Monday, March 14, 2005

The Answer to all the Riddles

Yesterday's message, from Matthew 11:1-15, was focussed on doubt and how to deal with it. We noticed that John the Baptist teaches us how to deal with our doubts by: 1. going to his spiritual community, 2. by getting his questions answered, 3. by going to the Lord and 4. by going to the Word. Actually, in John's case, Jesus takes him to the Word in Isaiah 61:1-3. And there we discovered a bolt of lightening. . . .

Is. 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners;

Is. 61:2 To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn,

Is. 61:3 To grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

Here's the riddle in v. 2 that John couldn't answer. . . .

How is the first coming of Jesus the proclamation of the favorable year of the Lord AND the day of vengence of our God? Where in the coming of Jesus do we see the Lord’s favor and God’s vengence come together?

John thought that Jesus had come to proclaim the day of vengeance by EXECUTING God’s judgement. Jesus the Messiah came to proclaim the day of vengence not by EXECUTING God’s judgment, but by ENDURING God’s judgement! The cross is the answer to the riddle. The cross teaches us how to interpret Isaiah 61. The cross is what John couldn't foresee. Because He bore God’s judgment on the cross of Calvary, Jesus secures for us all the benefits of verse 3. . . comfort for those who mourn, a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. We become oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that brings Him glory!

Do you see? Jesus is the answer to all the riddles. It's all there in Isaiah 61. . . .the Gospel. Gods vengence poured out on His Son, the Messiah, to accomplish our beauty, gladness, praise, righteousnes, and His Glory. The favorable year of the LORD!

I'm still meditating on the wonder of God's Word this morning and how Jesus is the fulfillment of all the Scriptures. The Gospel is everywhere! Our Lord's Day morning was a sweet time together, worshipping, hearing, feasting at the Lord's Table. I hope God's Word was confirmed in your heart and your identity was affirmed in Him!


Tim Weaver said...

Thank you for affirming that people have doubts. All people have doubts and it is ok to have them as long as you deal with them. John, the Pharisees, and the disciples all had similar issues in not understanding the scriptures. (We aren't really any different than they in this respect. We just have different scriptures that we are messed up about.) I guess the biggest difference is humility and willing to be wrong and learn.

That passage from Clive was amazing. What incredible candidness about questions from someone who I esteem as 'having it together'. The concept that goes something like "I'm not worried about not believing in God, but I fear what I might believe He is really like" is heavy. I'm daily reminding myself that God is good. I have not gone through huge trials in life, but I have a feeling that the concept of God's goodness will be one of the items most heavily contested.

Anonymous said...

I still find it curious that when Jesus is invited to read before synagog and he reads from this part in Isaiah that he is on record for skipping that part about the "vengeance of our God"... Thus we are left with an open ended opportunity to speculate any number of ideas that may explain his motive for doing that, but ultimately the text is silent there, and thus open to interpretation... Why?