RISEN

RISEN

As I stood on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, I was profoundly moved standing in this place and recognizing my own deep need for soul restoration and peace with God. Tabgha is the traditional site where Jesus first called His disciples, performed several miracles and prepared a last breakfast for his disciples post-resurrection. Here He restored Peter to relationship with Himself and to future service as head of The Church. However, my mind was also flashing back to scenes from a movie we had recently watched called Risen.

The crucifixion of Jesus is over but Pilates’ problems are still unravelling. Three day later the body is missing from the tomb and Clavius, a Roman tribune is tasked with finding the body. He examines the tomb and finds the Roman seal has burst from the inside, the heavy stone moved, used grave cloths lay empty and the guards cannot be found. He begins his pursuit of ferreting out the truth.

The Tribune sends his guards to find all followers of this Yeshua to find what they did with the body and to stop the rumors that their crucified teacher had risen from the dead as He prophesied. Clavius enters the upper room where he finds the disciples with Jesus, he drops his sword as he views the man he saw die on the cross, sitting among them. He watches in shock as Thomas examines the mans’ hands and pierced side. He cannot reconcile two things in his mind, “A man dead without question, and that same man alive again.” He then abandons his post and follows these disciples back to Galilee to learn more. He is at Tabgha with the disciples and realizes this man Jesus is like no other. The Tribune admits his part in the crucifixion to which Jesus replies, “I know”. And then asks him, “what bothers you?” Clavius replies, “being wrong”. “What is it you seek?” but before he can reply Jesus answers,” Certainty, peace and a day without war?“‘ The very same answer this Tribune had given Pilate earlier. At the end of the film, Clavius is retelling his story to an inn keeper and states, “I believe. I can never be the same.”

Have you examined the facts of The Resurrection? Jesus’ willing sacrifice on the cross was for our sin to reconcile us with The Father. His last words were, “It is Finished”. There was no more need for animal sacrifice and we can not earn our salvation by doing good works. The power over death and the grave has only been accomplished by Jesus, the Son of God . Every other prophet and leader in history remains in their grave. Being a Christian means being a follower of Jesus Christ, having peace with God, sharing His love and being certain of our eternal future. What bothers you my friend? What is it that you long for? Do you seek certainty and peace? Follow Him and your life will never be the same.

Standing at Tabgha on
the shore of the Sea of Galilee

Jesus’ Last Journey to Jerusalem

Jesus’ Last Journey to Jerusalem

When Jesus and His disciples were preparing to go to Jerusalem for Passover He tried to clearly explain that His end was near but they did not understand. Jesus knew there was still work to do in his last couple of weeks. The 40 mile trip was taken in a series of day hikes over moderate to strenuous terrain by first traveling through the Jordan river valley.

The ancient city of Jericho was an oasis due to underground springs, a common stop for weary pilgrims and an out-post for Roman soldiers. As He drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. He heard that Jesus was passing by and despite the crowds’ shushing began to cry out loudly, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him and asked the man, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “ Your sight is restored; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he could see and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

A sycamore tree in Jericho today called the Zacchaeus tree.

They continued passing through Jericho and behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich from cheating his own people working for the Romans. He wanted to see Jesus but could not because of the great crowd and his short stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when the people saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Walking the Jericho road towards Jerusalem was the most difficult and dangerous part of the trip. Approximatly a 15 mile stretch uphill about a half mile high and westward. Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said,  “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he liked helping himself to their money bag. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” Large crowds were coming to see Jesus and Lazarus. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

Jesus knew his time left on earth was limited but He was never too busy to stop and care for people. The blind beggar was given his sight from Jesus, The Light of the World. He stopped to look up in a tree to see a man considered a traitor to his people that was in desperate need of restoration of soul. Jesus rested one last time with dear friends who had often welcomed him into their home. Only Jesus understood the enormity of the sacrifice and service Mary performed and that it was the only proper burial preparation his earthly body would receive. The next day Jesus prepared for His last entry into Jerusalem. He came humbly, riding on a colt, a symbol of peace not as a warrior because He is the Prince of Peace. He accepted praise from the crowd that would soon turn into an angry mob shouting epitaphs. Today from the Mount of Olives there is a magnificent view of the ancient Temple and old city of David. And it was here from the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus prayed for His friends, followers and us.

