Dec 172012
 

 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:11

He’s called a shepherd. My Jesus is a shepherd. I want to take some time to let this make a good impact on me. I want to think about his care, his attention, his persevering love, his looking for me when I am lost, his patient exertion, the hardships he undergoes to make all things well for me, his clear guidance and his soft but yet powerful voice.

 

He’s called a shepherd. And I imagine the sheepfold where all is safe. A place of protection, a place to come to myself, a place where together with the other sheep I experience that he knows me.

 

He’s called a shepherd. And I drink in the words he speaks to me and to all the other sheep who are not embarrassed to be one of his sheep.

 

When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

John 10:4

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

John 10:9

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

John 10:14-15

He’s called a shepherd and a shepherd he is. And I see the image the prophet Isaiah creates:

 

He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.

Isaiah 40:11

And that psalm, perhaps the most well known psalm that has offered so many people so much comfort and support, begins to resound in my ears:

 

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

Psalm 23:1, 4, 6

Jesus, you are my shepherd. When I think about your love and care, your guidance and protection, then my heart is filled with a profound sense of gratitude that I even experience when I am in a deep, dark valley. Jesus, my shepherd, I want to worship you and I want to follow you. Yes, I want to listen to your quiet and powerful voice.

 

Dec 102012
 

 

. . . even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:28

I still actually have to get used to the fact that it is not first about me serving Jesus, but that Jesus serves me. That looks like an upside-down world. After all, isn’t the servant the lesser? And if so, isn’t that why, together with all God’s children, I am called to serve the Lord?

 

Yet, it’s still primarily about the Lord serving me, that Jesus has come to be a servant. That he is called Son of man has everything to do with this. God’s Son came to earth and became human. He came to participate in our human existence in order to ultimately save it, for his service went so far that he gave his life as a ransom for many.

 

Jesus himself is always the one who refers to himself as the Son of man. In doing so, he continually shows how much he was one of us. It is as if he is saying: “I am the offspring of a human being!” This is how he was among us to serve, to wash feet and to enable people to get up and continue their journey.

 

But precisely as Son of man Jesus is also capable of doing superhuman things. Just listen to what he says:

 

But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—”Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”

Matthew 12:8

Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Matthew 19:28

  When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.

Matthew 25:31

Jesus is the Son of man. He is completely human. He came and dwelt among us to participate in our life and to serve us with his life. This is how I want to worship him.

 

Jesus, you are the Son of man. You became a human being on earth while you had so much divine glory in heaven. I worship you because you came as a human being to serve me and to lovingly give your life for me. I praise you because, as Son of man, you have the power to forgive and to judge. I look forward to your return upon the clouds of heaven. I now already see something of your powerful glory!

Dec 032012
 

 

. . . that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Colossians 2:2-3

One of the nicest things I heard about the Lord is that he is a mystery. The danger is so great to think that you know who he is and how he is, and that there is nothing new to learn about him and experience with him. The fact, however, that Jesus is God’s mystery time and again undermines my smugness. He is always different again, always bigger again, always weaker again, always closer again and always further away again than I thought.

 

There is a way to be initiated further into this mystery without getting to know it perfectly, for there is always more to discover. Paul speaks about this when he writes to the Colossians about his desire to encourage them and to keep them knit together in love, for he wants that God’s children reach all the riches of full understanding. Full understanding is a lot and majestic. For me, this is too much and too majestic, and it therefore immediately takes the attention off myself.

 

My attention is focused on the Son of God, because insight and knowledge cannot be found in myself and also not in the world around me, but can be found in Christ. This is how he is God’s mystery because insight is not the same as information. Insight is about loving wisdom and loving knowledge about spiritual things that transcend my understanding.

 

If this is how I learn to know Jesus as God’s mystery, then a new world opens up for me, a world full of treasures of wisdom and knowledge. They are hidden in him and thus not up for grabs. I need to search for them, I need to discover them, I need to travel a loving journey with a heart that is focused on Jesus. This calls for a sincere faith that really believes that the son of the carpenter in Nazareth appears to be God’s infinite mystery. Time and again, I can allow myself to be surprised by who he is and what he says. Time and again it’s different and new. Never will I have come to the end of my contemplation and never will I be bored.

 

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Romans 11:33

Jesus, you are God’s mystery, infinite in majesty and greatness. In you are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I want to honor and know you. I want to discover and receive your wisdom and knowledge with all the questions and cares that occupy me. May this be the way in which I  increasingly arrive at my destiny of worshiping you.

Nov 212012
 


The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.

