Peek-A-Boo

I read a comment by an atheist (let’s pretend his name is Bob) who said if there really was a God, why
doesn’t He reveal Himself to us clearly instead of playing “peek-a-boo” with us?

I thought to myself, “My goodness, Bob, what do you need?”

Would parting a sea in two be enough? (Exodus 14: 21-31)

Drowning an entire army in that same sea when they attempted to exterminate God’s chosen people?
(Exodus 14: 21-31)

How about leading tens of thousands of people through the desert for 40 years with a pillar of cloud by
day and a pillar of fire by night? (Exodus 13:21)

Oh wait, how about enough plagues that even the most skeptical unbeliever frees every slave in the
nation even though it would be economic suicide? (Exodus 7:20-12:30)

Bread falling from the sky every day? (Exodus 16: 14-35)

Here’s one of my personal favorites, Bob: How about fire coming down from heaven and burning up an
entire bull, a ditch full of water, and a big pile of stones? (I Kings 18: 18-39)

An entire army of God filling up the night sky to announce the birth of one baby? (Luke 2: 13-14)
Turning water into wine? (John 2: 1-11) Calming a storm with three words? (Mark 4:37) Bringing sight
to someone born blind? (John 9: 1-7) Walking through a crowd intent on killing you without a scratch?
(Luke 4:28-30) Walking on water? (John 6:15) Healing the lame? (John 5: 2-9) Raising the dead? (John
11:38-40) Raising yourself from the dead? (Luke 24: 1-7)

Now, I’m sure Bob would say all of that is from the Bible, so it’s just a myth and it’s just not true, so it
doesn’t prove anything.

I am of the opinion that Bob wouldn’t believe those miracles happened even if he had personally
witnessed them at the time they happened.

That’s not my point in citing those miracles anyway. Many people believe those miracles actually
happened. I am among them. But, it wasn’t reading about those miracles in the Bible that caused me to
believe in God. Belief came through the parts of the Bible that rang true about who I am and who God
is. I am a sinner, but God loves me anyway and sent Jesus to die for me and take away those sins. I can
never be perfect but God loves me anyway and one day, He will make me perfect.

The Bible clearly says that if people do not believe the Bible, they will not believe in God even if
someone comes back from the dead and tells them God exists! (Luke 16:31)

In other words, no miracle in the world can take the place of knowing in your heart that the hole in our
souls every one of us has– that empty, longing place that we try and fill with possessions or drugs or

alcohol or whatever we think will help at the moment—that hole can only be filled with God. To know
for certain that we were built and designed to be children of God and citizens of heaven does bring
peace beyond all understanding—and the surety of faith.

Besides, if God Himself stood in front of Bob with lightning and thunderbolts and fire and brimstone
shouting, “HEY BOB! I AM GOD! YOU BETTER BELIEVE IN ME!” wouldn’t Bob rightly object that God is
being a tyrant and dictator giving Bob no free choice in the matter?

God knows that if you want someone to believe you love them, you do not yell it at them—you whisper
it to them.

While the atheist insists that nothing exists without empirical evidence, God knows that you cannot
force anyone to love you. And I believe God is quite confident in His own existence without any
affirmation from Bob. It’s not that God wants Bob to be intellectually aware of His existence– it’s that
God wants a relationship with Bob.

I think that’s what makes Bob most uncomfortable.

Today’s Praise

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the
power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

(1 Corinthians 1:18-19 ESV)

Evil

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21 ESV)

As I write this, only a few days have passed since Adam Lanza killed 26 people in
Connecticut.

One thing needs to be made very clear:

This was NOT the work of God.

The motives for this young man’s actions are not known at this time, but consider this
from “The Psychology of Terrorism,” by Clark McCauley, Professor of Psychology, Bryn

Mawr College

“Terrorism inflicts immediate damage in destroying lives and material, but terrorists hope
that the long-term costs will be much greater. They want to create fear and uncertainty
far beyond the victims and those close to them. They want the enemy to spend time and
money on security. In effect the terrorists aim to lay an enormous tax on every aspect of the
enemy’s society, a tax that transfers resources from productive purposes to anti-productive
security measures.” (Emphasis added.)

I am not saying that Lanza’s motives were a well-thought out strategy as described in the
paragraph above. At this point, we don’t know that.

