Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Waiting is a Test

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Have you ever had an offhand comment buzz around in your head...trying to get you to see something, understand something, put some pieces together...until you just have to sit down and figure out what is going on?

Last week, a post on facebook quoted my friend Melinda, who had been the featured speaker at the morning ladies' Bible study at church...that I don't attend, as I'm working away on the other end of the building.

But that quote got under my skin...and I finally had to spend 20 minutes scrolling through the past week's posts on Facebook until I found it again so I could record it.

'If you have an issue and you don't deal with it, it goes from being your shadow to being your introduction. ' 

 Last week, I read it, thought, 'Oh, that's good.'  and went on about the day's business.

But that thought kept nagging at me.

Your issue will become your introduction.  Your issue will become your introduction.  Your issue will become the first thing people notice about you and it will become your identity.  Do you want your issue to become your identity?

And so on.

Sunday morning, our worship set included the song 'Nothing Compares'...the bridge of which is a single lyric, repeated several times:

All my past is gone.

Of course, the context for that is all the yucky stuff, all the bad decisions and relationships and whatever that is in the past is covered by the blood once we come to Christ...we're new creatures, all things are new.

However, as I was singing that Sunday morning, I suddenly realized that also applied to past ministry positions, things I did for a season but are now in the past.  Good stuff, not yucky stuff.  But it's done now.

All my past is gone.

And I can carry that around...the 'I used to' , the 'I was' until the 'I used to' becomes my identity.  And if the 'I used  to' is my identity, how can I ever move into the new 'I am'?

Mix into that an epiphany yesterday morning...I have completed the course I felt I needed to take in the interim and, as is normal, I was chomping at the bit to get myself launched into the Next Thing.
Suddenly, I heard a question in my spirit...How many of those past ministry areas did you get involved with because that's what you wanted to do?

I pondered that.  And the only thing I could come up with was our attempts at being small group leaders.  Tried several kinds of small groups...and they just never got going.  There was a little good stuff from those efforts, but just a little, and then each fell apart in turn.  But all the other areas I've worked in...Sunday School teacher, youth group leader, Christian Women' Job Corps Bible teacher, Girls Ministry sponsor...came to me.  Some of them I even resisted doing for a bit.  None of them were positions I pursued at all.

And I got it.

I carried my Bible and journal to the sanctuary for lunch yesterday and had a contemplative quite time.  I ended up pulling all the mementos from the pocket on the back cover of my journal...my DIVE cards, plus a number of other odd notes and such.  One of them was from an exercise we did in the leader's session of the 2008 Women's conference...a prophetic writing that I wrote and then found I was writing for myself:

Blessed is the one who waits on Me, who doesn't run ahead.  
Waiting is a test.
I will take you all the way to the journey's end in an instant if you wait on Me before you start.
If you start without Me, you will be toiling when you could be resting and you will not get there any sooner.
So wait at the start -- rest and worship.  Deepen yourself in Me,  drink from the well there, and in due season I will come and take you Myself to the destiny you have before you.

Is. 46:4  - 'Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.'  

For the first time in quite a while, I suddenly had peace about the NOW.  Because I don't have to figure out what is next...it will come at the time it is supposed to come.  I don't have to go find it or create it or push my way into it.

What a relief. ;-)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

4-15-15 Hodgepodge and SSMT verse 8

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi 

Things have been pretty serious around here of late; time for a little hodgepodge fun.

Joyce at From this Side of the Pond has come up with more fun questions for tax day...

Click here to see the linky fun:

1. Speaking of April 15th...what's the most 'taxing' thing you've done recently?

The past weekend's drive to Indiana for my father-in-law's birthday celebration.  My Sweet Babboo had some work to do on his laptop, so I drove all day Thursday, a couple of hours on Friday and all day Sunday.  He was working, the kids in the back were on headphones...it was a really quiet trip.  As I like some conversation when I'm driving, it was kinda grueling to just...drive....  But he got his work done and I managed not to doze off so it's all good.

2. When did you last take a taxi somewhere and where was that somewhere?

I've never been inside an actual taxi; I think the closest thing was the hotel shuttle to the DFW airport the morning after the DIVE CREATIVE school wrapped up last October.

