quarta-feira, abril 27, 2016

The Girl Nobody Wanted - Genesis 29:15-35

by Timothy Keller
[15] Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman [relative], should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” [16] Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. [17] Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. [18] Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” [19] Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” [20] So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.
[21] Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” [22] So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. [23] But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. [24] (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.) [25] And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” [26] Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. [27] Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” [28] Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. [29] (Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) [30] So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years. [31] When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. [32] And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” [33] She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. [34] Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. [35] And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing. Gen. 29:15-35
There is no book, I believe, less sentimental about marriage and the family then the Bible. It is utterly realistic about how hard it is not to be married; and it is utterly realistic about how hard it is to be married. Out in the world, especially in the culture outside the church, there are a lot of people who are cynical about marriage. They don’t trust marriage, so they avoid it altogether or give themselves an easy escape by living together. Then there are people inside the church who are very much the opposite. They think, “Marriage, family, white picket fences—that is what family values are all about. That’s how you find fulfillment. That is what human life is all about.”
The Bible shows us marriage and the family, with all of its joys and all of its difficulties, and points us to Jesus and says, “This is who you need, this is what you need, to have a fulfilled life.” What the Bible says is so nuanced, so different, so off the spectrum. One of the places you see this is in this fascinating story—the account of Jacob’s search for his one true love. I would like you to notice three things in the story:
First, this overpowering human drive to find one true love [Key Theme – a hope];
Secondly, the devastation and disillusionment that ordinarily accompanies the search for true love;
[Third], and finally, what we can do about this longing – what will fulfill it.
At the beginning of the passage, Laban says to Jacob, “Just because you are a kinsmen [relative] of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be” (v. 15). Before continuing, let me give you the back-story.
Two generations earlier, God had come to Abraham, Jacob’s grandfather, and said, “Abraham, look at the misery, the death, and the brokenness. I am going to do something about it. I am going to redeem this world, and I am going to do it through your family, through one of your descendents. And therefore, in every generation of your descendents, one child will bear the Messianic line. That child will walk before me and be the head of the clan and pass the true faith on to the next generation. Then there will be another child that bears the Messianic line [seed] and another, until one day, one of your descendents will be the Messiah himself, the King of kings.”
Abraham fathered Isaac, the first in the line Messianic forebears, and when Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, became pregnant with twins, God spoke to Rebekah through and said, “The elder will serve the younger.” That was God’s way of saying that the second twin born would be the chosen one, to carry on the Messianic hope. Esau is born first and then Jacob, but in spite of the prophecy, Isaac set his heart on the oldest son. He set his heart on Esau and favored him all through his life. As a result, he distorted his entire family. Esau grew up proud, spoiled, willful, and impulsive; Jacob grew up rejected and resentful and turned into a schemer; Rebekah favored her younger son and became alienated from her husband Isaac.
Finally, the time came for the aged Isaac to give the blessing to the head of the clan, which was to be Esau; but Jacob dressed up as Esau, went in, and got the blessing. When Esau found out about it, he became determined to kill Jacob, and Jacob had to flee into the wilderness. Now everything was ruined. Jacob’s life was ruined. Not only did he no longer have a family to be the head of; he no longer had a family or an inheritance at all, and he had to flee for his life. Jacob did not know whether Esau messed up or he messed up or Isaac or maybe even God, but now his life was in ruins and he would never fulfill his destiny. Just to survive, he was forced to flee to the other side of the Fertile Crescent.
Jacob escaped to his mother’s family, and they took him in as a kind of charity case. Laban, his uncle, allowed him to be a shepherd. Laban realized that Jacob had tremendous ability as a shepherd and a manager. He figured out that he could make a lot of money if Jacob were in charge of his flocks. That is how we get to this question: “How much can I pay you to be in charge of my flocks?”
Jacob’s answer [vv. 16-18] is basically one word: Rachel.  He wanted Rachel as his bride, and was willing to work seven years for her. What do we know about Rachel? The text comes right out and says that Rachel was lovely in form and beautiful. The Hebrew word translated “form” is quite literal it means exactly what you think. It is talking about her figure. Rachel had a great figure. She had a beautiful face and was absolutely gorgeous. I want to give credit where credit is due and say that Robert Alter, the great Hebrew literature scholar at Berkeley, has helped me understand this text a lot. Alter says there are all sorts of signals in the text about how over-the-top, intensely lovesick and overwhelmed Jacob is with Rachel. There is the poignant but telling statement where the text says, “Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her (v.20).”
More interesting is the next verse: “Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” Of course that means he wants to have sex with her. Alter says that this statement is so blunt, so graphic, so sexual, so over-the-top and inappropriate and non-customary that, over the centuries, Jewish commentators have had to do all kinds of backpedaling to explain it. But he says it is not that hard to explain the meaning. He says that the narrator is showing us a man driven by and overwhelmed with emotional and sexual longing for one woman.
What is going on here? Jacob’s life was empty. He never had his father’s love. Now he didn’t even have his mother’s love, and he certainly had no sense of God’s love. He had lost everything—no family, no inheritance, no nothing. And then he saw Rachel, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, the most beautiful woman for miles around, and he said to himself, “If I had her, finally, something would be right in my lousy life. If I had her, life would have meaning. If I had her, it would fix things.” If he found his one true love, life would finally be okay.
All the longings of the human heart for significance, for security, and for meaning—he had no other object for them—they were all fixed on Rachel.
Jacob was somewhat unusual for his time. Cultural historians will tell you that in ancient times people didn’t generally marry for love (that is actually a relatively recent phenomenon). They married for status. Nevertheless, he is not rare today.
Ernest Becker was a secular man, an atheist, who won the Pulitzer Prize in the 1970’s for his book The Denial of Death. In the book, he talks about how secular people deal with the fact that they don’t believe in God. He says that one of the main ways secular culture has dealt with the God vacuum is through apocalyptic sex and romance. Our secular culture has loaded its desire for transcendence into romance and love. Talking about the modern secular person, he says:
He still needed to feel heroic, to know that his life mattered in the scheme of things…He still had to merge himself with some higher, self-absorbing meaning, in trust and gratitude…If he no longer had God, how was he to do this? One of the first ways that occurred to him, as [Otto] Rank saw, was the “romantic solution.” …The self-glorification that he needed in the innermost nature he now looked for in the love partner. The love partner becomes the divine ideal within which to fulfill one’s life…
