Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hymn Based on Luke 5:29-6:11---Jesus Fulfills the Sabbath

This hymn brings together a number of threads we find in Luke 5:29-6:11: 

In verse one Jesus' fulfillment of the Sabbath is the theme.  The church now worships on Sunday, the eschatological eighth day, for Jesus has fulfilled the Sabbath, so that a new age is already here, even as we anticipate its consummation. 

By fulfilling all righteousness, Jesus kept the Sabbath perfectly, for the Sabbath was the sign of God's likeness stamped in the midst of his covenant/Ten Commandments (Ex. 31:12-17).  In ancient near eastern treaties, it was common for kings to stamp their likeness in the midst of the covenantal stipulations.  This is what the Lord did in the Ten Commandments with the Sabbath command, which called on men to imitate him.  Jesus did this perfectly, and his heart of love for God and man is in great contrast to the anger and rage of the Pharisees against God and man in Luke 6:11.  Verse 2 is getting at this truth.

Verse 3 is based on the new garments Jesus speaks of in 5:36.  Justification by faith alone is the complete opposite of the merit oriented religion of the Pharisees.  Justification of the ungodly is the opposite of all earthly religions.  God can only justify the wicked, because there are no other kinds of people to be found! 

Justification is God's declaration that in Christ believing sinners are righteous.  This declaration or verdict of righteousness is the basis for our inward healing, as our souls find fellowship with the Lord.  Fellowship with the Father and the Son is the reality of our lives, but this fellowship is especially found in the Lord's Supper.  There are Eucharistic echoes in the mention of "new wine" in Luke 5:38 and the mention of "the bread of the Presence" in Luke 6:4.  Verses 4 and 5 of the hymn are about the supernatural sustenance we receive in the Lord's Supper.

Verse 6 could be misunderstood with the use of the phrase "medicine of grace," for grace is not a substance but the favor of God Jesus earned for us through his death and resurrection.  I am using "medicine" as a metaphor for the objective gospel of forgiveness and justification Jesus merited on our behalf.  When repentant and believing souls receive this forgiveness and justification, the healing process is begun, for fellowship with the Father and the Son through the Spirit is now ours.

The Son of Man Our Sabbath Lord

To the tune: DUNDEE (click on Thou Art the Way; to Thee Alone 355). Based on Luke 5:29-6:11. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
The Son of Man our Sabbath Lord
has brought in the new age.
Fulfilling righteousness for us,
He brings the Sabbath day.

v. 2
O Perfect Image, Jesus Christ,
restoring men in grace.
His heart was filled with love for God,
while Pharisees did rage.

v. 3
He clothes us in His righteousness,
new garments does He give.
Declares us righteous in Himself,
so in Him we might live.

v. 4
He gives new wine for us to drink,
His presence makes us glad.
Our risen Lord now comes to us,
how can our hearts be sad?

v. 5
And with the wine He gives us bread
along the pilgrim way.
The heav’nly food sustains our lives,
for Jesus it conveys.

v. 6
All praise to Him who heals our souls
with medicine of grace.
The Lord forgives and justifies,
repentant souls He saves.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hymn Based on Luke 5:27-38---The Joy of Fellowship

O Father, In Your Mercy

To the tune: MUNICH. Based on Luke 5:27-38. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
O Father, in Your mercy,
You choose us in Your Son.
For there is no one righteous,
no, not a single one.
We seek and live for pleasure,
we glorify ourselves.
The fear of God far from us,
in us there is no health.

v. 2
So make us well, dear Father,
and find us by Your Son.
In Him is life and blessing,
in Him is sin undone.
So call us by Your gospel
to fellowship with You,
forgiven, cleansed and happy
in Christ to live anew.

v. 3
For joy is found in Jesus,
in Him we live and feast.
The Bread of God from heaven,
in Him we live and eat.
O Jesus, you’re our Bridegroom,
to You our faith unites.
The Glory of the Father,
in whom our soul delights.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hymn Based on Luke 5:17-26---The Gospel Can Change Our Perspective!