3. What's something you can do today that you couldn't do a year ago?

Spend Wednesday nights at home if I want.  This time last year the girls' classes that I taught were still running; they were discontinued in August and, in some ways, I'm still having a hard time with it (just bein' honest).  I know something new is coming but I haven't a clue what yet.  But, you know, God is good, and I don't think it was coincidental that I read this on Beth Moore's blog on Monday:

'God will not leave us comfortless. He will not leave us alone. He will not leave us fruitless. He will either resurrect the dead or grow something brand new....Water it with your tears if you must but release your fears that nothing but nothingness is ahead for you. Is God your God? As sure as He is, new life is coming.'

That hit me right where I needed it.

4. How often is chicken (in some form or fashion) on your menu at home? Which of the following would you most like to see on your table tonight...a chicken salad sandwich, your mom's fried chicken, a Chick-fil-A meal, Cracker Barrel's chicken n' dumplings, a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings, or 'hold the chicken, I'm a vegetarian'...?

I probably serve chicken in some form about half the time I actually cook a meal.  Trying to be health conscious and all that...besides, the price of beef is just about out of reach.  I'd really enjoy sitting down to a plate of my mom's fried chicken! With mashed potatoes and milk gravy and home canned green beans.... That would be a real treat!

5. What was your favorite television program when you were a kid? What characters do you remember the most?

I am not really sure what my favorite program was... I loved The Wonderful World of Disney on Sundays, Looney Tunes on Saturday mornings (Pussyfoot the black kitten was probably my favorite character; the Singing Frog was probably second...),  I actually had a crush on Johnny Quest when I was about 6.  And I'm old enough to remember reruns of The Mickey Mouse club...and Captain Kangaroo...

6. What was the last piece of 'art' you made?

Oy.  I am so not an artist.  But I made myself a pretty artistic omelet last week. :-)

 7. What frustrates you most about the Internet?

Can't-live-without-it-but-it-has-consumed-life.  The connection is wonderful.  The connection is oppressive.  Must find time to check (email, facebook, blog comments, etc etc etc).  So cool to share with so many.    So little time left for folks in real life.  Love it...hate it...frustrating...

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Today is the due date for the Siesta Scripture Memory Team Verse #8...My pastor quoted a verse recently that I thought I should like to look up.  So, today I chased it down, with the thought that it might make a good SSMT verse.  When I read it with the verse following...well, it's another confirmation to me.

Ps. 92:13-14, NIV 84:

Planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green

Monday, April 13, 2015

Honor where Honor is Due

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I had a rare privilege over the weekend.

I got to attend a 90th birthday celebration for someone who's been an example and inspiration for untold numbers of folks.

A purple-heart WW2 vet, he was a high school chemistry and math teacher for decades.  He and his wife (who, after their 4 kids were all in school, became a biology teacher) were senior class sponsors year after year, until their retirement from teaching in 1982.

He was part of an award-winning barbershop quartet back in the day, and still sings in the church choir every Sunday.

From California, Alabama and Pennsylvania his kids and their families trekked in and congregated in the party room of his favorite restaurant.

He didn't know anything about it until he walked in and saw everyone.

My Sweet Babboo posted a little item on the town's 'You grew up in..' facebook page.  Comment after comment appeared on the post as former students left memories and good wishes.

It was totally worth the 26 hours we spent on the road over the course of 4 days.  What a blessing to be part of the legacy.

Happy 90th Birthday to my Father-In-Law.  He is loved by many.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The difference a day makes

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

We know the end of the story...we know that the women are going to find angels at the empty tomb, that Peter and John will puzzle over the graveclothes and face cloth, that the disciples going to Emmaus are going to have a very unique traveling companion...we know all of this when we open our eyes on Easter morning and declare to each other with joy, 'He is risen!'

But it wasn't like that when it was happening.

Passover had been followed by the Sabbath; the women could not get to the tomb to properly do the burial anointing until the morning of the third day...which was the first day of the week.  This task had loomed over them as they had prepared the traditional meals for their families,  prayed the prayers, gone through the rituals that were usually so comforting and so encouraging.  This year, the celebrations were no doubt somewhat subdued.  But, perhaps it gave the ladies something to focus on so their grief did not overwhelm them.

