Posts tagged jesus
If you want to be an effective and influential leader, what should you do? Write a book? Start a church? Come up with a vision plan for [insert world-changing vision here]?
If you’re looking for influence and impact, don’t overlook the greatest leader who ever lived. He started a movement that has been growing ever since his birth and has now spread around the globe. Here are two statements that Jesus made that should be the foundation of our leadership and influence:
The greatest among you shall be your servant.
But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.
In both passages Jesus takes the human picture of leadership and turns it on its head. In Luke 22:27, Jesus makes the most important leadership statement the world has ever heard: “But I am among you as the one who serves.”
Are you in a position of leadership right now? Here are three ways you can be an influential leader who serves:
1. Learn to follow.
Being a leader is lonely because one of the definitions of leadership means you’re out in front, like a shepherd leading the way. But as followers of Jesus we’re not the chief shepherd. He is. Our ability to lead and influence is only as great as our dependence on Jesus. We never arrive in our process of becoming more like Him (in this life) and so we need to be expert followers to be good leaders. How does this affect our ability to serve those under our leadership? We need to be reminded that before God we are all sinners saved by grace and that our position before Him is the same. This type of leading says, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”
2. Value everyone
In today’s culture, your position, title, and influence can often give you permission to separate yourself from others. Why should the CEO of a large company care about the individual factory worker who can easily be replaced? The farther you’re separated from those you lead, the easier it is to see others as a commodity as opposed to a uniquely created individual. As a Christian leader, if the vision or goal of your leadership becomes more important than the people you serve (lead) then you have a value problem.
The servant leader places high value on people by:
- Seeing people as God sees them
- Putting people over programs
- Creating a culture of listening – not just directing
- Being willing to extend grace and teach others, instead of creating rules that eliminate those with perceived weaknesses
3. Serving means doing
Do you remember the time when you had to stack chairs, clean toilets, or some other activity that you’re glad you don’t have to do anymore? While it’s true that roles change, leaders have to guard against the mentality of “I don’t do that anymore”. As a leader, people are counting on you and you do have to prioritize where you invest your time and energy. In light of this, how can you balance the unique role that only you can fill while still being a servant leader?
Do what you say.
Don’t preach anything you aren’t preaching to yourself and don’t recruit for a vision that you aren’t fully behind. Church leaders rely heavily on volunteers but rarely volunteer time themselves. Yes, practice what you preach.
The power behind our faith and our leadership is action, and leaders who shepherd like Jesus aren’t afraid to get dirty, smell like sheep, and serve with all their heart.
Jude 5 in the NA28
By Olive Tree Staff: Matt Jonas
Olive Tree recently released the NA28 for the Bible Study App and some of you may be wondering “why all the fuss”? I wrote a blog post covering some of the major differences between the NA28 and the previous edition. However, there was one very specific change that I didn’t mention in that article that is of great significance to me and all other Bible-believing Christians. It is a change in Jude 5 that has great implications for the current discussion regarding the “historical Jesus” and the early church’s views on the divinity of Christ.
The Greek text of Jude 5 in the NA27 reads as follows:
“ Ὑπομνῆσαι δὲ ὑμᾶς βούλομαι, εἰδότας [ὑμᾶς] πάντα ὅτι [ὁ] κύριος ἅπαξ λαὸν ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου σώσας τὸ δεύτερον τοὺς μὴ πιστεύσαντας ἀπώλεσεν,”
Here’s how the NRSV translates this verse into English:
“Now I desire to remind you, though you are fully informed, that the Lord, who once for all saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”
The NA28, however, has Ἰησοῦς (Jesus) in place of κύριος (Lord). Here’s the same passage from the NA28:
“ Ὑπομνῆσαι δὲ ὑμᾶς βούλομαι, εἰδότας [ὑμᾶς] ἅπαξ πάντα ὅτι Ἰησοῦς λαὸν ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου σώσας τὸ δεύτερον τοὺς μὴ πιστεύσαντας ἀπώλεσεν,”
Interestingly, the ESV already translated the passage this way on the basis of the better manuscript evidence for the reading used by the NA28. I believe this is the only place where the ESV translators departed from the main text of the NA27 and used a “variant” reading instead. It is a little ironic, in my opinion, that the “variant” reading they chose is now in the main text of the NA28.
Here’s how the ESV translates Jude 5:
“Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”
In the book of Exodus, it was the Lord (YHWH) who led the Israelites out of Egypt. If Jude is claiming that it was Jesus who led the Israelites out of captivity, then he is apparently identifying Jesus with the Lord.
