19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” — John 20:19-21
The night of the resurrection of Jesus, He shows up to be with the very people that were His family, the people who, aside from John, abandoned Him at the cross. The disciples were fearful. They’d just spent three years doing life with Jesus, He’d been killed, and now they were wondering if the stuff He’d taught them, the things He had said, were going to come to fruition. As His followers, they wondered what to do next.
We often do the same, where we decide to follow Jesus but then when we need to actually do something, we get inhibited by our fears. Add to that our … Read More »
30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. — John 19:30
Completion. Consider for a moment how much work we put in to get things done. There is even a method of doing things called “Getting Things Done.” There are apps, checklists, goals, all kinds of ways to manage and measure productivity. All that time we are trying to organize and plan what we are going to do, we can fail to actually complete anything for which we’ve set out.
Have you ever noticed that just about the time you can cross off a few things on your list that you’ve already added several others? Or perhaps you’ve “snoozed” a few things or moved them to another category. Maybe you’ve tried to consolidate your scrap pieces of paper into one neat electronic list. The lists, the organizing can be unending.
It is quite different when you begin to toil for something other than lists and things. Those bring about a chasing of something that is temporal, something that won’t be there once it’s completed. When we do those things for ourselves and for our gain, the benefit is … Read More »
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. — John 19:28-29
We’ve all experienced times of thirst, some after a long work-out, others after too much coffee, and still others maybe after being outside for so long that you’d take anything to drink. A refreshing glass of water when you have cotton mouth is satisfying. Whatever you it is with which you quench your thirst, it can be so fulfilling.
Or at least momentarily. When the thirst is there, it is our body telling us that it needs to be replenished with healthy liquids, most often water. Because we’ve expended so much energy or been outside for extended periods of time or eaten something that dries our mouth out our bodies use thirst of this reminder.
On Maundy Thursday, Jesus gave a mandate (this is from where we get the word “maundy”) to His disciples—and us—to love one another. He then goes to the cross to demonstrate what exactly that kind of love can look … Read More »
33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” — Mark 15:33-34
There perhaps may be no deeper feeling than that of abandonment. It can go even deeper than loss because when someone is gone, it is often out of our control. When someone forsakes us, that speaks to who we how and how they—in that moment, at least—feel about us. Whoever it is, they’ve willfully looked at us and turned their back, left us as if we were dead.
Abandonment feels as though no one else understands, no one else has been through this feeling. It can even feel a bit like betrayal, as though someone was with you and then you turned around and they were gone. It leaves us grasping for things to fill that void left by being deserted, all to no avail.
While we all feel this at one time or another, most of us would say that we’ve never forsaken other people. Consider for a moment, though, the times we … Read More »
25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. — John 19:25-27
The word “family” can have a different meanings for each of us. So much goes into how we would each define it, from our background, to our experience, to even our stage of life. Regardless, we all have people that we would consider our family, a group of people on whom we rely. Our people.
However, one of the constant factors of our family is that they are made of people. And, without drudging up anything, we can be let down by people. We can have expectations that are completely unrealistic, so much so that when our family cannot meet them, we feel slighted. The flip side of that coin is that we also can feel the weight of those similar unrealistic expectations when they are imposed on us.
There is one … Read More »
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” — Luke 23:39-43
How often do we reserve our crying out to God for times of trouble? When everything seems to be going just as we would like, we take the credit, for it gives us a sense of control. And having the appearance of being in control allows us to skirt having faith that Someone else is actually in control.
At this moment on the cross we see two people on either side of Jesus, both at the point of realization that their sin has finally led to death and they are not in control. This is a moment that reveals two kinds of faith: … Read More »
33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. — Luke 23:33-34
There is a thought that sometimes runs through our minds when we have been wronged, one that, while we may not always admit it, can permeate our actions. When we are wronged, our response can often be revenge rather than forgiveness, for we want for that person the same hurt, betrayal, or abandonment that we feel in that particular moment.
While we often come around to a willingness to forgive, it can take a while. That while can turn into something longer for when we become both judge and jury in our mind, we are not far off from also desiring to take on the role of executioner. The legitimacy of the wrongdoing takes on its own life and we can feel the need to take care of it ourselves.
Contrast this with the words that Jesus utters on the cross, surrounded by people who not only wrongly accused … Read More »
2 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” 8 And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. — Mark 9:2-8
Mountaintop experiences in life are few and far between, are they not? This is especially true if we aren’t actually climbers! For the rest of life, though, we still liken any kind of once-in-a-lifetime pleasurable experience to reaching the apex of a mountain. What is it about being atop a mountain that evokes this kind of response in us? Perhaps … Read More »