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Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; (Song of Songs 1:3 NKJV)

I have been pondering last week's post for the last few days, and it is really rocking my world. The whole concept that “As His name is declared, His passion is revealed.” WOW

I have to tell you, that was a fresh revelation to me.

This phrase “His name poured forth” has been rumbling around my brain for days now.

I picture Mary breaking open an alabaster box and its contents (worth a year's wages) poured forth– wasting it – on Jesus’ feet. The perfect picture our lives poured forth, many would say wasted, living for Jesus and leaving the outcome in His hands. Some will say you waste your life on Jesus, others will notice that you smell just like Him as He pours forth His life as a lamb to the slaughter.

Mary (Maia Morgenstern ) and Mary Magdalene (Monika Bellucci) from The Passion of The Christ

I picture that gruesome image from The Passion of the Christ of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalen sopping up Christ’s blood poured forth while He received those 39 lashes.

I picture blood and water poured forth from His side when they pierced Him.

I picture Jesus baptizing His Church, as He promised He would, in that little upper room as He poured forth His Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

Finally, I picture Jesus pouring forth His Church, shining with the light of His glory, over a dark and listless world. That light spreading far and wide as the world gets a deep breath of that wonderful fragrance.

I know there is more pouring forth to come – there are seals to be broken and bowls to overturn. But that is for then.

This is for now!

Let’s review

Ointment poured forth in Bethany

Blood and water poured forth at Calvary

Spirit poured forth at Pentecost

The Church poured forth globally

Each without reserve,

Each without stumbling over the cost

All with one aim

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NASB)

You are that joy that was set before Him, and so is your neighbor!

Have you taken His name?

Will you bear the name of your Husband the Bridegroom-Shepherd-King?

Will you be His name poured forth on your circle of influence?

Will you be that sweet savor of life to them that are saved, and are you willing to bear the stench of death, and you die to yourself so others can get a whiff of the aroma of Christ?

Say yes today!

Thanks for stopping by today. I trust this helps you. I know it stirs me up.

See you next week.

Ben

If you did not read last weeks post Fragrance and Ointment it is worth the few minutes it would take.

3

They broke into the room in a furor. Caught in the act! All their suspicions confirmed, and the truth, right there in my arms.

Before I knew what was happening, they grabbed me, one by the hair, and two others took my arms. My feet stumbled to keep up with their pace but soon I was just so much luggage, pulled along behind them. Out the bedroom door, down the stairs, each step down sending pain up through my legs. All my kicking and struggling just added to my agony.

At first I was screaming for help, then I realized who my attackers were. This angry mob that broke into my home and dragged me out into the dusty road, was made up of those who were supposed to protect me, the ones I was supposed to call when I was in trouble. One wore a police uniform, two had the backward collars of the clergy. I recognized store owners and local businessmen. Even the mayor was there. I thought I recognized the pastors from three local churches.

Amid the shuffle, I heard someone ask, “What do we do now? Where to?”

The forward motion stopped and then they let me drop to the ground, face in the dirt. A foot pressed into my upper back holding me to the ground.

Then I heard a voice I knew. “Our law calls for stoning.” It was my rabbi. This man witnessed when my parents named me. He taught me the Torah as I came of age. He officiated at my wedding.

There was general agreement.

But then a voice I didn’t know called out, “Let’s take him to the teacher who just arrived in town. Let’s see what He'll do.”

Everyone seemed to love this idea, so they took up my arms again. Again my feet tried to gain purchase, but someone tripped me so I couldn’t get my balance. The short walk through town seemed to take hours to me. My mind was racing. My emotions skittered from fear to rage to shame and back again.

What would this man do with me?

When they found Him in the dusty square, they dropped me at His feet. As I looked at His dust-covered sandals, the stories of this man—Jesus—came to me. He’d been teaching in the square, and healing the sick. He healed dozens of men and women in the two days he’d been in town. Lame men were walking. The blind woman I see in the market every day could see. But I knew He was a Jew, like me, and they called Him a rabbi.

