Thoughts on Holy Week: Hindsight is 20/20

hindsight-rear-view-future-past-road-mirrorThere is an old saying about Hindsight being 20/20. Thinking back on past events allows a clearer perspective than being in the midst of the present. It’s easy to imagine how we might have handled a particular situation, or to criticize others for what they they did wrong. It has to do with perspective. Being in the heat of the moment is not the same as looking at cold stats. Watching a game from the stands offers a different vantage point than being on the field. It also takes away pressure to perform, adrenaline rush and the intimidation factor of the opposing team. Your team always win when you coach from the recliner. The same is true when watching the game film. We’ve all heard people say “I wish I knew then what I know now.” Continue reading

What Shall We Do?

Peter preaches In the first chapter of Acts, Jesus told the Apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the promise. He then ascended to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. In Acts 2 they were gathered in one place and the Holy Spirit filled the entire house. Each one filled with the Spirit began to speak in tongues, and they went out into the streets of Jerusalem. This event is known as Pentecost and is still celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday. Some in the crowd that day objected that the Apostles were merely drunk and Peter responded with a turning point sermon in the history of the church.

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Three Scriptures on the Incarnation

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)

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Glorious Day!

It is a glorious day.  Celebrate the Resurrection!

The tomb is empty.  Death, hell and the grave have been conquered, what more do we really have to fear after that?  Paul wrote that if we die with Christ we will also be raised with him.  Happy Easter.

Holy Week Review

Palm Sunday is on April 1 this year, Easter will be April 8.  That final week of Lent is referred to as Holy Week, and should be a special time in the lives of believers.  Here are some Holy Week posts from years past; they may not be new, but are still good.

The “Triumphal” Entry is about Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week.  The same Jews shouting Hosanna at the beginning of the week will be shouting Crucify him by the end of the week.

Who Framed Jesus? was a documentary shown by Discovery 2 years ago, but the same thing happens on t.v. and magazine covers every year.  This post generated a frenzy of comments that are also a blast to read.

The Last Supper is about Jesus’ final Passover and the beginning of communion.  And on the same night he washed the disciples’ feet.

Is Jesus the Sheep, or the Shepherd?  This rather short post is one of the most read ever on The Master’s Table.

The Resurrection is the most celebrated event in Christianity, but here’s a thought: Jesus Died.  Jesus is God; have you ever thought that all the way through?

He Cannot Save Himself, the original post and He Cannot Save Himself, a poem for Good Friday.

It’s Friday, Sunday’s Coming  Sermon by S.M. Lockridge, with scenes from The Passion

And finally The Importance of the Resurrection.

The Cross Isn’t Pretty

There’s a little icon on my desktop that represents a trash can.  A real trash can would be showing its age by now, but my icon always looks exactly the same.  It never gets filthy, never dents, never smells, and the lid always closes no matter how much “trash” is inside.  The icon represents a trash can, but a real trash can isn’t pretty.  So it is with the cross.

We wear crosses of gold and silver about the neck, carve them into our church pews, paint them in our artwork and place them above our church buildings.  As an icon, the cross represents Christianity.  But our images have no splinters, rusty nails, nor do they drip with the blood of the slain.  The image of the cross is meant to remind us that the broken body of Christ was hung on the tree.  Our communion wafers are perfect little squares, and the wine/juice tastes sweet, but the body of the Lord was broken and his blood poured out.  Flesh was ripped away by the whip.  Blood and sweat mingled and dripped to the ground.  The air was ripe with the smell of blood and the stench of death.  The cross was an instrument of torture and execution.

I’m not suggesting we do away with the symbols.  It is our nature to forget, and we must be reminded of what God has done.  Rainbows actually are beautiful, but they remind us of mercy in the face of judgment.  Baptism represents death of the old man and rebirth of the new.  Passover reminded the Jews of what God had done for them, just as communion does for us today.  Our hope is in the resurrection, made possible by the crucifixion.  We must remember what God has done.  But remember as well… it wasn’t pretty.

The Foolishness of the Cross

Paul wrote to the Corinthians “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”  (1 Cor 1:18, KJV)

This is one of those occasions where I prefer the King James translation.  The ESV uses word of the cross instead of preaching, and chooses folly over foolishness.  The meaning is unchanged.  For those of us that have been Christians for many years, or perhaps in church our whole lives, we worship at the foot of the cross.  We sing hymns about the cross, decorate our churches with images of the cross; we glory in the crucified savoir.  Paul reminds us to never loose sight of the fact that to the world, to the unsaved, to those hearing the gospel for the first time – it sounds foolish. Continue reading

Every Saga has a Beginning

Today is Easter Sunday.  Lent bagan 40 days ago, Palm Sunday was last week, 2 days ago was Good Friday.  Holy Week is about the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth.  Not too long ago – it’s been about 4 months – we celebrated the beginning of his life on earth.  Do you remember that story?

Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem, to be counted in the Roman census and taxed.  Baby Jesus was laid in a manger, shepherds came and worshiped, and the wise men traveled from afar.  They followed the star and brought gifts fit for a king.  Jesus was presented with gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Gold makes sense; no one would mind getting that present.  Frankincense is an incense, a sweet perfume.  It’s actually a resin, made from the bark of a tree.  Myrrh is very similar, but bitter.  It’s most common use in the first century was anointing the dead.  Gold is an awesome gift, perfume maybe, but… you wouldn’t give a newborn embalming fluid.

Once you know how the story ends, the beginning makes more sense.  In literature, it’s called foreshadowing.  Jesus was born to die.  He came to be a sacrifice.  The unusual gift brought by one very wise man reminds us what is really important about Christmas.  The gifts that were given to Jesus pale in comparison to the gift of Jesus.  Throughout his ministry Jesus understood his mission, even when his followers could not.  The disciples were told plainly that the Son of Man must suffer many things, be rejected by men, even that he must die.  Jesus told them, more than once, that he would rise again.  Eventually they were afraid to ask.

The real story of course begins before the incarnation and does not end with the crucifixion.  Today is Easter, the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.  That still isn’t the end of the story.  Jesus wasn’t just resurrected; he is the resurrection.  The story of God’s coming kingdom isn’t over yet.