I am saying those are the motives of our larger adversary.

Jesus told us the devil seeks to kill and steal and destroy.

Actions like Lanza’s do all of those things. We see those 20 innocent lives senselessly
snuffed out and we want to give up. The situation appears hopeless. We are afraid. We
want increased security measures. Our peace and our joy are stolen from us. We want to
give up and crawl into safe little cocoons where nothing can harm us.

And once inside those cocoons, our enemy knows our witness for the love of Jesus Christ
and the power of the cross will be destroyed.

But God has given us a battle plan—and it is so God-like in that it is the complete opposite
of everything we would do if left to our own devices. Instead of seeking revenge and
lashing out in anger and fear and resentment we are told to love.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with
punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first
loved us. (1 John 4:18-19 ESV)

Much has been said about what could have prevented this, but I am absolutely certain of
this–If Adam Lanza had truly known the love of Jesus Christ in his heart and in his soul, he
could have never done this.

So, don’t we need to speak that truth in love, without fear or holding back, to as many
people as possible until the love of Jesus Christ fills our land from sea to sea?

Today’s Praise

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is
greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4 ESV)

Whole

Luke 2:13, 14
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God,
and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

I’m sure you recognize the above verses as what the angels said to announce the birth
of Christ. One night, while studying these verses, I had a “lightning bolt” moment.

The Greek word in the original text translated “host,” is “stratias” which means “army.”

The Greek word in the original text translated “peace” is “eirḗnē.” This word, according
to Strong’s Concordance, is derived from eirō, which means “to join, tie together into a
whole properly, wholeness–when all essential parts are joined together.

So, it wasn’t just a lot of angels, and they weren’t little girls with wings in flowing white
dresses—it was an army of angels announcing that Christ had been born to make us
whole—to join us together with God as He intended from the beginning! The Word was
made flesh and had come to dwell among us—Immanuel, God with us, had finally come
to complete us!

But, what does that mean? What does it mean to be made whole?

The Bible is very clear on who we are in Christ:

We are adopted into His family as children (Ephesians 1:5) with God Himself as our
Father (Matthew 6:9) and given full rights as heirs to His kingdom (James 2:5). We were
dead but have not just been made alive– we have been made alive and seated with the
King of kings and Lord of lords in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 2:5&6) We are not
servants of the Lamb of God—we are His friends. (John 15:15) We are joined to the
Lord, having become one spirit with Him. (1 Cor. 6:17) We are citizens, not of this earth,
but of heaven. (Phil. 3:20) We have been set free by the Spirit of life forever from sin,
death, and condemnation. (Romans 8: 1,2) We are no longer strangers and aliens but
are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the very household of God, having
direct access to the Father through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18-19) We are anointed in
Christ, marked with the seal of God Himself, and given His own Spirit in our hearts as a
guarantee. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22) And, we are so dearly loved by our Father that we
can be assured that nothing, absolutely nothing, can ever separate us from the love of
God that is in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8:35-39)

And that, my dear brothers and sister in Christ, is only about half the list of what it
means to be whole in Christ. There’s an excellent list at www.joniandfriends.org

May you enjoy a blessed, whole Christmas in Christ our Lord and Savior!

Today’s Praise

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,
according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ
Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)

Anointing Oil





Sometimes, when you’re poking around in the Bible, you find some pretty interesting stuff. Sometimes, it’s downright amazing.
The Bible mentions anointing with oil over 50 times. And, as with everything in the Bible, the use is consistent. Anointing with oil marks someone or something as consecrated or “set apart” for God. To me, it’s synonymous with a lavish outpouring of love which marks someone or something as God’s own.  Olive oil is not a cheap oil now, nor was it in Biblical times. It takes over 40 pounds of olives to make a gallon of olive oil. (Anointing oil is always olive oil.)
God even went so far as to give Moses a recipe for a special anointing oil for the temple:
The LORD said to Moses, “Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane, and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil. With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the basin and its stand. You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy. Whatever touches them will become holy. You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. And you shall say to the people of Israel, ‘This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. (Exodus 30:22-32 ESV)
In Psalm 23:5 we read:
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