It is interesting to note that this change was made because it is the” best attested reading” for this passage. Bruce Metzger even said as much in his Textual Commentary, but regardless, the editors of the NA27 still chose the reading “Lord” rather than “Jesus”.
Here are Metzger’s own words:
“Critical principles seem to require the adoption of Ἰησοῦς, which admittedly is the best attested reading among Greek and versional witnesses…” (Metzger, 657).
At the beginning of the same note, Metzger explained the reading used in the main text of the NA27 in this way:
“Despite the weighty attestation supporting Ἰησοῦς … a majority of the Committee was of the opinion that this reading was difficult to the point of impossibility, and explained its origin in terms of transcriptional oversight…”(Metzger, 657).
The NA28 has reversed this decision, going with the “best attested reading” even though it might be theologically objectionable to those who wish to claim that Christ’s divinity was not a belief held by the early church and was instead a later invention.
This view even became a part of our popular culture recently due to Dan Brown’s novel “The Da Vinci Code.” Among other things, the novel claims that Emperor Constantine I suppressed Gnosticism and promoted the deity of Christ for political reasons. Brown’s view is presented as fiction (which it clearly is due to the numerous historical inaccuracies), but there have been other more scholarly attempts to support similar claims.
Thomas Jefferson famously cut-and-pasted pieces from his collection of Bibles to create “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazereth,” better known as the Jefferson Bible. In this harmony of the gospels, he complete eliminated all references to Christ’s divinity and his miracles (including, of course, his resurrection).
More recently, the Jesus Seminar did something similar, voting on whether they believed that the words attributed to Jesus by the Gospels were authentic. Not surprisingly, passages in which Jesus claims divinity (such as John 14), didn’t make the cut.
In his recent book Misquoting Jesus, Bart Ehrman even claims that early Christian scribes altered the text of the New Testament to support their views, such as the deity of Christ. Ironically, Jude 5 (in the NA27) may be an example of the opposite phenomenon, in which modern “scribes” altered the text in a way that deemphasized this doctrine. It’s refreshing to see that the editors of the NA28 have corrected this bias and have ruled simply in favor of the textual evidence, even though the resulting reading may be troubling to some.
Hopefully, the choice to include this reading marks the beginning of a trend against the bias that I mentioned above. In his talk on the NA28 at the 2012 SBL national conference in Chicago, Klaus Wachtel noted that the NA27 showed bias against the Byzantine tradition. He also claimed that NA28 by contrast recognizes the reliability of the mainstream tradition. This respect for the mainstream tradition is evident in how the editors of the NA28 chose to handle Jude 5. The textual evidence has always been on the side of the reading that was chosen, and yet previous editions used a less well attested variant instead because of the theological implications. How the NA28 handles Jude 5 may not “disprove” the claims of Dan Brown, or Thomas Jefferson, the Jesus Seminar, or Bart Ehrman, but it is still a step in the right direction.
By Olive Tree Staff: David Mikucki
Jesus’ followers were convinced that He was the coming King—the Messiah of Israel who would rule the nations with a rod of iron. All His disciples were severely disappointed when the unthinkable happened. Jesus was crucified. The coming conquering King had come and didn’t seem to have conquered. Maybe Jesus wasn’t the Messiah? If He wasn’t, then… now what?
That’s the backdrop for Luke 24. With Jesus dead, His followers were distraught. They were on a seven mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus, talking about everything that had just happened, trying to sort through it all—still unaware that Jesus had been raised. Jesus met them on this road, but He kept them from recognizing Him (Luke 24:17). To them He was a stranger passing on the road. They told this ‘stranger’ that they thought Jesus was the one who was going to redeem Israel and that some of their friends were telling what they thought were just fairytales about Him rising from the dead.
At this point, Jesus says something that shocks everyone! He tells his followers that the prophets said all of this was going to happen: the Messiah would suffer and then enter into His glory. No one expected the Messiah to suffer! Who expects a King to suffer? Jesus says the prophets expected it. Then in Luke 24:27, He explains the things concerning Himself from Moses and all the prophets. Jesus went to each book of the Bible and explained all the things about Himself (see also Luke 24:44).
People these days have a lot of different ideas concerning what the Bible is about. Jesus has His own idea. The Bible isn’t about all the good things we have to do in order to go to heaven (John 5:39). It’s not just a bunch of do’s and don’t’s. It’s not just a bunch of fun stories. Jesus said the Bible is about Himself. Humanity’s biggest problem is that we sin our whole lives and then we die. The Bible teaches us all we need to know about our Savior—the King who suffered and died in our place and rose from the dead three days later to make us right before God and give us a new life like His.
