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Our Need for Justification by Faith

Why do we need to be justified by faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8)? “It is as though God had committed to our trust a perfect crystal vase, and had said, ‘if you keep that whole, and present it to me, you shall have a reward.’ But we have cracked it, chipped it; ah! my brethren, the most of us have broken it and smashed it to pieces.”[1] This is why Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

All the blessings of the Christian life are received by faith. Look at the way the Bible described how faith shapes the believer in Galatians 3:24-29. The promise of justification by faith in verse 24. The power of faith in verse 26— “for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus.” The moment God accepts the faithful in verse 27— “For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.” The subsequent restored fellowship through faith in verse 28— “you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Finally, the result of faith in verse 29—”And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.”
The faith that saves is never alone. Faith is the blessed union of belief in and submission to God (James 2:24, 26). If either belief or submission are absent, then faith is not present. “Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?….You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was made complete” (James 2:20-22 CSB). Are you justified?

[1] C. H. Spurgeon, “Justification by Faith,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 60 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1914), 64.

God Wants to Be Immanuel

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Apparently, God spent so much time in the Garden paradise that Adam recognized the sound of God as he walked in the Garden (Genesis 3:8). Sin broke that privilege of that precious closeness (Gen. 3:22-24). God did not abandon us to condemnation. God chose to save us by restoring the broken relationship.

God looked forward to the coming restoration as he promised Abram to bless all nations through his descendant (Genesis 12:3). Through Isaiah, God promised the birth of the Son whose name would be “Immanuel” which means “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14). Ultimately, that promise was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:22-23). Jesus was fully divine, (perfectly equal with the Father and Spirit–John 1:1). Jesus added humanity to his divine person so that he could dwell among us, be righteous for us, and be sacrificed for us (John 1:14; Hebrews 10:4-10). As Jesus walked on the earth, he was God with us. He was Immanuel.

Just as God sent Jesus to the world, Jesus has sent us into the world to spread the good news that we can be together with God again. Therefore, we are “waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter. 3:12-13).

Then Jesus’ promise will be fulfilled. His mission will be completed so that where he is, there we may be also (John 14:3). Then Jesus will be Immanuel in the fullest possible way. We will be with him and he will be with us. Everything that sin has lost, Jesus will have regained and glorified. How great it will be to be at home with the Lord. “Come, Lord Jesus.”

Meeting a Stranger

Atheism is the belief there is no god to meet. “Deism” is the belief that God made the world and left it to run down and left us on our own. The Bible presents God as a stranger who introduced himself. We have to say God is a “stranger” because he is so different than us. He is the Creator and we are the creature. We have to be careful not to make God in our image. He is simply “other” than us.

But God has chosen to introduce himself to us so that we aren’t strangers anymore. God introduced himself to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God spoke to Noah. God spoke to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God spoke through the prophets to his people.

“At many times and in many ways, long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets. Now upon these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds. He is the radiance of his glory and the imprint of his person” (Hebrews 1:1-3a Donnie’s translation).

God is not a stranger we can’t meet. He is the stranger who introduced himself to us. God had spoken in many different ways at many different times, but all that previous revelations are superseded by God’s introduction of himself to the world in Christ. Jesus said, “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). All through the Old Testament, God introduced himself to us. In Christ, God came to live with us (John 1:14).

God left Heaven to come to earth so we could know him. Will we spend some time to get to know him?

Angels

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboardThey are, as it were, in yonder gilded vessel, untossed of tempest; but they have sympathy with us in this poor heavy-laden bark, tossed with tempest and not comforted. I see them there on yonder sea of glass mingled with fire. I hear their harpings, as incessantly their joy goes up in music to the throne of the Most High. But they do not look down with scorn on us poor denizens of this dusky planet. On the contrary, they delight to think of us as their brethren, as their fellow servants, as it will be the consummation of their happiness when we shall all be gathered to the church of the firstborn, that they shall make up the innumerable company of angels that surround the blood-washed throng.[1]

The word “angel” (both in Hebrew mal’ak and in Greek angelos) means “messenger.” Angels have several different functions for God.  Their functions seem to be dominated by delivering messages to people from God. “They are servants of the Word rather than objects of our gaze and devotion in their own right.”[2] Because of this predominant area of service we are acquainted with calling them, angels. However, they are also described as “sons of God” (Ps. 29:1; 89:7; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Gen. 6).