After all, what is it that we want when we elevate the love partner to the position of God? We want redemption—nothing less. We want to be rid of our faults, of our feelings of nothingness. We want to be justified, to know that our creation has not been in vain. … That is exactly what Jacob did. And that is what people are doing all over the place. That is what our culture is begging us to do—to load all of the deepest needs of our hearts for significance, security, and transcendence into romance and love, into finding that one true love. That will fix my lousy life!
Let me tell you something you notice when you live in New York City. It is a tough town; everybody looks so cool and pulled together. But the amount of money people spend on their appearance shows they are desperate. They cannot imagine living without apocalyptic romance and love. The human longing for one true love has always been around, but in our culture now, it has been magnified to an astounding degree. But where does it lead?
 2) The Disillusionment That Comes
Secondly, let’s look at the disillusionment and devastation that almost always accompanies a search for that one true love. We begin with Laban’s plot. Laban knew that Jacob offered to serve seven years for Rachel. He knew what that meant. At that time, when you wanted to marry someone, you paid the father a bride price, and it was somewhere around thirty to forty-five shekels. Robert Alter says that a month’s wages was equal to one and a half shekels, and therefore, you can see that Jacob, right out of the box is absolutely lovesick. He is a horrible bargainer; he is immediately offered three to four times the normal bride price. Laban knew he had him. He knew this man was vulnerable.
Commentators say there are indicators in the text that Laban immediately came up with a plan, realizing he could get even more out of this deal. Notice the conversation between Jacob and Laban. The text says, “Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” (v.18). Look at how Laban responds. He never says, “Yes”! He does not say, “Yes, seven years. It is a deal.” No! Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me” (v.19).
Jacob wants it to be a yes, so he hears a yes. But it is not a yes. Laban is just saying, “Yea, okay, if you want to marry Rachel, it is a good idea.”
Seven years pass; now Jacob says, “Give me my wife.” As customary, there is a great feast. In the middle of the feast, the bride is brought heavily veiled to the groom. She was given to him, and he took her into the tent. He was inebriated, as was also the custom; and in that dark tent, Jacob lay with her. The text tells us, “When morning came, there was Leah!” (v. 25). Jacob looked and discovered that he had married Leah, and had had sex with Leah, and he had consummated the marriage with Leah. Jacob, rightfully angry, goes to Laban and says, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me? (v. 25). Laban replies that it is customary for the older girl to be married before the younger girl.
I must say I have read this text for thirty years or more and I have never understood why Jacob basically says, “Oh, okay.” I have never figured it out. He is obviously angry and the situation is absolutely ridiculous. Why doesn’t Jacob kill him? Why doesn’t he throttle him? Again, Robert Alter is very helpful here. He suggests something that I think is rather profound.
First of all, what Laban literally says is: “It is not the custom here to put the younger before the older.”
Second, Alter points out that when Jacob said, “Why have you deceived me?” the word translated “deceived” is the same Hebrew word that was used in chapter 27 to describe what Jacob did to Isaac. [What goes around comes around; sowing…and reaping]
Alter says (this is surmise, but what surmise!) that it must have occurred to Jacob that Laban had only done to him what he had done to his father. In the dark, he thought he was touching Rachel, as his father in the dark of his blindness had thought he was touching Esau. Alter then quotes an ancient rabbinical commentator who imagines the conversation the next day between Jacob and Leah. Jacob says to Leah: “I called out ‘Rachel’ in the dark and you answered. Why did you do that to me?” And Leah says to him, “Your father called out ‘Esau’ in the dark and you answered. Why did you do that to him?” Fury dies on his lips. Cut to the quick. Suddenly the evil he has done has come to Jacob. And he sees what it is like to be manipulated and deceived, and meekly he picks up and works another seven years.
We leave Jacob in his devastation (I don’t have a better word for it), and then we see what it has done to Leah. Now, who is Leah? We are told that Leah is the older daughter, but the only detail we are given about her is that she has weak eyes. Nobody quite knows what “weak eyes” means; some commentators have assumed it means she has bad eyesight. But the text does not say that Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel could see a long way. Weakness probably means cross-eyed; it could mean something unsightly. But here is the point: Leah was particularly unattractive, and she had to live all of her life in the shadow of her sister who was absolutely stunning.
As a result, Laban knew no one was ever going to marry her or offer any money for her. He wondered how he was going to get rid of her, how was he going to unload her. And then he saw his chance, he saw an opening and he did it. And now the girl that Laban, her father, did not want has been given to a husband who doesn’t want her either. She is the girl nobody wants. Leah has a hollow in her heart every bit as the hollow in Jacob’s heart. Now she begins to do to Jacob what Jacob had done to Rachel and what Isaac had done to Esau. She set her heart on Jacob. You see the evil and the pathology in these families just ricocheting around again and again from generation to generation.
The last verses here are some of the most plaintive [sad] I have ever read in the Bible (most English translations tell you a little about what the words actually mean). [she uses Hebrew words that express her longing for Jacob] Leah gave birth to her first child, a boy and she named him Reuben. Reuben means, “to see” and she thought, “Now maybe my husband will see me; maybe I won’t be invisible anymore.” But she had a second son, and she named him Simeon, which has to do with hearing: “Now maybe my husband will finally listen to me.” But he didn’t. She had a third son and named him Levi, which means “to be attached,” and she said, “Maybe finally my husband’s heart will be attached to me.”
What was she doing? She was trying to get an identity through traditional family values. Having sons, especially in those days, was the best way to do that; but it was not working. She had set her heart, all of her hopes and dreams, on her husband. She thought, “If I have babies and if I have sons and my husband loves me, then finally something will be fixed in my lousy life.” Instead, she was just going down into hell. And the text says—it is sort of like the summary statement—Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. That meant she was condemned every single day. This is what I mean by hell—every single day she was condemned to see the man she most longed for in the arms of the one in whose shadow she had lived all her life. Every day was like another knife in the heart.
All we see here is devastation, right? No, that is actually not the way the text ends. But before we look at how the text ends, let me field two objections and draw two lessons.
The first objection has to do with all these ancient practices. Some people who read the text or listen to a sermon on it are thinking, Why are you telling me this story—men buying and selling women, primogeniture [pry-mo-gen-i-turr], sexual slavery—what is this about? I am offended by this kind of old primitive culture. I know they existed, but thank goodness we don’t live in a culture like that anymore. Why do we have to know about it?
First, it is important to see (and this comes from what Robert Alter says), if you read the book of Genesis, and you think it is condoning primogeniture [the right of succession belonging to the firstborn child], polygamy, and bride purchase—if you think it is condoning these things, you have not yet learned how to read. Because in absolutely every single place where you see polygamy or primogeniture, it always wreaks devastation. It never works out. All you ever see is the misery these patriarchal institutions cause in families. Alter says if you think the book of Genesis is promoting those things, you have no idea what is being said. He says these stories are subversive [seeking or intended to subvert an established system or institution] to all those ancient patriarchal institutions. Just read!
