From the monthly archives: March 2016

We are pleased to present below all posts archived in 'March 2016'. If you still can't find what you are looking for, try using the search box.

Heavenly Bodies: On the Promise of Resurrection


 


The Holy Spirit had been urging me to talk to her for four days. My sister-in-law lay unresponsive in her hospice bed. She had battled retinitis pigmentosa, which had left her virtually blind, and three different kinds of cancer. Unfortunately, she was losing the battle with the latest type of cancer. The Holy Spirit’s words reverberated in my mind. “Tell her that it’s okay, that I am waiting.”

Simple, right? Or not so simple. Every time I visited her, there were nurses and others in the room I didn’t know. I felt awkward to speak to her like this. “Any day now,” everyone said. “She surely can’t last much longer.” I tried to reason that she didn’t need me to speak to her, that “nature would take its course.”

God had a different opinion.

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Jesus Won by Losing: What We Gained in the King’s Ransom


 


“...the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

In his crucifixion, Jesus gave up things that were rightfully his in order to ransom his people from death. The crucifixion account in Mark’s gospel puts those clearly on display. Let’s consider the King’s ransom.

Jesus was falsely accused without a defense so that those who rightly would be accused could always have a defense (1 John 2:1).

And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. (Mark 15:1–5)

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Your Feet Are Dirty and Only Jesus Can Wash Them


 


Travelers in first-century Israel probably wished they owned Carhartt boots. Their sandals left their feet exposed to dirt, mud, rotting food, animal excrement and blood from dead animals and humans. I’ve been in countries where the streets are much the same. In those places, only the brave wear open-toed sandals, if they’re willing to deal with what they’re stepping in. In John 13 at the Passover meal, Jesus and his disciples wore ratty sandals and they had walked miles to get to Jerusalem.

The solution to those stinky feet was a servant/slave. As guests entered a home, the slave would stoop down, wash the guest’s feet of the foulness then dry them off. This allowed a tolerable abiding in homes. However, on the cusp of the Passover meal, with just the disciples and Jesus together, no one volunteered as they entered the house. Supper was prepared, everyone was ready to recline together and eat and tolerate the stink. No one served. And that was okay for them. But not for Jesus.

Here, Jesus, “knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands . . . rose from supper” (John 13:3-4). Knowing that the kingdom, authority, praise and honor were his — “all things” — Jesus chose to give. The Master served the slaves.

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Holy Tuesday: On the Bombings in Brussels and the Possibility of Peace


 


By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.

(Act 4, Scene 1, MacBeth by William Shakespeare)

I have a Spotify playlist called “Pain.” It includes a long list of songs of lament. After reading the news of the suicide bombings in Brussels, I opened that list and hit “Shuffle” then “Play.” “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin started the day.

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
When the levee breaks I'll have no place to stay


We live in an age of foreboding. In our thumbs we feel the pricking presence of provocations and payback. We all know that if it keeps on raining, the levee is going to break. All hell could break loose for any one of us at any time.

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Go Fig-ure: Jesus Wants to Redeem Our Authority


 


Jesus had a busy day at the office on the Monday after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. I mean, he did work, son. He cursed fig trees, he ran the chief priests in circles after they questioned his authority, he told a bunch of parables, he debated the Pharisees and, depending on how you read the order of events in the gospel accounts, he even kicked a bunch of people out of the temple (see Matthew 21:18-22:46 and Mark 11:12-19).

In all of the things that Jesus did and said on Holy Monday, one constant theme through all of it is that of authority. Yes, Jesus’ authority is on display — in cursing the fig tree, in cleansing the temple, in the debates with the religious elites — but our authority is also being addressed.

Authority is about the use of power. As image bearers of God, this means that power should be used to bring flourishing, to bring good. We are image bearers because God has given us authority (Genesis 1:26-30). When we express authority in creative, God-honoring and life-bringing ways, we mirror the divine.

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