“Free From Fear” ( 1 John 2: 2, NIV ) by Carley Evans

The author of 1 John writes simply, “[Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Now and then in the Word, God sums up the gospel in a brief, powerful statement. Here it is again — the three major elements of our salvation: Jesus, His atoning sacrifice, and our sins. Jesus says it Himself, “The Son of Man is not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

Jesus calls Himself a “ransom”; the author of 1 John calls Jesus “the atoning sacrifice.”

Today, a “ransom” is paid when someone has taken a child from a family. Today, not many of us fully understand an “atoning sacrifice.”

I gather that theologians wrestle with these concepts — did Jesus pay off Satan? or God? Did He substitute for us on the cross or did He carry away our sins on the cross?

I’m not a theologian. When I read the words “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” and the words I Am come “to give [My] life as a ransom for many” I only know what it means to me —  I am not punished because Jesus paid a debt I owe. Whether He paid it to God the Father or to Satan or in some fashion to both, I do not know. I only know I am free from fear.

“Experts In Law Reject God’s Purpose” ( Luke 7: 30, NIV ) by Carley Evans

Reads like a headline, doesn’t it? “Hear ye, hear ye: Experts in the Law Reject the Purposes of God.” Luke writes this rejection of God’s purpose for these religious experts is due to the fact they are not baptized by John. Rather, “they are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other.” (Luke 7:32) The experts in the law complain that no one responds to their “flute” or to their “dirge” — people neither dance to their joyous tune nor do they cry at their morose funeral march.

The experts in the law complain that John the Baptist “has a demon” even though he “comes neither eating bread nor drinking wine.” (Luke 7:33) They complain even more when Jesus, “the Son of Man comes eating and drinking.” They call Jesus “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” (Luke 7:34) Only the way of the old covenant works for them. They follow only Moses, missing completely that Moses always points to Jesus, the Messiah.

And how Jesus longs to gather these religious leaders to Himself, but they reject His purposes for them because they reject the means to the end they so desire. They refuse baptism by John.

“No One Will Say” ( Luke 17: 20-21, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

The Pharisees ask Jesus when the kingdom of God is going to appear. Jesus tells them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with something observable.”

“The kingdom of God is not coming with something observable” — really?

So many people today talk about Jesus’ return, of His appearing in the clouds, of the disappearance of presumably millions of Christians in an instant flash. Sounds observable to me! Sounds like people are going to say, “‘Look here!’ or ‘there!'”

But Jesus says, “You see, the kingdom of God is among you.”

The Pharisees do not see, but think they do. Therefore, they remain blind. The disciples listen. Jesus tells them they are going to “long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but won’t see it.” (Luke 17:22) He warns them not “to follow or run after” false messiahs just because people get excited and say, “Look here!” (Luke 17:23) Rather, the kingdom of God is within them, and within us.

Jesus says, “The man in the field must not turn back.” (Luke 17:31)