You might also be thinking, Thank goodness we don’t live in a culture in which a woman’s value is based on her looks. Thank goodness we don’t live in a culture where a woman looks in a mirror and says, “Look at me I am a size 4, I can get a rich husband.” Hundreds of years ago, people used to do that but nobody does that anymore. Really?
I am sorry, I shouldn’t be sarcastic, but what in the world makes you think that we are in a less brutal culture? We are and we aren’t. Besides that, what the Bible says about the human heart is always true, it is always abiding. If anything, what we are saying is truer today than it was before.
The second objection people have has to do with the moral of the story. They ask, “Where are all the spiritual heroes in this text? Who am I supposed to be emulating? Who is the good guy? What is the moral of the story? I don’t see any! What is going on here?
The answer is: That is absolutely correct. You are starting to get it. You are starting to get the point of the Bible. What do I mean? The Bible doesn’t give us a god at the top of a moral ladder saying, “Look at the people who have found God through their great performance and their moral record. Be like them!” Of course not! Instead, over and over again, the Bible gives us absolutely weak people who don’t seek the grace they need and who don’t deserve the grace they get.
They don’t appreciate it after they get it, and continue to screw up and abuse it even after they have it. And yet, the grace keeps coming! The Bible is not about a god who gives us accounts or moral heroes. It is about grace, and that is what this story is about. So what do we learn from this story? Is there any moral? I wouldn’t put it that way, but here are two things I would want you to see?
First, we learn that through all of life there runs a ground note of cosmic disappointment. You are never going to lead a wise life, no matter who you are, unless you understand that. Here is Jacob, and he says, “If I can just get Rachel, everything will be okay.” And he goes to bed with someone whom he thinks is Rachel, and then, literally, the Hebrew says, “But in the morning, behold, it was Leah.” What does this show us? Listen, I love Leah; I really do. I have been thinking about this text for a long time, and I love her and I want to protect her, so I hope you don’t think I am being mean to her in what I am trying to say. But I want you to know that—  when you get married, no matter how great you think that marriage is going to be; when you get a career, no matter how great you think your career is going to be; when you go off to seminary, no matter how much you think it is going to make you into a man or a woman of God—in the morning, it is always Leah!You think you are going to bed with Rachel, and it in the morning, it is always Leah. Nobody has ever said this better than C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity:
Most people, if they have really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. I am not now speaking of what would be ordinarily called unsuccessful marriages, or holidays, or learned careers. I am speaking of the best possible ones. There was something we have grasped at, in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in the reality. I think everyone knows what I mean. The souse may be a good spouse, and the hotels and scenery may have been excellent, and chemistry may be a very interesting job: but something has evaded us.
You have got to understand that it is always Leah! Why? Because if you get married, if you have families, if you go into the ministry, and say that “finally this is going to fix my life” (you don’t really think you are doing it until you do it)—those things will never do what you think they will do. In the morning, it is always Leah.
If you get married, and in any way do as Jacob does and put that kind of weight on the person you are marrying, you are going to crush him or her. You are going to kill each other. You are going to think you have gone to bed with Rachel, but you get up and it is Leah. As time goes on, eventually you are going to know that this is the case; that everything disappoints, that there is a note of cosmic disappointment and disillusionment in everything, in all things into which we most put our hopes. When you finally find that out, there are four things you can do.
One, you can blame the things and drop them and go try new ones, better ones. That is the fool’s way.
The second thing you can do is blame yourself and beat yourself up and say, “I have been a failure. I see everybody else happy. I don’t know why I’m not happy. There is something wrong with me.” So you blame yourself and you become a self-hater.
Third, you can blame the world and get cynical and hard. You say, “Curses on the entire opposite sex” or whatever, in which case you dehumanize yourself.
Lastly, you can, as C. S. Lewis says at the end of his great chapter on hope, change the entire focus of your life. He concludes, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world [something supernatural and eternal].
We see that both the liberal mindset and the conservative mindset are wrong when it comes to romance, sex, and love.
Neither serves us well. In fact, you can almost see it in Jacob and Leah. Jacob, with a liberal mindset, is after an apocalyptic hookup. He says, “Give me my wife! I want sex!” he actually says that. On the other hand, here is Leah, and what is she doing? She is the conservative. She is having babies. She is not out having a career. She is trying to find her identity in being a wife—“Now my husband will love me.”
Guess what? They are both wrong. They are not going anywhere. Their lives are a mess. That is the reason why Ernest Becker says so beautifully, “No human relationship can bear the burden of godhood… However much we idolize him [the love partner], he inevitably reflects earthly decay and imperfection. And as he is our ideal measure of value, this imperfection falls back upon us. If your partner is you “All’ then any shortcoming in him becomes a major threat to you.” – Becker, Denial of Death, 166. As Becker said, what we want when we elevate the love partner to the position of God is to be rid of our faults, to be justified to know our existence has not been in vain. We are after redemption. He then adds, “Needless to say, human partners can’t do this.” You might think that is pretty obvious; but we done believe it. We thought the Bible was a source of family values. Well, it is, in a sense, but how realistic it is! So what are we going to do? We are all creatures of our culture. We have this drive in us for one true love. What are we going to do with it? Here is the answer.
3) What We Can Do about This Longing
I want you to see what God does in Leah and for Leah. Leah is the first person to get it; she does begin to see what you are supposed to do.
Look first at what God does in her. As we have said, every time she has a child, she puts all of her hopes in her husband now loving her. And yet, one of the things scholars notice that is very curious is that even though she is clearly making a functional idol out of her husband and her family, she is calling on the Lord. She doesn’t talk about God in some general way or invoke the name of Elohim. She  uses the name Yahweh. In verse 32, it says, “And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD [Yahweh] has looked upon my affliction.” How does she know about Yahweh?
Elohim was the generic word for God back then. All creatures at that time had some general idea of God or gods; they were gods at the top of a ladder, and you had to get up to the top through rituals or through transformations of consciousness or moral performance. Everyone understood God in that sense, but Yahweh was different. Yahweh was the God who came down the ladder, the one who entered into a personal covenantal relationship and intervened to save. Certainly they didn’t know all he was going to do, but Abraham and Isaac knew something about it, and Jacob would have known about it as well. It is interesting that Leah must have learned about Yahweh from Jacob. Even though she is still in the grip of her functional idolatry, somehow she is trying, she is calling out, she is reaching out to a God of grace. She has grasped the concept.
You might say that she has got a theology of sorts, as advanced as it was at the time, but she is having trouble connecting it. She is calling him the Lord, and yet she is treating him like a “god.” Do you follow me?
