Categories
Christian Living

Learning from Jesus’s First Words

When Christ Speaks, We Should Be Ready to Listen

What Jesus says is important to us as his followers. The passages in the Bible that we need to pay the most attention to are the words of Jesus. Some Bibles even highlight Jesus’s words by putting them in red. We call these red-letter editions. People often focus on the final words of Jesus. But what about Jesus’s first words?

Let’s look at what the Bible records as Jesus’s first words. This doesn’t occur when he first learns to talk, and it’s not the first words he speaks when he begins his ministry. Jesus’s first words recorded in the Bible happen between these two times.

Twelve-Year-Old Jesus

Jesus’s first recorded words occur when he’s twelve, and it’s the only story the Bible gives us about Jesus’s youth. In this account we see the balance between his divine side and his human side.

Jesus goes with his parents to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. When the festival ends, his parents head home, traveling with a group of others headed in that direction. They assume Jesus is with the caravan. He isn’t. He stays behind without their knowledge.

After traveling all day, Mary and Joseph discover that Jesus is missing. They’ve lost their son, one of a parent’s most dreaded nightmares. Yet for them it’s even worse. They also lost the Son of God.

Panicked they head back to Jerusalem. They search. And they search. After three days they finally find him.

He’s in the temple having a deep spiritual conversation with the religious teachers. He listens to what they say and asks insightful questions. The twelve-year-old amazes everyone with his depth of understanding.

His parents are astonished too. Yet they’re also irritated with him for causing them needless worry.

Jesus’s First Words

Young Jesus responds incredulously. “Why were you searching for me?” he asks. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49, NIV).

These are the first recorded words of Jesus.

From the perspective of tween Jesus, his parents shouldn’t have spent three days looking for him. The temple should have been their first stop. In his mind, it was a given. In their mind, it was the last place they expected to find their twelve-year-old son.

Jesus doesn’t address the fact that he didn’t head home with them and caused them untold worry for three days. Like many who aren’t yet fully mature, he knew he was safe, so there was nothing for anyone to worry about.

Where do we go to best connect with God and spend time with other like-minded believers? Click To Tweet

The human side of Jesus missed spending time with his Father, Father God. The temple may have been where he best felt he could make a spiritual connection with Papa. It was also an ideal place to find other like-minded Jews who could teach him about Scripture and guide him forward on his spiritual journey.

But Jesus’s parents don’t understand what he means. Regardless Jesus obediently returns home with them. He grows in wisdom and stature, enjoying the favor of both God and men. This prepares him for ministry, which he’ll start in eighteen years, when he’s thirty years old.

Where do we go to best connect with God and spend time with other like-minded believers? When our friends look for us, where will they find us?

Discover more about Jesus in Peter’s upcoming book, The Advent of Jesus, which will release in October 2022.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

With God’s Help Joseph Can Interpret Dreams

God Reveals the Meaning of Dreams to Joseph

Joseph (son of Jacob, in the Old Testament) is in a world of hurt. His life has spiraled downward. The favorite son of his father, his jealous brothers stoop to selling him as a slave to some passing traders. Joseph ends up in Egypt, a slave to Potiphar, the captain of the guard.

Despite his dire circumstances, Joseph works hard, and his master prospers because of Joseph’s diligence. Potiphar’s wife, however, has eyes for Joseph. She solicits him, but he rejects her overtures.

Embarrassed and angry, she one day pays him back for his integrity. He pulls away from her, again rejecting her advances. In doing so his cloak falls off as he runs to safety. She accuses him of attempted rape, and Joseph ends up in jail.

Again, Joseph makes the best of his situation in prison. Soon the warden puts him in charge of the other prisoners. Joseph succeeds in his assignment, even though he’s still a prisoner.

Joseph Can Interpret Dreams

One night two of Joseph’s fellow prisoners have dreams. Joseph interprets both dreams. A few days later his explanations occur just as he predicted: one prisoner is executed, and the other is reinstated to his former position with the Pharaoh.

Though Joseph asked the released prisoner to lobby for his release, the man forgets. Joseph languishes in prison for two more years.

