Our King

Mark 15:26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, “Our King.” [paraphrase]

A friend of mine by the name of Wayne once told me it is impolite to ask “What did you do that landed you in prison?” The proper social tact is to ask, “What did they accuse you of doing?” Obviously the first question implies that they are guilty, the second one implies a wrongful charge. Jesus was accused of being, “Our King.” Was this charge correct?

If you are at all familiar with the final 48 hours of Jesus life and his trial there were a few trumped up charges. This was not one of them. When Rome executed a criminal, the speculatore and centurions would normally affix a placard outlining the charges. Crucifixion was considered one of the worst forms of execution. It was illegal in the Republic and then the Empire to execute a Roman citizen by crucifixion. Even the non-citizen was afforded the dignity of being spared crucifixion. Crucifixion was reserved for the murderer and the traitor. Claiming to be king was a treasonous act against the emperor. Treason demanded the most serious of consequences.

And yet we crucified the Lord of Glory. Most of us do not understand the import of the words “Our King.” We live in a time constitutional monarchies, parliamentary monarchies, or are members of republics. We do not understand what it means to acknowledge someone as king. Kings have become figureheads. When we look at our passports and it says that our queen wishes us safe conduct, we do not really think that she actually has any day to day involvement or real say in our life or really cares about our safety in foreign lands.

Jesus’ death tells us how seriously many people in the 1st Century found Jesus claim. Many found it offensive that Jesus would stake claim over their lives. There is something inherent in us that wishes to be captain of our own destinies. As the poet William Ernest Henley put it:

I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul

I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

The placard, “Our King” speaks of gratitude, of debt, of honour. We failed in our debt of gratitude and yet our Sovereign’s good pleasure still rests on us. We live, move, breathe and have our being because of his royal grace. To call someone king or lord implies respect.

As Abraham Kuyper says: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’”

Jesus was not treasonous, we were. But his royal grace is enough to forgive every treason.

God’s claim is not a claim of possession, it is a claim care.

Easter is the story of humanity recognizing God’s royal claim.

This One’s on Me

Ex. 25:1   The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me.”

Read Exodus 25:1-27:21

One of life’s wonderful surprises is to be on the receiving end of generosity. Receiving generosity stirs in us affections. If we go out to dinner with friends and they offer to pay, we may be surprised. The greater the generosity the more we are overwhelmed. So it is with the people of Israel. There is a wonderful song that my family used to sing over Passover called, Dayeinu.  This word in Hebrew means “It would have been enough.” After every verse the words Dayeinu are sung. Let Dayeinu sink in:

If He had brought us out of Egypt. Dayeinu!
If He had executed justice upon the Egyptians. Dayeinu!
If He had executed justice upon their gods. Dayeinu!
If He had slain their first-born. Dayeinu!
If He had given to us their health and wealth. Dayeinu!
If He had split the sea for us. Dayeinu!
If He had led us through on dry land. Dayeinu!
 If He had drowned our oppressors. Dayeinu!
If He had provided for our needs in the wilderness for 40 years. Dayeinu!
If He had fed us manna. Dayeinu!
If He had given us Sabbath Rest. Dayeinu!
If He had led us to Mount Sinai. Dayeinu!
If He had given us the Torah. Dayeinu!
If He had brought us into the Land of Israel. Dayeinu!
If He built the Temple for us. Dayeinu!

This passage comes after Moses and the elders meet God on the mountain. Whilst on the mountain, God gives them the instructions and designs for building the tabernacle. The building project and “financial campaign” that Moses and the elders of Israel embark on is not predicated on a sense of debt or duty. They count it as the joyous overflow of worship to their Redeemer.

The more we understand Grace, the less we will be gripped by gild. Money will become just that: money. It will lose its subtle, yet divine-like status in our lives. The people of Israel’s hearts are moved to respond the overtures of Grace (Exodus 25:2).

How much more will we who know the full Exodus story. The Story of the Lamb who took our place be moved to generosity? Jesus’ generosity on the cross was overwhelming. He did not tithe his blood, but gave it all. So we are moved to care for the needs of others as God provided for our deepest need, the need of Redemption. We are moved to generosity, giving and tithing.

Let God’s Grace flood you with generosity in all you do today.

You Could be Mine

“If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.” Exodus 22:1

Read  Exodus 22:1-15

Some years ago, the Church of Scotland was having a great meeting (one of its great assemblies) in the city of Glasgow. The mayor of Glasgow came to address the body, and he got up and said something pretty interesting.

