Psalms created on Truth – psalm 8: 4; “Wie is de mens, dat Gij hem gedenkt . . . . . “

In onze tijd worden mensen verpulverd, worden in een mum opgebruikt en de kijk op de mens is verward en wazig geworden.
Vanuit deze tragische situatie moet niet vergeten worden dat er al eeuwen een cultureel ontwerp bestaat.
De beschrijving hiervan is ons van Gods wege gegeven via de Blijde Boodschap.
De Bijbel  is in staat de mens een antwoord te geven op wie hij is, over zijn relatie met de wereld, de noodzaak tot gemeenschap met de medemens. Het beschrijft de individuele weg die hem leidt naar een directe relatie met God . . . . .

Daarop vindt de oorsprong van de cultuur van onze Kerkvaders haar oorsprong in de Griekse geest en hun resonantie op de Christelijke leer.
De mens werd in het kader van deze cultuur geïdentificeerd als een persoon, die
is geschapen, overeenkomstig het beeld van de Drie-ene God en daarnaast de mogelijkheid heeft gekregen om te communiceren met God en met onze medemens.
Het leven is als een woestijn, zonder werkelijke waarden.
Af en toe horen we de Stem van boven die onafgebroken roept.
We zijn verplicht de wil van God te doen, Zijn wetten na te leven.
We doen dit wel, maar met een half hart omdat onze geest vaak te druk is met andere zaken. Uiteindelijk bereiken we onze bestemming en
realiseren dat elk moment de potentie van een juweel in zich had.
Dan betreuren we onze dwaasheid.

“Die de echtvriend van haar jeugd verlaat en het verbond [= overeenkomst met ] van haar God vergeet”.
Spreuken 2: 17

De Statenvertaling zegt: de Leidsman van haar jeugd.
Het Hebreeuwse woord Pwla (aloef), dat hier dan vertaald is met “echtvriend” of “Leidsman” hangt samen met de eerste letter van het Hebreeuwse alfabet, de alef .
En de alef representeert ook de één, het getal 1. Het betekent dus, dat je de eenheid kwijt bent.
Het betekent ook, dat je Degene kwijt bent met wie je van je jeugd af aan verbonden bent.
En dat is toch wel heel bijzonder, want als je bij God bent – en het is goed om daar eens even over na te denken – als je bij de Heer bent en met Hem wandelt, dan ben je bij je oorspronkelijke Vriend.
Dan ben je bij de God bij wie je van huis uit hoort.

De kern van dit verhaal is dus: een mens hoort van huis uit bij God.
Als je tot geloof komt, kom je terug bij je oorsprong bij het begin.
Het begin van elk mens is uit God.
En dan kun je in je leven een heel eind gaan zwerven en een hele omweg maken,
maar als je dan tot bekering komt, kom je niet bij een vreemde, maar dan kom je bij de vanouds bekende God.
Dan kom je bij Degene, die jou al kent vanaf het begin. Al die andere goden, die je in je leven inbouwt horen niet bij je.

Jouw begin is uit God, en je bent wezenlijk verwant met Hem!
Je hoort helemaal bij Hem. Hij heeft je gemaakt, je bent uit Hem voortgekomen.
En zo mag je gaan als drager van die goddelijke aanwezigheid.
Dat is die verborgen schat binnen in jou.
Paulus zegt daarover:
Of zijt gij niet zo zeker van uzelf, dat Jezus Christus in u is?”.
2Cor.13: 5
Er wordt vaak zo negatief gedaan over mensen;
och, we zijn maar mensen.
Maar zo spreekt de Blijde Boodschap niet, dat zegt God niet.
God zegt: ‘Ik heb iets van Mijzelf in jou gelegd’;
” “En God zei: Laat Ons mensen maken naar Ons Beeld, als Onze Gelijkenis,
opdat zij heersen over de vissen in de zee en over het gevogelte aan de hemel en
over het vee en over de gehele aarde en over al het kruipende gedierte dat op de aardbodem kruipt. En God schiep de mens naar Zijn Beeld; naar Gods Beeld schiep Hij hem;
man en vrouw schiep Hij hen
”.
Genesis 1: 26; vergelijk 9: 6

Dat dit geen primitief idee is,
uit een ver verleden, toont het Geloof in Jezus van de apostelen.
Zij geloofden dat God verantwoordelijk is voor alle leven en dat alle mensen zijn voortgekomen uit dit eerste mensenpaar [Matth.19: 4; 1Cor.11 : 7; Jac.3: 9].
Maar wat wordt er bedoeld met: ‘naar ons beeld, als onze gelijkenis?
De mens heeft in bepaalde opzichten een gelijkenis met zijn Schepper.
Met de schepping van de mens heeft God iets van Zichzelf ‘gereproduceerd’ en er moet iets van God in die mens te herkennen zijn.
Wanneer deze later zelf nageslacht voortbrengt,
legt hij op zijn beurt zijn eigenschappen daarin;
het zijn afdrukken van zijn wezen:
Adam … verwekte [een zoon] naar zijn gelijkenis, als zijn beeld”.
Genesis 5: 3

Hiermee worden echter niet meer het beeld en gelijkenis van God bedoeld, maar de mens zoals Adam geworden is: zondig in het vlees, zodat hij de schoonheid en heerlijkheid van God niet in zich draagt.
Wanneer dit voor altijd was voortgegaan, zou Gods scheppingswerk een hopeloze mislukking zijn. God zei echter dat het goed was wat Hij had geschapen.
In Zijn alwetendheid moet Hij gezien hebben dat er uiteindelijk wèl
mensen met de heerlijkheid van zijn beeld en gelijkenis zouden zijn:
Want allen hebben gezondigd en ontberen [missen] de heerlijkheid van God”.
“… juist om de rijkdom van zijn heerlijkheid bekend te maken over de voorwerpen van ontferming, die Hij tot heerlijkheid heeft voorbereid”.
Rom.9: 23

“Wij dan . . . . .
hebben vrede met God door onze Heer Jezus Christus, door wie wij ook de toegang hebben verkregen tot deze genade, waarin wij staan, en roemen in de hoop op de heerlijkheid van God”.
Rom.5: 1-2

Het natuurlijke nageslacht van Adam kan Gods heerlijkheid niet weerspiegelen.
Dit is een voortdurend vraagpunt van gelovigen aan God.
David vroeg zich in een Psalm af welke verklaring er is voor die hoge plaats van de mens in Gods onmetelijke heelal, en de schrijver van de brief aan de Hebreeën wijst op de vervulling van Gods plan met ons in Christus Jezus:
Wat is de mens, dat U hem gedenkt?
Wat is mensenkind, dat Gij acht op hem slaat?
Toch hebt U hem slechts weinig beneden de engelen geplaatst:
Gij hebt hem gekroond met Glorie en eer
”.
Psalm 8: 4-9

“… maar wij zien Jezus …
met Heerlijkheid en Eer gekroond”.
Hebr.2: 6-9

In de persoon van Jezus heeft God uit de mensheid een nieuwe mens verwekt,
die deze heerlijkheid van God wel draagt en weerspiegelt.
De apostelen getuigen in de evangelieverslagen en brieven van
wat zij hebben gezien en ervaren van deze ‘Zoon des mensen’,
de mens bij uitnemendheid:
Wij hebben Zijn Heerlijkheid aanschouwd,
een heerlijkheid als van de enig-geborene van de Vader,
vol van Genade en Waarheid”.
Joh. 1:14
“Deze de afstraling van Zijn heerlijkheid, en de afdruk van Zijn wezen”.
Hebr.1: 3

Zij hebben twee kanten van Hem gezien:
Zijn gestalte als dienstknecht, die volmaakt de Wil van God deed, en
Zijn Verheerlijkte gestalte toen zij met Hem op de berg Thabor waren [Luc.9: 29; 2Petr.1: 16].
Zijn Verheerlijking op de berg was een voorproef van wat Hij zou ontvangen, wanneer Hij de wil van zijn Vader tot het laatst zou doen.
Hierin is Hij het voorbeeld voor wie in Hem gelooft:
Laat die gezindheid bij u zijn, welke ook in Christus Jezus was,
die in de Gestalte van God zijnde, het God gelijk zijn niet als een roof heeft geacht,
maar de Gestalte van een dienstknecht heeft aangenomen …
heeft Hij zich vernederd en is gehoorzaam geworden tot de dood,
ja tot de Kruisdood.
Daarom heeft God Hem ook uitermate verhoogd”.
Phil.2: 5-9; vergelijk Rom.8: 5-7

Door verbondenheid met Christus Jezus, en
in hun leven dezelfde gezindheid te tonen als Hij, kunnen ook andere mensen deel krijgen aan dezelfde natuur en dezelfde heerlijkheid weerspiegelen als Hij:
Want het voegde Hem…
dat Hij, om vele zonen tot heerlijkheid te brengen,
de Leidsman van hun behoudenis door lijden zou volmaken
”.
Hebr.2: 10
Daartoe heeft Hij u ook door ons Evangelie geroepen
tot het verkrijgen van de Heerlijkheid van onze Heer Jezus Christus
”.
2Thess.2: 14; 1Thess.2: 12; vergelijk 2Tim.2: 10
En wij allen, die …
de Heerlijkheid van de Heer weerspiegelen,
veranderen naar hetzelfde beeld
van Heerlijkheid tot heerlijkheid
…”.
2Cor.3: 18

Wanneer dit werkelijkheid is geworden,
zal Gods doel met de Schepping zijn bereikt; een nieuwe hemel en een nieuwe aarde.
Dan zijn de mensen als Zijn zonen, dragen zij Zijn beeld en
zal de aarde van Zijn Heerlijkheid vol worden:
En gelijk wij het beeld van de stoffelijke [Adam] gedragen hebben,
zo zullen wij het beeld van de Hemelse
[Christus] dragen”.
1Cor.15: 49
“… met reikhalzend verlangen wacht de schepping op
het openbaar worden van de zonen van God …
maar ook wij zelf…zuchten bij onszelf in de verwachting van het zoonschap…
Want die Hij tevoren gekend heeft,
heeft Hij ook tevoren bestemd tot gelijkvormigheid aan het beeld van zijn Zoon,
opdat Hij de eerstgeborene zou zijn onder vele broederen
”.
Rom.8: 19-30
Ik zal hem een God zijn en
hij zal Mij een zoon zijn
”.
Openbaring 21: 7
Geliefden, nu zijn wij kinderen van God, en
het is nog niet geopenbaard wat wij zijn zullen;
maar wij weten, dat, als Hij [Christus] zal geopenbaard zijn,
wij Hem gelijk zullen wezen …
”.
1Joh.3: 2

De Heilige Geest wordt vereerd als de Heer en Schenker van het leven.
Hij is geopenbaard in het leven van de Kerk om ons tot leven te brengen.
Ons tot in perfectie tot een verantwoordelijk en liefdevol mens te maken.
De vrucht van Aanbidding is de gaven van die Heilige Geest.
In zijn brief aan de Galaten wordt dit door Paulus geïdentificeerd als:
“Liefde, vreugde, vrede, geduld, vriendelijkheid, goedheid, trouw,
zachtmoedigheid en zelfbeheersing”.
Zeker, dit zijn de deugden van een Christelijk leven.
Ze getuigen van het feit dat de Liefde van en tot God en
de liefde tot de naaste onlosmakelijk met elkaar verbonden zijn.

Hij, die deze dingen getuigt,
zegt: Ja, Ik kom spoedig.
Amen, kom, Heer Jezus, kom!

Openbaring 22: 20

 

Mid-Pinksteren – Laat uw Kruis een Staf zijn

Uw kudde heeft de wolven gezien,
en zie! zij roepen het uit.
Ziet toch hoe bang zij zijn!
Laat Uw Kruis een Staf zijn,
hen uit drijven
die hen zouden verslinden!
H. Ephraïm de Syriër, uit de “Nisiben Hymnen” IV

De verzen in de dienst van vandaag zijn overvloedig gevuld
met bijbelse toespelingen, welke de heilige vaders hierin hebben doorgevoerd.
Wanneer gij vóór Uw Kostbaar Kruis en Uw Lijden Uw roemrijke wonderen voltooid had, zijt Gij verschenen op het Midden van het Feest de Wet,
om allen te roepen”:
Σταυρὸν καὶ θάνατον , παθεῖν ἑλόμενος.
Een taal van Iemand Die ontwapend, zoals we verderop zulle zien.

In het midden van de Schepping“,
wordt de Boom van het Kruis gekoppeld aan de Boom des Levens
in het midden van het Paradijs.
de Heer, onze God deed allerlei geboomte uit de aardbodem opschieten,
begeerlijk om te zien en goed om van te eten;
en de boom des levens in het midden van de hof,
benevens de boom der
kennis van goed en kwaad“.
Gen.2: 9

De parallel tussen de twee bomen is een populaire Patristische meditatie .
De boom des levens , die werd geplant door God in het paradijs gaf vooraf dit kostbaar en levenschenkende Kruis aan.
Want omdat de dood door een boom werd veroorzaakt,
achtte Hij passend dat het Leven en de Opstanding
door een boom geschonken diende te worden.
H. Johannes Damascinos [† 749 ], uit: “Een uiteenzetting van het Orthodoxe geloof“.

