number of ways. Many of our desires have been affected in negative ways. For some, there are inappropriate desires for food (i.e., gluttonous). For others, there are inappropriate heterosexual desires. And for others, there are inappropriate homosexual desires. But the desire itself isn’t sinful, just as temptation by itself isn’t sinful. Jesus was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Heb 4:15). Just as it’s possible for a heterosexual to live a chaste single life, so to can a homosexual live a chaste single life.

Third, we should acknowledge that the vast majority of individuals who experience sexual attraction to individuals of the same sex did not choose this lifestyle for themselves. They have genuine feelings for same-sex individuals much as heterosexual individuals have genuine feelings for opposite-sex individuals.

Fourth, the Bible clearly condemns same-sex sexual behavior as sinful. There are a number of biblical passages that address homosexuality (e.g., Lev 18:22; 20:13; Rom 1:26–28; 1 Cor 6:9–11; etc.). With any honest reading of the pertinent texts, one will see that, without exception, the Bible condemns homosexual behavior.

We can’t allow individuals to make reasoned excuses for why it is acceptable to engage in sinful behavior. God’s Word must stand as supreme over cultural pressure. There may very well be biological or cultural reasons for why some people engage in same-sex relationships. Again, the fall has affected us in ways in which we may not even understand. But this does not give us license to engage in what the Bible clearly calls sin.

For example, there is ample scientific evidence that the brains of individuals who view pornography are essentially “rewired.” This “rewiring” of the brain causes the individual to want more pornography, not less. But just because a person’s brain has been “rewired,” it doesn’t then follow that it’s now OK for that individual to view pornography. No, pornography is a sin every time and all the time.

Let’s not make biological or cultural excuses for why it’s OK for some to engage in sinful behavior. The Bible calls us to walk in holiness, forsaking all sin.

Fifth, the only answer for all of humanity’s sinful choices is the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is as true for the homosexual sinner as it is for the heterosexual sinner. We are all sinners (Rom 3:23) in need of the grace and mercy of God. We all need Jesus (John 14:6).

What Are We to Make of President Trump’s Transgender Ban for the Military

President Trump is no stranger to controversy. This was true long before he became our nation’s 45th president. And now, President Trump has once again stepped into the firestorm. In three successive tweets on July 26, POTUS wrote,

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow . . . . . .

. . . . Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming . . . . .

victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you

The political and media firestorm that has erupted from these tweets was to be expected. While the firestorm on this issue has since died down, a church member asked me how Christians should think about transgender individuals in general and about the proposed transgender ban in the U.S. military in particular.

First, it may be helpful to clarify what is meant by transgender. Here is a commonly accepted definition. A transgender person is someone whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex. According to this system of thought, gender and birth sex are not the same. Indeed, according to this system of thought, gender is not even binary. Gender is fluid, and it exists along a continuum.

A related, and some say, synonymous concept is gender dysphoria. By definition, gender dysphoria is the condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be different than one’s biological sex. This dysphoria would manifest itself with an “intense desire” to have a physical body that corresponds to one’s perceived gender identity. According to medical experts, this dysphoria would also be accompanied by feelings of dissatisfaction, anxiety, and restlessness, so much so as to interfere with a person’s normal life.

As Christians, we should have compassion for those who struggle with gender dysphoria. We should acknowledge that these individuals did not choose this struggle for themselves. They are often deeply torn, and they are men and women created in the image of God. They deserve to be treated with love and compassion.

Furthermore, we acknowledge that mankind’s fall into sin has affected all of creation. This does not mean that every person struggles with gender dysphoria, but the fall has manifested itself in the lives of some people in this way. We may or may not struggle with gender dysphoria, but we have all been born into this world under the burden sin, and as Christians, we recognize that the gospel is the only answer for our sin (see Romans 6–8). So, we dare not cast stones, rather we show love and compassion and proclaim the gospel.

But also as Christians, we should not accept the current cultural thinking regarding gender identity. We recognize the inherent sinfulness in rejecting God’s good gift of gender and pursuing our own gender identity. We must not encourage people to be their “true selves.” We must acknowledge that God made us in the beginning male and female (Genesis 1:27). Gender was created by God, and God called his created order “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Now, what are we to make of the military ban? Let’s rehearse a bit of recent U.S. history.