ANGELIC ARMIES

Angels are described as the heavenly “hosts” or “armies of God. These armies are arranged by different ranks. We may want to start at the top with the “Angel of the LORD,” but these are likely references to the pre-incarnate Christ. This description of Christ as “the Angel of the LORD” uses the phrase in a broader sense to describe Jesus as the messenger of the Father. This is similar to the description of Jesus as “the Word.” Perhaps, Jesus also “the Angel of the LORD” because he stands in relation to the angels as he does to humanity. So, just as it is appropriate for Jesus to be called the “Son of Man,” it is appropriate for Jesus to be called “the Angel of the LORD” because he stands as their representative.

Joshua 5:14-15 records the message to Joshua from “the commander of the Lord’s army.” The leaders among the angels are Gabriel and Michael. Gabriel is a messenger to Daniel, Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph. Michaelis described as “one of the chief princes” (Dan. 10:13, 21). He saw to the care of God’s people in Daniel 12:1. Revelation 8:2 speaks of 7 angels who stand before God’s throne. Perhaps, they would be said to have a special position or higher rank.

ANGELS ARE CREATED BEINGS

Little is said about the creation of angels. We know that they were created because they are not divine and they are not to be worshiped. They were created at some point before the universe. Job 38:6-7 says, “What supports its foundations? Or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”[3] God charges his angels with “error” or “foolishness” (Job 4:18).

ANGELS WORSHIP GOD

The angels worship God day and night (Job 38:7; Psalm 103:20; 148:2; Is. 6; Rev. 5:11). Related to their worship of God is the angelic rejoicing at the conversion of the lost (Lk. 15:10).  Furthermore, part of their adoration of God is their learning about God’s system of salvation (Eph. 3:10; 1 Peter 1:12).

ANGELS SERVE GOD

This service is most notably done through the provision of messages from God. Angels are also God’s agents of destruction (Gen. 19:13; 2 Sam. 24:16; 2 Kings 19:35). Angels serve God by being agents of his providence (Heb. 1:14; Matt. 18:10).  Angels watch over believers (Ps. 34:7; 91:11). At the death of believers, the angels deliver their souls to Abraham’s side (Lk. 16:22).

Angels served Jesus at various times during his life on earth. They announced his birth to Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds, and the Wise Men. The angels ministered to Jesus after he defeated Satan’s temptations in the wilderness (Matt. 4:11). The angels encouraged Jesus in Gethsemane (Lk. 22:40-44). An angel rolled the stone away from the tomb at the resurrection (Matt. 28:2). Angels announced Jesus’ resurrection (Lk. 24:23).

In the book of Acts, angels served God by serving his people and purposes. The apostles were released from prison by an angel (Acts 5:19; 12:7-11). Philip was sent to the Ethiopian by an angel (Acts 8:26-28). An angel gave Herod a fatal illness (Acts 12:23). Paul trusted God’s care through an angel’s power in Acts 27:23-24.

Angels will be significant in God’s work at the end of time. Angels will return with Jesus to judge the world (Matt. 25:31). These angels will separate the saved from the lost (Matt. 13:41, 49).

FALLEN ANGELS

Fallen angels are especially enigmatic in their origin. Just as we have no detailed description of how angels were created, we also have no detailed description of how some angels fell. These fallen angels are described as “rulers” or “principalities” in “heavenly places” or “of the air” (Eph. 1:21; 3:10; Col. 1:16, 2:10; 1 Peter 3:22). They are not created evil. They chose evil by following Satan rather than God (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).

Satan is the chief wicked angel. He is “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). He is the “god of this world” who blinds humanity (2 Cor. 4:4). He is the instigator of human rebellion (Gen. 3:1, 4; Matt. 25:41; Jn. 8:44; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Jn. 3:8; Rev. 12:9; 20:2, 10). Satan is the accuser of mankind before God—that is what Satan means (Rev. 12:10).

FALLEN ANGELS RESTRICTED AND AWAITING JUDGMENT

God has restricted or chained Satan and his followers (Matt. 12:29; Rev. 20:2). The fallen angels are described as imprisoned (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). Perhaps those “imprisoned” are those who are responsible for the sinful acts of Genesis 6:1-2.  God will judge the angelic host. We will, in some way, be involved in this sentence—1 Corinthians 6:3. The fallen angels will be cast into the eternal Hell (Rev. 20:10).

 

 

[1] C. H. Spurgeon, “Angelic Studies,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 16 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1870), 302.

[2] Michael Horton The Christian Faith (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011): 406.

[3] Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), Job 38:6–7.

 

Believe in Jesus, Even If You Have to Sacrifice Everything?

Since the Nike campaign unleashed a PR debacle, various Christians have tried to apply their new slogan to Christian living and especially the command to sacrifice.  The book of Leviticus detailed the sacrifices which God commanded the Jews. The Israelites’ propensity to sin led them to sacrifice while practicing iniquity, and God refused their sacrifices. Others lived in half-hearted devotion to God and only offered mediocre sacrifices to God instead of their best (Mal. 1:8). This too was rejected by God.

