The Death of Jesus, Part 2: Bloody Sweat?

For me it was in the garden
He prayed, ‘Not My will, but Thine.’
He had no tears for His own griefs,
But sweat drops of blood for mine.

- Charles H. Gabriel, “I Stand Amazed in the Presence”

Our series, “The Death of Jesus,” continues with the phenomenon of Jesus’ bloody sweat. In our last post, we argued that the multiple, independent attestation of Jesus’ sufferings and death argues for authenticity. Specifically, we noted that:

1. Jesus’ execution is referenced in all four gospels.
2. Jesus’ execution is referenced in the earliest writings of the church.
3. Jesus’ execution is referenced in extra-biblical, non-Christian sources. 

In the next several posts, we will contend that the description we have in Scripture of Jesus’ physical sufferings is historically, medically, geographically, and archaeologically credible, which also argues for authenticity. Our first consideration will be what happened to Jesus moments before he was arrested.  Continue reading

The Death of Jesus, Part 1: Authentic History?

Did you mean to die like that?
Was that a mistake or
Did you know your messy death
Would be a record breaker?
Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?

- Tim Rice, Jesus Christ Superstar

To ponder the death of Jesus is to probe the loving heart of God. It was Jesus himself who connected the two: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16a). This divine giving encompassed the cross.

In large measure, the Old Testament anticipates the cross, the Gospel documents the cross, and the rest of the New Testament explains the cross. During the season of Lent, believers around the world give deep thought to the death of Christ. Our purpose in doing so is not to be macabre but to increase our gratitude and enhance our generosity. It’s part of our discipleship.

But did the crucifixion of Jesus really take place as described in Scripture? Various “swoon” theories and “mistaken identity” theories have been proposed over the years by skeptics. The former claim that Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross, and the latter claim that the man who did die on the cross wasn’t really Jesus. What are we to make of such competing and contradictory theories?
Continue reading

‘Imitators of God’: A Theocentric Approach to the Christian Preaching of Old Testament Law

Bible“His law is not graceless, and his grace is not lawless.”

Below is a link to my latest academic article, published in the Fall 2014 volume of the Evangelical Journal. The title is, “‘Imitators of God’: A Theocentric Approach to the Christian Preaching of Old Testament Law.”

Thesis Paragraph

For many pastors, the Old Testament laws are tedious, confusing, strict, arcane, defunct, or utterly irrelevant to the Christian life (except, perhaps, for the Ten Commandments and a few other so-called “moral” laws). Yet the Apostle Paul asserts in 2 Timothy 3:16 that every part of Scripture—including, presumably, each of the 613 laws—is of great value to the New Testament Christian. But declaring the law’s value is much easier than demonstrating it. Moreover, that it should be demonstrated “is by no means assured” among evangelicals. In this paper, we will explore why the law is seldom preached, and how we might go about doing so if we are persuaded that it should be. We will conclude with an example of the proposed methodology in action (Exod. 22:16-17).

Conclusion

Christians today will find much value in reflecting deeply on the ancient laws that God gave to Israel. By focusing on what those laws reveal about God and his ways, Christians will have access to a vast repository of theological insights that can enrich their devotion to God and provide an ethical context for the outworking of their salvation (cf. Phil. 2:12). Since Christ perfectly kept—and is the fulfillment of—the law (cf. Rom. 10:4), knowing the law more fully will give Christians some vital insights as to why the Father was so well pleased with his Son (cf. Matt. 3:17; 17:5). It will also give them a moral framework for what it means to “walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6) and be “imitators of God” (Eph. 5:1). Ultimately, when I come to the law of God, I encounter the God of the law. My desire in this sacred meeting is to discover his character and then allow that character to shape my own by the power of the Holy Spirit. His law is not graceless, and his grace is not lawless.

Full Article

‘Imitators of God’: A Theocentric Approach to the Christian Preaching of Old Testament Law

The Foolishness of Preaching

WilliamWillimon“Imagine being asked to stand before a grand gathering of the good and the wise and being asked to make a speech about goodness, beauty, the meaning of life, the point of history, the nature of Almighty God, or some such high subject and having no material at your disposal but an account of a humiliating bloody execution at a garbage dump outside a rebellious city in the Middle East.”

So wrote William H. Willimon in his his book Proclamation and Theology (p. 66). The Apostle Paul put it like this in 1 Corinthians 1:21b: “God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.”

To this I have given my life—that others might live. The question is not, “Have I been foolish?” The question is, “Have I been foolish enough?”

WillimonProclamationTheology

 

Willimon, William H. Proclamation and Theology. Horizons in Theology. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2005.

Paperback, 112 pages
ISBN-10: 0687493439
ISBN-13: 978-0687493432

Red Lights on the Dashboard of Life

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red.light.dashboardI’ve been renovating our bathroom lately. Actually, for two and a half months. It’s looking pretty good, but I’m not very good at this kind of work. It doesn’t come easily or naturally to me. Sometimes my construction efforts are a comedy of errors (think, Lucille Ball), and sometimes they’re a tragedy of agitation (think, cauldrons of bubbling beef stew).

Last night was more on the volcanic side of the emotional spectrum. My tools weren’t working right, the house is grossly out of plumb, and—as I said—I’m not very good at this kind of work. The lava was so hot I frustrated myself nearly to the point of tears. That was embarrassing. And disappointing. It was also a red light on the dashboard of life. “What’s wrong with me?” I wondered.

Pride. Impatience. Irritability. Plain old sin and “remaining corruption.”  Continue reading

Why Does God Want Our Praise?

man in praiseIt is clear from Scripture that God is worthy to be praised, but why does he want to be praised? Indeed, why does he demand to be praised (cf. Deut 6:13)? The first commandment allows no room for any other gods besides Yahweh (cf. Exod 20:3). Such a claim seems narrow and exclusive in an age of pluralism and tolerance. Here’s a God who says that alternatives and substitutes are off limits to his people.

That raises the question of whether God is ego-heavy after all. Is he not humble? Is he needy in some way? Is he insecure? Why must he always get top billing? People who act like that are considered narcissistic. C. S. Lewis pondered the question, and he was troubled for some time by its possible implications. Is God, he wondered, like “a vain old woman seeking compliments?” After soaking his head in the book of Psalms, Lewis came to an insightful conclusion. In Reflections on the Psalms he writes:

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a nReflectionsPsalmsew author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . . . The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”

Continue reading

A Candidate for Father of the Year?

Video

Is this the best Dad, ever? We often speak of the need to “create memories for our children” as one aspect of our parenting. I doubt these kids will ever forget this particular playdate with their father. Come to think of it, the wife will probably remember this event for a long time, too. (Sorry for the OMGs at the end.)

HT: Kevin DeYoung.