His Home, My Heart Jabe Nicholson
Christ in His The Lord Makes Fatherâ€™s House a House Call Sam Thorpe Keith Keyser
May 2012 Visit online: www.uplook.org
WHEN Christ COMES
A Christian Home or a Religious One? When our Lord left heaven, He didn’t come to earth as an aloof sovereign, meeting with the common people only for the few seconds it would take to provide the first-century equivalent of a photo shoot. He came to be with His people. So we read that He spent a great deal of time in homes, and, in every instance, He brought blessing. Joy, healing, fellowship, resurrection, salvation—these all came as a result of His presence and ministry. Of the many homes He entered, three were the homes of different Simons: Simon Peter, Simon the leper, and Simon the Pharisee. The first two of those men genuinely desired the Lord’s presence. But Simon the Pharisee was far from sincere. Although he requested that Christ come dine with him, he subsequently made it clear that his motives were corrupt. Strange, isn’t it? God comes to earth and is heartily welcomed into the home of a fisherman and into the home of a leper, but there is only sneering condescension for Him at the home of the religious elite. But someone else entered the home of Simon the Pharisee: a woman with an unsavory past who was drawn to the Lord Jesus in faith and humility. We see her faith in that she entered the home at all—a home where she knew she was unwanted. We see her humility in her reverent treatment of the Lord. Simon, looking on the outside, snidely thought, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner” (Lk. 7:39). Really? Would Christ have to be a prophet to know that? Everyone knew it! As a result, everyone else
UPLOOK | MAY 2012
looked on the scene and saw only what was visible to human eyes: a religious leader, a sinful woman, and Jesus of Nazareth (the non-prophet, in Simon’s mind). But the Lord saw everything as it truly was, and it couldn’t have been more different. The sinful woman had been transformed—perhaps at that very moment—into one of God’s shining saints, and her act of love, worship, and repentance stands out as a brilliant example to every believer. The religious leader is nothing more than a petty, envious critic. His self-righteousness might have impressed others (and certainly impressed himself) but was utterly distasteful to the Lord. And Jesus of Nazareth? The man who, according to Simon, couldn’t be a prophet because He didn’t know “who and what sort of person” the woman was? He was the only one who did know! And, more than that, He knew “who and what sort of person” Simon was, and He proceeded to prove it by openly answering Simon’s thoughts! “Man looks on the outside, but God looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). On the outside, Simon’s home was religious—far more religious than any of our homes. But God isn’t looking for religion. Simon had religion and ended up critical and irritated. The woman had faith and ended up saved and honored by the Lord Himself. It ought to make me ask myself: Is my home a Christian home or is it merely a religious home? Is it a place merely of religious duty or is it lovingly centered on Christ? It makes all the difference—both in this world and the next. —James Martin firstname.lastname@example.org
Vol. 79 / Issue 4 www.uplook.org
FOUNDED IN 1927 as Look on the Fields, UPLOOK is published by Uplook Ministries and Uplook Ministries (Canada). Street address: 720 Rehoboth Dr. NE Grand Rapids, MI 49505-5184 Mailing address: P.O. Box 2041, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-2041 Tel: (616) 677-6127 Fax: (616) 855-1114 Email (General inquiries): email@example.com TO SUBSCRIBE / RENEW: www.uplook.org You must renew your subscription annually (by web, phone, or email) to keep receiving Uplook. Please advise us of any address changes at least six weeks in advance and include your customer number from your mailing label. DONATIONS: Uplook Ministries is a tax-exempt corporation looking to the Lord to provide for the needs of this ministry. The magazine is sent freely to those who request it, but evidently is not free to produce. Receipts are issued for donations ($10+) and are valid for tax purposes in the US and Canada. Making a donation will renew your Uplook subscription. Donations by check/money order in US $, Canadian $, or £ sterling should be payable to "Uplook" and sent to one of the addresses below. Donations may also be made by VISA, Mastercard, and ACCESS (US $) by mail or online: www.uplook.org ISSN # 1055-2642: UPLOOK magazine is intended to encourage the people of God in ﬁdelity to His Word, fervency in intercessory prayer, labors more abundant, and love to the Lord. Believing in the practical Headship of Christ and the local autonomy of each assembly, this is not intended to be an ofﬁcial organ of any group or federation of local churches. The editor and authors take responsibility for materials published. For any blessing which accrues, to God be the glory. POSTAL INFORMATION: US POSTMASTER: (USPS 620-640) Send address changes to: UPLOOK, P. O. Box 2041, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-2041 Periodical postage paid at Grand Rapids, MI. CANADIAN POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: UPLOOK, P. O. Box 4089, St. Catharines, ON L2R 7S3 International Publication Mail Product (Canadian Distribution) Sales Agreement No. 40020782 BRITISH POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: UPLOOK, c/o The Glebe House, Stanton Drew Bristol BS39 4EH
features 2 Editorial
Christ in His Father’s House
Sam Thorpe focuses in this article on the unfinished work of Christ and seven wonderful ministries He now performs for us from the Father's House.
Christ in the Temple
With keen insight and helpful comments, John Bennett portrays the fragrant ministry of Mary as she prepares for His burial and Judas who plots His betrayal.
In a sweeping overview, Hanniel Ghezzi shows us the Lord's connections with the Temple in Jerusalem, called “My Father’s House” and then, sadly, “your house.”
Christ in the Home of Levi
Sam Oommen uses the hospitality of an early disciple as a template to encourage us to use our homes as a winsome place with Christ to win some for Christ.
The Home in Bethany
At Home with Simon the Leper
In the Home of Simon Peter
In this thoughtful piece, Paul Campbell links the Savior's touch on Peter’s motherin-law and her subsequent service.
The Lord Makes a House Call
When the World’s Best Doctor arrived, Keith Keyser says, some people thought He was too late. But that isn’t possible; He’s always right on time.
4 Front Lines GNOM 6 Final Outreach Announced – Apex, NC
7 Science and You Water of Life
An open Book and an open door…
Zacharias and Elisabeth
Their lives were not merely remarkable, says Drew Craig, but miraculous. Yet the song the old man sings is not about angel visits or the birth of a son in old age.
You can hardly go to Bethany, says Gary McBride, without being encouraged to sit at the feet of the Lord Jesus. But Mary wasn't the only good example in town.
A Christian Home or a Religious One?
The House of Zacchaeus
The tax collector is determined not to come up short in his search for Jesus. But Mike Stoudt reminds us that he went home with a lot more than a memory.
Love the Scriptures
Colin Anderson draws on a lifetime of devotion to the Scriptures and gives us four effective keys to loving them ourselves. Pointed and practical.
Uplook Magazine is copyrighted to maintain the integrity of the material. On copies for personal use, please include:“Uplook Magazine, by permission.” For large quantities or other purposes, contact us. Printed in USA.
26 Evidences Ghost Inscriptions and Whispering Arches
30 Why We Web Effective Church Communication
31 Mega-Truth His Home My Heart
UPLOOK | MAY 2012 3
front lines pray around the globe
GNOM 6 Final Outreach Good News for the TRIANGLE Christians eager to see the advance of the gospel will be encouraged to hear this! Several assemblies in the Raleigh-Apex, North Carolina area (commonly called The Triangle) invite you to join in prayer and participation with Good News on the Move for an evangelistic effort to conclude the 2011-2012 season. The Western Wake Bible Chapel in Apex, one of the most recent New Testament gatherings in that state, will be working with believers from North Ridge Bible Chapel, North Raleigh Chapel and perhaps others. Lord willing, the dates are June 9-16. Earnest believing prayer is requested for the Lord’s blessing and guidance in this outreach. Please consider joining us for a time of fellowship in the gospel. Info to follow at www.uplook.org
GNOM contact Jerry Denny phone: 336-432-3284 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
CONFERENCES, CAMPS & RETREATS LADIES CONFERENCE IN CHICAGOLAND The Women's Spring Missionary Conference is to be held Saturday, May 5 at the Palos Hills Christian Assembly. The meeting starts at 9:15 am and ends with a luncheon. Luncheon cost is $6.00. Speakers will be Kim Keating and Donna McKendrick. Contact: Lu VanRyn email: email@example.com
California SPRING CONFERENCE
Camp Hope in Georgia
The Claremont Bible Chapel will hold its 21st Annual Bible Conference in Claremont, CA, May 18-20. The speakers will be Joe Reese (ON) and Scott DeGroff (KS). The conference starts at 7:30 Friday night, and 10:00 am Saturday. Mid-day meals on Saturday and Sunday will be provided by the assembly. Please see www.claremontbiblechapel.com for further details. Contact: Dave Dixon ph: 909-851-4836
The camp will have their Home School Camp for ages 7-19 May 21-26. The speaker for junior campers is Nate Thomas (SC) and Ken Miller (OK) for teen campers. The week begins Monday with registration at 3:00 pm and ends Saturday morning after breakfast. Registration form and a complete summer camp schedule are available at www.camphopega.org Contact: Steve Roys, 7011 Pony Lake Rd., Dahlonega, GA 30533 ph: 770-536-4787 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
LADIES’ MISSIONARY CONF. IN OHIO ANNUAL LOUISIANA CONFERENCE Lake Park Chapel, at 201 Schlief Drive, Belle Chasse, LA will hold its 68th annual Bible conference May 5-6, beginning Saturday at 3:30 pm. Enjoy a spiritually refreshing weekend in God’s Word with Keith Trevolt (KS) speaking. Contact: Ray Cummings, 103 Dickson Dr., Belle Chasse, LA 70037 ph: 504-239-7068 or 504-393-7083 email: email@example.com
UPLOOK | MAY 2012
Westlake Bible Fellowship, 27975 Hilliard Blvd, Westlake, OH will host an all-day ladies missionary conference on Saturday, June 23. Reports from the Philippines will be given by Miriam Eichenauer and Holly Lucas, along with Mary Parsons reporting on the ministry at CMML. Lunch will be provided. Accommodations available. Please RSVP or direct questions to Debbie Boss ph: 440748-1757 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
College & Career RETREAT IN ON The 3rd annual retreat is planned for May 25-27. The C&C group from Bethel Bible Chapel in Sault Ste. Marie, ON will be hosting the event at Aush-Bik-Koong Bible Camp (www.campabk.com), 2 hours east of Sault Ste. Marie. Speaker will be Dave Lawrence. Contact: Christine Aceti email: email@example.com
front lines praise around the clock Conference in Massachusetts Lord willing, the 57th Annual Conference of Bethany Gospel Chapel, 242 Clark St., Worcester, MA 01606, will be held Memorial Day Weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 25-27. Expected speakers are Larry Price (FL) and Scott Thompson (PA). The conference starts at 7:30 pm Friday. Meetings on Saturday and Sunday start at 2:30 pm with the Lord's Supper on Sunday at 10:30 am. The conference closes at 7:30 pm Sunday. Contact: Jens Braaten 860-928-4755
VESSELS OF HONOR 2012 A young adults conference sponsored by East Tulsa Bible Chapel will be held on the campus of Park University, Parkville, MO May 25-28. The theme will be "Encouraging Local Works for the Lord." The speakers are John Heller (AR), Rex Trogdon (NC), Eric Smith (NY), Warren Henderson (KS) and Brenda Henderson (KS). Contact: Jim Lindamood ph: 918-663-1121 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Dan Moffitt ph: 918-744-6484 email: email@example.com web: www.vesselsofhonor.org
FAMILY WEEK AT CAMP LI-LO-LI Camp Li-Lo-Li is located on 400 acres of mountain splendor in the Southern Tier of NY near Allegany State Park. Family Week, from Jun 30 to Jul 7, will be a great time of spiritual blessing and fellowship. There is great food, fun and fellowship and many exciting activities including swimming, canoeing, a 1300 ft. zipline, fishing, climbing tower, high ropes, hiking, trail rides and games. There are special programs for children during our
chapel times, as well as optional seminars and craft programs for young and old. The guest speakers this year are Joe Reese (ON) and Bruce Hulshizer (PA). For more information on contacts and rates or to download an application, visit http://tiny.cc/stk6x
INDIAN BRETHREN CONF. IN INDIANA The IBF Family Conference will be held at Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, IN Jul 4-8. The theme is â€œEquipping the Saints for Building up the Body - For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ" Ephesians 4:12, NASB. John Gordon, Raleigh (NC), Nate Bramsen (West Africa), and John P. Thomas (India) will minister from the Word. Please pray for the conference. For further details, visit www.ibfus.org
WEEKEND FAMILY CONFERENCE in ga Camp Hope will host the Southeast Family Weekend Conference Jul 27-29. Speakers will be John Heller (AR) for the adults and Buddy Hughes (AL) for the children. Registration will begin Friday evening after supper (no supper provided) and will end with a light lunch on Sunday. Please note this is a change from the week-long family camp and is now for a weekend only. Contact: Steve Roys (contact info on pg.â€‰4) email: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.bit.ly/southeastfamilycamp
intensive MEN'S BIBLE STUDY IN NY Pine Bush Bible Camp, Bloomingburg NY, is having their annual study Aug 26-30 with Randy Amos (NY). Cost for 4 nights with meals included is $100. Register soon. Only first 40 applicants can
be accepted. Contact: Richie Benitez email: email@example.com Cell: 508-265-3168
YOUTH CONFERENCE IN GEORGIA Camp Hope will have the annual Youth Conference in the will of the Lord, Sep 1-3. Nathan Bramsen (West Africa) will be the speaker. Cost: $65/person. Contact: Jamie Wolfgram ph: 706-650-2693 Camp Hope ph: 770-536-4787 email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the camp website www.camphopega.org for a registration form.
