Monthly Archives: April 2020

easter sunday

Well, team, we’ve made it. It’s here! Easter Sunday! Christ has risen from the grave, crushing the head of the enemy, defeating death and conquering the grave once and for all!

The reality of a Sunday Kingdom – where life wins over death – is upon us. We are a people that belong to the One who is found among the living.

Yet, this morning, as I read through and thought about the Gospel accounts of the third day, I couldn’t help but hang out with Thomas for a bit.

“But Thomas (called ‘Twin’), one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were telling him, ‘We’ve seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘If I don’t see the mark of the nails in his hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe.’
A week later his (Jesus’) disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Don’t be faithless, but believe.’
Thomas responded to him, ‘My Lord and my God!'” – John 20:24-28 CSB

If you’ve spent about 2 minutes in a church, you’ve probably heard about Doubting Thomas. I grew up picturing him as this snotty dude that rolled his eyes at his fellow disciples and was about as sarcastic as I hope to be when I grow up. He just has a bit of a bad rap with the church folk.

But over the last few months, and especially today, I find myself seeing Thomas in a different light, having more compassion for the guy.

Today I read these verses with a little color commentary in my own mind that went a lil somethin like this: “Guys, I can’t. I have put too much hope into this to be let down. Please do not fill my head and my heart with this if it isn’t true. I cannot continue to put hope out there and get hurt again. Friday crushed me. He died. Unless I touch Him, I can’t put myself out there for Him again.”

And then, a whole friggin week later, Jesus shows up (JUST BY WALKING THROUGH A WALL MIGHT I ADD), and gives Thomas what he needed.
“Here, Thomas. Put your finger here. It’s me. Don’t be afraid. I’m here.”

Thomas’ response hits my heart today. He needed the physical Jesus to ease his pain and fill his heart with hope again. He couldn’t just take someone else’s word for it.

And the most beautiful thing is that Jesus does show up again, and gives Thomas exactly what he needs.

He didn’t give him a 45 minute sermon on doubt and disbelief.
He didn’t tell him to find an accountability partner to ask him how he’s doing with trusting the Lord on a regular basis.
He didn’t shame him for having feelings that Christians “aren’t supposed to have.”

He gave him the Messiah he needed.
He gave him the Bread of Life.
He gave him his Resurrected King.

And that’s what I’m leaving Holy Week with – a Resurrected King.

But I’m also leaving Holy Week with a little bit of Thomas, asking Jesus to renew my hope by showing me Himself.

And I have no doubt that He’ll do just that.

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silent saturday

Picture it. Jerusalem. AD 33.

Did you read that like Sophia from Golden Girls? Because you should have.

There is no recorded account in Scripture about what happened today.

Jesus has been mocked, humiliated, abused, crucified, and buried. The tomb sealed. His disciples scattered. And the Sabbath day underway.

Today is a day of silence and hell.

Can you imagine being one of the twelve? Or one of the women that was present as He breathed His last? Or Joseph of Arimathea, “who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus” (Matthew 27:57), who just took the lifeless body of the Messiah off the cross and laid Him in his own tomb?

Oh and right, now it’s Sabbath. You do nothing until this day is over.

I went to a conference a few weeks ago, when going to conferences was still a thing we did, and the speaker talked about becoming a Friday, Saturday, Sunday community.

He talked about this cycle of death, burial, and resurrection, but specifically about how we have a tendency to skip through this day of hell. We have to be formed by all the days, yet we try to create resurrection Sunday without sitting through a silent Saturday, a day of hell, and allowing that to form us just as much as the new life that comes on the other side.

In a real big way, we are living a Saturday life right now. We are sitting in unknown territory. What we thought was secure and safe has been taken from us. We do not know what is going to happen tomorrow. We are a lot like those close to Jesus 2000 years ago.

I imagine that the thoughts going through their minds were not along the lines of, “Oh, but Sunday’s a’comin!”