The New Testament has a new reality for God’s people. God’s people are God’s temple (1 Cor. 3: 16, 6:19), and Christians are the sacrifices offered to God (Rom. 12:1; Phil. 2:17; Heb. 13:15). The Christian system would have us to make sacrifices to our God. But we are to sacrifice ourselves to God rather than something in place of ourselves. This is only right because rather than sacrificing something else in his place, God sacrificed himself for us in Christ.

But sacrificing all for Jesus doesn’t “cost us everything.”  We should not view the Christian life as indebting ourselves. We should view the loss of the whole world as the gaining of the whole heaven. Paul said, “I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them as refuse, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death; if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Paul recognized that giving this limited life for Jesus would result in the reward of life eternal. Truly, the greatest personal sacrifice is ever so small compared to God’s amazing grace.

Where is Jesus During the Lord’s Supper?

Jesus said, “Take, eat; this is my body” and “this is my blood” in Matthew 26:26-28. What does it mean? Is that really Jesus’ body? Is that really Jesus blood? There are three positions put forth to answer those questions.

First, some have said that this means Jesus is actually physically there. This doctrine is called transubstantiation and is held by Roman Catholics.  Others have said that Jesus is actually there around, under, above, and in the bread. This is the view put forth by Martin Luther. Finally, the bread and fruit of the vine is understood to be a memorial.

The Catholic and Lutheran views make many of the same mistakes. They fail to understand Jesus’ figurative language in the institution of the Lord’s Supper. For example, Jesus said “I am the door,” but no one believes that Jesus actually became or was a door. They also misunderstand the relationship of Jesus’ divine and human natures. Jesus is fully divine (John 1:1) and fully man (Jn. 1:14). The Catholic and Lutheran views believe the divine nature overwhelmed the human nature rather than maintaining a distinction between the natures in the one person of Jesus.

The bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper must be recognized as symbolically representing the body of blood of Jesus. This understanding best fits with the Scripture. Jesus, in his resurrected and glorified body, is in Heaven by the Father’s side. He is there victoriously interceding for us.

As we eat the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, we are confronted with the holiness of Christ and our own sinfulness. How marvelous it is to know that Jesus, who bore our sin in his body on the tree, is in Heaven mediating for us even as we are forced to consider our sinfulness. Praise God.

The Son of God

The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’ ‘You have said it,’ Jesus told him” (Matthew 26:63–64). But what does it mean to call Jesus the “Son of God”?

Does it mean that God the Father created God the Son? This is the heresy of Arianism (modern Jehovah’s Witnesses). Arius taught that there was a time when the Word was not. Arius taught that Jesus is a creature like other creatures. Arianism can’t be the answer.

“sons of God” in the Old Testament

The phrase “sons of God” refers to different things in the Old Testament. It refers to the king. It refers to the people of God. So Moses wrote that the people are “sons of God” (Exodus 4:22).

There is an important distinction to be made. While the people are “sons of God,” Jesus is “The Son of God” (Jn. 3:18). These similar descriptions help us to see how Jesus is the head and representative of God’s people. The phrase “sons of God” also refers to the heavenly host.Angels are described as “sons of God” (Job; Genesis) per their relationship to God through Jesus. Jesus is the LORD of angel armies.

“The Son of God” in the Old Testament

There are hints of “The Son of God” in the Old Testament. Psalm 89:3-4, 26-29 and Psalm 2:7 (Acts 13:33) describe the coming Messiah King as “The Son of God.” These texts help us to be ready to understand and appreciate Jesus’ identity as he is revealed in the New Testament.

“The Son of God” in the New Testament

In the New Testament, Jesus described himself as “The Son of God.” Jesus described himself this way because he is The Son of God and because he wanted to be certain that we make the connection with the Old Testament expectation that was being fulfilled in Jesus.

  • John 5:25, “Truly I tell you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”
  • John 10:36, “do you say, ‘you are blaspheming’ to the one the Father set apart and sent into the world because I said: I am the Son of God?”
  • John 11:4, “This sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Those who knew Jesus recognized he was the Son of God. To describe someone as “The Son of God” was no little matter. The priests condemned Jesus for blasphemy when he confessed to being the Son of God. The people around Jesus acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God—the coming King Messiah.

  • Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
  • John 3:18, “anyone who does not believe is already condemned because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
  • John 20:31, “that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.”
  • John 1:34, “I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God.”
  • John 1:49, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
  • Matthew 16:16; “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Not only did the people openly confess that Jesus was “The Son of God,” God the Father declared that Jesus was “The Son of God.” Matthew 3:17, “and behold a voice out of the heaven saying, ‘this is my Son, the one I love and in whom I am well pleased.” The demons also described Jesus as “The Son of God.” Mark 3:11, “the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God!”

What Does it Mean to Be “The Son of God?”

The Divine Quality of Jesus, the Son of God

The sonship of Jesus is about the quality of his eternal divine essence. “Son of” is a common phrase denoting quality or essence. There are similar titles in the Bible: “Son of man;” “Son of perdition;” “Man of lawlessness.” These “of” titles all describe the quality of someone or a group of people. For example, “son of man” simply describes someone who has a human nature. “Man of lawlessness” is a description for someone who is characterized by lawlessness.

When Jesus is described as “The Son of God,” this is a description of his divine nature. Jesus is described as “The Son of God” to declare his equality with God the Father. In Mark 14:61-62, this is why Jesus was accused of blasphemy (John 3:13; 8:38; 17:24). Jesus, “The Son of God,” is the image of the Father. This is what Hebrews 1:3 and Colossians 1:15 teach. Jesus is the full reflection of the Father. He is exactly like the Father, but he is not the Father. Jesus is eternally the Son (Psalm 89:19-29; Galatians 4:4-5; Roman 8:3-4; John 3:17; 1 John 4:9, 14). He did not become the Son when at the incarnation. He did not become the Son at his baptism. Jesus eternally related to the Father as the Son.

This helps us to see how the sonship of Jesus in his relationship with the Father. This is a close relationship between equals who enjoy slightly different roles in their cooperative work fulfilling the same purposes. The equality is demonstrated by Son being the image of the Father (Hebrews 1; Colossians 1). The intimacy of the relationship is seen in how Son knows the Father—John 1:18; 3:35-36; 5:19-26; 6:40; 8:35-36; 14:13; 17:10.

The difference in roles does not imply a difference in quality. The Father and Son are equals, but the Son has different roles than the Father. The Son is obedient to the Father—Luke 22:42. The Son is sent by the Father—John 17:1-5. The Son serves the Father—1 Corinthians 15:28.

The Kingly Quality of Jesus, the Son of God

The Sonship of Jesus is about his Kingship. In Mark 9:7 God said, “this is my beloved Son, hear ye him.” Jesus is presented as the authoritative divine Spokesman. However, it is also a reference to Psalm 2:6-9. The Psalm is a prophecy of God’s Messianic King. It says, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” The New Testament preachers treat Psalm 2:6-9 as a prophecy about Jesus (Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5).

Psalm 89:26-27 is another passage which prophesied the Messianic King and described him as “The Son of God.” The Psalmist said, “He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.” Verse 29 described Jesus again as the prophet recorded the words of the Father, “I will establish his offspring forever and his throne as the days of the heavens.” In verse 35 again God said, “I will not lie to David.” Luke 1:32-35 built on this Psalm to describe Jesus at his birth. The angel said, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.

Therefore, we see that descriptions of Jesus as the “Christ” or “Messiah” are references to his kingship which is a part of his being “The Son of God.” Passages like Matthew 26:63-64, Matt. 16:16, Luke 1:32, and John 1:49 show that Jesus is the Son of God—the Messianic King. Jesus is the Son of God, the King, who the Jews were awaiting. Since he is the King, the church is his kingdom. The same relationship is described in the terms sons of God and Son of God as we see in the King (Christ) and kingdom (church).

The Sacrifice of the Divine Son was necessary for Our Salvation

It is impossible for mankind to earn salvation (Ephesians 2). It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin (Hebrews 10). Only the sacrifice of The Son of God is magnificent enough to cover the horrible sins of mankind. John 3:16-17; 10:11; 11:51-52; 1 John 4:10. To atone for sin, it was necessary for God to die in our place because only the sacrifice of God himself would be magnificent enough to atone for the vile sins of the world.

When we look at the cross, we see The Son of God, who took on human nature to become the Son of Man. We see the King. We see the sacrifice of God. When we look at the cross remember who is hanging there. Remember who took your place. It was the eternal Word—the Son of God.

JESUS ABOVE FAMILY? MATTHEW 10:37-39

To be Jesus’ disciple, we must love him more than our family or ourselves.

INTRODUCTION TO THE TEXT

General Douglas MacArthur:

 And 20 years after, on the other side of the globe, again the filth of murky foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of dripping dugouts; those boiling suns of relentless heat, those torrential rains of devastating storms; the loneliness and utter desolation of jungle trails; the bitterness of long separation from those they loved and cherished; the deadly pestilence of tropical disease; the horror of stricken areas of war; their resolute and determined defense, their swift and sure attack, their indomitable purpose, their complete and decisive victory — always victory. Always through the bloody haze of their last reverberating shot, the vision of gaunt, ghastly men reverently following your password of: DUTY, HONOR, COURAGE.

