THE BLOOD AND THE SPIRIT

Jn. 1:29 – The very next day John saw Jesus coming to him to be baptized, and John cried out, “Look! There he is—God’s Lamb! He will take away the sins of the world!

Jn.1:33 ……..when I was commissioned to baptize with water God spoke these words to me, ‘One day you will see the Spirit descend and remain upon a man. He will be the One I have sent to baptize with the Holy Spirit.

One of the questions Jesus was often asked was about John the Baptist. Before Jesus began His public ministry John had thrown all of Israel into an upheaval. When John’s ministry diminished and the ministry of Jesus began to flourish everyone wanted to know about John. Jesus called John the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. Think about the magnitude of that statement. Moses basically started the Jewish faith, he wrote the first five books of the Old Testament. He also led the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt to the brink of possessing their land that the Lord had given them. Then you have to remember Isaiah and his profound prophetic passages describing the birth, the death, and the reign of Christ. Abraham fathered a nation by faith. And there was also Elijah who had a life filled with the miraculous; fire from heaven, supernatural provision in drought, even raising someone from the dead. So what could Jesus mean. John had not written any books, nor fathered a nation, and he had performed no miracles. John was simply a preacher.

So what was Jesus getting at? This is it – John had a revelation of Christ that others hadn’t received. First, he saw Jesus as the Lamb of God. He was saying that the entire levitical system pointed to Christ. Actually, all of the sacrifices before were just shadows of the real. Christ was the Lamb and His sacrificial death destroys sin in our lives. The whole point of Jesus coming to earth was culminated at His death.

The second prophesy is just as profound. He said that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit. This is probably the most radical thing John could say. The Jews were terrified of God’s presence. They knew that the glory in the holy of holies was unapproachable. One false move with the ark of the covenant and you were dead. After Jesus died, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven He took His place on God’s throne exalted above every other Name or being. From this place of exaltation Jesus begins His heavenly ministry to us. He is the baptizer in the Holy Spirit.

So that is why Jesus called John the greatest Old Testament prophet. He had a revelation of Christ sacrificial death on the cross for all mankind and he also saw Jesus as the Baptizer in the Spirit.

“A LAMB FOR EVERY HOUSEHOLD”

MERRY TUESDAY BY PARRIS

“Take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their father, a lamb for an house: … the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses” (Ex. 12:3, 23)

WHAT WOULD OUR CITY LOOK LIKE IF THEY HAD A LAMB FOR EVER HOUSE? HAVE YOU PARTAKEN OF THE LAMB?

John the Baptist speaks out to us today-“Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world!” John 1:29

Of all the Old Testament sacrifices, there is none that gives a clearer or richer revelation of the person and work of our Lord than the Passover. The Paschal Lamb aimed at deliverance, not of the individuals, but of families. He is enough for all of us and there is ample supply in the Lamb! He is covering us and our families!

Christ, our Passover, is slain for us. Christ, the Lamb of God, is still “a lamb for an house”! His blood may still be sprinkled upon the door that the destroyer enter not. There is a new and better covenant, and with the precious blood of Christ, the principle still holds good! Our faith has divine warrant and will be rewarded with the divine blessing. Our prayers avail much and secures us divine influence. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us! I Cor. 5:7 and 1 Peter 1:18-20 tells us that “we’ve not been redeemed with corruptible things but the precious blood of the Lamb”.

One more to remember is that every year the believing Israelite was to sprinkle the doorposts with blood, so testifying that it was only in the blood that he and his house could stand before God; he was also to write upon these same blood-sprinkled doorposts the words of God’s law. Deut. 6:7-9 So every day when our feet hit the floor we can apply this revelation day by day, in faith and prayer, in teaching and living. There is a Lamb available for every house! The Holy Spirit will reveal in His power all the truths that cluster round the promises of God for they are alive and active. I believe that the same God that showed up in Katrina will meet us again! I was visibly spoken to during that season and a new season is upon us!