Daar nu de kinderen aan bloed en vlees deel hebben,
heeft ook Hij op gelijke wijze daaraan deel
gekregen, opdat Hij door zijn dood hem, die de
macht over de dood had, de duivel, zou onttronen“.
Hebr.2: 14
Ook u heeft Hij, hoewel gij dood waart door uw overtredingen en onbesneden zijn naar het vlees, levend gemaakt met Hem, toen Hij ons al onze overtredingen kwijtschold,
door het bewijsstuk uit te wissen, dat door zijn inzettingen tegen ons getuigde en ons bedreigde.
En dat heeft Hij weggedaan door het aan het kruis te nagelen:
Hij heeft de overheden en machten ontwapend en openlijk tentoongesteld en zo over hen gezegevierd“.
Col.2: 13-15

De H. Gregorius van Nyssa schreef over de aanvallen en suggesties van de vijand:
WANNEER we ons bewust worden van de aanvallen van de tegenstrever,
dienen we de apostolische woorden in onszelf te blijven herhalen:
Wij allen, die in Christus zijn gedoopt, zijn in Zijn dood gedoopt“.
Rom.6: 3
Als wij nu dan deel hebben aan Zijn dood, is de zonde in ons voortaan zeker gedood [ontbonden],  welke doorboord is door de speer van het Heilig Doopsel .
uit: “Over het doopsel in Christus“.

Onze HEER zal echter de Toevlucht zijn van Zijn Volk
en de Sterkte van de kinderen van Israël.
En het was reeds ongeveer het zesde uur en
er kwam duisternis over het gehele land tot het negende uur,
want de zon werd verduisterd.
En het voorhangsel van de tempel scheurde middendoor.
En Jezus riep met luider stem:
Vader, in uw handen beveel Ik mijn geest.
En toen Hij dat gezegd
had, gaf Hij de geest“.
Luc.23: 44-46

Dit is een aanwijzing van het besluit – in de tijd, en ook van de Hoop en de Genade,
zoals wij zien bij de profetie van Joël:
Menigten, menigten in het dal der beslissing,
want nabij is de dag des Heren in het dal der beslissing.
De zon en de maan worden zwart en de sterren trekken haar glans in.
En de Heer brult uit Sion en verheft zijn stem uit Jeruzalem,
zodat hemel en aarde beven.
Maar de Heer is een schuilplaats voor zijn volk en
een veste voor de kinderen van Israel
Joel 3: 14-16 . 

Zie eveneens:
“Terstond na de verdrukking dier dagen zal de zon verduisterd worden en
de maan zal haar glans niet geven en de sterren zullen van de hemel vallen en
de machten der hemelen zullen wankelen”.
Matth.24: 29
En Jezus riep wederom met luider stem en gaf de geest.
En zie, het voorhangsel van de tempel scheurde van boven tot beneden in tweeën, en
de aarde beefde, en de rotsen scheurden en
de graven gingen open en vele lichamen der ontslapen heiligen werden opgewekt.
En zij gingen uit de graven na zijn opstanding en
kwamen in de heilige stad waar zij aan velen verschenen“.
Matth. 27:50-53 .

Een der gehangen misdadigers lasterde Hem: Zijt Gij niet de Christus? Red Uzelf en ons!
Maar de andere antwoordde en zeide, hem bestraffende:
Vreest zelfs gij God niet, nu gij hetzelfde vonnis ontvangen hebt?
En wij terecht, want wij ontvangen vergelding, naar wat wij gedaan hebben, maar deze heeft niets onbehoorlijks gedaan.
En hij zei: Jezus, gedenk mijner, wanneer Gij in uw Koninkrijk komt.
En Jezus zei tot hem: Voorwaar, Ik zeg u, heden zult gij met Mij in het Paradijs zijn“.
Luc.23: 39-43

Wij herinneren ons deze woorden uit het gebed ter voorbereiding aan de communie.
Zoon van God, neem mij heden op als deelgenoot van Uw Mystiek Avondmaal.
Want Uw vijanden zal ik voorzeker niet over dit Mysterie spreken.
Ik zal U geen kus geven zolas Judas;
maar evenals de Rover belijd ik mijn geloof in U:
gedenk mij, o Heer, in Uw Koninkrijk.
Heer, moge het deelnemen aan Uw heilige Mysteriën
mij niet worden tot een oordeel of tot verderf,
maar tot genezing van mijn ziel en van mijn lichaam
“.

**
Stavrotheotokion
In het Kruis van Uw Zoon, o Moeder Gods,
bezit Gij een Staf van geweldige kracht;
versla daarmee de woedende vijandschap en
bescherm hen die U met Liefde vereren.
Uit de Metten van de vrijdag van Mid-Pinksteren

4e Zondag na Pascha – de Zondag van de Verlamde

Heer, ik heb geen mens om mij,
in het bad te helpen zodra er beweging komt in het water;
en terwijl ik mezelf er heen sleep,
gaat een ander er vóór mij in
“.
John.5: 1-15

Deze zondag is het in de Kerk de zondag van de verlamde,
waarbij het Evangelie van vandaag verwijst naar de wonderbaarlijke genezing
door onze Heer Jezus Christus aan de badinrichting van Bethesda met de vijf zuilengangen,
in Jerusalem bij de schaapspoort.

Johannes de evangelist vertelt ons
dat op deze bijzondere dag Jezus
[misschien was het wel het feest van Pinksteren] een bezoek bracht aan de stad Jerusalem.
Een van de plekken, die Hij daar bezocht was het badinrichting [Bethesda], die
vijf grote zuilengangen, of portieken had.
Het zwembad was gelegen buiten de muren van Jeruzalem.
De Hebreeuwse naam betekent “Huis van Genade”.
Het werd zo genoemd omdat,
zoals het Evangelie ons informeert, daar altijd een groot aantal ongelukkige mensen waren, zoals kreupelen, doven, blinden en ziek waar de doktoren geen raad mee wisten.
Op bepaalde tijden zou er, zo was onder hen bekend, een engel naar het zwembad komen die het water met kleine golven in beweging bracht.
Wanneer dit gebeurde, zou de éérste persoon die in het water belandde van welke kwaal dan ook genezen worden.
Natuurlijk tart zo’n wonder elke uitleg van de wetenschap, net zoals dat bij wonderen die in onze tijd voorkomen. Hoewel we deze wonderen niet kunnen verklaren, geloven we er toch in, tegen elke [medische] wetenschap in.

Wanneer er nu in Bethesda iemand zo slim was geweest een register van soorten wonderen bij te houden, dan zouden we daarin tegenkomen dat de man van ons Evangelie van vanmorgen
daar al langer dan 38 jaar had gelegen.
De beste jaren van zijn jeugd had hij daar doorgebracht, wachtend op de rimpeling van het water in het zwembad.
Maar hij had niemand – geen ouders, geen familie, geen vrienden, die hem zouden kunnen bijstaan. Iedereen bij Bethesda was bezig met zijn eigen problemen; zijn eigen zaken bezig – op zich een goede zaak, maar er is nu eenmaal meer in de wereld, met name die van de zorg voor de gehandicapten.
Dus, deze geschiedenis was altijd maar weer hetzelfde, jaar in jaar uit. Er veranderde niets aan de situatie van deze eenzame behoeftige.
Het water zou in beweging gebracht worden en vóór de lamme er kon komen was er een gehandicapte die maar nèt bij het zwembad lag of die was hem weer voor geweest.
Stel je voor, je hebt 38 lange jaren niet gelachen, geen vriendschap ontmoet, zonder enige vreugde, en je bent zeker naar het einde toe zonder enige hoop op verbetering.

Op een dag hoort die kreupele Iemand die tot hem sprak. Dat was op zich al vreemd.
Niemand sprak met hem, iedereen ging hem uit de weg, hij werd met de nek aangekeken,
behoorde tot de verstotenen [weggepest!].
Het moet de man wel eventjes gekost hebben om te beseffen dat Jezus van Nazareth,
een gesprek met hem aanknoopte.
Het is  dan ook zeer waarschijnlijk dat hij niet eens wist wie Jezus was.
Jezus vroeg de verschoppeling, “Wilt je gezond worden?”
Wat een vraag, na 38 jaar eenzaam lijden.
Toch legt de man geduldig aan de Zoon van God uit, waarom hij het was die zich onmogelijk van zijn verlamming kon ontdoen.
Hij had niemand – niemand in de wereld die om hem gaf.
Het is niet erg prettig alleen op de wereld te zijn, of niet soms?
Niemand die zich iets van je aantrekt. Om je geeft, niemand die je bijstaat om je te helpen
– de wereld kan er behoorlijk angstig uitzien als je helemaal op je zelf bent aangewezen.
Stel je de reactie van de man voor toen Jezus tot hem zei: ” Sta op”.
Ja, sta op! Probeerde hij soms meedogenloos te zijn? Heeft Hij er lol in om kreupelen te kwellen?
Maar wacht ! Die ogen ! Die medelevende stem !
Hij geeft om mij! Hij heeft met mij van doen!
De man sprong overeind en werd direct door de mens-geworden Zoon van God genezen .

De wereld is in al die 2000 jaar nog geen sikkepitje veranderd.
Dat wil zeggen de mensen hebben totaal niets bijgeleerd er is wat dat betreft niets veranderd.
Iedereen is met zijn eigen sores bezig, z’n eigen huisje boompje, beestje.
In veel opzichten is de wereld een veel eenzamere plek geworden om te wonen
dan het in de tijd van Christus was.
Kijk maar naar de vijf grote gemeenten in ons land, naar plekken als Hoog-Catharijne.
Het krioelt er van de mensen die zelfs op zondag druk doende zijn in een klein gebied.
En toch zijn de mensen – velen van hen – vreselijk eenzaam, die haastige blik in hun ogen – kopen, kopen, en weer werken om te kopen.         En dat niet alleen in onze steden, maar ook elders in de wereld.
Er zijn massa’s mensen in de wereld van vandaag die wanhopig, stilletjes uitroepen:
ik heb niemand – niemand om mij te helpen“!
Mensen in oorlogsgebieden, vluchtelingen, gehandicapten en bejaarden,
die in eenzaamheid lijden en niet weten waar ze het zoeken moeten.
Het enige wat over blijft is hun ogen naar de Hemel op te slaan,
daar waar Verlossing wacht.

We beschikken heden ten dage over een heleboel dingen waar ze in Jezus’ dagen nog niet van konden dromen: enorme ziekenhuizen, opgeleide specialisten, [sociale] verzekeringen en de Kerk
– en de aan de overheid gerelateerde opvoedings- en welzijnsprogramma’s.
Maar voor de menselijke eenzaamheid bestaat geen genezing, of wel soms.
We houden er niet van om met de problemen van anderen opgezadeld te worden.
Er is een Grieks spreekwoord dat zegt: “Verwijder het kwaad => uit mijn ogen“.
We willen onaangenaamheden vergeten. Lijdende mensen ergeren ons – wij van wie verondersteld wordt [Orthodoxe] Christenen te zijn.
En misschien zijn wij die de geestelijke weg gaan wel meer schuldig dan die anderen, die ”ongelovig” zijn.

Het is Christus dringende oproep en de plicht van de Kerk om deze eenzame, lijdende mensen op te zoeken.  Hen de Liefde van Christus te tonen en hen onze liefde te brengen
– niet ons medelijden, met een meewarige blik, maar onze echte liefde, met zorg en aandacht.
Op de een of andere manier is er voor ons altijd een mogelijkheid open, waarop deze randfiguren van onze samenleving geholpen kunnen worden.

Het goede nieuws van dit moment is dat iedereen wel zo iemand in zijn omgeving heeft;
je moet het alleen maar zien, je er constant van bewust zijn.
De Heer Jezus Christus stierf voor onze zonden. Hij stierf voor vele zonden.
Hij is voor de zonden van alle mensen gestorven.
En Hij heeft ons lief met een Goddelijke Liefde die we onmogelijk kunnen begrijpen.
Dit dient ons geloof, onze overtuiging, onze boodschap van verzoening te zijn,
die we aan de gehele wereld dienen uit te dragen,
te beginnen met degenen die bij je om de hoek wonen.
En God zal ons bijstaan om dit te doen.