In this passage, four friends go to incredible lengths to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus. They believed that Jesus could heal their friend. But Jesus’ initial words are probably not what they wanted to hear, "Man, your sins are forgiven you." The four friends wanted physical healing, but Jesus gave their friend forgiveness of sins. Philip Ryken wisely comments on Jesus’ lack of cooperation at this point:

“But Jesus knew what he was doing. He wanted to give this man a greater gift, for
however terrible it is to be paralyzed, it is far worse to suffer the spiritual paralysis of sin. So when Jesus saw this man’s faith, he forgave him all his sins. Donald Hagner comments: ‘The point of this narrative is that the problem of sin, though not as apparent to the eye as paralysis, is . . . the fundamental problem of humanity that Jesus has come to counteract. Compared to the healings, the forgiveness of sins is by far the greater gift Jesus has brought in his ministry.’”
If we really catch what our Lord is teaching us here, it will move us away from the nihilistic materialism of our age that seems to believe that the worst thing that can befall someone is to face sickness and death in this life. The Bible’s perspective is different. The worst thing is to not know the favor and forgiveness of God. The worst thing is to be under the Lord’s just judgment and wrath because of unrepentant sin. And, for the Christian, death is no longer an insurmountable enemy, for through his death Jesus has transformed our deaths into an entrance into eternal life. The gospel truly can change our perspective!

The Greatest Gift that Is Received

To the tune: ST. PETER. Based on  Luke 5:17-26. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
The greatest gift that is received:
forgiveness of our sin.
For men in sin are born, conceived,
infected deep within.

v. 2
Much greater is forgiveness than
the gift of perfect health.
For peace and favor from the Lord
brings true and lasting wealth.

v. 3
For Jesus’ death has changed our deaths,
if to Him we belong.
Our death’s an entrance into life,
to ever joyful song.

v. 4
Our temporary suff’rings here,
they simply can’t compare,
to all the glory with our Lord
that with Him we will share.

v. 5
So don’t lose heart when suffering,
hear Jesus’ word to you.
For though your body wastes away,
your inner self’s renewed.

v. 6
What can compare to knowing Christ,
forgiven of your sin?
This pilgrim life will pass us soon,
we’ll rise to live with Him.

v. 7
One day we’ll see Him face to face,
and we’ll be satisfied.
Our ravished hearts will ever praise
our Lord who for us died.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hymn Based on Luke 5:12-16---The Great Exchange

Leprosy is a picture of our sin. Like leprosy, sin defiles us, making us unclean in God’s sight. Therefore, like leprosy, sin separates us from the holy, life-giving presence of the Lord and fellowship with the Lord’s people. The good news of the gospel is the compassion of the Father which moved him to send his Son, so that through his atoning death we might be clean once again. This cleansing comes from the great exchange that took place at the cross, for there our sin and uncleanness was laid on Jesus, so that Christ’s righteousness and purity might be laid on us. The Bible calls this great exchange, justification, and it is the basis for our right standing before a just and holy God.

Verse 2 emphasizes justification and verse 3 emphasizes sanctification. Justification is the objective, instantaneous work that Jesus accomplished outside of us, and we accept for ourselves by faith. Sanctification is that inward, life-long work the Spirit does in our hearts to change our nature. Justification is complete in this life, and we will never be more justified or accepted by the Father than we are now if we are in Christ. But sanctification is always incomplete in this life, and will only be completed and perfected when we enter our Lord’s presence in heaven.