So, when confronted with enemies all around and even walking through the valley of the shadow of death, our God, the creator of the entire universe, marks us as His own with a lavish outpouring of love.
Then, there’s the verse in James 5:14:
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
Now, to be clear, the oil in the verse is not a magic potion that heals disease. It’s the mark of a lavish outpouring of God’s love and protection. Just as the anointing oil in the Exodus verse marked the temple as holy and set apart for God, so too is the oil in the verse in James. Scripture tells us our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit, so the anointing with oil in James anoints a temple in the same way the oil in Exodus does. It means we belong to God.
We also know the word “Christ” means “The Anointed One.” Anointing was done to mark priests and kings.  God was very clear in the Exodus verse that the oil was only to be used for the temple and its priests. Christ is our High Priest and King of Kings.
Now, the part that got really interesting to me was when I became curious as to what this oil would smell like.
Obviously, we all know what cinnamon smells like, so it’s not hard to imagine that. Cassia also smells like cinnamon. In fact, what you have in your cupboard is probably not true cinnamon–it’s probably cassia. The two are so close in flavor and aroma that the FDA allows cassia to be labeled as cinnamon in this country.
Sweet-smelling cane—hmmm—must smell sweet. And as for myrrh, I found it’s made from the resin of a thorny shrub and it smells a lot like a balsam tree.
So, what would the smell of cinnamon, sugar, and evergreen make youthink of? 
I was astonished to realize that the special, holy, anointing oil God described to Moses over 3500 years ago would probably smell a lot like CHRISTMAS!
That’s right—Christmas, the day we celebrate the birth of The Anointed One!
Given that evergreens weren’t even used in Christmas celebrations until about 1400 years after Jesus died on the cross and rose again, isn’t it amazing that the recipe in Exodus would smell like Christmas in our time? Do you think its coincidence or is it God smiling at us in a lavish outpouring of love across three and a half millennium?
Today’s Praise
            But of the Son he says,
            “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
                        the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
            You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
            therefore God, your God, has anointed you
                        with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”
(Hebrews 1:8-9 ESV)

Putting Christ back in Christmas

If I could have been present at any event in human history, there’s a lot to choose from: the creation of
the universe, the parting of the Red Sea, fire coming down from heaven and burning up the sacrifice and
the altar Elijah had set up, Jesus calming the sea, His ride into Jerusalem when He told the Pharisees if
His disciples were silent the very stones would cry out, the resurrection of Lazarus, the discovery of the
empty tomb, The angel saying, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?,” the day when Thomas
stuck his hand in Jesus’ side, Jesus’ ascension into heaven, Pentecost… the list goes on and on.

There are many glorious and wonderful moments in the Bible, but the one I would choose, if I could,
would be to be with the shepherds when the angels appeared to them:

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they
were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news
of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths
and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he
is pleased!
” (Luke 2:8-14 ESV)

To see the entire sky filled with angels praising God would be beyond amazing. The fulfillment of
thousands of years of prophecy being announced and the thrill of knowing the Messiah had finally come
would be the most awe-inspiring thing I can think of.

But, as I look at what goes on in our culture, I see this moment slowly fading away from what Christmas
is in America. More and more, Christmas is becoming the holiday of snowmen, reindeer, and Santa.
That’s ironic because the word “holiday” means “Holy Day.”

Sorry, but Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is not holy. (Note: I do not hate Rudolph. He’s cute, he’s
cuddly, but he is not holy.)

Many of you will remember “A Charlie Brown Christmas” which first aired in 1965. In it, Charlie Brown is
dismayed by the increasing commercialization of Christmas. In one of the greatest moments in television
history, Linus quotes that exact Bible verse above to explain to Charlie Brown the true meaning of
Christmas.

The funny thing is, the people who created “A Charlie Brown Christmas” weren’t sure it was a good
idea to include that verse. When doubts arose about the wisdom of doing so, it was “Peanuts” creator
Charles Schulz himself who said, “If we don’t do it, who will?”

As we see Christmas slowly being eroded away, maybe one way to bring a little more Christ back into
Christmas is to commit that verse to memory, keep it close to our hearts as we shop and decorate and
share time with our families, and always be ready to speak it with joy whenever the Holy Spirit presents
an opportunity to do so.

If we don’t do it, who will?

How about it, fellow Christians? Is this a good idea? Or, can you think of other good ways to slowly but
surely put Christ back into Christmas?