2e Zondag na Pascha – Thomaszondag

Zalig zij
die niet gezien hebben en
toch geloven!“.
Joh.20: 29

De Zoon van God werd mens, opdat de mens zich zou vergoddelijken.
Door Zijn offer aan het Groot en Heilig Kruis heeft de Heer en zaligmaker
de menselijke natuur gereinigd en
door Zijn dood stelde Hij de mens
in de gelegenheid gered en geheiligd te worden in Zijn Νaam.
Een waarachtig en oprecht geloof in Jezus Christus leidt tot verlossing.
Onze Heer Zelf leert ons:
Ik ben het Licht der wereld;
wie Mij volgt, zal nimmer in duisternis wandelen,
maar hij zal het licht des levens hebben
“.
Joh.8: 12
In een ander vers zegt Hij:
” Voorwaar, voorwaar, Ik zeg u:
Wie gelooft, heeft eeuwig leven”.
Joh.6 : 47
Christus is het Licht van de wereld;
Hij is het herkenningspunt, Welk ons leidt tot heiliging.
Door de Heilige Doop participeren we in beide,
de dood en de Opstanding van Jezus Christus . . .
Paulus leert ons, zeggend:
Weet ge niet dat wij allen,
die in Christus Jezus gedoopt zijn,
in Zijn dood gedoopt zijn?
Wij zijn dan met Hem begraven door de doop in de dood,
opdat, gelijk Christus uit de doden is opgewekt door de Majesteit van de Vader,
zo ook zouden wij in nieuwheid van het leven wandelen.
Want indien wij samengegroeid zijn met hetgeen gelijk is aan Zijn dood,
zullen wij het ook zijn [met hetgeen gelijk is] aan Zijn Opstanding;
dit weten wij immers, dat onze oude mens is mede-gekruisigd,
opdat aan het lichaam van de zonde zijn kracht ontnomen zou worden en
wij niet langer slaven der zonde zouden zijn;
want wie gestorven is, is rechtens vrij van de zonde.
Indien wij dan met Christus gestorven zijn, geloven wij,
dat wij ook met Hem zullen leven,
daar wij weten, dat Christus, nu Hij uit de doden is opgewekt, niet meer sterft:
de dood voert geen heerschappij meer over Hem.
Want wat Zijn dood betreft, is Hij voor de zonde eens voor altijd gestorven
wat zijn leven betreft, leeft Hij voor God.
Zo moet het ook voor u vaststaan, dat gij wel dood zijt voor de zonde,
maar levend voor God in Christus Jezus
“.
Rom.6: 3-11

Deze deelname in de Passie en Verrijzenis van Onze Heer geeft ons de mogelijkheid om
kinderen van God” [Rom. 8: 14] en  “erfgenamen van Zijn Κoninkrijk” [Gal.3: 29] te worden.
Het is heel belangrijk om te beseffen dat bij het eerste verschijning van onze Heer,
aan Zijn discipelen na zijn opstanding, de Heilige Thomas niet aanwezig was.
Toen de tien apostelen hem met enthousiasme vertelden dat ze “de Heer” [Joh.20: 25]
hadden gezien, antwoordde hij :
Indien ik in zijn handen niet zie het teken der nagels en
mijn vinger niet steek in de plaats der nagels en
mijn hand niet steek in zijn zijde,
zal ik geenszins geloven
“.
Joh.20: 25
Deze gemoedstoestand van de ongelovige Thomas
was geen kwaadaardig ongeloof,
maar een deel van de economie van God.
God wilde voor ons aantonen
dat onze Heer waarlijk is opgestaan ​​en
dat Hij niet is verschenen als een spook of gewoon als een verzinsel van hun verbeelding.
Om deze reden verscheen onze Heer na acht dagen opnieuw aan Zijn discipelen,
dit keer in aanwezigheid van Thomas en zei tegen hem:
Breng uw vinger hier en zie mijn handen en
breng uw hand en steek die in mijn zijde en
wees niet ongelovig, maar gelovig“.
Joh.20: 27

Dit voorzienige ongeloof van de Heilige Thomas
was de grondslag voor het bewijs dat onze Heer daadwerkelijk uit de doden was opgestaan​​.
Thomas voelde de wonden welke door de nagels waren veroorzaakt en
legde zijn hand in de zijde van Onze Lieve Heer.
Hij voelde Christus ‘vlees’, het warme bloed van Zijn wonden en
met ter bevestiging riep hij uit:
Mijn Heer en mijn God“.
Joh.20: 28

Ιn het Evangelie van Lucas zien we dat onze Heer zijn leerlingen zichzelf uitnodigt
te bewijzen dat Hij werkelijk is opgestaan ​​en is geen geest
wanneer Hij tot hen zegt:
Waarom zijt gij ontsteld en waarom komen er overwegingen op in uw hart?
Ziet mijn handen en mijn voeten, dat Ik het zelf ben;
betast Mij en ziet, dat een geest geen vlees en beenderen heeft,
zoals gij ziet, dat Ik heb.
En bij dit woord toonde Hij hun zijn handen en voeten.
En toen zij het van blijdschap nog niet geloofden en zich verwonderden,
zei Hij tot hen:
Hebt gij hier iets te eten?
Zij reikten Hem een stuk van een gebakken vis toe.
En Hij nam het en at het voor hun ogen
“.
Luc.24:38-43
Na Zijn opstanding bezat onze Heer
een lichamelijk ‘nieuwe’ hoedanigheid.
Bijvoorbeeld, Hij kon verschijnen wanneer en waar Hij Zich ook bevond
en had geen fysieke barrières, zoals deuren en muren,
en zijn er niet langer obstakels vanwege Zijn vrijheid van beweging.
Veel Christenen willen vandaag de dag al weten wat voor soort lichaam
zij zullen hebben na de algemene opstanding van de doden
en welke leeftijd ze zullen hebben?
Het antwoord op deze vragen is:
• Ten eerste , dat wanneer we opstaan​​,
we hetzelfde lichaam zullen bezitten welke we vóór onze dood al hadden,
maar dat dit nieuwe en eeuwige eigenschappen zal hebben.
Zo zullen we geen behoefte hebben aan voedsel of andere dagelijkse behoeften,
maar zullen we zijn als de engelen God’s [Matth.22: 30].
We zullen eeuwig geluk of eeuwige pijn ondervinden,
afhankelijk van of we gered of verdoemd zijn [Matth.25: 46].
• Ten tweede, zullen we allemaal dezelfde leeftijd ondervinden en op hetzelfde moment zijn we allemaal  een nieuw leven begonnen [1Thess.4: 14-17].
We zullen elkaar herkennen en onze vreugde en blijdschap zal helderder voorkomen dan de materiële zon die in deze materiële wereld schijnt.
Het is erg moeilijk te omschrijven welke condities we in de eeuwigheid zullen bezitten,
omdat we alleen de ervaring van dit leven bezitten om vergelijkingen te trekken en
tussen de twee is er geen overeenkomst bestaat [2Cοr.12: 4].

Dit nieuwe leven begint in dit leven.
Ons geloof in de Opstanding van onze Heer moeten worden ge- en beleefd.
In onze dagelijks leven ondanks al haar problemen,
dienen we de dood en Opstanding van onze Heer te leven,
ons kruis te dragen, ons geloof en vertrouwen te verstevigen
waarmee we al onze problemen zullen aankunnen en overleven
en door Zijn genade zullen we tot een nieuw leven komen.
We dienen nooit voorbij te gaan aan het gegeven dat aan de Opstanding,
een kruisiging voorafgaat, dit is niet te vermijden.
– Christus is opgestaan, Hij is verrezen en
de gehele menselijke natuur zal weer tot het ware, oorspronkelijke doel van haar bestaan worden teruggebracht​​, het Paradijs – het Hemels Koninkrijk.
– Christus is verrezen, Hij is opgestaan en
alle krachten van het kwaad zullen worden overwonnen.
– Christus is verrezen, Hij is opgestaan en
de mens zal van de aarde naar Hemelen worden verheven.
Als getrouwe kinderen van de Orthodoxie, hebben wij de plicht
om deze triomfantelijke boodschap bekend te maken aan alle mensen van de wereld
– dat Christus is opgestaan ​​en de mensheid door Zijn Genadegaven zal worden gered.

Christus verrezen uit de doden;
door zijn dood overwon Hij de dood,
aan allen in de graven schonk Hij het leven“!

Orthodoxie & heilige huisjes

Het heilige huisje, ‘geloofsovertuiging‘,
is helemaal niet zo heilig
als dat men ons eeuwen heeft doen geloven.
In een periode dat het heilige van de religie
in het chloor bad van publiciteit is verbleekt,
zoekt de mens zich een weg en
stelt zich vragen die wij als mensen nu eenmaal hebben.

Het antwoord ligt verborgen in het feit
dat wij tot het inzicht komen dat wij als mens slechts zondaar zijn
en met vallen en opstaan een weg zoeken.
Wij zijn zoekende pelgrims geworden op een weg
met als enig houvast datgene
wat anderen in hun ervaringen hebben vastgelegd.
Als Christenen hebben wij een geloof tegen beter weten in.
Een Mens, door God gezonden,
sterft een schandelijke dood aan een Kruis en
wij geloven dat Hij leeft, meer dan ooit.
De zondige mens staat zijn medemens naar het leven,
ervaart zijn medemens als tegenstander.
Christenen geloven dat alle mensen broeders en zusters zijn,
kinderen van één Vader en dat een mens zichzelf pas vindt
als hij de ander vóór laat gaan.

De beroemde 19e eeuwse heilige Seraphim van Sarov [1759-1833],
zei over zichzelf: “Ik weet niets“.
Deze woorden waren opmerkelijk afkomstig van een kluizenaar
die de meest gewilde spirituele adviseur van tijd was.
Toch erkende de heilige Seraphim
dat hij slechts een doorgeefluik was:
dat het goede wat uit hem voortkwam,
van God afkomstig was.

Als Christenen zijn we ons bewust
dat we regelmatig een slecht voorbeeld zijn voor anderen,
dat we dagelijks te kort schieten aan onze eigen verwachtingen
te leven overeenkomstig het oorspronkelijk bedoelde
beeld waartoe Christus ons heeft geroepen.
Toch  worden wij verplicht iedere dag met vreugde van het hart te leven,
wat er ook gebeurt, wat ons ook overkomt.
Oók ik ben verzocht om te verkondigen, te onderwijzen
en de genadegaven van de Heer uit te dragen
om te trachten op God te vertrouwen,
alles aan Hem over te laten wat er ook gebeurt.
Zo goed als we kunnen houden wij de woorden voor ogen:
Verblijdt u in de Heer te allen tijde : en ik zeg u nogmaals, Verheug u!“.
Phil.4: 4

We herinneren ons het woord van
de Heilige Basilius de Dwaas om Christus,
die zei:
De winter is koud,
maar het Paradijs is zoet
“.
Wetende dat echte waarheid
juiste manier van leven slechts van God komt.
We proberen niet gekwetst te worden
wanneer we geen bevestiging ontvangen
van de mensen om ons heen.
We worden eraan herinnerd
dat we worden opgeroepen
om aan anderen te geven,
wat ik wil zelf zou willen ontvangen.

Net als de heilige Antonius de Grote, roep ik tot God,
Heer, waar bent U?” [Psalm 129,140],
verkerend in een overvloed aan genade.
Ik wil een kind Gods zijn ,
ondanks het gevoel dat ik het kuiken ben
dat door de moeder uit het nest wordt geworpen.

Ondanks datgene wat me overkomt
wordt ik getroost door de Heilige Seraphim,
die zijn geestelijke kinderen met deze woorden instrueerde:
Wanneer teleurstelling ons aangrijpt,
richten we ons op het tegenovergestelde,
worden we versterkt en beschermd door het Licht van ons Geloof,
verzetten we ons met grote moed tegen de geest van het kwaad.

Wat heeft God aan ons, wanneer we van Hem zijn verwijderd,
Zijn hemelse goedheid afwijzen en een slaaf worden van het kwaad?
We dienen onszelf te hernemen:
Christus, de Zoon van God,
heeft immers de heerschappij over ons en over alles.
Laat je niet marchanderen,
we worden standvastig gemaakt
door de deugd van het Kruis,
tegenstrever, we verpletteren je overweging
“.

Christus is opgestaan! 
Hij is waarlijk opgestaan!

Orthodoxy, Pascha, Passover & the physical Resurrection from death

Yes, our bodies will be raised not spiritually or ethereally,
but physically and materially.
Our souls will be reunited with our transformed physical bodies,
brought back to life from the dead.
Scripture teaches this in many ways:

1.]. simply to speak of a “Resurrection”
of the dead is to imply physicality [bodily]:
At the Resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage;
they will be like the angels in Heaven.
But about the Resurrection of the dead
– have you not read what God said to you
“.
Matth.22: 30-31;
You will be blessed; although they cannot repay you,
you will be repaid at the Resurrection of the righteous
“.
Luc.14: 14;
In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable
and we will be changed
“.
1Cor.15: 52;
For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout,
with the Voice of the archangel, and with the Trump of God:
and the dead in Christ shall rise first
“.
1Thess.4: 16
That is what a Resurrection is.
The Bible has no categories for the concept of a Resurrected Body
that remains dead and physically lying in a grave.