She is saying, “God can help me save myself through childbearing. God can help me save myself by getting my husband’s love. So she is using God, and yet she not call him God [Elohim]; she calls him Lord [Yahweh]. She is beginning to get it, and what is intriguing is that, at the very end, something happens. The first time she gives birth she says, ‘Now maybe my husband will see me. Now maybe my husband will love me.” And when she gives birth to her third son, she says, “Now maybe my husband will be attached to me.”
Finally, it says that she conceived for the fourth time, and when she gave birth to Judah, she said, “This time!” Isn’t that defiant? It is totally different; no mention of husband, no mention of child. There is some kind of breakthrough. She says, “This time I will praise the LORD.”
At that point, she has finally taken her heart’s deepest hopes off of the old way, off of her husband and her children, and she has put them in the Lord.
Here is what I believe is going on. Jacob and Laban had stolen Leah’s life, but when she stopped giving her heart to a good thing that she had turned into an ultimate thing and gave it to the Lord, she got her life back.
May I respectfully ask you: What good thing in your life are you treating as an ultimate thing?
What do you need to stop giving your heart to if you are going to get your life back?
There are a lot of things I am certain about, but I am absolutely certain that everybody in this room has got something.
Do you know what it is?
If you have no idea, you need to think about it. Something happened to Leah; God did something in her. There was a breakthrough. She began to understand what you are supposed to do with your desire for one true love. She turned her heart toward the only real beauty, the only real lover who can satisfy those cosmic needs.
But we shouldn’t just look at what God did in her. We have to also look for what God has done for her—because God has done something for her. I believe that she had some consciousness, although it might have been semi-consciousness or just intuition, that there was something special about this last child. It would probably be reading too much into the text to say she understood, but I believe she sensed that God had done something for her. And he had.
The writer of Genesis knows what God has done. This child is Judah, and who is Judah? The writer of Genesis tells us in chapter 49 that it is through Judah that Shiloh will come, and it is through Shiloh that the King will come. This is the line! This is the Messianic line! God has come to the girl that nobody wanted, the unloved, and made her the mother of Jesus—not beautiful Rachel, but the homely one, the unwanted one, the unloved one.
Why did God do that? Does he just like the underdog? He did it because of his person and because of his work.
First, because of his person. It says that when the Lord saw Leah was not loved, he loved her. God is saying, “I am the real bridegroom. I am the husband of the husbandless. I am the father of the fatherless.” What does that  mean?
He is attracted to the people that the world is not attracted to. He loves the unwanted. He loves the unattractive. He loves the weak, the ones the world doesn’t want to be like. God says, “If nobody else is going to be the spouse of Leah, I will be her spouse.”
Guess what? It is not just those of you without spouses who need to see God as your ultimate spouse, but those of us with spouses have got to see God as our ultimate spouse as well. You have to demote the person you are married to out of first place in your heart to second place behind God or you will end up killing each other. You will put all of your freight, all the weight of all your hopes, on that person. And of course, they are human beings, they are sinners, just like you are. God says you must see him as what he is: the great bridegroom, the spouse for the spouseless. He is not just a king and we are the subjects; he is not just a shepherd and we are the sheep. He is a husband and we are his lovers. He loves us! He is ravished with us—even those of us whom no one else is ravished with; especially those of us whom no one else is ravished with. That is his person. But that is not all.
The second reason why he goes after Leah and not Rachel, why he makes the girl who nobody wanted into the mother of Jesus, the bearer of the Messianic line, the bearer of salvation to the world, is not just that he likes the underdog, but because that it the gospel.
When God came to earth in Jesus Christ, he was the son of Leah. Oh yes, he was! He became the man nobody wanted. He was born in a manger. He had no beauty that we should desire him. He came to his own and his own received him not. And at the end, nobody wanted him. Everybody abandoned him. Even his Father in heaven didn’t want him. Jesus cried out on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Why did he become Leah’s son? Why did he become the man nobody wanted? For you and for me! Here is the gospel: God did not save us in spite of the weakness that he experienced as a human being but through it.  And you don’t actually get that salvation into your life through strength; it is only for those who admit they are weak. And if you cannot admit that you are a hopeless moral failure and a sinner and that you are absolutely lost and have no hope apart from the sheer grace of God, then you are not weak enough for Leah and her son and the great salvation that God has brought into the world.
God chose Leah because he is saying, “This is how salvation works. This is the upside-down way that my people will live, at least in relationship to the world, when they receive my salvation.”
Now the way up is down. The way to become rich is to give your money away. The way to become rich is to give your money away. The way to power is to serve God, when he came to earth, as the son of Leah. God made Leah, the girl nobody wanted into the mother of Jesus. Why?
Because he chooses the foolish things to shame the wise; he chooses the weak things to shame the strong; he chooses even the things that are not to bring to nothing the things that are, so that no one will boast in his presence (1 Cor. 1:27-29).
In conclusion, let me give you a few practical applications.
First, if there is anyone with a Laban in their life right now, don’t be bitter and don’t beat them up. Don’t let them take advantage of you either if you can; but remember, God can use that person in your life to make you a better person in your life if you don’t become bitter.
Second, are you somebody who has been rejected, betrayed, maybe recently divorced, and you didn’t want to be? Are you a Leah? Remember, God knows what it is like to be rejected. He didn’t just love Leah, but he actually became Leah. He became the son of Leah. He came to his own and his own received him not.
He understands rejection, and if anything, he is, from what we can tell in the Scripture, attracted to people in your condition. It is his nature, so don’t worry. He knows and he cares.
Third, please don’t let marriage throw you. I have been saying this all along: in the morning, it will always be Leah. And if you understand that, it will make some of you less desperate in your marriage-seeking, and it will make some of you less angry at your spouse for his imperfections.
Last, you may believe you have messed up your life; that your life is on plan B. You should have done this or that, and now it is too late. Think about it:
Should Jacob have deceived Isaac and Esau? No.
Should Isaac have shown the favoritism that turned Jacob into a liar? No.
Everybody sinned. There are no excuses. They shouldn’t have done what they did. They blew up their lives. But if those things hadn’t happened, would Jacob have met the love of his life, Rachel?
Jesus Christ, who is a result of Jacob’s having to flee to the other side of the Fertile Crescent, isn’t plan B! You can’t mess up your life. You can’t mess up God’s plan for you. You will find that no matter how much you do to mess it up, all you are doing is fulfilling his destiny for you.
That does not mean what they did was okay. The devastation and the unhappiness and the misery that happens in your life because of your sins are your fault. You are responsible, you shouldn’t do them; and yet, God is going to work through you. Those two things are together. It is an antinomy, a paradox.
Remember, it is never too late for God to work in your life! Never! You can’t put yourself on plan B. Go to him. Start over now. Say it: “This time, no matter what else I have done, I will praise the Lord!”
*[Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart – Psalm 37:4]
The sermon manuscript by Dr. Timothy Keller above is excerpted in parts from the original sermon and from the printed manuscript that can be found in the excellent book of sermons edited by Dr. Dennis E. Johnson entitled: Heralds of the King: Christ-Centered Sermons in the Tradition of Edmund P. Clowney. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009

