Church as Relationship

Church began with relationship, the relationship between Jesus and His disciples. Each of the disciples knew Jesus; in fact they knew Him pretty well, at least in human terms. They spent three years together travelling, eating, talking, laughing, crying and learning; they were close friends. Over time, the disciples came to love and trust Jesus.

We also have relationships with Jesus, although that relationship is somewhat different than the disciples had with Him when He walked the earth. The relationship that we have with Him is of the type the disciples had with Him after Pentecost; it is a spiritual relationship. Yet, we mustn’t allow ourselves to be fooled into thinking that a spiritual relationship is any less personal or intimate than being close friends in the physical realm would be, for the opposite is actually the case.

Most of the posts on this blog deal with our personal relationships with Christ. Some of them are written to encourage you to delve deeper into that relationship, others are written to remind you to spend time with Him, and still others are there as an exhortation not to neglect your relationship… for this is the key relationship in our lives, or at least it should be. Many other blogs I enjoy reading tell the story of their author’s journey in relationship with Jesus… you see, it isn’t just me.

As wonderful as this relationship can be, it brings with it a danger. The danger is that we might forget that Jesus died for all, and not just for me. In those cases, it might seem like John said:

For God so loved me that He gave His one and only Son, that if I believe in Him I will not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 (?)

Isn’t that a nice thought? The only problem is that I have misquoted John.

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Jesus Rises from the Grave

Matthew 28:1-15

Matthew’s account of the events that day, the day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, varies from that of Mark and Luke, and while we can discuss that some other time, I would point out that Matthew’s account carries forward His emphasis throughout the narrative of both Kingdom and the messianic mission of Jesus; in fact, these two themes are virtually inseparable: Jesus’ messianic mission was to establish His kingdom, which is not of this world. No, I haven’t forgotten that Jesus came to die on the cross for the redemption of Mankind; rather I am asserting that He did so in order to establish the Kingdom as a present reality.

Early on the first day of the week, which is the day after the Sabbath (Sunday), the women come to see the tomb. Unlike Mark and Luke, Matthew doesn’t get into the exact purpose for this. They arrive and then God springs into action again: There is a violent earthquake, as the angel of the Lord comes down and rolls the stone away from the tomb, and sits down on it and speaks to the women.

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Peter has a Rough Night


Matthew 26:69-75

Quite a lot has taken place since Jesus told the disciples that they would disown Him. Quite a lot has taken place since Peter objected to that and Jesus told him he would deny Jesus three times that very night.

Jesus has been arrested, tried in a joke of a trial and been found guilty of blasphemy and condemned to die; Peter was outside listening to the proceedings. You might recall that when Jesus was arrested, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the guards, but Jesus had stepped in to stop Peter, replacing the man’s ear. Then Jesus told the crowd off for not doing their foul deeds in public, and Peter, along with the other disciples had fled the scene.

The disciples had learned a great deal over the past few years from Jesus, but in spite of at least three warnings, they hadn’t quite gotten the point of Jesus’ mission as the Messiah; that He had come not to conquer the Romans and restore Israel as a Nation of the earth, but instead had come to conquer sin and death and establish a Kingdom not of this world. Jesus told the group about His real mission three times, each of which ended by Jesus telling them He was going die at the hands of the Jewish leaders, and then rise again from the grave on the third day. Yet in each instance, the disciples reacted to His death prediction and apparently didn’t notice the resurrection prediction.

Peter now knew that Jesus was about to die, but the resurrection part of the story still eluded him. Remembering Jesus’ words of earlier that evening, he now creeps of and weeps bitterly over his own rejection of his Master in front of those in and around the place of His trial. For Peter, relief from his agony was still far off, but he wasn’t the only one having a bad night; Judas, the betrayer was having a worse night.

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The Last Supper


“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

Matthew 18:6-9

Be careful − this passage isn’t hanging out there all by itself; the scene has not changed from 18:1-5, this is Jesus continuing to speak to their question of who will be the greatest in the Kingdom. In case you missed the last section, they asked the question and Jesus called for a little child to join them and told the disciples that unless they become like that little child they cannot enter the Kingdom, and then He goes on to say the words in our passage above. Thus, the “little ones” are those who have become like a little child so they could enter the Kingdom.

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You don’t see this every day!

Matthew 17:1-13

Just a few days after Peter’s confession that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” and Jesus’ prediction of His death, we have a scene that is unusual to say the least when Jesus takes three disciples, Peter, James and John up a “high mountain” where a conference of sorts is about to take place. I think I’ll let others argue about why Jesus only took these three with Him that day, and I’ll let others speculate on which mountain they ascended; I’ll assume that since Matthew didn’t tell us, that it probably doesn’t matter. What Matthew did tell us is quite enough to keep us busy…

There they were at the top of the mountain when suddenly Jesus was revealed in His transcendent glory, and was joined by two other figures that Matthew identifies as Moses and Elijah. As the three of them spoke, Peter offers to build shelters for each of them, a sign of high respect. In a sense, this would seem to equate them as equals, but note that he said “if you wish” which would seem to indicate Peter’s recognition that of the three, Jesus was the greatest.

But Jesus was not the one who responded, for suddenly there was a “bright cloud” that covered them and the voice of Almighty God spoke:

“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (17:5)

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My Yoke is Easy and My Burden is Light

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:25-30

Still speaking in reference to the towns He listed in the last section, Jesus extends His offer of grace; there is still time to repent. He begins praising God the Father for the way that He has hidden His salvation from the “wise and learned” while revealing it to “little children”.

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