Category Archives: The Majesty of God


Bewildered and distressed, standing beside the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene did not recognize Jesus.  But when she did, He spoke these words:

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”   (John 20:17)

I got curious about His wording, the “my Father and your Father and to my God and your God” business.  Why did He say it like that?  Looking back through John’s Gospel, I discovered he never quoted Jesus talking about God in that inclusive way.  Matthew quotes Jesus saying “our Father’ and “your Father,” but, for John, Jesus always said, “my Father” or “the Father.”  That is, until after He had been resurrected.  Then, He said His Father is theirs, too.  His God is oursYours.  Jesus’ work on the cross opened the way for that connection to be established solidly and eternally for all who believe Him and receive it.  As John wrote in his first chapter,

“Yet to all who did receive Him [Jesus], to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God…”   (John 1:12)

By his wording, I think John is aware we cannot truly become children of God until Jesus’ work of atonement for sin was done.  And now, after the resurrection of Jesus, God is able to receive us as His own, as children in His family.

Think about those possessive pronouns.  He is your Father, your God.  Consider how much it means to have the Creator and All-Powerful God of the universe declare Himself to be yours.  Your Father.  Fathers are fathers forever.   Good fathers love, protect, provide, guide and nurture.  Almighty God is the perfect father.

And, if you will receive Him through faith in Jesus, He is yours.

Looking Up

You know how, when you are watching a good movie or play, you get so absorbed into it, it almost seems as though you forget it’s not real?  For awhile it’s as though you are there, participating.  It’s kind of a shock when the lights go up and you snap back to reality.  I got thinking about that when I read this line from Luke’s gospel:

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people.  (Luke 9:16)

Here’s my question: Why did Jesus look up?  Perhaps the most obvious answer is because He was a human.  We humans intuitively know God resides on a higher plane, so looking up to Him or raising our hands to Him as we pray seems natural.  On the other hand, Jesus was (and is) God – mysteriously, simultaneously, fully human and fully God – which makes His posture more puzzling.

I suspect He did looked up for a mixture of reasons.  Partly, for the reason above – it seems natural for humans to do so.  But I believe He also looked up to non-verbally show those around Him earthly life is not all there is to reality.  Reality goes far beyond and includes everything on a heavenly plane.  I think Jesus was breaking the illusion that life here on earth is all there is.

If you were watching a play, completely caught up in it, absorbed and transfixed, when one of the actors suddenly forgot his line and looked down for the prompter’s help, it would break the spell.  You would suddenly snap back to a fuller perception of reality, knowing you were watching a performance.  Jesus came, He said, to “bear witness to the truth.”  In truth, what happens here on earth in not all there is.  Not even close.  Perhaps He looked up to help us snap out of the illusion it is.

Maybe Closer?

My brother is named Dave, so we call him Pete.  Don’t ask.  He has a  great sense of humor and a deep passion for the Lord.  I’ve learned a lot from him.  Last time, in a post called Not Even Close, I reflected on how, as I get to know Jesus better, I sense I hardly know Him.  He’s so much more than I can wrap my mind around.  Here is Pete’s response, somewhat tongue in cheek:

I appreciated your blog, Not Even Close, about the impossibility of figuring out Jesus.   Well, I did some research and, thanks to Paul’s letters in the New Testament, I think Jesus can be understood easily.   You see, Paul uses words like “love that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19).  And in Romans 11:33 he says the depth of His wisdom and knowledge are unsearchable and His ways unfathomable.  So, if you want to truly know Jesus, all you have to do is get out a stronger telescope or a longer ruler.

I like dwelling on the words of Eph. 3:20 –  that He is able to do not just what we may ask or think, and not just more than we ask or think, and not just beyond that, but “exceeding abundantly beyond”.  Or, immeasurably , or, another translation, super excessively.

And, now, if your brain doesn’t hurt from thinking about that, look at Eph. 1:19  “and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength”, and the rest of the chapter boils over with his power and might.

And if you get that figured out you’ll know Jesus.

You know what?  I’m going to stop trying to explain it.  It’s too great, too overpowering, too wonderful, it’s immeasurable and unfathomable.  And I can’t see the keyboard when I’m on my face.

Thanks, Pete…

Not Even Close

Now what?  Within a few days, most retirees ask themselves that question.  I also asked God and was startled by His specific answer.  No, I don’t hear Him audibly but am occasionally sure Who is speaking.  His answer?  “Spend time getting to know Jesus.”  What???  I had spent the last 25 years doing just that, I thought, in seminary and serving as a pastor.  I felt a bit offended, felt like saying, “Hey, God, I’m a professional…”  He didn’t budge.

I can’t say I embarked on an orderly, intense process of study; it’s not in my wiring.  But, over the last several years, His assignment has been on my front burner.  Here’s what I have learned: I don’t have even the slightest sliver of a clue of Who Jesus really is.  Not even close.  The magnitude of Jesus is beyond my capacity to understand.  Like, as Albert Einstein once said, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”

Speaking about worship, Annie Dillard asked, “Does anyone have the foggiest idea of what sort of power we blithely invoke?” and suggested, if we did, we’d wear crash helmets and life preservers in church.  I’m beginning to see how right she is.  John spent the better part of three years in daily contact with Jesus.  And yet, when he encountered a vision of Jesus on the island of Patmos, he could hardly comprehend what he was seeing and cowered in fear.

