Category: Jesus (Page 1 of 54)

He Did Everything

Palm Sunday begins with so much glory and promise. At last, God’s anointed has come! There’s shouting and singing and celebration and anticipation. Jesus has come to save us! He’s come to defeat the evil oppressors and to destroy the enemy! We’re in those swelling crowds around Jesus, following Jesus, praising Jesus, putting all our hopes for salvation in Jesus. And Jesus rides that donkey right into Jerusalem, through the Eastern gates, into the holy city, right into the heart of the temple precinct, and he does…

…nothing.

Nothing. Jesus doesn’t do anything.

“Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” ~Mark 11:11

Jesus doesn’t do anything. He doesn’t lead the crowd against the Roman garrison, he doesn’t physically confront the powers and authorities that are oppressing the people, he doesn’t even take the temple steps to make a stirring speech. He looks around for a little bit and then goes back to Bethany for dinner.

What a disappointment. What a letdown. What kind of Messiah is this? What sort of Savior?

I know sometimes it can feel like Jesus is doing nothing. And somebody has to do something! Jesus can’t just look around at everything, he can’t just look at my life and my struggles and my problems and just shrug his shoulders and go back to Bethany. He has to do something!

Jesus did do something. Jesus did something to finally and completely and ultimately destroy the effects of sin and death in your life and throughout the whole world forever. Jesus resolutely set his face toward Golgotha and walked to the cross. He died. On a cross. On purpose.

He allowed himself to be beaten and tortured. He allowed them to nail his hands and feet to the blood-soaked wood of that cross. He died willingly. He sacrificed himself. He could have called ten thousand angels. But he died alone. For you. For me. That’s what Jesus did. The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

This is how he saves you. This is how he loves you, to the point of absurdity. He loves you all the way to the cross. Purposefully, willfully, stubbornly even, dying on a cross.

Peace,

Allan

 

The Crown Says It All

Jesus willingly rode into Jerusalem to be crowned with this crown. This crown of suffering and pain and anguish and shame is an undeniable statement about the kingship of Jesus. This crown represents a completely different way to experience the world, a totally different way to view success, a whole different way to understand the realities of history. This crown says it all.

Jesus does not enter Jerusalem on a gleaming white charger or a jet-black war horse; he’s riding a common, lowly beast of burden. He’s not carrying a bunch of war trophies, there’s not a train of prisoners or captives behind him. In fact, by the end of the week, Jesus will be the One led down the streets and dragged outside the city gates to be executed.

Jesus does not share the people’s hopes and dreams for earthly glory and power. He’s not establishing a Kingdom to rival the Roman Empire. He’s come to suffer. And sacrifice. He comes to die. He comes as a King to be crowned. With this crown.

The King who wears this crown loves his enemies. His righteousness far surpasses that of the Pharisees. He was rich and he became poor for the sake of the world. As he’s dying on the cross, suffering and suffocating on that tree, he shows us what love looks like when he stares the evil of this broken world right in the face and says, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.”

This crown is not a hurdle or a barrier or a detour on the way to the Kingdom of God. It’s not something we have to overcome or power through to enter the Kingdom. This crown is not the way to the Kingdom at all.

This crown IS the Kingdom of God. This crown is the Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. This crown says it all. And the One who wears this crown is our almighty and eternal and all-sufficient and only King.

Peace,

Allan

Three Premises

Those who do not love feel superior to everyone else.
Those who love feel equal to everyone else.
Those who love much gladly take the lower place.

Each one of us can identify his position somewhere along this spectrum, which comprises the three degrees of the spiritual life here on earth:

Death for those who do not love.
Life for those who love.
Holiness for those who love much.

The beatitude of the merciful relates. like all the beatitudes, to the realm of holiness and we have to admit that Jesus set his sights high when he had the courage and confidence to place this lofty ideal before us. It is the beatitude that he himself lived to the full, stooping, out of love, to the lowest place, even to the extent of being rejected as a common criminal, fit only to be hung on a stake.

~ Carlo Carretto, In Search of the Beyond

A Different Kind of King

The Scriptures say that Jesus is the King. That’s wonderful news, yes? In the midst of the violence and turmoil in Ukraine, it is good to know¬† that this world has a King. On election day here in Texas, it is good to know we all have a King.

Except, Jesus didn’t go to Nazareth Prep School or to the Jerusalem Military Academy. He didn’t raise up a militia and march to Rome to confront the head of the occupying forces. The very first thing Jesus did after his coronation was to go out to the desert for a 40-day fast and face-off with the devil.

If you really are the Son of God, if you really are the King, then act like a King is supposed to act. If you really are the Son of God, turn these rocks into Subway sandwiches. I know how hungry you are. Use your power to make yourself something to eat.

