Thursday, October 15, 2015

Christians; The Original Despicable Minions

My Savior’s Love

I selected this song for our Sunday worship because my Pastor's sermon was about how we (Christians) are to be prepared for persecution and suffering because our Lord suffered persecution.

In this hymn, the writer, Charles Gabriel, refers to the Lord as “Jesus the Nazarene” which references a statement in Matthew’s Gospel:
“He [the Lord Jesus] came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene’.”

What does that mean?  In general, Nazareth had a lousy reputation; it was the “lowlife neighborhood on the other side of the tracks.”  Nazarenes were despised by most people including the people of Galilee.

When Philip referred to the Lord as “Jesus of Nazareth”, Nathanael’s derogatory response was, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”

Later, followers of Christ (who were associated with Paul), before they
were known as Christians, were called, “the sect of the Nazarenes” which was intended to be an insult and a put-down.  (And, by the way, the world STILL hates us because the world hates Christ.)

This kind of scornful contempt for the Son of God was prophesied:

(Ps. 22:6-7) But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.  All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;

(Ps. 69:20-21)  Reproaches have broken my heart so that I am in despair.  I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none.  They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.

For Jesus to be called a “Nazarene” might allude back to Isaiah’s prophecy;

He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.

He was despised and rejected by men;  a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces.  He was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

So all of this is to be expected.  We are all familiar with the first few verses in the second chapter of Philippians-- the “Humiliation of Christ.”  It details a shocking description of how the Almighty God, the creator of the Universe, the Holy and Just One, could stoop so low and take on the form of a man and suffer and die for His creation.  Certainly this humiliation would include rejection, persecution, grief, beatings, scorn, and maltreatment.

The hymn writer’s personal sense of “amazement” is that this One, so despised by humans, would love Him enough to die for his sins.

I stand amazed in the presence,
       Of Jesus, the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
       A sinner, condemned, unclean.

He took my sins and my sorrows;
       He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calvary
       And suffered and died alone.

When with the ransomed in glory,
       His face I at last shall see,
’Twill be my joy through the ages
       To sing of His love for me.

How marvelous, how wonderful!
       And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous, how wonderful
       Is my Savior’s love for me!

And that is the message of the gospel of grace, the Good News that the Son of God set aside His glory and humbled Himself to be “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

He suffered and died a terrible death, under the wrath of God, as our substitute, so that we, through faith in Him, might be forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life.  How marvelous, how wonderful is my Savior's love for me.

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