Here’s how Paul tried to express the magnitude of Jesus.  Take time to ponder the full impact of each phrase:

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.   (Colossians 1:15-20)

With All Due Respect

Long ago, when you were still wetting your pants, you probably didn’t respect your dad.  You were glad about him, might have depended on him, but respect him? Not so much.  At two, you probably stomped your foot and shouted, “No!”  As a teen you may have thought you hated him.  But as you matured and experienced the knuckle balls life likes to pitch, you probably gained more and more respect for him.  Now, at the age when hair grows out of my ears, my dad looks a lot smarter than I used to think he was.  He now has my full respect.

God deserves our full respect.  Through the prophet, Malachi, He complained about the lack of respect shown by His people:

“A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty.  (Malachi 1:6)

And, when Jesus taught us how to pray, He began with a prayer that Our Father would be respected, His name be hallowed.

But, it seems to me our respect for God also emerges gradually as we mature.  As spiritual toddlers we don’t much respect God, even though we cry out for His help occasionally.  Most of us have stomped our feet and defiantly shouted “No!”   Nevertheless, Our Father’s love for us does not change; He knows all about the spiritual terrible twos and the heady independence craved by young adults.  He reaches out to us through His Son.  If we respond, our relationship with Him grows as we are led by Christ.

Eventually we grow to understand the importance of “Hallowed be Thy Name…”  Our emerging respect eventually becomes abject awe and deep reverence.  We join Him in yearning for the day when that same attitude permeates all of humanity, as it does among heavenly beings.  Keep growing in your understanding of God.  Keep deepening your relationship with Him.  Your respect will grow too, perhaps even before you once again start wetting your pants.

Another Rule (for an unborn son)

Have you seen “1001 Rules for My Unborn Son,” by Walker Lamond?  If not, check it out; it’s worth many a smile.  Here’s a couple of my favorites:

  • Drive across the country. Don’t rush.
  • If you make a mistake, forgive yourself and move on.
  • Have a favorite song. It doesn’t have to be hip. (The best ones never are.)

Of course his rules aren’t all good.  For example, he says, “Men should not wear sandals. Ever.”  Or, “Men with facial hair have something to hide.”  Walker apparently hasn’t met some the men I know…

Here’s a rule I’d add to the list:

  • Look for God on your own terms; when you find Him, get to know Him on His terms.

Look for God on your own terms, because you can’t borrow or use someone else’s faith, not even your parents’.  Real faith grows from a fertilizer of healthy doubts.  Like an extension ladder, you need to check it and shake it before you get on.  If you only rely on what “they say,” you haven’t done that.  And, trust me on this: God can handle the quirky terms you have.  If you are really looking for Him, He will find you.

But when you do find Him, you’ll know it because you will be absolutely awestruck by His majesty and authority, His perfect goodness and love.  His invitation for you to get to know Him is thus logically accepted on His terms.  We do not dictate terms of surrender to Almighty God.  His terms are excruciatingly costly – you cannot afford them – and yet have already paid in full by His Son, Jesus.  Amazing Grace!  You already know the story.  Now go check it out on your own and see if it is true.

The One Who Knows

John called Jesus “The Word,”  which meant he knew Jesus fully embodied the mindset or logos of God. [For more on that, read the  previous post.] In other words, Jesus knows what God knows and understands reality as God does.  And then John added:

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  (John 1:3)

In one of the most astonishing assertions in Scripture,  John said his Friend, Jesus, the One Who came from just up the road in Nazareth –  that man created everything!!!   Now, John was a fisherman, a regular guy.  I’m pretty sure he knew how outlandish this sounded.  But Jesus must have fully convinced him about His role in Creation.  Perhaps He told John, “Back in Genesis, when God said, ‘Let us make man in our image…’ (Genesis 1:26), He was speaking to Me.”  We don’t know for sure.  But we do know this astonishing truth is repeated in Scripture.

yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.   (1 Corinthians 8:6)

…For by him [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.   (Colossians 1:16)

Therefore, if Jesus made everything, He undoubtedly understands how it all works more fully that we do.  When I try to fix a problem with my computer, lots of times I make it worse because I don’t fully understand how it works.  But the engineer who designed and built it would know perfectly what each part does and why.  His “logos” with respect to computers, would be more accurate than mine, and would more easily be able to fix what was wrong.

If you follow that, see how it fits with this teaching of Jesus:

“…  If you abide [if you live your life] in my word [in my logos =  if you fully adopt My way of understanding how all reality works], … you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”   (John 8:31b -32 excerpts with my added explanation of terms)

When you can’t fix something because you don’t understand it, you get all knotted up with frustration, doubt and anger.  But if someone shows you what to do, it feels as though you have become released from all that tension.  You relax.  That’s why Jesus also said:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  learn from me,… and you will find rest for your souls.”   (Matthew 11:28-29 excerpts)

It’s good to get to know the One Who really knows…