Easter 2020

The Christmas story and the Easter story have always intrigued me as the focal points of the Christian faith.  My sense is that many people treat them as singularities, to be celebrated in grand fashion, but wholly separate from one another.  This has always given me pause.  I keep asking myself…  “How can you have a cross without a manger?  How could there be a man without a baby?”

The two images are more like a microscope and a telescope.

Looking back through the microscope of a manger scene where Jesus lies wrapped in “swaddling clothes” we see the creation of life as God intended.  Adam and Eve were perfect people, and God intended when they procreated, they would have perfect babies. Not perfect in the “oh how beautiful a child!” but one that is born with a perfect relationship with God.  This is what they enjoyed, and without that one awful decision when they listened to the Father of Lies, it may very well have been our reality today.  But that didn’t happen did it?

From the manger looking through the telescope of the cross where Jesus hangs on a Roman instrument of torture and death, we see a glimpse into God’s answer to the awful decision by Adam and Eve.  We see the great I AM giving His own life, so that we might be restored into that perfect relationship with our Creator.  We also see the truth of heaven revealed above the Savior’s head, there on a plaque was written, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”  He was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, and is a King, but not just of the Jews.  The great I AM is King of the universe!

What grabs me is how fickle the hearts and minds of people can be at times.  One gift given to all mankind, in the form of a baby destined to become Savior of the world, is not enough for some.  We have turned the story of a Savior into a gift-giving madness where bigger is better, and more is better, and regardless of what we do receive it is never enough.

We watch the Easter  vids, or we listen to the stories of people lining the streets waving palm branches and throwing their outer cloaks on the ground as Jesus makes His way into Jerusalem and we too have a sense of celebration.  But these first-century folks were fickle too, they went from shouting “Hosanna!” to “Crucify Him!” in a short minute.  We buy new outfits, new dresses, to gather in a place of worship and shout “Hosanna!”  After which, our lives go back to normal, whatever normal may become these days.

But here’s the thing.

There is a third part of the story.  Life in the manger didn’t end on a Roman cross.  In a garden tomb, the light of the world overcame death in a final victorious resurrection.  Jesus the man, was transfigured into His true identity – Jesus the LORD – for the final time.  He rolled away that stone from inside the tomb and walked out the other side.  Or did He?

My question is not whether or not Jesus Christ is alive today.  My challenge is to get us past this idea that as the transfigured LORD how He could have been held by any tomb or any boulder across its opening?  Why would He need to roll away the stone to leave the tomb, if later that day He would appear in a locked room without having come through the doorway?   Yes, the stone was rolled away.  Maybe just pause and think for a moment, that happened for YOU as a SIGN of the resurrection… not to facilitate His leaving!

The microscope of the manger and the telescope of the cross will have no transforming effect on your life today if you don’t believe then apply the empty tomb and resurrection of the Savior.  Here it is, and you know you’ve heard it a million times from me in the past couple of years.

Jesus is LORD.

The Lordship attributes of Jesus are:

Jesus is in Control
Jesus in sole Authority over all things
Jesus is present with us, right here, right now

This Easter we are sheltered in place and not meeting at the House of Worship.  You think it’s hard being cooped up where the kids are screaming, you’ve gained 5 pounds eating snacks all day, and watching more TV in a few weeks than in your entire life?

Imagine being dead, and in a cold, damp tomb for just three days!  Jesus didn’t “want” to be there any more than you want to be at home right this minute.

But He did it to save mankind.  Because this was God’s will.  He said “yes” to God’s will.

How about we do it for the same reason?  For just a few more days, weeks, or whatever it takes…

Can we do it?  I really think so.

Because I believe in Jesus as LORD, and He has got this!

Happy Easter ya’ll!  Praise the LIVING LORD JESUS for all He is doing … that we can’t even see!

Shock Factor

Jolt

jolt

It’s Monday.  To me it’s just another day of the week.  For many it’s the start of another work week after a weekend of decompression.  For those going back to work, Monday creates a noise in their souls,  like gears grinding against each other, as a giant clock once again gongs every hour, for eight, ten or twelve grueling hours.  I get out of bed, walk 30 feet to the coffee pot, hit the switch; walk another 30 feet to my office, and raise the blinds.  I sit at my desk and touch the keyboard and my computer is jolted back to life.  I check my email, check the news, flop around FaceBook for a few minutes, all the while listening for  the sound I long to hear … the beep… beep… beep… that my coffee is finally ready!  This beep jolts me to my feet as I almost run to the caffeine.  Monday… or every other day of the week… this is my normal routine.  I’m not really awake until I’ve experienced the shock factor of my morning brew.

I read an interesting article this morning about alternatives to coffee that offer you a morning jolt.  Matcha is a powdered Japanese green tea. Licorice tea is an herbal tea made from licorice root.  Wheatgrass is suggested as a natural energy booster.  Chaga Mushroom tea, traditionally used as a Chinese medicine.  And finally, Yerba Mate which apparently is very popular in parts of South America.  To read the article and benefits of each drink click here.

Here’s the thing.  None of these options sound good to me, and even the details in the article don’t really jolt me into attempting to find in them an alternative to my morning coffee.  I like my coffee.  I add a little sweetener, but I’m not a cream or fancy coffee guy.  What works, just works, and I don’t really like messing with it.  At times I’m shocked I’ve become so set in my ways.  But it happens.

The first day of the week, in the Jewish culture of the 1st century, that day was Sunday.  What the Jewish Sanhedrin didn’t know… because they were all probably still sleeping at the time… was that they were in for a big jolt of reality.  It would really help if we could watch a live video feed as word of the empty tomb of Jesus spread throughout the city.  First to the Jewish community, then to the Roman cohort who took place in the crucifixion on Friday.  These folks were going to have a really bad first day of the week.  They would need something stronger than a caffeine jolt to get them through it.

The shock factor of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is still compelling.  The facts of it are hotly debated even in religious seminaries across the world today.  The suggestion that it is a myth fabricated by the disciples to carry on the legacy of Jesus, is often adopted by those who find this explanation more palatable than the shocking truth that jolts them to the core of their existence.  Coffee doesn’t cut it for them either.

The shock factor of the angels, waiting on the women who came early to this tomb to tend the body of Jesus, jolts us into that cross over realm between our reality and God’s spiritual realm and the kingdom of heaven.  We have trouble comprehending the disciples reactions when Jesus appears to them, arrives in their company, when they know they locked the door after every one arrived.  Like a heavy jolt of shock therapy, the narrative opens the eyes of any seeker to see the total picture.  The story of Jesus includes: being born by a virgin, living 30 years as a carpenter’s son, and learning that trade, ministering for three years, being crucified on a Roman cross, being buried in a borrowed tomb, and three days later… reclaiming His life to demonstrate His power over death.  This narrative is electrifying!

No coffee in the world can shock you like this.  No matcha, licorice, wheatgrass, chaga mushroom, or yerba mate tea will do the trick either.  The jolt that comes from seeing the Divine acts of God intervening in human history, is like none other in the world.

But if you think this is shocking… God has reserved in His plan of redemption, another coming advent from the Son of God.  One day, Jesus is coming again.

The world is not ready for the jolt of reality this second coming will bring.

Are you?

 

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