Today’s Praise

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had
been told them
. (Luke 2:20 ESV)

The Unseen

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all
comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the
things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18
ESV)

If you were to turn on your television right now and pay attention to the commercials, you would find
that almost all of them concern themselves with things that you can see: You need this car, or that hair
color, or this hamburger. In fact, you don’t just need those things, you deserve those things.

The world is concerned with what we can reach out and touch, what has substance and weight, what we
can hold in our hand, possess, and call our own.

But the kingdom of God is concerned with exactly the opposite—things like faith and love, compassion
and mercy, righteousness, self-denial, self-control , peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, and humility. (Of all things!)

When was the last time you saw a television commercial attempting to sell you something that will help
you with your humility?

The Bible even goes so far as to say it’s not at all about what we get, it’s about what we give away! (Acts
20:35) More blessed to give than to receive? What?

This God thing is completely backward!

But what about Jeremiah 29: 11?

“ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.”

Or Psalm 37:4?

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

What if the plans God has for us are a hope and a future and prosperity for our souls? What if we find
that when we really and truly delight in all that is the LORD, we find that the desires of our heart are
what HE desires for our heart?

As I listened to people give their testimony during Share-A-Thon, I was struck by the irony that those
weightless, invisible, intangible radio waves sent out from Kinship Christian Radio stations had the
power to lift weary hearts, bring joy and peace, heal relationships, conquer addictions, move mountains
of unbelief and despair, motivate prayers of healing and salvation, and change lives forever through the
power of Jesus Christ.

Do you have a story of how something you heard on Kinship Christian Radio changed your life,
ministered to you, or had an eternal impact?

Today’s Praise

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants
would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from
the world.” (John 18:36 ESV)

Way

Those of you who have read the last two blogs may have noticed a pattern.

The first one was about “finding” and the second one was about “His.”

So, naturally (and in keeping with the theme of Share-a-Thon of “Finding. His. Way.”) this post is about
the “Way.”

And, also naturally, the first Bible verse to come into one’s head on that topic would be:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except
through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

So, Jesus is the Way! Praise the Lord!

The word “way” occurs over 500 times in the ESV and 49 times in Psalms alone. While reading through
the verses which contain that word in Psalms, I noticed something:

This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take
refuge in him. (Psalm 18:30)

Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. (Psalm
25:12)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
(Psalm 32:8)

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. (Psalm 37:5)

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; (Psalm 37:23)

Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when
the wicked are cut off. (Psalm 37:34)

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will
show the salvation of God!” (Psalm 50:23)

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. (Psalm
86:11)

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way
that is blameless shall minister to me. (Psalm 101:6)

In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. (Psalm 119:14)

Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name. (Psalm 119:132)

I see a common thread in those verses in that every one of them contains a beautiful promise:

If we commit our way to the Lord, He gives us: a shield in Him, instruction for life, counseling with His
eye upon us, the assurance that He will act in our behalf, guidance in the path of life, delight, exaltation
in the inheritance of the land and protection from wickedness, salvation from God Himself, His truth, a
heart united with God, the promise to dwell with Him and minister to Him, yet more delight, and grace
and love!

Those are some wonderful promises !

Great is our God indeed!

Today’s Praise

As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of
his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had
seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in
the highest!” (Luke 19:37-38 ESV)

His

One of the first words a child learns to say is always, “Mine.”

“Mine, mine, mine!”

Indeed, we seem re-programmed for this concept of ownership. We want and we grab and we
declare, “Mine!” –and the word is always followed by an exclamation point.

But, really, what is “mine” and what is God’s?

The Bible is very clear on the point:

“The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners

with me. (Leviticus 25:23 ESV)

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured
possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; (Exodus 19:5 ESV)

Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine. (Job
41:11 ESV)

So, there is no material possession on this earth which is truly ours. It all belongs to God. Yes, God does
give us things over which we have charge, but we are the keepers of the lighthouse, not the owners.

There are some things which can be mine:

My opinion.

My anger.

My sin.

My love.

My faith.

But nothing we can truly call “mine” is anything we can grasp with our hands.

It has been said that when a person is on their death bed, they never ask that their possessions be
brought to them. They ask for those they love— for their relationships.

It’s also been said, (less poetically, to be sure) that the hearse carrying your casket won’t have a trailer
hitch on it.

In the end, even we are His.

