Sometimes we desire to offer comfort to those that mourn and try to find the perfect thing to say. What we really want to do is make it all better. There often is no perfect thing to say, and sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all. Job’s “friends” accused him of lying, concealing the truth, and having unconfessed sin in his life. But before all of that, the first thing they did was sit down with him in the ashes and rubble and for three days said nothing at all. Those were real friends.
Some Christians get the idea that happiness is the only mood we are supposed to express. God is good all the time, this world is not our home, Jesus is all we need. These are all great truths but that doesn’t mean we will not experience other emotions during this life here. Ecclesiastes teaches there is a time for every activity under heaven, including a time to laugh and a time to cry. After Jesus saw Martha, Mary, and all those with them weeping, John 11:35 says that Jesus wept. He knew ahead of time that Lazarus was dead and that he would be raised; he wept because he empathized with those weeping. Jesus also wept over Jerusalem, and at other times was angry. Revelation 21:4 says that God will wipe away every tear. We live in a broken world, and are surrounded by sin and death. There are times that mourning is called for, and no words can make everything better. Despite our eternal hope, it is not wrong to sometimes be sad. Continue reading →
Four verses from Philippians, two from Hebrews. Each describe the voluntary act of Jesus humbling himself to the Father’s will. Each describe him as smaller, weaker or lower than his original state, and each ends in death. But as far as we are concerned, his death was his greatest moment. He tasted death so that none of us have to. Death that is separation from the body maybe, but not the death that is total separation from God. And he defeated the one with the power of death, that is the devil.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
(Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
(Hebrews 2:9 ESV)
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
(Hebrews 2:14 ESV)
I grew up in the 80’s. Before David Blaine and Chris Angel there was David Copperfield. Over the course of several prime time specials he made the Statue of Liberty disappear, walked through the Great Wall of China and escaped from Alcatraz. Part of his appeal came from his sense of humor and showmanship on stage, but people tuned in to see the “magic.” The magic of course was really illusion; he wasn’t really sawed in half on stage. But you know what they say – Seeing is believing.
It is so easy to believe what we see. Illusion, special effects and camouflage all depend on it. That very fact can also get us into trouble at times. We had to see bacteria with a microscope before germ theory really caught on, and there’s an ever-present warning in your side mirror not to believe exactly what you see (objects are closer than they appear). We all know there is more going on than can be seen. Wind, gravity, magnetism, microbes, radiation, DNA and so on cannot be seen, but we either perceive their effects through other senses or else detect them with scientific devices. The earth appears flat, and the sun seems to move across the sky from east to west. Our understanding is no longer limited to what we can see with our eyes; but the tendency to do so will always be there. Continue reading →
There was a time I wondered why so much emphasis was placed on the resurrection. Jesus died on the cross as the all-sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the world. Even if there had been no resurrection, his sacrificial death would have brought salvation; what could be more important than that?
The blood of Jesus was a more excellent sacrifice than that of bulls, sheep and birds. His death on the cross brought an end to the temple sacrifice system. The entire Gospel pivots around the cross. It is the universal symbol of Christianity. But the implications of resurrection are equally powerful, a fact that I can now appreciate as well. Continue reading →
I know, perhaps you’re thinking “Well duh.” But give it just a little more thought than that. This is God’s only son we’re talking about here. As a matter of fact, Jesus is God.
On Easter we will celebrate the resurrection. Jesus wasn’t just resurrected, he IS the resurrection. So we’re not simply celebrating the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. He was not the first to rise again. That miracle had happened more than once already. But when Jesus hung on the cross, it was the first time that God had ever died. Two of the gospels recorded Jesus’ birth; all four record the crucifixion. In Matthew’s Gospel, he records the sky going dark until the 9th hour (3 p.m.). Only Matthew goes on to say that the veil was torn in the temple from top to bottom, and the graves of the saints opened up. The Old Testament saints went through the street of Jerusalem prophesying (Matt. 27:45, 51-53). The darkness, the earthquake, the veil, the saints, all highlight an extraordinary event taking place that day. I’m thinking of a few other scriptures beyond the gospels: Continue reading →