The ban on transgender individuals openly serving in the U.S. military was lifted in the waning months of the previous administration’s term (specifically, June 20, 2016) so the practice of allowing transgender individuals to openly serve in the U.S. military has not been in place for a long time. This fact, in and of itself, does not argue for the “rightness” or “wrongness” of any policy decisions. This is mentioned only because some on the “progressive left” portray those on the “conservative right” as intellectual Neanderthals for disagreeing with the “new sexual norm,” when, in reality, this “new sexual norm” is a brand new development and even most of those who identity with the progressive left did not believe the things they are now saying just a matter of months ago.

As for a Christian response to transgender individuals openly serving in the U.S. military, arguments can be made on both sides of the issue.

Perhaps the strongest argument to allow transgender individuals to serve is the anti-discrimination standard. Our country is not a theocracy. While Christians desire men and women to live holy lives that honor God, we recognize that the only way to make this happen is through gospel-transformation. We do not keep people from serving in our nation’s armed forces just because they are sinning. For example, while adultery is a sin, we do not forbid adulterers from serving in the U.S. military. Since this is obviously true, why should we ban transgendered individuals from serving their country in the military?

If, however, the “sin” keeps the individual from properly carrying out his duties, then individuals could be banned from service in the military. It could be argued that by the very definition of gender dysphoria that transgender individuals are not suited for service in the U.S. military. Would it be prudent, for example, to give weapons to individuals (who by current medical definition) have strong psychological desires that include anxiety and depression?

There is a second argument that is often put forward against transgender military service. This second argument is a fiscal argument. The medical treatment (e.g., hormonal treatment and gender-reassignment surgery) and psychological treatment (e.g., counseling) for transgender individuals is often extreme. Two questions arise as a result. First, is it right to spend an inordinate amount of our limited defense budget to care for such a small population of individuals? And second, is it right to use taxpayer funds to pay for things that many find morally questionable?

These are questions that must be carefully thought through before reaching to a conclusion. May Christians allow the gospel to shape our hearts and minds, and may we have the wisdom to navigate these questions with clarity and compassion.

 

*** Albert Mohler posted an audio podcast discussing the current administration’s military transgender policy on August 25. See here to listen.

The Lord’s Supper

Different names are used, the Eucharist, Communion, the Table, or the Lord’s Supper, but all of these names point to the same reality. It is one of two ordinances that Christ left for his church.[1] And as there are many names for this ordinance, there are multiple times as many questions about it. For example,

Who is allowed to administer the Lord’s Supper?
How often should Christians take the Lord’s Supper?
Lords SupperIs the Lord’s Supper open only to church members or are all Christians invited to the table?
What is the meaning of the Lord’s Supper?
Why do we celebrate the Lord’s Supper?

And the list could go on and on. But this article will focus on one question.

When and where is the Lord’s Supper to be received? Is it for individual Christians to receive and celebrate or is a godly husband permitted to lead his family to take the Supper or is the Supper intended to be received and celebrated only when the church is gathered? In other words, is it an individualistic Christian ordinance or is it a corporate Christian ordinance?

To help answer this question, we will turn to the Scriptures. The longest sustained teaching on the Lord’s Supper is found in 1 Corinthians 11:17–34.

1 Corinthians 11:17–34
            17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another—34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

So, what may we conclude from this passage about the individualistic or corporate nature of the Lord’s Supper?

[Note: Epistemological integrity would demand that dogmatic conclusions not be reached. In other words, there are no “slam dunk” arguments about this question that can be made from this passage (or any other passage). There are, however, implications that strongly suggest the Lord’s Supper should be viewed as a corporate celebration and not as an individualistic celebration.

Argument

We will consider seven lines of argument from this passage that suggest that the Lord’s Supper is a corporate ordinance. These arguments are not listed in any particular order of importance. My arguments will be brief. This blog isn’t intended to be a treatise on this topic.

First, we must ask to whom this letter (1 Corinthians) was written. First Corinthians 1:2 clearly shows us that the letter was written to the whole church. If the letter was written to the whole church then those who “come together” (11:17, 18, 20, etc.) to celebrate the Supper are the church.

