Jesus came to make available to all of mankind a new covenant relationship with God. After celebrating the Passover meal with His disciples Jesus let Himself be betrayed by a friend and gave Himself up to be arrested. Why?
In spite of our reluctance and resistance, the essence and novelty of the new covenant is that the very law of God’s being is love. Pagan philosophers like Plato and Aristotle had arrived through human reasoning at the existence of God, speaking of him in vague, impersonal terms as the Uncaused Cause and the Immovable Mover.
The prophets of Israel had revealed the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in a more intimate and passionate manner.
But only Jesus revealed that God is a Father of incomparable tenderness, that if we take all the goodness, wisdom, and compassion of the best mothers and fathers who have ever lived, they would only be a faint shadow of the love and mercy in the heart of the redeeming God.
~ Brennan Manning in The Signature of Jesus
Only love can begin to explain why Jesus would surrender Himself to go through being tortured and crucified for our sins.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:8 (NASB)
As we prepare to celebrate Easter may we be overwhelmed by the love of God!
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.
“The disciples weren’t sure what was happening next, why should you be?”
That’s what I asked those who joined us last week for our Maundy Thursday Service to celebrate and remember the Last Supper – the Passover meal that Jesus shared with His disciples just before being arrested. We used no bulletin; no list of what was coming next.
We read Scripture with the advantage of hindsight but forget that the disciples were living it out moment-by-moment. Details that are crystal clear to us were not so obvious to them. I think that’s why they were so shocked at Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion.
Sure they grew up hearing the prophecies of old about how the Messiah must suffer and die. Sure they spent three years doing life with Jesus and heard Him speak of His impending death - on more than one occasion. And yet they were caught off guard!
John does admit that there was more that Jesus did than what we have recorded (John 20:30). Maybe He did pull them aside and lay it all out for them with something like:
“Listen guys - I’m going to be arrested, run through a mock trial, tortured beyond recognition and then crucified. But don’t sweat it because three days later I will rise from the dead just like you saw happen with Lazarus. So go with the flow because it all turns out OK in the end.”
Is it possible? Sure! Is it likely? No! Why didn’t Jesus warn them? Why didn’t He make it easier to understand so that they wouldn’t get so distraught? In a word…
He was growing their faith! If they’d known everything that was going to happen, that everything was going to be alright, they wouldn’t have been stretched and grown in their trust of God. Not knowing where circumstances are headed and still trusting God to be in control requires faith.
Jesus was preparing to unleash them on the world to carry out His kingdom agenda. They were going to be used by God to spread the good news of His grace and truth; and that would require great faith.
So what circumstance of life is God using right now in your life to grow your faith?
It’s Psalm Sunday; the day we remember and celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem – John 12 – just a week before His death, burial and resurrection.
The Jews expected God to bless them with a messiah who would come as a conquering warrior sent to free them from Roman tyranny. What they got was Jesus riding in on a donkey; a symbol of peace. He came as a suffering servant who would give His very life to rescue us.
The false expectations of the Jews caused them to miss God’s divine presence as Jesus moved among them. Do we do the same today? Do we expect God’s blessing to make life only easy or comfortable? Are we missing the very presence of God in the midst of what we are going through?
When we surrendered our life to follow Jesus…what were we expecting?
This song speaks of the various unexpected ways that we might experience God’s blessings and presence. May it touch your heart as it did mine!
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I don’t think Jesus knew much about good public relations; at least not the kind that we tend to pay attention to. Sometimes, what He did can seem to make no sense at all.
Jesus begins His public ministry by turning water into wine thus rescuing the groom and his family from not only a social embarrassment but a possible fine. That’s how seriously 1st century Jews took their wedding celebrations! (John 2:1-11)
But then Jesus moves on to Jerusalem and the Passover celebration where He deliberately runs the merchants out of the temple courts. (John 2:12-25) Sort of destroys the notion that Jesus was mamby pamby or what we might call milk toast!
And this was no hot-headed outburst like road rage. Reread the text for yourself and notice that Jesus takes the time to make a whip out of cords. His outrage was deliberate and intentional!
If you’re trying to build a large following and get people on board with your new Kingdom agenda, wouldn’t a little more finesse and tact be in order? Don’t you want to work on gaining the favor of the people? No?! Then why would Jesus display such outrage?
Because His sole purpose in life was to please God.
Jesus loved people enough to take on our human nature and suffer a brutal death at the hands of the Romans; but apparently there were times when He didn’t give a rats’ a** about popular opinion. If it came down to pleasing the Father or pleasing people, the Father came first EVERY TIME!
This sort of begs a question that each of us needs to wrestle over.
Who are we living to please?