One Day to Jesus Came a Man

To the tune: VOX DILECTI. Based on Luke 5:12-16. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
One day to Jesus came a man,
was full of leprosy.
He said to Jesus, “If you will,
Lord, you can make me clean.”
So Jesus reached to touch the man,
He said, “I will; be clean.”
Compassion moved our Lord to work,
His gracious heart was seen.

v. 2
Just like the leper we’re unclean,
for sin’s a vile disease;
distorting inwardly our hearts,
so God we cannot please.
But favor Jesus earned for us,
on Him our sin was laid,
His righteousness a gift to us:
it is the great exchange.

v. 3
Sin separates us from the Lord
to live apart from Him;
cut off from Christ the Source of life,
we’re dying in our sin.
O Jesus, touch us with Your hand,
and cleanse our hearts within,
and by Your Spirit in our hearts,
Your life in us begin.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Hymn Based on Luke 5:1-11---Seeing His Glory and Our Sin

When we catch a glimpse of the glory of the Lord, we finally begin to see our own sinful condition. Just like Isaiah, who saw the glory of the King and immediately confessed that he was a man of unclean lips dwelling among an unclean people, so Peter sees the weight of Christ’s glory and immediately feels the weight of his own sin.

Peter was right in confessing his sinfulness, but he was wrong in asking the Lord to depart from him. Instead, we are to live in Christ, for Jesus shed his blood so that we might be cleansed and enabled to live in his presence and the presence of his Father through the Holy Spirit. Instead of departing from Jesus, let us draw near to Him, for “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7-9).

Crowds Were Pressing In on Jesus

To the tune: STUTTGART. Based on Luke 5:1-11. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
Crowds were pressing in on Jesus,
there to hear the Word He taught.
When He finished, called to Simon:
Cast your nets, fish will be caught.

v. 2
Jesus, Lord, controlling nature,
even fish at His command.
Peter saw the Lord’s great glory,
and himself a sinful man.

v. 3
In Christ’s glory brightly shining,
sinners sense the weight of sin;
tempted to run far from Jesus,
when we ought to hide in Him.

v. 4
Lord, receive us, sinners needy,
for You died upon the tree;
shed Your blood for our atonement,
so that we might live with Thee.

v. 5
Show, O Christ, to us Your glory,
open eyes that cannot see.
Show to us Your justice, mercy,
that we might live near to Thee.

IO 81: Cheating Disorder

IO 81: Cheating Disorder

Another great article by Peter Jones.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hymn Based on Luke 4:31-44---A Hymn of Illumination

Luke 4:31-44 gives us one remarkable day in the ministry of Jesus Christ. On a single Sabbath day, Jesus shows his authority over evil spiritual powers and human disease. He is Lord over all things whether visible or invisible, in both the physical and spiritual realms. And, he exercises his power effortlessly with his word. No wonder the people noticed the authority of his word!

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). The authority of his word remains the same. The hymn below focuses on the great value and authority of Christ’s Word for us today.

Verse one recognizes the important truth that by faith we gather around Christ in heaven to hear his Word. Worship in the church is a heavenly reality. Just as the Lord redeemed Israel and brought them to Mt. Sinai to hear his Word, so the Lord Jesus has redeemed us and brought us to the heavenly Mt. Zion to hear his Word. The value of the Word of God to human beings is much greater than physical food, for the Word of Christ gives and sustains eternal life, not just earthly life.

Verse two asks the Lord to apply his Word to our hearts and join us ever closer to him in his death and resurrection. Our great privilege as believers is that we are baptized into Christ’s story---brought under the waters of death so that we might be raised in Christ to newness of life. Dying to sin and self and living unto and with the resurrected Christ is the pattern of our Christian lives.

Verse 3 reminds us of the power and authority of Jesus’ Word. Jesus commanded evil spirits with a mere word. Should we not, then, tremble before that Word, asking for a contrite and humble heart?

Verse 4 reminds us that we hear Christ’s voice each Lord’s Day as the Word is read and preached in our midst. We confess that we do not hear his Word as we ought and ask for a heart that truly esteems and cherishes the Word of God.