LADIES CONFERENCE AT CAMP HOPE Camp Hope will host their annual Ladies Conference Sep 28-30. Carol Bramsen (SC) will be the speaker. The conference begins Friday with registration at 7:00 pm and ends Sunday at 10:00 am. Cost: $60/ individual. Contact: Barbara Thorpe ph: 706-359-6297 email: email@example.com Camp Hope: ph: 770-536-4787 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Camp website: www.camphopega.org
MISSION SPRINGS conference The annual Pacific Bible Ministries Conference will be held Oct 3-7 at the Mission Springs Christian Conference Center (in place of Mount Hermon) 75 miles south of San Francisco, CA in the Santa Cruz mountains. The conference begins Monday with dinner at 6:00 pm and ends Friday with lunch. Speakers: Joe Reese (ON) and Al Sculz (CA). Contact: Max Krieger ph: 323-256-1992 email: email@example.com
UPLOOK | MAY 2012 5
front lines continued MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES DIRECTOR of camp ministries in wa Lakeside Bible Camp, Whidbey Island, Washington is seeking qualified applicants for Director of Camp Ministries. The focus of LBC is solid Bible teaching coupled with exciting program activities. This is a full-time management position that requires extensive planning, organization, communication and networking skills. Please submit resume and letter of interest that describes how you meet or exceed the requirements of this position. Contact: Ed Hooke, Executive Director, Lakeside Bible Camp Association, PO Box 310, Clinton, WA 98236 ph: 360341-4170 fax: 360-341-2311 web: www.lakesidebiblecamp.org Applications are preferred electronically: firstname.lastname@example.org
HEALTH CARE DIRECTOR Horton Haven Christian Camp in Chapel Hill, TN is looking for an individual to serve this summer as Health Care Director. Candidates need to have a nursing degree and will oversee the health center including caring for health needs of campers and staff, administering medications and working with nurse volunteers who assist at various times during the summer. Camp starts Jun 1st and concludes Aug 3rd. Contact: Matt Phelan (please see contact details at right *).
Facilities Director in tennessee Horton Haven Christian Camp is also looking for an individual to serve as Facilities Director. This is a year round position with responsibility for the care of the grounds, buildings and equipment. Candidates need to have the ability to
UPLOOK | MAY 2012
The INTERNET is everywhere and as Christians we have both responsibilities and opportunities that never existed before. This UNIQUE one day event will focus on various topics related to the internet and the Christian life.
www.whyweweb.com PRICE per person: OPTIONAL EXTRAS: Attendee: $40 / Spouse: $30 Stay for DINNER plus 4 BREAKOUT SESSIONS Teen (19 & under): $15 in the evening (just add $10/person).
plan, budget and organize volunteers while being an integral part of our team with the purpose of reaching children with the gospel. * Contact: Matt Phelan, Horton Haven Christian Camp, Box 276, Chapel Hill, TN 37034 ph: 931-364-7656 email: email@example.com web: www.hortonhaven.org
STEP 2012 in California Summer Team Evangelism Partnership is a ministry opportunity Jun 16-Jul 2 for those eighteen years of age and older that will give a flavor of God's work in Mexico, Central and South America without needing a visa or passport. Benefit from teaching and training in Bible, evangelism and cultural issues, along with practical hands-on experience working among Latino children. Contact: John Duckhorn email: firstname.lastname@example.org
COMMENDATIONS Andrew and Nicole Masuello The elders, on behalf of the believers at Markham Bible Chapel, Markham, ON, commend Andrew and Nicole to serve the Lord in children's work at Hope Valley Day Camp (www.hopevalley.ca). As administrator, Andrew will provide direction for the ministry and oversee operations together with his wife Nikki. They have been in fellowship at Markham since their marriage in 2005.
NOTE: NEWS SUBMISSIONS The news editor reserves the right to determine those items best suited for the magazine. Editorial decisions are final.
Send news items to: email@example.com
science & you for dehydrated souls
Water of Life
t has been said that water is life. Although not literally true, liquid water is an absolute necessity for life because the chemistry of life happens in water. Without water there is only the dry dust of death. It is hard to overstate the importance of water to life. In the ancient world, settlements sprang up near sources of fresh water. In desert climates, city walls were often extended to protect a source of water so that an enemy could not cut off the supply. Travel and trade routes developed where wells and springs were located. Water can make the desert bloom and make uninhabitable land productive and inviting. Water is not life but life is impossible without water. By weight, each of us is two-thirds water and the two quarts (1.9 L) or more of water we lose by perspiration and urination each day must be replaced, or death is only a few days away. People die of dehydration when access to fresh water is cut off by accidental circumstances or by being intentionally denied water. Both situations are tragic and unwanted. Few people die by voluntary dehydration but that number may grow as more elderly people who have no hope of life beyond death take for themselves the prerogative which belong to God. Without question everyone needs water. So it is surprising when a person refuses the offer of something they cannot live without, clean, fresh water. On a hot summer day in my town I was
among a group of Christians handing out bottles of water along with a small pamphlet about the source of spiritual “living water”. One woman accepted the gift of water and pamphlet only to come back moments later and, without a word, returned both to me. I was surprised because she likely needed both types of water. It seemed she wanted me to know she was rejecting the gift of both physical and spiritual water of life. She was one of many who are desperate to live physically for as long as possible, but ironically, are also content to remain spiritually dead. These people, the livingdead, are careful to drink enough water for their bodies but are spiritually dehydrated even though the source of life-giving spiritual water is always available, free for the asking and unlimited in abundance. It is no accident that Jesus used the lifegiving, regenerative, and satisfying properties of physical water to illustrate the power of spiritual salvation through faith in His death on the cross (John 4:1-10) and the work of the Holy Spirit within the believer to eternally satisfy the human thirst for a real relationship with the
real God (John 4:11-14). You can have a real relationship with God through Jesus Christ where the living water of eternal life makes the dry dust of your spirit live within you. Why stay one of the livingdead? “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Rev 22:17). —Michael Windheuser
UPLOOK | MAY 2012 7
What is He doing there?
Christ in His Father’s House by sam thorpe
he Father’s house—what pleasant thoughts that phrase brings to our minds. For the believer, it reminds us that earth is not our home. One day we will go home to our Father’s house. Our Savior has gone before us to make things ready. What a wonderful Savior we have! What a grand homecoming that will be! We are waiting for Him and He is waiting for us. In the meantime, we should be busy about His work on earth, knowing that He is still very active in the affairs of man, while bodily in heaven. WHAT IS THE FATHER'S HOUSE? The phrase the Father’s house, as found in Scripture, may need a point of clarification as we take up this subject. We can see four different uses of the phrase. It can refer to a literal house on earth (Gen. 24:23), a family unit or lineage (Neh. 7:61), the Jewish temple in Jerusalem (Jn. 2:16), or, as is our focus in this article, the eternal dwelling place of God, the third heaven (Jn. 14:2; 2 Cor. 12:2). Some of these other uses offer a noteworthy comment. Like the Lord Jesus, Abraham left his father’s house to do the will of God and, as a “sojourner in a strange country,” he looked for a city
UPLOOK | MAY 2012
whose builder and maker is God. The temple in Jerusalem had been built and defiled by man, yet the Father’s house above remains forever pure and undefiled (Rev. 21:27). In communicating with mankind, God must present His message in terms that we can understand. As a spirit being, God doesn’t need a physical house to live in, and neither will we in glory. The term house here is metaphorical in nature and communicates the place of God’s dwelling. Eye has not seen nor have our minds conceived what God has prepared for us above! The apostle Paul tells us words don’t exist to fully describe it, but the Bible gives us a glimpse. Isaiah speaks prophetically of Christ in his Father’s house, as a “nail in a sure place” with a glorious throne (Isa. 22:22-23). The apostle John, invited to “come up hither,” shares with us his view of that glorious throne (Rev. 4:1-2). Stephen gives us another view of the ascended Christ and His place in the Father’s house, standing at the Father’s right hand (Acts 7:55-56). WHAT IS JESUS DOING THERE? Even though Christ’s body physically
entered heaven (Heb. 4:14; 9:24) and is only in one location, as the omnipresent second Person of the Godhead, He Himself is not contained to a geographical position. We rightfully claim the promise of His presence in our midst spiritually (Mt. 18:20) and His commitment to never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). What then is His continuing ministry today from the Father’s house? This subject is vast in its scope. His macro-work sustains the atomic structure of our material universe (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:17) and His micro-work weighs the thoughts of our hearts (Mt. 12:36-37). We can only imagine what is in between this wide expanse of divine responsibility. The book of Hebrews clearly confirms His place of authority and power in the Father’s house. Five times the writer of Hebrews records His exalted seated position at the right hand of God (Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2). From Scripture, we can glean some of the heavenly activities of our Lord in the Father’s house. We will briefly cover seven things our Lord is now occupied with in glory. 1. As the Lord of Hosts, He is still
No earthly splendor can prepare us for our first sight of heaven’s glory.
mighty in battle as He continues to defeat the forces of evil and subdue all His enemies (Ps. 24:8; 1 Cor. 15:24-28). 2. As the Head of the Church, He directs and disciplines His Body from a place of preeminence (Col. 1:18-20), while preparing His Bride for her glorious entrance to the Father’s house (Eph. 5:26-27). 3. As the Savior of sinners, He offers His gift of salvation by grace through faith to as many as will receive Him, and so shall bring many sons to glory (Heb. 2:9-13; 7:24-25). 4. As the Advocate of the saints, He continues to intercede on our behalf in the courtroom of heaven against the accuser of the brethren by refuting Satan’s claims with the power of His shed blood and maintains fellowship with us upon our confession of sin (1 Jn. 1:9-2:2). 5. As the Recipient of our prayers, He hears and responds to each petition in accordance with the will of God(Jn. 14:12-14; Heb. 4:14-16). 6. As King of kings and Lord of lords, He governs the world and the affairs of man, bringing about the program of God for this age and the ages to come (Mt. 24:29-30; Rev. 19:11-15).
