“Making sense out of suffering” is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It explains suffering from the Christian perspective in a very unique and engaging way. I highly recommend it. This is a book that’ll make you think, that’ll make you wonder, that’ll make you understand suffering is not at all what you thought it was…
When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor. (Matthew 27:12-14)
In this short portion of the Scripture, we behold Jesus’s humanity under the complete control of the Holy Spirit, and in total subjection to the Father; his divine nature in total control of his human response—the perfect example of how we are supposed to live.
Although Jesus was totally human, his desire for self-vindication, (that had to be present in him if He was totally human) was tamed, so to speak, by His desire to do the will of God, and fulfill all that was expected from Him as the prophesied Messiah.
Jesus’ majesty was magnificently displayed when He remained silent on the face of false accusations. He acted with a dignity that we so often lack when we face our enemies. Jesus did not need to justify himself, because He was himself righteousness personified. This is a perfect picture of the Prince of Peace displaying the glorious majesty of the holiness of God, the supreme King over all creation.
“An evildoer listens closely to wicked lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive and malicious tongue.” – Proverbs 17: 4
What are the news that interests us the most, the things that truly grab our attention? Evildoers enjoy hearing wicked stuff and liars love to hear destructive, malicious gossip. So, Solomon ‘s consideration serves two purposes: It helps us to understand how the wicked think and what they enjoy, and it also opens our eyes to the wickedness within our hearts.
So, what do we enjoy hearing the most, what really grabs our attention? If we live in the light, we are not supposed to enjoy those things anymore…
“For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true).”
Have you ever avoided witnessing to someone because you think that person is so wicked he’s beyond redemption?
This instruction by John Calvin will help you to see that person in the right light so that you are able not only to talk to him about Jesus but also enjoy it:
When sharing the Gospel with people, “your duty is to consider, not what kind of persons they are, but what God wishes them to be.”
“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2: 3
Has it ever happened to you that while you’re praying, all of a sudden you realize how amazing it is that the God of the universe is actually listening to you?
God listens to you! No matter how grave your sins are, or how much you’ve failed Him, regardless of the fact that you have nothing to offer to Him; because you are His child… He listens.
Why would a holy and perfect God listen to treacherous, sinful, and unfaithful creatures like us? God doesn’t have a single reason to love us, much less listen to us, yet He does it! How undeserving the privilege of prayer is! Have you ever thanked God for it?
David understood the wonder of prayer, that’s why at the end of Psalm 66 he exclaimed: “Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!”
“Thank you Lord for listening to me. Thank you for allowing me to be in your presence. Thank you for making it possible through your Son Jesus Christ…”
“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”” – John 5:6
At first sight, this question of Jesus seems way too obvious, how could he possibly ask such a question? Doesn’t every sick person want to get well? No, there are plenty of people who, although are suffering, hold on to their condition like the starving dog holds onto his old, hollow, dirty bone.
No, not everyone wants to be healed, not everyone wants to be forgiven, and not everyone wants to be cleansed. I’ve known plenty of people who when asked if they wanted to get out of their pit of misery, resolutely replied, “I don’t want anything to do with your God,” such as the homeless that lived for many years outside our home, the semi-paralyzed woman we visited once, the many atheists who prefer to believe in chance rather than believing in God, and the innumerable “believers” that profess to love God, but love the world. Jesus’ question was and still is very appropriate.
How about you: Do you want to be healed? Do you want to be saved? Do you really want to be cleansed from your sins?
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. -John 5:29
Have you ever wondered if you’ll go to heaven? Fortunately for us, this passage eliminates the guesswork. If we take Jesus’ words seriously, we can find out right now and with 100% certainty if we are heading to heaven or to hell. Let’s take a look.
In this brief statement there are two things that will forever affect our destiny:
- Jesus will perform a miracle in us in the future
- At that very moment, the masks will fall, and not only us, but those around us will know what our lives were all about, and that’ll determine our destiny.