Teach Us, Lord, For We Have Come

To the tune: LIEBSTER JESU WIR SIND HIER (click on Dearest Jesus, We Are Here, 300). Based on Luke 4:31-44. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
Teach us, Lord, for we have come,
gathered to Your throne in heaven,
not by works that we have done,
but by grace that You have given.
Man lives not by bread that’s earthly,
teach us by Your Word most holy.

v. 2
Resurrected Lord on high,
Yours the kingdom, pow’r and glory.
To our hearts Your Word apply,
join us to Your saving story.
In Your death and in Your rising,
we would ever be abiding.

v. 3
By Your Word, Lord, You command,
You are God, there is no other.
Evil spirits cannot stand,
You’re our Rock and Strong Redeemer.
At Your Word, O Christ, we tremble,
make us contrite, make us humble.

v. 4
As we hear Your Word today,
as its read and preached among us.
Lord, Your voice would we obey,
may Your Spirit work within us.
We confess we’re slow and sluggish,
cause our hearts Your Word to cherish.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Spiritual Poverty in a Wealthy Nation?

Luke 4:18-19; 22-30:

18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."

22And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, "Is not this Joseph’s son?" 23And he said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Physician, heal yourself.' What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well." 24And he said, "Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." 28When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30But passing through their midst, he went away.


At first glance, it is difficult to understand the murderous reaction the people of Nazareth had to Jesus’ sermon. What would cause them to attempt to kill Jesus by throwing him from a cliff?

The text in Luke 4 gives us some clues. The main problem with the people in Nazareth was pride. Jesus had just finished telling the people that the gospel is for the poor. Not the literal poor, but people who had come to see their desperate need of the Lord and his salvation. Just as the poor are desperately dependent on others, just so, if we have eyes to see it, is every sinful human being desperately dependent on God’s care and salvation. Physically, we draw our very breath from the Lord, and spiritually, we are sinners who need the continual cleansing of Christ’s blood and power of Christ’s Spirit. We truly are poor, dependent creatures.

Yet, we act and live as if we were independent from God with no need of his grace and strength. We act as if we are rich, not poor. Just like the Nazarenes, we tend toward spiritual pride, not a humble, spiritual poverty. Sadly, our pride blinds us to two facts: first, the glory of God the Father and the Savior, Jesus Christ; second, our desperate need of the Father and his Son.

The last step in our pride is that we oppose God and the Son he sent --- an opposition that at its heart is murderous. We would rule our own lives, even if this means that God and his Son must be put to death. The incident at Nazareth foreshadows the cross, and it shows us what our wicked hearts are truly like. O how we need to cry out to God as people who are poor and dependent. We are desperately poor. How foolish we are if we reject the Father’s gracious provision for us, his beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Let us own our poverty and seek our Lord Jesus Christ all our days, so that we might become rich in him. Amen.

The Savior Was Rejected

To the tune: HERZLICH TUT MICH VERLANGEN O Sacred Head Now Wounded. Based on Luke 4:22-30. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
The Savior was rejected
by those who were His own,
and signs were they demanding
in Nazareth His home.
They said, Is this not Jesus,
how could this be the One?
How could He be from heaven,
and God’s beloved Son?

v. 2
His sermon made them angry,
it pierced their nat-ional pride.
They viewed themselves as righteous,
not poor, enslaved and blind.
“This is the son of Joseph,
who grew up in our town.”
So they refused the gospel:
the Father’s Son come down.

v. 3
O Father, we are needy,
we’re poor, enslaved and blind;
dependent, sinful creatures,
who turned from Your design.
We know our need, Lord Jesus,
beloved Son of God,
we need Your gracious cleansing,
through Your most precious blood.

v. 4
The Savior still rejected,
through sinful unbelief.
For pride keeps men from seeing
God’s glory and their need.
So help us, holy Father,
to see our desp’rate need
and glory of our Savior,
who died on Calv’ry’s tree.

Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Hymn of Prayer for Illumination

A blind man plays music in Beijing

This hymn is a prayer for illumination to the Father and the Son, asking for understanding from the Word of God.  The work of illumination is a greater miracle than the giving of physical sight to the blind, for sinners have a blindness to which physical blindness is a mere pointer.