By now all my accusers had rocks in their hands, and some of them called out hurtful names.

My rabbi now addressed this outsider.

“This filth was caught in the very act, in the arms of a man. Our law says this abomination should be publicly stoned to drive this evil out of our land.”

Then he left me there in the dirt and backed away, stone at the ready. As he backed away he finished with “What do you say, what should we do?”

A cry went up from the angry pack, “Stone him” and then the vile epithets came in a wave, “Homo. Queer. Faggot. Queen.”

At the sound of these words, my tears began to flow into the dust inches from my face. The bile was rising into my mouth as everything I held dear slipped through my fingers. My life was over, and I felt I had hardly lived. Twenty eight short years ended by these hands of hate.

Part of me wanted to agree with this mob, and part of me hated them right back. Somewhere inside me was a voice screaming with the crowd that I deserved this scorn, a voice that called along with them, “Your broken.” How could it all end like this? If I could, I would go back and make it right. I didn’t want to hurt my wife this way. I didn’t want my kids to be fatherless. I didn’t want to die with this sin, this betrayal, this ugliness, the only legacy I left behind.

Then this rabbi they called Jesus, bent down. I turned my head toward Him to see what He was doing. It looked like He was drawing in the dust. I wiped the tears from my eyes so I could see what He was doing. He was writing. With my face so close to the ground, I couldn’t make anything of the words.

He stopped writing, still crouched down near me, and looked up at the army of hate surrounding us. He raised His hand to quiet them and said,

“The one of you who has no sin should throw the first stone.”

All the shouting turned to a murmurs, and soon silence.

I raised myself up enough to see what He was writing.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.
You shall not bow down to idols.
You shall not take the name of the Lord lightly.
Keep the sabbath.
Honor your father and mother.”

My heart told me I had broken each of these, and many others too. Now my tears came in torrents. I was sobbing.

The Rabbi didn’t finish. He didn’t have to. Through my tears I was astonished to see we were alone in the street. The mob was gone, and the street was littered with stones. They just let their hate fall in the dust and moved away.

Then Jesus crouched down; He put His hand under my chin, and raised my eyes to meet His. Our eyes met.

He took the sleeve of His well-worn robes, and wiped the tears from my eyes.

“Son, where are your accusers?”

With my voice shaking, I said, “There’s no one left,” then cautiously, “except You.”

“Then, I don’t accuse you either. I want you to go and turn your life around, no more life of sin.”

He helped me up to my feet.

I hurt all over, bruised and battered from head to toe, but something deep inside was fixed, healed. The brokenness I felt minutes ago was gone. The confusion I lived with since the day of my bar mitzvah left with the mob. There was something rising up in me. Free? Forgiven? Clean?

I went home. I asked my wife to forgive me. Tears flowed again, from both of us. I sat with my children and repented before them. My humility before them broke the shame they carried because of me.

I can’t say meeting Jesus has made my life easier, but He gave me a path to walk, and gave me a desire to walk it. For the first time I can remember, I’m free from shame and regret. I’m free from the confusion. I’m free to be the man God created me to be.

I’m free!

===

Does this picture challenge your heart as much as it does mine?

Let me know how your heart reacts.

benheadshot1See you again soon.

Walk like Jesus.

Ben

Here we are back that the pool of Bethesda and we hear one of the saddest statements.

Sir, I have no man… ~ John 5:7

My first reaction is “get hold of your self man,” “suck it up,” “quit your whining.”

Then I remember how David prayed in the cave.

(Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer.)

I cry aloud with my voice to the LORD;
I make supplication with my voice to the LORD.
I pour out my complaint before Him;
I declare my trouble before Him.
When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
Thou didst know my path.
In the way where I walk
They have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see;
For there is no one who regards me;
There is no escape for me;
No one cares for my soul.

Psalm 142:1-3

David was honest about how he felt when he prayed, and this did not offend God. God commands that we love Him. He does not command that we feel good about everything that passes through our life, nor that we keep it all to our selves.

