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Archive for March, 2016

A picture of a starving child is a picture of the greed, ignorance, and apathy of man. It has always been the policy of man to starve enemies into subjection, and to ignore the undesired. That is not what God wants (Matthew 5:43-45). It is not the will of God that has led to the suffering we see in the world today, but the policies of man. We are self-willed, and we sin.

Long ago, in the garden of Eden, the first human beings chose to know good and evil, and to make their own decisions about all things as if they were gods. Because of that decision, evil is loosed to walk the earth, and human beings create many “impossible” situations, where there are no pleasant answers. We live in the shadow and consequences of prior human choices, and others will walk in ours. It is a long walk in the darkness.

Jesus said that whatever is done to others is done to him (Matthew 25:42-45), so a picture of a starving child is also a picture of God. God starves with the starving. It was God who created the empathetic and sympathetic qualities that human beings sometimes exhibit. Those are characteristics of God. In fact, the only way to hurt God is to harm his creation. The enemy of all humanity knows that when he targets a person, he nails the Messiah. God has been the primary target all along.

As any caring person knows, love draws us into the pain of others (1st Corinthians 12:12,26, and 13:4-7). Love makes God vulnerable along with us. The cross of Jesus is the physical manifestation of that phenomena. The crucifixion of Jesus is the perfect expression of God’s entanglement in our world’s problems. Where is God when we are hurting? He is there on the cross.

The name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23) means “God with us.” “El,” in the ending of the name, is a Hebrew name for God. The Greek spelling is Emmanuel. In Greek, “eme” means “me.” The Greek word “manna” comes from the Hebrew “man,” the word for the bread (Exodus 16:14-18) that fell from the heavens during the exodus of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt. Jesus compared himself to this manna (John 6:32,33) which came down from heaven. He is the broken bread (1st Corinthians 11:23-24), the antidote for the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. “Manuwn” is a little used Hebrew word meaning “heir,” or “son.” I think all these words and meanings are implied in the prophetic name Immanuel.

The Bible teaches that Jesus is the physical manifestation of God. In John 14:8, Philip said to Jesus, “Show us the Father, and it is enough for us,” but nothing is ever quite enough for man. The world is not enough. The next verse gives the answer of Jesus, “Am I with you so long, Phillip, and you haven’t known me?” “The one seeing me has seen the Father.”

The Bible tells us that Jesus wept (John 11:35), and that God was in Jesus reconciling the world unto himself (2nd Corinthians 5:19). The tears of Jesus were the very tears of God. Jesus displayed emotions, and his emotions are those of God. Evil denies all of this, and either claims that God does not exist, or it presents him as being distant and unaffected. Evil uses every possible angle against God, but it all comes into focus at the cross.

“I like pain,” a man once said to me, “It keeps me on my toes.” “I like pain,” said another. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t know I was alive.” The statements were an attempt at humor, but they are sad words nevertheless. Another man said to me, “I don’t think that other people feel things like I do, and it makes me want to hurt them.” I tried to convince him that his thoughts were not true either of man or God. How many people want to hurt God because they think that God does not feel? God sees, God hears (Psalms 94:9), and God feels (Luke 13:34).

I’m sure that God does not like pain, and I don’t like it. A man once tried to convince me that Jesus didn’t really suffer when he was crucified. That man’s professed view was that Jesus was so spiritually exalted that he was beyond physical suffering, but love doesn’t make one immune to suffering. It magnifies it instead, yet love gives us purpose.

Jesus faced the cross in spite of the suffering, because that was the way to get us to face the truth, and it is the way to change our hearts. Why doesn’t God simply force all of us to do the right thing? Well, where do we want him to start, and where do we want him to stop? Can we get a consensus on our guidelines for God’s conduct, and would that agreement be the right one? Love must be voluntary.

We hurt ourselves when we harm others, and we hurt others when we harm ourselves. We hurt God when we harm ourselves and others, and we harm ourselves and others when we hurt God. That is life on Earth in a nutshell. Is that what we want, or is evil using, and confusing us?

Jesus said, “If I am lifted up (crucified), I will draw all mankind unto myself.” This he said signifying what death that he would die (John 12:32-33). The Messiah’s death on the cross might seem to us like the all-time low of his eternal existence, and it was, but at the very same time, it is the all-time high mark of sacrificial love. Jesus, on the cross becoming one with every one of us, (2nd Corinthians 5:21, becoming sin for us) taking all our wrong into his own body, and destroying it in his death while saving the souls of all who will believe in him, is the height, depth, and breadth of God’s love.

We cannot see God in his true light (glory) if we do not see the depth of Christ’s suffering. There is a tendency in the churches to gloss this over, and only glory in the resurrection, but if we don’t acknowledge the communion of the suffering of God for man (1st Corinthians 11:26), we are missing the reason for his long journey down to Earth. If we do not see the suffering of the Messiah, we won’t be as able to deal with our own suffering, and we can’t see very far into the heavens of God’s love. This earth is a world of suffering, but it is not our final destination.

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