7. As the Mediator of the new covenant, He administers all the promises of God as the executor of His own inheritance in the saints (Eph. 1:18-23; Heb. 9:15-24). MANY SONS TO GLORY Our Savior is at home in the Father’s house, yet He must be longing with great anticipation for His blood-bought Bride, the Church. In the Jewish wedding ceremony, the bridegroom leaves the father’s house, finds his bride, and brings her back to the place he has prepared for their dwelling, in, or attached to, the father’s house. Such a picture points to the day the Lord of Glory will once again leave the Father’s house. The first time He left, it was to procure His Bride as a chaste virgin to Himself (2 Cor. 11:2). The next time He leaves, it will be to bring His Bride back to the Father’s house for the marriage supper of the Lamb. He will have fully prepared the place, the supper, and us for such a grand occasion (Rev. 19:7-9). It can happen anytime. We are called to “watch and be ready” for our redemption draws near. As we said at the beginning, being at home is such a pleasant thought—the place where you know you belong and
where you are loved. It is also the place where you are with the ones you love. But as Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn writer put it, “I want to see my Savior first of all.” As we wrote this article, my father-in-law, David Thomas, who lived with us, went home to the Father’s house. At almost 97 years old, his earthly body failed him, but, in the perfect timing of the Lord, his spirit entered heaven and the place prepared by his Savior. As young parents, we would eagerly look forward to our annual Christmas trip to Grampy’s home in Pennsylvania—we were going home to our father’s house. Grampy is now home—his real home—in the Father’s house, united with Christ for all eternity. The joy and anticipation of this heavenly home should far surpass all the pleasant memories of our journeys here below. Some of us will go in spirit before the rest of us join them in resurrection to meet the Lord in the air. By way of the grave or the collective home-call of the saints, the promise of Christ will be fulfilled: “I will come again and receive you unto Myself.” What a grand finale: “that where I am there ye may be also.” Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
UPLOOK | MAY 2012 9
Has the Son of God entered your assembly unheralded?
Stranger at Home: Christ in the Temple A
H. R. Ghezzi
His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Lk. 2:41-52).
ne December years ago, I was looking over the speakers’ list in the assembly bulletin. I noticed that “Messiah” was listed for one of the meetings. It turned out to be just a notice for a DVD showing of Handel’s Messiah, but that incident caused me to ask myself, “If God incarnate physically entered my assembly, would I see the need to respond to Him any differently than I do now?” Such an opportunity presented itself one Passover season two
10 UPLOOK | MAY
millennia ago when two parents found the Son they were seeking in the temple.
The slaughterhouse First-year male lambs were taken from the flock each Passover season (Ex. 12:5). The temple’s evaluation process eliminated any maimed or blemished lambs from the distinction of serving as the Paschal lamb. The chosen lamb was then slain in the temple, “the place
where the Lord chooses to put His name” (Deut. 16:2, 6). Luke’s Gospel gives us the only account of the boyhood of the Lord Jesus, in the year before He became a Son of the covenant (Heb. bar mitzvah). At the scene, His temple audience is enraptured: “all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers” (Lk. 2:47). While this may seem like a good reception, it was likely superficial at best. To this day, many churchgoers appeal to Christ solely for intellectual or emotional benefits. They have no desire for the redemption offered by the Lamb of God through the shedding of His precious blood. For a proper assessment, see Simeon’s and Anna’s encounters with Him some years earlier (Lk. 2:25-38). The qualities we see in the early life of Christ validate His appointment as God’s sacrifice, “as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:19), the fulfillment of which would be seen in His final Passover visit more than two decades later.
The Father's house First utterances are especially poignant. As I hold my newborn son in
Illustration of Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem as seen from a Northwest vantage point.
my arms, I anticipate his first words with great delight. As we did with our first two children, my wife and I will record this occasion on our calendar. Secretly, I hope that my name will be the first word from his lips! The first recorded words of our Lord Jesus Christ are found in Luke 2:49. Appropriately, they are about His occupation with His Father. Depending on your English translation, His statement is either rendered, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” or “Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” The Greek text doesn’t actually have an object for the preposition, rendering it, “I must be in the…of My Father” This ellipsis reveals that there is no boundary to the Son’s devotion to His Father. Whether in His Father’s house or going about His Father’s business, there is nothing that the Son wouldn’t do for His Father. “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (Jn. 9:4). A final proof of our Lord’s devotion to His Father was His willingness to enter such darkness at Calvary into which no man had entered before, nor would any since (Lk. 23:44). Jewish boys were groomed to learn their father’s trade. Therefore, the confusion of Joseph and Mary at their Son’s response to their concern is understandable (Lk. 2:50). If He were entering the occupation of His “father” (presumably carpentry), what was He still doing at the temple? Certain expositors of Scripture falsely assume that the Lord was discovering His true calling at this time; that
until then, He was somehow unaware of His divine commission and nature. However, the careful reader will see that nothing in Luke’s text gives us this indication. In fact, it reveals that He knew exactly who He was, even then. It was His parents that needed the reminder of His identity. Regarding divine order, He is the Son of God, ever in communion with His Father.
The mother's home Regarding human order, “He went down with [His parents], and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them” (Lk. 2:51). This unique glimpse Luke gives us of the Lord’s early life reveals the perfect balance between spiritual life and home life. There is no conflict. The first indicator of godly service is in the home. Young believers contemplating missionary service must first prove their diligence at home. Conversely, rebellious children must avoid the missionary frontline altogether. Moreover, Luke tells us, “but His mother kept all these sayings in her heart” (Lk. 2:51f). Mary’s recollection of the event that occurred in Jerusalem appears after we are told about Jesus’ subjection to His earthly parents. Evidently, Mary observed His perfect submission at home in light of what He had stated in the temple about His higher calling. One can only speculate what it must have been like to be the mother of history’s only perfect child. Mary had children with Joseph, but only her firstborn Son was totally submissive. Perhaps she pondered the scope of His
submission: since the Lord Jesus was completely obedient to sinful parents, would there be any limits to His obedience to His heavenly Father? More than twenty years later, Mary would witness firsthand how far the Lord was willing to go for His Father, and it would be like a sword piercing her soul (Lk. 2:35).
The deserted house Ultimately, the home’s rightful occupant was rejected by its tenants. On His final trip to the temple as that fateful Passover loomed, He declared, “See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Mt. 23:38-39). When He gets His proper due during the millennium, only then will the glory of His presence return to the temple (Ezek. 43:7).
Heavenly home call Having contemplated the Lord’s earliest recorded statement, we would do well to consider His final statement before His work of redemption concluded: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Lk. 23:46). Even in the depths of indescribable agony, He reported to His Father that His divine mission was accomplished. The Father was pleased to receive His Son home, through death and resurrection (Rom. 6:4). The same is true for us. Whether we enter His presence through death, resurrection, or rapture, we anticipate a glorious homecoming to our heavenly Father for a job well done!
UPLOOK | MAY 2012 11
Love on the menu
the home of
hat does it say about Christ that while on earth He spent a considerable amount of time in many homes? A home is a unique setting where formality is done away with, and a level of comfort and intimacy can be achieved that is rarely found in other settings. Recently as I was reading through Luke, I observed how often the Lord found himself in the home a Pharisee. But He did not associate with just the religious establishment, but with the entire breadth of human existence—from the wealthy like Zaccheus to the humble home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, where He often stopped as He passed through Bethany. A LIFE-CHANGING ENCOUNTER Matthew, Mark, and Luke each record an event early in the Lord’s public ministry where He spent time in the home of Levi the tax collector. It began with an invitation to leave his presumably successful tax collection business and enter the business of winning souls. The clear impression we receive from the gospel writers was that tax-collectors were poorly regarded. For one, they worked for the governing Roman authorities. Second, while conducting their business in the name of Rome, they ensured their
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own pockets were generously lined. Not surprisingly, they were consistently numbered with “sinners.” But this encounter with Jesus was life-changing for Levi. When he met Jesus, “he left everything behind.” He evaluated his balance sheet, his assets and liabilities outside of Christ, and counted “all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus [my] Lord” (Php. 3:8). The SCENE INSIDE Levi’s first act was to host a large reception where his friends could be introduced to his Savior. This was no fellowship tea. Luke records that there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people invited to Levi’s home. Matthew and Mark make a point of describing the gathered company as “tax collectors and sinners.” But where do we find Jesus? In the midst of this motley crew, He is reclining at the table. Levi had likely hosted many such gatherings, but the conversation had been consumed with the earthly, the trivial. These parties always ended with a note of emptiness as Levi’s friends returned to their material pursuits. Like many of his associates, Levi had enjoyed wealth and its benefits but at the expense of being lonely, and he
looked down upon his community. But now he met a physician who addressed the brokenness of his aching heart, One who knew his sinful past but still desired a relationship with him. There was no more pressing burden for Levi than to open his home so that Christ could minister to other dying men. The SCENE OUTSIDE The scene inside Levi’s home, crowded with tax-collectors and sinners, stands in striking contrast to the scene outside. The very idea of the Lord in Levi’s home visiting with sinners was scandalous to the observing Pharisees. What do we make of the Lord’s response to their criticism: “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance”? I recently cared for a young woman who came to the Emergency Department with an end-stage cancer. Her husband shared that for months he had pleaded with her to go see the doctor. She was losing weight and could hardly look at food without being nauseated. When she finally agreed to go to the hospital, it was out of desperation because of the pain.
