It Is Telos!

It Is Telos!

Why do you think Jesus died?

Let me give you a hint—I’m not looking for the Sunday school answer.

To discover the truth, you have to go way back before the Gospels. You have to go back about 700 years before Jesus was even born.

Isaiah 53:3-5 says,
“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (ESV)

Did you catch it?

Of course Jesus died for our sins. Of course, it is through His substitutional payment that we are forgiven by God and enjoy full freedom now, and eternal life forever. That’s what we learned in Sunday school and it’s absolutely true. But did anyone ever point out that Jesus bore your grief and sorrow? Did you notice that his punishment entitles you to peace and healing?

The word for sorrow here is ma’kob in the Hebrew. It means both physical and mental pain. And the word for healed is rapha’, which means many things. It can refer to the restoration of nations, a restoration of favor, the healing of national hurts and personal distress.

I don’t mean to minimize the truth that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for our iniquities and transgressions. (Those are big words for rebellion, perversity, depravity, iniquity and guilt.) Every single person on earth needs to be rescued from those things; no one is innocent of them, and each one must be paid for.

However, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was complete in so many more ways than we recognize in our annual skim through the last few chapters of the Gospels. There’s a recurring word in the final chapters of John that points to the all-inclusive, all-encompassing, all-surpassing, finished work of Jesus. It is the word telos. Telos means: the end of an act, that by which a thing is finished, the aim or purpose.

The first Scripture that I’m referring to is John 13:1. The Bible says that Jesus “loved [His own] to the end”, or telos.

Next, in John 19:28, as Jesus hung on the cross, moments before He spoke His last words, the Bible gives us a peek into His mind. “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished…”.

Finally, Christ’s last words, “It is finished,” in John 19:30.

I think the word telos in each of these verses bears more weight than we ascribe. Throughout His ministry, Jesus said that He came to give us many things—far beyond our Sunday school answer of eternal life and heaven. Jesus said that He came to heal the sick, to bind up the broken hearted, to bring us abundant life and complete joy. (Matthew 9:12, Luke 4:18, John 10:10, John 15:11)

Where would we be without this Savior? Of course we would be alienated from God, dead in our sins, condemned for eternity. When we believe on Jesus Christ, according to John 3:16, we are saved. Then that it gets better than we ever imagined! We receive all good things from the bounty of our generous Heavenly Father’s riches.

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32, NIV)

Yes, thank Him for salvation! But may we fall to our knees with wonder and gratitude for all that He has given us—far beyond eternal life. Jesus came for our sorrows and sickness. He came to bring healing, joy and life.

There is nothing that we need or desire that remains undone. Believer—It is Telos!

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Growing Wonderfully

acorn-nature-1432983-mGrowing up in rural Oklahoma, the ground was always slathered with acorns like thick butter on toasted, summer soil. Not so appetizing, most of them were infested with tiny, gray worms, but nonetheless, they provided hours of entertainment. My sisters and I collected them, drew faces on them, smashed them and, yes, even tasted one or two. However, we enjoyed the final, mature state of the acorns even more.

The monstrous oaks that ringed our acreage served many purposes. They were for climbing, hanging our homemade bird feeders, swinging in our hammock and resting under. They were home-base for tense games of freeze tag or hide-n-seek.

When I was young, it didn’t much amaze me, or really even occur to me that each mighty oak had once been a tiny acorn. It wasn’t until high school biology that I marveled at the seed’s transformation.

Easter just passed this year. In the weeks before it, I found myself pouring over 1 Corinthians 15, a chapter that encapsulates the entire Gospel message in 58 verses. Easter obviously calls to mind Christ’s body—his death and the resurrection of His physical body. But what tugged at my mind most, was Paul’s consideration of what we will look like after death. And like many other other Biblical analogies, he uses nature—specifically seeds—to do so.

1 Corinthians 15:35-44
“But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”

Wondering about your body after death? Paul asks. Think of a seed.

My mind tripped back to those acorns. Mature oak trees bear little resemblance to their seed, the unassuming acorn. When an acorn falls into the ground, it is covered by dirt, baked by the sun and showered with hundreds of seasonal storms. Finally, when the Creator deems the right moment, a sapling cracks earth’s crust and reaches gangly arms toward the sunlight. The acorn takes on its final form, the body for which it was created, the shape for which it was always intended.

In the same way, Paul says, our earthly bodies will die. Most of us will experience much the same thing as an acorn—burial, the seasonal elements. And, like the mature oak tree, our Creator will give to us our final form—the full, glorious, splendid body that was always intended for us. This is the form, the spiritual body in which we will live forever in the presence of the One whose image we bear.

Can you see it? We will not lose ourselves or our essence any more than an oak tree forsakes its origin in the acorn. The tree is what an acorn was always intended to be; it really had no purpose (save entertaining children) than to one day become an oak! So too, you and I will become more fully ourselves, more complete, more useful and purpose-filled than we have ever been before.

The death of these earthly bodies is not so much a loss, as a metamorphosis. We are fearfully and wonderfully made by a limitless Creator who intends all good things for us. He cannot wait to see the full blossom of your wonderful maturity, the donning of your spiritual body. Then, we will never know fatigue, but sing incessant praises to The One who made us wonderfully.

This was first published on the Wonderfully Made Blog. I encourage you to visit their site and be encouraged!

Cause of Christ

I am contemplating causes.

Those things which clamor for commitment,

Constrain us to sacrifice for their worthiness.

 

Cancer has drafted the voices of millions.

Nearly everyone has a someone who has tasted of its dregs

And come up, if fortunate enough, forever changed by the bitterness of the disease.

It is broadcast from billboards and bumpers and tattooed on bodies.

It is touted from television and telethons.

It has been walked-for and Made-a-Wish for.

