Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Mark 13:1-2
The disciple admires the building. What a great achievement of man. Look Jesus. Look how beautiful the thing that we have built for God.
Jesus’ response to the disciple begins “Do you see”? Do you really see this building for what it is?
The temple represented the presence of God on earth among His people. It was where sacrifice was made and where worship was intended to ascend continually. But the religious system of Jesus’ day had turned the temple into a marketplace. A place of corruption cloaked in spirituality.
The disciple admired the stones. But if he had really seen these buildings (and what they had now come to represent) through the eyes of Jesus, he would have wept with shame. For the very ones who had been given places of solemn honor and responsibility in the temple were the ones who were seeking to put to death the Son of God.
Jesus is not impressed with our religion, our pomp, or the quality of our workmanship. These are the things that draw the applause of men. Jesus is interested in worshippers.
The first person recorded to have a desire to build a temple, a house for God, was King David, a man after God’s own heart. But not all religious men are such a man. And God may stand by for a season as we dishonor His house, but eventually He will tear it down rather than have His name profaned in it.
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30
Kenneth Wuest’s expanded translation states it this way: “It is necessary in the nature of the case for that One to become constantly greater but for me constantly to be made less.”
I love this! The very nature of Christ in our lives is that all things related to Him are constantly tending towards increase. There is no end to the potential for His fruit, His glory, His nature to fill us and be manifested through us. Ephesians 1:23 says He “fills all in all.” Fullness, increase is His nature.
For us, however, our role of decreasing is contrary to everything in our nature, for we long to increase also. We want to increase our power, fortune, reputation, control, and the list is probably near to endless. So for those of us who belong to Jesus, those who really long to walk with Him, He will not entrust this work of decreasing to us. My observation has been that when I try to decrease by my own will, I will inevitably overlook the most problematic areas because those are frequently the most painful to deal with. But the Lord knows exactly where the death blow should fall and He knows exactly what type of execution will be most effective. And thus it is by His hand that I am made to decrease.
For John the Baptist, decrease was not optional. I don’t think it is for me either. I must decrease and Jesus must help me to decrease. Sometimes when I am going through a time of decreasing, I am tempted to think His ways are harsh. Physical death is not pretty or painless. Dying to self isn’t either. But He recently reminded me that I do not die for His pleasure, but for my pleasure. He knows the joy that will be mine as He increases in my life. He has heard the desperate prayers to know Him and walk with Him. He knows how intensely I want this, so He is willing to do what is necessary, even if it seems harsh and risks being misunderstood. Knowing this, that all of His dealings are the pathway to receiving the greatest longing of my heart, I can rejoice in His goodness to me, even in the midst of difficulty.
Receiving a heavenly perspective can make a world of difference.
I was listening recently to a message by Don Carson and he shared this story:
When he was a young undergrad at college, along with another boy he started a Bible study in their dorm. Even though they really didn’t know what they were doing, God blessed it. There was a graduate student named David in that dorm who was also a believer and very gifted in apologetics. Don took 2 of the young men from his group to meet with David. David asked the first guy why he was there. The guy gave him an answer about how he wanted to study all the various world religions and worldviews and was interested in knowing a bit about Christianity.
David’s response – Sorry, I don’t have time. You don’t really want to know Jesus, you’re just playing intellectual games. I’ve got plenty of books you could read that would give you that information.
Then he asked the second guy why he was there. The answer was along these lines – I come from a liberal family. We go to church, we’re good people, but we don’t believe all this virgin birth, resurrection stuff. What is it that you think you’ve got that you think we don’t already have?
David’s response – Watch me.
He invited the boy to come live with him and all his time that wasn’t taken up with studies, he would shadow David and observe his life up close. The boy didn’t take him up on the offer, but apparently he was intrigued and kept making visits to talk to David. By the end of the semester he was a Christian.
What a bold offer. Come live with me and watch my life. Could I be so bold as to make such an offer? Could you?
Yesterday morning at 4:35 AM there was a double murder .6 miles from my house. I was in my house reading my Bible at 4:35 AM while those 2 souls were crossing into eternity right down the street. There’s something quite unsettling about knowing this.
2 weeks ago, a 28 year old man jumped (or fell) from the top of the 10 story building that I work in.
All around us, everyone we see is potentially moments away from death. It is a very sobering thought. And it certainly underscores the importance of being faithful to share the gospel.