The disciples, having already eaten Passover, were basically in hiding.  There was nothing to distract them from going over and over the events...how could they have allowed Jesus to be taken and killed?  Why had they all deserted him?  How foolish their arguments over who would be the most important official when Jesus set up his kingdom appeared now!  Morning of the third day dawned after another night of fitful, restless disoriented grief and fear.

But the ladies were now able to do something.  They could do one last bit of service for Jesus.  So they assembled their spices and ointments and headed to the tomb.  They apparently didn't know about the Roman guard, which was set the day after Jesus was buried, because their concern was rolling away the heavy stone, not persuading the guards to allow them to access the tomb.  They had to be trying to get themselves ready to deal with the gruesome task of anointing a bloody body that was beginning the third day in the grave...and the staggering grief that would surface to see the one they had followed and loved in such a condition.   Everyone has faced that situation...every step leads closer and closer to the dreaded task that must be done, although few have had such a horrible scene waiting.

But...just before they arrived at the tomb, the ground was shaken by what Matthew terms 'a violent earthquake'... which quite possibly knocked the women off their feet.  When they collected themselves and came down the path, they were astonished to find Roman guards out cold and an angel sitting on the stone, which had been rolled away from the entrance to the tomb. 

Keep in mind the ladies were already in a highly emotional state; they were shaken by the earthquake and probably terrified by the sight of the seemingly dead guards and the angel.  The narratives all move very quickly, but putting them all together it appears that they had a discussion before they dared approach the tomb, with the result that Mary Magdalene left the group and hurried to tell the disciples what happened.  The other ladies, perhaps overcome by curiosity, eventually moved close enough to the tomb that the angel called to them and invited them to see that Jesus had gone.  Some apparently were terrified and turned around and went home, too frightened and confused to talk to anyone, but at least two ventured to go into the tomb, and there met two more angels who repeated the same incredible news as the first...Jesus was not dead, but living, and they were to go and tell the disciples that Jesus would meet them in Galilee.  These brave ladies, shaking and trembling from shock and fear but seeing that something unexpected had happened and beginning to hope that it could be as the angels said, headed towards the house where the disciples were holed up.

Meantime, Mary had roused the house and delivered her news and Peter and John were on their way to the tomb.  They must have taken a different route as it does not appear they met the women, but Someone Else did.  Jesus Himself met them, and repeated the instructions to the disciples to meet Him in Galilee.  Now the ladies ran with news to the disciples.

After the women left the tomb, the angels departed and the soldiers roused from their stupor, picked themselves up, brushed themselves off and looked around. The stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty...the very thing they were charged with preventing.  They headed off to town to talk to the Jewish leaders.

John came running full tilt to the tomb, going to the door and peering in, hesitant.  Peter came a few minutes later and did not hesitate, walking past John to see what was -- and wasn't -- in the tomb.  John followed him and they saw that the graveclothes were lying where Jesus had been, and the napkin that had wrapped his head was laid deliberately folded by itself.  But there were no angels...nothing to hint at what had taken place.  John got excited...Jesus had been resurrected!  It was the only explanation!  Peter, though, was suspicious that there was some other explanation...perhaps he suspected the Jewish leaders of plotting to do away with Jesus' body.  The women were emotional; he didn't trust their accounts.  It was a very mismatched pair that returned to the house: John jubilant; Peter expecting another disappointment.

The rest of the day was much the same...individuals randomly reporting that they had seen Jesus...strange accounts of Him suddenly appearing and disappearing.  The disciples scarcely knew what to think.  All the miracles they'd seen had hardly prepared them for such a thing.  It was outside their experience, outside their comprehension.

Then two more men arrived, having run almost all the way from Emmaus, and related the story of how they had spent most of the day with Jesus.  Before they got the entire story out, Jesus Himself just showed up in the room...showed them His scars, and ate some fish.

It was Him.  He was there.  He was real.

