on Messiah the son of David

“Later, as Jesus was teaching the people in the Temple, he asked, “Why do the teachers of religious law claim that the Messiah is the son of David? For David himself, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said, ‘The LORD said to my Lord, sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.’ Since David himself called the Messiah ‘my Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?” The large crowd listened to him with great delight.

Jesus also taught: “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished.” -Mark 12:35-40, NLT

Why should the Messiah be the Son of David? On the surface of it this seems like a very uniquely Jewish question, more or less unrelatable to many Christians. And in many ways it is a uniquely Jewish yearning, but it does have more to do with us as Christians than might seem. Continue reading “on Messiah the son of David”

on doing what must be done

‘The same thing happened in Iconium. Paul and Barnabas went to the Jewish synagogue and preached with such power that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. Some of the Jews, however, spurned God’s message and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles [non-Jews] against Paul and Barnabas. But the apostles stayed there a long time, preaching boldly about the grace of the Lord. And the Lord proved their message was true by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders. But the people of the town were divided in their opinion about them. Some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. Then a mob of Gentiles and Jews, along with their leaders, decided to attack and stone them. When the apostles learned of it, they fled to the region of Lycaonia — to the towns of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding area. And there they preached the Good News.’ – Acts 14:1-7

The first time I studied this passage, my conclusion was that Paul had a really hard time, but he had a lot of faith, look what he accomplished. Be like Paul, have faith.

But honestly I think that’s the wrong way to look at this passage. A better approach might be to think: what’s the story that’s going on here? Continue reading “on doing what must be done”

on Lieutenant Dan

I share a name with Lieutenant Dan, a character from the film Forrest Gump. My mother has always teased me that we share a few more things than that: a soldier’s spirit, a love of glory, and a dangerous stubbornness. Lieutenant Dan is a soldier from a long line of soldiers. It makes him do his job well, but as events in the film unfold, you see that it haunts and crushes him. Now I’ve always thought that one of the best qualities of Forrest Gump is the way you see something new each time you watch; when I was younger I never quite saw anything of myself in Lieutenant Dan; he was a tragic but comical man who ain’t got no legs, but in the end makes his peace with God and moves on.

But watching the film again recently, I was haunted too by something he said after confronting Forrest Gump about his new disability: “What am I gonna do now?” Continue reading “on Lieutenant Dan”

on grace

The story of Mephibosheth recently came up in a morning talk. King David was given supernatural grace to love his rival, the speaker pointed out, and this is something we should pray for too.

Now when I heard this I flew into a self-righteous rage (more on this later) over the seemingly man-centric conclusion, because I reckoned there’s a better way to look at it: we are Mephibosheth, standing before the King. By all rights we are dead men, not (it seems to us) by any virtue of what we’ve done, but simply because of who we are, the blood that runs in our veins. But someone before us has earned the King’s favour on or behalf, and because the King honours promises, he not only calls us friend, but brings us into his family, gives us a home, a future, and his own riches (2 Sam 9:6-7). Continue reading “on grace”

on the Passover

The anger passed over us.

For all these years we’d held the Passover festival. What was it for?, we’d ask. The Lord had taught us long before, that his anger had come on to sin-soaked Egypt. The only way his people there had escaped the anger was to smear the blood of lambs onto their doorposts – the only way the anger would pass over them. Because though the anger kills, it could be satisfied by innocent blood. Continue reading “on the Passover”

on being nice

Recently I watched a Chinese soap opera portraying a spoiled little imperial prince. He treated all the servants like dirt and had no respect for his elders’ authority. I was thinking how different he is from kids in our era, who are expected to be nice and multicultural and polite. But then I thought it must’ve been because these princes were raised for a specific purpose: their education consisted in how to rule the kingdom and stay alive. Their education had nothing to do with getting along with other people. They literally had no reason to be nice.

Which made me think back to my niceness vs kindness debate, which I’ve briefly touched on before. Why are we nice? Is niceness for its own sake worth it? Often we are nice because, let’s face it, you won’t get far in life if everyone hates you. Continue reading “on being nice”

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