I imagine they tracked a little closer to, “What.just.happened. He’s dead. What do we do? Will they come after us now? Are we safe? I just gave this man 3 years of my life! How dare he! Was none of it true?!”

And, honestly, I have similar thoughts myself.
“I’ve given this Man my life! Are you kidding me right now?”
“Am I safe?”
“Is none of this true?”
“Will He ever show up again?”

Yes, Christian, I know that Christ has the victory. I know that Sunday is coming. But I think we all need to tell our Saturday stories with a little more honesty going forward. We need to tell each other that sometimes, God is silent. Sometimes, we sit through days of hell and we have no clue if Sunday will come. Sometimes, Saturdays stay Saturdays and we don’t see resurrection for certain things.

Yet we can trust that even on a silent Saturday, God is still sovereign. Today is not out of place nor is it out of His control.

But it is Saturday.
For all they knew, He is dead.

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good friday

I have had some long days the past few weeks. Days that I thought might have no end. But, historically, this might be the longest day ever.

In the middle of the night, after Jesus and the disciples had left the Passover meal, Judas and a large mob came after Jesus at the place called Gethsemane, and thus begins the longest day in history. For the sake of you not having to read a 2000 word blog post, I would highly encourage you to go read this account in the Gospels:
•Matthew 26:47-27:66
•Mark 14:43-15:47
•Luke 22:47-23:56
•John 18:2-19:42

The part of the story that has always hit home for me is John 19:28-30, titled in most Bibles, “The Finished Work of Jesus.”

“After this, when Jesus knew that everything was now finished that the Scripture might be fulfilled, he said, ‘I’m thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was sitting there; so they fixed a sponge full of sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it up to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.” – John 19:28-30 CSB

After everything that Jesus had endured leading up to the state He was in, He knew that everything in Scripture – all that the Law and the Prophets had to say about being made right before God and how a Messiah would come to redeem all things once and for all – it was then that He gave up His spirit. It was not taken from Him. Even in His death, Jesus was in control.

Another thing I find interesting is the hyssop branch. Maybe people smarter than me have had things to say about this, but I’m too lazy to do the research right now. But what I have to say is this: at the institution of the first Passover in Exodus 12, the Israelites were told to use a hyssop branch to spread the blood of the sacrificial lamb over the door posts.
Psalm 51:7 NIV reads, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”

It is not lost on my that the branch used for spreading the blood so that death might passover is the same type of branch that touched Jesus’ lips before He gave up His spirit.
It is not lost on my that the branch the psalmist asked to be cleansed with is the same type of branch that was the final earthly thing to touch the Savior before the whole of humanity was cleaned by His sacrificial act.

And finally, it was finished.

According to John’s account, the final thing that Jesus cried out was “Tetelestai” meaning, “It is finished.”

About a year and a half ago I got that word tattooed on my body. It’s the newest addition of things that I have permanently marked myself with to anchor me in the Truth that I am quick to forget. An image that reminds me, especially on my darkest days, that I cannot add to or take away from what Christ had already done for me.

It. Is. Finished.

I am fully made right before God the Father because Jesus the Son saw everything that needed to be accomplished and accomplished it on my behalf.

Today – Good Friday – Christ has died. The perfect Passover Lamb has been slain. The debt owed for all of our rebellion has been paid.

In my story, there is still a lot of work to be done. But the most freeing thing that Christ has already given me is that ultimately, the work is already finished.

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maundy thursday

There is a LOT of Bible ground to cover in the Gospel readings for this day. I would highly recommend you take some time to read through John 13-17:26 because it’s beautiful and I’m not going to say anything about it here 🙂

What I’m going to say things about here covers other parts of the story, mainly the broken bread and the poured out wine.

I love – el-oh-vee-eee love – being with my friends around a table. So many beautiful, ordinary, yet significant moments in my life occur around a table over a meal, with a hot cup of coffee or a good glass of wine. While my body is being fed, so is my soul, and that might be the thing I long for most during this season.