Now...those who had followed Him could celebrate. How different from the hopeless dawn...now, they could tell one another with joy, 'He is risen!'  The world had changed forever.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Resist the Devil

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi


Jesus is in the tomb.  The disciples are keeping a very low profile, wondering if the Sanhedrin would come after them next...or even Roman soldiers, since Jesus had been crucified as a threat to Rome.

Except for one.

Judas had not meant for Jesus to die.  He didn't expect Jesus to die.  Whatever his thought processes were, as the events unfolded throughout the day, and it became more and more obvious that Jesus was not going to do anything to prevent His death, Judas was horrified....then wracked with guilt.

Make no mistake, the enemy was still in control of Judas.  Only now, instead of driving Judas to do what he wanted done, the enemy was now bent on destroying his tool. Because that's what the enemy does.  His real target is not people...his real target is God.  Anything that he can do to wound and thwart the Father, he will do.  So, now having corrupted Judas, he began to drive him to destruction so that there was no possibility of repentance. 

And he did this by attacking Judas for the very thing he had pushed him to do.  Grief - guilt - condemnation- shame...the enemy was ruthless in his attack.

Matthew is the only gospel that records what happened to Judas.  In his narrative, Matthew relates the story of Judas's remorse just after Jesus was bound over to Pilate.  But -- as is recorded all through the accounts of the trials and crucifixion, the chief priests and elders were right there. So, unless there were some of the leaders who stayed behind while the majority of them attended the trials, Judas had to have come to them after Jesus was in the tomb, when all was done and they were assembled again.

Luke tells the story in Acts 1 in a flashback to explain why Matthias was selected to be numbered among the apostles.  Matthew's account and Luke's account vary slightly; Matthew, being an eyewitness, probably has the more accurate version.  Luke's is based on what he was told, and he has condensed it a bit.

Combining the two accounts, here's what appears to me to have happened, grisly details and all:

Judas, full of guilt and remorse, tried to undo the deed by returning the bribe money to the Jewish leaders.  They, however, did not want any part of it and refused to take it back.  So Judas threw the money down and went to the most forsaken place...the potter's field...and hung himself on a dead or weak tree branch, possibly using a shawl or sash from his attire.  The priests picked up the coins, probably very gingerly, and set the money aside as they debated what to do with it.  After the feast was over, word came to them that Judas's body had been found in the potter's field.  Either the tree branch or what ever he had used for a rope had broken and his body, stiff and bloated, had fallen hard and ruptured, spilling blood and guts everywhere.  So the leaders took the money, bought the field, and used it to bury Judas and any other indigent foreigners who died in the city from that point on.  'Field of Blood' probably referenced both the blood money that bought it and the blood that stained it.

They didn't realize that even the purchase of the field for the thirty coins they had paid for Jesus also fulfilled a  prophecy about Him.

Judas's story is one of the most extreme examples of the way the enemy works on people.  Even people who are close to Jesus are not exempt from his attacks...so it is imperative that we learn to identify them. Using the three possible motives I mentioned earlier,  here are examples of what to watch out for:

1) Judas was a zealot who was trying to force Jesus to declare Himself king. -- the trap here is that the enemy gets us to believe that we know better than God; that God needs our help.  The words he uses here...and believe me, I have heard them...are words along the lines of 'if you don't do something, it's not going to happen!'  or 'you can't just let this slip by!'  Abram and Sarai fell to this trap...and so Ishmael was born.

2) Judas was trying to cover up his moral failure regarding the moneybag -- this is an ongoing attack; it began with the temptation to give in to the thing that now needs to be dealt with, and the enemy convinces us that we CAN'T confess and be forgiven...we'd lose everyone's good opinion, we'd be disqualified for our position...whatever...and begins to offer ludicrous cover up schemes that somehow look better than being open and transparent.  Think of David's cover up of his affair with Bathsheba that resulted in Uriah the Hittite, along with a number of other soldiers, being killed in a deliberately bungled battle.

