Sunday, May 01, 2022

Jesus our Brother: Mat. 28:10

After Jesus’ resurrection, on the third day, the two Marys went to look at the tomb. Having seen the empty tomb, they left to go home but, on the way, they met the risen Jesus. As they fell down and laid hold of his feet in worship, Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go, bring word to My brothers to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me” (Mat. 28:10 NASB 2020). There are many ways in which I relate to Jesus. He is my Lord, my God, my Savior, and the Christ of God. However, I rarely relate to him as my brother. Yet, Jesus, after his resurrection, referred to his disciples as his “brothers.” Jesus, having just been raised from the dead, declares his solidarity with the human race by calling them brothers. Jesus is not just our God, but he is also our brother.

There are three things that we can learn from relating to Jesus as our brother. First is that Jesus is not ashamed of us. The writer of Hebrews states that “For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for this reason He is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters” (Heb. 2:11 NASB 2020). As our brother, Jesus is not ashamed of us, even knowing our weaknesses and failings. He stands with us, even when we fail and fall short of who we are called to be. Secondly, Jesus is merciful to us. The writer of Hebrews goes on to say, “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brothers so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:17-18 NASB 2020). Not only is Jesus not ashamed of us, but he is merciful to us when we fail. No matter what we have done, we know that we can come to Jesus in repentance and find mercy and forgiveness. Finally, knowing Jesus as our brother gives us a glimpse of who we are to become. Paul writes, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Rom. 8:29 NASB 2020). We are called to be like Jesus, and God his Father, and our Father, is working in our lives to conform us to his image. Jesus is not only our pattern for who we shall be but also our hope that, as his brothers, our Father in heaven will continue to work in our lives until we reflect the life of Jesus in our own lives. Today, as you spend time with Jesus, may you begin to see Jesus as not only your lord and savior but also your brother.

David Robison

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Which Jesus do you choose? Matthew 27:17


After his arrest, and towards the end of his mock trial, Pilate offered a choice to the Jews as to who he should release to them according to his custom. In Matthew’s Gospel, we read, “Now at the Passover Feast the governor was accustomed to release for the people any one prisoner whom they wanted. And at that time they were holding a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, ‘Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ’” (Matthew 27:15-17 NASB 2020)? In the Greek text, Barabbas is taken directly from the Aramaic and simply means “bar abba” or “son of a father.” We might think of this as being akin to our last name. Interestingly, some of the manuscripts include the real name of Barabbas, or in our terms, his first name, and that name was Jesus. In some Greek manuscripts, this verse reads, “who do you want me to release to you? Jesus, the son of abba, or Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate was forcing them to choose between two Jesuses, one being the true Christ of God, and the other Jesus being one who was both a murderer and an insurrectionist (Mark 15:7).

This Easter season, we, too, ought to stop and ask ourselves, “Which Jesus do we choose?” We live in a time when many prefer a Jesus of their own choosing, of their own making, rather than the true Christ of God. People want a Jesus who thinks like they think, acts as they act, and who is accepting of all their decisions, opinions, and beliefs. Instead of conforming their lives to the life and teaching of Jesus, they want to conform Jesus to their way of life and their way of thinking. Instead of accepting and following the historical Jesus, the Jesus of the scriptures, they would rather follow a Jesus conformant to our modern mindset and sensibilities. For many, they prefer a counterfeit Jesus rather than Jesus, who was the true son of God. So, the question we must ask ourselves is, “Which Jesus do we choose?” My prayer for all of us as we enter into this Easter season is that we would all choose the true Jesus, the one who lived and died for us, and the only one who rose from the dead so that we might have new life in him. This Easter season, may you blest in the true Jesus, the one who is called Christ.

David Robison

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Producing the fruit of the kingdom: Matthew 21:43

One day, Jesus told a parable about a landowner who planted a vineyard and leased it out to vine-growers who would tend the vineyard for him. Part of the price of the lease was that, when the harvest time had come, the landowner would receive a share of the harvest of the vineyard. However, when he sent servants to collect his fee, those who had leased the vineyard refused to pay. Finally, the landowner sent his son, saying, “They will respect my son” (Matthew 21:37 NASB 2020). However, vine-growers “took him and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him” (Matthew 21:39 NASB 2020). Jesus then reveals that he spoke this parable against the religious people of his day, warning them, saying, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruit” (Matthew 21:43 NASB 2020).