Second, the pronoun “you” in this passage is always in the plural. In this sense Greek is a more precise language than English. In English it isn’t always clear whether “you” is referring to an individual or a group of individuals. This isn’t the case in Greek. There are different words for a singular “you” and a plural “you.” In South Carolina we distinguish this by saying y’all when we mean plural—but I digress.

Third, five times in this passage the phrase “when you come together” is used in this passage and one time “when you come together as a church.” A honest reading of the text tells us that Paul here is speaking of the church gathering together corporately.

Fourth, Paul admonishes the Corinthians because he has received word of divisions existing among the believers and these divisions have surfaced around the Lord’s Table. Divisions can only exist in community, not individually.

Fifth, the Corinthians were taking the Supper in a way that promoted individualism rather than unity so Paul asked the question, “Or do you despise the church of God?” Again, this seems to suggest that the Supper is for the church.

Sixth, Paul asks another question, “Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?” This question implies that the Supper is for our corporate gathering. If you’re just hungry do that at home.

Seventh, there is a self-examination that is done in conjunction with the Supper, but even that examination is not individualistic but it is done in conjunction with the corporate gathering. The church body helps to affirm that we are indeed walking in the faith.

Application

Given the teaching that the Lord’s Supper is to be taken as a church, what points of application may we deduce? Let me suggest two.

We ought not to take the Lord’s Supper as a Sunday school class or home group or biological family to the neglect of the church gathered. The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance given to the church for the church. We shouldn’t celebrate it on our own. While this author is unsure of whether celebrating apart from the church should be considered sin, it surely is unwise to celebrate it on one’s own.

But what about faithful church members who are “shut-in” due to age or infirmity—would it be proper to serve the Supper to them in their homes (or nursing homes)? First, we must be careful to teach these shut-ins that there isn’t anything salvific in the Supper. In other words, taking the Lord’s Supper doesn’t guarantee one’s salvation and not taking the Supper doesn’t guarantee someone’s perdition. The Supper is a time to remember and celebrate what Christ has accomplished on our behalf.

But for these faithful Christians who are no longer able to attend, they, by nature of their infirmity, are no longer able to participate in this celebration. It would seem prudent and loving to allow the Lord’s Supper to be served to these saints under the following two conditions. First, again, the shut-ins (and the church) should understand that the Supper isn’t salvific. Second, the gathered church should be publicly informed and invited to participate as the Supper is served to these shut-ins.

Conclusion

In the Supper the Lord has given us a wonderful visual picture of gospel. As Christians we should not only rejoice in the gospel, but we should rejoice when we gather together to see dozens or hundreds or perhaps even thousands of others all confessing the same gospel as they take the Supper.

For His Glory,
Pastor Brian

[1] The two ordinances are baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Some refer to these ordinances as “sacraments.” For a helpful discussion on the use of the terms “sacrament” and “ordinance,” see John S. Hammett, 40 Questions about Baptism and the Lord’s Supper,” (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2015), 19–24.

Raising a Little Pharisee

Pharisee. The average evangelical Christian almost cringes at the very sound of the word. No one likes to be called a Pharisee. Why is that?

Pharisees were known to keep the Law of God fastidiously. While the Phariseeaverage Christian hasn’t even read the entire Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), Pharisees would have had the entire Pentateuch committed to memory—word-for-word!

But because they were so careful to keep the Law and because they were so interested in outward expressions of holiness, the Pharisees would often look down on those who weren’t quite as “spiritual” as they were. Consider the prayer of the Pharisee in Luke 18,

“The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’”
Luke 18:11–12

Jesus had some harsh words for Pharisees (see, for example, his seven “woes” in Matthew 23). The Pharisees were often hypocrites. They thought they were better than others because they were so meticulous in keeping the Law. But they were themselves spiritually blind. They didn’t see that even they, like everyone else, were in desperate need of God’s grace.

While the institution of “official” Pharisee-ism no longer exists, the church is nevertheless full of many modern day Pharisees. So, how did the church get so many modern day Pharisees? In large part, the church culture has done a good job of raising them.

So, how does one go about raising a modern day Pharisee? Let me suggest four ways in which you can encourage your children to grow up to be Pharisees.