3) Judas was offended and bitter and was trying to get even or prove he was someone of significance.
The red flags for this attack are thoughts that center around the words 'I, me, my, mine'....
I could've done that better...no one listens to me...why is my time less important than theirs...that job is mine and nobody else should do it...no one understands me...they must think I'm stupid...everyone ignores my ideas...etc etc etc.  This is deep-seated resentment that blows up in ways that are totally out of character and almost always devastating.  Often the offenses that provoke those responses are not even as they seem, but are misunderstandings or misinterpretations. An offended spirit such as this clouds judgement and results in actions that are totally unexplainable.  Samson is a good example of someone who reacted out of such self-centeredness, as is King Saul.

Peter, who had some experience with failure himself, wrote Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (1 Pet. 5:8)

James relates the best and simplest solution: Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Grieve, mourn and wail.  Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.  (4:7 - 10)

Recognizing the enemy's attack is a good bit of defeating it.  Submit to God...resist the devil...repent of sin and focus the heart...recognize, repent, confess...humbly before God...and HE WILL lift you to where you should be.  Which is not the place the enemy is determined to have you.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Full Extent of His Love

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Between writing yesterday's post and this one, I slept.  As did most of the inhabitants of Jerusalem between Jesus' arrest and dawn the next day.  Oblivious.

But there were many who did not sleep that night.  Clandestine meetings, discussions, crowds in the courtyard...and at dawn, Jesus, who had now been beaten, slapped and spit upon, was pulled out of Caiaphas's palace, tied and fettered, at the moment a rooster crowed to greet the day.  Peter,  who had just denied knowing Him for the third time,  heard the rooster and remembered Jesus telling him he'd do that just as Jesus came out ...and looked straight at him for just a moment (Luke 22:61). 

It's interesting that the leaders took him to Pilate for judgment.    Their statement 'we have no right to execute anyone' (John 18:31) was not strictly true...they could, and did, stone people who were in violation of the Law.  Jesus Himself had narrowly escaped being stoned on more than one occasion; He prevented the stoning of the woman in John 8, and Stephen was stoned several years later.  None of those events involved the Romans in any way.

Which goes a long way towards explaining Pilate's irritation with them and his reluctance to get involved.

So why did the Jewish leadership insist that Jesus be executed by the Romans?

It was Passover week.  There were rules in place about being ceremonially clean for the feast; had the Jews stoned Jesus,  there would have been issues with that point.  They would not even come in to Pilate's palace to avoid contamination.  They would have to have waited until after the feast to stone Him...and then they would have had to deal with the public.  Jesus had been apprehended at night and tried in secret; the general public was still unaware of what had happened.   But if the Romans executed Him, the soldiers could and would deal brutally with any uprising.  The Jewish leaders would not have to be concerned about losing their place due to a riot.  Furthermore, the Romans would do it that very day, before the news spread and the people had time to respond.

They totally missed the fact that by turning Him over to be crucified, rather than stoning Him, they were fulfilling even more prophecies proving Him to be the Messiah.  Remember, Jesus started the events in motion when He sent Judas out to do quickly what he would do. This was HIS timing.

But Pilate was reluctant to cooperate; he sent Jesus off to Herod, to let Herod deal with Him under the weak argument that Jesus was from Galilee and therefore one of Herod's subjects.  But Herod really didn't want to deal with it, and, frustrated that Jesus would not so much as answer him, he and his soldiers ridiculed Him and beat Him and sent Him back to Pilate.

Meantime, word had begun to spread and people were gathering.   But just who these people were is something of a mystery.  Were they the same people who had sung Hosanna to Jesus just a few days earlier? The ones who came to the temple every day to hear Him teach?  Or were they people known to be suspicious of Jesus, who were friends and allies of the leaders who had brought Jesus to Pilate?

John only mentions the chief priests 'and their officials' as being the people that Pilate is bargaining with, there is a number of them, to be sure, but he does not mention a crowd of people. The synoptics do imply a crowd of people had assembled, but state that the leaders had already influenced them to shout for Jesus' death.  Either way, the fix was in.

Pilate still tried to get the Jewish leaders to agree to releasing Jesus.  He offered them a deal he thought they couldn't refuse...he would release either Jesus or Barabbas, who was a violent criminal scheduled for crucifixion that day. But to his surprise and disgust, the people...whoever they were...insisted that Barabbas should be released. Fail.

Pilate tried one more time, thinking perhaps that if Jesus were shown to be weak and ineffectual, those so opposed to Him would relent, and had Jesus scourged.

