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Judas kissed Jesus

“The contrarian in me loves this – a look at Jesus through the eyes of His betrayer. And a look at our own relationship with Jesus through exploring theirs.”

Barnabas Piper, Author of ‘The Pastor’s Kid’, ‘Help My Unbelief’, and ‘The Curious Christian’


The kiss of death

No matter what our culture says and what social mores they’ve come to accept, kissing is intimate. You’re in someone’s space, you’re touching them, and you’re not merely touching, you’re touching lips. Now, I understand that Judas didn’t touch lips with Jesus, but he shared something intimate with the Son of God in order to betray Him.

One of the most intimate of human experiences was used as a signal to turn the Son of God over to His destroyers. This kiss would notify the guards who to mock, ridicule, beat, scourge and nail to a cross. This kiss would bring separation between Jesus and His disciples. This kiss would be the moment Jesus’ entire life has been building up to. This kiss of death, however, would bring God’s plan of redemption to fruition.

This kiss signified death. It signified death for Jesus. It was part of the plan Judas had discussed with the guards. It signified death for Judas. He looked one last time into the eyes of the Man who could save him and simply turned him over. It signified the death of death. Three days later, Christ would roll away the stone and walk away from that tomb. It signified the death of life as we know it. This earth is now closer to its end but the beginning of life eternal is ready for its beginning.

The ‘kiss’ of Christ

The beautiful hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, contains these rich lyrics that reflect upon the Savior on the cross, ‘Did e’er such love and sorrow meet? Or thorns compose so rich a crown?’. Two polar opposites coming together: love and sorrow; sharp thorns and rich crown … kiss and betrayal. These things didn’t belong together, but they were brought together through the man Jesus Christ. Judas disgraced the kiss by using it to betray the Savior of the world. The kiss did not deserve to be disgraced in the manner Judas did. Judas betrayed with a kiss. The greatest traitor in human history kissing the most faithful and trustworthy. Christ, however, has a kiss of His own. What is the ‘kiss’ of Christ? The kiss of Christ is epitomized in the reality of the divine God ‘kissing’ humanity by becoming a human being. Jesus the King became Jesus the babe. The Creator became creature by taking on flesh, leaving His throne and coming to dwell with sinful man. The King of Glory does not belong among prostitutes, tax collectors and self-righteous Pharisees, yet He humbled Himself and dwelt among them.

King of contrasts

What else doesn’t belong together? Enemies adopted as children. You see, God has a way of reconciling things that don’t belong. Judas abused the kiss but God used it to bring His plan of redemption to completion. Christ’s disciples argued about who was the greatest, but Christ became the least so we could inherit the Kingdom. Leaders don’t serve and servants don’t lead, but Jesus led by serving, reconciling what doesn’t belong together. Giving away something is losing, but Christ reconciled giving as receiving.

Any one of us can see a lot of ourselves in Judas. He was an idolater and so are we. He feared man and so do we. He lacked faith and so do we. He sinned against Jesus and so do we. We should be humbled as we survey the life of Judas and realize our lives are often anything but faithful. However, we serve a Savior of reconciliation and He’s the faithful one that reconciles the faithless to Himself.


The above extract is from John Perritt’s new book, published with Christian Focus, What Would Judas Do?: Understanding faith through the most famous of the faithless. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

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Ulrich Zwingli – The Shepherd Warrior

Our guest post for today comes from William Boekestein, author of one of our latest titles in the popular CF4K Trailblazers series. The Trailblazers series, geared for tweens through to teens, feature some of the great Christian men and women from across history in these exciting biographies. 

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In front of me sat a few dozen prisoners including men who were serving life sentences for murder. One of the men in the room was in his seventies. Others were in their twenties. The men had lived hard lives. They had caused deep pain and experienced crushing disappointment.

From a homemade lectern in the front of the room I began to read—a story for children ages 8-14—about a man who lived and died 500 years ago.

Perhaps most of us in that prison room had misgivings when I started to story-tell. But as the chapter came to life the men seemed to lean into the story. Some fought back tears. Others seemed engrossed in thought.

These convicted men grasped that the hero “had the sentence of death” in himself (2 Cor. 1:9). He was heading for war. He had already said tearful goodbyes to his wife and small children. He steeled himself to use courageously what was left of his time on earth. His story touched theirs.