2.]. For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the Body of His Glory“.
Phil.3: 20-21,
this teaches us that Christ’s Resurrected Body is the pattern of our resurrection body.
We know that Christ was raised in a physical body
because the disciples ate with Him after the Resurrection;
Not to all the people, but unto witnesses
chosen before of God, even to us,
who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead.
Acts 10: 41
and touched Him:
And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, Peace be to all.
And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him
“.
Matthew 28: 9;
also when He told Thomas,
Put your finger here, and look at My hands.
Take your hand, and put it into My side.
Stop doubting, but believe
“.
John 20: 27
Also, Jesus outright declared that His resurrection body was physical and touchable:
See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself;
touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh
and bones as you see that I have

Luc.24: 39;
also “that God has fulfilled this Promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus,
as it is also written in the 2nd Psalm
, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten You’.
As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead,
no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way
:
‘I will give You the Holy and Sure blessings of David’.
Therefore He also says in another Psalm,
‘You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay’.
For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation,
fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay;
but He whom God raised did not undergo decay

Acts 13:33-37
Since Christ’s Resurrection is the pattern of our resurrection,
we will therefore be raised in a physical body as well.

3.]. Romans 8:21-23 speaks in vers 23 of waiting for “the Redemption [recovery] of our bodies“.
Our bodies are not going to be thrown away.
They are going to be renewed, restored, revitalized.

4.]. Jesus speaks of the Resurrection
as involving the coming forth of individuals out of their tombs,
which clearly indicates a physical concept of the resurrection:
Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming,
in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,
and will come forth;
those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life,
those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment
“.
John 5: 28-29

5.]. the Old Testament speaks of the Resurrection as being physical:
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake,
these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt
“.
Daniel 12: 2
Likewise, we read in Job:
I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.
Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God;
Whom I myself shall behold,
and whom my eyes shall see and not another.
My heart faints within Me
“.
Job 19: 25-27

How long do we have to wait for this?
We haven’t to wait a long time, because with God there isn’t time,
so after our death we also have no watch to follow,
time is there and it is now.
The Resurrection of the body will occur
at the end of the age when Christ returns.
There are two main ways the Scriptures indicate this:

1.]. Many verses teach that our resurrected bodies
will be the same bodies that we have now,
except transformed into an immortal state.
Since God does not create new bodies for us from scratch,
but rather He Resurrects the body that dies,
it is clear that we do not receive our resurrection bodies immediately at death.
For our bodies very clearly and evidently remain here on earth and are laid to rest;
that’s the reason we have ‘a burial’, after death.

2.]. Many explicit verses declare that the Resurrection will not occur
until the end of the age when Christ returns.

But as for you, go your way to the end;
then you will enter into rest and rise again
for your allotted portion at the end of the age
“.
Daniel 12: 13;
here an angel looks ahead to the Resurrection
as occurring at the end of the age.

For this is the will of My Father,
that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him,
may have eternal life;
and I Myself will raise him up on the last day
“.
John 6: 40, where Christ declares
that the resurrection will happen on the last day.
also:
And this is the Father’s Will Who has sent Me,
that of all that He has given Me I should lose nothing,
but should raise it up again at the last day
“.
John 6: 39
And: “No man can come to Me,
except the Father Who has sent Me draw him:
and I will raise him up at the last day
“.
John 6: 44
And: “Whosoever eats My flesh, and drinks My blood,
has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day
“.
John 6: 54
Martha said unto Him,
I know that Lazaros shall rise again
in the Resurrection at the last day
“.
cf. John 11:24

Paul specifies this meaning even further, stating in 1 Corinthians 15:23
that we will be raised at the return of Christ:
Each [will be raised] in his own order:
Christ the first fruits,
after that those who are Christ’s at His coming
“.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 he also looks ahead to the resurrection as something that will occur not until Christ comes back: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

All Christians will be glorified together
The fact that the resurrection will happen at the return of Christ has important implications:
It means that glorification will be a corporate reality
and not an individual experience
that happens to each believer separately at death.
All Christians will be raised into glory together.
While we all lived at different periods of time,
we all came to faith at different times,
and we all will have died at different times
[except for those who lived until Christ returns],
it is an amazing thing that God has planned things such
that our glorification will occur at the same time.
What a great encouragement it is to know
that the believers of the past are waiting for us
to finish the race ourselves so that we can all experience
the great joy of glorification together.

Therefore we do not lose heart,
but though our outer man is decaying,
yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us
an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
while we look not at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are not seen;
for the things which are seen are temporal,
but the things which are not seen are eternal.
For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down,
we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven;
inasmuch as we, having put it on, shall not be found naked.
For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened,
because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed,
in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God,
who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.
Therefore, being always of good courage,
and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord
– for we walk by faith, not by sight- we are of good courage,
I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
What will happen when you die?
By “you” I mean believers in Jesus Christ.
If you are not a believer, the aim of these messages is
to wake you up from the slumber of indifference
to the question of death and eternity and to motivate you to consider Jesus Christ
as the only way to eternal life and the only escape from hell and eternal death.
I am the way the Truth and the Life,
no one comes to the Father but by Me
John 14: 6
There is no other way to God.

I will try to answer from Scripture the question,
“What happens immediately at the moment of death?” In the following four weeks the questions will be:

What happens to you at the coming of Christ?

What happens to believers at the Judgment?
What is our final place: a distant Heaven,
or the New Earth where lions and lambs lie down in Peace?
What is the most essential bridge that links this life and the next?
Why This Theme Is Crucial to Consider
There is a long list of reasons why this theme seems crucial to me for our consideration.
Let me mention a few of them:

1.]. The Possibilities of Eternal Joy or Eternal Misery
The possibilities for joy and misery after you die are trillions of times greater than in the few years on this earth before you die. The Bible compares this life to a vapor that appears as you breathe on a cold winter morning and then vanishes (James 4:14). The Bible describes the time after death as “ages of ages.” Not just one or two ages of thousands of years, but ages of ages; thousands and thousands of ages (Revelation 14:11). It matters infinitely what happens to you after you die.

2.]. The Question of Authentic Faith
This theme forces the question as to whether our faith is real, substantial, biblical faith in objective, external reality outside ourselves. Namely, is our faith in God or is it a mere subjective experience of feelings and thoughts inside ourselves that function as an emotional cushion to soften the bumps of life and give us a network of friends. Facing eternity has an amazing effect of sobering us out of religious delusions.

3.]. The Centrality of God
Thinking about death and eternity helps keep God as the center of our lives by testing whether we are more in love with this world than we are in love with God himself. Does the thought of dying give us more pain at losing what we love on earth than it gives us joy at gaining Christ?

4.]. The Call to Christian Courage
When the biblical truth of this theme grips you, it frees you from fear and gives courage to live the most radical, self-sacrificing life of love. The person who can truly say, “To die is gain,” will be able to say like no one else, “To live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). But if you can’t say, “To die is gain,” then you will you will probably say, in one degree or another, “Let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32). Being sure of what happens when you die is indispensable as a believer in Christ for your daily courage and for not losing heart through the pain and the diminishing health of this life.

That brings us to our text.
Providing the Basis of Not Losing Heart

What Paul is doing in 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:10 is showing the Corinthians
why he does not lose heart in spite of all the troubles and afflictions [2Cor.4: 8-12].
Especially in view of the fact that he knows he is dying; his body is wearing away.
read: “Therefore we do not lose heart,
but though our outer man is decaying,
yet our inner man is being renewed day by day
“.
2Cor. 4: 16

It is utterly crucial that we not lose heart.
Some of you have taken such a pounding physically
and financially and relationally that you have often been tempted
to “lose heart“; to give up.
To say, “It isn’t worth it“. – “Who cares?
Paul faced the same temptation [2Cor.4: 8-12]
and this text holds one of the keys
to why he did not lose heart.

To show that this really is crucial to his point here,
look at verses 6 and 8 of chapter 5 which is part of the same train of thought.
Verse 6: “Therefore, being always of good courage . . . ”
Verse 8: “We are of good courage, I say“.
We’ll come back to these verses in moment,
but the point now is simply to show you
that what Paul is doing here is giving the basis
of being of good courage
and not losing heart.
That is the effect I would like it to have on you.

The Threat: His Body Is Decaying
Now let’s go back to 4: 16
and follow his line of thought to see
what is threatening to make Paul lose heart and lose courage
and what is keeping him from losing heart.

Verse 16: “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying . . . ”
Here is the threat he is dealing with:
His body—”the outer man“—is decaying; it is wearing out.
He can’t see the way he used to [and there were probably no glasses].
He can’t hear the way he used to.
He does not recover from beatings the way he used to.
His strength walking from town to town
does not hold up the way it used to.
He sees the wrinkles in his face and neck.
His memory is not as good.
His joints get stiff when he sits still.
In other words, he knows that he, like everybody else, is dying.
His outer man is decaying.
That’s the threat to his courage and joy.

Now Why Doesn’t He Lose Heart?
The first part of the answer is again in verse 16:
Therefore we do not lose heart,
but though our outer man is decaying,
yet our inner man is being renewed day by day“.
He doesn’t lose heart because day by day his heart,
his inner man, is being renewed.
If his decaying body tends to make him lose heart,
something else tends to make him gain heart.
What is it?

Fixing His Eyes on What Can’t Be Seen
His renewed heart comes from something very strange:
it comes from looking at what he can’t see.
Verse 18:
–>We look not at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are not seen;
for the things which are seen are temporal,
but the things which are not seen are eternal“.
This is Paul’s way of not losing heart:
looking at what you can’t see.

Recall how Jesus criticized the religious leaders in his day:
Seeing they do not see and hearing they do not hear
Matth.13: 13
In other words there was something to “see” in Jesus’ life
and teaching which they didn’t see but should have seen.
That has got to be reversed if we are to get our hope
and our courage from Jesus and not lose heart.
It has to be said of us,
Not seeing, they see; and not hearing, they hear“.
That’s what Paul was doing in verse 18;
he was looking at things that are not seen.

Paul illustrates this in chapter 5, verse 7:
–>We walk by faith, not by sight“.
This doesn’t mean that we leap into the dark without evidence of what’s there.
But it does mean that the most precious and important realities in the world
are beyond our senses now, and we just  “look” at them (v. 18)
through what we know of Christ from faithful witnesses
who have seen Him and heard His Voice.
We strengthen our hearts
– we renew our courage –
by fixing the gaze of our hearts on invisible, objective Truth
that we learn about through the testimony of those
who knew Christ and were taught by Him [cf. Eph.1: 18-23].

Looking to the Unseen Weight of Glory Being Prepared
What Truth?
What do we fix our gaze on to experience day by day
the renewal of the inner man in the face of death?

To answer this we look back to verse 17 for a powerful summary statement,
and we look forward into chapter 5 for the unpacking of this summary statement.

Verse 17: We renew our inner man each day by looking at this truth:
Momentary, light affliction is producing for us
an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison“.

The decaying of your body is not meaningless.
The pain, pressure, frustration, and affliction are not happening in vain.
They are not vanishing into a black hole of pointless suffering.
Instead this “momentary, light affliction
[he calls it that even though it lasted for years
and was unremitting and often excruciating]
is producing for us an eternal weight of Glory
far beyond all comparison“.

In other words, the unseen things that Paul looks at
to renew his inner man is the immense weight of glory
that is being prepared for him not just after,
but through and by, the wasting away of his body.
There is a correlation between the decay of Paul’s body
and the display of Paul’s Glory.
When he is hurting, he fixes his eyes not on how heavy the hurt is,
but on how heavy the glory will be because of the hurt.

What Does This Unseen Glory Consist Of?
Now what does he see when he looks to the unseen glory? As he goes on in chapter five he fills in some of what he sees as he looks at the unseen.

Now the next two messages concern these verses: the resurrection body and the judgment of believers. But neither of these is the focus of this message. So if I pass over something too quickly, read the next sermon.

Verses 1–5 are about the hope of receiving new, glorious bodies at the resurrection.
Verses 9–10 are about the judgment and Paul’s effort to please Christ the Judge.
Our focus is on verses 6–8, the hope of being with Christ immediately when you die.

His Great, Final Hope
But let me read you the verses about the resurrection body because there is a crucial connection between this hope and the hope of being with Christ (without a new body) immediately when you die. Verses 1–5:

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down [he’s talking about his body which is decaying], we have a building from God [a building as opposed to a tent for a house—that is, something more durable and lasting, namely, a new resurrection body],
a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house [this “tent-house,” our present body] we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from Heaven [that is, our resurrection body; he mixes metaphors here shifting back and forth now between being clothed and being housed]; inasmuch as we, having put it on, shall not be found naked [in other words, he does not prefer to put off his present body like a garment and become a disembodied soul—that’s what nakedness means].
For indeed while we are in this tent [this mortal body], we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed [we don’t want to be a bodiless soul], but to be clothed [on top of our present clothes—he wants the second coming of Christ to happen so that he will not have to die and be without a body, but rather have his present body swallowed up in the glorious resurrection life of the new body], in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now
He Who prepared us for this very purpose is God,
Who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

We’ll talk more about this in the next message.
For now, here’s the crucial point:
If Paul had his preference, he would choose to receive his new resurrection body at the second coming of Christ without having to die.
And the reason he gives is that the experience of “nakedness”
– that is being stripped of his body –
is not something as good as having his body swallowed up by life
as he is changed in the twinkling of an eye at the second coming of Christ.

