Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Hebrews 12:2 says, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Note: Let’s look at what Hebrews 12:2 really says;
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author - archgov archegos ar-khay-gos - one that takes the lead in anything and thus affords an example, a predecessor in a matter, pioneer – and perfecter - teleiwthv teleiotes tel-i-o-tace’ - one who has in his own person raised faith to its perfection and so set before us the highest example of faith…..
Hebrews 12:2 says, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfection of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Note: Only Yehovah is the author of faith. Jesus His son shows us, as the pioneer; the prince of our salvation what perfection of faith is! How? By his example of always being totally committed, to walking in covenant faithfulness, before his God and his Father Yehovah. He has truly shown us the way to everlasting eternal life!
Let’s look at Matthew 16:24-25 and understand what it is saying to all of mankind: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Let’s look carefully at what the Greek words that were translated into English, is showing us in these verses.
If any anyone - ei tiv ei tis i tis – will come after me, let him forget one’s self – aparneomai - and take up his cross and follow – akolouyew – me.
For whosoever will preserve – swzw sode’ – his life shall lose it, and whosoever will put out of the way entirely – apollumi – his life for my sake shall find it.
Note: to forget one’s self is to reckon one’s self as dead – which is what one does when one is baptized, he/she walks into the water as dead to self and rises up a new creation in the lord Messiah Jesus. Paul says: Roans 6:11: Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus the Messiah our lord.
Note: To take up one’s cross is to realize that following the lord
Messiah Jesus involves dying to self continually and living one’s life in
obedient faithfulness to our God and Father Yehovah, which is extremely
difficult in this sin sick world. The path we are to walk on is a narrow path
which restricts us from following the way of this world influenced by the god
of this world – Satan. It is not an easy path to walk on as there are all kinds
of obstacles in the way that need to be overcome. To become a follower of the
lord Messiah Jesus is a most difficult journey that requires a total commitment,
to be his disciple, obeying his directions alone the way. The end of this path
is entry into the soon coming
We need to realize that we cannot walk on the narrow path on our own strength. We are weak and don’t have the spiritual strength to do so. The wonderful news is that when one is baptized one receives the empowering presence of our God and Father Yehovah and that power enables us to walk on the narrow path that leads to life everlasting.
Matthew 7:13-14: Enter you in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because narrow is the gate, and difficult is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.
have died to self and willingly taken up the cross of self denial and strive to
walk in faith obedience to all that God has set before them are among the few
that have found narrow way, the strait gate that leads to eternal life! When we
enter through the gate we will become co-rulers and co-inheritors with the lord
Messiah when he takes his place on the throne of David at
Matthew 25:34: Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Friday, September 3, 2021
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Romans 12:20
In Romans, Paul talks about how to deal with our enemies and those who have wronged us. He says many wise things about dealing with others in this passage:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says Yehovah. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-21.
As we read this, one sentence sticks out to us that doesn’t make sense – about heaping burning coals on an enemy’s head. We wonder what Paul meant by this. It helps to know that Paul is quoting Proverbs 25:21-22: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and Yehovah will reward you.” Understanding this proverb will unlock Paul’s words as well.
That saying is in the middle of several proverbs that use physical images to describe emotional reactions. Right before it is the passage, “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or one that pours vinegar on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart” (Proverbs 25:20, RSV). The physical picture of discomfort illustrates that trying to make a person in mourning happy just distresses them more. Likewise, the passage about coals is about the emotional discomfort an enemy will feel when you waken his conscience about his conduct toward you. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia1 :
The word “coal” is often used in a metaphorical sense: 2 Samuel 14: 7 speaks of the “quenching of the coal” of a man, meaning the complete annihilation of his issue; while in Proverbs 25:22 kindness bestowed upon an enemy is called “heaping coals of fire upon his head,” since it tends to waken his deadened conscience and help him to realize his wrong. Sirach 8:10 compares the smoldering and easily roused passion of the godless man to the coal that is easily lighted and breaks forth into flame.
The picture of putting coals on a person’s head initially sounds like a picture of causing burning pain, but it really is not. Instead, it seems to be a picture of stirring up the coals of a fire to rouse it back to life again. It is a picture of stirring within a person a response of remorse, when they see your kindness in the face of their meanness. This must also be the sense of Paul’s passage – we cause our enemies to be remorseful for their actions toward us, and in doing so we overcome evil by doing good.