O Father, Perfect Is Your Word

To the tune: ST. CRISPIN. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
O Father, perfect is Your Word,
it’s fully sure, the soul converts.
It makes the simple, wise to live,
and shows Your Son, the Gift of gifts.

v. 2
By nature, Lord, we cannot see,
blind to Your glory, majesty.
O with Your Word we would implore,
the Holy Spirit on us pour.

v. 3
Your Word to us illuminate,
for we confess our darkened state.
O give a humble heart that’s free
from carnal wisdom, lust and greed.

v. 4
Lord Jesus Christ, our joy, delight,
help us to serve You by Your might.
You are the Vine, to us bestow
Your grace and life, and You to know.

v. 5
O Father, for the sake of Christ,
please hear our prayer and give us life,
for we would learn Your righteous ways,
in Christ to live in these last days.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hymn Based on Luke 4:14-21---A Prayer for Poverty of Spirit

This hymn is based on the four words in this passage that describe those who welcome the gospel of Jesus Christ into their lives: the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed. The hymn is a prayer to the Father in verses 1 and 5, and to Jesus in verses 2-4. In the first four verses we ask the Father and the Son to make us realize our poverty, captivity, blindness, and oppression, so that we might be receptive to the gospel of grace. Apart from a knowledge of our poverty, we will not by faith gain Christ’s riches earned for us through his death and resurrection. Similarly, a heart that does not know its enslavement will not long for gospel freedom; nor a heart that is wise in its own eyes long to see the glory and wisdom of Christ; nor a heart that does not feel the oppression of sin hope for the liberty Jesus came to give us, and will give us in the age to come.

One note about the first person singular use of pronouns (I, me, my) and the first person plural use of pronouns (we, us, our). I am convinced that our contemporary choruses are much too individualistic, too often making us and our experience, rather than the Lord, the main subject of our songs. The use of the first person singular also tends to make liars out of people in our church services, putting words into mouths that are simply not true to the experience of many in our services. It seems to me we should be much more careful about this as we rediscover the wisdom of our Lord who taught us to pray using first person plural pronouns, “Our Father . . . give us . . . forgive us our . . . as we forgive our . . . lead us . . . deliver us . . . .”

And yet, the song below uses the first person singular in verses 1-3, before returning to the first person plural in verses 4-5. Why? I think it is much less likely that we will lie when we are humbly petitioning the Lord while confessing our need. Certainly, there is still a danger in putting words on to the lips of worshippers that are not true in their experience---a danger to which those leading worship should often remind the congregation. But the danger of pride (narcissism) and lying is not near as great when we are petitioning the Lord and confessing our need as when we are singing of our great devotion and consecration!

Verse 4 returns to the first person plural because of the nature of oppression, which we may at times in our lives feel more intensely than at other times. If we sing in the first person plural of oppression, which is akin to hurt, distress and abuse, we can be pretty well assured that although we personally might not be experiencing oppression in a sinful world at the moment, some in the congregation probably are. Verse 5, unlike the other verses, focuses on praise rather than petition, thanking the Father for the Son. A brief note on the last line of verse 3---the rising I have in mind is the lifting the Spirit does in causing our hearts to commune with Christ in the heavenly realms, even now, by faith, not simply a rising that will take place at the final day.

O Father, Make My Heart to See

To the tune: ANGELUS (click on Father of Heaven, Whose Love Profound, 242). Based on Luke 4:14-21. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
O Father, make my heart to see
its sinful need and poverty,
a broken vessel to receive
Your gospel word that’s preached to me.

v. 2
O Lord, by nature I’m enslaved,
inclined to sin, a heart depraved.
But You proclaim sweet liberty,
help me to live as one set free.

v. 3
O Jesus, open these dark eyes,
for sin does blind and make unwise.
Help me to see Your Word that’s true,
then will I cling and rise to You.

v. 4
O Lord, our souls in dire distress,
by sinners oft are sore oppressed---
a world that turns away from You,
weary and worn we come to You.

v. 5
We thank You, holy God Most High,
for Your sent-Son, who came to die.
After His suff’ring You did raise,
our Lamb and Lord to lasting praise.

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