Jesus, lion and lamb

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Let’s say that the end of your life was in front of you. You knew it wasn’t years or months or weeks or even days, but it was hours, and your life would be over. You knew you were going to die, and you were right on the threshold of death, and it was going to be a painful, brutal, difficult, tortuous, public, shameful death. What would you be thinking about? What would you be talking about?

In Luke 22, Jesus is hours away from of His own murder. It is the dark season of His life (cf. v.53). He’s going to die soon. He knows it. And what does He talk about? What is He thinking about? The Scriptures. What gives Him confidence, what gives Him courage, what gives Him clarity? It’s the Scriptures.

One of the statements coined from the Protestant Reformation was tota sola Scriptura. It’s a Latin phrase that means all of Scripture is alone our highest authority. God’s Book is better in every way than every other book. His Book is a perfect Book. Even the best books that men write don’t compare to the book that God wrote. Scriptures are the standard to measure other books.

Now, what Jesus is going to do in Luke 22 is give a test in tota sola Scriptura. And He actually begins in Luke 22 by referring back to Luke 10. Remember, the person of peace passage, where Jesus told his disciples not to take anything, but rely upon God for provisions as they journeyed from town to town? Now Jesus will say something interesting almost seemingly contradictory,

“35 And he said to them, When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything? They said, Nothing. 36 He said to them, But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: And he was numbered with the transgressors. For what is written about me has its fulfillment. 38 And they said, Look, Lord, here are two swords. And he said to them, It is enough.”

Well, which is it, Jesus? Pack supplies or don’t pack supplies? Be ready or don’t be ready? Wear shoes or don’t wear shoes? Pack weapons or don’t pack weapons? Which is it? It all depends on the mission. Jesus says, “On this mission, take nothing; on this mission, take everything.”

On a side note, as I read this I thought, “What does ‘sword’ mean?” Well I looked it up in my super nerdy Bible dictionary and “sword” means sword. Certainly, Jesus didn’t say pack a weapon. Oh, but he did. Fourteen verses later, Peter is going to grab a sword and will cut a guy’s ear off (v.50). Ironic?

Commercial over. The truth is, sometimes you should raise money. Sometimes you shouldn’t. Sometimes you should pack supplies. Sometimes you shouldn’t. Sometimes you should defend yourself. Sometimes you shouldn’t. Sometimes you should rely solely on God your provider. Sometimes you should have a plan and be prepared. It all depends on the mission. So, consider what God is calling you to in that moment.

Jesus is going deeper than talking about material you need for you mission, but the mindset you have while on mission. In Luke 10, Jesus encourages His disciples to be like a lamb and let God be your shepherd who provides everything you need. But in Luke 22, Jesus encourages the disciples to be tough. Not just Ford tough, but ninja fighter tough. Get your supplies, money secured, boots polished, sword in sheath, off to conflict, kind of tough. Tough like a lion.

There is no contradiction between Luke 10 and 22. Jesus is both lamb or lion. When you read through all of Luke you see that Jesus is lamb and lion or both at the same time. Check it out:

Luke 4: Jesus is tested by Satan and uses the Scripture to His defense. He’s LION.
Luke 5: Jesus heals a paralytic and leper. He’s LAMB.
Luke 6: Jesus heals man with withered hand despite the religious critics. He’s LAMB and LION.
Luke 7: Jesus heals servant girl and widow. He’s LAMB.
Luke 8: Jesus casts out legion. He’s LION and LAMB.
Luke 9: Jesus feeds 5000. He’s LAMB.
Luke 11: Jesus preaches the woes. He’s LION.
Luke 13: Jesus heals disabled woman. He’s LAMB.
Luke 14: Jesus heals man on the Sabbath despite religious critics. He’s LAMB and LION.
Luke 18: Jesus lets the children come to Him. He’s LAMB.
Luke 19: Jesus confronts money changers in the temple. He’s LION.

Do you see a pattern here? Jesus is tough and tender. He is servant and sovereign. He is lamb and lion.