The Greek word translated here as “producing” is a very common word in the New Testament. It is often translated as to make or to do. Bearing the fruit of the kingdom is not something that naturally or automatically happens. It takes our involvement. We must engage in the process. We must participate in the making, or producing, of the fruit. Yes, fruit is the natural result of the life of any plant, but producing a crop takes effort.

So how does one bear and produce fruit for the Kingdom of God? The secret is to remain in Jesus. Jesus said, “Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself but must remain in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5 NASB 2020). If we are to produce the fruit of the kingdom, we must abide in Christ. John goes on to tell us what it means to remain in Christ. He wrote, “the one who says that he remains in Him ought, himself also, walk just as He walked … No one who remains in Him sins continually; no one who sins continually has seen Him or knows Him … The one who keeps His commandments remains in Him, and He in him” (1 John 2:5, 3:6, 3:24 NASB 2020).

To remain in Christ, and therefore produce fruit for God, requires us to walk like Jesus walked, to turn from sin, and keep his commandments. To remain in Christ is to live like Christ. While we are saved by grace alone, we are all called to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13 NASB 2020). Furthermore, this life of Christ that we are to live can be summed up in one statement, “and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him” (1 John 4:15-16 NASB 2020). To remain in Christ is to remain in love, to live a life of love towards God and towards one another, for everyone who remains in love will naturally bear fruit for God and for the world.

David Robison

Monday, January 10, 2022

Washing our robes: Rev 22:14


As John nears the end of his revelation from Jesus Christ, he sees the new city of Jerusalem descending from heaven, and he hears Jesus say these words, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life, and may enter the city by the gates” (Rev. 22:14 NASB 2020). In the original Greek, the word translated here as “wash” is a present participle, which implies an ongoing activity. This verse could be translated, “Blessed are those who are washing their robes.” Washing our robes is not something we do once and are done with it; it is something we must continually do day-by-day. No matter how mature we become in Christ, we will still have the need to wash our robes.

Earlier in his revelation, John tells us how we are to wash our robes white. As part of his revelation, John sees a great multitude and is told, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14 NASB 2020). We wash our robes through repentance and the forgiveness that are found in the blood of Christ. The truth is, we will never outgrow our need for the blood of Christ to forgive us and to cleanse us from our sins and the filth we pick up from the world around us.

Furthermore, our experience with the forgiveness and cleansing of the blood of Christ must also be manifested in the way we walk and live. Speaking of the bride of Christ, which is the church of Christ, John is told, “It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev. 19:8 NASB 2020). The righteousness that is ours through the blood of Christ must become manifested in our daily walk as we commit ourselves to good works towards those around us. As we live righteous lives, as evidenced through our good works, and as we continually avail ourselves to the blood of Christ, which forgives and cleanses us, then we will be among those who are continually washing their robes as we wait for Christ’s return.


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

To Jesus who loves us: Rev 1:5

While exiled to the island of Patmos, John, writing to the seven churches in Asia, opens his letter with praise to their common savior. He writes in praise, “To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood” (Rev. 1:5 NASB 2020). In this passage, there are two participles that further describe who Jesus is. The first is an aorist participle which describes a one-time past action. John says that Jesus “released us from our sins,” a one-time past action. The other is a present participle, which describes an ongoing activity. This is the case where John says that Jesus “loves us.” This phrase could also have been translated, “the one who is loving us.” Jesus’ love for us was not a one-time event. Jesus did not only love us when he came to give his life for us. Neither did he love us only when he forgave and released us from our sins. Jesus continues to love us today, and he will love us tomorrow and the next day. Jesus' love for us is both continual and active. We can trust in his love day-by-day, knowing that we can never exhaust his love for us. What comfort and hope this revelation ought to give us, and what motivation to share that same never-ending love with the people around us.

David Robison

Monday, December 20, 2021

Overcoming: Rev 2-3

While exiled to the island of Patmos, John received a lengthy revelation of Jesus Christ. As part of that revelation, Jesus gives him seven messages to seven churches in Asia. Included in each of these seven messages is a blessing for those who overcome in this life. Here are the blessings pronounced by Jesus upon the overcomer:

“To the one who overcomes, I will grant to eat from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God) (Rev. 2:7 NASB 2020).