Our homes can be the place where sinners first taste the hospitality of heaven
My guess is she knew all along something was wrong, but only when the disease was far advanced was she willing to admit she needed help. Inside Levi’s home that day were sinners who understood their spiritual plight, while outside the critical Pharisees remained blind or unwilling to accept the seriousness of their own hearts’ condition. Rightfully the Lord said that He came not to call the righteous but sinners—those who understood their desperate state. WHAT ABOUT YOUR HOME? Early on in his Christian walk, Levi understood that following Jesus meant that his home would be a place where Christ would be central. How do you see your home? Most of us see our homes appropriately as sanctuaries from the world, a place to retreat and fortify ourselves against its attack. But recall the Lord’s high priestly prayer on our behalf: “I do not ask you to take them out of the world…as You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (Jn. 17:15, 18). As believers, have we fully appreciated that our homes are fertile fields for the gospel? When was the last time you invited your neighbor, a colleague from work, or an unsaved family member into your
home? Last year, we had a number of Chinese university students, studying in Canada, over for a meal. They shared that though they had been in Canada for four years, and this was the very first time they had been in a Canadian home. They found the experience fascinating. Imagine the eternal possibilities on our doorsteps! Many an unbeliever would be far too intimidated to darken the doors of a church building but would gladly accept an invitation to our home. What is it about our homes that makes them different? Let me suggest that, from the moment an unbeliever walks through the doors of your home, he knows something is different. It’s not the framed Bible verses on the wall (though we have some). A home where Christ is exalted is filled with the fragrance of Christ. It might be in the order versus chaos, although with a few kids we have had plenty of the latter. It will likely be in the interaction between husband and wife. It will be in the emphasis of your conversation. It will be reflected as you demonstrate a genuine interest in getting to know your guests. I’m not suggesting this is easy. In fact, you can expect to feel uncomfortable and possibly awkward; but having unbelievers in your home and seeing you in
your natural setting builds much-needed credibility in communicating the gospel. Even your acknowledgement of the Lord in giving thanks for a meal sends a tremendous message to your guests. Our homes can serve as wonderful classrooms to introduce sinners to our Savior. As the Word of God is opened and carefully explained, a home provides the ideal atmosphere where people feel free to ask questions. And when the Scriptures are the measuring stick, we can bring folks back to the Word to appreciate the excellencies of Christ. Notice that in Matthew’s account of this event in Levi’s home, the Lord pointed the religious Jews back to their own Scriptures: “Go and learn what this means: I desire compassion, and not sacrifice.” The Pharisees had mastered sacrifice—heartless service, rituals, rule-keeping, and religion—but they had no care for the lost, no compassion. If we desire our homes to be more than enclaves for comfortable Christians, we need to be motivated by Christ-like compassion for dying men and women. If we desire that they “Come, taste, and see that the Lord is good,” it is necessary for them to first be drawn by the fragrance of Christ issuing forth from our lives and from our homes.
UPLOOK | MAY 2012 13
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus
The Home inBethany
hat a wonderful experience it would be to have the Lord Jesus as a guest in your home! This was the case for Abraham in the Old Testament and for Martha, Mary, and Lazarus in the New. The Lord also went into the home of the two He met on the road to Emmaus, at their invitation. In the case of Abraham, it is perhaps telling that only the two angels with the Lord at Abraham’s tent went on to Lot’s house in Sodom, and even then they had to be pressured to go in. Lot had a prominent position and status as far as the world was concerned but little place for the Lord in his home. The Lord Jesus seemed to be right at home in Bethany. Actually, two homes are mentioned: that of Martha (Lk. 10:38) and that of Simon the leper (Mk. 14:3). According to John’s account, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were in Simon’s house with Martha serving the meal (Jn. 12:13). There is some difficulty in lining up John’s account with Matthew’s and Mark’s records; perhaps the one is theological and the others chronological, or they might be two separate but similar events.
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hostess, she was occupied in preparing the meal and became distracted with the amount of work to be done and all the preparations that had to be made. She does what many do in similar circumstances: she looks at all she is doing and then points out to the Lord how little Mary is doing. Her focus was on herself and on others but not on the Saviour. The Lord Jesus does not discount her work and effort but gently reminds her that her focus was on many things.
The scene is well known to most believers with Martha busy serving and Mary sitting at the Saviour’s feet, listening and learning. It was Martha’s home, and the Saviour was there at her invitation. As the
Service and preparation are necessary but never the first priority in the spiritual realm. The Lord Jesus says that Mary has chosen “the good part” or, as the NIV puts it, “what is better.” The point is that there is greater value in sitting at the Saviour’s feet, learning of Him and from Him than there is in serving Him. The basis for service should be the time spent with the Lord and the sense of love and devotion that flow from that holy place. This puts Him and not us at the center of what is being attempted. It takes our eyes off ourselves and off others and onto Christ.
The two homes displayed the wonder of a life transformed by the Savior: for Simon, it was healing from a disease that typified sin and its consequences; for Lazarus it was life from the dead. Typically, the Lord Jesus dealt with the issue of sin and gave new life. This has happened in countless homes down through the centuries and still takes place today.
The Lord Jesus stayed in Bethany the last week of His life, taking the 3 km journey each evening to sleep, presumably in the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. The first recorded visit of the Lord Jesus to Martha’s home is found in Luke 10:38-42. According to a chronology of the gospels, this visit would have been about six months before the events of John 11 when Lazarus was raised from the dead.
Illustration published in 1873, depicting Bethany, traditionally identified with the village of al-Eizariya on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives.
There are four scenes in the Gospels that show a woman at the Savior’s feet. In three of these, it is said to be Mary. • In Luke 7:36-50, a sinful woman meets the Lord Jesus and anoints His feet with her tears. • In John 11, Mary, a sorrowful woman, bows at the feet of the Lord of life, a sympathizing Saviour. • In Luke 10, Mary, a student, sits at the Teacher’s feet, learning of Him. • In John 12, Mary, a worshipping saint, appreciates all that the Lord is and all that He will do. This place at the feet of the Lord Jesus has often been called St. Mary’s College, the quiet time where believers can sit and learn of Him. This phrase is used to depict one who has enjoyed the Lord but has not had the opportunity of formal schooling or training. That is not to despise the value of education, whether secular or spiritual, but to emphasize that there is a place to learn of Him. Norman Crawford, in his commentary on Luke in What the Bible Teaches, has a lovely devotional thought about the feet of the Savior. “Twenty-one times in Scripture the feet of the Lord Jesus are mentioned. At their first mention, they are pierced (Ps. 22:16); and at their last mention, they are planted on land and sea, claiming it all for God (Rev. 10:1-3).” He then adds this line: “No university on earth can ever teach the lessons that are learned at those blessed feet.”1
It is interesting that Mary alone anointed the Lord Jesus in anticipation of His death and burial. Why was it that she was the only one who seemed to grasp what was coming and what the Lord would experience? The disciples, for all the time they spent with Christ, seemed unaware of what would occur. It would seem, or at least one may surmise, that Mary learned something while sitting at His feet that no one else was able to grasp. Mark records that some of those in the house were indignant because of the value of the perfume that was offered. The Lord, however, commended her action and made the sacrificial act a memorial to her for all of time wherever the gospel would be preached.
The Christian home
In type, this home characterized all that a local church should be. Christ was present in the home as the focal point of all activity. There was the testimony of Lazarus brought from death to life, a fact known by the community. In Mary, one sees both a disciple learning of Him and a worshipper expressing love for Him. Martha displays service to the Lord and to His people. These occupations should characterize every assembly and Christian home, while keeping the focus on Christ and not on things. Practically, our homes should be places where the Lord Jesus is at home. He is invited and welcome. The focus is on Him, and each one spends time daily sitting at His feet communing with Him. His Word
is listened to, and His will is sought. The fragrance of His person fills the home, and there is a testimony to the unsaved. Personally, the example of Mary should speak to us and inspire us to do as she did. Every believer should take time to sit at the Savior’s feet and learn of Him. To order our day and week so that there is time for “what is better.” It is so easy to get occupied like Martha with many things, to focus on what is good at the expense of what is best. One of the results of time at the Lord’s feet will be the excitement of the Lord’s Supper when the precious ointment gathered during the week is poured out on Him. All the believers present will benefit as the fragrance of that time will linger on them, and others will know that they have been in the presence of the Lord. The Lord’s Supper will never suffer from pauses of poverty when the Lord’s people have been to St. Mary’s College during the week. Taken up with Thee, Lord Jesus, I would be, Finding joy and satisfaction All in Thee, Thou the nearest and the dearest Unto me, unto me. —Mrs. Wellesley
1 Norman Crawford, What the Bible Teaches, Luke (Kilmarnock, Scotland: John Ritchie Ltd, 1989), p. 195.
UPLOOK | MAY 2012 15
The Lord makes a HOUSE CALL D
esperate people abound in this fallen world. Sin ravages human lives and leaves heartache in its wake. Thankfully there is hope, for God specializes in overcoming the spiritual and physical destruction caused by man’s unfaithfulness and disobedience towards Him. His ultimate plan is to bring the universe into complete conformity to His will (Eph. 1:11; 1 Cor. 15:23-28). This plan includes the transformation of believers into new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17) with glorified bodies (Php. 3:20-21) that are suited to dwell with the Almighty for eternity. A collage of human misery God’s redemptive program required the Son of God to come to earth, where He constantly dealt with people who were wounded by sin. The gospel of Mark brings together a selection of incidents from the ministry of the Lord Jesus that showcases His power, wisdom, love, and compassion. Among them are four miracles displaying His varied power over things that bring people to extreme distress. First, Christ demonstrated His control over nature in its savagery by calming a storm on Galilee (4:35-41). Second, He liberated a man from a legion of demons (5:1-20), showing His supremacy over
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every spiritual power. Third, on the way to Jairus’s house, He healed a woman who was debilitated by a chronic bleeding condition (probably an uterine hemorrhage; 5:25-34), thereby manifesting power over lingering physical maladies. Finally, He established His incomparable might by raising a twelve-year-old girl from the dead (5:35-43). In all of these events, He revealed something of His varying methods of dealing with those who are in need.
Keith Ke yser
At the home of Jairus
(v. 23)—the diminutive is used as a term of endearment—was rapidly dying, and he was powerless to stop it. Illness and tragedy are not discriminatory among social classes, as Ryle notes: Death comes to halls and palaces, as well as to cottages; to landlords as well as to tenants; to rich as well as to poor. It stands on no ceremony. It tarries no man’s leisure or convenience. It will not be kept out by locks and bars. ‘It is appointed
Father knows best As “a ruler of the synagogue,” Jairus was a man of some standing in the community. First century synagogues were governed by elders, and sometimes had more than one ruler (Acts 13:15). The function of this last office was to make sure everything pertaining to the public service was taken care of in an orderly manner. Accordingly, these rulers performed various practical and spiritual duties in service to the local congregation. So it may be safely assumed that Jairus was both a responsible and a religious man; very likely, he was also relatively affluent. Yet Jairus’s social position had no bearing upon the drama that was playing out in his home. His beloved “little daughter”
unto men once to die, but after this the judgment’ (Heb. 9:27)…We may be sure there is far more equality in the portions appointed to men than at first sight appears. Sickness is a great leveler. It makes no distinction.1
To his credit, Jairus knew that the only hope of healing lay with the Lord Jesus. If he could just get the wonderworking rabbi to visit his daughter in time—before the unthinkable happens! What is more, he made no attempt to plead his personal merit or religious credentials in approaching the Lord; instead, he put his pride in the dust and begged Christ to help him (v. 23). He also displayed complete faith in the Lord’s ability
to heal. Yet his faith seems to demand a certain methodology: “Come…lay hands on…heal” (v. 23). This is different from the marvelous faith of the centurion who knew of Christ’s ability to heal long-distance (Mt. 8:5-13); nonetheless, it is still beautiful to see a man casting himself entirely on the mercy of the Lord.