Yes, we belong to God.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you
may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter
2:9 ESV)

I can think of nothing better than being His. For the God of all the universe created me, redeemed me,
sanctified me, and calls me as His own.

And there is no greater peace.

How about you? Do you take comfort in God’s possession of you? Or, is there fear in that thought?
Could you describe what it means to belong to God to someone who wasn’t saved?

Today’s Praise

(Psalm 98:7-8 ESV)

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;

the world and those who dwell in it!

Let the rivers clap their hands;

let the hills sing for joy together

Finding your way in the maze of life

In my early years,it was not uncommon to hear someone say they needed to go out and “find them self.”  This usually involved a journey far from home and a variety of experiences, many of which could possibly qualify one for jail time.
We can still find a variety of websites that help you “find yourself,” many of which include five steps or eleven steps or immersing oneself in ancient mythology or advice from Deepak Chopra on Oprah’s website.
It seems some people still feel they have lost themselves.
Now, I “lose” my coffee cup or my glasses or the wrench I just had in my hand all the time and every time I relocate that lost item, I find it in exactly the same place:
Right where I left it.
As much as I’d like to blame someone else or an uncaring, unfeeling “universe” that I put something somewhere and I forgot where I put it, it’s all me.
I would submit that those who would seek to “find themselves” would find what they are looking for right where they left themselves:
In the hand of God.
We are here not to serve ourselves, but to love God and to love others.  Our identity, our fulfillment, our joy, and our peace are not in serving ourselves.  For it is by faith in Jesus Christ that we are not only counted as sons and daughters of God, but heirs to His glorious kingdom.
So, anyone who truly believes in Jesus Christ is not a lost, wandering soul without purpose and direction in life, but a beloved son or daughter guaranteed the inheritance of the greatest King of all—the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
As Paul writes to the faithful believers in Ephesus:
(Ephesians 1:16-21 ESV)
                I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
As for me, the “immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” isn’t something I need to look up on Oprah’s website.
God is not hard to find and His promise is simple:
                You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.–(Jeremiah 29:13 ESV)
Are you seeking God? Do you know someone who is? Have you ever helped someone find God?
Today’s Praise
                Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.–(Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV)

The Good Samaritan

Luke 10:
 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalemto Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.  He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most-commonly taught parables of the Bible. It’s also one of the shortest and, seemingly, one the most simple.
But, like all things in the Bible, there are deeper layers of meaning and symbolism. More than one theologian has noted the following could be true in the story:
Jerusalemis the Holy City, symbolizing man’s nature before the fall.
Jerichois the fallen city.
The robbers represent the devil, whom the Bible calls “a thief,” among other things.
The Priest and the Levite symbolize the Law and its sacrifices.
Samaritans were despised and rejected, as was Jesus.
The oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit.
The wine symbolizes the blood of Christ.
The inn is the church and the innkeeper is those who work in the church.
The Samaritan promises to return and repay the innkeeper, just as Jesus promises to return and repay all according to their works.
Some theologians (John Calvin among them) disagree with such an interpretation, but the point of the parable is always that our neighbor is anyone in need and that we, as Christians, are called to have compassion on them and help them.
Most of us surely would stop to help someone bleeding and half-dead if we saw them, but there are so many people right here among us who are beaten and lying by the side of the road on the inside.
They may not look like it, and some may not even think they are, but the pain and the wounds are still there—and the wounds become infected and grow worse with each passing day if nothing is done.
It may be hard to see, but it is visible. It comes out in harsh words, or negative attitude, or criticism of others, or drug abuse, or addiction, or a thousand other ways that look like whoever you are talking to is just a rotten person, but deep inside they are in incredible pain and what they are doing is what they thinkthey need to make the hurt go away.
Jesus can heal that pain.
As believers, we can anoint the hurting with the oil of gladness given by the Holy Spirit. We can tell the wounded and half-dead that the blood of Jesus washes away the pain of sin. And they can be healed!
To do that, we need to listen to the wounded. We need to walk over to their side of the road and hear their stories. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to fill us with compassion for all they have lost and all their pain.
And, once we have begun to heal their wounds, we need to put them on our own animals and bring them into the church where they can complete their healing.
Do you know someone, Christian or not, who needs their wounds washed and bandaged? Could you share a story of how the Holy Spirit saved someone who was hurting and beaten up by life?
Today’s Praise
Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.