What makes this Lamb so special? Well in the book of Revelations 5:5-6 it says, “I behold in the midst of the throne stood as a Lamb as it had been slain, having 7 horns and 7 eyes, which are the 7 spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. He is the all seeing all sufficient God for each of the situations that we face.

MIRACLE SIGN – LAMB IN A MANGER

Lk.2:11,12 – For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, the Messiah. You will recognize him by this miracle sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough!

I love this verse in the Passion Translation, “You will recognize him by this miracle sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough!”. The birth of Christ in an animal’s feeding trough is called a miracle sign. When you think of miracle signs you think of things like raising someone from the dead, or calming a storm, or maybe walking on water. Those are obviously major miracle signs but this infant birth in a manger has to be the biggest sign of all. The Creator of planets and solar systems, galaxies and black holes, and gazelles and amoebas took on the body of a baby human and was born in a feeding trough for farm animals. Absolutely mind boggling!!! Here are some comments on this verse from the Passion Notes.

“He entered the world as a lowly baby, and though he is the mighty God, he lived his life on earth in gentleness before all. The shepherds that night were possibly near Bethlehem at Migdal Eder, “the [watch] tower of the flock.” This would fulfill both the prophecies of Mic. 5:2 and Mic. 4:8, which say, “to you it [he] will come, your dominion [kingdom] from old will arrive.” It was at the lower floor of the watchtower (Migdal Eder) that the birthing of the Passover lambs would take place…. After the birth of the lambs, the priestly shepherds would wrap the lambs in cloth and lay them in a manger lined with soft hay to prevent them from hurting themselves…. The miracle sign for these priestly shepherds would be a baby boy lying where the Passover lamb should be—in a manger, wrapped in strips of cloth. It was at the cradle of Jesus Christ that the kingdom from ancient times arrived on earth.”

So He came to this earth and was born among temple sheep. These sheep’s very existence, as sacrificial lambs, had been calling for Him for hundreds of years. He is the lamb of God. His miracle birth in a manger was prophetic, speaking of His sacrificial death.

SHEPHERDS AND SHEEP 2

Lk.2:8 – In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.

It seems like the Lord always chooses to work in the most unexpected ways, using the least likely people. If anyone else would announce the birth of a King surely it would come through proper channels. They would use a king or a famous prophet, never low life shepherds who smelled of sheep and other unsavory things. Now these were not ordinary shepherds at all. These shepherds were raising very particular sheep. These were the sheep who would have to be perfect, without spot or blemish. These sheep were to be used as sacrifices in the temple in Jerusalem. Even though there task was important, they were still just shepherds. Here is how Charles Hutchins explains these sheep and shepherds.

“Shepherds were the lowest of Jewish society. They were not trusted – their testimony not usually permitted in court. If anything was ever stolen, there was an assumption that a shepherd did it. They were like modern-day gypsies, traveling to and fro – for obvious reasons. They were always ceremonially unclean – handling dead animals, assisting in the birth of new ones, dealing with all manner of issues in the wilderness that would cause them to become and remain unclean. Because of the nature of their job, they would not be able to take the time to become clean. Many suggest that God offered to them the first news of the Messiah’s birth because of society’s poor treatment of them. These shepherds were specially trained shepherds who took their jobs seriously. They were in charge of the flock in Bethlehem that supplied the Temple sacrifices. They knew the Law; they understood how important it was for the sacrificial lambs to be spotless and perfect. They would have protected those animals and would have especially made sure that the new-borns were taken care of.”

Think of the amazement of the Shepherds when they began to connect the dots. Their sheep were prophetic sheep, the real One was about to be be born in Bethlehem. This Lamb of God would be a King from the lineage of David. He would also be the messiah. To top it all off, the angel said He would be the Savior of the world. The Shepherds world changed that night, actually everyone’s world changed that night. Everyone else just didn’t know it yet.

SHEPHERDS AND SHEEP 1

Lk.2:8 – In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.