But commenting on the parallel account in Luke, David Gooding asks a natural question: Why did not Christ relieve Jairus of his agony of suspense by using his well-advertised power of saving at a distance and by delivering his daughter from dying without waiting to come to his house? We may
A frowning providence? Trying to speed home is difficult with a crowd in tow, however, and the interruption of the woman with an issue of blood did nothing to abet their progress towards the mortally ill girl. Not surprisingly, messengers brought the heavy tidings that it was pointless to bother the teacher any further, for the patient had succumbed to her sickness. In response, Christ bolstered Jairus’s confidence with the exhortation: “Be not afraid, only believe” (v. 37)—or, as the Greek has it, “keep on believing.” Ironside exclaims:
surmise that one reason might have been
Who but He, who was the Lord of life,
The Lord’s timing is designed to glorify Himself and train His children to implicitly trust in His perfect, loving ways. If He always arrived in the nick of time to rescue first-century people from dying, then how could the saints of later centuries know that He can triumph and heal the dead? Praise God, the Lord Jesus is the first fruits of a long harvest of physically resurrected and glorified people!
could or would have uttered [these words], when all hope seemed gone and death had intervened already? When we are at the end of all natural resources the same blessed words come home to our hearts to give peace and confidence today.2
Another adds: “Now it is not easy to drive out fear. There is only one way to do it, namely, by firmly believing in the presence, promises, pity, and power of God in Christ. It takes the positive to drive out the negative (Rom. 12:21).”3
to test and so to strengthen Jairus’s faith. When the centurion said to Christ, “Lord, don’t trouble Yourself ” (Gk. Me skullou), it was an expression of faith (7:6). When someone from Jairus’s house told him not to trouble the Teacher any more (Gk. meketi skulle), it was a temptation to give up faith in Christ on the grounds that it was now too late, the situation had gone beyond Christ’s ability to do anything about it. Christ countered that temptation and saved Jairus from hopeless sorrow by challenging him to persistence in faith: “only believe and she shall be saved” (8:50).4
tioned in the Talmud—for their sneeringly dismissive attitude towards any hope had no place in the immediate plans of the Lord. First Thessalonians 4:13 says that believers “sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” This is because of Christ’s power, which raises the dead. He utterly transformed this household by excluding the prurient and vulgar spectators; instead He brought in three witnesses from His disciples, as well as the girl’s parents. It would not do to have all twelve crowding around the girl’s sickbed; this would be daunting to the girl when the Lord restored her to life. Instead, it is an intimate scene, where Christ gently raised her by the hand with words in her heart-language, Aramaic, bidding her in the most tender terms to arise. The Lord knows how to speak to our hearts, and when He calls, every saint in Christ will rise! Afterwards, He instructed them to give her something to eat, at once proving the reality of her restoration to life, as well as tenderly caring for her needs. Such is our Savior, who meets even the smallest necessities of His children. Endnotes 1 J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark (London: William Hunt, Steam Press, 1859), p.104. 2 H. A. Ironside, Expository Notes on the Gospel of Mark (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1948), pp.82-83. 3 William Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker
The blessed hope Upon arriving at the house, Christ dismissed the hired mourners—a common cultural practice which was later sanc-
Book House, 1975), pp.211-12. 4 D.W. Gooding, According To Luke (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans & IVP, Myrtlefield Trust, 1987), p.151.
UPLOOK | MAY 2012 17
Back in Bethany
At home with
Simon the Leper
John Bennett C hapters 11 to 15 of Mark form a record of the final few days of the Lord’s ministry on earth. In chapter 14, we come to the penultimate day—the day before the trial and the crucifixion of the Lord. It is a full day!
As all the Gospel writers record, Mary’s worship is set against the background of the plotting of the chief priests and others, together with the scheming of Judas. There could be no greater, or starker, contrast between the actions of the many and the devotion of the few. The circumstances (v. 3) Who Simon was, and where else he fits into the gospel narrative, is unknown, yet he offered the Lord hospitality. The occupants of the chief offices of society—the Pharisees, the scribes, and the rulers of the people—were united in their desire and their plan to destroy the Savior. In the capital city of the land, Jerusalem, there was no place and no time for the Son of God. Yet, in the house of a leper in the town of Bethany, the Lord found a home in the heart and the life of Simon. The Scripture enjoins, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:
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for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb. 13:2).
The cost (v. 3) Apart from the sacrifice of Simon the leper in providing his house and his food to feed those that were present, we see the sacrificial giving of Mary. Worship is costly! It takes time. It takes effort to bring something to the Lord. Both Matthew and Mark call the gift “spikenard, very precious.” John calls it “spikenard, very costly” (Jn. 12:3). To tell us it was spikenard is to tell us of its purity and, hence, of its value. The added description is to tell us of the quality of the material that was to be lavished on the Savior. We can notice, too, that she broke the box. She had no more use for the box in which the nard was kept, and she had no further need of the nard once it was bestowed on the Savior. Notice, too, that she poured it on His head. She did not administer the nard sparingly. She gave willingly, and she gave generously. Do we have a similar appreciation of the Lord? Do we give our time and our
effort willingly and generously so that we may bring something of such preciousness as we remember the Lord? The center (v. 3) Judas and the other disciples who followed his lead saw the woman. The contrast is that Mary saw only the Lord. The Lord said, “Me ye have not always” (v. 7). She could have bestowed time upon the disciples. She could have spent time with Lazarus, so recently raised from the dead. But Mary saw only the Lord. He was the center of her affections and her activity. How important these things are!
You will notice two things: • She poured it on His head. Both Matthew and Mark mention the head as the place where she poured it. To anoint His head is to acknowledge Him as Messiah and King, having the rightful claim of the heart of the nation. • John notes that she anointed His feet as well as His head (Jn. 12:3). Considering the Lord was reclined at the table, we judge this to be a separate act of devotion. To anoint His feet is
The calculations (v. 6) The Lord said of Mary’s act of devotion, “She hath wrought a good work on Me.” What a contrast of evaluations! For Judas, the action was a waste of the ointment (v. 4). The ungodly look on and see our gatherings and our acts of devotion in exactly the same light—a waste of time and energy. However, the key question that must be borne in mind is what does the Lord think? What is His judgment on the matter? to draw attention to His condescending grace as He traversed this scene. But to pour the contents of the box upon the head and the feet is to encompass the whole. Apart from the hands being used to partake of the food provided, these would be the only parts of the body visible. As the Lord said, “she is come aforehand to anoint My body to the burying” (v. 8). That is, the anointing of the head and the feet was symbolic of an anointing of the whole body. In a practical sense, we might contrast the life of the Lord with Isaiah’s description of the nation, “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores” (Isa.1:6). Whereas, the Shunamite was able to say of her beloved, “His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend” (Song 5:16). We would have to acknowledge that, whether we view the Lord in a particular facet of His person or His ministry or consider the whole, He is altogether lovely!
It would appear from Mark’s construction of events that there is a link between the worship of Mary and the decision of Judas to betray the Lord. • Contrast of values: Mary took “an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she broke the box” (v. 3). Judas sought money as “they…promised to give him money” (v. 11). • Contrast of appreciation: For Mary, “She hath wrought a good work on Me” (v. 6). Judas asked, “Why was this waste of the ointment made?” (v. 4) • Contrast of outcomes: For Mary, “She hath wrought a good work on Me” (v. 6). Of Judas, it is recorded, “He sought how he might conveniently betray Him” (v. 11). • Contrast of memorials: For Mary, “This also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her” (v. 9). Of Judas, the Lord said, “Woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed” (v. 21).
What is most striking of Judas’s actions is that from that first meeting with the Jewish leaders he was focused upon achieving the aim of betraying the Lord: “He sought how he might conveniently betray Him” (v. 11). The use of the imperfect tense in the Greek shows that this became his sole and continuous occupation from that time forward. The challenge (v. 8) The Lord said of Mary, “She hath done what she could” (v. 8). As we face the issues of life, the mountain top experiences and the valleys below, may it be said of us that we have done what we could. We might feel that we do not have the gift or the ability to do certain things; we might not be called to a public service amongst the saints, but that should never stop us from doing what we can in the service of the Lord. It is worth remembering that this was the only anointing that the Lord received prior to His burial. When the other company of women came to anoint the body, the Lord was already risen. We should appreciate also that Mary realized that the Lord’s death was imminent but that He was not going to remain in the tomb long. This anointing was anticipatory, “to anoint My body to the burying” (v. 8). It was an appreciation of the fact that the Lord would rise from the dead in fulfillment of all that He had said. Mary believed what the disciples had been told but had not appreciated for themselves.
UPLOOK | MAY 2012 19
Using your house for hospitality
Christ in the
HomeOF SImoNPeter W Paul Campbell
hat do you call home? Do you live in an apartment, a house, a nursing home? We all live somewhere, but some of us might be wondering: How can my house become a place of ministry to others, a place of spiritual blessing and transformation? If you desire your house to be more than just the place you eat, sleep, and relax in, take a journey with me through the pages of Scripture. Let’s ask the Lord to make our dwellings nurseries of new life and farms of lasting fruitfulness for Him. It all began when Jesus entered Peter and Andrew’s home (Mk. 1:29). Peter’s mother-in-law “was lying sick with a fever” (v. 30). In fact, Luke explains it was a high fever (Lk. 4:38). Her situation was serious, but then sin, of which the fever is a picture, is very serious and eternally life-threatening! This was our condition before salvation. I’m very thankful for the two things that happen next. First, the disciples “spoke to Jesus about her” (Mk. 1:30). Do you speak to the Lord about others in need of salvation and Christian encouragement? Prayer for others is vital. Second, the Lord “touched her hand, and the fever left her” (Mt. 8:15). Only a touch from the Master can save us from our sins. Struggling Christians also need His touch
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of encouragement. Aren’t you thankful for both in your life? Her response to His demonstration of forgiveness and love was immediate: “She got up and waited on Him” (Mt. 8:15). But to understand what happened between her salvation and her serving the Lord in her home, we need to consider some other passages of Scripture.
Consecrating yourself The next step after salvation is consecration of yourself to the Lord. “Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things [wrangling about words, and worldly, empty chatter, vv. 1416], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Tim. 2:20-21). Is that your heart’s desire? Do you want above all else to be useful to the Master? Then give yourself completely to the Lord, to be used by Him. Make David’s words your own: “I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. I will set no worthless thing before my eyes” (Ps. 101:2-3). Make a commitment to set your eyes on things above, especially at home.
Give every part of yourself to be used for Him. Honoring the Lord Jesus in all your ways leads to desiring the consecration of the members of your household as well: “He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house” (Ps. 101:7). You begin to raise the standards in your home for your children, your spouse, and other adults sharing the home. You desire that they too be vessels for honor for Him, since “any…house divided against itself will not stand” (Mt. 12:25). The more each member of the household is committed to obeying the Lord at all costs, the more beautiful is the harmony among them and the more powerful is the demonstration of the Spirit’s fruit and filling: “How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine Within your house, Your children like olive plants Around your table” (Ps. 128:1-3). Is this the cry of your heart for your household?