First, many Christian parents focus on externals rather than internals. We raise our children not to act like those “other children” who “have no manners or upbringing.” In so doing we focus our attention as parents on controlling the external behaviors of our children rather than focusing on our child’s heart—which is what ultimately controls our behavior.

This works fairly well as long as our children are in our homes and under our thumbs, but when our children leave the nest, their true heart begins to show. Paul Tripp writes of the “principle of inescapable influence: Whatever rules the heart will exercise inescapable influence over the person’s life and behavior” [Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2002), 68, italics in original].

Tripp writes,

“This is what happens to the teenager who goes through the teen years fairly well under the careful love, instruction, and oversight of Christian parents, only to go off to college and completely forsake his faith. I would suggest that in most cases he has not forsaken his faith. In reality, his faith was the faith of his parents; he simply lived within its limits while he was still at home. When he went away to school and those restraints were removed, his true heart was revealed. He had not internalized the faith. He had not entrusted himself to Christ in a life-transforming way. He did the ‘Christian’ things he was required to do at home, but his actions did not flow from a heart of worship. In the college culture, he had nothing to anchor him, and the true thoughts and motives of his heart led him away from God. College was not the cause of the problem. It was simply the place where his true heart was revealed. The real problem was that faith never took root in his heart. As a result, his words, choices, and actions did not reveal a heart for God. Good behavior lasted for a while, but it proved to be temporary because it was not rooted in the heart.”
(Tripp, Instruments, 64)

A failure to trust in Christ in a life-transforming way can cause a child to abandon the faith of their childhood, as Tripp writes here, but it can also cause them to hold on to merely the externals of the faith (i.e., external behaviors) with having a true heart change. This latter problem is characteristic of the Pharisee.

If we want to avoid raising little Pharisees, we need to focus our attention on our child’s heart.

Second, some Christian parents also find their identity in their children and in how their children behave. This point is closely related to the first, but it is different. Here the parent desires to be considered a “good parent.” The parent either wittingly or unwittingly is seeking the parenting approval of others. Instead of finding her identity in Christ, she finds it in how her children are judged by those around her.

“My, my, aren’t Mrs. Smith’s children so well-behaved?”

“You’re children are so precious. They are always so well-behaved.”

These comments feed her sense of self-worth and so she focuses all the more to make sure her child is well-behaved. The parenting emphasis is increasingly on the external behaviors and never on the heart.

It’s not on the heart because heart attitudes are so much harder to see. The dad who receives his self-worth from how well he parents rarely hears, “Your child’s heart attitude is so Christ-like.” So, he focuses on the externals and he raises a little Pharisee.

If we want to avoid raising little Pharisees, parents need to find their identity in Christ, not in how well their children perform.

Third, parents often teach their children to compare themselves to other children. This is done in any number of ways—through athletic prowess, through academic achievement, through moral obedience.

“At least my child doesn’t drink and do drugs . . .” (see previous post). And so children are taught to look down on those children who have made “significant” moral failures. Some sins are counted as worse than other sins.

Remember the prayer of the Pharisee in Luke 18? “I thank you that I am not like other men . . .”

And so drinking, drugs, and sexual promiscuity are “worse” than ungratefulness, selfishness, and pride. Pharisee-ism is so insidious that we even teach our children to be “proud” that they aren’t like those other children. And then somehow we are shocked that we’ve raised a little Pharisee.

If we teach our children that some sins are “worse” than other sins, we’ve taken a large step in raising a little Pharisee.

Finally, some parents actually teach their children to become Pharisees by withholding love and affection from children whose behavior doesn’t measure up to mom’s or dad’s (often Pharisaical) standards.

It doesn’t take little Megan long to learn, “Dad only shows me affection when I’m a good little girl.” Megan, in turn, begins to perceive her self-worth from her external behavior and a little Pharisee has been born.

Being a parent isn’t for cowards. It’s hard work and sleepless nights. But we don’t want to raise “little Pharisees” who do the right things but whose hearts are far from the Lord. So, find your identity in Christ and focus on your heart and your child’s heart and you’ll go a long way toward stunting the Pharisee in your child.

To His Glory,

Brian

What Is the “Book of Jashar”?