We must work the works of Him who has sent us while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. (John 9:4)
“Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.” Mark 14:15
The disciples had asked Jesus where they were to make ready for the Passover. Jesus gave them directions to a place that was ready and waiting for this use. I had to pause when I read this because it made me think about my life.
Those who want to be used by the Lord must be furnished and prepared. We must live in the place of readiness, and if we truly love the Lord, we will live in this place of readiness because our love for Him will compel us to draw near.
What does a furnished and prepared life look like? I’d welcome your input on this. As I was thinking about this, the following things came to mind: being full of the Holy Spirit, being increasingly surrendered and yielded to God, being a person of the Word and prayer.
In verses 13-14, when Jesus was ready for that room He gave directions to the disciples:
Go into the city
There will be a man
He will be carrying a pitcher of water
Follow him to a house
Speak to the master of the house
Jesus knew exactly where the room was. And He knows exactly where we are. He knows those who have faithfully devoted themselves to drawing near to Him, and when He is looking for someone to use in this wonderful task of sharing the gospel, He knows how to find us.
Oh, that we would live in this place of readiness, free from the many distractions of this world, and with our hearts set on knowing Him. Lord, help us to be furnished and prepared.
“….but the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” 2 Samuel 11:27
David’s sin with Bathsheba started out with a glance, then a gaze, and then a summons. There is always a progression with sin. It begins subtly in our thoughts and the outcome is often determined at this point. The Holy Spirit will be faithful to warn us, but we must listen. If we choose to ignore the quiet voice, the gentle tuggings at our conscience, we will find ourselves soon heading full speed down the path of iniquity.
Surely at some point while David was gazing upon Bathsheba he felt that nudging. After all, he was a man after God’s own heart. But his desire to please his flesh at that moment was stronger than his desire to please God. And Bathsheba was summoned, a child was conceived and her husband was murdered. David married Bathsheba and life continued……
But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.
One of the most chilling phrases in the Bible to me is the prophet Nathan’s confrontation of David’s sin. YOU ARE THE MAN! Fear must have gripped David’s heart as he realized his sin was not hidden from the eyes of God. As a man that knew God’s law, he knew the penalty for what he had done was death.
Although David did not escape this incident unscathed, God has extended a scepter of grace to him. Justice required his death. Mercy granted him life.
When I think of this story I am reminded of the woman caught in adultery in John 8. As she is brought to Jesus, it is recorded that he was writing on the ground. People have always wondered what he was writing. I think he was writing “David and Bathsheba”.
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
I have read my Bible faithfully (pretty much) for over 11 years. I’ve read through the New Testament more times than I remember. I’ve quoted this particular verse frequently. But I read it today and realized that I have read it incorrectly all these years.
I was reading this morning in a different translation than I usually use. Immediately I thought there must be a problem with the translation, so I looked at the verse in several other translations. And there it was in all of them – IF. Apparently it had been there all along and I hadn’t seen it. How could I not have seen it? For all those years my brain had substituted the word “because”. Maybe the reasoning behind that is that of course Jesus’ disciples would have love for one another. And so because of our love for each other people would know we are His disciples.
But it says IF.
Meaning maybe we won’t love each other.
I think that’s the saddest IF I’ve ever seen in my life.
“For all my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the king. Yet you set your servant among those who eat at your own table. Therefore what right have I still to cry out anymore to the king?” 2 Samuel 19:28
Sometimes I think I’m entitled to certain things, especially if I don’t see them as harmful. I have this bad habit of thinking I know what will make me happy. I’m not sure why I still find myself believing this from time to time because it has never proven true in the past. But there are times that I become convinced that THIS TIME I have really found exactly what I need to complete my life. And God says no.
This is where the rubber meets the road in our walk with God. What will you do with His no? I’ll tell you what I did – I cried over it, I tried to bargain with Him over it, I strayed into disobedience over it, and finally I got broken over it and let go.
I realized that I am a Mephibosheth who, by grace, has been given access to the King’s table always. Like Mephibosheth, there really is no good reason the King should have even allowed me to live, but He had mercy on me because He loves me. When I think deeply on these things I am very ashamed of how I have responded to His no.
Not only have I come to the conclusion that I have no right to complain, but I have no desire to either. Instead I will rejoice in this King who loved me enough to include me in His kingdom.