quarta-feira, abril 20, 2016

Senhor da Festa

E, ao terceiro dia, fizeram-se umas bodas em Caná da Galiléia; e estava ali a mãe de Jesus.
E foi também convidado Jesus e os seus discípulos para as bodas.
E, faltando vinho, a mãe de Jesus lhe disse: Não têm vinho.
Disse-lhe Jesus: Mulher, que tenho eu contigo? Ainda não é chegada a minha hora.
Sua mãe disse aos serventes: Fazei tudo quanto ele vos disser.
E estavam ali postas seis talhas de pedra, para as purificações dos judeus, e em cada uma cabiam dois ou três almudes.
Disse-lhes Jesus: Enchei de água essas talhas. E encheram-nas até em cima.
E disse-lhes: Tirai agora, e levai ao mestre-sala. E levaram.
E, logo que o mestre-sala provou a água feita vinho (não sabendo de onde viera, se bem que o sabiam os serventes que tinham tirado a água), chamou o mestre-sala ao esposo,
E disse-lhe: Todo o homem põe primeiro o vinho bom e, quando já têm bebido bem, então o inferior; mas tu guardaste até agora o bom vinho.
Jesus principiou assim os seus sinais em Caná da Galiléia, e manifestou a sua glória; e os seus discípulos creram nele.
João 2:1-11

Primeiro Milagre

Este milagre foi escolhido por Jesus, para mostrar quem ele é.  Se fosse uma história inventada, o primeiro milagre jamais teria acontecido em uma reunião particular, num casamento. Mas numa praça pública, com grande público e seria algo impressionante.

Por que Jesus escolheu este milagre para ser o primeiro? Podemos pensar em três respostas que encontramos neste milagre:

Quem ele era?
O que ele veio fazer?
O que ele veio oferecer?
Como receber?

E disse-lhes: Tirai agora, e levai ao mestre-sala. E levaram. E, logo que o mestre-sala provou a água feita vinho (não sabendo de onde viera, se bem que o sabiam os serventes que tinham tirado a água), chamou o mestre-sala ao esposo, João 2:8,9

O mestre-sala, ou melhor, o mestre de cerimônias era a pessoa responsável por conduzir a festa de modo que ela fosse uma grande festa.

Por que Jesus faz isso em seu primeiro milagre, cria o melhor vinho para alegrar aquela festa.

Jesus está dizendo que ele é o verdadeiro mestre do banquete, aquele que veio trazer alegria para vida das pessoas.  É aquele que veio trazer alegria para o seu povo, a verdadeira alegria, aquela que ninguém nunca provou antes.

E o Senhor dos Exércitos dará neste monte a todos os povos uma festa com animais gordos, uma festa de vinhos velhos, com tutanos gordos, e com vinhos velhos, bem purificados. E destruirá neste monte a face da cobertura, com que todos os povos andam cobertos, e o véu com que todas as nações se cobrem. Aniquilará a morte para sempre, e assim enxugará o Senhor DEUS as lágrimas de todos os rostos, e tirará o opróbrio do seu povo de toda a terra; porque o SENHOR o disse. Isaías 25:6-8


Disse-lhe Jesus: Mulher, que tenho eu contigo? Ainda não é chegada a minha hora.
João 2:4

Maria chega até Jesus, sabendo que havia acabado o vinho na festa, que aquilo iria trazer vergonha para os noivos.  Maria também sabia que Jesus poderia fazer algo a respeito e do amor de Jesus.

A resposta é Mulher, porque você me envolve nisto, minha hora ainda não chegou.

A primeira vista, pode parecer que Jesus está dizendo que ainda não está pronto para fazer milagres ainda e, de repente, ele muda de idéia. Mas, não estamos falando da gente, estamos falando de Jesus, ele está pensando em outra coisa. Em que?

Quando você é solteiro e vai a um casamento, normalmente, você pensa como será seu casamento.  Então, Jesus está pensando em seu casamento com a sua noiva, a igreja. Em toda a Bíblia, vemos que Deus quer se relacionar conosco como um marido com sua esposa.

No próximo capítulo de João, vemos que ele é o noivo assim também como no livro de Apocalipse.

Quando somos solteiros e pensamos em nosso casamento, ficamos pensativos porque não sabemos como será ou mesmo com quem será. Mas, Jesus não. Tanto é que ele usa “minha hora”.

No evangelho de João, é um termo técnico que mostra a hora de sua morte. Como está em 7:30, 8:20, 12:27, 12:23-24.

“A hora de Jesus, a hora de sua glória, começa no momento da cruz e tem sua exata localização histórica: quando os cordeiros da Páscoa são sacrificados, Jesus derrama seu sangue como o verdadeiro Cordeiro."
Jesus não está falando deste vinho, nem da festa de casamento que ele está. Ele está pensando na maneira como ele irá produzir vinho para seu casamento e como ele irá casar com sua noiva, sua morte.

Neste sentido, vemos que ele manda pegar as talhas de purificação.

E estavam ali postas seis talhas de pedra, para as purificações dos judeus, e em cada uma cabiam dois ou três almudes. João 2:6

Aqui está mais um sinal do que ele irá fazer. As talhas eram usadas para os judeus se lavarem para estar puros diante de Deus.

Se no Egito, Moisés transformou água em sangue como uma maldição. Aqui, Jesus transforma a água em vinho, porque seu sangue será derramado.

Jesus está no meio deste casamento, pensando em seu casamento, olhando para o cálice que irá tomar para que possa receber sua noiva.

Ele é o verdadeiro noivo.


Vimos que Jesus é o verdadeiro Mestre-Sala e o verdadeiro Noivo.

Por que Jesus diz que o cristianismo é uma festa?

Em Mateus 8, vemos que o reino de Deus é uma festa. Em Salmo 34:8,  lemos que provai e vede que o Senhor é bom.

