Friday

Pictures of Jesus: Unfaltering




No matter how firmly I resolve to do something, say something, think something, or be something – my resolve sometimes fails.

Life drama and disturbing details can set me off course, especially if I’m not paying attention.

Not so with the Lord Jesus.

He never wavered in His purpose or His obedience to the Father. He finished the course set for Him during His earthly ministry, from His Bethlehem birth to Golgotha and beyond.

Lord of the Martyrs, painted by Brazilian artist and monk Ricardo do Pilar (1635-1700), pictures this truth poignantly. The pained face, crowned by thorns, expresses genuine agony. The chest, pierced by a Roman sword, bleeds blood and water. The nail-torn hands are raised in prayer and honor.

And the rough rope, lashed about His neck, cannot hold him, unless He chooses to submit to the suffering.

I gave my back to those who strike,
    and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;
I hid not my face
    from disgrace and spitting.
But the Lord God helps me;
    therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like a flint,
    and I know that I shall not be put to shame.
(Isaiah 50:6-7, NIV)

Jesus is unfaltering.

Lord of the Martyrs
 by Ricardo do Pilar
 c1690

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The Scripture memory tips series is ongoing, but the April A to Z Blogging Challenge has started, and Heart of a Ready Writer is participating again this year. Watch for the Bible memory series posts, which may be interspersed with the Pictures of Jesus series during the month of April.


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Thursday

Pictures of Jesus: Tender



 Jesus, the King of Kings and Mighty Warrior, is tender with His own. He is the gentle, loving, and patient Prince of Peace. And, despite His eternal and universal authority, He modeled true humility, taking on mortal human flesh and serving others.

Washing His followers’ feet was a prime example of this, as illustrated here in Jesus Washing Peter's Feet, by Pre-Raphaelite English painter Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893).

See His bowed head, as he softly scrubs Peter’s feet, filthy and calloused from walking dusty roads barefoot or in sandals. Might Jesus be praying for this special friend, who would go on to deny Him thrice before being restored and sent out to found the church of Christ?

Look at the faces of the other followers. Don’t they look amazed, astounded, confused, and even shocked at the sight before them?

Jesus demonstrated hands-on ministry with tenderness and compassion. And He asks the same of us. Hey, it’s a lot harder than it sounds, especially with some folks. But He understands all about rebellion, rejection, and resentment from those who are served.

 “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-29, NIV)

I’ve always wondered why Jesus said His yoke was easy and His burden was light. It sounds nonsensical. Serving the Lord is rewarding, but it can also be downright difficult. And ministry was particularly costly for Him, as it required His very life.

Maybe He meant the yoke He places on us is easy – not the yoke He bore Himself. Maybe the burden He offers us is light, if we compare it to the rough-hewn one He carried to Calvary.

Could it be that the yoke and burden He gives us is all the easier and lighter because we are able to lean on Him for tender encouragement, strong support, caring comfort, immeasurable power, and sure purpose?

Perhaps this passage makes sense, after all. Tender Jesus is more than enough.

Jesus Washing Peter's Feet
by Ford Madox Brown
 c1855

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The Scripture memory tips series is ongoing, but the April A to Z Blogging Challenge has started, and Heart of a Ready Writer is participating again this year. Watch for the Bible memory series posts, which may be interspersed with the Pictures of Jesus series during the month of April.


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Wednesday

Pictures of Jesus: Sorrowful



I am touched by this painting by 19th Century Scottish painter William Dyce (1806-1864).  I think it is significant that Jesus is pictured off to one side, with rugged and rocky wilderness filling the rest of the scene.

This is probably the scene of Jesus' temptation and testing, as found in Luke 4.

With His head bowed, the Savior solemnly prays to the Father. The sorrow is clear on His face, as He likely pleads for changed human hearts. He probably ponders the rough road before Him, including betrayal, grave mistreatment and a torturous death.

Even in His sorrow, though, He understands the joy of certain victory. He fully knows the Father’s love.

He understands the cost and is willing to pay for the sin of mankind. And He determines that we are worth it.

Because of His sorrow, we can know joy and victory and grace that lasts.

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1b-2, NIV)
Man of Sorrows
by William Dyce
 c1860

Feel free to follow on GooglePlus and Twitter. Don’t miss the Heart of a Ready Writer page on Facebook.

The Scripture memory tips series is ongoing, but the April A to Z Blogging Challenge has started, and Heart of a Ready Writer is participating again this year. Watch for the Bible memory series posts, which may be interspersed with the Pictures of Jesus series during the month of April.

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Tuesday

Pictures of Jesus: Ridiculed


Ridicule can leave us raw. Scorn makes the spirit sore. Derision is distressing.

Jesus knows. He has been there.

Italian Baroque artist Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) painted the Messiah at such a moment. (The biblical accounts can be found in Matthew 27, Mark 15, and John 19.)

The soldiers stripped Jesus of His own garments and placed a robe and a crown of thorns upon Him. They beat Him with a staff and mocked Him. Then they took Him to be crucified.

Surely, Jesus knows all about disregard, disrespect, and disdain. 

The One who is worthy of all glory and honor and praise quietly endured such mistreatment. And He knew the truth. He knew who He was. He knew His purpose. He knew the Father esteemed Him highly.

And He knew God would ultimately set things right.

Working through a sermon series on the Book of Revelation, our pastor recently asked two pointed questions.

1) “Why do we, as American Christians, think we are immune to suffering for our faith?”

For generations, we have lived pretty peaceably, particularly as compared to our fellow believers in other parts of the world. Sure, we may be criticized or jeered for our faith. But our very safety has not been jeopardized much for it.

Times are changing. This sense of nationwide shelter to which we have long grown accustomed may not always exist.

Is our faith strong enough to stand, if ridicule turns into real persecution? Can our souls stand a sifting, if God should allow it?

2) “If we are not facing opposition for our faith, what compromises might we be making to avoid it?”

Ouch.

Jesus Himself said:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV)

I have never heard a pastor or Bible teacher talk about the trouble Jesus mentioned here as being everyday inconveniences or basic hardships of life. Instead, they point to persecution, as if it is a given for those who stand up for Christ.

Again and again, the Scriptures recognize encountering opposition as a mark of faith. Whether that takes the form of simple slander and sarcastic jabs or outright attack, it tests the mettle of one’s commitment to God.

I’m not seeking mistreatment or martyrdom. I’m not daring the enemy to bring on the battle. But it surely looks like things are heating up around here. And I pray to be ready, if such a day comes.

God, help me to carry Your banner boldly, even in the face of opposition or oppression.

If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (1 Peter 4:14, NIV)

Christ Mocked
 by Gianlorenzo Bernini
 17th Century

Feel free to follow on GooglePlus and Twitter. Don’t miss the Heart of a Ready Writer page on Facebook.


The Scripture memory tips series is ongoing, but the April A to Z Blogging Challenge has started, and Heart of a Ready Writer is participating again this year. Watch for the Bible memory series posts, which may be interspersed with the Pictures of Jesus series during the month of April.


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