Who is wonderful?

bird-382776_640Mark 13:1: And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”

The disciples of Jesus were judging by sight, but Jesus looking at things with the eyes of the spirit and he told them that soon what they call wonderful will be destroyed (Mark 13:1-2). The disciples were judging by appearance, but not from God’s point of view.

Look at the earth the beautiful everything, but Peter said it is being reserved for fire (1Peter 3:7). Jesus said that we should lay treasure in heaven, where a thief and moth cannot get to (Matthew 6:16-21). And as Christians we get to live for eternity and are not earthbound. But the challenge is to live from that perspective even now.

Jesus said that the life of a man does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses, in earthly attachments (Luke 12:15). A wonderful life is the life lived for God. Jesus is the one called wonderful (Isaiah 9:6) since he lived fully for God in the highest level possible as the word of God.

Paul with all his efforts on the earth, did not die a rich man by earthly standards, but with spiritual riches. To a casual observer, Paul’s life may not be wonderful, he travelled a lot and got beaten a lot, started some churches, won some souls, wrote some epistles. When making a defence Paul however said that he wished everyone was like him a disciple of Jesus, except for the chains (Acts 26:29). His was not an easy life.

He was not even married at the end of his life. His was a life of burdens, being burdened for the church and making the sacrifices necessary to plant churches (2Corinthians 11:18-33). He set for himself the goal of planting churches where the name of Jesus was not mentioned (Romans 15:20).

What about Jesus? Did he live a wonderful life? Not by some people’s standard. He died in his prime, breaking his brother’s heart. He died a most shameful death on the cross, his best friend (Peter) denied him. His was not an end to be envied. Or even his beginning, he was wanted to be killed after he was born. He drew hateful attention.

Both Jesus and Paul after death experienced the better life, because they lived with the hope of a new life after death. Their earthly life was wonderful to the limit that heavenly life would be because of it, and nothing else.

Paul said that if in this world alone we have hope we are of all men most miserable (1Corinthians 15:19). He said that there is a time of judgment coming where we will experience (receive) the rewards for the things we have done in the flesh (2Corinthians 5:10). A wonderful day for those who lived with an eye of being eternally relevant for God, and for those who have lived selfishly, a day of terror.

What is valuable in the sight of men is of no value with God.  A man came to Jesus a rich young ruler, and asked: “what should I do to inherit eternal life (Luke 18:18-27)?”

Jesus told him, obey the commandment, which he said he had fulfilled from his youth. Then Jesus said to him: sell all you have and follow me. But he chose the status quo, against the radical change that following Jesus demand will entail.

The choice was between what he had and what Jesus can give him, between holding on to Jesus or to his physical possession; it was about what he thought was valuable, to save his life or lose  it for Jesus, because of a greater hope in him. It was between the eternal realities that Jesus stands for and the temporary things. He chose the temporal over the eternal.

So Jesus said how difficult for those who have riches to enter into the kingdom, it is more difficult for the rich man to enter into the kingdom than for a camel to pass through the eyes of a needle. The danger lies in the human tendency to trust in “uncertain” riches and not in God (1Timothy 6:17).

Though the blessing of the Lord makes rich and adds no sorrow to it (Proverbs 10:22), after the blessing we can add sorrow to ourselves when we make the blessing an idol, worshipping the created and not the creator , the gift rather than the giver.

Nebuchadnezzar was blessed by God to be the number one king on the earth (Daniel 4), but he ascribed he glory to himself, saying to himself: see my wonderful capital city which I have built for myself. God was quick to respond and a judgment was made that he was going to lose his senses for seven years, would be unable to rule in that kingdom, so that he could be taught a lesson about the supremacy of God.

A worse judgment was meted out to Herod in the book of Acts. After some people proclaimed that he was a god, and he silently agreed, an angel cut him down and right there and then, worms came out of his body (Acts 12:21-23). He died a painful ignoble death, because he attempted to stand in the stead of God. He wrongly thought he was wonderful, but the worms coming out of his body after the angel struck him reveal a different tale.

He did not recognise the greatness of God, and was deceived as to the extent of his own greatness.  What people have, the position they occupy can become their god. Satan thought to elevate himself higher than God and he found himself in the bottomless pit.

Bowing to worship God is what sane people do, since he is the most high and everyone else is not. The moon does not have any separate claim to light (to being wonderful), except in rightly connecting to the sun. God is the self-shining one, dwelling in unapproachable light (1Timothy 6:15-16), and all we do is reflect who he is. Jesus is regarded as great light (Matthew 4:16), wonderful light, and as the sun of righteousness with healing in his wings (Malachi 4:2).

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