98. Face to face with greatness.

Have you ever experienced the greatness of man’s creative forces? You might have sat nailed to the chair in a show or concert while the beauty and excellence of the performance permeates your soul. The brilliance of a concert pianist, a singer or another performing artist that touches you in music brings the same awe as staring at art, architecture and cinematography.

I am easily overwhelmed by beauty. I often long to see something magnificent. The past week the sunsets were spectacular. I feel I must watch them so intensely as not to miss a minute of the changing sky.

Earlier this year I was attending a women’s retreat north of where I live. We had a bonfire on the Friday night, something I love dearly. Late night around a fire has long been one of my favourite evenings. This particular night was cold, but very clear. Inside somebody talked to me and it was around 11pm that I had a chance to make my way out of the building to the fire. It was only the last few women sitting around and talking for a few minutes more. We stood up to leave and as I turned towards the building, the sky was dancing!

I could not believe my eyes. I cried spontaneously at the absolute magnificence and slendour of the green lights jumping and swirling around me. I honestly felt God put up a show for me. I don’t know how long I stood there until it stopped. My girlfriends, who are so used to it, enjoyed my reaction so much, they stayed with me. Some of them live up north and watch the aurora from their patio every winter.

I will never forget it. It is forever engraved in my mind.

How would somebody ever forget a meeting with the Light of the world? I can just imagine how it must have felt to come face to face with the man Jesus. Actually, it is guaranteed to stay with you, but you are still in control, still able to bring judgment as you reject Him.

Here in John 3:17-21 we see the paradox of love and judgment. The mere fact of His love has judgment built in. Any person rejecting love brings judgment on himself.

It is possible to offer an experience in love and it turns out to be a judgment. An experience of joy, could turn into a judgment. We might think an evening of beautiful music with an orchestra is a joyful experience, while the friend that we take with to share our joy with, starts fidgeting and yawning in extreme boredom.

When men are confronted with greatness the reaction is judgment. Art, music, preachers, books or nature all demand judgment. If somebody is not thrilled with what he sees, he is blind for that particular beauty in front of him. The beauty itself is not on trial – the one who look is. His indifference shows his own pitiable blindness.

Men are confronted with Jesus. He is salvation and redemption. When man sees nothing in Jesus, they are condemned by their own reaction. God loves while mankind condemns itself.

When men see Jesus, they are confronted with their own shortcomings and it is not pleasant. Love of darkness and secrets is to conceal and hide. Jesus is the light that reveals and liberate when truth is introduced.

In John 3:22-30 we read the words of John the Baptist and the eternal wisdom in it.

In John’s words the loveliness of humility shines brightly.

The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.  He must become greater; I must become less.”

Humility is defined as: Modesty, a sense of moral insignificance, an unselfish concern for the welfare of others. It is the total absence of arrogance, conceit and haughtiness.

 The word was unknown in classical non-Biblical Greek. The strength of a humble person was unrecognized by the ancient world. The Greeks were not schooled in the ancient Hebrew principles found in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament.

A man’s pride will bring him low,
But the humble in spirit will retain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)

To be humble is to willingly submit to the will of God. Humility clears the way for God’s work in your life.  Such a person will inherit the Kingdom, the miracle of the invisible Kingdom of God on earth to live under heaven’s authority while her on earth in the body. (Matthew 18:4)

There is no self-pity from John the Baptist. He never expected anything else. He was the herald, the forerunner.

It would ease life a great deal if more people were prepared to play the subordinate role. So many people look for great things to do. Any task done for God has greatness built into it.

No man can receive more than God gave him.

In the words of John the Baptist:

A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. (John 3:27)

He called Jesus the bridegroom and himself the friend of the bridegroom. 

One of the great pictures of the Old Testament is of Israel as the bride of God and God as the bridegroom of Israel. The union between God and Israel was so close that it could be likened only to a wedding. When Israel went after strange gods it was as if she were guilty of infidelity to the marriage bond (Exodus 34:15Deuteronomy 31:16Psalms 73:27Isaiah 54:5). The New Testament took this picture further and spoke of the church as the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2Ephesians 5:22-32).

The friend of the bridegroom, the shoshben, had a unique place at a Jewish wedding. He acted as the liaison between the bride and the bridegroom; he arranged the wedding; he took out the invitations; he presided at the wedding feast (MC). He brought the bride and the bridegroom together. He had one special duty. It was his duty to guard the bridal chamber and to let no false lover in. He would open the door only when in the dark he heard the bridegroom’s voice and recognized it. When he heard the bridegroom’s voice he let him in and went away rejoicing, for his task was completed and the lovers were together.

In the last verses of the chapter (3:31-36) we do not know if it is the words of John the Baptist or comments from John.

The words declare the supremacy of Jesus. He has firsthand information on God. We live in the Spirit-dispensation. We have firsthand knowledge through the Holy Spirit.

All ancient documents were approved and confirmed by a seal at the bottom. Jesus is the seal on God’s message to us.

God did not hold anything back from Jesus. He poured out His spirit in full measure. The Spirit had two functions: To reveal God’s truth to men and to enable them to recognize and understand.

To listen to Jesus is to hear the voice of God. Therefore there is a choice between life and death. The choice is emphasized throughout the Bible. (Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Joshua 24:15)

At the crossroads of your life, there is always a choice. What will you do with Jesus? Every day, every hour brings a choice. The wrath of God is brought about by men on men, not by God. God loves. That is His core characteristic.

He said so Himself. (Exodus 34:6, The Message)

God passed in front of him and called out, “God, God, a God of mercy and grace, endlessly patient—so much love, so deeply true—loyal in love for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. 

 

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