God has no problem when we cry out to Him with what feels like hopelessness.

Back in Bethesda, this is not our friend’s first visit to the pool. It sounds like he has been coming, perhaps for years, perhaps for decades. I don’t know how long he had been alone, but he is alone now.

I have no man.

No man cares for my soul

There is no one who regards me

It reminds me of another man:

He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face,
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isaiah 53:2-3

Jesus gets it.

Jesus steps in.

Jesus heals him.

Jesus restores his dignity.

Man I love Jesus! [Tweet This]

Ben NelsonSee you again soon

Ben

---

This post originally ran last August, but it touched me again this morning.

4

Here we are back that the pool of Bethesda and we hear one of the saddest statements.

Sir, I have no man… ~ John 5:7

My first reaction is “get hold of your self man,” “suck it up,” “quit your whining.”

Then I remember how David prayed in the cave.

(Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer.)

I cry aloud with my voice to the LORD;
I make supplication with my voice to the LORD.
I pour out my complaint before Him;
I declare my trouble before Him.
When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
Thou didst know my path.
In the way where I walk
They have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see;
For there is no one who regards me;
There is no escape for me;
No one cares for my soul.

Psalm 142:1-3

David was honest about how he felt when he prayed, and this did not offend God. God commands that we love Him. He does not command that we feel good about everything that passes through our life, nor that we keep it all to our selves.

God has no problem when we cry out to Him with what feels like hopelessness.

Back in Bethesda, this is not our friend’s first visit to the pool. It sounds like he has been coming, perhaps for years, perhaps for decades. I don’t know how long he had been alone, but he is alone now.

I have no man.

No man cares for my soul

There is no one who regards me

It reminds me of another man:

He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face,
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isaiah 53:2-3

Jesus get’s it.

Jesus steps in.

Jesus heals him.

Jesus restores his dignity.

Man I love Jesus!

Ben NelsonSee you again soon

Ben

Jesus just made His stunning announcement in the synagogue that He was the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, He was the Messiah and He was here to:

...PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE DOWNTRODDEN,  TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD. ~ Luke 4:18-19

And believe me the place was astir. Here are the three accounts of what happened next from Matthew, Mark and Luke.

And immediately after they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick in bed with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Him about her, they made request of Him on her behalf. And He came to her and He touched her hand and raised her up, taking her by the hand, He rebuked the fever and the fever left her, and she immediately arose, and she waited on them. ~ Mash up of Matthew, Mark and Luke's telling of this event - for original NASB text see below.

I love how Jesus deals with both Peter's mother-in-law and the fever. You will notice he treats both the person and the sickness. Matthew and Mark speak of His touch, which, I am convinced, is the touch of compassion for Mom. Then Luke tells us, He rebukes the fever.

I have seen people attack sickness with such anger and aggression that the person inside feels abused. This can happen when we offer to pray for someone and start shouting out the sickness, with no regard for the sick. In the end they go away feeling like the sickness is somehow their fault.

Right on the other hand, I have seen folks coddle sickness like it is a favorite pet. We do this with our words - I can't run because of my asthma, my arthritis is acting up - like that.

We must find a way to get more like Jesus. He expresses love for the woman, and simply took command over the disease.

Another small observation here. He speaks directly to the disease, in this case to the symptom. How often do we complain about our plight, rather than address it. He rebuked the fever and it left. [Tweet This] He did not pray for her. He did not call a special meeting. He just loved her and rebuked the sickness.

Lord, I so want to be like you. Give me eyes to see what the Father is doing, ears to hear what the Spirit is saying, hands that touch with compassion, and a mouth to say what I hear you saying.

BenThanks for stopping in.

See you again soon.

Ben

Here are the full texts that make up the mash up above.

