After having been graciously given the kingdom by his father, Jehoram of Judah killed his brothers and forsook the Lord. And, just as the Lord had told David in 2 Samuel 7, he disciplined Jehoram severely for his sin. But also in keeping with the promise made to David, the Lord did not remove his steadfast love from David’s descendant. He preserved one son to continue the line to the final Son of David, whose kingdom would be established forever, and because of whom God also shows mercy to us when we betray him and sin against others.
No one really believes that a rabbit materializes out of a magician’s hat just because they see it with their own eyes. In this life, seeing is not always believing. But Jesus tells us that just the opposite is true with respect to His kingdom. Believing is always seeing through the One who died to restore our sight. Through His work on the cross, Jesus not only forgives and heals us, but enables us to follow Him with clear vision, praising the Father and telling others of grace we have been shown.
Having instructed his readers what to put off and put on consistent with their new identity and position in Christ, Paul now goes on to flesh out what that looks like and gives a list of directions for all the members of a Christian household. His instructions are specific “House Rules” that govern how each person in the household is to do all, in word or deed, in the name of Jesus.
The world often seems like a haphazard and random place. It is unnerving to think that no one is in control. It is frightening to think that evil has free reign. But Jesus repeatedly told His disciples that everything was unfolding according to the plan of His Father in heaven. Even Jesus’ agony and death were not outside of His Father’s plan, but the tools He would use to accomplish His greater purposes. Like the disciples, we may not fully understand God’s plan, but we may trust the One who fulfilled it on the cross for our salvation and eternal life.
Some things are hard to leave behind. For example, family, friends, and home. But the hardest things to leave behind are the idols that capture our hearts. In fact, they are impossible to leave apart from the grace of God through Jesus Christ. But our Savior calls and enables us to leave them to follow Him, receiving greater blessing than we could have imagined and the promise of eternal life.
Jesus loved children, welcomed them, cared for them, and frequently employed them to demonstrate what true faith in our heavenly Father looks like. Rather than having a “childish” faith that never matures, or a “childproof” faith that thinks it has arrived, He calls us to a childlike faith that increasingly learns to trust and depend on the One who has redeemed us through His perfect Son, Jesus Christ.
Having described the vices believers are to rid themselves of, Paul now turns to the virtues that replace those vices. He sees the list of five virtues as characteristics of those who are committed to fixing their minds on things above. As people with a new identity and position in Christ, the apostle spells out for us what living the life to come in the here and now looks like.
Jacob/Israel’s final days are described at more length and more fully than those of any other biblical character except Jesus Christ. They tell a straightforward story of the end of a man’s life. What are we to make of this amount of both space and detail? What makes Jacob’s death stand out from those of his ancestors and descendants?
Having just taught about the need for persistence in prayer, Jesus then taught of the need for penitence in prayer. The only qualification to pray is to know how unqualified we are to come before the holy God. But those whom God humbles by grace He also exalts by grace, through the Savior who humbled Himself on the cross so that we might be lifted up in Him.
When relying on our own resources, it is easy to grow weary in prayer, if we even begin at all. We soon tire of presenting the same requests, especially when an answer does not seem to be immediately forthcoming. Jesus knows that only reflection on the One to whom we pray can fuel a lifetime of prayer. In Luke 18, He uses a simple parable to remind of us of eternal truths that enable us to always pray and never give up, through the grace of the Savior who perfectly persevered in our place.