“The one who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death” (Rev. 2:11 NASB 2020).

“To the one who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows except the one who receives it” (Rev. 2:17 NASB 2020).

“The one who overcomes, and the one who keeps My deeds until the end, I will give him authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the patter are shattered, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star” (Rev. 2:26-28 NASB 2020).

“The one who overcomes will be clothed the same way, in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Rev. 3:5 NASB 2020).

“The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name” (Rev. 3:12 NASB 2020).

The one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne” (Rev. 3:21 NASB 2020).

What is interesting in all these cases is that the Greek word translated as “overcomes” is in the present tense, which, in Greek, indicates an ongoing activity. These verses could have been translated as “to the one who is overcoming” or “the overcoming one.” This is even more interesting when compared to what John previously wrote in his first letter to the church. John wrote, “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them [the antichrists]; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 NASB 2020). Here, the verb is in the perfect tense, which indicates a one-time past action whose effects are still being felt today.

When we come to Christ, we are placed on the winning team. The book of Revelation tells an epic story where, as believers, we overcome and win in the end. However, this does not mean that we do not face daily battles, battles in which we are called to fight and overcome by the grace of God. While we have won the battle, we still must secure that victory through daily skirmishes with the enemy. We have both overcome, and are overcoming, through our daily lives through the power of God that lives within us. Our daily victories flow from the grand victory we won over the enemy when we first became believers. What comfort this ought to give us as we fight our battles and learn to overcome day-by-day.

David Robison



Saturday, November 20, 2021

Entrusting ourselves to God: 1 Peter 4:19


In his first letter to the church, Peter reminds us that suffering is part of the Christian life. Peter writes, “For you have been called for this purpose, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you would follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21 NASB 2020). Part of those footsteps that we are to follow in is to suffer both for the sake of Christ and the sake of others. Peter goes on to write, “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose” (1 Peter 4:1 NASB 2020). This same purpose includes suffering. Suffering is part and parcel of the Christian life. Peter encourages us that we ought not to be “surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12 NASB 2020), for such suffering is a normal part of being a Christian. So how is a believer to bear up under such suffering and come through it even stronger in the Lord? Peter gives us this counsel, “Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God are to entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Peter 4:19 NASB 2020).

Two things are of note in this verse. First is the Greek word translated as “entrust.” This word means to put, place, or stand near or around something. It is often translated as commit, entrust, and deposit. Peter is telling us to commit and entrust our souls to God as if we were depositing them with him for safekeeping. But how does one do this? How can we entrust and commit our souls to a God we cannot see and who is enthroned in heaven? We do so by choosing to do good. 

The Greek word translated here as “doing what is right” is a compound word made from the Greek word for good and the Greek word for doing or making. We commit ourselves to God by committing ourselves to doing good. It is a bit surprising that the way we commit ourselves vertically to God is by committing ourselves horizontally to doing good to other people. Some may question if such counsel is contrary to faith and returns us to a works-oriented salvation. Are good works compatible with salvation by faith? The answer is “Yes!” Often, especially when we are suffering some fiery ordeal, it takes faith to continue in doing good. It takes faith in the goodness, graciousness, and merciful favor of God in our lives. Only as we have faith in God’s goodness and faithfulness can we do good, even while suffering. The way through suffering is to entrust ourselves to a faithful God in doing what is good and right to others. 

David Robison

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Co-worker in the truth: 3 John 8

In his third letter to the church, John praises the believers for how they had treated strangers and those who traveled with the Gospel. John writes, “You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such people, so that we may prove to be fellow workers with the truth” (3 John 1:6-8 NASB 2020). There are two things of interest in these verses. First is the Greek word translated here as “ought.” The root of this word is the Greek word for profit or advantage. The idea is of a duty that has accrued to us on the basis of the benefits and blessings we have received. John is reminding his readers that, because of the blessings, favors, and advantages of God that have become theirs in the Gospel, the duty of supporting those who have gone out in the service of the Gospel has been accrued to their account. Because we have been blessed, we ought to support those ministers of the Gospel.