And when Jesus had come to Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. And He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose, and waited on Him. ~ Matthew 8:14-15

And immediately after they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Him about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them. ~ Mark 1:29-31

And He arose and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever; and they made request of Him on her behalf.  And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately arose and waited on them. ~ Luke 4:38-39

14

Jesus just made His stunning announcement in the synagogue that He was the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, He was the Messiah and He was here to:

...PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE DOWNTRODDEN,  TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD. ~ Luke 4:18-19

And believe me the place was astir. Here are the three accounts of what happened next from Matthew, Mark and Luke.

And immediately after they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick in bed with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Him about her, they made request of Him on her behalf. And He came to her and He touched her hand and raised her up, taking her by the hand, He rebuked the fever and the fever left her, and she immediately arose, and she waited on them. ~ Mash up of Matthew, Mark and Luke's telling of this event - for original NASB text see below.

I love how Jesus deals with both Peter's mother-in-law and the fever. You will notice he treats both the person and the sickness. Matthew and Mark speak of His touch, which, I am convinced, is the touch of compassion for Mom. Then Luke tells us, He rebukes the fever.

I have seen people attack sickness with such anger and aggression that the person inside feels abused. This can happen when we offer to pray for someone and start shouting out the sickness, with no regard for the sick. In the end they go away feeling like the sickness is somehow their fault.

Right on the other hand, I have seen folks coddle sickness like it is a favorite pet. We do this with our words - I can't run because of my asthma, my arthritis is acting up - like that.

We must find a way to get more like Jesus. He expresses love for the woman, and simply took command over the disease.

Another small observation here. He speaks directly to the disease, in this case to the symptom. How often do we complain about our plight, rather than address it. He rebuked the fever and it left. [Tweet This] He did not pray for her. He did not call a special meeting. He just loved her and rebuked the sickness.

Lord, I so want to be like you. Give me eyes to see what the Father is doing, ears to hear what the Spirit is saying, hands that touch with compassion, and a mouth to say what I hear you saying.

BenThanks for stopping in.

See you again soon.

Ben

Here are the full texts that make up the mash up above.

And when Jesus had come to Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. And He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose, and waited on Him. ~ Matthew 8:14-15

And immediately after they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Him about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them. ~ Mark 1:29-31

And He arose and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever; and they made request of Him on her behalf.  And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately arose and waited on them. ~ Luke 4:38-39

a Roman Legion

Yesterday in my narrative stemming from the encounter Jesus had with the centurion actually focuses more on Luke's account of the meeting in Luke 7 starting in verse 2 than from the Matthew 8 account.

The big difference in the accounts is that in Matthew’s telling Jesus meets the centurion, and in Luke, He meets the centurions friends.

You know what – I really don’t let that kind of stuff bug me. I don’t try to hide it, but by the same token it just does not bug me. I guess it could, but it doesn’t. So, blatantly ignoring that fact, I move on.

Let’s take a little time contrasting these three types of relationships the centurion is maintaining.

He has soldiers under his command.

He has servants or slaves (at least one) at his beck and call.

He has friends who will drop their agenda and help when he is in need.

It is interesting to me that these are all types of the Christian in relation to Christ as well.

I know I get over on this a bunch, but our identity in Christ is really important. If we see ourselves in an unhealthy light, we can not help but get our signals crossed in how we relate to our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Some believe it can only be one way – for example, there are many in Christ who believe the only way we can ever relate to Jesus is as slave to master. If you have followed me for any length of time, you may have picked up the fact that I endorse the idea of walking as the servant of Christ. This is an identity carried by almost every writer in the New Testament. I have written extensively about this, so I won’t take the time to elaborate further today – though you might like to check out one of these articles:

Servanthood

Jesus, What Are You Doing?

By the same token there are those who demand that we leave the life of the servant behind and live the life of friend, or better bride! I take up, on a weekly basis, in my Song of Songs teaching series this part.

I don't believe that we must leave one to have the other.

I believe Jesus chooses to reveal our identity to us line upon line, precept upon precept.

We enter the kingdom as servants, but we are not supposed to stay there. The life of the growing Christian is one that progresses from the fundamentals of servant hood, becoming a soldier of the cross, to friend, then son, and even bride. But these are not total transformations like caterpillar to butterfly, but rather greater levels of intimacy and proficiency.