Second Samuel begiBook of Jasharns with David learning of the deaths of King Saul and King Saul’s son, Jonathan. As David was lamenting their deaths, David quoted a lengthy poem from the “Book of Jashar” (2 Samuel 1:18–27). This mysterious book is also mentioned in Joshua 10:12–13. What is this “Book of Jashar”? And, should this book be included in the Bible?

What is the Book of Jashar?

We ought not to think about Jashar as a proper name. The word “Jashar” means “upright one,” so the Book of Jashar is sometimes referred to as the Book of the Upright One.

The Book of Jashar is thought to have been a book of poems and songs about various heroes of the faith. It is ultimately an unknown book, although some claim to have an accurate copy of the book. The book has been used by various cults and sects such as Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Should the Book of Jashar be included in the Bible?

If the Bible quotes the Book of Jashar, why isn’t it in the Bible? Just because a work of antiquity is quoted in the Bible, it does not follow that the work is on par with the Bible. In other words, in order for a book to be included in the canon of scripture, it must have been understood to have been inspired by God. The Book of Jashar simply does not reach that threshold.

There are indeed a number of extra-biblical sources that are quoted in the Bible that are not included in the Bible. One author wrote,

“There are other Hebrew works that are mentioned in the Bible that God directed the authors to use. Some of these include the Book of the Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21:14), the Book of Samuel the Seer, the Book of Nathan the Prophet, and the Book of Gad the Seer (1 Chronicles 29:29). Also, there are the Acts of Rehoboam and the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (1 Kings 14:29). We also know that Solomon composed more than a thousand songs (1 Kings 4:32), yet only two are preserved in the book of Psalms (72 and 127). Writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, Paul included a quotation from the Cretan poet Epimenides (Titus 1:12) and quoted from the poets Epimenides and Aratus in his speech at Athens (Acts 17:28).”

We can know that everything included in the Bible is inspired by God and therefore truthful and without error, but this inspiration does not necessarily transfer to the remainder of the works quoted.

By way of analogy, we may write a brief essay that is without error and totally truthful. In the process of writing our brief essay, we may even quote from other sources. Even though our essay is without error and totally truthful, it would not necessarily follow that the sources from which we quoted were also completely without error and totally truthful.

In his sovereign wisdom, God guided the thoughts of those who wrote scripture and he protected them from error so that the Bible is completely trustworthy and it is completely without error. God may have inspired these authors to quote from additional sources, but that does not mean that these additional sources are in any way equal to scripture.

2 Peter 1:19–21
19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,
20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.
21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 3:16–17
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

For His Glory,
Pastor Brian

Did God really “hate” Esau?

Did God really “hate” Esau? This question was recently posed to me by a godly woman in my congregation.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the story of Esau, let me fill in a few details (Note: You can read the whole story for yourself in Genesis 25–36.)

Esau was the oldest twin brother of Jacob. Esau was the favorite of his father, Isaac, and Jacob was the Esau-and-the-bowl-of-soupfavorite of his mother, Rebekah. But even before they were born God told Rebekah,

“Two nations are in your womb,
And two peoples from within you shall be divided;
The one shall be stronger than the other,
The older shall serve the younger.”
Genesis 25:23

Esau would ultimately sell his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew (Genesis 25:29–34), and later Jacob would deceived his father so as to receive Esau’s blessing (Genesis 27). Did Esau get the raw end of the deal?

To the untrained eye this story reads like a transcript from the Jerry Springer show. But thankfully, for our sakes, God in his grace interprets the story for us.

In Malachi 1 we read these words,

“‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have you loved us?’ ‘Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?’ declares the Lord. ‘Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated.’”
Malachi 1:2–3a

Those are strong words, but they still don’t, by themselves, help us understand what is going on. So the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote these words in Romans 9,

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Romans 9:6–13

Finally in this passage we begin to understand the reason why “the older shall serve the younger.” We begin to understand why God said, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” The context here in Romans is clear. The context is God’s free and sovereign choice in electing those whom he chooses to elect—not based on any foreseen merit in them, but purely based on his sovereign freedom.

This passage from Romans is part of a larger argument (Romans 9–11) on God’s sovereign choice of a people for his pleasure. There were those who thought that since not every ethnic Jew (i.e., an ethic Jew is a person who could trace his/her physical ancestry to Abraham) was being saved, God must have failed to keep his promises.