This simple house, built of basalt rock, may have been similar to one where Peter lived in Capernaum.
Consecrating your house Once you and your household are wholly committed to serving the One who bought you, your next desire is to truly use your house for His praise and the rich blessing of others. Just as the Israelites could voluntarily give their houses to God for the use of His priests (Num. 18:14), so you can consecrate your “house as holy to the Lord” (Lev. 27:14). Don’t do it rashly, nor under compulsion, but only out of deep gratitude for what He has done for you. Willingly offer up your dwelling place for His eternal purposes, and the glory of the Lord will surely fill your house (Ezek. 43:5)! It was His presence in the house that brought many needy people to the door (Mk. 1:3334). Do you long for people to find their Savior in your home? Give your house to Him! Do you yearn to be an encouragement to God’s people? It will be His presence in your home that ministers to both saint and sinner—the fatherless, the widowed, the lonely, and the imprisoned (Ps. 68:5-6), all in need of the Master’s touch. If that is your desire, carefully, gratefully give Him control of your house and possessions. Then speak about Him to all who enter your door.
Consecrating your speech What will your visitors hear you say? Certainly the story of His healing touch. This is undoubtedly what brought so many
people to Peter’s mother-in-law’s door. You will also likely take up the words that wisdom cried from her house: “Forsake folly and live, And proceed in the way of understanding” (Prov. 9:6). You will gently urge your guests to turn from the folly of the world and seek the wisdom only God gives that leads to a righteous, faithful, fruitful life for Him. And you will point them to the Lord Jesus, the wisdom of God: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (v. 10). Your guests will begin to see the wisdom and power of Christ displayed in your life and home, and take note that: “By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; And by knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches” (Prov. 24:3-4). Is it your desire that the fragrance of Christ pervade your home? Let your guests notice not the furniture (or lack thereof) in your rooms, but the knowledge of the glory of the Lord and the precious riches of His grace available to saved and lost alike. May they take hold of Him as you have taken hold of Him. May they depend daily upon Him, for “the house of the righteous will stand” (Prov. 12:7). We began with the salvation of Peter’s mother-in-law, prayed for by others, and touched by the Lord. She consecrated
herself to the Lord, then her family and her house as well. Her testimony attracted others to Him, the fragrant and fruitful true vine. Her life was evidence of His life flowing through her. Her simple acts of hospitality and kindness were opportunities for the Lord to touch others. Similarly, we see in Acts 2:46-47 that as the early Christians joyfully shared meals together in homes, their obvious unity and love for one another led to the salvation of many others. We see in Lydia’s case someone newly saved and already desiring to offer hospitality to those who brought her the message of salvation (Acts 16:15). Some others dedicated themselves to serving whole churches as the assemblies met regularly in their homes (Rom. 16:5; Col. 4:15; Phm. 1:2). Could this happen in your home when you, your household, and your speech are consecrated to Him? Could you be like Philip, ministering to the needs of believers (Acts 21:8)? Perhaps the Lord wants to use your sanctified hospitality to encourage, edify, and equip some of God’s people who are hurting or discouraged. What will you do with the home or apartment the Lord has given you? Will you keep it primarily for your own needs, or will you dare to dedicate yourself and your home to Him and see scores of people coming to eternal life and growing stronger in the Lord Jesus—a fruitful harvest for Him?
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In the home of
And the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness and many will rejoice at his birth” (Lk. 1:13-14).
n the human level, the situation in the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth was not unique. Many families longed for children. We can recall two similar cases: Abram and Sarai, and Elkanah and Hannah. But in both families, as with Zacharias and Elizabeth, divine intervention enabled the impossible to happen, resulting in the births of Isaac, Samuel, and John! The three homes reverberated with joy, and the fruit of the womb produced men who performed specific roles in fulfilling God’s purposes for not only Israel, but also the whole world. Zacharias was of the house of Abijah, and Elizabeth was of the daughters of the house of Aaron. Both were described as righteous and blameless. In New Testament language, this was an equal yoke. This account takes place against the background of Zacharias’s priestly service in the temple. John MacArthur writes, [Zacharias’s] lot fell to burn incense…A high honor (Ex. 30:7 and 2 Chron. 29:11). Because of the large number of priests, most
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would never be chosen for such activity, and no one was permitted to serve in this capacity twice. Zacharias, no doubt, regarded this as a supreme moment in a lifetime of priestly service…The lone priest offered the incense morning and evening while the rest of the priests and worshippers stood outside the holy place in prayer (Lk. 1:9).”1
a joyous announcement When the angel appeared to Zacharias, the man was terrified (v. 12). However, the angel calmed his fears and announced, “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth” (vv. 13f). The home that for years had been filled with a sad emptiness would be radically changed! The angel then outlined in detail what kind of man this son would be and what kind of role he would fulfill: “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb…He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah…to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Yet in response to such a wonderful
angelic pronouncement, Zacharias expressed doubt that such a thing could be possible. For an ordinary man to doubt an angel is one thing, but for an honored priest to do so was quite another. The angel responded, “I am Gabriel who stands in the presence of God; and was sent to speak unto you, and to bring you these glad tidings.” This last phrase is from the Greek word for gospel, an indication that the message of the angel concerned God’s plan for salvation. The Savior was on His way, and Zacharias’s child would be His forerunner. Unbelief is the enemy of the gospel. Consequently, Zacharias’s disbelief was immediately followed by another announcement: “You will be mute and not able to speak until these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their own time.” Zacharias’s delay in emerging from the temple caused some concern. “And the people waited for Zacharias marveled that he tarried in the temple” (v. 21). When he finally emerged, he could not speak and endeavored to commu-
As you do not know what is the way of the wind,
Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child,
So you do not know the works of God who makes everything. —Ecclesiastes 11:5
nicate to them by hand signs. Then “they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple.” When his days of temple service ended, he returned to his home in the hill country of Judah. A curtain is pulled across the succeeding months. The Scriptures simply tell us that “after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived and she hid herself five months, saying, ‘Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.’” Elizabeth had suffered the reproach that accompanied barrenness (cf. Gen. 30:23; 1 Sam. 1:5-10); but the angel’s prophecy was fulfilled, and Elizabeth’s sadness was turned to joy.
a joyous visit The next reference we have to Elizabeth is the close association she had with Mary, the expectant mother of the Messiah. The angel addressed Mary, “Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month with her who is called barren. For with God nothing is impossible” (vv. 36-37). This news must have come as a shock to Mary, knowing Elizabeth’s advanced age. She herself, no doubt endeavoring to take in the implications of her own miraculous pregnancy, decided to travel south from the Galilee to Judea and visit Elizabeth. We are told that “when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leapt in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Thus, Elizabeth’s mind was taken from her own glad situation to an
even greater joy: she was looking into the face not only of another expectant mother, but also of “the mother of my Lord!” The promise of the long-expected Messiah would soon be fulfilled. It is no wonder that Elizabeth was totally overcome; and, raising her voice, she authenticated that the babe in Mary’s womb was “my Lord,” because the child’s behavior in her own womb had supernaturally confirmed this. Furthermore, she expressed surprise that Mary was visiting her and not the reverse! The visit lasted about three months. What a precious time for both of these privileged women that must have been.
a joyous purpose When Elizabeth’s time was fulfilled for the birth of her son, her neighbors and her relatives joined in the celebrations; and, eight days later, the requirements of the Law were enacted. Two things happened: the child was circumcised and given a name. The former was physical testimony to God’s covenant made with Abraham (Gen. 17:8-12). As for the name, tradition demanded that the firstborn, if a son, would take his father’s name. In this case, human protocol was set aside; and Elizabeth announced his name would be John. What a surprise! The gathered company remonstrated. There were no Johns in the family. They called upon Zacharias, still unable to speak, to comment on his wife’s pronouncement. To their amazement, he confirmed in writing, “His name is John.” Then “Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed and he spoke, praising God.”
We need now to note Zacharias’s first words. They were not about his angelic encounter in the temple months before, as incredible as that experience was. They were not even about his newborn son although, humanly speaking, that would have been perfectly natural. Rather, they were about redemption for his people and salvation for the house of David. He burst forth, “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel. For He has visited and redeemed his people…And to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham…that we might serve him in holiness and righteousness” (vv. 68-75). Zacharias used the past tense when speaking of this redemption since, prophetically, he saw it already accomplished. It was only after he concluded this hymn of thanksgiving and praise that he turned his attention to the infant. “And you child will be called the prophet of the highest…to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death. And to guide our feet into the way of peace” (vv. 76-79). What a remarkable conclusion to a lifetime of service and expectation! By God’s grace, this family was bound up with the Messiah; and, at every turn, whether by His miraculous intervention to end Elizabeth’s barrenness, or by His visiting presence, or by the role He gave them in His program, He brought joy to this home.
endnote 1 John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Luke 1-5 Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009.
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Out on a limb
THEHOUSEOF Zacchaeus by Mike Stoudt
he account of the Lord’s visit to Zacchaeus’s house, found in Luke 19, is a favorite of many a child of God, young and old. It has inspired songs, children’s books, gospel messages, and even an occasional magazine article. Contained in this story is a unique and consequential act of the Lord Jesus. But let’s start at the beginning.
The Lord’s journey The Lord was on a journey, and He had two specific stops. He was passing through Jericho, but this was not His final destination. He was actually on a journey to Jerusalem where He would fulfill the purpose for which He came to Earth. Earlier in Luke, we are told that “He set His face toward Jerusalem” (Lk. 9:51). Jerusalem, or rather the cross on Calvary, a hill outside Jerusalem, was the Lord’s ultimate destiny. Everything else along the way was merely part of the journey. But everything along the way was also consequential. Nothing happened by chance. Rather, every event was designed to teach those who were watching that Jesus was the promised Son of God. John ended his Gospel by reminding us that “these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may
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have life in His name” (Jn. 20:31). This story of Zacchaeus is no exception. It, too, is recorded so that we would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as the Saviour of sinners. But before Jerusalem, the Lord had another stop in mind. He planned to go to Zacchaeus’s house. It was not a spur of the moment decision even though, in this case, the host wasn’t aware of the role he would play. We understand that Zacchaeus is the supporting actor in this event. The Holy Spirit inserted into the account the word behold. In other words, “Readers, pay attention! Something special is about to happen.” Zacchaeus was an unlikely host. He was a rich man and tax collector. As a tax collector, he was an employee of the Roman government and, by default, not a very popular person in Jericho. His name actually means “pure” and you can only imagine how much abuse he took being the city tax collector with such a name. However, despite being disliked, he was an important man in town. Jericho was known for its prosperous balsam trade, and Zacchaeus would have played an important role in that trade. Everyone in town would have been acquainted with him. Everyone in town would have an opinion about the type of person he was.
