“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” – Philippians 3:20-21 (NASB)
Citizenship was of special in the first century. Philippi was an important Roman colony. Named by Alexander the Great for his Father Philip II. New Testament usage had varied applications. Primarily, it designated one’s city or city-state of birth and upbringing. Additionally, if Roman, it conveyed protections, benefits and status and responsibilities of the Roman empire. Paul uses his birthright as a Roman citizen to take advantage of legal privileges. Roman citizenship could be purchased if not conferred by birth. Our citizenship in heaven comes freely with our new birth into God’s family. Granted to us by God the Father on the basis of what Jesus Christ did when He sacrificed Himself for us and died a criminal’s death on a Roman cross. But on this earth our citizenship is – temporary. It comes with a guaranteed promise that will be fulfilled when one day, our Lord Jesus Christ transforms and conforms our bodies into ones that will be like His resurrected body reflecting His glory. This happens for all when Jesus returns as He promised. Alive or asleep (physically buried) The creator of all things, the Son of God will recreate for us a new perfect body.
“You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. ” – Psalm 73:24-25 (ESV)
Let’s take a moment and consider the first promise. We are guided by God and He does so according to His counsel which is without fault and prefect in wisdom. Understanding these verses really requires reading them in context with the whole psalm. He faces temptation and nearly slips into the evils of envious arrogance (v. 2-3). The author is in conflict inwardly (vs. 14-15) Embarrassed as to how to act, he finds deliverance from his dilemma (v.16). He ends up with this declaration. The Psalmist acknowledges that it is God who guides us and it is also God who sees to us being received in glory. He thus declares his allegiance to God. We truly have no one besides God who will guarantee, and assure our eternal future in heaven. Another promise is here in the next verse (v. 26) that God is the strength of our heart and His portion is our best possession. Hence, there is nothing on earth that should capture our desire besides God. Let’s not buck against this but instead, with Asaph, the Psalms author, let’s make the Lord God our refuge and testify of all His works (v. 28).
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.” – Psalm 121:1-3 (ESV)
The title “Song of Ascents” identifies each of the Psalms 120–134 as a pilgrim song which was sung when the Israelites “ascended” (went up) to Jerusalem for the annual feasts. Festivals and feasts were very important annual events in Jewish life. The pilgrim-psalmist, as he contemplated his own spiritual journey while walking the roads through the hills to Jerusalem. He asked where his help came from. It was a rhetorical question framed in the song for he knew. He had found the answer to this question in the affirmation of his faith that the Lord. It was the Lord God who created heaven and earth, including those hills. God was his only Source of help. God’s people then and today are encouraged to trust the living God because He will bless them all. Verse 3 has our promise for today, and every day. God is watching over us on our journey. We need not look to anyone but Him for the help we need. He will not let our foot to slip; and He never dozes off. God takes no naps or ever go to sleep and he guards us going and coming.
And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” – Mark 14:60-62 (ESV)
Our passage today from the Gospel according to Mark, covers the illegal trial of Jesus before the Seventy of the Sanhedrin (Jewish Council). Witnesses have lied about Jesus and twisted His words into things Jesus never said. The High Priest wants to find legal means according to Jewish law to condemn Jesus to death. In Matthew 26:63 The High Priest is puts Jesus under oath by declaring, “by the living God” and demands an answer, an admission or denial, as to whether Jesus considered himself to be the Messiah and the Son of God.* Jesus unequivocally answered, “I AM,” meaning, “I am indeed the Christ, the Son of the Blessed.*” In fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 53:7, Jesus refused to reply to the false accusations or open his mouth to defend Himself. Now He responds with an absolute by saying, “You said (it), I am the Messiah, the Son of God.” Therefore, His meaning is a majestic, assertion that He is indeed The Anointed of God. “Yes, I AM.” He confirms that He is the Messiah. Our promise from Jesus is that one day we too will see Jesus come again in power with the clouds of heaven.
*The title “Blessed One,” found in this sense only here in the New Testament, is a Jewish substitute for “God”. The Jews avoided every opportunity to say or even write the name of God YHWH and instead created substitute titles known to be references to God. These two titles of Jesus both refer to His claim to be the Messiah. The Jews also know very well the implication behind the name “I AM” for that is the name claimed by God YHWH Himself.