In the end, the protagonist struggled to stay alive amidst “blasting muskets, groaning men, screaming horses, mud-slurping boots tromping through the marsh, pain [and] loss of blood.” After echoing Jesus’ words, “They can kill the body, but not the soul,” he slumped over dead.

The story was over.

I closed the session in prayer, but only after a protracted pause. The only sound came from a few whirring box fans swirling the heavy heat around the room. Perhaps the pause should have been longer. Stories can be like Paul Simon’s visions that are planted in our brains and linger in the sound of silence.

But the story wasn’t really over. William Faulkner said, “The past is never deadIt’s not even past.” Whenever we hear a good story it mingles with our present experience. As the reader revives the story, the story revives the reader. It was for this reason that, when invited to speak to this group of several-dozen convicts, I chose to read a chapter from a juvenile biography. I chose this story because I wrote it. Maybe it is better say, it was a story that I was privileged to put my name on after it came alive to me. It had become a story that I wanted to see reborn into the imaginations of a group of men that needed a story.

The listeners were students in a reformed Bible seminary that holds classes within their penitentiary. While serving long sentences they are trying to live for Jesus and serve as restoring instruments in the hands of their heavenly Father. I was invited to speak to them about the life of reformer Ulrich Zwingli (1484–1531). For the first half of the class—before closing with the story—I lectured. I told them facts, hopefully meaningful facts.

As a child, Ulrich Zwingli worked hard to sharpen his mind and fuel his imagination. As a young pastor, he labored tirelessly to promote biblical change in the churches of Switzerland, his beloved homeland. In the pulpit, he opened God’s word, showing Christ’s beauty to everyone who had ears to hear. As a churchman, Zwingli strove to strengthen the ties between reform-minded people, including Martin Luther. In the home, he fervently loved his wife and children. In broader Swiss society, he was both wildly popular and passionately hated. In Zwingli’s world people of unlike faith could not conceive of coexisting peacefully. Switzerland became divided, Catholics against Protestants. By the 1530s, Zwingli’s State of Zurich had become largely isolated from the rest of the mostly Catholic confederacy. In 1531, a sort of cold war flared into a heated civil conflict. Serving as a citizen-chaplain, Zwingli was killed on October 11.

These facts are important. But when facts are woven into a story they stop merely telling and begin showing. They help us feel and dream. They can bolster courage and strengthen hope. Stories can remind us that the strands of our lives are woven into a far grander tapestry than we sometimes realize.

Prisoners serving life sentences need facts. They need to be able to live and die standing on the granite-like facts of Jesus’ death and resurrection. But even these pivotal facts are told in a story, the greatest story. All redemptive stories are tributaries that swirl us into the roaring river of God’s grand plot.

Prisoners need stories. So do you. Maybe you need this one.

William Boekestein pastors Immanuel Fellowship Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His most recent book is Shepherd Warrior, a lively retelling of the life of Ulrich Zwingli.

William Boekestein

Where to Buy:

Ulrich Zwingli: Shepherd Warrior by William Boekestein is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

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Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past – Robert L. Plummer

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A few years ago, in doing genealogical research, I acquired a copy of a single handwritten page by my great-great grandfather’s brother, Rev. James Ransom Plummer, Jr. (a Methodist minister), on the eve of his wedding to Sarah Ann Elizabeth Ford.   The page reads:

The evening before marriage, May 8th 1851

The last night of my single life has come.  Oh, with what intense interest have I looked forward to this hour! And, while many . . . very many . . . would spend this night in wild revelry and frantic glee, be it mine in sweet tranquility to hold communion with the Great and Good Being above, who has crowned my life with the highest of earthly bliss. And here would I record, in truthful words, the wondrous  kindness of our Heavenly Father, He, in whose hands are the issues of life, has granted me the affections of an earthly angel, and already virtually committed to my charge, under him, this gentle being, to protect and cherish through life’s rough way. She is all I would have her to be, pure as the snow that lies unthawed upon Everest’s towering summit, beautiful as the opening bloom radiant with the first kiss of summer sun and glittering with the dew drops of morning, gentle as a fondling lamb, with a mind free and untrammeled, capable of deep thoughts and investigation, pious like one who loves God and aspires to a home where angels sing and the redeemed live. Oh, how shall I be grateful enough for this loved one? And while I feel deeply the responsibility of this precious commitment, I humbly implore of him, who all my life long has been unremitting in his kindness, that he would vouchsafe unto me wisdom and grace, that she who has plighted her faith in truthful confidence to me, may be loved and cherished through life and that together we may live, in the home of the saved, in companionship in the skies.