Há uma diferença entre conhecer a graça de Deus e saborear a graça de Deus?  É como saber que o mel é doce e experimentar a doçura do mel.

Somos convidados para um banquete, para experimentar a doçura da graça de Deus. Não somente saber dela. A diferença é como  contar a um cego a diferença entre azul e vermelho? Você não pode explicar a diferença.

Quando começamos a saborear e não somente conhecer a grande diferença é a fome. Quando experimentamos a graça de Deus, isto nos satisfaz, de modo que tudo muda em nós.

Outra coisa é que ele oferece para nós, é um relacionamento de intimidade plena, como um marido que anseia por sua noiva.  Ele está ofertando todo seu amor e toda a sua para sua noiva.


Só podemos receber quando sabemos que não temos nada e recebemos todo o crédito.

Os noivos não providenciaram vinho suficiente, mas no fim da história receberam todo o crédito pelo vinho novo. 

Devemos reconhecer a nossa própria incapacidade de providenciar a nossa alegria por nós mesmos através do arrepedimento e, assim, receber por pura graça, a alegria de Deus em nossa vida.

1. Pequenas Coisas: Muitos discutem por que um casamento e não uma ressurreição ou uma cura, por que algo tão pequena? Jesus mostra sua glória e poder em pequenas coisas na nossa vida, o seu poder cuida das coisas mais pequenas que estão na nossa vida.

2. Submeta-se ao seu tempo:  Jesus não faz o milagre imediatamente, Maria não entende o que está acontecendo, mas ela lembra dos anjos.  E responde, faça tudo que Ele disser. As vezes, queremos as respostas em nosso tempo, mas devemos nos submeter ao tempo divino, crendo que Ele sabe o melhor para nós.

3. Casamento: Alguns querem casar mas não conseguem, outros estão desapontados com seu próprio casamento. O casamento de Jesus conosco nunca vai acontecer em nosso casamento, o casamento perfeito está a nossa espera. Se colocarmos a expectativa em nosso casamento, isso vai nos machucar.

quarta-feira, abril 13, 2016


Gênesis 11:1-9: No mundo todo havia apenas uma língua, um só modo de falar. Saindo os homens do Oriente, encontraram uma planície em Sinear e ali se fixaram. Disseram uns aos outros: "Vamos fazer tijolos e queimá-los bem". Usavam tijolos em lugar de pedras, e piche em vez de argamassa. Depois disseram: "Vamos construir uma cidade, com uma torre que alcance os céus. Assim nosso nome será famoso e não seremos espalhados pela face da terra". O Senhor desceu para ver a cidade e a torre que os homens estavam construindo.  E disse o Senhor: "Eles são um só povo e falam uma só língua, e começaram a construir isso. Em breve nada poderá impedir o que planejam fazer. Venham, desçamos e confundamos a língua que falam, para que não entendam mais uns aos outros". Assim o Senhor os dispersou dali por toda a terra, e pararam de construir a cidade. Por isso foi chamada Babel, porque ali o Senhor confundiu a língua de todo o mundo. Dali o Senhor os espalhou por toda a terra.

Depois do Dilúvio, Deus disse a Noé em Genesis 9:1: “Sede fecundos e multiplicai e enchei a terra”.  No capítulo 10, vemos a descrição de como isto aconteceu, como os povos se multiplicaram.  Nesta multiplicação, vemos aparentemente uma ordem, mas não foi a obediência que gerou isto, e sim, a desobediência.


Em Genesis 11:1-4 lemos:

Agora, toda a terra tinha uma língua e as mesmas palavras. E como as pessoas migraram do leste, acharam um vale na terra de Sinar, e se estabeleceram lá. E disseram uns aos outros: "Vamos, façamos tijolos, e queimá-los completamente." E lhes o tijolo por pedra, eo betume de argamassa. Então eles disseram: "Venha, edifiquemos nós uma cidade e uma torre cujo cume toque nos céus, e façamo-nos um nome para nós mesmos, para que não sejamos dispersos sobre a face de toda a terra."

Vemos que:
1. Eles pretendem construir uma cidade.
2. Eles pretedem construir uma torre que chega aos céus.
3. Eles pretendem construir um nome para si.
4. Eles não queriam ser dispersos pela terra.

Eles estão construindo uma cidade para não serem dispersos e estão fazendo uma torre para construir um nome para si. A cidade e a torre são expressões exteriores de pecados interiores, os dois pecados aqui são o amor ao louvor - fazer um nome para si mesmo- e o amor à segurança- construir uma cidade para não assumir os riscos de encher a terra-.

A vontade de deus para os seres humanos não é que encontremos a nossa alegria sermos elogiados,  mas que a encontremos em conhecer a Deus e o elogiarmos.  Sua vontade não é que encontremos segurança em nossas construções e cidades, mas nele.

Mesmo depois do Dilúvio, os seres humanos continuam como Adão e Eva, escolhendo por si aquilo que é melhor sem ter a vontade de Deus em mente.

O verso 5, diz que Deus desce dos céus para ver a torre. Isso quer dizer por melhor que sejam nossos esforços aos nossos olhos, eles estão muito longe dos céus.

Nos versos 6-8 lemos:

    E disse o Senhor: "Eis que o povo é um, e todos têm uma mesma língua; e isto é apenas o começo do que eles vão fazer. E nada do que se propõem a fazer agora será impossível para eles. Vem, desçamos e confundamos ali a sua língua, para que não entenda um a língua do outro. "Então o Senhor dispersou-os dali sobre a face de toda a terra, e cessaram de edificar a cidade.

Deus começa a dispersar o povo para cumprir seu propósito multiplicando a linguagem. Deus deixa o orgulho que está no coração de cada homem agora impedindo eles de se unir em uma só lingua. 


Por causa do pecado, nossa motivação básica e propósito na vida não é encher a terra toda com a glória de Deus, mas, é fazer um nome para nós mesmos e controlar parte do mundo de Deus para a nossa própria glória.

Como toda a história que podemos ler da perspectiva do conflito entre a semente da serpente e a semente da mulher, também podemos estudar ela como um conflito entre a Cidade dos Homens e a Cidade de Deus.  A Cidade dos Homens é onde vamos para usar o poder da cidade para maximizar o nosso próprio poder, glória e autonomia. A cidade de Deus é um grande sinônimo para o Reino de Deus.

