So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. No, my sons; the report I hear spreading among the Lord’s people is not good. If one person sins against another, God may mediate for the offender; but if anyone sins against the Lord, who will intercede for them?”

1 Samuel 2:23-25

Eli had his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, ministering with him as priests. But these two sons were engaged in the two most notorious scandals a minister can be involved in. They were stealing from the offerings people were giving to the Lord and they were sleeping with women who were serving at the place of sacrifice. Money scandals and sex scandals have long been tabloid fodder for people in positions of power.

Eli finally confronts his sons and, even though they don’t listen, Eli’s confrontation is a foreshadow of Christ. It is one thing to ask God or a judge to mediate conflict between two people. But who mediates the conflict when we’ve sinned against God? God has become the one who has been sinned against and the only one who has enough authority to mediate between Himself and other. The implication here from Eli is that there is no one to intercede for us if we sin against God and so a guilty verdict will surely be the result.

The beauty of the gospel is that God saw this reality and decided to do something about it on our behalf. He loves us so much He couldn’t leave things this way. So He sent Jesus–God in the flesh–to become the mediator between us and God. Jesus took our guilty verdict upon Himself and in turn gave us the inheritance that was His alone. He took upon Himself what only we deserved and then gave us what only He deserved. He identified with the consequence of our sin–the crucifixion, death, and burial–and then gave us the opportunity not only to identify with Him in the resurrection–giving us new life–but also the chance to be seated with Him in the heavenly places–allowing us to reign with Him–receiving His inheritance and authority.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus…

1 Timothy 2:5

…Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

Hebrews 9:5

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Romans 6:3-4

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…

Ephesians 2:4-6

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God…The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:14, 16-17

Can you see that the Mediator Jesus did not come to make sure both sides, us and God, got a fair deal? What Jesus got was not fair. It was sacrifice. What we got was not fair. It was grace. Justice was satisfied as our sin was paid for, but the gospel goes way beyond justice. Because of His great love for us, God put all of His chips on the table. He went all in to bring about our reconciliation to Him.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21

This is why we call it good news! In moments where I am just quietly driving and reflecting on the goodness of God, there are times when the absolute beauty of the gospel hits me. I become overwhelmed with the grace and kindness of the Father. I become undone by the reality that God gave me what only Jesus deserved because Jesus took upon Himself what only I deserved. The weight of the love involved in that exchanged becomes so real that I break down crying in the car.

This is the gospel! We don’t earn it with good works or religious duties. We simply believe it. We believe and trust in what Jesus did for us, and it changes everything!

Jesus, thank you for this beautiful exchange! I don’t deserve all that You’ve given me, but I receive it by faith. I surrender my life to you, Jesus, and I invite the Holy Spirit to come and change me from the inside out. Your love for me is overwhelming! Your grace toward me is life-changing! Help me to live from that place of being seated with you at the right hand of the Father. My life is Yours! Amen.

Glorified and Ascended Jesus

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Revelation 1:12-18

John was worshiping the Lord on a Sunday and Jesus came to him in powerful way. The lampstands were prophetic imagery representing the seven churches of Asia Minor. Jesus was standing “among the lampstands.” The glorified, ascended Jesus looked magnificent.

John had seen Jesus in a glorified state with Peter and James when Jesus transfigured before them and talked with Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-8). John had also seen the resurrected Jesus a few different times–the upper room (John 20:19-22), in Galilee (John 21:7), the ascension (Matthew 28:16-20). But this is the first time John encounters Jesus in His glorified and ascended state.

Yet, John is not the only one to encounter the ascended Jesus in a vision. The apostle Paul had Jesus show up to him a few different times. The first time was during Paul’s own conversion experience (Acts 9:1-9). The second time was when Paul was ministering in Corinth (Acts 18:9-10). The third time was when Paul was arrested in Jerusalem (Acts 23:11).

We get a somewhat detailed description of what the glorified, ascended Jesus looks like. He was glowing white all over. His eyes were like blazing fire. All of John’s descriptors give us an image of glowing and fiery bright light. His voice thundered as the double-edged sword came out of His mouth–prophetic symbolism for the word of God (Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17).

In the presence of such power and majesty John drops to the ground as if he is dead. I believe that this would be true of all of us. Our physical bodies can’t handle that kind of proximity with the Alpha and Omega. Yet, with one touch from Jesus’s hand, John is strengthened. And Jesus reminds us all that He is not dead but alive for ever and ever! One of His names is the Living One!

From Heaven To Earth

Paul tells the Ephesian Christians that when they were saved by grace something happened that is mind-boggling. He writes, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”(Ephesians 2:6).

What does this mean?

The death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ was not just an event in human history, it was an eternal event. In other words, while things were unfolding within the bounds of time (the crucifixion, burial, and ascension of Jesus) there were other things happening outside the bounds of time in the realm of the spirit. Jesus didn’t just pay for the sins that had been committed up to that point, He paid for all the sin of humanity for all time⏤past, present and future. It was an eternal moment.

Paul tries to explain this to the Roman Christians:

“…don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him…”

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”

“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 6:3-6, 8, 11

So when we surrender our life to Jesus, it is as if our old self was there with Christ being crucified with him and being buried with Him. Likewise, we are raised to new life with Him just as Jesus resurrected out of that tomb.

But our journey with Jesus wasn’t done. Not only were Jesus’s death and resurrection eternal events but so was His ascension. Remember what Paul already wrote to the Ephesians about God the Father and Jesus’s ascension, “…he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come”(Ephesians 1:20-21).

So where is Jesus’s residence right now? He’s seated at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly realms far above all other human and demonic powers, far above any other name to which people pray. And He will be there not only now but for eternity.

Paul then drops the bomb on us and says that God has “seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”(Ephesians 2:6). Just as we were somehow with Christ in His death and resurrection, we are now with Him as He sits with the Father in the heavenly realms.

Because we were with Christ on the cross, we don’t live hoping our sin was dealt with, we live knowing our sin was death with once and for all. Because we were with Christ when He rose from the grave, we don’t live hoping for new life one day, we live knowing we’ve been given new life today. In the same way, because we are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms, we don’t live hoping we get into heaven in the future, we live from heaven to earth today!

Living from heaven to earth means that heavenly things are now natural to us and earthly things have become unnatural. Having the mind of Christ, thinking from God’s perspective, has now become natural. By “natural” I mean “that which alines with our new nature.” Sin feels abnormal. It’s not who we are anymore. Operating in the authority of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit has become natural. Fear feels unnatural. Resentment feels like an old coat that no longer fits and smells bad. Forgiveness, however, has the feel of when a ball hits a bat right on the sweet spot.

Paul articulates this well to the Colossian Christians:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 

Colossians 3:1-3