And millions declare this cause their anthem.

 

Cancer is a cause because it alters all that’s as it should be.

And we hate it for that.

Cancer is not greeting the sunrise with a steady stomach and

firm constitution.

Cancer is not combing swishy ponytails,

Not relishing long walks,

Not having a voice or controlling the bladder.

Cancer is not having conviction of tomorrow,

Not nursing a newborn.

Cancer is not caressing the smooth flesh of a lover’s breast.

Cancer is not life as it should be.

 

Causes are taken up for holiness of all that’s as it should be.

Causes are the human call for restoration of right.

Causes ought to be Christ.

 

How can I call Christ a cause?

How can He be all that should be, if He isn’t all that is?

How can I take up a cause for the establishment of

something that is not yet,

And how can I be sure that Christ, the consummation of that which is not seen

Is really as it should be?

 

Christ contains all that we do know as it should be

And scatters it through a kaleidoscope.

He takes all that really is, refracting and reflecting ordinary

Through the lens of Himself and like cancer

Creates what is not.

But unlike cancer, Christ creates

All that is bigger, radiant and full of glory.

 

In our world, Christ is a cause because

He makes martyrs who do not slay themselves.

He is the Book which has not settled in grooves

On dusty shelves.

After centuries, Jesus is not irrelevant

As is normal for all names attached to dust-men.

His years were pocked with things not as they should be,

Things which are not now –

Blind men seeing, dead men walking, un-hands reaching.

He is things not as are in the confines of human intellect –

Fishermen teaching, murderers weeping then preaching.

He is redwoods from seeds no larger than a cherry,

Wings from a sticky chrysalis.

He is hearts that beat insatiably through decades and disasters.

 

Christian!

Where is your voice for the Cause?

Where is your anthem for Christ?

 

For His cause, His utterly other worldly cause

Consumes death,

Unlike all things as they seem – confined by years.

Christian, your Cause consumes all others.

Your Cause constrains you to declare it

Not only on bumpers and billboards, or bodies

Not only on television, telethons

Walks and wishes,

 

But in action and deed,

In expression and smile.

In small hand and sweaty backs,

In silence and solidarity.

In doing all things unlike as they are,

But all things, as they should be

As the Christ, whose Cause you carry.

 

(This poem is in no way intended to minimize the valiant efforts of all who have taken up a cure for cancer as their personal cause. It is only meant to draw attention to the fact that as a whole, we make a greater deal about something that steals lives than about the One God who promises eternal life.)

Shavat

I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around this word: rest. Funny, in order to comprehend it in all it’s forms, understand it so that I can DO it, I have been cogitating and agitating myself – and oops, did you catch what I said: So I can DO it. 

Have you ever caught yourself wondering how to rest? I’m not a great napper, so as a kid when I was instructed to rest I begged to know what I was allowed to DO. May I color? Read? Listen to music? I’m still that way.

So let’s imagine, me, that little kid with a box of 36 crayons, and a blank piece of paper. For that matter, imagine the adult me with a palette of colors and a blank piece of pottery. You do it to. Begin to create, decorate, personalize. My page or piece would have a background of blue, a spattering of tiny, shapeless flowers and sprigs of green spurting up between the buds, reaching for a endless sky.

And then I screw it up.

You probably do too. It’s because we don’t know when to stop, cease, desist, refrain, conclude, shavat. Shava-what?

As I look at my masterpiece, I keep wondering what is missing. So I add a dot of purple, a few birds, bigger flowers, a house, a puppy, a swing, a kid, a fence – and suddenly my work is crowded, fussy and less-than-beautiful. Apparently more isn’t always more.

Thank God He didn’t have that problem with creation. God knew how to Shavat. On day seven, Sheba, he knew that what was good was complete. Interestingly enough, the Bible doesn’t say that God sat back with a good book, turned around to work on a different piece of art or started leading an angelic choir. The Scripture considers God Rested, as a complete thought, and gives no explanation. 

God rested because He was finished. It was good, and perhaps to continue working would mess it up. Hmmm… (obviously a perfect God wouldn’t mess it up, but for the sake of argument, bear with me)

Jesus died on Friday afternoon, the Jewish 7th day, or Sabbath – Saturday. So, when Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” the sunset and next sunrise were Nature’s exclamation point – COMPLETE, DONE, FINITO, OVER, SIN IS CRUSHED, AND THE WORK OF SALVATION IS FINISHED!

The Sabbath and the Old Testament law are no longer binding on Christians. However, Sabbath, rest, is still good. More importantly, because Jesus finished the work, if we continue to work, thinking we can earn God’s favor, we will mess it up.

The Greatest Miracle in History?

What do you think was the biggest miracle of all time? Creation? Every sunrise? The resurrection of Jesus Christ? If I had to answer that question right off the top of my head I probably would have said the resurrection. But recently, during my quiet time, my thinking was challenged. I am still not sure where I fall on this issue, so I welcome your thoughts:

The greatest miracle of all time was the death of Jesus Christ.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;'” John 11:25

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” John 14:6

If Jesus actually IS life, how could He die? Jesus, physical Jesus, was perfect. Jesus was from the beginning (John 1). The truth that our Almighty God, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor loved a rebellious world, of whom every single one had gone astray – loved that world enough to die for it – THAT is the miracle. We were doomed to die for our sin, but the Immortal chose, with an absolute act of will to DIE for us, in our stead.

It seems to me that it took a greater miracle for the Author of Life to choose to die for His own creation, than for the very God who IS life to rise from the dead. Sin and death are diabolical opposites of life and holiness – therefore Jesus Christ could not be contained by a grave.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers,” 1 John 3:16

God did not compromise one iota of His holiness to redeem a wicked world. God did not extend a second chance to sinners, He offered a perfect, infallible rescue.