If you really are the King, jump off the temple tower and walk away without a scratch. Blow the people away with your power and invincibility. Become a pop culture icon, a social media influencer, with your own reality TV show and a clothing line.

If you really are the King, take charge of all the kingdoms of the world. If you’re really the King, then rule! Take over the world and dominate! Win!

Jesus said, “No.” He straight up refused. Our Lord resisted the temptation to be a King the way all of us understand “king.”

We are so enamored with politicians and their potency. We’re so eaten up with their platforms and powers. We put their stickers on our cars and we stick their signs in our yards. We cheer as they manipulate. We identify as they insult. We exalt in their personality and force.

Jesus looks at all that and says, “No.”

The first things we really see about Jesus are not in what he affirms, but in what he rejects. We know right from the start that Jesus is not going to be a King the way everybody else is a king. It’s going to be different.

What ought to frighten us, or at least us give us great pause and lead us to careful reflection, is that most of us would give our right arm for the very things Jesus rejected. The things we cheer for, the practices we encourage, the ideals we most care about, the lines we draw, the issues that bring us the most joy, the things that cause us pain – I’m not sure they’re in line with our King and his Kingdom.

Jesus told Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my followers would fight.”

When you say, “Jesus is Lord,” it means Caesar is not. Jason and the Christians who were meeting in his house in Thessalonica were arrested and charged for that kind of talking and behaving. “They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another King, one called Jesus!” (Acts 17:7)

Jesus says you can’t serve two masters. You’re going to love the one and hate the other. You’re going to be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both.

Most people I know are trying to serve both.

Peace,

Allan

He Touched the Coffin

Jesus is walking to the little town of Nain. This little village is so small, so insignificant, so completely unimportant to anybody, that most scholars have no idea where it was located. This was a nothing town full of nobody people. But in Luke 7, Jesus is going there. That means something, yes?

“As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out – the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.” ~Luke 7:12

In that part of the world, at that time and place, it was over for this poor woman. If you’re a woman in that setting and your husband dies and then your only son dies, it’s a death sentence for you. This is a picture of utter despair and hopelessness.

“When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.'” ~Luke 7:13

Death is the ultimate sign that things are messed up. Any kind of sickness, too. Sickness reminds us that death is coming, eventually. We don’t know when or where or how, but we do know death is in the cards for all of us. Sickness reminds us of that. Sickness and death are connected. Death reminds us that this world is broken and things are not the way God created them and intended them to be.

“Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’ The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God… They said, ‘God has come to help his people!'” ~Luke 7:14-17

It’s important that Jesus touched the coffin. He touched the coffin and everything got still. Jesus touched the coffin and stopped death in its tracks. Where death was going, where death was taking this poor woman, what death had planned for this family – all of that was stopped cold as soon as Jesus touched the coffin.

According to the Law, when Jesus touched the coffin, it made him unclean. It tarnished him, it defiled him. According to the Law, it made Jesus an outcast, it separated him from the community of God’s people and, in some sense, for a while, it separated him from God. But he still did it. Jesus touched the coffin.

Jesus is willing to identify with the situation. He purposefully walks to the awful circumstance, he doesn’t back away. He touches the coffin, he goes to the problem, and he takes it into himself. He becomes one with your death. Whatever is killing you or threatening to kill you, whatever is stealing your joy, whatever is hijacking your hope, our Lord Jesus resolutely walks to it and touches it. He identifies with it, he identifies with you, he touches you, and he stops whatever is going on.

God in Christ has the amazing power to reverse the curse. God in Christ has the power and authority to fix everything that’s broken in your life and to make right everything in your world that’s gone wrong. And, praise the Lord, he has the desire, the willingness, and the grace to do it. For you.

At great cost to himself, yes. But he has that same grace for you.

Peace,

Allan

A People People

The dinner parties with Jesus remind us that we are living the way God created us and saved us to live, not in solitude or isolation, not by ourselves, but in community. We are saved by God and called by him to live in deep connection and relationship with others.

Think about it: Every single time anybody asked Jesus, “What’s the single most important command?” he refused. No, no, there’s not one important command, it’s two! Love God with everything you’ve got and love your neighbor the same way. Jesus made it clear that you can’t do one without the other.

We need God, yes. And we so desperately need each other. Jesus Christ is a people person and the Kingdom of God is a community of people people. The research bears this out. Especially in light of the global pandemic, the studies are showing that people are much healthier – physically, emotionally, mentally – when they live and work and play in tight connections with other people. You’re going to live longer, you’ll have fewer issues, if you do life with other people. It has very little to do with diet or exercise or health habits. According to the data, you’re better off eating donuts with a group of close friends than eating broccoli by yourself! Now, that’s a theology I can embrace!

That’s what Jesus is showing us with these dinner parties. The Kingdom of God is lived and practiced and experienced in community with other people.

Peace,

Allan

« Older posts