Pharaoh Has a Disturbing Dream

Then Pharaoh has a dream. A troubling one. A dream no one can interpret. Then the forgetful man remembers Joseph and recommends him to Pharaoh as someone who can explain the meaning of dreams.

When asked if he can interpret dreams, Joseph says that he can’t. However, he asserts that God will provide the dream’s meaning to him. This is a bold statement to make. If Joseph doesn’t discern the meaning from God, Joseph’s situation could become even worse.

He risks facing summary execution for further upsetting the Pharaoh.

Yet not only does Joseph explained the meaning of the Pharaoh’s disturbing dream, Joseph also recommends what actions the Pharaoh can take. Pharaoh likes what he hears, releases Joseph from prison, and puts him in charge of everything.

Joseph goes from favorite son, to slave, to prisoner, to the second in command in Egypt. Click To Tweet

Joseph goes from favorite son, to slave, to prisoner, to the second in command in Egypt. This all happens because he continues to trust God and put him first despite suffering as a slave and then languishing in prison for several years.

In the end God rescues Joseph, putting him in a place of authority to later save his entire family from poverty and starvation. All this happens because Joseph can interpret dreams—through God’s revelation.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Genesis 39-41, and today’s post is on Genesis 41:14-16.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Happy Birthday Jesus and Merry Christmas Too

Segregating the Two Sides of Christmas

Is Christmas an important holiday to you? I suspect you’ll say, “yes.” And if you follow Jesus, you may say Christmas is the most important holiday because it celebrates his birth some 2,000 years ago. That’s when Jesus came to earth to live among us and die in our place so that we can live forever with him. Happy birthday Jesus.

As the saying goes, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

Though Jesus is the basis behind Christmas, how much of our celebration focuses on him? I’m talking about Christmas trees, ornaments, lights, Santa Claus, reindeers, sleighs, eggnog, parties at work, and gatherings with family and friends.

Then there’s gift giving. Though it’s gotten out of hand, the idea of giving to others at Christmas does—or should—remind us that Jesus gave us the greatest gift of all: his life. But how many of us remember that?

Instead, we tune in to Christmas specials, watch Christmas movies, and sing Christmas songs. A few of them are even about Jesus.

When we strip away all the commercialization of Christmas and the man-made traditions we’ve grown to cherish, what do we have left? A nativity. A baby laying in a manger with Mary and Joseph gathered around and an array of barnyard animals looking on. Amazed shepherds—and their sheep—stand nearby. Magi approach on their camels (never mind that they didn’t arrive until much later).

Happy Birthday Jesus

We may go to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. There we hope to celebrate Jesus and sing some Christmas songs that are actually about him.

I wonder what Jesus thinks of our Christmas traditions, the day once intended for our focus to shift exclusively to him, but which has gotten eerily misappropriated.

Whenever I wish someone “Merry Christmas,” it carries a God-honoring implication, but I doubt many people receive it in the way I intend.

Don’t let the secular celebration of Christmas overshadow the reason behind it. Click To Tweet

Let’s remember the Christmas story in the gospel of Luke: “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10, NIV). Then check out “Linus Reminds Us What Christmas Is All About.”

We may never be able to reclaim Christmas as the spiritual celebration it once was. But we can reframe it to recapture its intent. Yes, we can continue to celebrate Christmas. But don’t let a secular celebration overshadow the reason behind it.

Let’s celebrate Jesus’s birthday with equal—or even better—fervor. We can even make him a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to him.

Happy birthday Jesus (and Merry Christmas too)!

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

The Bible Gives Us Daily Inspiration

The Bible Can Inspire Us Each Day—All We Need to Do Is Read It

In our continuing series, here’s reason #11 of why I love the Bible: The Bible inspires us. Though many books can provide daily inspiration, the Bible stands by itself when it comes to its profound impact, a supernatural impact that comes from God.

Consider these ways the Bible inspires us as we take time to read it regularly:

The Bible Inspires Us Through Encouragement

The Bible contains many passages that offer encouragement. Often these come from the many promises the Bible has for us. When we come across one of these promises, we must claim it as our own, to embrace it, except it, and relish it.