Let’s begin by trusting Jesus
Did you notice the words of Jesus? “Do not be amazed at this.” Jesus just told them that as the Father gives life to everyone, He has authority to do the same. If they had understood who He was, they wouldn’t have been surprised He could resurrect the dead. This is also a reminder for us. We need to stop being shocked when we see people transformed by Jesus, or healed when we pray for them—this is just normal stuff for Jesus. His miracles shouldn’t surprise us, but instead, make our confidence grow. We need to start expecting more, trusting more, and being shocked less. It is with this confidence in who He is that we look at what He tells us next…
Jesus’ predicts our future
Someday, dead people (some dead for millennia!) will be raised up from their graves (we among them). We’ll hear Jesus’ voice and our bodies will be reunited with our spirits—which will be still alive at that time, presumably in paradise or hell—and we’ll be raised up.
Do you remember Jesus often said dead people were not dead, but “asleep”? A taste of the resurrection can be found in our sleep cycle. I find fascinating that while we are in “another world” we are at the same time in this one, although unaware of it, and our Lord keep sustaining us until “we come back to life.” In a similar way, Jesus keeps sustaining us, even beyond the grave.
The sheep and the goats–The Separation
At the moment of our resurrection, we’ll be separated into two groups. This is a most troubling truth that’s meant to either fill us with joy or make us tremble.
Group A: Those who did what was good will rise to life
Group B: Those who did what was evil, will rise to be condemned
Please take the time to ponder this truth. Let it sink into your heart because it’ll tell you exactly where will you spend eternity: We will be separated by Christ based on the way we lived here on earth. What is your life all about? In which of these two groups do you belong? Please, don’t rely on the fact that you prayed a prayer once. Are you living a life that honors God and prizes Him above all things? Or are you indulging in comforts and pleasures, choosing what is right in your own eyes?
What is your life telling you about your destiny?
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 7: 21
“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise…” (John 5: 19)
Jesus affirms in this passage that what He’s about to say is strictly the truth: He can’t, under any circumstance, act independently from the Father. If he has done anything, it is only because He has seen God doing it, and He’s imitating His actions.
This means that Jesus does only what was previously designed and determined by the Father. He always acts in perfect harmony and accordance with Him, and nothing Jesus does is discordant or defies God’s will. Therefore, all that Jesus does has the Father’s seal of approval—every action declares the Father’s will and purpose. Jesus perfectly describes who the Father is and what He wants. In other words, the heart of the Father is revealed to us through the Son.
If we could illustrate this, it would be like a son whose father gets up very early in the morning: he’s industrious, responsible and punctual. As the son sees his father’s behaving in this way, he too begins to get up very early in the morning, works very hard, and is responsible and punctual. The son watches his father being cordial, kind, and generous, and he develops a polite, kind, and generous disposition as well. Then he considers his father’s wisdom and righteousness—His father is an upright man, who wrongs no one, never accepts bribery, and is true to his word. His father fears God and is fair to everybody. So, the son behaves wisely: he wrongs no one, rejects bribery, and is true to his word. He fears God and is fair to everyone.
Now, here is the important thing: We wouldn’t need to see the father to know who he is, or what he’s like. By looking at the son we would immediately know the character of the father– because the Son is the exact representation of the Father.
This relationship between Jesus and His Father is also described in Hebrews 1: 1-3:
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature…”
So, we know that Jesus always acts in accordance with His Father, and as a result, He reflects His glory. But how do we apply this truth about their relationship to our own lives? Here it is your takeaway.
In a similar way that Jesus relates to the Father, we relate to Him as well, because we are also His children. So, we set for ourselves the goal to know our Father better, to behold His glory in the face of Jesus, and to meditate in His attributes, will, and purpose. Then we start imitating our Father by choosing what He chooses, approving what He approves, and rejecting what He rejects. With His help and in His power, we decide to do nothing in the future that defies His will but instead act in accordance with Him in every area of our lives, and so reflect His glory. In the same manner that our Savior did, we set for ourselves the highest goal a human being can aspire to— to be perfect, as our Heavenly Father is perfect.