But Paul argues that they are not Jews who are only ethnic Jews, but they are Jews who have faith like Abraham. They are Jews only who are children of the promise.

Paul goes on to demonstrate this fact through two historical examples. One example is Isaac and Ishmael. Abraham fathered both Isaac and Ishmael, but only Isaac was the son of promise. The covenant blessings fell only to Isaac.

The second example is that of Esau and Jacob. Both of these men had the same father and mother. They were twins (fraternal, not identical). Yet before they were born, before they had done anything “good” or “bad,” God had chosen the one over the other.

The story is a story of God’s freedom in choosing (or “election”). Biblical theologian Thomas Schreiner writes, “the seed of Abraham are not the physical children of Abraham or the children of the flesh, but they are the children of Isaac and the children of promise. God never promised that all ethnic Israelites would belong to the true people of God. . . . [T]he children of promise are the true children of God” (Thomas Schreiner, Romans, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 494).

New Testament theologian Douglas Moo writes,
“This brings us back to our original question: What does Paul mean by asserting that God ‘loved’ Jacob but ‘hated’ Esau? The connection of this quotation with v. 12 suggests that God’s love is the same as his election: God chose Jacob to inherit the blessings promised first to Abraham. God’s ‘hatred’ of Esau is more difficult to interpret because Paul does not furnish us at this point with contextual clues. Some understand Paul to mean only that God loved Esau less that he loved Jacob. He blessed both, but Jacob was used in a more positive and basic way in the furtherance of God’s plans. But a better approach is to define ‘hatred’ here by its opposite, ‘love.’ If God’s love of Jacob consists in his choosing Jacob to be the ‘seed’ who would inherit the blessing promised to Abraham, then God’s hatred of Esau is best understood to refer to God’s decision not to bestow this privilege on Esau. It might best be translated ‘reject.’ ‘Love’ and ‘hate’ are not here, then, emotions that God feels but actions that he carries out. In an apparent paradox that troubles Paul (cf. 9:14 and 19 following) as well as many Christians, God loves ‘the whole world’ at the same time as he withholds his love in action, or election, from some.”
Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, 586–87.

Once again Schreiner is helpful. He writes,
“Does the text suggest double predestination? Apparently it does. We need to remember that in the Pauline view predestination never lessened human responsibility (cf. Rom. 1:18–3:20; 9:30–10:21), and the correlation between divine sovereignty and human responsibility is ultimately a mystery that is beyond our finite comprehension. We dare not conclude that human decisions are a charade, insignificant, or trivial. But we must also beware of a rationalizing expedient that domesticates the text by exalting human freedom so that it fits neatly into our preconceptions.”
Schreiner, 501.

The story of Jacob and Esau is a story of God’s free and unconditional election. God’s “loving” Jacob was God choosing Jacob. God’s “hating” Esau was God rejecting Esau. As finite human beings we may not understand why God chooses to act in this manner, but we know that God is always completely merciful and gracious. I would like to close this blog article with this lengthy quote from pastor and author John Piper.

“One of the ways God makes this [i.e., his free and unconditional election] clear is that when Abraham fathered two sons, God chose only one of them—Isaac, not Ishmael—to be the son of promise. And when Isaac had two sons, even before they were born, God chose only Jacob, not Esau, to continue the line of his chosen people. In each case, God acts in a way that highlights his sovereign freedom in election. In Isaac’s case the child is born by miraculous, divine intervention when Abraham and Sarah are too old to have children. The point is to show that God’s purposes in election are not limited by human abilities or inabilities. He is free to choose whomever he pleases, even if he has to create a child by miraculous birth.

“This is the truth that John the Baptist had in mind when he warned the Pharisees and Sadducees, ‘Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham’ (Matthew 3:9). In other words, don’t ever think that God is obliged to choose you because of some human distinctive like your physical descent from Abraham. If God needs descendants from Abraham to fulfill the promises of election, he can create them out of stones. He is not boxed in. He is not limited to you. Beware of presuming on his electing grace. It is absolutely free.