Think of any sport, or any activity you might apprentice for. You start with the most basic practices. In baseball for example, it is throwing and catching. Long before you learn strategy, you learn how to throw with accuracy and catch anything close.

You progress to the basic rules of the game. Next, how to react in situations so as to best use the rules to your advantage. The rules protect you from unfair play, and limit you from taking unfair advantage.

Soon you’re learning “plays.” These plays combine the fundamentals of throwing and catching with logical application of the rules.

You learn to throw a double play because 1) you know how to throw and catch,  2) you know the rules and what must happen in case of a hit with a runner on first base.

Later in your career you may come to a time when you can coach or manage a team. You begin to use strategy to choose which players should play which positions. You are having a huge impact on the game with out even stepping on the field.

This does not mean you no longer can throw or catch.

So it is with us. We never leave off servant hood, but we grow in trust and intimacy.

Back to our centurion. I love that he is so devoted to his servant that he involves his friends to rescue this one.

In this encounter, I find the centurion is actually acting as a type of Christ. Christ leaving his 99 soldiers who are safe and warm in the barracks and recruiting His friends to help Him save the one slave that is in trouble.

Great picture isn’t it?

BenSee you tomorrow

Ben

 

Oh yeah, don't forget to leave your questions about the Bible or Christian life here:

Another Red Letter Day Q&A

Jesus Heals a Leper

Occasionally I like to look at the varied accounts of the same story from the diverse perspectives of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and sometimes John. I find when I read the description of an event in Jesus’ life from these three or four angles, I get a richer, fuller, feel for the day at hand.

I have taken this approach with our first encounter after the Sermon on the Mount. It can get a little choppy when I do this, because I try not to change the phrasing to stay as close to the original as possible, but it is still readable. Here is what they saw.

And when He had come down from the mountain, while He was in one of the cities great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper, a man full of leprosy;and when he saw Jesus, came to Him, beseeching Him, implored Him,and bowed down to Him, falling on his knees, his face, before Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

And moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him, his leprosy was cleansed.

And Jesus ordered him to tell no one, said to him, “See that you tell no one, say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, make an offering for your cleansing, and present the offering that Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.”

But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the news about, the news about Him was spreading even farther, and great multitudes were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere. ~ Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45, Luke 5:12-15

I intend to putter around with this story for a couple days, and talk about a few different aspects of it, but today let’s look at this leper’s approach to Jesus.

And behold, a leper, a man full of leprosy;and when he saw Jesus, came to Him, beseeching Him, implored Him,and bowed down to Him, falling on his knees, his face, before Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Can’t you just feel his desperation?

Apart from Jesus he had no hope.

Doesn’t he seem a little shameless?

Hasn’t he gone over the top, throwing himself at Jesus?

But of course he has nothing to lose.

He has come to the point where it really does not matter to him what other people think.

I love all these snippets of description. Lets break it down:

  • He saw Jesus
  • He came to Jesus
  • Beseeching Him
  • Imploring Him
  • Bowing before Him
  • Falling to his knees
  • Face to the ground

We are going to see a lot of people approaching Jesus. I don’t want you to think that the only way to get Jesus’ attention is to take a certain posture. Is there a right or wrong way to come to Jesus?

I can tell you this – Jesus said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 5:3

That is what I see in this man’s desperation – a poor spirit. He knows that there is nothing he brings to the table that can solve his life situation.

Are you running things on your own? I know, you probably don’t have leprosy right, but you are in fact terminal. There is a day coming when every knee will bow before Jesus. You can “bow down, fall on your knees, your face” before Him today.

I promise this. When you get up, you will be clean!

Thanks for stopping in today.

BenTomorrow we will look at this conversation a bit.

Until then, Live for Jesus!

Ben

Oh yeah, don't forget to leave your questions about the Bible or Christian life here:

Another Red Letter Day Q&A