He said, “You spend an awful lot of time debating as theologians about whether there is a God or what he’s like, and you spend an awful lot of time talking about God.” He said, “I’m not a theologian and most people aren’t. With all due respect, let me tell you what we really need from you. We do not need a lot of speculation about God and about theological discussions and such things and doctrine. Those things really don’t matter to the modern person anymore, and they don’t matter to us. Here’s what we need from you. How can we love our neighbor? How can we get along? How can we treat each other with kindness and with respect? We desperately need an answer to that question, and that’s what we’re looking for the church to give.”

I mention this not because you should be interested in Scottish politics but because it’s very common everywhere in the Western world. The opinion is, “What you believe about God is not critical. It is social problems that are critical. Whether you believe in God at all is not critical. The important thing is how do we get along? How can we treat one another with respect?”

These laws deal with the respect of personal property and stewardship. What Mr. Mayor missed was that Christ did not come to make us moral, but to rescue us. Morality is simply the by-product and not the end goal of Redemption.

Mr. Mayor, on what basis should I treat other human beings with kindness and respect? Mr. Mayor, on what basis should I be unselfish? Why should I deny myself anything? On what basis? If there is no God, the only reasonable answer to the question, “What are we?” is there is no difference between a human being and a bag of chemicals, our feelings to the contrary notwithstanding. If there is no God, we are all results of the accidental collision of molecules.

Christianity holds the view God created the world. It is his. Treating anything as “fully and completely” as our shows that we do not understand how gracious our Creator is in sharing his world with us. The cross shows us that even though God had everything, he gave it all up to die on a cross with us. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that sthough he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9)

God’s grace make us generous. It makes us honest in not stealing hours from our boss, not over billing hours to our clients. “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” (Eph 4:28)

Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a great Scottish preacher, put it this way. He said, “To give largely and liberally, not grudging at all, requires a new heart; an old heart would rather part with its lifeblood than its money.”

God’s grace makes us generous. Today be generous with your boss, with your clients, with your friends, and with your family. It is the only appropriate response to the Grace of God giving his life for you on a cross.

Common Interests


Ex. 21:1   “Now these are the rules that you shall set before them. 2 When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing.

Read Exodus 21:1-11

Grady Smith the writer for Entertainment Weekly “came out” recently. Yes, he admitted to his colleagues that he is a Christian. Tattooed on his arm are the words, “and that is what some of you were.”(1 Cor 6:11)

He is humorously illustrating how we find it nearly impossible to identify with anyone who has not shared our experience. As a Christian we are all part of this beautiful mess called humanity. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “You used to be just like your colleagues. You still needed redemption and grace.”

It is only apt that God would begin His commandments for communal living to his people with laws concerning the treatment of slaves. God’s desire for humanity is that they practice justice. “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.” (Deut 15:15)

What God is basically saying is, “You used to be a slave. Now you are redeemed. Now you are a son. Treat everyone else like a son.”

The basis for dealing equitably and justly does not spring from a sense of moral superiority, it springs from a shared sense of family in the beautiful mess called humanity. We humans are capable of great acts of kindness and at the same time such acts of barbarism.

The realization that “once we were slaves, and now we are free,” should fill our hearts with compassion to those who are still enslaved by fear, worry, doubt, and stress. Paul puts it this way “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1Cor. 6:11)

The degree and measure that you give Grace to others directly shows how much Grace “think” you have received from God. If everyone in the world owes you something, it inherently stems from the fact that you actually believe God owes you something. If everyone in the world is deserving of grace, “or goes free for nothing” (Ex 21:1), then you may actually have grasped that you received a salvation that was extremely costly to God and extremely free to you.

Perfect Score

And God spoke all these words,

Exodus. 20:1

Because lawlessness shall abound, the love of many will grow cold.
Matthew 24:12

Read Exodus 20:1-21

Throughout the world many will be tuning into Brazil to see many nations competing on the fields of friendly strife of football. With the World Cup kick off the very thing that makes football understandable and enjoyable is that there are rules in place to turn it from a gaggle of 22 players into a beautiful sport. Without laws governing football, the game would be impossible to be played.

Have you ever wondered what the purpose of the Ten Commandments was? What is the purpose of the Law? Is it simply to impose a heavy burden. Is it a way to show us how to achieve a 10 out of 10 Score? Are they 10 ways to be perfect?

The Law serves three purposes. An easy way to remember this is SOS . 1. The Law Shows us Our Sin. 2. The Law Shows us Our Savior. 3. The Law Shows us Sactification.

SOS Shows us our Sin

The first aspect of the Law can be described as prohibitive. It tells us what not to do.

