Three moments in history and one dramatic confession.

IMG_6754

11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

14Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.  John 20:11-18

“I have seen the Lord.”

Mary began with a statement of fact.

“I have seen the Lord.” He said, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

And so the good news of the Kingdom was now more real, but not yet fully realized.  I’m sure they had lots of questions!

Mary’s confession is a proclamation that screams “Jesus is alive!” I imagine that their confusion would have been about both how and why? Now a search for meaning would ensue that had three historical moments to understand: The birth of Jesus, the crucifixion of Jesus and The Resurrection of Jesus.

The Resurrection of Jesus requires us to examine the Scriptures and understand what His life, His death, and His Resurrection means. After the disciples met the Risen Lord they had to wrestle with the question, “What has God done through the Lord Jesus Christ?” What is this Gospel?

One of the first written accounts of the Resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 highlights the Gospel narrative and its rootedness in historical events. Paul writes:

1Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 1 Corinthians 15:1-8

Our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord reaches back to a historical moment in which we believe God has acted decisively for His glory and our benefit  through the life, the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But the reason we have examined the first two historical moments is because of the last, Jesus’ resurrection. It changed everything!

“I have seen the Lord.”

The King who died on a cross.

IMG_6372

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.  Luke 23:32-49

Jesus is the King, the Christ of God, who died the death of criminals.

Jesus, who could have saved Himself, remained for the salvation of all.

Jesus, who will justly judge all, forgave those who unjustly judged Him.

Jesus gave grace for one who believed even as He made Paradise accessible to those who find in Him the righteousness that comes by faith.

Praise to the Lamb who was slain! Praise to the King who died on a cross.

Pragmatic disciples are so quick to miss a beautiful thing.

IMG_8647

6 Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. 8And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”  Matthew 26:6-13

Every pragmatic, highly committed, value driven disciple needs to keep this woman in mind.

Jesus knows us!

Timing matters.

Sometimes extravagance is exactly what the moment requires.

We can’t always predict these moments, especially if we are not in the know. Especially if we have an operation to run.

But she had a plan. And she followed through.

She knew what love and devotion for Jesus was motivating her to do for Him.

For Him.

A beautiful thing.

That’s what the pragmatic disciple is likely to miss.

Lord help me!

If you are yelling…

IMG_2430

1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  2The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. 3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. 4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.  Proverbs 15:1-4

If you are yelling, you are probably not listening. And the other person isn’t able to listen either. If you are party to such I must commend to you wisdom that roots out the anxiety, folly, and perverseness.

The mouth of the wise contrasted with the mouth of a fool:

Soft answers    –    Harsh words
Knowledge     –     Folly

Gentle tongue brings life   –   Perverseness breaks the spirit

In the middle of the short discourse on speech and conflict the teacher commends awareness of God: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”

It reminds me of Paul’s pursuit of the Lord’s peace for a conflict among two leaders in the church of Philippi:

5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

So next time in the midst of conflict remember: Jesus is here; anxiety ramps up irrationality disturbing the heart and mind; seek God and speak softly.

Under the Social Press

IMG_0267

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.  1 Peter 4:1-2

The book of 1 Peter is full of Peter’s concern for Christians under pressure. The members of his churches were under social pressure generated by their choices to follow Jesus and abandon patterns of sin. The pressure produced temptation to abandon Jesus. So Peter encourages them to consider how Jesus suffered when he committed Himself to the will of God. We need to “arm” ourselves with His attitude so we can leans into the will of God. We must enlarge our view of God’s authority over all people and His judgment over all. He writes,

For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.  1 Peter 4:1-5

Isn’t it strange? Here’s how the social press works when it comes to the flood of debauchery, especially if you had been part of the “in” crowd. Non-participation is suspect. You become strange when you refuse to participate. You are judged and maligned.

But Peter reminds us we suffer with our Lord Jesus Christ and He is a greater judge. We live not for ourselves, but for Him who loves us.