This means that the great final hope of the Christian is not to die and be freed from our bodies, but to be raised with new, glorious bodies, or, best of all, to be alive at the second coming so that we do not have to lose our body temporarily and be “naked” (souls without bodies, cf. Matthew 10:28; Revelation 6:9; Hebrews 12:23) until the Resurrection.

Present with the Lord Immediately After Death
But does that mean that dying and going to be with Christ does not happen,
or that it is not good?
No. Paul puts things back in perspective again in verses 6–8.

Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord [the full intimacy we long for is not possible here]
– for we walk by faith, not by sight –
we are of good courage,
I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body
and to be at home with the Lord.

Now get this. In verse 4 Paul says, “He does not want to be unclothed“.
His first preference is not to be “absent from the body“.
He says that in comparison to being over-clothed
with the New Resurrection Body
if he is alive at the second coming of Christ.
That would be his first preference.
But if that is not possible
– if the choice is between more life here by faith and going to be with Christ –
he prefers that God would take him;
EVEN IF it means nakedness, that is,
even if it means that he must be stripped of his body.

And the reason for this willingness to leave his body behind is not because the body is bad—O, how he wants the experience of the new resurrection body—but because being at home with the Lord is so irresistibly attractive to Paul. Verse 8:
I prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord“.

So Paul renews his inner man by looking to unseen things.
He looks at three possibilities and prefers them in descending order.
First, he prefers that Christ would come and clothe his mortal body with immortality so that he would not have to die and be an incomplete, disembodied soul.
But if God does not will that, Paul prefers to be absent from the body to living on here, because he loves Christ more than he loves anything else.
To be absent from the body will mean to be at home with the Lord;
a deeper intimacy and Greater at-homeness than anything we can know in this life.
Finally, if God wills that it is not time for the second coming or time for death,
then Paul will walk by faith and not by sight.

In that faith he will be of good courage
and even though his outer man is decaying,
his inner man will be renewed day-by-day
through this faith in the unseen weight of glory.

Examine yourself.
Do you share these biblical priorities
and values in life?
Do you long mainly for the second coming?
And secondly, do you long to be at home with Christ
even if it costs you the surrender of your body?
Third, are you committed to walk by faith
until He comes or until He calls?

 

CHRIST IS RISEN !!!
HE IS RISEN INDEED !!! 

Thursday & Friday in the Holy week – they hated Him “without any cause”

If the world hates you,
you know that it hated Me before it hated you.
If you were of the world, the world would love its own.
Yet because you are not of the world,
but I chose you out of the world,
therefore the world hates you.
Remember the word that I said to you,
‘A servant is not greater than his master’.
If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.
If they kept My Word, they will keep yours also.
But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake,
because they do not know Him Who sent Me.
If I had not come and spoken to them,
they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.
He who hates Me hates My Father also.
If I had not done among them the works which no one else did,
they would have no sin;
but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.
But this happened
that the word might be fulfilled
which is written in their law,
‘They hated Me without a cause’“.
John 15: 18-25

It is usually understood, that the quotation our Saviour here refers to
is to be found in David’s Psalm, where he says,
speaking of himself immediately and of the Saviour prophetically,
Let them not rejoice over me,
those who are unjustly my enemies
Those who hate me without a cause
“.
Psalm 34: 19

Our Saviour refers to that as being applicable to Himself and thus He really tells us, in effect, that many of the Psalms are Messianic, or refer to the Messiah;
and therefore I did not accident,
when it is said that I believed the Psalms referred to the Saviour,
though He may have carried the Truth too far.
But it will be a good plan, in reading the Psalms,
if we continually look at them as alluding not so much to David,
as to the Man of Whom was the type, Jesus Christ, David’s Lord.

• No being was ever more lovely than our Saviour;
it would seem almost impossible not to have affection for Him.
Certainly at first sight it would seem far more difficult to hate Him than to love Him.
And yet, loveable as He was, yes, “altogether lovely“,
no being so early met with hatred
and no creature ever endured such a continual persecution as He had to suffer.
He is no sooner ushered into the world,
than the sword of Herod is ready to cut Him off
and the innocents of Bethlehem by their dreadful massacre,
gave a sad foretaste of the sufferings which Christ would endure
and of the hatred that men would pour upon His devoted Head.
From His first moment to the Cross,
save the temporary silence while He was a child,
it seemed as if all the world were in league against Him
and all men sought to destroy Him.
In different ways that hatred displayed itself, sometimes in overt deed,
as when they took Him to the brow of the hill and would have cast Him down headlong,
or when they took up stones again to stone Him,
because He said that Abraham desired to see His day
and saw it, and was glad.

At other times that hatred showed itself in words of slander,
such as these,
– “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say,
Behold a man gluttonous and a winebibber,
a friend of publicans and sinners.
But wisdom is justified of her children
“.
Matth.11: 19
or in looks of contempt, as when they looked suspiciously at Him,
because He did eat with publicans and sinners
and sat down to table with unwashed hands.
At other times that hatred dwelt entirely in their thoughts
and they thought within themselves,
This man blasphemes“, because He said,
your sins be forgiven you“.
But at almost every time there was a hatred towards Christ;
and when they took Him and would have made Him king and
a shallow fleeting flood of popular applause would have wetted Him on to an unsteady throne,
even then there was a latent hatred towards Him,
only kept under by loaves and fishes,
which only wanted an equal quantity of loaves and fishes offered by the priests,
to develop it itself in the cry of
Crucify him, crucify him“,
instead of the shout of
Hosannah! blessed is He
that comes in the Name of the Lord
“.
All grades of men hated Him.
Most men have to meet with some opposition;
but then it is frequently a class opposition
and there are other classes
who look at them with respect.
The demagogue, who is admired by the poor,
must expect to be despised by the rich;
and he who labours for the aristocracy,
of course meets with the contempt of the many.
But here was a Man Who walked among the people, Who loved them,
Who spoke to rich and poor as though they were [as indeed they are]
on one level in His blessed sight:
and yet all classes conspired to hate Him;
the priests cried Him down because he spoiled their dogmas;
the nobles would put Him to death because He spoke of being a king;
while the poor, for some reasons best known to themselves,
though they admired His eloquence,
and frequently would have fallen prostrate in worship before Him,
on account of the wondrous deeds He did,
even these, led by men who ought to have guided them better,
conspired to put Him to death
and to consummate their guilt by nailing Him to the Tree
and then wagging their heads, bade Him, if He could build a Temple in three days,
to save Himself and come down from the Cross.

Christ was the hated one,
the slandered and scorned;
He was “despised and rejected of men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief
“.
Isaiah 53: 3

Then, let us defend what the Saviour said,
– “They hated me without a cause“.
• And we remark, that, apart from the consideration of man’s sinfulness,
and Christ’s purity, there certainly is not cause, whatever to be discovered
why the world should have hated Him.
Let us regard Christ in His person.
Was there anything in Christ’s person as a man, when He lived in this world,
which had a natural tendency to make any person hate Him?
Let us remark, that there was an absence of almost everything
which excites hatred between man and man.
In the first place there was no great rank in Christ to excite envy.
It is a well-known fact that let a man be ever so good,
if He be at all lifted above His fellow-creatures by riches,
or by title, though one by one men will respect Him,
yet the many often speak against Him,
not so much for what He is, as for His rank and His title.
It seems to be natural to men in the mass to despise nobles;
each man, individually, thinks it a wonderful fine thing to know a lord;
but put men together and they will despise lords and even bishops
and speak very lightly of principalities and powers.
Now Christ had none of the outward circumstances of rank,
He had no chariot, no long sleeves, no elevation above His fellows;
when He walked abroad there were no heralds to attend Him,
there was no pomp to do Him honour.
In fact, one would think that Christ’s appearance
would naturally have engendered pity.
Instead of being lifted above men,
He did, in some sense, seem to be below them, for foxes had holes,
and the birds of the air had nests,
but the Son of Man had not where to lay His head.
The envy naturally excited by rank, station, and such-like,
could not have operated in Christ’s case;
there was nothing in His clothing to attract attention;
it was the clothing of the provincial of Galilee
-“of one piece, woven from the top throughout“[John 19: 23].
Nor was there anything in His rank.
He might have been the son of an ancient royal family,
but its royalty was apparently extinct
and He was only known as the son of the carpenter.
The hated Him, then, in that sense, “without a cause“.

• Many persons seem to have envy excited in them
against those who exercise rule or government over them.
The very fact of a man having authority over me
stirs up my evil passions
and I begin to look at him with suspicion,
because he is invested with that authority.
Some men naturally fall into the groove
and obey simply because the ruled is made;
principalities and powers are established
and they submit themselves for the Lord’s sake;
but the many seem to have a natural tendency
to kick against authority, simply because it is authority.
But if authorities and governments were changed every month,
I believe that in some countries, in historical Roesj for instance,
there would be revolutions as much under one government as under another;
in fact, they hate all government there and wish to be without law,
that each man may do what is right in his own eyes.
But this did not operate in Christ’s case,
– He was not a worldly king; He did not assume sway over the multitude.
It is True He was Lord over tempests and seas;
it is True He could command demons, and, if He pleased,
men must have been His obedient servants; but
– He did not assume power over them.
– He marshalled no armies, He promulgated no laws,
– He made Himself no great fellow in church or country; the people did just as they liked,
for all the authority He exercised over them.
In fact, instead of binding laws upon them which were severe,
– He seemed to have loosened the rigidity of their system; for when the adulterous woman, who, otherwise, would have been put to death, was brought before Him,
He said,
Neither do I condemn you” [John 8:11].
And He relaxed, to a certain extent,
the rigidity of the Sabbatical ordinance,
which was in some respects too burthensome,
saying, ” the Sabbath was made for man not man for the sabbath“[Marc.2: 27].
Surely, then, they hated Him “without a cause“.

• Some men make others dislike them because they are proud.
I know some men that I should have liked very well
if the starch had been left out of them;
I should really sympathize with them and admire them
if they had the least degree of condescension,
but they seem to walk about the world with such a style of pride!
They may not be proud
– very likely they are not; but, as an old divine said,
Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons
and healing people today and tomorrow,
and on the third day I will reach my goal’
“.
Luc.13: 32
And, somehow or other,
the human mind cannot bear pride; we always kick against it.
But there was nothing of that in our Saviour.
How Humble He was! Why He stooped to anything.
He would wash His disciples’ feet;
and when He walked about among men,
there was no parade about Him, as if He would say to them,
See my talent, see my power, see my rank, see my dignity,
stand by, I am greater than you

No, He takes His seat there.
There is Matthew, the publican, sitting beside Him
and He does not think He is hurt by the publican,
although He is the worst of sinners;
and there is a harlot, He speaks to her;
there is another with seven devils
and He casts the devils out of her,
and another, who has the leprosy,
and He even touches the leper,
to show how Humble He was and
that there was nothing of pride about Him.

Could you have seen the Saviour;
He was the very archetype of humility!
There were none of your forms of etiquette and politeness about Him;
He had that True politeness which makes itself affable to all men,
because it is kind and loving to all.
There was no pride in the Saviour
and consequently there was nothing to excite men’s anger on that account.
Therefore, they hated Him “without a cause“.

• There are others that you cannot help disliking,
because they are so snappish, and waspish, and angry;
they look as if they were born on some terribly dark stormy day
and as if, in the mixture of their body, no small quantity of vinegar was employed.
You could not sit long with them, without feeling
that you have to keep your tongue in pretty tight chain;
you must not talk freely or there would be a quarrel,
for they would make you an offender for a word.
You may say,
Such an one is, no doubt a good man” [Matth.19:17];
but really, that temper of his I cannot bear it.
And when a man stands prominently before the public,
with a nasty sour disposition,
one feels inclined to dislike Him.
But there was nothing of this about our Saviour.
When He was reviled, He reviled not again“[1Petr.2: 23]:
if men spat in His face He said nothing to them;
and when they smote Him, He did not curse them;
He sat still and bore their scorn.
He walked through the world,
with contempt and infamy constantly poured upon him;
but “He answered not a word“[Matth.27: 14];
He was never angry.
You cannot find, in reading the Saviour’s life,
that He spoke one angry word,
save those words of Holy anger which He poured,
like scalding oil, upon the head of pharisaic pride;
then, indeed, His anger did boil, but it was Holy anger.
With such a loving, kind, gentle spirit, one would have thought
that he would have gone through the world as easily as possible.
But, notwithstanding all that, they hated him.
Truly, we can say, “They hated Him without a cause“.

