WE should be celebrating every day the power of the resurrection. So this week I will post a different song focused on the resurrection each day.
Seven years ago I had an incredible chance to have a meaningful conversation with my then 3 year old sons. As we were sitting in worship the communion trays were being passed. As each one was passed to me and then I passed them to his mom, he asked, "What is that?" It was awesome and an incredible task to explain to a 3 year old that a man named Jesus came from heaven, brought good news about God and His kingdom, died a cruel death (I left the details out for this one), and rose from the dead. So we eat a piece of cracker and drink a little grape juice to think about his sacrifice and the life we have because of Him. I could tell as he listened to my words that he understood some, but was confused. And why wouldn't he be that story, that logic just doesn't make sense. There are many things in our world that don't make sense.
Divorce doesn't make sense
Poverty doesn't make sense
Cancer doesn't make sense
Tragic accidents don't make sense
Evil dictators don't make sense
Genocide doesn't make sense
Unemployment doesn't make sense
Depression doesn't make sense
Suicide doesn't make sense
Unexplained infertility doesn't make sense
But there is one thing that is so nonsensical that it actually makes sense. God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son who died for us so that we might have life forever. There are many things in my life that just don't make sense. But it doesn't mean that my life doesn't make sense. My life (and yours for that matter) makes perfect sense.
Jesus came to earth from his dwelling with God to make sense of our lives with nonsensical actions. Jesus' teachings make sense of God. Jesus' healings make sense of the Holy Spirit. Jesus' death and burial make sense of our humanity. And Jesus' resurrection makes sense of why we live in the first place. We live because he lives. We die because he died. We will rise because he is risen. He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!
Saturday is the end of Holy Week. On this day, Jesus lay in the tomb...dead. He was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a new tomb among the rich, just as prophesied by Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 53:9). Those that loved Jesus were in deep mourning. The apostles were trying to figure out their next move and laying low because they could be next. It was the Sabbath, so that made it a bit easier.
Can you imagine an entire day where all of your thoughts are consumed about what just happened and what will we do next? What happened to Jesus being the Messiah and putting Jews back on track? Our leader is dead, what now? The apostles and extended disciples were at an all-time low. I cannot even imagine all that they had to bear in this one day.
We become low and have seasons of deep grief and mourning. We have had hectic weeks where at the end we find only sorrow and nothing to show for our hard work. We have seasons where we cannot find the light. And if we are believers we will find ourselves asking questions of God, that may not be answered. We long for light and an end to the despair.
And all we can say is that Sunday is coming. There is a resurrection and life will once again appear, where it seemed death had conquered. While our seasons of life and our grief may never come to the conclusion we were hoping for, God is still in control. It cannot be taken from us that God killed his own son and raised him from the dead. But how can we be confident in a resurrection if we cannot fully believe death has occurred?
So we wait...and rest...and mourn...and live in the death of Christ. We live in the death of our own happiness. We live in the death of the world's despair. We live in this death...with hope!
Hope is on the Horizon!
Our Hope is not manufactured, but true, because Jesus wasn't just presumed dead...he was dead...in a tomb.
ALL DAY SATURDAY...DEAD!!!!
Thank God we know about Sunday!
Good Friday is probably the best known day of Holy Week. Some schools still dismiss to honor the holiday, and it's one of the core moments of Christianity.
Some people make the cross THE core. I think that may be somewhat misguided for several reasons. 1. I like to think that there was more to Jesus than just death (something we all can do). 2. Without the resurrection Jesus is just another dead deity. 3. The cross as the core puts everything on Jesus and there is a responsibility that every follower has in response to Christ. 4. No one at the time saw the power of God at that moment, except the centurion (that in no way means power was absent, just unseen and deniable). The power of God cannot be avoided upon the resurrection of Jesus, by those eye witnesses and even today.
Don't get me wrong the cross is extremely important. It is prophesied about and God did not save Jesus from that reality. It reminds us Jesus is human and teaches us the fullness of God's love. And I can also argue that raising the importance of the cross is due to the fact of the resurrection and maybe I'm splitting hairs.
But being Crucifixed (fixated only on crucifixion) has at least two dangers.
1. We can become so fixated on the crucifixion and what Jesus did that we feel no pull or tug on our lives to be true disciples of Christ because we place all responsibility and response on Jesus.
2. We can easily neglect the entire story of God for only a small (although of high importance) piece. We won't see the need to pour over the Torah or be amazed at the prophets proclamations. We won't find genealogies fascinating and we won't have much use for serving others and following Paul's exhortations.
This is why on Good Friday we challenge ourselves to live Cruciformed (formed by the crucifixion) lives. Then we see our place in the story. We answer the call to true discipleship (not just church membership). We lived shaped by God because he gave his only Son for our sin and for us to live Kingdom Lives.
Now that's a Good Friday!
Good Friday Readings: Matthew 27:32-56, Luke 23:26-49
Challenge: write down 3 ways you live a Cruciformed life.