Zacchaeus's journey When Zacchaeus is introduced to the readers, we find him striving to get a glimpse of Jesus! Praise God when people hear a little about the Son of God and want to know more. When the Spirit of God moves people to respond to the revelation of truth, great things happen—in fact, miraculous things happen! Zacchaeus is an excellent example. Zacchaeus went to great lengths to see the One whom he was seeking. He was too short to see Jesus Christ merely by standing on his own two feet. He searched, and found a sycamore tree. The fruit of the sycamore tree is normally fed to pigs—a thoroughly unclean animal. This meant that Zacchaeus had to abandon virtually all of his pride in order to see the Lord. He had to admit to the crowd (by his actions) that he was too short to see the Lord, and he had to climb a tree known for being unclean. In other words, Zacchaeus had to humble himself, reckon himself inadequate, and come to an end of himself. That is the first step necessary in order to truly see Jesus as the Son of God who came to save sinners. We must follow Zacchaeus’s example. We must abandon all concern over what others think;
God’s righteousness isn’t a cloak to cover unforsaken sin; it is a divine provision that transforms the character and controls the conduct.
we must abandon our concern over our own reputation, and must be willing to bear the shame to identify with Christ.
The Lord's invitation Notice the excitement and the commitment with which Zacchaeus pursues his desire to see Jesus. The Bible says that “ he ran on ahead” (Lk. 19:4). People run when they have a purpose, and Zacchaeus was determined to see the Lord Jesus. But Christ was even more determined to see Zacchaeus. The Lord Jesus “looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, hurry and come down.” Normally as one walks through the streets, he looks forward. However, Jesus looked up! He knew where Zacchaeus was, He knew who Zacchaeus was, and He knew what Zacchaeus needed. Jesus Christ may have been just passing through Jericho, but His journey had a purpose—to seek and to save the lost.
The Lord Jesus not only looked up for, and called to, Zacchaeus, but also invited Himself to Zacchaeus’s house. A careful study of Scripture will reveal that this is the only time when the Lord Jesus invited Himself to someone else’s house. Clearly this is something noteworthy! The only time that Jesus Christ invited Himself to someone else’s house involved a short, but determined, tax collector. In visiting Zacchaeus’s house, Jesus Christ declared, “Today, salvation has come to this house” (Lk. 19:9). When the Lord Jesus said that salvation had come to this house, He wasn’t talking about a doctrine or a sacrament; He was referring to Himself, for salvation is a person: the Son of God. What lessons can we learn from the Lord’s unprecedented invitation to Zacchaeus’s house? The crowd declared, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner” (v. 7). However the Lord didn’t care that the whole crowd grumbled that He was going to a tax collector’s home. He cared about only one thing: salvation for a sinner! The Lord uses this event to once again declare His purpose: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Lk. 19:10). The Lord’s actions reinforced His statement. He sought Zacchaeus and then saved him. The Lord continues to do the same today. He seeks sinners and saves them.
Next, look at the reality of the salvation offered by Jesus Christ. Zacchaeus received the Son of God with joy. His countenance changed, and so did his character. All his life, Zacchaeus had accumulated wealth. It is very likely that much of his wealth was accumulated dishonestly. However, after a visit from Jesus Christ, Zacchaeus declared his intention to give away half of his earthly goods to the poor and to restore fourfold that which he had gained dishonestly. Zacchaeus met the Savior, and the Savior changed the sinner. The crowd complained when Christ invited Himself to Zacchaeus’s house, but their grumblings soon changed to amazement. No one could argue that Zacchaeus was a new man. Isn’t that the expected result of a visit from the Lord Jesus? Shouldn’t the fact that He sought us and saved us result in an obvious change in our lives? Of course, the answer is yes! Yes, we should expect that a visit from the Master will result in a dramatically changed life. Yes, we should expect that when Jesus saves us, He changes us. In that sense, Zacchaeus is an accurate representative of many of us. Prior to the Lord’s saving us, we were living our lives for our own satisfaction and our own benefit. Jesus Christ invited Himself into your life when He took your place on the cross! Have you answered the invitation? If not, please follow Zacchaeus’s example. If Christ is a guest in your home, do you make Him feel welcome? There is no better houseguest than the Son of God who has come to seek and to save sinners.
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evidences a reasonable faith
Ghost Inscriptions and Whispering Arches
ithin Rome are found two structures that provide remarkable evidence for the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. To understand this, however, we have to go back to the turbulent 60’s—not the 1960’s, but the 60’s, first century style. In ad 64, Rome ruled much of the world, and much of that world was comprised of slaves. Emperor Nero was so malevolent that many at the time, and since, believe him to have been behind the burning of Rome. Civil wars began to spring up, and, by ad 66, Jewish Zealots were rebelling against the Roman occupation of Judea. Vespasian, the Roman governor of Syria, was dispatched to crush the Jewish rebellion. In a brutal war, Rome fought Judea and besieged Jerusalem. At the same time, Nero’s cruel treatment of his commanders resulted in his own soldiers turning on him, leading to his suicide. Vespasian was eventually recalled by Rome’s senate and crowned emperor. He left his son Titus in command of the forces arrayed against the Jews. Given the terrible state in which Nero had left Rome, Vespasian sought a The Coliseum IN ROME
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project that would improve morale and stabilize a shaky regime. The Coliseum was the result. As a grand political gesture, the amphitheater was built to pacify and entertain the populace. The chief form of entertainment was the gladiatorial games. Professional gladiators, condemned criminals, prisoners of war, and slaves fought one another, or animals, to the death. When completed, the elliptical venue stood 160 feet high and had four stories of windows, arches, and columns. Each of the exterior floors consisted of 80 arches. It could seat more than 55,000 spectators. In total, it encompassed an area the size of seven football fields. The structure required 100,000 cubic meters of marble and 300 tons of iron to hold it together. How did Rome manage to pay for the massive complex? By sacking Jerusalem. Once Titus stormed Jerusalem, his forces were ordered to confiscate any gold and treasure found within the city. It took four legions, but Jerusalem’s walls were finally breached in ad 70. Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian, records that 1.1 million Jews were slaughtered and another 97,000 were sold into slavery. Thus began the Great Diaspora. Even those Jews who weren’t forcibly expelled fled due to persecution. The Jewish revolt finally ended when Masada fell in ad 73. It took about ten years to complete the Coliseum. When finished, it was the largest such structure in the world. Titus,
Vespasian’s successor, opened the facility in ad 80. Its inauguration included 100 consecutive days of activities and the slaughter of as many as 9,000 animals. How do we know that it was loot from Jerusalem that paid for the Coliseum? This is where modern archaeology and recent research can be of assistance. Geza Alfody (1935–2011) taught at the University of Budapest and was an expert in ancient history. He had particular expertise in deciphering “ghost inscriptions”—sayings affixed to ancient buildings via pegs and bronze lettering instead of being carved into the stone. Alfody found such an inscription near one Coliseum entrance. While the bronze letters have long since been removed, the peg marks betray an earlier inscription.
Vespasian’s INSCRIPTION By arranging the peg holders, the inscription can be reconstructed:
Simply put, it was a dedication: I[mp(erator)] Caes(ar) Vespasi[anus Aug(ustus)] amphitheatru[m novum (?)] [ex] manubìs (vac.) [fieri iussit (?)].1
Basically, this commemorates the building of Vespasian’s amphitheater (the Coliseum) by Titus from the “spoils of war.” The only significant military engagement conducted by Titus was putting down the Judean revolt. Those spoils surely would have included the Hebrew temple treasures. Alfody concluded that this ghost-inscription linked the building of the Coliseum with Titus’s plunder from the Jewish War.2 Other scholars have since come to the same conclusion. Titus only reigned for two short years. In ad 81, his brother, Domitian, took his place. Domitian built the Arch of Titus to honor his brother and to commemorate Rome’s War against the Jewish people. The Arch of Titus
The reliefs found on this arch whisper a compelling story. One reveals in great detail the temple items that were ransacked, showing the great menorah or golden lampstand (Ex. 25:31-40), the table of showbread (Ex. 25:23-30), and the silver trumpets (Num. 10:2).3
What does all of this have to do with Bible prophecy? In one of the most remarkable prophecies of Scripture, the Lord Jesus Christ predicted that the temple would be destroyed. During His Olivet Discourse, the Lord prophesied the casting down of the stones of the great structure within one generation: “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down’” (Mt. 24:1f ). During their sieges, the Roman Army would often build up fires at the base of walled structures built on limestone, as is the case with much of the temple complex. A hot enough fire would cause the limestone to turn to dust and any structure on top would collapse. This is what happened in ad 70. Once the temple itself was set ablaze by the Romans, the goldleaf ornamentation found within the temple and specifically on its ceiling began to melt. The melting gold flowed down the walls and settled into the crevices between the stones. The Romans pried apart the stones to extract the gold. Ultimately, it was this gold that paid for the Coliseum. In their efforts, the Romans unwittingly fulfilled the Lord’s prophecy with exacting detail. You can visit Jerusalem today and see the very stones they cast off the Temple Mount. It’s also worth mentioning that Jesus’ prophecy and subsequent
fulfillment were not lost on historians of His day. Phlegon, a first-century historian, wrote a work called Chronicles a decade after Jerusalem’s destruction. Origen, an Egyptian scholar from the second century, refers to it in his work, Origen Against Celsus: “Now Phlegon, in the thirteenth or fourteenth book, I think, of his Chronicles, not only ascribed to Jesus a knowledge of future events…but also testified that the result corresponded to His predictions.”4 In context, this seems to be a direct reference to the Lord’s prediction regarding the Jewish temple’s destruction. If you ever have occasion to roam in Rome, stop and take a look at the ghost inscription and the whispering arch. Both provide remarkable testimony to fulfilled Bible prophecy! —Rob Sullivan
If you would like to learn more on this topic, please visit the Christian Evidences website at:
ENDNOTES 1 http://bit.ly/titus-colosseum-temple-treasure
2 http://bit.ly/alfody-ghost-inscription 3 http://bit.ly/rome-titus-relief-details 4 http://bit.ly/phlegon-origen-confirmations
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Seek Him early
Learning to love the Scriptures Practical advice after seventy years
of personal experience
BY COLIN ANDERSON
Yes, He loves the people; all His saints are in Your hand; they sit down at Your feet; everyone receives Your words. Deuteronomy 33:3
love for the Word of God is essential to a healthy Christian life. How can such a love be nurtured? I’d like to offer some practical advice after seventy years of personal experience. But first, it would be helpful if you took a few moments to read Psalm 119:97-104. If we are to cultivate a love for the Scriptures, it is essential that we learn to:
appreciate their value “Do you understand what you are reading?” That is the question an evangelist put to a man who was searching for the truth in the Scriptures as he rode home in his chariot (Acts 8:29). He learned much as a result because the Holy Spirit sent Philip to lead him to the Christ. But also contributing to his coming to understand and believe was his obvious respect for the rare scroll of Isaiah he held in his hands. In our day, we have all the other scrolls as well. The Scriptures are complete and
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available to us in a compact form. On the cover of most copies are the words The Holy Bible. We believe it, don’t we? As evangelicals, we are prepared to stand for the fact that we have the Word of God in our hands. But our ability to understand and benefit from what we might frequently read (I am hoping that is true of you) depends on more than an orthodox view of inspiration. The thoughts of the wealthy Ethiopian referred to above were not, at that moment, focused on the things he would face when he arrived back in his country, and the duties of his office and home would press in on him again. Nor was he distracted by having to watch the desert road, for he was riding in, not driving, the chariot! He chose to use this opportunity to search in his precious scroll for answers to his question(s). God met him at that point, a principle that holds true for you today. The Holy Spirit might or might not provide you with a human instructor, but either way, He is pledged to meet your need. This proverb applies: “them that seek me early [or earnestly] shall find me” (Prov. 8:17). I am drawing your attention to the importance of unrolling those sacred scrolls in an appropriate frame of mind. They deserve the deepest reverence and respect.