A Torre de Babel - futuramente, Babilônia- representa a tentativa do homem para fazer a vida funcionar aparte de Deus, mas não distante da religião. A torre foi provavelmente  da forma de um "ziggurat"- uma montanha 
• The Tower of Babel (from which we get Babylon) represents man’s attempt to make life work apart from God, but not apart from religion. The tower was probably in the form of a “ziggurat”—an artificial mountain upon which sacrifices were made to any of a number of lesser gods. Everyone is “religious”—that is, all of us are looking for some way in life to find and offer deliverance.  
• That God brought judgment upon the Tower of Babel is an expression of both justice and mercy. It was an act of justice, because God must judge sin. Ultimately it was not upon a tower but a tree that God’s full judgment fell—as Jesus born the full payment for all of the ways we try to make life work apart from God. It was an act of mercy because with the destruction of the Tower of Babel came an even greater diversity among the nations from which an even more profound reconciliation and redemption will be realized. It was also an act of mercy because we get to see that every effort to ignore or repudiate the One true God will ultimately bring frustration and destruction.  
• Acts 2 is a glorious record of the revering of the judgment of the Tower of Babel. In the place of confusion and scattering, there is understanding and reconciliation. When Jesus was exalted through his resurrection and ascension, he poured forth the promised Holy Spirit, by whom the finished work of Jesus is applied to individual hearts and the nations of the world. Pentecost (harvest) is the firstfruits of the final harvest—a preview of coming attractions when the entire family of God will begin their life together in the new heaven and new earth! 
• Until that Day, we are to be “city builders”, offering the firstfruits of “the City whose builder and maker is God”—the New Jerusalem! We do this through the Word and deed ministries of the gospel of God’s grace! 
Questions for Reflection and Discussion 1. What had the most impact on you from this week’s study and today’s time in God’s Word? What was encouraging, convicting, and/or calling for more clarification? 2. What did you learn of personal value from our reflection on Noah’s life and family system? How does his life/family remind us that we are a chosen people, not a choice people? How does Noah’s life potentially free us from performance-based parenting? Indeed, what is the best gift you can offer your children and grandchildren? 3. What was encouraging about our brief look at the table of nations in Genesis 10? Why is it wrong to exalt either Israel or American over Namibia, Somalia, Lichtenstein, or any other nation? How do Genesis 10 and Acts 2 underscore the importance of our constant engagement in world evangelism/missions? 4. What are your take-aways from our reflections on the Tower of Babel? Do any of you have stories of how God showed severe mercy on your own little “tower of Bebel”—that is, he disrupted some self-centered pursuit of yours in order to free you to live for others in a bigger story? 5. Close with a good season of prayer for one another and don’t forget to give a call to your sisters who weren’t here today or haven’t been present for a few weeks. Let them know they are loved and missed!

terça-feira, abril 12, 2016

Lucas 15:1-10 - As Pessoas ao Redor de Jesus

Lucas 15:1-10: Todos os publicanos e "pecadores" estavam se reunindo para ouvi-lo.  Mas os fariseus e os mestres da lei o criticavam: "Este homem recebe pecadores e come com eles". Então Jesus lhes contou esta parábola: "Qual de vocês que, possuindo cem ovelhas, e perdendo uma, não deixa as noventa e nove no campo e vai atrás da ovelha perdida, até encontrá-la? E quando a encontra, coloca-a alegremente sobre os ombros e vai para casa. Ao chegar, reúne seus amigos e vizinhos e diz: ‘Alegrem-se comigo, pois encontrei minha ovelha perdida’. Eu lhes digo que, da mesma forma, haverá mais alegria no céu por um pecador que se arrepende do que por noventa e nove justos que não precisam arrepender-se". "Ou, qual é a mulher que, possuindo dez dracmas e, perdendo uma delas, não acende uma candeia, varre a casa e procura atentamente, até encontrá-la? E quando a encontra, reúne suas amigas e vizinhas e diz: ‘Alegrem-se comigo, pois encontrei minha moeda perdida’. Eu lhes digo que, da mesma forma, há alegria na presença dos anjos de Deus por um pecador que se arrepende".

Lucas 15 começa com os líderes religiosos vendo algo- que Jesus parecia atrair e ser amigo de coletores de impostos e pecadores,  pessoas moralmente reprováveis da sociedade respeitável. Lemos no verso 2 que eles murmuravam uns com os outros sobre isto. Podemos quase imaginar eles dizendo: "Ele recebe pecadores! Este tipo de pessoa nunca vai aos nossos encontros. Isto deve estar acontecendo porque ele deve estar falando o que eles querem ouvir. Ele não está chamando eles ao arrependimento ou à mudança.  Ao ouvir atentamente as três parábolas e, especialmente a última, a tradicionalmente chamada Parábola do Filho Pródigo, Jesus desafia os conceitos fundamentais de seus ouvintes sobre Deus, pecado e salvação. Ele dá a eles um novo modo de pensar sobre Deus e o mundo. Nesta semana vamos olhar para as primeiras duas parábolas. Vamos ver três tipos de personagens: 1. ouvintes indesejosos, 2. coisas perdidas e 3. buscadores alegres.


VERSOS 1-3  
Havia dois grupos de pessoas ao redor de Jesus - coletores de impostos e pecadores e fariseus e doutores da lei.
O grupo religioso está especialmente ofendido que Jesus come com pecadores. A mesa da comunhão era considerada um sinal de aceitação e amizade. Como, eles pensavam, ele pode estar tão aberto para eles? Eles não percebiam eles eram pessoas ruins- que eram o problema real do mundo? (E, então, eles achavam que eram as pessoas boas?
Jesus não dá uma resposta direta e compacta. Ao invés disso, ele responde com três parábolas ou histórias. Isto é importante para entender que estas parábolas não ditas num vácuo. O propósito destas de todas estas parábolas era desafiar o ponto de vista dos fariseus.
Quando nós chegamos a última parábola, vamos entender que ambos os grupos de pessoas- pecadores e pessoas religiosas- estão representados na parábola. Isto é a razão da última história, é a resposta final de Jesus. Mas, isto fica para depois. Por ora, vamos ver como começa o desafio para as atitudes e categorias de pensamento dos fariesus nas duas primeiras histórias.

AS COISAS PERDIDAS- versos 4-5,8.