One of the last things Jesus did before He ascended into heaven was to tell us that the Bible is about Him! Jesus is our Savior—the only Savior—and He says that all of Scripture points us to Him: the One we really need. When we study the Bible, let’s remember that it’s all about Jesus.
Olive Tree’s got some great resources that explain Jesus in parts of the Bible we might not have expected to find Him in. Here are some of my favorites…
- Matthew Henry’s Commentary (Free!)
- Christ in the Old Testament by Charles Spurgeon
- Christ in the Passover by Rose Publishing
- Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament edited by D.A. Carson and G.K. Beale
I can’t think of any bigger understatement than saying, what we celebrate this weekend is ‘significant’. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus absolutely changed everything! When Jesus died and rose again – three days later – it reversed the centuries old curse of sin and death that was over all humanity.
Jesus fulfilled hundreds of impossible to fulfill prophecies about the messiah that had been written centuries before but the most amazing of all was that after three days in a grave, he was alive! What did this mean? In the history of the world no one had ever lived and died a sinless life. Jesus – God in the flesh – did. In that instant the sin that we’re all born into was stripped of its power. Things on this Earth would never be the same. As John ends his account of Jesus life he says, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” His resurrection proved he was who he said he was.
What does this mean today? It means absolutely everything! What Jesus did made a way to be free from the power that sin once held over us. Where sin makes us strangers and even enemies of God, Jesus death and resurrection makes us sons and daughters of God. This type of reconciliation had never been known and now it’s accessible to anyone who believes. In Romans 5:10-11 the Apostle Paul says, For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Not only did Jesus resurrection set into motion the reconciliation available to all who believe but we now get to be agents of his reconciliation while we await the restoration of all things. The book of Revelation tells us of this day that will come: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Resurrection, Reconciliation, and Restoration; this is the good news of the Gospel of Jesus! This Easter and in the days following let’s not only be reminded of the power of what Jesus did but let’s be actively living in the reality of it.
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This Sunday commemorates Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem and is called Palm or Passion Sunday, depending on your tradition. All four gospels record this significant and prophetic event and I highly recommend you read them for yourself. You can find them in Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19. As I reread each account myself here are four things that stick out about this historic event that we still commemorate today.
Jesus Fulfilled Prophecy.
Not only was Jesus the long awaited King that the Jews had been longing for but his very entry into Jerusalem was just how it had been prophesied over 500 years earlier.
Zechariah 9:9 says, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
I can imagine that Jewish theologians had been trying to reconcile their picture of a King (think David or Solomon) with the idea that he would ride in on a little colt, his feet barely off the ground. Yet here he was, having given his disciples an awkward command on how to get the colt, fulfilling prophecy that had been written centuries earlier. This was a plot twist that I don’t think even Hollywood could dream up.
What’s with the Palms?
The imagery of palms was a part of the Jewish culture and often reflected honor and nobility. 1 Kings chapter 6 and 7 record how Solomon had them as part of the sacred carvings of the temple. In Mark’s account of Jesus entry, people are spreading palm branches out on the ground along with their cloaks in what I imagine would be a sort of ancient red carpet that probably helped keep the dust down.
The significance of this honor paid to Jesus also foreshadows what is to come. In Revelation 7:9 there’s an incredible description of worship that – you guessed it – includes palm branches. So we see here Jesus is fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah and also pointing forward to an even greater scene of worship that is to come.
The chances are pretty good that at some point you’ve sung a song at church with the word ‘Hosanna’ in it. As Jesus made his entry there was definitely some worship going on but what does Hosanna actually mean? It was a desperate cry from an oppressed people living under Roman rule that means ‘Oh save’ or ‘Save us now’. He would certainly save them but not quite how they imagined.
Where’s the Victory?
The Jews had been waiting and their King was finally here! Sure he was riding on a baby donkey and didn’t have a sword, armor, or an army but he was there none the less. As the shouts of Hosanna went out, everyone anticipated what this long awaited Kings next move would be. How would he save them? Would he be like David and his mighty men? Would he be like Solomon with wisdom and riches? “Save us now”, they cried!
One week later, many of these same people who had shouted ‘Hosanna’ would be shouting ‘Barabbas’ . They would trade their long awaited King for a thief and a murderer. He hadn’t fulfilled their image of a King or brought about their idea of salvation and so they turned on him.
But God in his sovereign grace had a plan that included a vastly different idea of what salvation was to look like, one that we’ll be celebrating this coming week. I’ll leave you with these words from Revelation 7:9-10:
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ” Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
That’s my King!