Reasons to Believe

Who on Earth did Jesus Claim to be?

Part 7

The Bread of Life

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35 NIV)

5 Loaves 2 Fish 4 Web colorBread—every culture has some form of it. Therefore, it’s a main staple in most people’s diets. People have used every type of grain known to man to make flour for dough. And it comes in as many different shapes and sizes as the imagination can conjure up. In its purest form,   bread, is a reservoir of nutrients and fiber and one of our healthiest food choices.

Nevertheless, people thought they could improve on this wonderful delicacy by adding vitamins, minerals, and preservatives. Unfortunately, their tampering has depleted bread of its natural goodness and has caused many health-conscious dieters to eliminate it entirely from their diets.

Be that as it may, bread remains a one of the basic food groups. Instead of checking it off our balanced-diet lists, most dieticians recommend getting back to basics—whole grains, no preservatives or added ingredients. Bread doesn’t need to be fortified to supply us with nutrients essential for our bodies. It comes that way naturally.

Bread is so essential for good health Jesus compared Himself to it. He reminded the Jews about the exodus of their people out of Egypt. For forty years, they roamed the wilderness, and God supplied bread from heaven to nourish them. This manna had one flaw—it lasted only twenty-four hours. If kept overnight, it became moldy and wormy. It was God’s plan to teach them obedience and discipline.

The manna itself foreshadowed the True Bread that would come from heaven to supply our spiritual sustenance. Jesus Christ is that Bread. Without Him, our souls become famished. He alone can feed the hungry soul with the goodness of God. Those who trust in Him and “feast” upon Him, will never feel the pangs of the ravenous, dying soul.

How about you? What are you feeding your soul?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Who on Earth did Jesus Claim to be?

Part 6

The Messiah

The [Samaritan] woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” (John 4:25-26 NIV)

The Return 4 webDuring the time Jesus resided in Judea, the Jews and Samaritans looked for a conquering king to save them from the oppression of the Roman government. They understood the convenient God had made with their ancestors, in particular King David. God had promised this mighty man of valor that his descendents would always sit on the throne of Israel. The nation clung to that promise like a lifeline to existence.

However, the hope of the people began centuries before King David sat on the throne. God made a promise to Adam and Eve that a son would be born who would take away the curse that sentenced them to hard labor. Decades later, Lamech made this proclamation at the birth of his son, Noah:  When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son. He named him Noahand said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed” (Genesis 5:28-29 NIV). This took place generations before God called out a nation unto Himself from Abraham’s seed.

Through the ages, the Hebrews failed, enslaved, and freed many times; but they held onto the hope of Israel—a messiah would come to save them and to rule the nations.

Jesus was that Man. However, God’s plan differed from that of the Jews.

  1. They thought He came to overthrow Caesar ~  He came to defeat the prince of the air.
  2. They thought He’d ride a white warhorse ~  He rode a donkey of peace.
  3. They thought He’d reign on earth ~  His kingdom is in heaven.
  4. They thought He’d organize a mighty army ~  He surrendered without a fight.
  5. They thought He died for a lost cause ~  He died for lost sinners.
  6. They thought death won ~  He conquered death and lives today.

We are now on the other side of the cross looking back in awe with gratitude and looking forward to His second coming. He will return on a white horse as the conquering King the Jews anticipated. His army of saints will follow Him to war and celebrate the victory over the fall of the enemy—Satan.

How about you? Are you expecting Jesus to return soon? Whose side will you be on in the final battle?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Who on Earth Did Jesus Claim to Be?

Part Five (Advent 2012 Day 1)

Living life with the expectation of the Advent of Jesus Christ.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10 NIV)

In this passage, Jesus was speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well. He refers to Himself as “the gift of God” or rather salvation, which comes through faith in Him. What a fitting thought to lead us into the Advent Season—Jesus Christ, God’s Gift to humanity.

God's Gift to Humanity

God’s Gift to Humanity

On the eighth day after Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph took Him to the temple to be circumcised and dedicated to God, as was the Jewish custom for the first-born son in those days. Luke 2:21-40 tells us about two elderly people who anticipated Jesus’ first advent with great expectation and their reaction toward Him when they saw Jesus.

The first mentioned, Simeon, a just and devout man who waited all his life to witness the “consolation of Israel.” The Holy Spirit had promised Simeon that before he died he would see his Savior. On the very day Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple, the Holy Spirit prompted the elderly man to go there. The moment he saw Jesus, Simeon knew that this infant would redeem the world. Simeon praised God while he held “The Gift.” We can sense the man’s exhilaration in his words, “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shell be spoken against.”

The second, Anna, an elderly widow who served God night and day with prayers and fastings, entered the temple at the time of Jesus’ presentation and marveled at the sight of Him. She instantly gave thanks unto the Lord and told all those who would listen and who looked forward to redemption in Jerusalem about Him.

These individuals maintained a close relationship with the Lord through prayer. They knew the Scriptures and believed that God would send a Redeemer to restore Jerusalem. When He came, they recognized Him and proclaimed the Messiah’s birth without hesitation. They told everyone they knew that they had seen with their own eyes the “Gift of God” for the salvation of Israel and the light of the Gentiles. They concerned themselves with nothing other than the visitation they were privileged to encounter for they knew their lives’ were complete in the knowledge of His advent.

How can we, Christians, reflect this kind of anticipation in our lives this Advent Season?