Primeiro, Jesus confronta suas categorias sobre o pecado.
Na parábola da ovelha perdida, o pastor sai para encontrar a ovelha. A ovelha é um animal estúpido que fica completamente vulnerável quando se perde. Na segunda parábola, o objeto perdido é a moeda, que é mais ainda incapaz de encontrar seu caminho de volta.
Os três objetos perdidos -a ovelha, a moeda e o filho- todos representam pessoas que estão espiritualmente perdidas, longe de Deus. Isto é Jesus caracterizando as pessoas que os fariseus viam como pecadoras.   Eles estão perdidos, ainda que sua perdição seja de modos diferentes. A ovelha se perde através de sua tolice, a moeda por causa de descuido e o filho através de sua obstinação.
Tomados juntos, isto é uma visão multi-dimensional do pecado.
Aqui vai um exemplo, o Sr. Smith tem um problema com raiva abusiva, ele geralmente sai na briga verbal até física com os outros. Por que?
1. O problema é genético? É uma questão de química cerebral? É parte de sua natureza inata, como no exemplo da ovelha?
2. Ou seu problema é resultado de um ambiente ruim? Talvez, é o resultado de pais ruins ou uma vida familiar complicada? Ele seria como a moeda, fui mal cuidado por seus donos?
3. Ou seu problema vem do egoísmo e orgulho, como o filho pródigo? A resposta é 
usualmente, varia de grau, sendo tudo acima.
O pecado é profundamente complexto. Ele está em nossa natureza, é magnificado pelo tratamento pecaminoso e está aprofundado e moldado em nossas próprias escolhas. A visão de Jesus do pecado é mais compreensiva e multi-dimensional que muitos psicólogos, sociólogos e líderes religiosos. É certamente mais compreensiva que a visão defendida pelos fariseus que ouviam a ele.

3. BUSCADORES ALEGRES- veros 6-7,9-10

Segundo, Jesus confronta suas categorias de salvação.
A maioria das pessoas pensa religião como uma busca da humanidade por Deus. Eles gostam de pensar a si mesmos como buscadores espirituais, como inquidores honestos. Olhamos para as religiões do mundo e, enquanto dão alguma direção diferente sobre como fazer isto, eles parecem todas concordar que se nós sinceramente buscarmos a Deus, vamos encontrar ele. Milhões de pessoas do mundo acreditam que crer e obedecer a lei de Deus na Bíblia, podemos encontrar Deus.
O problema é que qualquer um que sente que está suvando e encontrar a Deus vai naturalmente desdenhar aqueles que não estão fazendo nenhum esforço. Eles vão olhar para os pecadores e dizer, eu encontrei Deus! Se você tentar, você consegue. Eu consegui.
Mas, o evangelho bíblico discorda desta ideia. O pastor (com quem Jesus obviamente se identifica) deve ir buscar e salvar aquilo que está perdido ( Lucas 19:10). Assim também, a moeda perdida não podem buscar e achar seu dono, o dono é que encontra moeda.
Aqui está o primeiro golpe contra as categorias do mundo. Toda outra religião diz que podemos buscar e encontrar Deus se nós tentarmos o suficiente. Apenas o Cristianismo diz, não, Deus teve que vir neste mundo para buscar e salvar a gente. Salvação deve ser por sua graça, e não por nosso merecimento.
O fim de cada parábola desafia não apenas as categorias dos fariseus mas seus corações e atitudes. Um tem que aparece nas três parábolas é alegria de encontrar o perdido. Deus não olha para os perdidos espirituais do modo como os fariseus fazem. Porque os farisesus não enxergam a si mesmos como pecadores perdidos salvos pela graça, eles desdém pecadores. Eles se sentem superiores a eles. Mas, o céu se alegra quando pecadores são alcançados e achados. 

Jesus é o grande pastor, mais intencional e alegre que o pastor da parábola. Pois ele sabia que deveria morrer para trazer de volta o perdido para casa, pela alegria que estava proposta ele suportou a cruz e a vergonha (hb 12:22). A alegria que ele tem é fazer a vontade do Pai, e a alegria dele é nos encontrar, e ela era tão grande que desejou suportar a cruz para isto.
Fonte: The People Around Jesus- Timothy Keller 

"Deus não é passivo, não fica esperando que as pessoas se aproximem dele depois de terem a sua vida toda arrumada. Ele é o Deus que busca, que toma a iniciativa de trazer as pessoas de volta, independentemente do estado de perdição em que se encontrem" 

"Poucas coisas são mais importantes do que a percepção que temos de Deus, pois é a partir desse conhecimento que percebemos a nossa própria identidade, a forma como deveríamos pensar e agir, e a forma como o mundo deveria ser. Se Deus é um Deus que busca e se importa, então a sua graça deveria caracterizar a nossa autopercepção e o tratamento que dispensamos às demais pessoas. A consciência de que Deus nos procura gera liberdade e confiança na vida. O fato de sua graça determinar a forma como tratamos as outras pessoas deve fazer com que nos tornemos  preocupados e sensíveis para com o nosso próximo.  Tendemos a conhecer estas verdades de forma abstrata, mas não a traduzimos em prática nem  na maneira como vemos a nós mesmos, nem na forma como tratamos aos outras, tampouco na forma como organizamos a vida da igreja.  Somos mais propensos a considerar que Deus deve ser mais severo e que a nossa tendência seria a de nos preocupar muito mais com as noenta e nove do que com a ovelha extraviada.  Será que as pessoas perdidas, desobedientes e insignificantes sentem que Deus cuida delas e está a procura delas a partir do veem em nós? E será que sentem que nos importamos com elas?

Klyne Snodgrass, Compreendendo todas as parábolas de Jesus, CPAD, p. 171-172  

domingo, abril 03, 2016

A ofensa do Evangelho

A ofensa do Evangelho:
O evangelho, ao falar que a salvação é livre e imerecida, é realmente insultante! Eles nos fala que somos tão fracassados espiritualmente que o único modo de conquistarmos a salvação é por completo presente de Deus. Isto ofende pessoas morais e religiosas que pensam que sua decência dá a elas vantagem sobre pessoas menos morais.

O evangelho é também realmente insultante ao nos contar que Jesus morreu por nós. E isso nos fala que somos tão perversos que só a morte do Filho de Deus pode nos salvar. Isto ofende o culto moderno da auto-expressão e a crença popular de uma bondade inata no homem.

O evangelho, aos nos falar que tentar ser bom e espiritual não é o suficiente insiste que não há ninguém bom, mas apenas que vem a Deus através de Jesus podem ser salvos. Isto ofende a noção moderna que qualquer pessoa boa pode encontrar a Deus a sua maneira. Não gostamos de perder a nossa autonomia.

O evangelho nos fala que a nossa salvação foi conquista pelo sofrimento e serviço de Jesus (não por conquista ou destruição)  e que seguir a Ele significa sofrer e servir com ele. Isto ofende as pessoas que querem salvação para uma vida fácil, isto ofende as pessoas que querem que suas vidas sejam seguras e confortáveis.