Back to the Reformers tota sola Scriptura. The Scripture is about totally about Jesus. All the people, stories, and principles are part of the subplot connecting to the main storyline of Jesus’, the Savior of the world. The Book doesn’t make any sense unless it’s all connects to Jesus.

On Sunday, I was had lunch with Mark and his family. They’ve lived in Africa for over two decades. There youngest son was born there and is now a young man. Mark shared how his first few years in Africa were tough, but as he saw the Word of God transform lives he has become more tender to God’s calling him there. He’s seen many Muslims respond in faith to the Book that points to Jesus from beginning to end.

In Luke 22:37, Jesus says. “For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’” He quotes Isaiah 53:12. Jesus says the the whole book is now being fulfilled in His life. He came fulfilling everything that is written in the book that God wrote. Even on the brink of torture and death Jesus understands He is to fulfill what God has said. He came as the lamb of God slain for the sins of the world. And He has promised to come back as the Lion of Judah to restore the world. The Book says so. Tota sola Scriptura.

Questions for Reflection: How has Jesus made provision for you in your life? How does the fulfillment of the cross make provision for your sin? In what ways do you lack nothing and have everything? How does your worldly perspective affect your view of provision? In what ways have you submitted to the truth and power of Scripture in your life? What does it look like for the Scripture to be your tota sola Scriptura?

two words

lion and lamb

As you think about Jesus, what two words would you use to describe Him? What if the character of Christ was reducible to two ingredients? John 1:14 says that Jesus was full of grace and truth. Could it be that “being like Christ” can be summarized in these two words? He was “full of grace and truth,” not 50/50, 60/40, 80/20, but 100/100. What would it be like if Jesus was full of grace and no truth? Or full of truth and no grace?

In the gospels we see Jesus living out this grace and truth in His ministry. He is both Lion and Lamb. Some were drawn to Him and repelled by Him because of His characteristics of grace and truth. If we offend EVERYBODY it is probably because we speak truth without grace. Have you known people like that? When we offend NOBODY it to probably because we are watering down truth for grace. We need both. We need 100% of both.

I do not play a guitar, but I am aware that if the strings are loose the guitar sounds awful. It the strings are too tight they can break or cause discord. The same with grace and truth; the “music” of the gospel message is when there is perfect tension between both.

TRUTH

One of the biggest complaints about Christianity is that it is a bunch of rules [do’s and don’ts]. Yet Christianity is not about what we should avoid, but about who we should embrace. If we talk about do’s and don’ts more than Jesus our view of truth is out of whack.

Truth is like a guardrail that protects us from plunging off a cliff. I remember the curvy roads as we drove through Rwanda. There were no rails on these steep jungle cliffs. We even saw a few places where people drove over. We had a lot of faith in our speedy driver. A smart driver doesn’t complain about the guardrails because they protect. The guardrails of Gods Truth are not to punish, but to protect.

It is not arrogant to believe that Jesus is the Truth [John 14:6]. It would be arrogant if we had come up with it, but we didn’t. we’re just repeating what Jesus said. It’s not arrogant to repeat what the Bible teaches. Arrogance is when we try to tailor truth to our preferences.

You may not be the most popular person for it, but be a person of truth. Tell people about Jesus and His teachings. The best way is to live it.

GRACE

The song Amazing Grace was written by John Newton. Before he wrote the song he was a captain of a passenger ship. The ships passengers were slaves. He would acquire his slaves from Africa and transport them to America were the slaves were sold like animals at the State Fair Auctions. Radically God changed his life. He went from abusing slaves to pastoring and opposing the slave trade.

Amazing Grace. How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found; was blind but now I see.

When John Newton was 82 and near death he said, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” That is Truth mixed with Grace. Grace is no excuse to sin. Grace reminds us of what our sin has freed us from. It empowers us to say no to sin and hello to Christ.

I am a wretched sinner. I’m not so good after all. I do not deserve God’s love and forgiveness. I deserve much worse. God’s grace is amazing when I realize who I am and who God is. Without Truth we lack conviction [No truth = no need for salvation]. Without Grace we lack compassion [No grace = no hope for salvation]. What we need are people of truth and grace.