• There is another set of people you can scarcely help disliking;
they are selfish people.
Now, we know some persons who are very excellent in temper,
who are extremely honest and upright, but they are so selfish!
When you are with them, you feel that they are just friends to you
for what they can get out of you; and when you have served their turn,
they will just lay you aside, and endeavour to find another.
In trying to do good, their good deed has an ulterior object,
but, somehow or other, they are always found out;
and no man in the world gets a greater share of public odium
than the man who lives a selfish life.
Among the most miserable men in the universe,
kicked about the world like a football, is the selfish collector.

But in Christ there was nothing selfish;
whatever He did, He did for others.
He had a marvellous Power of working Miracles,
but He would not even change a stone into bread for Himself” [Matth.4: 3];
He reserved His Miraculous Power for others;
He did not seem to have a particle of self in His whole nature.
In fact, the description of His life might be written very briefly:
He saved others, Himself He did not save“[Matth.27: 42].
He walked about; He touched the poorest, the meanest
and those who were the most sick;
He cared not what men might say of Him;
He seemed to have no regard for fame, or dignity, or ease, or honour.
Neither His bodily nor his mental comforts were in the least regarded by Him.
Self-sacrifice was the life of Christ;
but He did it with such an ease that it seemed no sacrifice.
Ah! beloved, in that sense certainly they hated Christ without a cause;
for there was nothing in Christ to excite their hatred
– in fact, there was everything, on the other hand,
to bind the whole world to love
and reverence a character so eminently unselfish.

• Another sort of people there are that I do not like, namely the hypocritical;
nay, I think I could even live with the selfish man, if I knew him to be selfish;
but the hypocrite, do not let him come anywhere near where I am.
Let a public man be a hypocrite once
and the world will scarcely trust him again; they will hate him.
But Christ was, in this particular, free from any blame;
and if they hated Him, they hated Him not for that,
for there never was a more unvarnished man than Christ.
He was called, you know, the child Jesus;
because as a child speaks itself out and has no reserve,
and no craftiness, even so was it with Jesus;
He had no affectation, no deceit.
There was no change about Him;
He was “without variableness or shadow of turning“[Jac.1: 17].
Whatever the world may say of Christ,
they never said they believed He was a hypocrite;
and among all the slanders they brought against Him,
they never disputed His sincerity.
Had they been able to show that He really had been imposing upon them,
they might have had some grounds for hating Him;
but He lived in the Sunlight of sincerity
and walked on the very mountain-top of continual observation.
He could not be a hypocrite and men knew He could not;
and yet men hated Him.
Verily, my friends, if you survey the character of Christ, in all its loveliness,
in all its benevolence, in all its sincerity, in all its self-devotion,
in all intense eagerness to benefit man, you must say, indeed,
“They hated him without a cause”
there was nothing in Christ’s person to lead men to hate Him.

• In the next place, was there anything in Christ’s errand
which could make people hate Him?
If they had asked Him, for what reason have you come from Heaven?
would there have been anything in His answer likely to excite their indignation and hatred?
I troy not. For what purpose did He come?
He came, first of all, to explain Mysteries
– to tell them what was meant by the Sacrificial Lamb,
what was the significance of the scape-goat,
what was intended by the Ark, the brazen serpent, and the pot of manna;
He came to rend the veil of the Holy of holies,
and to show men secrets they had never seen before.
Should they have hated one Who lifted the veil of Mystery
and made dark things light, and expounded riddles?
Should they have hated Him Who taught them
what Abraham desired to see, and what Prophets and kings had longed to know,
but died without a knowledge of?
Was there anything in that to make them hate Him?
What else did he come for?
He came on earth to reclaim the wanderer;
and is there anything in that that should make men hate Christ?
If He came to reform the drunkard, to reclaim the harlot,
and gather in the publicans and sinners,
and bring prodigals to their Father’s House again,
sure that is the Object with which every philanthropist should agree;
it is that for which our governments are formed and fashioned,
to bring men to a better state; and if Christ came for that purpose,
was there anything in that to make men hate him?
For what else did He come?
He came to heal the diseases of the body;
is that a legitimate object of hatred?
Shall I hate the Physician Who goes about
gratuitously healing all manner of diseases?
Are deaf ears unstopped, are mouths opened, are the dead raised,
are the blind made to see, and widows blest with their sons?
Are these causes why a man should be obnoxious?
Surely, He might well say,
For which of these works do you stone me?
If I have done good works wherefore speak ye against me?
“[John 10: 32].
But none of these works were the cause of men’s hatred;
they hated Him without a cause.

• And He came on earth to die, that sinners might not die?
Was that a cause of hatred?
Ought I to hate the Saviour,
because He came to quench the flames of hell for me?
Should I despise Him Who allowed His Father’s flaming sword
to be quenched in His own vital blood?
Shall I look with indignation upon the substitute
Who takes my sin and grief’s upon Him, and carries my sorrows?
Shall I hate and despise the man Who loved me better than He loved Himself
– Who loved me so much that He visited the gloomy grave for my Salvation?
Are these the causes of hatred?
Surely His errand was one
that ought to have made us sing His praise for ever,
and join the harps of angels in their rapturous songs.
“They hated Me without a cause.”

• But once more: was there anything in Christ’s doctrine
that should have made us hate Him?
No, we answer; there was nothing in His doctrine
that should have excited men’s hatred.
Take His pre-locked up doctrines.
Did He not teach us to do to others as we would they should to us?
Was He not also the exponent of everything lovely and honourable, and of good report?
And was not His teaching the very essence of virtue, so that if virtue’s Self had written it,
it could not have written such a perfect code of lovely morals, and excellent virtues.
Was it the ethical part of his doctrines that men hated?
He taught that rich and poor must stand on one level;
He taught that His Gospel was not to be confined to one particular church or nation,
but was to be Gloriously expansive, so as to cover the whole world?
This perhaps, was one principal reason of their hating Him;
but surely there was no justifiable cause for their indignation in this.
There was nothing in Christ to lead men to hate him.
“They hated him without a cause.”

• And now I come to dwell on man’s sin,
that He should have hated the Saviour without a cause.
Ah!, I will not tell you of man’s adulteries, and fornications,
and murders, and poisonings, and sodomies.
I will not tell you of man’s wars, and bloodsheds,
and cruelties, and rebellions;
If I want to tell you man’s sin,
I must tell you that man has to make up his mind
– that he put to death His God, and slew His Saviour;
and when I have told you that, I have given you the essence of all sin,
the master-piece of crime, the very pinnacle and climax of
the terrific pyramid of mortal guilt.
Man outdid himself when he put His Saviour to death,
and sin did out
– Herod when it slew the Lord of the universe,
the Lover of the race of man, Who came on earth to die.
Never does sin appear so exceedingly sinful
as when we see it pointed at the Person of Christ,
Whom it hated without a cause. In every other case,
when man has hated goodness, there have always been some extenuating circumstances.
We never do see goodness in this world without mixed ingredients;
however great may be any man’s goodness,
there is always some nail whereon we may hang a censure;
however excellent a man may be, there is always some fault
which may diminish our admiration of our love.
But in the Saviour there was nothing of this.
There was nothing that could blot the picture;
Holiness stood out to the very life; there was Holiness – only Holiness.
There was nothing in Him but Holiness:
and any person with half an eye can see, that the thing men hated was simply
that Christ was perfect; they could not have hated Him for anything else.
And thus you see the abominable, detestable evil of the human heart
– that man hates goodness simply because it is such.

• Brokenness we see nowadays is not what He intended:
domestic violence, corrupted governments,
resentful nations and bitter Church congregations.
We all know that when the Lord created this world,
everything was ‘Good‘ and ‘in order‘.
His purpose for Humanity is so that everyone
can enjoy this relationship with Him and worship Him.
But until we realize and truly understand
how fearfully and wonderfully we were made,
Whom we belong to and why we are even here,
we will not be able to fulfil God’s Purpose in the world.

Will we not help one another
to bring the beauty within each of us out?
Will we not allow our hearts to be broken
for what breaks Him?
Will we not use our God-given talents to serve our families,
neighbours or even strangers?
And will we not pour our hearts, thoughts and spirits
in seeking and searching for Him
in order to have more of His Love every day?

We are children of the King.
Let us do all this, and many more.
And now may you who hate Christ love Him;
that He would bring Himself to you now!
That He would show himself to you!
And then sure you must love Him at once.
He that believeth on the Lord Jesus will be sure to love Him
and he that love Him shall be saved.
That God would give you Faith
and give you Love,
for Christ Jesus’ sake!

Today is the day of your judgment. Do not fear.
Come, bare your back with Him Who bared His back and was not ashamed.
Come, turn your face, and turn it without looking backward,
as  the Prophet said about Him,
I turned not backward [never]”.
Isaiah 50: 5

Do not be afraid. Walk, step by step.
That is the Price of your minor sins,
the cost of violating God’s minor commandments.
Come, come with Me,
share this punishment that can wash your flesh, blood, and bones
and make you reborn with the flesh of a new-born babe.

Today is the Day of Judgment of mankind for minor sins.
Come, come, O sinners, those with a heavy conscience,
those burdened by sin; come, for this Day is yours.
Come to sate the passions of your conscience,
to live without a conscience burdened by sin,
not with a conscience that has sinned,
but with a conscience that has been purified
and cleansed to become whiter than snow [Psalm 50].

They clothed Him with a crimson robe
on the Day of the Cross,
which is in fulfilment of the Prophecy:
Who is this that comes from Edom,
in crimsoned garments from Bozrah“,
Isaiah 63: 1
i.e., crimson robes stained with blood.
The mention of a crimson robe here has a beautiful reference to the cross:
Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow,
though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool“.
Isaiah 1: 18
The wool here refers to the robe of the Lamb on the Cross.
They stripped Him, dressed Him in a crimson robe
and lifted Him up, revealing the royal robe.
Christ donned the robe of Glory,
the robe of Eternal Purity.

But when the Comforter is come,
Whom I will send unto you from the Father,
even the Spirit of truth, Which proceeds from the Father,
He shall testify of me:
And you also shall bear witness,
because you have been with Me
from the beginning
“.
John 15: 26-27

Orthodoxy & Holy week, the first days of the Holy Week

  1. 1.       Monday of Holy Week &
    the blessed and Noble Joseph the All-Comely and
    the fig tree which was cursed and withered by the Lord

The story of Joseph, the All-Comely is told in the book of Genesis.
Joseph was the penultimate of  Patriarch Jacob’s 12 sons, and his favorite.
His father fashioned a “coat of many colors” for Joseph.
This, in addition to Joseph telling his brothers about dreams
that were not flattering to the brothers made them very envious.

One day, when out in the field, all the brothers  save Ruben (the eldest) and Benjamin,
who was yet to be born, conspired to kill Joseph.
Ruben suggested that instead they throw him into a pit
and wait to see what happened.
He intended to come back later and rescue Joseph,
in the meantime, Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt by some traders.
The brothers killed a sheep, and put its blood on Joseph’s coat,
which they had taken from him previously, and told their father
that Joseph had been torn to pieces by a wild animal.

He was in the employ of Potiphar, an important man in Egypt.
Potiphar’s wife made many passes at Joseph, but he was chaste.
One day, when Joseph was alone in the house, his wife grabbed him
and he fled away naked. She made up a story about his advances
and Joseph was thrown in prison.
In prison, he interpreted the dream Pharaoh’s butler and baker
and his interpretation came true to the letter.
The butler was restored to Pharaoh’s service and the baker was executed.
The butler had promised to bring Joseph’s case before Pharaoh,
but forgot until Pharaoh  had a dream that none of his wise men could interpret.
The butler then remembered Joseph, and he correctly interpreted the dream
as prophesying seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine.

Pharaoh put Joseph over all of Egypt, in order to prepare for the famine.
When the famine struck, Jacob sent his sons to get food in Egypt.
Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not know him.
After Benjamin also came to Egypt, much to the consternation of Jacob,
Joseph made himself known to his brothers in an incredibly emotional scene.
Soon thereafter, all of Jacob’s family moved to Egypt.

Joseph is a type of Christ:
There are many parallels between Joseph and our Lord Jesus Christ.
► Joseph was a slave “in body
– our Lord took on the form of a slave – humanity.
► Joseph was sold into slavery
because of the envy of his brothers for 20 pieces of silver
– Jesus our Saviour was sold for thirty pieces of silver
by his close confederate, the unworthy Apostle Judas,
because of the envy of the Jewish rulers.
► Joseph was cast in to a pit and later thrown into prison
– our Lord Jesus Christ went into the gloomy pit of Hell to save imprisoned humanity.
► Joseph did not complain about his lot,
– our Lord was silent in the face of His accusers.
► Joseph was chaste when tempted by Potiphar’s wife,
unlike the First Adam, who gave into temptation.
– the Second Adam, our Lord was perfectly sinless and showed us the way to perfect chastity.
► Joseph became Lord over Egypt [which represents sin].
– Jesus Christ is Lord over all of His human nature,
making us capable of becoming Lords over our Egypt – our human nature.
► Joseph was immersed in a land with many temptations
[especially since he became the second greatest man in Egypt],
an yet he remained chaste and good, and eventually saved all his people.
– our Lord was immersed in many temptations
and did not sin once, and eventually made us capable of perfection.
► He saved his people by feeding them bread in a time of famine.
– Jesus the Saviour saves mankind,
and feeds them with the bread of heaven – His body and blood.