You ever take time to think about the Shepherds and sheep that the angels visited while announcing the birth of Christ? Were these random sheep and random shepherds or was there a point? I have heard grinches go on and on about how sheep would never be outside in winter and using this incredible God moment as some prooftext to discredit Christmas being on December 25. That’s not what this story is about. These particular shepherds and sheep were not random, these were sheep being prepared as temple sacrifices. They had to be raised somewhere and there were thousands of sacrificial lambs being offered in the temple. These shepherds raised lambs born for the altar just outside of Bethlehem all year long. These sheep were born to die. The real story was another lamb being born in Bethlehem that the angels were singing about that night. They were singing about the lamb of God that would take away the sins of the world. Charles Hutchins gives us a peek into the back story, why these shepherds and sheep were in Bethlehem.

“Mary and Joseph couldn’t get a room in the inn, but she was about to give birth. Where would be the best place to go? Where they knew other births were happening – albeit sheep. There were practical reasons for going there, but the simple truth is THAT is where God wanted His Son to be born. Why? Because the flock of Bethlehem, only a few miles from Jerusalem, were the sheep used for proper sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem. Those sheep born at Migdal Eder were destined to be slaughtered one day as part of the divine instructions for temple worship! They were born to die as sacrifices!

So there’s Mary giving birth to the Son of God, born as the one sacrifice for sins forever; chances were there were a dozen or so pregnant ewes also ready to give birth. And what did Joseph do? He took the new-born Child and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, the same clothes used to wrap those all-important new-born lambs. He laid Him in the manger.”

The angels came to these shepherds on purpose. This is what their lives had been about all along. They had known about a king, a messiah, and the restoration of their land. They knew about lambs and temple sacrifices. Now it was all coming together. This King, like David, would be the final sacrificial lamb.

NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES

Thou shalt call his name Jesus.

Matt.1:21

 

The angel’s message to Joseph so many years ago has brought hope to every generation and to every tribe and tongue. ‘Call His Name Jesus’. This Name has become the Name above all names. His Name is like a song or like oiled poured out. This Name brings peace, healing, courage, purity, and power. In His Name we are freed from sin, filled with a love for the hurting, and empowered to reach the nations with the power of the gospel.

Whatever state you find yourself in this Christmas season The Name of the Lord is your place of protection. Jesus promised to be with us until the end and will be with us even in the darkest of times. Here are Spurgeon’s thoughts on today’s verse.

 

 

 

 

“Whether he be called the Husband of the Church, her Bridegroom, her Friend; whether he be styled the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world-the King, the Prophet, or the Priest-every title of our Master-Shiloh, Emmanuel, Wonderful, the Mighty Counsellor-every name is like the honeycomb dropping with honey, and luscious are the drops that distill from it. But if there be one name sweeter than another in the believer’s ear, it is the name of Jesus. Jesus! it is the name which moves the harps of heaven to melody. Jesus! the life of all our joys. If there be one name more charming, more precious than another, it is this name. It is woven into the very warp and woof of our psalmody. Many of our hymns begin with it, and scarcely any, that are good for anything, end without it. It is the sum total of all delights. It is the music with which the bells of heaven ring; a song in a word; an ocean for comprehension, although a drop for brevity; a matchless oratorio in two syllables; a gathering up of the hallelujahs of eternity in five letters.”

When the Lord gave this word to Joseph he experienced a life change. There is something about that Name that always changes lives. Joseph went from depressed and fearful to a man of courage, purpose, and joy. He took Mary for his wife, defied Herod and his soldiers, and provided a family and provision for the Son of God. Maybe you are facing discouragement or depression this Christmas, call His Name Jesus and you can be brought out into a place of joy.

LAMBS TO THE SLAUGHTER

LAMBS TO THE SLAUGHTER

Heb. 4:13 And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.

Years ago, Parris and I visited and ministered in a gypsy village in eastern Bulgaria. During our visit, there was a great outdoor festival for the community where there was food and singing and of course testimonies and preaching. The people sang and danced for hours as the food was being prepared. Actually their favorite meal was being prepared, a local version of lamb soup. The one image that stands out amongst all the others was the preparation of the sheep for the soup. These were live sheep being led to the slaughter. All throughout that day there were pictures of the helpless sheep being led silently to the slaughter. Images of Old Testament sacrifices were filling my mind for weeks. Of course the most obvious picture that was imprinted on everyone’s heart that week was the mental image of the true Lamb of God who was slain for all of us. Today’s verse pictures this sacrifice, here is Adam Clarke’s thoughts on this verse.