But Pilate failed there, also.  When Jesus was brought before them for the last time,  after being beaten several times throughout the night and scourged by the Romans, in the mock king's robe,  bloody and battered and virtually unrecognizable, there may very well have been people in the crowd who had sung Hosanna but now felt cheated and deceived...this was the one they believed would throw off the Roman oppression? 

But the majority of the people were following the script provided for them by the leadership. 'Crucify Him!'

Pilate still held back, until the Jewish leaders played the Caesar card, essentially threatening that he would be held a traitor by Rome if he didn't crucify this upstart king...and Pilate washed his hands and handed Jesus over for crucifixion.

There are people who try to explain later events by saying that Jesus passed out on the cross and was mistakenly determined to be dead...and recovered in the tomb.  Because, they say, death from crucifixion takes days, not hours.  But they are overlooking the fact that Jesus was grievously wounded before He was even put on the cross.  He already had injuries that could possibly be fatal. He had already lost a good deal of blood.  The wonder is not that He died so quickly...but that He survived, and kept his wits, long enough to recognize the point at which everything had been accomplished...He had done everything that had been prophesied about Him...and declare 'It is finished!'

He had nothing whatever to do with fulfilling the prophecy that He would be laid in a new tomb.  But it was fulfilled...and the Jewish leaders managed to get Pilate to seal the tomb and set a guard to prevent a false resurrection.  It's ironic that they understood Jesus to say He would be resurrected, while His own disciples were not expecting it.

The first time I read, and comprehended, Luke's account of the eye contact between Jesus and Peter as the rooster crowed, I was undone.  Jesus knew exactly where Peter was and looked at him.  Peter had just done the thing he swore he would never do...he had failed.  But Jesus knew, and in spite of what was happening to Him, he looked at Peter.  When have I failed Jesus?  Did I know He was looking at me?  That He wanted to remind me that He knows?  That He intercedes for me, that I will strengthen others when I have turned back from the failure?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Lamb of God

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The first day of the feast.

Wherever Jesus was when the day began,  the disciples came to Him and asked Him where they would be celebrating Passover.  Perhaps they assumed they'd had an invitation from friends...

But He told them to go into the city and find a guy with a water jar and follow him to the place where they would share the traditional meal.

Kind of strange instructions, but they did as He said, found the guy with the jar who took them to a room and they made their preparations there.  Tradition says it was the house of John Mark, or rather, his mother's house.

That evening, Jesus came with the twelve who had been closest to him, and they ate the meal together.

Matthew, Mark and Luke record the sharing of the bread and the cup, over which Jesus makes His rather  peculiar statements of 'this is my body' and 'this is my blood....remember Me.' John relates the foot washing. 

A number of years ago, I was privileged to attend a  seder demonstration done by Paul Wilbur, the Messainic Jewish worship leader. It was paradigm-shifting, and jaw-dropping as he explained its symbolism.  The Passover meal wasn't just a pitch in dinner; it has a prescribed menu and a prescribed ritual that goes along with it.  When Jesus took the bread at the end of the meal, it wasn't just any ol' piece of matzah bread...it was the specific piece known as the 'afikomen'.  (Google that and read about it).  It is hidden early in the meal, and brought out...often, the children are sent to find it...at the very end.  It is the last thing eaten.  In modern  times, the afikomen is thought to represent the Passover lamb.

Just think about that for a minute.

The Passover lamb is unique.  Unlike other sacrifices, it was not a sin sacrifice.  Nowhere is atonement mentioned in connection with the Passover lamb. It was killed, and eaten, to give strength to the Hebrews who were about to undertake a very strenuous journey.  The Passover lamb gave its life so that God's people could have life. It was a symbol of the relationship between God and His people...the blood of the Lamb identified them. 

Think about that for a minute.

John the Baptist's declaration of Jesus as 'The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world' was a kind of odd statement for that day...combining the Passover sacrifice with the atonement sacrifice.  Yet, here was Jesus at the Passover, equating himself with those specific elements...the body broken, the blood shed. His statements about the bread and the wine had way more impact than we recognize in our culture...it wasn't just about breaking bread or crushing grapes.  He was specifically identifying Himself as the Messiah.  The disciples should've understood it. 