The promises are many, but often we must search for them. Yes, a few verses say, “…and God promised…” But for most instances we must read more carefully to find the promises God has for us.

However, the Bible also offers encouragement in other ways, too. The Bible overflows with God’s love, and this should encourage us.

The Bible shows us of God’s repeated deliverance, and that should encourage us, too. And the Bible shows us that we are part of something much greater than ourselves, and this should encourage us even more.

The Bible contains many stories about real people who encounter life in both usual and unusual ways. Click To Tweet

The Bible Inspires Us Through Correction

The Bible doesn’t only contain words of encouragement, it also gives us words of correction. Through the lens of the Bible, we can see ways that we fall short. We see how we can do better. But this isn’t in a legalistic way, a set of rules to follow.

Instead the Bible points us to a better way to live life. It inspires us to do better.

The Bible Inspires Us Through Examples

The Bible contains many stories about real people who encounter life in both usual and unusual ways. How they react can motivate us to live better and to live right. Take the example of Jacob’s son Joseph in the Old Testament.

As a boy, Joseph doesn’t always exercise the best judgment, but as he moves into adulthood his life is worthy of emulation. Through his life, we’re inspired to avoid his youthful mistakes and follow his example of unfailing integrity as an adult.

Yes, the Bible inspires us—but only if we read it.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

When Good Things Result From Bad

In my prior post about Joseph, we saw that Joseph’s audacious sharing of his dreams was likely the catalyst for his brothers’ selling him as a slave and then staging his death.

Joseph would have been better off to have kept his mouth shut.

However, had Joseph kept quiet, his brothers may not have sold him as a slave. Joseph would not have ended up in Egypt. He would not have interpreted the Pharaoh’s dream and been promoted to second in command.

He would not have been in a position to stockpile foodstuffs during the good years in preparation for the lean years to follow. He would not have been distributing food when he’s hungry brothers came calling—and it would not have been him that they bowed down to.

This is an example of how God can work bad things out for good—which is something that he does for those who love him and are aligned with him.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

Joseph: Dreamer and Interpreter of Dreams

In the story of Jacob’s son Joseph, we read that Joseph had a couple of dreams.

The implicit meaning of his dreams was that his older brothers would become subservient to him, as would his father and mother. To his family this no doubt seemed to be mere wishful thinking of a young boy who was tired of being last and wanted some attention.

Just because God has revealed something to us, does not mean that it is prudent to share it. Click To Tweet

The dream, however, was correct and its predictions did eventually happen. In these two dreams, it was later confirmed that Joseph had heard from God and that he heard correctly.

It may not, however, have been a good idea to share the dreams with this family. His father was insulted and chastised him for his impudent remarks. His ill-advised revelation also fueled his brothers’ jealousy towards him, no doubt hastening their selling him off as a slave.

The lesson to be learned from Joseph is that just because God has revealed something to us, does not mean that it is prudent to share it.

While it is often helpful to tell others what God is doing in our lives or teaching us, sometimes his words to us are for our ears only.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

An Example of Obedience in the Life of Joseph

An Example of Obedience in the Life of Joseph

Four times, Joseph received instructions from God:

An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and instructed him to go ahead and marry Mary. [Matthew 1:20]

Later, an angel spoke to Joseph in a dream, warning him of the threat on Jesus’ life and instructing him to flee to Egypt. [Matthew 2:13-14]

A third time, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him it was safe to return from Egypt. [Matthew 2:19-20]

Lastly, Joseph received additional instruction in a dream to go to Galilee and not Judea. [Matthew 2:22]

Each of the times God spoke to Joseph, he obeyed without question or delay:

May hear from God, there is but one acceptable response: to obey without question or delay. Click To Tweet

1) He married Mary, as instructed,
2) he got up and left for Egypt in the middle of the night,
3) he later returned to Israel, and
4) he settled in Galilee.

God can speak to us in various ways: by a dream, vision, or even angels, through the Bible or others, or the Holy Spirit. However we may hear from God, there is but one acceptable response: to obey without question or delay, just as Joseph did.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.