Written by Jas. R. Plummer the evening before he married S.A.E. Ford

Mother and Father of Martha Louetta Plummer (Mrs. B. F. Haynes)

When I consider Rev. Plummer’s tenderness towards his wife and his joyful commitment to purity, that legacy propels me to treat my wife with gentle and unwavering love.

Being drawn to the example of my ancestor reminded me of a newspaper article I read a few years ago.  According to the article, sociological research indicates that it is beneficial for children to know their parents’ and grandparents’ stories of hardship.  Somehow these familial stories strengthen young travelers for the trials they face in their own life journeys.

In doing research for Held in Honor: Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past, my co-author Matt Haste and I read through scores of marital reflections from Ignatius of Antioch (1st century) to Elisabeth Elliot (20th century). I found myself embracing anew the truths about the challenges, joys, and God-ordained purposes of marriage from these spiritual fathers and mothers in the faith. They loved unto death, and I can do the same. They persevered through trial, and I can do the same.  They rejoiced in tenderness over their beloved, and I can do the same.  For the glory of God, empowered by his Spirit, they held marriage in honor, recognizing it as a holy institution that points to the greater reality of Christ’s love for the church. I can do the same.  And, you can too.

About The Author:

Robert L. Plummer is professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky and serves as an elder at Sojourn Community Church. Find out a bit more about the man ‘Behind the Bowtie’!

 

Where to Buy:
Held in Honor is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

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Author Interview – Melissa B. Kruger

Melissa B. KrugerMelissa B. Kruger is author of The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World (Christian Focus, 2012). We’re excited to welcome her to the Christian Focus Booknotes blog for this brief interview.

Q: Melissa, welcome to the Christian Focus Booknotes blog. Please tell our readers about yourself.

A: I grew up in a wonderful family in North Carolina. I was blessed to grow up in church and was familiar with Christian traditions and the Bible. However, it was during my freshman year of high school that I came to truly understand the gospel and my need for Christ through the ministry of FCA. From that point on, I was always involved in Christian ministries, as well as encouraged to grow personally through daily time in God’s word and prayer. During my years in college at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, I met my husband, Michael Kruger. He is currently a professor of New Testament, as well as Academic Dean, at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. We also both work part time at Uptown Church. While we both love our jobs and the opportunity to serve in the church, our favorite moments are spent raising our three children, Emma (11), John (8) and Kate (5).

Q: How’d you get started in writing?

A: Truthfully, I’ve never thought of myself as a “writer.” In fact, my undergraduate degree at UNC-Chapel Hill was in mathematics. However, as I look back, I realize that two things led to my interest in writing. First, my mother instilled in me a love for reading. All throughout my childhood, I would read everything I could get into my hands. Even now, I always have something to read – I feel a bit lost if I don’t have a book with me. Second, for the past twenty-five years I have devoted myself to regular journaling. Writing out my daily concerns, requests, and prayers helps me to focus in the midst of a busy life. This naturally led to writing on scriptural themes and eventually I began to write Bible studies for women.

Q: What’s the story behind your recent book The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World?

A: A number of years ago, while doing a study on the book of Joshua, I noticed the pattern of “see, covet, take and hide” in Achan’s story. As I began to explore this pattern in Scripture, I realized that it goes all the way back to the original sin of Eve in the garden. It became clear that the sin of “coveting” was no minor problem, but one that was at the core of our rebellion against God. But, this issue of coveting was not just an academic one—it was one I faced in my own life as I wrestled with unmet expectations, difficulties and trials. The breakthrough came when I began to realize that God’s commands for thanksgiving and joy were rooted in the Lord’s sovereignty and goodness, not the specific circumstances of my life. My problem was a failure to believe something, not a failure to possess something. I found that coveting was most often a right desire for a good thing that had soured in the waiting process. This awareness drove me deep into God’s word in search of Biblical ways to combat covetous tendencies. Five years after that initial study on the book of Joshua, The Envy of Eve was complete.