After He finished the supper and washed their feet, He recognized the demonic influence in Judas, identified Judas as the one to betray Him, and sent him off to do it. 

Jesus was completely calling the shots.  Judas was just watching for an opportunity...Jesus intentionally gave it to him.  When Jesus and the disciples later left the room, they went to the Mount of Olives...Gethsemane...quite possibly the same place they had gone the last few nights.

All Jesus would've had to do to save Himself at that point was go hide again.  The traitor was identified and sent away.  If He had just gone somewhere Judas didn't know, He would have been safe.

But He went to the place Judas knew.  A place that was far away from the crowds, where no one would be disturbed.  The ideal location for the men (they were NOT Roman soldiers!  Not yet!) sent from the Jewish leaders to arrest Him.

Jesus deliberately picked that place...may even have prepared it ahead of time.  And He went with the guards without resistance.  There is no mention of anyone abusing Him.  After picking themselves up off of the ground after Jesus spoke just three words...and seeing him heal Malchus's ear...I think they dealt with Him very carefully as they took him back into the city.

The abuse would come at the hands of others.

Jesus was deliberate in His actions on my behalf.  How deliberate am I in reflecting that dedication to those around me?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Set your eyes and follow....

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

(all scripture today from NIV 84)

Of all the narratives of what happened Holy Week, Mark gives us the closest thing to a daily breakdown.  He describes morning and evening for the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the next day (where he records the cleansing of the temple), and the next day, which ends with the Olivet Discourse.  Matthew records all of the teachings and discussion that happened during that time as if it all happened the day after the Triumpant Entry;   Luke records that Jesus taught in the temple every day (19:47), but doesn't even attempt to organize the narrative into a timeline, preferring to say things like, One day as he was teaching....  John spends the least amount of time discussing the teaching in the temple that week...possibly because he had written his gospel years after the first three were circulating and felt that had been covered well enough...but he does end his very brief discussion by saying, When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and  hid himself from them.

It is difficult to tell how long Jesus hid Himself...or if He hid Himself just from the crowd and his antagonists or if He went  away into complete hiding from even His disciples.  The last time reference is 'two days before Passover'; the next time reference we see is Matt. 26:17, On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread..., and we see the same reference in Mark 14:12.  Two days are not specifically accounted for.   My feeling is that He taught at least one more day after the Olivet Discourse, so that Luke's statement that He taught every day in the Temple has significance...'two days' hardly would make up 'every day', but He may very well have taught at least a bit on the last day before Passover.  The incident John records, with the Greek Jews who want to see Jesus, seems to imply that His time is imminent:

Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say?  Father, save me from this hour?  No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name!

Then a voice came from heaven, 'I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.'  John 12:27-28.

I think the war between Jesus' divine nature and His humanity was already raging by the last day He appeared publicly...whether it was 2 days before Passover or the day before Passover.   John is not narrating on a strict timeline; he makes a bit of commentary, then the last part of chapter 12 seems to be something Jesus would've said just before He hid Himself.  I think it was His departing speech, spoken out of the grief He was carrying.  I can see Him heading towards the exit, then turning one last time to the people, and speaking with great emotion.

Then Jesus cried out, "When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only but in the one who sent me.  When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me.  I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
"As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him.  For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.  There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.  For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.  I know that his command leads to eternal life.  So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say."  - John 12:44 -50

One last plea for the people to recognize Him...and then He left. He was done talking to the public.

As it happens to be April 1, and the next SSMT verse is due, I decided to chose  a verse from today's reading, and I landed upon John 12:26:

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.  My Father will honor the one who serves me.

Following Him has particular significance in this passage in which He is very determinedly heading to the cross.  I can see an immediate application...the ones who served Him would follow Him, to the Garden, to the cross, to the tomb...because where He was, that's where His servant would be. Not many passed that immediate test. 

How willing am I to follow Jesus wherever He goes?  Whether He's leading me...or going because He must.  How do I truly follow Him?  How do I love praise from people more than praise from God?  What is God calling me to do about it?