The code which those words perpetuate embraces the highest moral laws and will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promulgated for the uplift of mankind. Its requirements are for the things that are right, and its restraints are from the things that are wrong. The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training — sacrifice. In battle and in the face of danger and death, he discloses those divine attributes which his Maker gave when he created man in his own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain him. However horrible the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind.

Duty, honor, courage. This password of MacArthur’s amazing service leads to the greater service for our God. Duty, honor, and courage demand our sacrifice. Just as MacArthur lead men who left their homes for great purposes. Jesus leads us for the greatest cause—the Gospel. This, the greatest cause, demands the greatest sacrifice.

DISCUSSION OF THE TEXT

Confessing Our Love for God—Matthew 10:26-33

The text falls into a section of Scripture that frames Jesus’ discussion to not fear the suffering that will come by being a Christian. In Matthew 10:26 Jesus said to “have no fear of them.” In verse 28 he said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Christians aren’t to fear the consequences of being a Christian because we can rejoice in the benefits of being a Christian. Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).

Jesus gave us the two options for life: “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). To acknowledge God before men is to love him before everything else. That means we must love God more than we love ourselves. It also means that we must love God more than our family.

Loving God More Than Self—Matthew 10:24-25

            There are only two options: we can confess our love for God or we can deny our love for God. Jesus warned those who would follow him that discipleship would be a sacrifice. In Matthew 10:24-25, Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of those Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.”

Many Christians want to be Christians to “live their best life now.” Jesus said that you will suffer in this life if you truly become his disciple. Look at the suffering predicted for Jesus’ disciples in Matthew 10. Jesus said, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.” (Matthew 10:16-18). Jesus said, “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put ot death, and you will be hated by all for my names sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10: 21-23). Suffering will find Jesus’ disciples.

Even though suffering comes, the disciples of Christ must put Jesus above themselves. In Matthew 10:24, Jesus said “a disciple is not above (ὑπὲρ) his teacher.” The word ὑπὲρ means above. It even sounds like our English word upper (ὑπὲρ). Jesus said, he must be upper and we must be lower. Hebrews 12:3-4 encourages us to keep Jesus at the top saying: “For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up. In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” The time may come when we are given the privilege of shedding blood for Jesus.

For now, we need to practice by making sure Jesus doesn’t come below other things. What comes first, Jesus or relaxing? Jesus or a few extra dollars? Jesus or easy retirement? Jesus or travel? If we don’t place Jesus above these things, how will ever put Jesus above great temptations?

Loving God More Than Family—Matthew 10:36-37

Once we learn to put Jesus above ourselves, we also realize that Jesus must come above our family. Jesus said, “And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Jesus used the same word ὑπὲρ that sounds like upper in verse 37. Our translators translate it “more than” and that is a good translation. But it does loose the connection with verses 24-25. Just as we must put Jesus above self, we must put Jesus above family. We must love (φιλῶν) Jesus more than family. It is important to note that Jesus used the word φιλῶν or brotherly love. A love built over time in a relationship. Jesus said we must φιλῶν develop a loving relationship with him ὑπὲρ above every other relationship (even our relationship with our self).

What does it look like when we love Jesus more than our family? It depends. We know what it looks like when someone loves their family more than Jesus. When a child refuses to obey Jesus because of what their mother or father believed, who do they love more? When a parent refuses to believe the truth about ______ because their child now believes that error or is practicing that sin. When an individual refuses to stand for Jesus when the family demands that take a seat. Remember, Jesus said we must love him more than mother, father, son, or daughter.

APPLICATION OF THE TEXT

Is Jesus above all in your life? Loving Jesus may demand we leave our homes and everyone in them. Jesus said, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields because of my name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29). Jesus said, “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39). Take up your cross. Make the sacrifice. Take your stand. Follow Jesus.

Before we decide that leaving family for Jesus is too great a sacrifice, we need to think about the sacrifice he made for us. Jesus left home. He left the Father’s side. He left the Holy Spirit. He left the adoration of the angelic host. He left his eternal home to suffer as a sinner for a little while. He left the comfort of home to die as a ransom for those who ran away from home. But then Jesus went back home. He is home right now. He is interceding and mediating for the saints. He is waiting for sinners to be saved by his sacrifice. One day he is coming back so he can bring us home. We can be home with Jesus because he put us above heaven and because we put heaven above all else.