Q: What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

A: The central idea that I hope my readers will take away from The Envy of Eve is that discontentment is not a circumstantial problem, but a heart problem. Our lack of joy, impatience, discontentment, or irritability have much more to do with a failure to believe something about the Lord than with what is actually happening on a particular day. Rather than living life always wondering, “Why isn’t God giving me what I desire?”, my hope is that we would start asking, “What does God desire of me as I walk through the circumstances He has providentially planned for me today?” Truthfully, it changes everything to believe that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are available for each day as we abide in Jesus and walk by His Spirit.

Q: Is The Envy of Eve for women only or will men find something of value in your book as well?

A: When we consider that the command against coveting is found within the 10 Commandments, we realize that it is clearly an equal opportunity sin struggle for both men and women! In fact, I think it is one of the most important commandments because it speaks to what is happening inside our hearts, not just our external actions. If anyone thought they had fulfilled the law by their outward actions, this command digs deep into the soul and exposes one’s need for the gospel in a particular way. While the examples I use are often directed towards women, the Biblical stories that expose prevalence of this sin pattern are beneficial for both men and women to consider. God’s truths are relevant for everyone, even if the particular desires they battle against are different. We can all benefit from considering carefully what we desire and the effects that might have upon ourselves, the church, and the world around us.

Where to Buy:
The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World by Melissa B. Kruger Buy Now:

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Author Profile: Cecil Bewes

The story of author Cecil Bewes begins with the conversion of his father – a tale in its own right:

In 1882, Moody, 45, conducted a whirlwind campaign through England. On Tuesday evening, September 26, he preached from this verse. In the audience, 14-year-old Tommy Bewes, youngest of 12 children in a lawyer’s family, sat in rapt attention. Three days later, Tommy wrote to his sister, Evie:

“I am writing to tell you some good news which you will be glad to hear. I went to one of Moody’s and Sankey’s meetings on Tuesday & there I was saved. He spoke from the ninth verse of the third of Genesis. It is, ‘Where art thou?’ He said that was the first question God ever asked man in the Bible, and that is the first question that people ought to ask themselves….”

Tommy’s life was permanently changed, and he later became a prominent evangelical clergyman. His son, Cecil, by and by, was also led into ministry and spent over 20 years in missionary service in Kenya before returning to head up England’s largest missionary society. Cecil, in turn, had four children. One became a missionary surgeon in Africa. Another, a Christian businessman in London. A daughter became wife of an evangelical clergyman. And the fourth, Richard Bewes, was vicar of All Souls’ Church in London and a chair of the Evangelical Council in the Church of England. Altogether, over 100 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren flow from Tommy’s life, almost all of them involved In some aspect of Christian service.

Cecil Bewes was a missionary for 20 years in Kenya. He went on to oversee the Church Missionary Society. He was also closely involved in the annual Keswick Convention.

Cecil’s most well known book is a collection of letters he wrote to his teen-age granddaughter as she was recovering from illness. This collection of letters was recently re-released by Christian Focus Publications as Letters of Love (Daily Readings).

Christian Focus Title by Cecil Bewes:

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Author Profile – Alec Motyer

Dr. Alec Motyer is a well-known Bible expositor and from an early age has had a love for studying God’s Word. He was formerly principal of Trinity College, Bristol.  The following excerpt from an interview Alec did for The Presbyterian Layman back in May 2000 describes how he was introduced to the word of God and his love for the scriptures:

“Now retired as principal of Trinity College in Bristol, England, Motyer has spent his professional career studying the Bible. However, he learned to love the Scriptures at his grandmother’s knee in Ireland. “Grandma was, in worldly terms, a comparatively uneducated lady,” Motyer says, “but she was a great Bible woman. Biblical studies have simply confirmed that which I learned from Grandma – that the Bible is the Word of God – and made it a coherently held position.”

He adds, “I had a conversion experience when I was 15, but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love the Word of God.”

That love is quickly evident. Motyer’s speech is filled with Biblical references and allusions. It takes only a little longer to realize that he has understated his scholarly abilities, so lightly does he wear his considerable learning. Having served the Church as both pastor and professor, much of Motyer’s academic life has been devoted to the study of the Old Testament, particularly Isaiah. A widely respected scholar who now spends his time lecturing and writing…”

The full interview is available here: LINK.  Readers can also connect with Alec in this brief video, where he shares insights into Handel’s interpretation of Isaiah 53 in The Messiah.