The second thing of interest is the Greek word translated as “fellow workers.” This is a single compound Greek word containing the preposition “with” and the Greek word for worker, which is the same Greek word from which we get our word for “energy.” This particular word is used only here by John but is often used by Paul to speak of those who were working with him in the cause of the Gospel. Consider some of the people whom Paul calls his fellow workers: Prisca and Aquila (Rom. 16:3), Urbanus (Rom. 16:9), Timothy (Rom. 16:21), Titus (2 Cor. 8:23), Epaphroditus (Philip. 2:25), Clement (Philip. 4:3), Jesus (not Jesus Christ) and Justus (Col. 4:11), Philemon (Philemon 1:1), and Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke (Philemon 1:24).

However, here, John is saying that if we help and support those who have gone out for the sake of the Gospel, then we have become co-workers with them in the truth. In God’s perspective, those who go and those who supply are both workers in the truth. When we support missionaries and workers in the Gospel, we are not simply supporting them or donating to their cause; we are actually co-working with them in the truth. This ought to change the way we view missions, missionaries, and our participation with them by supporting them in their work. When we support them, then we too are participating with them in the work. By giving, we too have become workers.

David Robison

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Troublesome meddler: 1Peter 4:14

Peter writes to encourage us that suffering is a normal part of the Christian life. However, he goes on to say, “Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler” (1 Peter 4:15 NASB 2020). This last word in the Greek text, translated here as “troublesome meddler,” is particularly interesting, and its exact meaning is still debated. This Greek word is a compound word, the first part meaning “another’s,” and the second word is often translated in the New Testament as “bishop” or “overseer.” Peter is saying that we should not pretend to be another’s bishop, or another’s overseer. Craig Keener writes that this word could refer to those “giving unwanted or ill-timed advice. Mediling tactlessly in others affairs was a vice often attributed to unpopular Cynic philosophers” (The IVP Bible Background Commentary).

In thinking about this word, we ought to remember what Peter previously wrote in this same letter. Peter writes, “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25 NASB 2020). The Greek word translated here as Guardian is the same word for bishop used by Peter when he later warns us about trying to be another’s bishop. The truth is, people do not need another bishop, someone else to intrude into their lives to tell them how to do things or to point out where they are wrong. They already have a bishop and overseer in their life, and that is Jesus. This further reminds me of Paul’s words when he wrote, “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Rom. 14:4 NASB 2020). In Christ, we are called to be one another’s brothers and sisters, not their bishop. That job we ought to leave to the Lord.


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

In which direction are you running? 1 Peter 4:4

 Peter writes to remind us that suffering is a normal part of the Christian experience. Peter writes, “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (1 Peter 4:1 NASB 2020). One of the ways we suffer is by being misunderstood by those who do not believe. Peter goes on to say, “In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them in the same excesses of debauchery, and they slander you” (1 Peter 4:4 NASB 2020).

There are two things of note in this verse. The first is the word translated here as “debauchery” and as “dissipation” in other translations. In the original Greek, this word is a compound word containing the negative article (think of “un”) and the Greek word for salvation. Perhaps the most literal way of understanding this word is as “unsavedness.” Peter describes people as running in one of two directions. Either we are running into the savedness of God, or we are running into the unsavedness of the world; there is no middle ground. Peter goes on to tell us that a life lived in running towards unsavedness, is a life lived in pursuing “indecent behavior, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties, and wanton idolatries” (1 Peter 4:3 NASB 2020). However, a life lived in running towards savedness, is a life lived in “sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer … fervent in your love for one another … hospitable to one another without complaint … [and] serving one another as good stewards of the multifaceted grace of God” (1 Peter 4:7-10 NASB 2020).

The second thing of note is that Peter speaks of us running in one direction or the other. We often think of the fast pace of our modern life, but we rarely think of the pace at which we are running towards unsavedness or savedness. People do not drift towards savedness or away from savedness; they run! I know of a man who, one day, started going out for drinks after work. This led him to stop going to church, which led to more drinking, and eventually to being arrested for sexual assault. What is shocking is that this entire process took only six months! Our journey toward sin is a quick journey. It does not take long to become completely consumed by sin. We must ask ourselves, in which direction am I running? Am I running towards God and his savedness? Or toward the world and its unsavedness?

David Robison