Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Mar 7 2013 - Mark 13:14-37 – My words will never pass away

In the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded by Matthew, Jesus says, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (Matthew 5:17-18). In this, Jesus echoes the words of Isaiah, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands for ever" (Isaiah 40:6-8). God does not change his mind. He never has to come up with a Plan B. What he has purposed and promised in his word will come to pass. You can bet your life upon it.

But in the passage we have been reading today, Jesus says the same thing concerning his own words! Jesus says, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away" (Mark 13:31). He gives the same weight and certainty to his own words as he gives to the words spoken by God. No wonder Jesus angered the Jewish leaders. They accused him of blasphemy because he, a man, made himself equal with God. They were right in their accusation – except in the suggestion that such a claim involved blasphemy on Jesus' part. Jesus is the one in whom all that was spoken beforehand finds its fulfilment. He is the word incarnate. He is the one through whom God will establish his kingdom – through whom his word and promise are becoming flesh.

C S Lewis wrote concerning Jesus, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman, or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (Mere Christianity). 

How do you respond to the words of Jesus?

And more than that, how do we present the claims of Jesus to others? Jesus will not allow those who hear him to sit on the fence; they must either own him as Lord or reject him. Do we present the claims of Christ with a clarity and force which provokes and demands a response – or are we perhaps afraid that we also might suffer rejection if we do? The hope of Christ’s coming should prompt us to be always active in the Master’s business; always about the work of the kingdom.

Lord Jesus, I am amazed at your teaching, and especially at all that you said about yourself; “No-one else ever spoke like this.” Give me ears to hear what you are saying and an eagerness to pass on all that you have taught me. Through the power and presence of your Spirit within me, may others come to hear your voice through my stumbling words. May they come to see who you are and to own you as Saviour, Messiah and Lord.

Mar 7 2019 - Exodus 34:1-14, 29-35 – Reflected glory

Once again Moses has to climb Mount Sinai to meet with God. Again he receives the covenant Law – the Ten Commandments – written of tablets of stone. And again Moses pleads that God may have mercy on this stiff-necked people, forgiving their sin and bringing them into the inheritance he has promised them. In response, God declares that he will do such great things for his people that the watching nations will stand in awe of Israel's God. God is very great, but he is also very good.

There is only one adequate response to such a God, "Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshipped" (v.8).

For their part, the Israelites are to remember how God brought them out of slavery in Egypt. They are to remain faithful to their incomparable God; they must not adopt the worthless idol-gods of the nations whom they will dispossess. Israel is to be a light to the nations rather than embracing the darkness. We shall see how this calling plays out in the remainder of the Old Testament.

When Moses had previously come down the mountain after meeting with God he was amazed and angered at what the Israelites had got up to. This time, when he came down the mountain it is the people who are amazed at what they see and are filled with fear; Moses' face was radiant with the reflected glory of God. "The last time he came down from the mount with the glory of a magistrate, to frown upon and chastise Israel’s idolatry; now with the glory of an angel, with tidings of peace and reconciliation." (Matthew Henry).

We are reminded of the occasion when Jesus was on a mountain with Pater, James and John. Jesus was talking with Moses and Elijah on that mountaintop when he was transformed before them, "the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning" (Luke 9:29). Peter, James and John saw Jesus' glory (Luke 9:32), a glory that many who saw Jesus during his earthly ministry failed to recognise.

Moses had to put a veil over his face to hide the reflected glory of God from the terrified Israelites. Only when he went into the Tent of Meeting to talk with the Lord would Moses remove the veil from his face. This was but the beginning of the fulfilment of the promise God had made to Moses in the mountain, "I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you" (v. 10).

The Apostle Paul refers to this strange incident when speaking of God's ultimate revelation of his glory in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 3:7-4:6). He writes that the same veil hides the glory of God from fellow Israelites of his day when they read the Law. But the veil is removed when anyone turns to Christ. Jesus Christ is the one in whom God has come to meet us and dwell among us. Looking at him we clearly see the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus. As God continually meets with us in Jesus, we see more of his glory and are transformed into his likeness "from one degree of glory to another". So we come to reflect the glory of God and the world around us is able to see the glory of the Living God in the lives of his redeemed people.

Can those around us see something of the character and glory of our God in us?

Glorious God, help us to live in your presence, see more of your glory in the Lord Jesus Christ and be made more like him by the transforming work of your Spirit. May your glory become our glory. May others see the beauty and glory of God shining through the broken lives of your people and be drawn to the Lord Jesus. Great God, shine in the darkness and let there be light; fill the whole earth with your glory.

Peter Misselbrook