John 3:29-30

When it comes to worshiping Jesus, I would like to emulate John the Baptist. He teaches me to look at Jesus and know him as the bridegroom and myself as the friend of the bridegroom. As the friend of the bridegroom, I only know one joy and that joy is together with the bride hearing the voice of the bridegroom.

 

This is true for John in a special way. He has been called to witness to Jesus, to tell that the Father has a Son whom he dearly loves, and to proclaim that this Son is the bridegroom for the bride. This is how John enables me to discover that worshiping is also magnifying Jesus as the bridegroom and introducing him to the bride. Thus, it’s not about John or me. It’s about the bridegroom who is there for the bride. And I have the privilege of being a friend of the bridegroom, not so that I am the center of attention, but to focus all the attention on Jesus.

 

He must increase, but I must decrease.

 

The image of the bridegroom especially calls up a world of affection and unity, a world of desire and love. This is the reality we come into contact with when we learn to know and desire Jesus.

 

The Song of Songs, that love song so full of longing and delight, begins to resound in my heart:

 

My beloved is radiant and ruddy,

 distinguished among ten thousand.

His mouth is most sweet,
and he is altogether desirable.

Song of Songs 5:10, 16

The New Testament metaphor of the marriage between Christ, as the bridegroom, and the church, as the bride, also gives new dimensions to my worship of Jesus:

 

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Ephesians 5:25-27

 

The bridegroom completely gives himself to his bride. And the glory of the bridegroom becomes the glory of the bride. Loving and admiring Jesus begins to bear the fruit of holiness and purity.

 

Jesus, you are the bridegroom, the radiant Son of God, who completely gives himself to his bride and intensely longs for her. I want to love and admire you in your boundless and self-surrendering love for your congregation on earth. Create in this congregation and in me the glory of your purity and holiness.

 

 

Nov 042012
 

 

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
John 1:29

When I look at Jesus as a lamb, then a world of meekness and weakness opens up for me. Likewise, a world of serving and helping. You see, knowing Jesus as the lamb, first of all, means for me that the Son of God made himself a sacrifice because of my sins. It means that in an infinitely profound way he was willing to serve. It means that he was willing to be vulnerable because I deeply hurt God.

And I see John before me, baptizing in the Jordan. On a certain day, Jesus shows up. John sees him and his heart begins to burn with reverence and joy. The familiar image of a little lamb that is slaughtered on Passover to commemorate the exodus from Egypt takes on completely new dimensions for him. The person he sees, this Jesus, whom he recognizes as the Son of Israel’s God, this person is the unique lamb through whom God will definitively take away the sin of the world.

You are reminded of what you read in the Old Testament:

Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household.
Exodus 12:3

This is how my heavenly Father chose his lamb, his unique, dearly loved, perfect, only-begotten Son! And this Son needs to travel this road:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.

Isaiah 53:7

This is how I learn to know and love Jesus as the Lamb that God has chosen for me to not only take away the sin of the world, but also my sin. This lamb is worthy of all of my worship.

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!
Revelation 5:12

Jesus, you are the Lamb of God, carefully chosen by the Father to give your life for the sin of the world. With all of your children I want to say and sing, because I admire and love you, that to you belongs all the praise, honor and thanksgiving, Lamb of God, Son of his love, my Savior.

The meditation on this page is written by Jos Douma and translated by Dick Moes.

Oct 222012
 

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:15-16)

Who is he? This is a question I always need to ask myself because it is a question that Jesus himself asks me just like he did when he was on earth, for there were so many different opinions about who he was. This is still the case. That’s why I must always allow myself to be led back to the Bible to rediscover who Jesus is.
The answer Peter gave was well received by Jesus. He was very happy with it and realized, at the same time, that Peter had not articulated this on his own:
 

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  (Matthew 16:17)

Led by the Spirit of the Father, I too can first learn to know Jesus as the Messiah. This is a name that comes from the Old Testament. It means: Anointed. In the New Testament, the name Christ is used for Messiah.
This name of Jesus also enables me to relate Jesus to the Holy Spirit, for being anointed was a metaphor for being filled with the Holy Spirit:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.  (
Isaiah 61:1)

In the name Messiah I get to know Jesus as the Son of the living God who was anointed and filled with the living Spirit. This is how he can also be committed to his Father and to the task he received from the Father to be at work in the history of this world with the powers of life and restoration.

When I call him my Messiah, my Christ, God’s anointed, then I realize how much power and commitment flows from his heart to me, and to all people who acknowledge him as their Lord.
Jesus, you are the Messiah, the anointed of the living God, full of the Spirit and completely committed to your task to work in the history of this world with the powers of life and restoration. This is how I want to honor and sanctify you. Anoint me too with your powerful Spirit.

 

The meditation on this page is written by Jos Douma and translated by Dick Moes.

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