Write down 3 more/different ways you could live a Cruciformed life
While evil lurked on Wednesday, Intimacy, compassion, and prayer rule on Thursday. There is a great deal of things that happen on Thursday. It is probably the busiest day of Holy Week. Jesus breaks bread with his disciples (Last Supper), calls Judas out, washes his disciples feet, spends half the night in prayer, and before the hours tick into Friday is betrayed and arrested.
Jesus sends his apostles to make preparations for the passover meal and while they eat, he institutes a meal that my tradition commemorates every Sunday and every Christian church celebrates at some time. In the midst of what is to come and betrayal that is at hand, Jesus takes time to have a meal and share with his closest friends, all the while giving them something that they will be able to hold onto even after his death, after his resurrection, and after his ascension. The meal still holds today for the church. This is not a funeral dirge type meal. It is festive and meaningful. There is laughter at the table, stories being told. There is also anxiety and many questions. Jesus takes the opportunity to finally set up what God has been wanting to do this entire time. Jesus is being set as the savior and focus of God as the true Messiah that demands our attention and our worship forevermore. The bread is his body that will go on the cross as human. The cup is the blood that will be shed not to save himself, but to save all of humanity. This simple act of making something everyday, meaningful takes Jesus from head knowledge, something to be grasped, into a true savior that through his own flesh and blood becomes our gateway to God and a one-time sacrifice...our victor!
In an act of complete compassion and humility, Jesus takes the form of a servant, the lowest of servants, and gets down on his knees and picks up the dirty, nasty feet of his closest friends and disciples and begins with a towel and wash basin to change their souls from darkness and void to pure and Spirit infused. This one act of servanthood along with a command to follow this kind of way, gives us just what we need to know of Jesus. He did not come on Horse for war, he came on a donkey of peace. He didn't come to condemn and tear us down so we had no choice out of weakness to follow, but he came with tenderness and love to draw us into God's true nature. He came gently and would leave in brutality as a human. But as Divine he was in the beginning and would return for eternity. Life is not lived on a high and exalted platform, but on one's knees with the dirt of the world under their nose, so the stench of the world can be overtaken by the aroma of a perfect, compassionate, humble Christ. And only Jesus can wipe the nastiness of our life away, and yet finds us completely capable to do the same for others. That's the way of Christ, whether we can comprehend it or not.
Jesus is right where we would expect him to be as those come to betray and arrest. He is with His father in intimate prayer. This is a lesson to us all. Jesus in the midst of giving up his very own life for the salvation of humanity takes time to pray. It's pure. It's earnest. It's holy. If there were ever a call on our lives to pray, it is the example that Jesus leaves us before he left us. Pray and do it with your full being. Jesus prays for God's will, His obedience, His disciples, His enemies, and the world. What a humbling notion, to think that our very names were on Christ's lips before he gave his final breath up on the cross. That could change how we live for him. And well it should!
Maundy Thursday Readings: Matthew 26:17-27:26, John 13:1-38
Challenge: Rise up and show compassion to those "less" than you. Pray in great Earnest for the Kingdom of God and His will. Share a meal with those you love and let Jesus be the focus
The Wednesday of Holy Week is sometimes been referred to as the day of Silence. Simply because there is no recorded action or event involving Jesus directly. However, something is happening on Wednesday. It is a day when idle hands become the devil's handiwork.
This entire week evil is lurking about as Jesus makes his way from a festive parade in his honor to a grave sealed out of contempt. I love the movie the Passion of the Christ, because from time to time we see the ghastly image of Satan and evil lurking around as the events of this last week of Jesus' life before his death and resurrection unfold. This day of Holy Week is unsettling and challenging.
Evil is on the move. Judas has fully given over to his own greed and makes plans with the chief priests. What is telling is that Judas approaches them and sees the chance at a great business proposition. Evil has entered his heart and the darkness that has encircled his soul dims any hope of what we all know is to come. Jesus is sold out for 30 pieces of silver, about 4 months worth of wages. For the average American household this would be somewhat under $17,000. Maybe if Jesus wouldn't have given him such a hard time at the anointing. Maybe if Judas had been compensated better. Maybe if he would have been voted class secretary instead of treasurer. No! That's the thing about Evil. If it fills the heart, encircles the soul, and drives the actions it won't matter, you have lost control and you will give yourself to its enticing stench. Judas becomes the Anakin Skywalker of Jesus' council and allows hate, pride, jealously, greed, and irrational feelings overcome him and turn his ways to dark.
So how can we read Matthew 26:14-16 and want to celebrate this event on a week we call, Holy! Because even when evil is on the move, it does not take into consideration what good and holiness can bring about. Yes, evil may be on the move, but it is playing into the hand of the Almighty God, who does not create evil, but can unveil its ugliness and expose its wretchedness only to allow good and purity to rise to the top.
Judas plays his part and sells out Jesus with the intent to hand him over to his enemies. It is Judas, though, that will give a significant push that will put things in motion where Jesus dies and the full power of God is seen in his ultimate resurrection. Evil may have been lurking, but it is its nature to fall to pride and when it falls God has overcome...once and for all!
Holy Wednesday Readings: Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:3-6
Challenge: Look introspectively for ways that you might purge evil from your own life and pray for God to bring his glory in all situations.
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