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A God with a Mother

...but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:25-27)

Throughout our lenten series “Behold the Man”, we have been focusing on the true humanity of Jesus. That is, we have focused on how God has become incarnate for us, seeing along the way that we have much in common with our Lord - that He is our Brother. Jesus hungered, Jesus prayed, Jesus was hurt and wounded, Jesus bled. Now we come to a fascinating passage in John’s Gospel that makes us step back once more and contemplate who this Jesus really is for He, like us, has a mother.

Jesus is a God with a Mother. A human mother. Jesus, God made man, was born of a woman. Thus Mary has come to be called the Theotokos, that is, the “God-bearer”. Said another way, Mary is the Mother of God.

Many in the past have said that this confession really has nothing to do with Mary, but everything to do with Jesus and who He is. Even in those initial stages of pregnancy, as Jesus is being formed in Mary’s womb, He is divine. As a newborn, as a toddler, even as a adolescent, Jesus is God.

And yes, even as Jesus hangs dying, as He makes provision for His mother and her care in John’s home, Jesus isn’t just a concerned Son. He is a God with a Mother. A Mother whom He loves. A Mother for whose sins He dies, just as He has died for our sins, too.

In Christ,

Pastor Nick

A God Exposed

It all started with a fig leaf.

It was literally the first (and maybe worst) cover up in the history of the world. Genesis 3:7 records that Adam and Eve, after falling into sin in the Garden of Eden, “...sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin clothes”. In an attempt to cover their shame and nakedness, they were forced to try and cover up with a fig leaf.

Of course, this is our response to our own sin as well, isn’t it? Rather than expose our faults and failures to the world we hide and cover up lest everyone else comes to know for sure that we are, indeed, sinners. We delete our browser history, look for scapegoats to blame, come up with excuse after excuse. Day after day we hide behind these flimsy fig leaves, hoping that no one will come to know the truth of who we really are.

But reading further in the Genesis account we find God doing something remarkable. Though God curses Adam, Eve, the serpent, and the whole of creation, Genesis 3:21 says, “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them”. Not often do we contemplate the implications of this single verse. But in order to cover the sin and shame of Adam and Eve, God had to shed blood. He had to take the life of an innocent creature in order to cover the guilt of another.

Of course this is just a shadow of what God has done for us in Christ. Jesus himself was exposed so that your sins could be covered. “When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts…” (John 19:23). There on the cross, Jesus was naked and alone. Innocent, yet taking on our guilt. All this He did in order to hide in Himself our shame and guilt.

He was exposed so that you might be covered.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4)

A God Beaten

You need a God that you can punch.

Uh...what?

That’s perhaps the most impious, blasphemous thing I’ve ever written. Except it’s not. It’s true. In John 18:19-24 we read of this encounter:

19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

You see, a God that can’t be punched...a God whose lip can’t bleed...a God who can’t turn the other cheek is a God that can’t be whipped and scourged and crucified. And if your God can’t be beaten or killed then we all are in big trouble. A holy God demands holiness from His people. A holy God demands perfect prayer, perfect sacrifice, perfect keeping of the law. But we have sinned. We have broken God’s law. We have failed to seek Him perfectly. We need forgiveness. And as we’ve been saying in our series on Leviticus (listen to Week 1 & Week 2), “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin”.

So then. We need a God that we can punch. We need a God who will take the beating and the crucifixion and the death that we ourselves deserve. We need a God who will take our punishment for us. We need a God we can punch. Only Jesus, God-made-man, the only one who can fulfill the law perfectly on our behalf, only He can offer Himself up as the perfect sacrifice to make atonement for our sin. Only Jesus, the God that can be punched, can save us. And only this God, who bleeds and dies, can rise again to new life.

We need a God we can punch. And in Jesus, we have that God. A God who came to take the punches from those He longs to redeem.

In Christ,

Pastor Nick

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