1. “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” (Ex. 20:3). If this first Commandment received the respect it demands, obedience to the other nine would follow as a matter of course. “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” means, Thou shalt have no other object of worship: thou shalt own no other authority as absolute: thou shalt make Me supreme in your hearts and lives. How much this first commandment contains! There are other “gods” besides idols of wood and stone. Money, pleasure, fashion, fame, gluttony, and a score of other things which make self supreme, usurp the rightful place of God in the affections and thoughts of many. It is not without reason that even to the saints the exhortation is given, “Little children keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). (Arthur Pink, Exodus p. 146)

SOS Shows us our Saviour

The second aspect of the Law prophetic. It tells us who God is. It tells us how he rescues us.

Jesus when walking with the two disciples on Emmaus taught us that all the Law and the Prophets speak about Him. Often we only want to see prefiguration of Jesus in the Old Testament where the connection is explicit. Jesus tells us that the commandment “You shall not lie”(Ex 20:16) is actually telling us something about His Character. It tells us that Jesus is the Truth, “I am the Truth”(John 14:16), When it says “You shall not murder,” the Law teaches us that God is the Lord of the Life, “I am the Life.”

The Law shows us the Redeemer. On the Cross Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the Law. “Do not think i have come to abolish the Law. I have not come to abolish the Law. I have come to fulfill it.”(Matt 5:17-19). The Law commands what Grace now empowers.

Jesus life and death gives us a perfect score and we did not even lift a finger to accomplish this. Just as the whole team benefits when one person scores a goal, so we benefit and receive the perfection Jesus achieved for us in his life, death, and resurrection.

SOS Show us Sanctification

The third aspect of the Law is Prescriptive. It tells us what a beautiful life and a good life looks like.

Just as we humans invented Football, the rules turn it into a beautiful game. Not following the rules makes the game impossible to play.  When the rules are followed camaraderie, joy, fun, and delight are unleashed.

God gives us ten ways to be perfect not so that we may attain perfection but that we receive Jesus’ perfection and then in response revel in it. Sactification does not earn us God’s love, it shows our response to God’s Love on the Cross.

The supreme test of love is the desire and effort to please the one loved, and this measured by conformity to his known wishes. Love to God is expressed by obedience to His will. Only One has perfectly exemplified this, and of Him it is written, “I will delight to do Your will, O My God: yes, Your law is within My heart” (Ps. 40:8).
(A. W. Pink. Gleanings In Exodus.)

Can a Leopard Change its Spots?

31 Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as you have said. 32 Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!”

Read Exodus 12:29-13:16

In the film Dumbo a flock of crows pose some fun questions. “Have you ever seen a horse fly? Have you ever seen a house fly?” Of course we have, but only due to a play on words.  But we have never seen an elephant fly. It is impossible for elephants to fly, but Dumbo defies our understanding of nature and flies.

By a single swift pronouncement Pharaoh makes Israel free. Israel no longer has to toil under the lash of an oppressor. They may now enjoy the freedom of choice.

Often times we in the modern world define freedom as the ability to choose. It is a virtue to always have our options open and be able to freely choose them. As enticing as this definition of freedom sounds, we may actually be surprised that we are not as free as we think. We all have hidden constraints, our family upbringing, the countries where we were born in, and sometimes just being in the right place at the right time. Most self-respecting people will actually acknowledge that we are preconditioned by our DNA and follow its design. Ironically Richard Dawkins may be right when he asserts, “DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.”

We are only free to be what we were designed to be.

As much as a bald eagle would wish to run like a cheetah, it never will be able to freely choose this. A cheetah may wish to fly like an eagle, but it will never be able to freely choose this.

Can the … the leopard his spots?
Then also you can do good.
     Jer. 13:23

Yes, the leopard can change his spots! The beauty of the Gospel is precisely this: Theology can conquer biology. Grace can override our inherent desire to sin. Our baser instincts may be overruled. We are actually free to choose. We are actually free once again.

We are made in the image of God. God by his nature is completely free and only chooses to do good.  True freedom comes to us by grace. Grace conditions our situations so that we will always freely choose the good. Let us accept Grace and let it transform us. True freedom conditions us to always want to choose good.

Today as you pray “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Pray that “God would by his Spirit take away from ourselves and others all blindness, weakness, … and by his grace make us able and willing to know, do, and submit to his will in all things, with the like humility, cheerfulness, faithfulness, diligence, zeal, sincerity, and constancy, as the angels do in heaven.”(Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 192)

No Bully for a Father


Read Exodus 7:14-10:29

Every few months we hear of father’s acting unfatherly towards their children. Fathers should protect their kids not mistreat them. Fathers should be loving not bullies. These stories are heart wrenching.  When we read about the God of Moses we see a loving father issuing ten pleas to a stubborn son by the name of Pharaoh.