“The allusion here is undoubtedly to the sword which Paul had referred to in the previous verse, as dividing the soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow; and the meaning is, that in the hand of God, who held that sword, everything was exposed. We are, in relation to that, like an animal whose neck is bent back, and laid bare, and ready for the slaughter. Nothing hinders God from striking; there is nothing that can prevent that sword from penetrating the heart any more than, when the neck of the animal is bent back and laid bare, there is anything that can hinder the sacrificing priest from thrusting the knife into the throat of the victim. If this be the true interpretation, then what an affecting view does it give of the power of God, and of the exposedness of man to destruction! All is bare, naked, open. There is no concealment; no hinderance; no power of resistance. In a moment God can strike, and his dreadful sentence shall fall on the sinner like the knife on the exposed throat of the victim. What emotions should the sinner have who feels that he is exposed each moment to the sentence of eternal justice—to the sword of God—as the animal with bent-back neck is exposed to the knife! And what solemn feeling should all have who remember that all is naked and open before God!”

Just as these sheep were laid bare before their executioner in Bulgaria, we are all like sheep being led to the slaughter. The only difference is that we are laid bare before The Lord. His sword pierces our heart, strips away our past life, and imparts into our hearts His very own life. We are also like these sheep being opened up by the knife. What is the difference? We are swallowed up by God.

THE LION AND THE LAMB

THE LION AND THE LAMB

Rev. 5:5-6 But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” ¶ And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth

I recently reread my favorite sermon of all, “The Excellency of Christ” by Jonathan Edwards. The first time I read it was on a long plane flight across the Pacific Ocean. Needless to say, I wept until I had no more tears. That message takes a long look at the vision of the lion and the lamb in the book of revelation. In it, Edwards unfolds what I like to call the diverse excellencies of Jesus Christ. He speaks of His glory and His humility, His sovereignty and His dependency, His eternal power and incredible weakness seen in His humanity. He is the lion and the lamb. Here is a short excerpt from the introduction of Edwards’ sermon.

“John was told of a lion that had prevailed to open the book, and probably expected to see a lion in his vision; but while he is expecting, behold a lamb appears to open the book, an exceeding diverse kind of creature from a lion! A lion is a devourer, one that is wont to make terrible slaughter of others; and no creature more easily falls a prey to him than a lamb. And Christ is here represented not only as a lamb, a creature very liable to be slain, but a “Lamb as it had been slain,” that is, with the marks of its deadly wounds appearing on it. The lion and the lamb, though very diverse kinds of creatures, yet have each their peculiar excellencies. The lion excels in strength, and in the majesty of his appearance and voice. The lamb excels in meekness and patience, besides the excellent nature of the creature as good for food, and yielding that which is fit for our clothing, and being suitable to be offered in sacrifice to God. But we see that Christ is in the text compared to both; because the diverse excellencies of both wonderfully meet in him.”

If you really think about it, there was no other way for us to come to God. We needed a holy representative from our fallen race. The problem was this, that person didn’t exist. There was only One who was holy and our only chance was for Him to become one of us. He stripped Himself of His rights as God and took upon Himself human flesh. The lion became a lamb. Today in heaven those diverse excellencies are still seen. The Lion is ruling the universe by the word of His power, the Lamb is comforting His sons and daughters as they are welcomed into His arms.