Written by Lois Tverberg and edited by Bruce Lyon
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Jesus, during his
public ministry, faced a rather large amount of slander, ridicule, mocking, and
insults that were cast His way. He was declared a drunkard and a glutton, a
friend of tax-collectors and prostitutes, a transgressor of Mosaic law and
Jewish tradition, with an evident "god complex" (i.e., "a delusional self-image based
on uncontrolled narcissism and overblown arrogance"). In short, Jesus was
not well-received by the religious elite of Judaism, and they were not averse
to letting him know how they felt at every opportunity. The OT prophecies spoke
of how the Messiah would be scorned, despised, and afflicted, and Jesus himself
knew very well what he would be called to experience, especially as he neared
the time of his crucifixion. As that day approached, Jesus pulled the twelve
aside and told them in no uncertain terms, "Behold, we are going up to
through the mockery of a trial, Jesus was given the death sentence. Once that
verdict had been pronounced, and Jesus had been severely scourged, Pilate
"handed Him over to be crucified" (Matthew 27:26). It was at this
time that "the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and
gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him" (vs. 27). Although Jesus had
experienced insults and slanderous accusations prior to this (e.g., Luke 22:63-65), and would
experience more as he was led to the site of the execution and as he suffered upon
the cross (e.g., Matthew
27:38-44), it was nevertheless in the Praetorium, surrounded by these soldiers,
that the mocking reached new levels of intensity. Based upon the descriptive
words used by the inspired writers of the four gospel records, most scholars
believe the number of soldiers present in the Praetorium was at least 200, with
the possibility of it having been three or four times that amount. In other
words, Jesus had become the "entertainment"
for these troops serving in the city of
simply and professionally doing the job assigned to them, they gave in to their
baser, brutish natures, "delighting in cruel play and coarse scorn" [The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 17, pt. 2, p.
416]. "It was a form of blasphemous sport calculated also to express their
contempt of the Jews" [Dr. Paul E. Kretzmann, Popular Commentary of the Bible: the NT,
vol. 1, p. 514]. A number of sources concur, as we see in The Expositor's Greek Testament:
"The soldiers engaged in a mockery of the nation in intention quite as
much as of the particular victim" [vol. 1, p. 327]. These men "were
part of the auxiliary troops Pilate had brought up to
Again, their job was to prepare this prisoner for execution. Thus, while the "party" grew more vocal and more vicious (note the use of the Greek imperfect tense in the text, indicating repeated action: the continuing and progressive nature of their abuse), some of the men were undoubtedly clear-headed enough to get on with the task at hand. "These cruelties were doubtless perpetrated while a part of the band was engaged in preparation for the execution" [H. Leo Boles, A Commentary on the Gospel according to Matthew, p. 537]. The nature of these cruelties may be found in Matthew 27:27-31, Mark 15:16-20, and John 19:2-3 (which I would urge the reader to examine before continuing). "Here we have humanity at its worst - a scene of vicious mockery. The Jews have mocked Jesus as Messiah (Matthew 26:67-68); here the Roman soldiers ridicule Him as king" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 8, p. 572-573]. "They had heard of His claim to be a King, so they determined to deride Him with the mockery of royal honors, ... taking a fiendish pleasure in torturing and insulting Him" [The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 15 - Matthew, p. 587]. "The soldiers mocked our lord by regarding him as a pretender to an oriental throne" [Dr. Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies from the Greek NT, vol. 1 - Mark, p. 280]. Thus, they strip Jesus of His clothes (what little He had on at this point) and dress Him up like a king. They place a "royal robe" around His shoulders, which must have caused quite a bit of pain because of the scourging He had just endured. It is said to be "scarlet" in Matthew's account, although Mark and John describe it as being "purple." "The ancients did not discriminate among colors as closely as we do" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 8, p. 573]. It is possible this robe was the one that had been placed upon Him earlier when he appeared before Herod: "And Herod with his soldiers, after treating him with contempt and mocking him, dressed him in a gorgeous robe and sent him back to Pilate" (Luke 23:11).