find the time In his day, King David had a priority and vowed he would not give sleep to his eyes until he had found a place for the Lord (Ps. 132:4-5). More than once, that principle has prompted me to use the earliest opportunity to get alone with God and His Word. If you work different shifts or are a mother on call to cater to a variety of needs at unexpected moments, the same time and place on a regular basis is not always a choice you can make. I was shifted frequently from one location and responsibility to another in the armed forces. That made it necessary for me to plan ahead. I discovered that it is always possible to find a way to fit in an activity that you value. If you are more alert after the children are in bed, set aside a time and place between supper and 10:30 p.m. If you are a morning person, you still have to make sure you get the number of hours of sleep your body requires before you begin. Whatever the case, plan ahead in order to make sure the Word of God is given the time it deserves. But perhaps you are a mature Christian and have already worked your way
Every kind of light shines from the sacred page: intellectual light, or illumination; moral light, or holiness; spiritual light, or glory; and creatorial light, or divine empowerment. through this. Assuming this to be the case, how is it that many of us still prejudice our “morning watch” by allowing ourselves to sit up too late?
control the competition Psalm 94:19 reads, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me Thy comforts delight my soul.” A great variety of ideas have to be processed by us every day. Often, they arrive at the door of our minds without invitation; and, if the door is ajar, they push it open and invite their relatives in as well. Thus, news of a friend’s illness might begin with concern; but then all sorts of possibilities are
learn to appreciate Psalm 119 and you’ll appreciate the whole bible!
entertained, and fretting and worrying settle in. We need to meet them all at the door and say, “I will attend to you later, but right now I am talking with Someone else.” Wonder of wonders! You open the door later to find that most of them have left! That principle was one that the early Christians employed to silence rising fears in Acts 4:23-30. Their prior knowledge of the Scriptures, and the spirit of worship with which they applied them to the rising storm, produced peace in their hearts, enabling them to discern the will of God and to pray with absolute confidence. Such conquests as this are not the reward of the casual reader.
Develop an appetite
according to Your word (v. 65). Before I was
has consumed me, because my enemies have
afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word
forgotten Your words (v. 139). Your word is very
Did you notice verse 103 in the recommended reading above? “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Does that reflect your experience and mine? Obviously, such a testimony will never be ours if we are in the habit of hurriedly snatching a portion of the Word as we gulp down our morning coffee and hurry off to work, or limit our “Bible reading” to a pre-digested devotional thought from someone else. Do you say, “It is better than nothing”? The danger, of course, is that we may be deceived into thinking— guaranteed.
(v. 67). Those who fear You will be glad when
pure; therefore Your servant loves it (v. 140). I
How can a young man cleanse his way? By
they see me, because I have hoped in Your word
rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry
taking heed according to Your word (v. 9). Your
(v. 74). Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be
for help; I hope in Your word (v. 147). My eyes
word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not
for my comfort, according to Your word to Your
are awake through the night watches, that I may
sin against You! (v. 11). I will delight myself in
servant (v. 76). My soul faints for Your salvation,
meditate on Your word (v. 148). Plead my cause
Your statutes; I will not forget Your word (v. 16).
but I hope in Your word (v. 81). My eyes fail from
and redeem me; revive me according to Your
Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live
searching Your word, saying, “When will You
word (v. 154). I see the treacherous, and am
and keep Your word (v. 17). My soul clings to the
comfort me?” (v. 82). Forever, O Lord, Your word
disgusted, because they do not keep Your word
dust; revive me according to Your word (v. 25).
is settled in heaven (v. 89). I have restrained my
(v. 158). The entirety of Your word is truth, and
My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me
feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your
every one of Your righteous judgments endures
according to Your word (v. 28). Establish Your
word (v. 101). How sweet are Your words to my
forever (v. 160). Princes persecute me without a
word to Your servant, who is devoted to fearing
taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (v. 103).
cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your word
You (v. 38). Let Your mercies come also to me,
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my
(v. 161). I rejoice at Your word as one who finds
O Lord—Your salvation according to Your word
path (v. 105). I am afflicted very much; revive
great treasure (v. 162). Let my cry come before
(v. 41). So shall I have an answer for him who
me, O Lord, according to Your word (v. 107). You
You, O Lord; give me understanding according
reproaches me, for I trust in Your word (v. 42).
are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your
to Your word (v. 169). Let my supplication come
This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word
word (v. 114). Uphold me according to Your word,
before You; deliver me according to Your word (v.
has given me life (v. 50). You are my portion, O
that I may live; and do not let me be ashamed
170). My tongue shall speak of Your word, for all
Lord; I have said that I would keep Your words (v.
of my hope (v. 116). The entrance of Your words
Your commandments are righteousness (v. 172).
57). I entreated Your favor with my whole heart;
gives light; it gives understanding to the simple
be merciful to me according to Your word (v. 58).
(v. 130). Direct my steps by Your word, and let no
You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord,
iniquity have dominion over me (v. 133). My zeal
UPLOOK | MAY APR 2012 29
tech talk with spiritual goals
Effective Church Communication
n colonial times, correspondents depended on friends, merchants, and Native Americans to carry messages between the colonies. These messages were transported by foot, horse, and ship. It was a long, tough road that had no guarantee of success. Along the way, any number of things could cut off the communication. Loved ones waited days, weeks, and months for any reply. On July 26, 1775, members of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia established what would become the United States Postal Service. From this point on, the progress of communication grew rapidly. In 1854, Charles Bourseul published a description of a make-break telephone transmitter and receiver in L’Illustration in Paris but at the time did not build a working instrument. In 1860, Johann Philipp Reis of Germany demonstrated a make-break transmitter (after the design of Bourseul) and a knitting needle receiver. Witnesses said they heard human voices being transmitted. On that famous day of August 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell successfully made the first long distance phone call (about six miles). We have been using phones ever since. Today, we have dozens of ways to communicate. The telephone call, while still a powerful means of communication, is decreasing in popularity as other technologies replace it. In fact, email replaced the telephone as the world’s most used form of communication many years ago. Since then, other forms of communication are
30 UPLOOK | MAY
gaining ground such as texting, Skype (and various forms of instant messaging), Facebook, Twitter, and a host of others. The question is often asked, “What type of communication should I use and be involved with?” The answer is to have more than one or two ways of communicating with others. This is especially true of elders, youth leaders, and program organizers. To be effective, those in leadership positions must be flexible and understand what the saints are using. In most situations, it is no longer practical to only use the phone to reach out to the body of saints.
I understand that this can be hard for many older saints who have not been brought up with new technology. It can be overwhelming, to say the least; however, an effective shepherd and leader should make an effort to understand the current changes in communication and see the value that they can have. New technologies are allowing a greater reach for service, more prayer, and a connection with the whole church around the world. —Crawford Paul firstname.lastname@example.org
Four popular methods of communication, with some ways to put them to good use: Pros
direct and personal; conveys emotions and tone more accurately
time consuming for even basic info; only one person at a time
extending a special thought of encouragement; private conversations
fast; multiple people in discussion; greater scope of info can be shared (images, files, links)
can be impersonal; easier to misunderstand emotions or tone
planning; information; sharing ideas; notes of encouragement
very fast; instant communication
not ideal for long discussions; impersonal
when you need to know something quickly that only requires a short answer
Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
often perceived as personal and social; far-reaching influence
usually public; not everyone uses them
encouraging social friends; creating invitations for events; announce items for prayer
mega-truth God’s BIG ideas
His home my heart
o often the Lord Jesus presented the most remarkable truths in the plainest of language, and inattentive hearers are apt to naively consider them ordinary or unimportant. A prime example is His description of the new intimacy made possible through His Calvary triumph and the Spirit’s Pentecost arrival. In His Upper Room ministry He said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (Jn. 14:23). True love for Christ is based on trust, and will evidence itself in taking what He says seriously. The Father, delighting in our delight in His Son, will then open to us ever-increasing intimacy with Himself. And then? What follows is almost more than the mind can grasp, more than the heart can bear. “We will come to him and make Our home with him.” Did I read that correctly? Is this a real and definite possibility to have my heart as the home of these divine Persons? It is, of course, the Blessed Hope that we shall be forever where He is (Jn. 14:3), once we have been completely renovated by the transformative vision of His glory and “we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 Jn. 3:2). It is in “this hope” that we are to be saved from despair and distraction, “eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in
this hope” (Rom. 8:23-24). We are also secured by this hope because “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil” (Rom. 8:24). And since this is true, we are also sanctified by this hope, for “everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 Jn. 3:3). Peter delights to tell us that this “living hope” means that we are being kept for our inheritance and it is being kept for us: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:3-5). Thus the twin tracks of God’s purposes for His people have their co-terminus at The Moment we see our Beloved at last. One track declares that our Intercessor in the heavens (Rom. 8:34) has gone Himself to prepare a place for us. The other answers that our Intercessor in the heart (Rom. 8:26) works within us, preparing us for that perfect place. But now, here, in my under-construction condition, He and His Father are offering to move in until the project is complete.
No need for imagination to find words to describe my present state. Here are some samples: “the sufferings of this present time…subjected to futility…the bondage of corruption…we ourselves groan within ourselves…the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses” (vv. 18-26). But then this building material was of God's own choosing: “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence…that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord’” (1 Cor 1:26-29, 31). Why, I feel like doing that right now! Who can keep from boasting in such a Lord as this? With His regal palace just beyond the horizon, He and His Scion-Prince have come into the rude and humble dwellings of these willing subjects. The battle still rages outside, but inside a table is prepared where we sup together. This is no momentary photo-op, for the Lord Himself said it: “We will come to him and make Our home with him.” Who would miss this opportunity? —Jabe Nicholson
UPLOOK | MAY 2012 31
If the outlook is dark, try the uplook.
A Christian Home by Barbara B. Hart O give us homes built firm upon the Savior, Where Christ is Head and Counsellor and Guide; Where ev’ry child is taught His love and favor And gives his heart to Christ, the crucified: How sweet to know that tho’ his footsteps waver His faithful Lord is walking by his side! O give us homes with godly fathers, mothers, Who always place their hope and trust in Him; Whose tender patience turmoil never bothers, Whose calm and courage trouble cannot dim; A home where each finds joy in serving others, And love still shines, tho’ days be dark and grim. O give us homes where Christ is Lord and Master, The Bible read, the precious hymns still sung; Where prayer comes first in peace or in disaster, And praise is natural speech to ev’ry tongue; Where mountains move before a faith that’s vaster, And Christ sufficient is for old and young. O Lord, our God, our homes are Thine forever! We trust to Thee their problems, toil, and care; Their bonds of love no enemy can sever If Thou art always Lord and Master there: Be Thou the center of our least endeavor— Be Thou our Guest, our hearts and homes to share.