“God makes the same point in the way he chooses Jacob and not Esau. In their case God choose the son who, according to all ordinary custom and human expectation, should not have been chosen, namely, the younger one. Thus he shows that God aims to undermine any attempt to limit his freedom in election. He is not bound or constrained by human distinctives. The apostle Paul stresses in Romans 9:10–13 that the reason for the election of Jacob, not Esau, and Isaac, not Ishmael, was to show that God’s election is free and unconditional. It is not based on Jewishness or primogeniture or virtue or faith; it is free, and therefore completely merciful and gracious.”
John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God, 114–15.

For His Glory,
Pastor Brian

Uncleanness and Bodily Discharges

As we are spending the year reading through the Bible, we sometimes come across passages that appear to not “make sense.” On this past Sunday at church, I Uncleanhad a couple of the women in my church ask me why an offering had to be made for a woman’s menstrual cycle. The text in question was Leviticus 15:19-30. Let’s take look at this passage.

Leviticus 15:19-24
19 “When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening.  20 And everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean. Everything also on which she sits shall be unclean.  21 And whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.  22 And whoever touches anything on which she sits shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.  23 Whether it is the bed or anything on which she sits, when he touches it he shall be unclean until the evening.  24 And if any man lies with her and her menstrual impurity comes upon him, he shall be unclean seven days, and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean.

The first part of this passage deals with a woman’s “normal” menstrual cycle. During this time period the woman was considered “unclean” and anything she touched was also considered unclean. There are a number of lessons we can take from this.

First, since everything she touched was also considered unclean, this gave the woman a natural break from her household duties. In other words, she would not be cooking and cleaning during this period because in the process of doing so, she would be making everything she touched “unclean.” So, this was actually a time for the woman to rest from her normal household duties.

Second, the prohibition of sexual intercourse during this time was an indication that sex was not to be an obsession in life (either for the man or for the woman). Sex is a good gift given to a husband and a wife by God. It is to be used for procreation and it also has a unitive function (i.e., it helps the husband and wife to grow closer to one another). But sex is not an all-important activity as our culture wants to make us believe. So, God has a built in “break” from sexual activity between a husband and a wife.

Third, it is important to see that there is no special offering that needs to be made for a woman’s normal menstrual period. This is a natural part of a woman’s biology; no offering needs to be made. This period of uncleanness for the woman is similar to uncleanness experienced by the man when he has an emission of semen (see Lev 15:16-18).

Now let’s look at the remainder of the passage.

Leviticus 15:25-30
25 “If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean.  26 Every bed on which she lies, all the days of her discharge, shall be to her as the bed of her impurity. And everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her menstrual impurity.  27 And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.  28 But if she is cleansed of her discharge, she shall count for herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean.  29 And on the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest, to the entrance of the tent of meeting.  30 And the priest shall use one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her before the LORD for her unclean discharge.

A key phrase is found in verse 25, “not at the time of her menstrual impurity.” In other words, this a period of “abnormal” feminine discharge. This would be an indication that something was awry with the woman’s normal menstrual cycle. We need to keep in mind that some of the law codes given to the people of Israel were hygienic in origin. They didn’t speak to the worth of the individual, but they were designed to keep the spread of any potential diseases to a minimum.

When the woman was experiencing an abnormal discharge she was also considered unclean and she remained unclean for eight days after the abnormal discharge stopped. On the eighth day she would take an appropriate offering (verse 29) to the priest who would then offer these to the Lord.

If the abnormal discharge didn’t stop, she remained unclean. This helps us better understand the condition of the woman who reached out to touch the garments of Jesus in Mark 5:25-34.

It is important to stress three things. First, this offering was not for a woman’s normal discharge. The normal discharge is a part of her natural biology. These offerings were for “unnatural” discharges. Second, this is not a sexist part of the Law since this is the exact same process a man had to go through when he had an “unnatural discharge” (see Lev 15:13-15).

And, third, Moses tells us that the reason people to avoid the various issues that cause ceremonial uncleanness was so that they would not defile the tabernacle (15:31). But we live in an age of a new covenant, and we can look back on the old covenant and realize that the laws regarding cleansings has been fulfilled in Christ Jesus. He has entered the holy tent once for all to deliver redemption for all of us (see Hebrews 9:11-12).

For His Glory,

Pastor Brian