  1. Think of new ways to praise Jesus. It’s not all about singing Christmas carols or verbal praise, is it? I like to paint. Last year, I did an art video and put it on YouTube as my “praise song” to my Redeemer. I’m working on another one for this year.  How about you? What special gifts has He given you that you can return to Him in praise?
  2. Both Simeon and Anna told others about the advent of Jesus Christ. I want to tell others, maybe remind those who already know, maybe have the opportunity to tell someone who has never heard…it doesn’t matter. I want to talk about Jesus’ miraculous birth. I can do that through blogging, videos, Face Book and Twitter posts, and in church settings. But there’s nothing like face-to-face conversations with neighbors and friends. Strike up a conversation about the true reason we celebrate. Tell the story to grandchildren. Any other ideas? I’d love to hear them and perhaps try a few.
  3. Most importantly, spend more time in prayer seeking a clearer vision of Jesus Christ and a greater awareness of what it means to live our lives in expectation of the Second Advent of our Lord and Savior.

When Jesus comes into our lives, living becomes an ADVENTure.

This Christmas, let’s unwrap The Greatest Gift ever given and share Him with those around us.

See you in a twinkling

Brenda K. Hendricks

Who on Earth Did Jesus Claim to Be?

Part Four

The Only Begotten Son

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)

The Only Begotten Son

In the Old Testament the word begotten or begat is used to designate the biological relationship between father and child. Matthew also uses the same word to trace Jesus’ genealogy from Abraham to His earthly father Joseph. Note: Matthew does not say that Joseph fathered Jesus. And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.(Matthew 1:16 KJV).

Since the word begotten is rarely used today, more recent Bible translations have replaced the word begotten in John 3:16 with the word unique.

What makes Jesus the unique Son of God? Although the Jews considered themselves the sons of God, only Jesus could rightly proclaim to be the begotten of God. The dictionary defines begotten as generated by procreation. Don’t misinterpret the meaning here or read into it with a human mind. Jesus’ conception occurred through spiritual or supernatural means, not physical. God created the universe and all that’s in it by speaking the word. He could surely speak the word for Mary to conceive His Son so that His plan of salvation would come to fruition. When Jesus says He is the Only begotten Son of the Father in John 3:16, He is claiming deity and professing to be the biological Son of God.

To think that Jesus was before the world began, He knew the Father, and was equal with Him yet, without hesitation took the form of an infant boggles our finite minds. Knowingly our Lord faced the ridicule of the people He healed and came to save. He suffered the beating we deserved, endured humiliation, and bore our sins on the cross. He did it all to make a way for us to enter God’s kingdom rather than to face eternal punishment. When we confess our sins, our inability to do anything about them, and accept Jesus’ sacrifice as atonement for them, we become sons and daughters of God by adoption. While we share in His inheritance, Jesus remains the Only Begotten Son of the Father.

Many people have trouble understanding or believing this concept. How do you explain it to them?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Who on Earth Did Jesus Claim to Be?

Part Three

To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:16 emphasis mine)

Jesus cleansed the temple twice—once in the beginning of His ministry, which is referenced here and the other at the end of it. Both events occurred as He entered Jerusalem’s temple courts for Passover. Both signified His authority over the religious rulers of the day and fulfilled David’s prophecy found in Psalm 69:9b, “for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.” Through the cleansing of the temple at these times, Jesus established and then re-established His authority as religious leader and as the “door” to the kingdom of God. The temple of His day nor the church in ours have not nor will not give anyone access to the eternal presence of God. Only Jesus has that power.

The importance of the phrase my Father denotes Jesus’ understanding of who His Father was. This cannot be a reference to His adoptive earthly father Joseph, since Jesus is referring to the temple as His Father’s house.

Although the Jews identified with God as the Father of their nation and their people, they seldom used the term Father when addressing Him. In the Old Testament, there are only seven references, which use the phrase “our Father” concerning God: Deuteronomy 32:6; Psalm 89:26; Isaiah 9:6; 63:16; 64:8. No one dared to personalize the title with the singular pronoun “my.”

However throughout the gospels, Jesus focused on His relationship to God and rightly called God “My Father.” The significance of this is found in the word “my.” It implies that Jesus considered Himself equal to God. This was understood by the Jews and was the grounds for their accusations that eventually contributed to Jesus’ crucifixion.

The cruel death and glorious resurrection of our Lord enabled us to come to the Father with repentant hearts. We are then adopted into God’s family and have the privilege to address God as Father as Jesus did. (See Romans 8:15.)

How do you address God? Do you feel comfortable calling Him “my Father?”

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Who on Earth Did Jesus Claim to Be?

Part Two

He [Jesus] then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” (John 1:51)

The Son of Man is the most frequently used title Jesus used to describe Himself. According to scholars no one else used it in reference to Christ.

However, you will find the term in the Old Testament as God’s identifying tag for prophet Ezekiel. It acknowledged his role as ambassador for man to God and God to man (Ezekiel 2:11). Jesus was and is the ambassador between man and God.

Daniel used the term while prophesying about the coming redeemer. “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14 emphasis mine). It is believed that Jesus used the phrase as a significant documentation for the fulfillment of this passage.

Who on Earth Did Jesus Claim to Be?

Part One

Read:  John 1:29-34

John the Baptist’s testimony proclaiming Jesus the Lamb of God and the Son of God meant one thing to the Jews–this man, Jesus, was equal to and thereby, God. In the above passage, John refers to his baptism of Jesus at which time the Spirit of God descended upon our Lord in the form of a dove and God announced that Jesus was His Son with whom the Father was well pleased. (Matthew 3:13-17).

Jesus confirms John’s proclamation by not denying it. A Jew never would allow such a statement about him, nor would one make such a statement of another. It was considered blasphemy to say that you were equal with God and punishable by death according to Jewish law.

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