Kontakion          Tn 8, Holy Monday Matins
Jacob lamented the loss of Joseph,
but his righteous son was seated in a chariot and honoured as a king.
For he was not enslaved to the pleasures of Egypt,
but he was glorified by God who sees the hearts of men
and bestows on them a crown incorruptible
“.

Ikos       Tn8, Holy Monday Matins
Let us now add our lamentation to the lamentation of Jacob,
and let us weep with him for Joseph,
his wise and glorious son
who was enslaved in body but kept his soul free from bondage
and became lord over all Egypt.
For God grants unto his servants a Crown incorruptible
“.

The barren Figtree
Then Christ told this parable:
A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any.
So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard,
‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
“.
‘Sir,’ the man replied,
‘leave it alone for one more year
and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.
If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down’

Luc.13: 6-9
In the parable of the barren fig tree, the owner is generally regarded as representing God,
Who had a fig tree [tree of knowledge] planted in his vineyard [the Garden of Eden]
and came seeking fruit [Righteous Works, which in part is a Mystery].
The Gardener [vinedresser] is God and the Vine is Jesus [the Tree of Life].
Fig trees were often planted in vineyards.
The fig tree was a common symbol for Israel
and may also have that meaning here,
or the tree in the Parable may refer to the religious leadership.
In either case, the Parable reflects Jesus offering his hearers
one last chance for repentance.
“These three years” logically refers to the period of Jesus’ Ministry.
The Parable has been connected to the Miracle of cursing the fig tree.
This Parable is one which our Lord may be said
to have put before his hearers twice; once in words,
once in action.

  1. 2.       Holy Tuesday & the Parable of the Ten Virgins
    The parable of the Ten Virgins teaches us
    that we must prepare ourselves now for the coming of Christ and prepare ourselves for the wait no matter how long it takes.

Our Lord first admonished His hearers
to pray and not to faint“;
His concluding remark is
And will not God revenge His elect
who cry to Him day and night and
will He have patience in their regard? I say to you, that He will quickly revenge them
“.
                                                                               Luc.18: 7–8

The conclusion of the parable of the ten virgins
which also indicates this association:
Watch you therefore, because you know not the day or the hour”.
Matth.25: 13
In this parable the foolish virgins, by neglecting to take oil with their lamps,
failed to welcome the bridegroom at his arrival and,
consequently, merited the punishment of not participating in the wedding feast.
The debt is this.
Just as the virgins were obliged
to have their lamps burning when the bridegroom arrived,
so too the faithful are obliged to prepare for Christ’s coming
in judgment by their good works.
Those who do will enter into everlasting life,
but those who do not will be condemned
by those dreadful words:
Amen I say to you, I know you not“.

This central comparison is extended to other parts of the image.
The bridegroom Who bars the foolish virgins from the wedding feast
is Christ Who will reward each man according to his deeds.
The wedding feast, therefore, represents the everlasting happiness of Heaven.
The uncertainty regarding the time of the bridegroom’s arrival signifies
that the time of Christ’s second coming is hidden from us.
There are many other incidents in the parable
which have no supernatural counterpart.
It is of no significance, for example,
that while the bridegroom tarried all the virgins slept.
This is merely a detail enhancing the realism of Christ’s story.
The same is true of the refusal of the wise virgins to share their oil with the foolish.

  1. 3.       Wednesday, commemoration
    of the sinful Women who anointed the Lord Jesus with Myrrh
    The woman who was a harlot and
    who anointed the Lord with myrrh,
    while this took place a short time
    before the saving Passion.
    Judas from becoming a traitor,
    the woman is honoured by saying
    that her good deed would be related everywhere, throughout the whole world.

That nard, or rather myrrh, with which the harlot anointed Christ, was very costly.
It belonged to that type of compound called myrrh,
which Moses was commanded by God to make
for the anointing of priests and chief priests.
It is of this that David says,
It is like the precious oil on the head, running down to the beard,
to Aaron’s beard, running down to the edge of his garment” [Psalm 132 : 2].
It was a compound of four substances: myrrh, flowers, fragrant cinnamon, and oil.
It was called true or genuine, because skilled and trusted men were appointed
to prepare that which God had in a Mysterious manner revealed to Moses alone.
An alabaster jar is a glass vessel made with no handle,
which is also called a vykion.

We should know that today the deceitful Judas,
that lover of money,
that whelp of Satan, began the negotiations with the wicked Sanhedrin
to betray the Master for thirty pieces of silver.
Being indignant after Christ rebuked him
for showing concern for the cost of the oil of myrrh,
he sought out the Jews who were at the court of Caiaphas.
After taking council with the Jewish High Priests,
he searched for an opportunity to betray the Lord when He was alone,
for the Sanhedrin feared the multitude that followed Christ.

We see in today’s Gospel [Matth.26: 6-16]
that the sinful woman brought oil of myrrh to anoint Christ
while Judas brought his greed to the Sanhedrin.
She spread out her hair to wipe the Lord’s feet,
while Judas stretched out his hands for the money.
She rejoiced to pour out the very precious oil on the Lord,
while Judas made plans to sell the One who is above all price.
By anointing Christ, she acknowledged Him as Lord,
while Judas severed himself from the Master.
She was set free of her sins,
while Judas was entrapped and became a slave of the devil.
She tenderly kissed the feet of Christ, asking for forgiveness,
|while Judas plotted to betray the Lord with a kiss,
anticipating the silver.

Apolytikion of the Bridegroom
Behold! The bridegroom approaches in the middle of the night,
And blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching;
But unworthy he whom He shall find careless.
Beware, therefore, O my soul.
Be not overcome with sleep,
lest thou be given over to death and shut outside the kingdom.
But arise and cry:
Holy, holy, holy art Thou, O God!
Through the Theotokos have mercy on us!
“.

Kontakion          Tn4
Though I have transgressed, O Good One,
more than the harlot,
I have never offered Thee a flood of tears.
but, praying in silence,
I fall down before Thee,
with love embracing Thy most pure feet,
that You as Master mayest grant me remission of sins.
And I cry to You, O Saviour:
Deliver me from the defilement of my evil deeds
“.

Ikos
Having come to hate the works of sin and carnal pleasure,
the woman who before had been a prodigal became chaste at once.
Calling to mind the magnitude of disgrace
and the condemnation of torment which harlots and profligates,
of whom I am first, shall endure, I also am afraid;
yet I foolishly continue in my evil ways.
But the woman who was a harlot, having been filled with fear,
hastened quickly to the Deliverer, crying out:
“O compassionate Lord Who loves mankind,
deliver me from the defilement of my evil deeds
“.

The Exapostilarion [The Hymn of Light]
Your bridal chamber, O my Saviour, I see adorned,
and I have no raiment with which to enter therein.
Enlighten the garment of my soul,
O Giver of Light, and save me.

The Hymn of Cassia
O Lord, the woman who had fallen into many sins,
perceiving Your Divinity, became one of the Myrrhbearers,
bringing You ointment in tears before Your burial.
She cried,
– “Woe is me!
– “For I lived in a night of licentiousness,
moonless and dismal love of sin.
– “Accept the fount of my tears
O Thou who draws the waters of the sea from the clouds.
– “Bow down Your ear to the sighing of my heart,
– “O You Who did bow the Heavens in Your ineffable self-emptying,
– “that I may kiss Your most pure feet
and wipe them again with the hairs of my head,
– “the feet whose step Eve once heard in Paradise in the cool of the day,
when for fear she hid herself.
– “My sins are many. And who may search the depths of Thy judgments?
– ” O Saviour of souls, my Saviour,
– “despise not Your servant “in Your limitless mercy
“.

► The extraordinary hymn of Kassia,
sung at the matins of Holy Wednesday,
is based on the above Gospel account of the sinful woman.
As Jesus is dining at the house of Simon, a Pharisee,
the sinful woman enters the house and begins anointing his feet with myrrh and tears
and wiping them with her hair.
This event, as recounted by Lucas,
takes place at the beginning of Jesus’ Public ministry,
although its commemoration has been placed
during the Bridegroom Matins of Holy Week
because of its symbolic interpretation
as a preparation for his burial.

Beginning of Holy Week – Palm Sunday, Gospel

On this Sunday we celebrate the
solemn Entry of the Lord Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.
Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour.
Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with Him.
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume;
she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.
And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray Him, objected,
“Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?
It was worth a year’s wages”.
He did not say this because he cared about the poor
but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag,
he used to help himself to what was put into it.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied.
“It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of My burial.
You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have Me”.
Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came,
not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.
So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well,
for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in Him.
The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard
that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.
They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting,
“Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”.
Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:
“Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
see, your King is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt”.
At first his disciples did not understand all this.
Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize
that these things had been written about him
and that these things had been done to him.
Now the crowd that was with Him when He called Lazarus from the tomb
and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word.
Many people, because they had heard
that He had performed this sign, went out to meet Him
“.
John 12 : 1-18

During the first centuries of Christianity,
the feast of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem ‘ was celebrated along with the resurrection of Lazarus.
Later that day was brought forward a week, ie the day after the Saturday of Lazarus.

These two parties have a common theme :
The Triumph and Victory“.
According to the holy Evangelists,
Jesus sent ahead from Bethany to Jerusalem
two of his disciples ahead of him to get to go to prepare the celebration of Passover on a donkey; after they had brought him the animals entry begins in the historic city.

What the People had heard of the resurrection of Lazarus
was in response flocking to see Jesus and to welcome Him.
There had been an erroneous beliefs about the role of Christ formed.
It was thought that he would act , which would free the dynasty of the Romans
and slavery would destroy them as political leaders.

WHY the people, rein , as is often described in welcoming a king,
but watch how typical last year the Dam in Amsterdam was decorated to welcome, a new king of the Netherlands, named ‘Willem-Alexander’.
Everyone was decked out with palm branches in their hands and ran together to see Him and welcome . With green branches the whole Dam Square in Amsterdam was coloured orange.

In other places , they spread their clothes and some cut branches from the trees
and spread it on the street where Jesus would go along.
Everyone cried, “Hosanna, blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord, King of Israel“.

Note that the distance from Bethany to Jerusalem just two and a half kilometers,
as far as the Amsterdam Central Station to Dam Square.
With such ease is the World deal with the events .

During his earthly life of Jesus Christ,
the humble entry into the Holy City was the only visible sign of Triumph.
Just at the time when Jesus would avoid triumphalism and eulogies.

With the entry into Jerusalem on the back of an ASS Jesus demonstrates
humility and at the same time He realizes the Prophecy of the prophet Zechariah:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion ,
shout, O daughter of Jerusalem,
Behold, your King cometh unto you:
He is Righteous and Victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a donkey foal of an ass!“.
Zechariah 9 : 9

Christ , therefore, come to Jerusalem,
Fear not, daughter of Sion:
behold , your King comes,
sitting on an ass ‘s colt“.
John 12 : 15
Israel withdraw to welcome Him. Honoured with an earthly king.
She is not interested in values ​​is not limited to a party upon temporary glory,
while His target was to free us from sin,
not of human slavery man.

Christ’s entry into Jerusalem symbolizes the qualifications
of the witness of the earthly life of our Lord.
In a few days they will testify against Him,
and He will be slain to defeat death
and to give to all mankind.
Life on the cross

Palm Sunday reminds us of honouring this sacred entry
and simultaneously reads the event in which the inhabitants of Jerusalem be identified.
We are pleased with our Lord and King, who is sung in our churches:
“Hosanna, blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord”.
With these words we confess that Christ is King and our Lord .

Too often we forget in our daily lives,
that God’s Kingdom is already installed on the earth
since the day of the Resurrection, and the day of our Baptism, this meal has accomplished .

The biblical meaning of Jerusalem is
that it is a whole history of salvation and redemption,
the Holy City is the coming of God on earth displays.
The Kingdom settled in Jerusalem
and is a global Kingdom and the Ecumenical Man embraces all creation.
This moment was the fulfilment of all the Promises that God gave to man.

The Triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem expresses an eternal sense.
It shows man in reality the Divine and Eternal Kingdom of God.

This jubilation gives meaning to the time and the ultimate and eternal purpose.
The kingdom of God is revealed to the world
as the Resurrection of Christ
and His Presence human history transforms.

By participating in the Service section of Palm Sunday
we innovate and we confess that the Kingdom of God,
an ultimate meaning and reflects the scope of our lives.

We confess that everything in our lives and the world belongs to Christ
and nothing can be taken from the unique participation
because there are no areas where Christ ruled the world .

We proclaim this way indefinite ecumenical responsibilities of each of us in human history,
which reflects the state of the universal mission of the Church.
This is so because the Church is the only sure way to Salvation
through its entire life of the Mysteries [Lat. Sacraments].