Has Jesus brought light to your life, restoration to your soul or peace to your heart? This week, reflect on all that Jesus has done – the life He lived, the examples He set and the sacrifice of His own sinless life to reconcile us with The Father. Let us worship Him with hearts full of love, joy and thanksgiving.

Scripture passages were taken from Matthew 21:1-11, Luke 18:33-19:10 and Luke 19:28-38

True Worship

True Worship

During Holy Week we spend time pausing for prayer and reflection on all that happened to our Lord Jesus His last week on earth. Worship comes from the core of who the worshipper is and what God means to them. Worship is not about a place but the posture of the heart. True worship is directed towards God and His message of great love and forgiveness not the messenger. Prayer, praise, poems and music, whether private or corporate, are all forms of expression used in worship. A true worship experience should change your heart and mind because you have spent time in God’s presence.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3  Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” John 12:1-8 (ESV)

This is the second time we know of that Jesus was anointed with a jar of costly perfume. The first time was at a dinner with some Pharisees. A woman with a questionable character entered the place crying at His feet with great sorrow for her sin and in worship of the only One who could forgive and redeem her life. ( see Luke 7:36-50)

In this passage in John, Jesus is spending time with some dear friends before heading to Jerusalem for Passover. Lazarus is resting as close as he can get to Jesus. Mary does what she does best by showing great hospitality and Mary washed Jesus’s feet using expensive nard and tears of love. Mary took the role of a servant by washing His feet; the very example Jesus would soon be giving His disciples .

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” John 12:12-13 (ESV)

How can we show love and gratitude toward our Savior? How should we worship a Holy God?

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24 (ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 (ESV)

We worship the eternal God and Father Who is Almighty, all knowing and always present. He is our Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer and Friend. Our posture in prayer should be one of awe with hearts wide open. God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to take the punishment for our sin and die in our place. He did this willingly and not because of anything good or deserving we have done but because of Who He is.

Come, let us worship The King.

 

Hope is Alive

Hope is Alive

We call today “Good Friday” but over 2000 years ago it was anything but good.  The disciples of Jesus’ whole world had been turned upside down in one day. Confusion, womenatcrossDisbelief, Fear, Heartbreak and Shock were just a few of the emotions they were feeling. Rabbi, healer, miracle worker, they believed Jesus was The Messiah! The band of friends had just celebrated Passover together. It couldn’t possibly be real – it didn’t make sense – but they watched with their own eyes as the soldiers nailed Him to a cross like a vile criminal!

Some of the men and women, faithful followers of Jesus, gathered together trying to grasp the situation and others were in hiding. It was now the Sabbath and there was nothing they could do. How could everything go wrong in such a short time? He hadn’t done anything to deserve what happened. The disciples had put all their hope in Him and now it seemed gone.

While  Jesus hung on the cross He forgave the repentant thief, showing us that it is never to late to ask for forgiveness until our last breath.  On Passover HE provided the one and only perfect, holy and final sacrifice. His last cry  “It is finished” was not a cry of defeat but of victory.  The Temple curtain kept everyone and everything away from the holiness of God.  When the massive curtain tore in half it showed the access we now have to come before a Holy God through Jesus’s own blood sacrifice.

Jesus’ body had been quickly laid in a borrowed tomb just before Sabbath began. Early the next morning a few women gathered to go to the tomb and properly prepare His body for burial as was tradition.  They wondered how they would move the stone sealing the grave and if the soldiers would give them grief.  jesustombBut as they approached the burial site they were shocked to see the stone had already been rolled away….

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead…..                                          Matt 28:5-7

Jesus is alive! He soon after met with them, ate with them and explained the Scriptures about Himself. Christians around the world celebrate Easter because our hope is not based on earthly wishful thinking but assurance from God. Jesus’ sacrifice provides forgiveness and restoration in our relationship with The Father. His resurrection offers us power and victory for everyday.

Jesushands

Tragedy can strike quickly and indiscriminately and it may seem hopeless. We are left reeling to try and make sense of the circumstances and figure out the next steps. That’s how the disciples felt on Good Friday.  Right now our daily lives are disrupted, loved ones are distanced and many people have died.  But Our Hope is Alive!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.        John 3:16

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.         Heb 4:15-16

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,      Heb 6:19

 

                           We are loved.  We have help. We have hope. We can have peace.

 

Because He Lives

God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus,

He came to love, heal and forgive

He lived and died to buy my pardon

An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Because He lives I can face tomorrow

Because He lives  all fear is gone

Because I know He holds the future,

And life is worth the living just because He lives!