Our Lectio Divina for today:
Fix this picture firmly in your mind: Jesus, descended from the line of David, raised from the dead. It’s what you’ve heard from me all along. It’s what I’m sitting in jail for right now—but God’s Word isn’t in jail! That’s why I stick it out here—so that everyone God calls will get in on the salvation of Christ in all its glory. This is a sure thing: If we die with Him, we’ll live with Him. If we stick it out with Him, we’ll rule with Him. If we turn our backs on Him, He’ll turn His back on us. If we give up on Him, He does not give up—for there’s no way He can be false to Himself. 2nd Timothy 2: 8-13 (MsgB)
Last time, we began to address the bottom-line, the core message, of this kalós, this precious treasure, Paul, the aging pastor, is passing on to Timothy, his younger son. If you recall, we concluded that when push comes to shove, the “message” we’ve been given to share with others can be summarized something like this:
God wants every human being on earth to be rescued. Jesus of Nazareth is His chosen instrument for that work of salvation. This “message” is our message and we explain it best by modeling a Christ-centered life of simple faith and plain truth.
So, here we are today, pondering on yet another section of Paul’s writings to young Timothy, and interestingly enough, the old sage is, once again, returning to his familiar theme of Jesus of Nazareth being at the very core of the Gospel message. Only this time, Paul adds an important twist that we must take note of; a further explanation on this “simple faith and plain truth” he writes about:
Jesus. Son of David. Crucified. Raised from the dead!
You see, it’s one thing for us to proclaim Jesus of Nazareth as a great teacher, a wonder-worker, and yes, even a powerful and persuasive leader; but it’s quite another to proclaim the Master as God’s chosen Son, a human descendant of King David, crucified, dead, buried, and now risen from the dead. For Paul, it simply wasn’t enough to tell others about the amazing words and wondrous works of Jesus. It was His suffering, His sacrificial death on the cross, His burial, and most importantly, His resurrection from the grave that makes this descendant of David, this man from Galilee, who He actually is: God’s Messiah. The Alpha. The Omega. The One and Only Risen King.
As I see it, it’s easier for us in our politically-correct society to water down the Gospel, re-stating God’s redemption plan by making Jesus of Nazareth into one who is much more compatible with today’s marketing techniques, presenting Jesus as a good friend, a compassionate man who lives a godly life, and that you and I can access heaven via our simple, neat-n-clean decision to believe in Him. Yet it’s quite another story when we insist that God’s Messiah is God’s unique Son who suffered at the hands of sinners, died a lonely death on a cross outside Jerusalem; and worse yet, that His followers just might have to follow Jesus through difficult things in this life in order to remain faithful to Him through thick or through thin.
Not quite the seeker-friendly message where we tell others if they just say the right words, repeating the sinner’s prayer after us, they’ll instantly be reconciled to God, ready for heaven when they die.
So, as we close today, I must offer this somber, yet revealing truth.
Unlike the popularized version of Jesus we’d prefer to focus on, it’s necessary for us to re-visit the Cross on which our Savior died. It’s a trip more of us need to make in order to be reminded of all the Master went through on our behalf. And it’s at the foot of the Cross we can once again be reminded that our Gospel “message” doesn’t stop there. It’s the empty tomb, the miracle of all God-miracles, that truly stamps our ticket to heaven. It’s the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth that makes our core message the Story to end all stories.
He is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed!
My prayer: Jesus, I’m reminded this day of the hymn of Isaac Watts;
When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God! All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood. See from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown? Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small. Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: In our society where seeker-sensitivity drives so much of what we say, how might I return to the whole truth of God’s Gospel: Jesus. Son of David. Crucified. Raised from the dead? Am I guilty of reducing the possibility of pain and suffering associated with following Jesus or am I presenting the whole message that Paul spells out to Timothy?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you guard the kalós, the precious treasure of pastoral ministry, in your life?
In this 26-session blog series, Kalós: Guarding the Precious Treasure, we explore the kalós*, this precious treasure of pastoral ministry that has been deposited into us by the work of the Holy Spirit. We invite you to come along with us, bookmarking this blog’s home page for easy, on-going referencing.
As you go through this blog series, we also suggest that you use the ancient tool of Lectio Divina as you approach each scriptural text we give you in this blog. Lectio Divina is a slow, intentional reading of the Holy Scriptures. Take your time as you ponder the text slowly, allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate God’s Word for you as you read. Ask the Master as you read, “Jesus, what in this passage do I need to hear today?”
*So, what is kalós?
Kalós comes from a New Testament Greek word which simply means “good.” The apostle Paul, when writing to his young apprentice, Timothy, decided to combine this common adjective, kalós, with a second Greek word, parathéké, a noun which means a deposit or trust committed to one’s charge. As a result, the apostle ends up with one, very powerful phrase! A command that both Timothy, and you and I, truly need to take note of as we continue this ancient work of serving Christ and His Church! “Guard this kalós (this good work, this beautiful deposit, this precious treasure) placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us.” 2nd Timothy 1: 14