THE LION AND THE LAMB

THE LION AND THE LAMB

Rev. 5:6-8 ¶ And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

John saw an incredible, seemingly, contradictory vision of Jesus Christ. He saw Him as a lion and also as a lamb. No two creatures could be more different. Each of these animals portray some of the beautiful aspects of the character and person of Jesus Christ. The lion proclaims the power and majesty seen in Christ as the Son of God. The lamb gives us a hint at the incomparable humility and graciousness found in Jesus as the Son of Man. To understand Him, you must see Him in both natures. He is truly the Son of God and also the son of Adam. What an astounding truth. Jonathan Edwards preached one of his greatest messages on this passage. Enjoy this small excerpt from his sermon “The Excellency of Christ”.

“Christ is the Creator and great Possessor of heaven and earth. He is sovereign Lord of all. He rules over the whole universe, and doth whatsoever pleaseth him. His knowledge is without bound. His wisdom is perfect, and what none can circumvent. His power is infinite, and none can resist Him. His riches are immense and inexhaustible. His majesty is infinitely awful. And yet he is one of infinite condescension. None are so low or inferior, but Christ’s condescension is sufficient to take a gracious notice of them. He condescends not only to the angels, humbling himself to behold the things that are done in heaven, but he also condescends to such poor creatures as men; and that not only so as to take notice of princes and great men, but of those that are of meanest rank and degree, “the poor of the world,” James 2:5. Such as are commonly despised by their fellow creatures, Christ does not despise. I Cor. 1:28 ‘Base things of the world, and things that are despised, hath God chosen’. Christ condescends to take notice of beggars Luke 16:22 and people of the most despised nations.”

This is what Paul called the mystery of godliness. The Son of God took on human flesh, He actually became a human for all time. In this person is this seemingly, contradictory nature; power and resignation, sovereignty and total dependence, glory and humility, justice and mercy. What an incredible Savior, what an incredible God! Today, the Holy Spirit can give us the same revelation that John had in Revelation 5. He was weeping in utter despair at the hopeless condition of mankind, until…. When he saw the Lion of the tribe of Judah and he saw the Lamb of God, his sorrow was turned into awe. He joined the rest of heaven worshipping before the throne.

THE LION AND THE LAMB

THE LION AND THE LAMB

Rev. 5:6 ¶ And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

Several years ago I was flying back across the Pacific ocean after an international ministry trip. It was shortly after I had been introduced to the ministry of Jonathan Edwards, and I was reading one of his sermons, “The Excellency of Christ”. I was caught by surprise by his description of the diverse excellencies seen in the person of Jesus Christ. I was literally undone as I read his thoughts about the lion and the lamb described in John’s vision. He spoke of the mercy and the justice, the weakness and the power, the sovereignty and the resignation, the sufficiency and the dependency found in Christ. Edwards described the almost conflicting characteristics found in the person of Christ. What an amazing Savior we have in Christ. Pastor A.B. Simpson also has some powerful observations on this vision.

“This is the most sublime vision of the Lord Jesus Christ in the whole book of Revelation. As the evangelist stands looking into heaven, he beholds a scroll containing, it would seem, the purpose and the will of God for the future ages, sealed. No man in earth or heaven was able to open the scroll, or loose the seals. Suddenly an angel turning to him, explained that the mystery was about to be solved and that One had been found that was able to loose the seals and open the scroll. It was the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who had prevailed to loose the seals “and open the book.” As John stood looking for the Lion, lo! it was a Lamb, bearing the crimson marks of suffering and death, and yet, on closer inspection, wearing also the insignia of infinite power and wisdom, for he had seven horns and seven eyes, the types of perfect power and perfect knowledge.”

What an incredible picture of our Lord. I need Him to be a lion and I need Him to be a lamb. How often do I need His tenderness, compassion, mercy and understanding portrayed in the Lamb of God. He leads us like a flock of sheep and wipes away the tears from our eyes. I need His healing touch when I am sick and I need His compassionate counsel in my times of trouble. I also desperately need the Lion of the tribe of Judah. I need His strength to uphold me, empower me, defend me and correct me. I need Jesus Christ, I need His humanity and I need His deity. In this same vision John described the seven fold manifestation of the Spirit. It is through the person of the Holy Spirit that the Lord opens our eyes and our hearts so that we can see and receive this precious Savior. Come quickly Lord Jesus.