We’ve reached the point in our story where Jesus is eating a good meal with his friends. A meal that they prepared and ate together every year commemorating the Passover Festival. To the disciples, this was likely beautiful and ordinary.

For Jesus and Judas, this was significant.

“As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take and eat it; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup and after giving thanks, he gave it to them and said, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. But I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.'” – Matthew 26:26-29 CSB

I’ve been thinking all day about the order of this encounter. Jesus took bread, blessed it, then broke it. The Bread of Life grabbed the bread on the table and broke it. Jesus was telling His people what was about to happen and they had no clue. But they received the broken bread from the Bread that was about to be broken.

A beautiful, ordinary meal flipped on its head and only two of them saw beyond the table they were at.

Jesus knew he was heading to his death.
Judas knew the hour had come for him to betray the One he had eaten so many meals with.

Typically, on this night, I would be gathering with my Gospel Community (church small group) and we would be partaking in a Christian Passover Seder meal. This meal is essentially a re-telling of God rescuing His people out of Egypt and a looking-forward to the full and final restoration that Christ will bring with His return. Throughout the meal we drink four (yes – four) cups of wine:
• The Cup of Sanctification/Freedom
• The Cup of Deliverance
• The Cup of Redemption
• The Cup of Thanksgiving and Hope

The final act of the meal finds the leader reciting: “Our Seder is now complete, just as our redemption is complete. We rejoice with thanksgiving, and yet are humbled by God’s love! Yet the story of God’s redemption is not ended. We celebrate what God has done in our history, and what he has done for us, but at the same time we still await a new future.”

More liturgy is recited and we, as a loud room full of ‘spirited’ people, conclude by raising our glasses high and toasting, “Next year in the New Jerusalem!”

Oh how I long to be at that table tonight. Sitting with my friends, eating the same meal that Jesus and Judas and the rest of the crew ate.

Their meal ended, Judas left, and I picture Jesus taking a deep breath before they left the upper room. The once-and-for-all Passover Lamb was about to be slain, and a room full of disciples just dusted the crumbs from their robes.

I don’t know how to wrap this one up. It feels very disjointed. I don’t like to leave things scattered, yet here we are. But in a way, that feels appropriate, because in the course of the story, chaos is about to reign down on this cast of characters.

So rather than trying to tie a neat bow around a chaotic piece of history, I’ll look forward to a good meal prepared by my own hands tonight, a full glass of good wine, and a longing for next year in the New Jerusalem.

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holy wednesday

“Then one of the Twelve, the man called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?’ So they weighed out thirty pieces of silver for him. And from that time he started looking for a good opportunity to betray him.” – Matthew 26:14-16 CSB

Things are takin a turn. Judas is ticked because Jesus told him to leave Mary alone and let her worship. He thought the perfume would’ve been of better use if they would’ve sold it to give money to the poor. Jesus, being Jesus, knew better.

Not only did He know the depths of Judas’ heart – that he cared more about the actual money than he did the poor he wanted to give it to – Jesus knew that in order for the plan to play out the way it was supposed to, He had to be sold and betrayed and given over. And Judas was the one that the enemy got to. He went to the religious elite and basically said, “Alright. What are you gonna give me if I give you Him?”

They bartered, made a deal, and Judas was on the lookout to hold up his end of the bargain.

I find myself a lil stuck today. I don’t have much to say except for even in this act, God is sovereign. Even on the brink of betrayal and torture and death, He knew and was in ultimate control.

I don’t understand why our ultimate redemption is kicked off with such a brutal betrayal.
I don’t understand why there wasn’t a different way out.
I can’t fathom the amount of restraint and humility Jesus had to endure on this Wednesday on His was to Calvary.

I do understand betrayal.
I do understand longing for things to be made right.

And I’m so deep-in-my-bones grateful that Judas plotted against Jesus so that the story that ends in my salvation could continue to play out…

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