In many ways this world tried to take my brother Josh’s life long before he died. Eventually the toxic poisons of this hostile world took his life. Fortunately, someone else claimed Josh’s life before the foundation of the world; his Creator and Saviour, Jesus.
“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by. – Zechariah 3:1–5
The angel of the LORD, a vision of the pre-incarnate Jesus, chose this Joshua from out of the clutches of the enemy whose primary role is to accuse as well as to kill and destroy. Because our Redeemer lives and intercedes for us, no accusation will stand against us. As with Joshua the high priest, so with Joshua my brother, he is one plucked from the fire.
This world is a hard place to live. God did not make it that way. We chose this.
This world can be a very difficult place to live. We are reminded of this now more than ever with the Coronavirus pandemic. But the pandemic of sin has been reigning long before this novel virus. God created a master blueprint of a world made with absolute beauty and perfection. The rivers that Josh loved – God made those. And if God thought the intricacies of nature and geography were important in his perfect created world, I feel like the new Heavens and new Earth will be 100x better. God created man to steward, multiply, and expand this creation but, deceived by the enemy, we instead chose a world where we try to be God, and we live in those results daily.
Thistles and thorns grew up from the ground and man worked to survive by the sweat of his brow. In carpentry it was Josh’s work to make things right, true, and level. But the cuts, jams, splinters, cold nails, broken pieces, skewed cuts, dull blades, and busted tools all reflect a futile strife against thistles and thorns. Jesus himself was the son of a carpenter and experienced the cold nails and splintered wood of the cross in this broken world.
God came down.
Fortunately, this strife doesn’t and won’t last forever. God actually instituted lifespans on mortal life because, 1. the penalty of sin is death, but 2. Because he mercifully will not allow the righteous to endure separation from him forever, nor sin/sinners to contend with him forever.
Isaiah 57:15 says, “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
Healing paralytics, hanging with sinners
But if God took on flesh then what would this actually look like in person? Miraculously, this God whom no one has seen has been revealed in Jesus, the image of the invisible God (John 1:18, Colossians 1:15). Two examples of this Jesus stand out from what I read in Mark chapter 2 on the morning before I heard the news of Josh’s death.
Mark 2:4–5 – And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
This shows me a Jesus who forgives sins not based on merit, righteous effort, or impressive show but on sheer faith and honest desperation.
Mark 2:16–17 – And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
This shows me a Jesus who didn’t come for the self-righteous or religious rule-keepers but for sinners in need of grace.
Do you believe this?
John 11:25–26 – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Such a claim, such a promise as we see from Jesus words in John 11 are hefty words that demand belief. Do you believe? If so,
We have a brother in Heaven.
I conclude with these words from the great preacher, Charles Spurgeon, on what a brother we have in Heaven.
“Oh, what relationship there is between Christ and the believer! The believer can say, “I have a Brother in heaven; I may be poor, but I have a Brother who is rich, and is a King, and will He suffer me to want while He is on His throne? Oh, no! He loves me; He is my Brother.” Believer, wear this blessed thought, like a necklace of diamonds, around the neck of thy memory; put it, as a golden ring, on the finger of recollection, and use it as the King’s own seal, stamping the petitions of thy faith with confidence of success. He is a brother born for adversity, treat Him as such.”