Friday, August 27, 2010

The Disciple Jesus Loves

Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. (John 13:23)
Who is the disciple Jesus loves? The gospel of John mentions him five times, and in all five places appears to be referring to John himself. He received from Jesus a deep understanding of the love God had for him. So deep was this revelation that John has often been called the “apostle of love,” and the theme of love permeates his writings.

Do not suppose, though, that there is only one disciple Jesus loves. There is another, and when you realize who it is, you will lean your head on Jesus’ breast.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Make Your Name Famous

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
(Matthew 6:9)
Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” But what is it that we are really asking? To hallow something means to consecrate it, sanctify it, set it apart from all others, to make it holy. Or to put it another way, to make His name famous. “Your name, be made famous.” Grammatically, this is in the imperative mood. Conceptually, it is a divine passive. That is, we are calling for God to make His name holy — on earth as it is in heaven.

The Message Bible puts it this way: “Reveal who You are.” This brings out an important aspect: We are asking for a manifestation of who God is, for God to reveal Himself in the world, and thus cause His name to be recognized as holy. This is not a new idea Jesus is introducing but one that is rooted prophetically in the Old Testament. What is new, though, is the timing. Jesus brings it at the kairos moment, the point where everything was coming together in a way that would change the world forever.

Remember, Jesus began His ministry preaching, “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). In Luke 4, He lays out the charter of the kingdom in terms of Isaiah 61, and declares, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” The Sermon on the Mount, which is where we find the Lord’s Prayer and “hallowed be Your name,” functions in much the same way.

Now, let’s look at what the hallowing of God’s name means prophetically, first in Ezekiel, then in Isaiah:
For on My holy mountain, on the mountain height of Israel,” says the Lord GOD, “there all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, shall serve Me; there I will accept them, and there I will require your offerings and the firstfruits of your sacrifices, together with all your holy things. I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the Gentiles. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I raised My hand in an oath to give to your fathers. (Ezekiel 20:40-42)

Thus says the Lord GOD: “When I have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and am hallowed in them in the sight of the Gentiles, then they will dwell in their own land which I gave to My servant Jacob. And they will dwell safely there, build houses, and plant vineyards; yes, they will dwell securely, when I execute judgments on all those around them who despise them. Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God.” (Ezekiel 28:25-26)

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name — after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, when they dwelt safely in their own land and no one made them afraid. When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations, then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer. And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” says the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 39:25-29)
Israel was held captive in foreign lands because of her unfaithfulness to God’s covenant in going after other gods and committing spiritual adultery. Even so, God promised that He would one day finally bring her home from exile. She would be accepted by God forever and He would fulfill the covenant He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. No more would He hide His face, but He would pour out His Spirit on her. By this great act of deliverance, God would hallow His name and cause all the nations to know that He is God and there is none like Him. Isaiah likewise picks up this theme.
Therefore thus says the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:

“Jacob shall not now be ashamed,
Nor shall his face now grow pale;
But when he sees his children,
The work of My hands, in his midst,
They will hallow My name,
And hallow the Holy One of Jacob,
And fear the God of Israel.
These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding,
And those who complained will learn doctrine.”
(Isaiah 29:22-24)

Surely the coastlands shall wait for Me;
And the ships of Tarshish will come first,
To bring your sons from afar,
Their silver and their gold with them,
To the name of the LORD your God,
And to the Holy One of Israel,
Because He has glorified you.
(Isaiah 60:9)
This redemption would also cause Israel herself to recognize the holiness of His name. The nations would not only bring her sons home but would also bring tribute to the name of her God, Yahweh (which is the name that the word, “LORD” in all caps, signifies). They would all honor Him as the Holy One because of the glory with which He would adorn Israel. Even the psalm writers note how great a cause for praise this would be.
Save us, O LORD our God,
And gather us from among the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise.
(Psalm 106:47)

He has sent redemption to His people;
He has commanded His covenant forever:
Holy and awesome is His name.
(Psalm 111:9)
All this began to be fulfilled when King Jesus the Messiah came and proclaimed the kingdom of God was at hand. We see it in His reading of Isaiah 61 in the synagogue:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
(Luke 43:18-19)
This is the good news Israel had been waiting for. Healing for the broken in heart, freedom for the captives, recovery of sight, liberty for the oppressed. With the words, “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing,” Jesus was proclaiming that the “acceptable year of the LORD,” the time of God’s favor, had come. It came in the person of Israel’s Messiah King, Jesus. Through His death, burial and resurrection, He brought deliverance and forgiveness. Through the pouring out of His Spirit upon all who believed the good news, He fulfilled His promise to Israel and extended it to the nations.

When we pray, as Jesus taught us, “Our Father in heaven, make Your name holy and reveal who You are,” we are hastening the completion of what He has already begun. We are in a new time, a kingdom time when the God of Israel, His kingdom and Messiah is being proclaimed to all the world. He will continue to make His name known until His will is completely done on earth as it is in heaven.