Books by Alec Motyer:

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Author Profile: Vance Christie

Vance Christie has served as pastor of the Aurora Evangelical Free Church since 1997. Prior to that he pastored churches in Iowa and Michigan. He has a M.Div. degree from Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. Pastor Vance and his wife, Leeta, have been married twenty-eight years and have three daughters-Jenni, Alli and Katie.

In addition to pastoring, the Lord has blessed Pastor Vance in developing a sideline writing ministry. He is best known for his vivid retelling of missionary stories and has now authored at least 8 Christian biographies.

You can connect with Vance Christie via social media through his LinkedIn profile, and you can see a listing of all eight of his books here.

Christian Focus Titles by Vance Christie:

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Author Profile: Alan Stibbs

“No one in his generation did more to help people, and especially students, to understand the Bible, to love the Bible and to obey it. His memorial is in many lives and in many pulpits throughout the world.”

So declared the Inter-Varsity Fellowship annual report on the death in July 1971 of Alan Stibbs who, for more than thirty years, exercised an influential ministry as a Bible expositor and cogent teacher of Christian doctrine.

After returning from the mission field in China in the mid-1930s, he played a significant part in the resurgence of conservative evangelicalism in Britain after World War Two – alongside other leaders like Martyn Lloyd-Jones and John Stott.

As vice principal of Oak Hill College in north London, Stibbs aimed to revive biblical preaching and biblical thinking across the country. His powerful sermons made a profound impact upon countless congregations and his pithy writings helped to stimulate the rebirth of a robust evangelical theology.

Evangelical leader John Stott said of him, “Alan Stibbs was a voice crying in the wilderness, a lonely evangelical scholar in a sea of liberalism. We owe him much.” And Dr. J.I. Packer thought that, “Alan Stibbs was for many years the best theological mind serving British evangelicals….” Even after his death, Stibbs continues to influence the church at large through his writings.

Christian Focus Titles by Alan Stibbs:
 

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Author Profile: Doraine Bennett

Doraine Bennett has a Bachelor of Arts in English/Professional Writing from Columbus State University. She has taught classes and workshops for children and adults on literature, grammar, creative writing, poetry and teaching writing. She also home-schooled her kids for 13 years.

She is the editor of the Infantry Bugler, a quarterly magazine of the National Infantry Association as well as a sales representative for Delaney Educational Enterprises.

Doraine has had articles for children or about writing for children published in such magazines as Junior Shooters, Once Upon a Time, and Southern Breeze News. And she has had poetry in The Arden, Authorme.com, Innisfree Poetry Journal, and the Birmingham Arts Journal.

She has written nearly 20 nonfiction books for children, with her most recent book being published by Christian Focus for Kids.

Doraine and her husband, Cliff, live in Columbus, Georgia in a little house with a creek in the back yard and lots of flowers. They have four children, and five grandchildren.

When she’s not writing, Doraine helps with her husband’s counseling practice and is also involved in women’s Bible studies. She enjoys gardening and reading as well as spending time with her grandchildren!

You can learn more about Doraine through her website, her Amazon author page, or connect with her through her various social media channels:

Christian Focus Title by Doraine Bennett:

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Author Profile: Christopher Ash

Christopher Ash is the Director of the Cornhill Training Course, a two-year course from The Proclamation Trust, designed to provide Bible-handling and practical ministry skills to those exploring their future role in Christian work. Ash studied at Wycliffe Hall before joining the staff of the Round Church, Cambridge. From there he led a church plant, where he was vicar of All Saints, Little Shelford for seven years. He is now in his 8th year as Director of PT Cornhill in London. Christopher is married to Carolyn, who is also part of the Cornhill team, and they have three sons and a daughter.

Christopher Ash is the author of at least ten books, several of which are listed here. His five Christian Focus titles are pictured below.

Several of Christopher Ash’s sermons are available at The Gospel Coalition, or through The Proclamation Trust. Christopher also blogs occasionally at The Proclamation Trust blog.

Christian Focus Titles by Christopher Ash:


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