We have gone through the King why Jews were hailed at the time
and we endorse this the way we live, on the way to Calvary, to the Cross and the Grave.

We know that this short Triumph also the sacrifice of the prologue [for the final game].

The Kingdom of God is visible,
but in the human ignorance it is now around us
pretended nothing of all these shocking events occurred.
As if the God-man did not die on the Cross
and was not Resurrected from the dead.

But we Christians believe in the coming Kingdom
and constantly speak of this commitment by the confession of the Creed.
The Kingdom of God is and will always be, the Kingdom “really makes everything” [Sanctify]
and with Christ as the only King.

In the Divine Liturgy we retrieve events from the past to mind .

But the greatest significance and power of the Holy Office is the fact
that the memories conveys the present, in the face of reality.

On Palm Sunday this reality gives us the King’s participation in this event and our response.
Christ is not historically triumphantly into Jerusalem, He did this once and for all.

“Symbols ” are no longer necessary,
because he has not died on the Cross for you to inform us to “interpret” His life.
But ask us a real, genuine acceptance of Faith by paying attention to the significance of His crucifixion and Resurrection.

It is obvious to keep.
The sacred promise that we confess our baptism fixed this Palm Sunday and Passover
to renew every year.
They keep us throughout our lives God’s Kingdom rule in mind,
that is the message that the Church gives us on our way to our Father’s House,
and its true meaning to bring about.

If you really want to come to Christ [as Christians want to be],
you need to see life with its horizontal and vertical dimensions.
Only then can we understand that the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ
is the only way for all People on earth .

Apolytikion       tn 4
With You also buried in Baptism
Thou us by Thy Resurrection
eternal life bestowed
and we sing to You , Christ our God ,
and we cry
Hosanna in the highest .
Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord“.

Kondakion         tn 6
In Heaven, seated on a Throne ,
but on earth a beast of burden ,
Thou , O Christ God ,
the hymns of Angels and
accepted the song of children ,
You who shouted :
Blessed is he that cometh ,
to call Adam again“.

Psalms created on Truth – PSALM 70 – How to grow old

O God, in You I hope;
may I never be put to shame.
Deliver me in your righteousness,
and set me free;
Incline Your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a God for Protection
and a strong place for Salvation,
for You are my Foundation and my refuge.
O my God,
deliver me from the hand of the sinner,
from the hand of those who transgress the Law and act un-justly;
for You are my patience, O Lord;
the Lord from my youth.
by You I have been supported from birth;
from my mother’s womb You have been my Protector;
My song shall be always of You.
I am become as a wonder to many,
and You are my strong Helper.
Let my mouth be filled with Your praise,
that I may sing of Your Glory
and of Your Magnificence all the day long.
Do not abandon me in the time of old age;
when my strength fails do not forsake me.
For my enemies speak against me,
and those who watch for my soul plot together,
saying, “God forsook him; pursue and lay hold of him,
for there is no deliverer”.
o God, do not stand far off from me;
O my God, give heed to help me.
Let those who falsely accuse my soul
be shamed and forsaken;
let those who seek evils for me
be covered with shame and reproach.
But I will hope continually,
and I will add to all Your praise.
My mouth shall proclaim Your Righteousness,
Your Salvation all the day,
for I am not acquainted with learning.
I shall enter into the Power of the Lord;
O Lord, I shall remember Your Righteousness,
Yours alone.
You taught me, O God, from my youth,
and from then until now I will
proclaim Your Wonders.
And even to old age and to my last breath,
O God, do not abandon me,
until I proclaim Your Arm to every
coming generation,
your mighty Deeds and Your
Righteousness.
O God, I proclaim the magnificent
Things You did,
even to the highest Heaven;
O God, Who is like You?
How great end evil are the afflictions
You showed me,
and You returned, and made me live;
and You raised me up again from the
depths of the earth.
You multiplied Your Greatness,
and You returned and comforted me;|You brought me up again from the
depth of the earth.
Truly, I will give thanks to You with the
instrument of a Psalm, o God;
I will sing to You with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
My lips will greatly rejoice
when I sing to You:
So will my soul,
which You redeemed.
My tongue shall meditate on
Your Righteousness all the day long,
when those who seek evils for me
are dishonoured and shamed“.
Psalm 70
Mp3: Psalmul 70 [Romanian] 

εις σαλωμων ο θεος το κριμα σου τω βασιλει δος
και την δικαιοσυνην σου τω υιω του βασιλεως
κρινειν τον λαον σου εν δικαιοσυνη
και τους πτωχους σου εν κρισει
αναλαβετω τα ορη ειρηνην τω λαω σου
και οι βουνοι εν δικαιοσυνη
κρινει τους πτωχους του λαου
και σωσει τους υιους των πενητων
και ταπεινωσει συκοφαντην
και συμπαραμενει τω ηλιω
και προ της σεληνης γενεας γενεων
και καταβησεται ως υετος επι ποκον
και ωσει σταγονες σταζουσαι επι την γην
ανατελει εν ταις ημεραις αυτου δικαιοσυνη
και πληθος ειρηνης εως ου ανταναιρεθη η σεληνη
και κατακυριευσει απο θαλασσης εως θαλασσης
και απο ποταμου εως περατων της οικουμενης
ενωπιον αυτου προπεσουνται αιθιοπες
και οι εχθροι αυτου χουν λειξουσιν
βασιλεις θαρσις και αι νησοι δωρα προσοισουσιν βασιλεις αραβων
και σαβα δωρα προσαξουσιν
και προσκυνησουσιν αυτω παντες οι βασιλεις παντα τα εθνη δουλευσουσιν αυτω
οτι ερρυσατο πτωχον εκ χειρος δυναστου
και πενητα ω ουχ υπηρχεν βοηθος
φεισεται πτωχου και πενητος
και ψυχας πενητων σωσει
εκ τοκου και εξ αδικιας λυτρωσεται τας ψυχας αυτων
και εντιμον το ονομα αυτων ενωπιον αυτου
και ζησεται και δοθησεται αυτω εκ του χρυσιου της αραβιας κ
αι προσευξονται περι αυτου δια παντος ολην την ημεραν ευλογησουσιν αυτον
εσται στηριγμα εν τη γη επ’ ακρων των ορεων υπεραρθησεται υπερ τον λιβανον
ο καρπος αυτου και εξανθησουσιν εκ πολεως ωσει χορτος της γης
εστω το ονομα αυτου ευλογημενον εις τους αιωνας προ του ηλιου διαμενει το ονομα αυτου
και ευλογηθησονται εν αυτω πασαι αι φυλαι της γης παντα τα εθνη μακαριουσιν αυτον
ευλογητος κυριος ο θεος ο θεος ισραηλ ο ποιων θαυμασια μονος
και ευλογητον το ονομα της δοξης αυτου εις τον αιωνα
και εις τον αιωνα του αιωνος
και πληρωθησεται της δοξης αυτου πασα η γη γενοιτο γενοιτο
εξελιπον οι υμνοι δαυιδ του υιου ιεσσαι

I am the first one taken captive
In Psalm 70 teaches the [Orthodox] Church
about deliverance  from  taken captive to the devil and his angels [my enemies vs 10; Eph 6: 12].
For these enemies ensnared mankind in the fear of death and the lifetime of bondage it begotten“.
Hebr.2: 15
But from birth to death, we are delivered
by the Lord Jesus Christ from fear.
For we are delivered and set free in His Righteousness,
on which we meditate . . . . .
all the day long . . . . .

Everyone born into this world becomes a captive of Satan by birth.
We are called children of Hell,
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte
and when he is made, you make him twofold more
the child of hell than yourselves
Matth.23: 15
Every individual born into this world is a captive of Satan,
as his parents are captives
– all are born under the power of the devil and his angels.
Salvation then is a deliverance from the power of the devil
and a Translation into the Kingdom of God [Col. l: 13].
The law of the slave:
If a slave married while he was yet a slave,
even though he obtained his freedom at the end of seven years,
his wife and children born while in slavery still belonged to the slave master
until they were able to obtain their freedom individually.
Though you and I may be redeemed by the Grace of God,
delivered from Satan by God’s power, yet our children born to us are captives of Satan.
They are captives by birth. Now you let that soak into your heart, Mother!
Let that soak into your heart, Father
“.
Ex.21: 2-4
Christ said: “You are of your father the devil,
and the lusts of your father you will do“.
John 8: 44
So every individual out of Christ is a captive of Satan,
held prisoner by Satan, a child of Satan, and a child of Hell,
until he is redeemed by the Blood of Christ
and delivered by power from Satan.

With these thoughts in mind,
let’s notice now the conditions of Satan’s captives.
Every individual held captive by Satan is in the kingdom of Satan,
which is the kingdom of darkness [Acts 26: 18].
Paul was commanded to preach to turn sinners
– “from darkness to Light
and from the power of Satan unto God“.
This great truth is also stated in,
Who [God] has delivered us from the power of darkness
and has translated us into the Kingdom of His Dear Son“.
Col.1: 13
Sinners of today are not in the place that God put them
when He placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden;
they have been transported into another kingdom, into a far country [Luc.15: 13].
They are far away from God, from the New Covenant and from His Son.
How long will I take counsel in my soul,
having grief in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
“.
Psalm 12: 3

The “freeing from sin”,
and also the “making them servants to righteousness
Rom. 6: 18, which is better than any freedom.
For God has done the same
as if a person were to take an orphan,
who had been carried away by savages into their own country
and were not only to free him from captivity,
but were to set a kind father ever him
and bring him to very great dignity.
And this has been done in our case;
for it was not our old evils alone that He freed us from,
since He even led us to the life of angels
and paved the way for us to the best conversation;
handing us over to the safe keeping of Righteousness
and killing our former evils and deadening the old man
and leading us to an immortal life.

So when you could see your own situation,
you would be the most unhappy subject
that Satan ever had in his kingdom.
I know I am writing to some Orthodox believers
who are very unhappy to say to be a sinner.
Ah, you are stirred, you are deeply moved. You are miserable.
The only reason a sinner is content in his present state
is because he is asleep in Satan’s lap,
We know that we are children of God
and that the whole world is
under the control of the evil one
“.
1John 5: 19
I am a sinner, this is my shameful case.
I am a captive of Satan. Once I was there.
When God opened my eyes and showed me my awful, ruined condition,
when He showed me that I was held captive by Satan,
that I could not flee his territory – I could not break his bands!
Knowing that He had proclaimed liberty unto the captives,
I cried unto the Lord and He heard my cry,
He broke the bands of Satan, and set me free
– gave me liberty in Christ Jesus, the Lord!

Then, I, sinner-friend,
I have not only been transported to the kingdom of darkness,
been plundered and robbed and stripped,
but I was conquered by the power of Satan.
I was no longer master of myself.
Who are taken captive by him at his will” [2Tim.2: 26].
My liberty is gone, and gone forever,
unless Christ delivers me;
I am a slave to the master of tyrants
and I am serving him to my own ruin.
I am not only his captive, a sinner-friend,
but, alas! I have no liberty.
I have to come and go at his stream and call;
I have to obey his every command, according to
I see another law at work in me,
waging war against the law of my mind
and making me a prisoner of the law of sin
at work within me
” [Rom. 7: 23].
I am a sinner-friend, if I get anything of any value, I can’t keep it;
the devil tears it from you.
If I receive a conviction of sin
and make a resolution to amend my life,
I can’t carry it out
– Satan will not rest until I have thrown it away.
I may be seemingly deeply moved under this message
and I may be made to cry out and say,
“Indeed that’s my condition;
this is describing me,
but I can’t retain the impressions.
All my resolutions pass away”.
It is because Satan will not let you keep them.
You are bent on pleasing Satan.
That’s right, but:
Christ has rescued us from the dominion of darkness
and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son God loves
in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The Son of God is the image of the invisible God,
the Firstborn over all Creation
“.
Col.1: 13-15
You may ask, “Why doesn’t God come and deliver me now?“.
My friend, it may be that He wants
you to realize fully what your condition is in Satan’s territory
so that you will never forget from whence He delivered you.

I want to tell you,
I’ll never forget from whence the Lord delivered this poor old sinner!
Never do I cease to thank my Deliverer, the Lord Jesus,
for hearing my cry, coming to my rescue,
taking me by force out of Satan’s net as his prisoner
and setting my feet upon the rock of freedom in Christ
and putting a new song in my mouth
a song of deliverance,
whereby I am praising Him daily
for Salvation and Deliverance.
O God, I proclaim
the Magnificent things You did,
even to the highest Heaven;
O God, Who is like You?
“.
Psalm 70: 19

God’s Holy Personality is  Sublime,
unsearchable, exalted, and Glorious
is His Way of making men righteous.
His plan of righteousness uplifts men
from the gates of hell
to the country seat of Heaven.

Man is a great mystery,
a sacred mystery of God.
So great and so sacred,
that God Himself became man,
in order to give us understanding
of all the depth of the mystery of Man“.
Justinus Popovitch [1894 – 1979]