In the right hand of Jesus they placed a reed or cane, which was meant to suggest the royal scepter of a king. And the crowning insult of this whole pathetic scene was when they wove together a crown (Greek: "stephanos" - a victor's crown) made of thorny branches from a nearby bush and forced it down upon his head. With this "king" thus arrayed, "they knelt down before him and mocked him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' They spat on him, and took the reed from his hand and began to beat him on the head. After they had mocked him, they took the scarlet robe off him and put his own garments back on him, and led him away to crucify him" (Matthew 27:29-31). As they beat Jesus on his head, keep in mind that as they did so, they were driving the thorns deeper into his scalp with every blow! "There must have been copious bleeding because the scalp is one of the most vascular areas of the body. ... The blows hitting his head from the staff drove the thorns more deeply into Jesus' scalp and caused even more profuse bleeding" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 8, p. 777]. "Everybody would recognize the circlet as a crown, and what a bloody crown it was! Little trickles of blood disfigured the victim's face, not with the artistic elegance of so many of our painters, but with the stark hideousness of cruel reality" [R.C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel, p. 1247-1248]. "The crown of thorns evidently served a double function as intended by the soldiers: to mock and humiliate Jesus with a travesty of royal honor, and to increase the physical torture which was inflicted upon Him. One cannot suppose that the crown of thorns was gently laid upon His head; it was doubtless forced down with a cruel violence which emphasized their contempt for Him" [The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 1, p. 1040], a contempt made even more obvious when they beat this crown further into His scalp with the fake scepter He had been holding. "It is difficult to imagine a greater demonstration of insensitivity and cruelty than the soldiers' treatment of Jesus" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 8, p. 777].
Much has been
written about this "crown of thorns" (although it should be noted that
Luke never mentions it in his gospel account), far more than has been written
about the robe or the scepter. There has been particular interest among
scholars as to which thorny
bush in the area was the source of this crown. The text says that the branches
or twigs of this bush, plant or tree were "woven" or
"twisted" together, which would imply they were somewhat pliable (some of the thorn bushes
had branches that were rather brittle,
thus they would have snapped if they were twisted and bent). "The Greek
word signifying 'thorn' or 'thorn bush' (akantha),
is not sufficiently definite to authorize any positive statement as to the kind
of shrub or tree from which the crown was made" [Dr. Alvah Hovey, Commentary on the Gospel of John, p.
370]. "All attempts to define the botanical character of the thorns used
for Christ’s crown are guesses" [Dr. Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the NT, vol. 2, p. 277].
"The word used is too vague to enable us to identify the plant with
certainty, but most writers have fixed on the Zizyphus Spina Christi, known locally as the Nebk, a shrub growing plentifully in the
valley of the
There is a certain symbolism to our Redeemer wearing a crown made of thorns, for the latter has long been associated with sin and its curse. After the fall of man, God declared, "Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you" (Genesis -18). "Thorns were the fruits of the primal curse, which Christ, the second Adam, was now bearing, and by bearing was now removing" [The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 15 - Matthew, p. 587]. Jesus took on that curse, in a sense becoming that curse for us that it might be forever taken away. He bore the "thorns" (the curse) to the cross, so that plants (blessings) of a more helpful and pleasant kind might appear. For the redeemed, there is this promise: "Instead of the thorn bush, the cypress will come up, and instead of the nettle, the myrtle will come up" (Isaiah 55:13). In Jesus, the curse (the thorn bush) is gone; He bore it to the cross. We now have, through him, access to the paradise of God in which we find the tree of life!
"Therefore, Christ, being made a curse for us, and dying to remove the curse from us, felt and endured the pain and smart of those thorns. ... He answered the type of Abraham's ram that was caught in the thicket" [Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, e-Sword].
As we look back
on that scene, in which the wicked sought to mock, ridicule, and humiliate
Jesus, making him look ridiculous by dressing and crowning him as a king, we
see through the viciousness to the eternal victory our King gained for us. What a fearful price he
had to pay, and how blessed we
are that he paid it. "The Messiah redeemed us from the curse, ... becoming
a curse for us" (Galatians ). Let me close with the
following quote: "The emblematic significance, afterwards seen by the
Church in the crown of thorns, is possibly hinted at in Hebrews 2:9 (‘for a
short time he was made lower than the angels. But now we see him wearing a
crown of glory and honor because he suffered and died'). As a sacrificial
victim; in being led out to death, often wore a garland of flowers, so Jesus,
in the eyes of God and his own disciples, even in suffering the deepest
humiliation, wears a crown of glory. In the death of Messiah his called-out
Assembly sees mankind crowned with life, because the law of sin and death was
thereby abrogated, and the
Written by Al Maxey and edited by Bruce Lyon
Al Maxey is a prolific and gifted writer explaining to scriptures in a way to be understood by any and all: http://www.zianet.com/maxey
Reflective archive: http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflect2.htm
He has written so many wonderful articles that would take you months to read all of them. I have know Al Maxey for many years and deeply appreciate his contribution to leading people to the way, the truth and the life!