Many historians point to the “Ipuwer Papyrus” to suggest a possible cataclysmic event in the history of Egypt that might parallel some of the incidents described in the biblical account of the Plagues.

Lo, the river is blood, as one drinks of it one shrinks from people and thirsts for water …
Towns are ravaged, Upper Egypt became a wasteland …
     (“Admonitions of Ipuwer”, M. Lichtheim. 1971–80. Ancient Egyptian Literature. 3 vols. Berkeley)

God is the God who acts decisively in time and space to bring about repentance and redemption.

God gave Pharaoh 10 warnings.

It is possible to read the story of the 10 plagues and mistake them for something they are not. Each was designed not to punish, but to bring about repentance. Often times we hear of them referred to as ten plagues.  Some would prefer to skip over these verses as outmoded and archaic. The excerpt quoted above is a telling part of the whole plague narrative.  It is the seventh of the ten plagues. You can hear the tender entreating of a father to a runaway son.

“Do you not see that as the Almighty I could use my omnipotence and force you to change. But this is not what a Father does. I am entreating you. I am begging you to change.”

Even in this seventh plague of hail and fire. God is giving pharaoh ample warning. The LORD is actually asking Pharaoh to tell the Egyptian people to put their livestock under cover. He desires every human being to protected from the natural consequences of their disobedience.

The LORD would have his world cling to him and take shelter from the storm. Take shelter under the pierced side of the Savior.  Hear this compassionate plea from the God who loves you and redeems you.

Ezek. 33:11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

Pause and reflect on the God of unlimited grace and countless chances for repentance.

Hardened Humanity

Exodus 5:2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD

Read Exodus 5:1-7:13

Hardening of our Humanity

Have you ever been to the dentist and felt numb in the gums? This is a bit how Pharaoh felt about his heart.

If you worship things instead of the person of God, you will become less a person and more of a thing.

Ex 7:3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you.

The worst thing God could do to Pharaoh is to simply give him over to the strongest desires of his heart. God makes us so free we are unable to not follow this freedom.

One of the descriptors the Bible often uses for the effects of sin is having a heart of stone (Ezekiel 11:19).  It is not that God is hardening our hearts actively he is passively allowing us to have the deepest and strongest desires of our heart. We play active part of  not listening (Ex 7:4).

The Knowledge of God

British satirist and author Jonathan Swift once said, “There Are None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See”(1738, “Polite Conversation”). There are moments in our lives when we will have Truth spoken to us and we will still refuse to see reality.

Pharaoh is approached by Moses and asked to liberate the people of Israel. What is Pharaoh’s response? “Who is the LORD… I do not know the LORD.” Pharaoh was not speaking as an atheist, he was speaking as a polytheist who was genuinely intrigued by the God of the Hebrews. Later on in the chapter he can no longer fit God into his box. Rather than revise his worldview  he decides to revise his understanding of the God of the Hebrews and reject the gracious overtures from the LORD.

Endless Wonder

God has filled our hearts with strong desires. We need to recognize it is not a matter of having weaker desires but having a greater object of our desire. The only thing that will melt our heart is to see Jesus as the greatest object of our affection. It is Jesus’ death on the cross that will gives us that greater object.

Ezek. 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Inexhaustible Resources

Exodus 3:3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.”

Read Exodus 3:1-4:31

Have you ever discovered, learned or experienced something that changes your worldview? There are moments in our lives when things do not fit our worldview. We are prompted to either reexamine the evidence or reevaluate our worldview. Often times we refer to this text as the “burning bush” passage. However, it should more aptly be named the “non-burning bush” passage.

Moses had one of these moments. As he is tending his flock, he discovers the “burning bush.” His worldview tells him that bushes that are on fire should burn and within minutes they should be cinders. His curiosity leads him to investigate. Perhaps your understanding of God is undergoing one of these burning bush moments.

We all have burning bush moments.

We all have things that seemingly do not make sense in our life, but then we realize we may have been looking at life through an incorrect filter. Moses’ reappraisal of the natural world and the supernatural world leads him to encounter the Living God.  It is from this encounter that he is called to do exactly what God has wonderfully planned for his life.

The most important thing we learn from this passage is that “the bush is not burned.” This is a beautiful picture of what God does in our life. The bush that should be the very fuel for the fire, is not consumed. It has encountered the source of inexhaustible resources. God will give us never-ending resources to fulfill exactly what he has called us to do

Let us encounter the God who is all a burning joy and flame.

2Cor. 12:9 But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”