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On the Way

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus explains to his disciples just what it means to be the Messiah of Israel - Mark 8:27-38.  Jesus queried his disciples: Who do men say that I am? At least nine times, Mark declares that Jesus is “ on the way .” His march to Jerusalem echoes the words in Isaiah applied at the outset of Mark’s account to John the Baptist- “ I send my messenger before your face who shall prepare your way .”

The New Priest

The inability of the Levitical system to cleanse sins necessitated the new priesthood inaugurated by God in the death of Jesus .  The letter to the Hebrews begins by stressing the superiority of the “ word spoken in the Son ” over previous revelations “ spoken in the prophets ,” including the Great Lawgiver, Moses, and this indicates fundamental weaknesses in the Levitical priesthood and the sacrificial system.

Mercy is NOT Optional

Mercy and love are the defining characteristics of his true disciple, and they epitomize the cruciform life – Matthew 5:43-48.  In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus exhorts his disciples to become “ perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect .” But how is anyone able to emulate the perfect righteousness of God? Simple. By performing acts of mercy for one’s enemy.

Disciples and Persecutors

When Christians react to hostility with hostility, whether from government, society, or individuals, Satan triumphs . The reality of persecution raises several questions. How should disciples react to any opposition, especially when they are persecuted by governments? Should they respond with indignation, civil disobedience, and public protests, or are followers of Jesus called to emulate his example?

The Lamb Reigns Supreme

The faithful witness, Jesus, now reigns supreme over the kings of the earth and even his enemies .  In Revelation , Jesus is called the “ ruler of the kings of the earth ,” and this is declared in the present tense . His absolute sovereignty is based on his past death and resurrection, NOT on any hereditary rights, economic or military might. He is the anointed king who now reigns from the “ throne of David .”

Manifest Glory of God

Ever since the word became flesh, the glory and knowledge of God are found in Jesus by everyone who believes – John 1:14. In the prologue of John’s gospel, Jesus is declared to be the  Logos , the “ word made flesh ” in whom the “ glory of God ” resides. He is the  Greater Tabernacle  foreshadowed by the Tent in the wilderness, the place where Yahweh’s glory is manifested. And this anticipates John’s later passages that link Christ to the Father.

Faithful Witness

Jesus is the Faithful Witness who summons his disciples to emulate him by faithfully bearing witness in a hostile world .  Two themes are repeated in the book of Revelation - “ witness ” and “ overcoming ,” and they are closely related. Beginning with Jesus and his own witness in his death, his followers must persevere in his “ testimony ,” and in this way, they “ overcome ” and one day will emerge victorious in the city of “ New Jerusalem .” They are called to “ overcome, even as I overcame .”