Tag Archives: Jesus

Amazed (or Mark 2, part 2)


Yesterday I posted some thoughts from Mark 2:1-12, but I really only made it through part of the story. So here are a couple of thoughts on the rest of the story. Let me know what you think about the passage.

Mark 2:1-12

New Living Translation (NLT)

When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”

But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”

Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”

I’ve been thinking about this story in two parts. First, the friends and what they did to get the paralyzed man in front of Jesus. Second, I’m not sure Jesus’ response was what the guys were expecting.

It is pretty awesome to me that it is the faith of the friends that moves Jesus to respond. But I have been wondering if his first response was what the guys expected. At this point in the story, people have heard about Jesus healing people with incurable illnesses. So that makes me think the four guys were taking their friend to Jesus so he would heal him. But that was not Jesus’ first response. Did you read what Jesus said?

“My child, your sins are forgiven.”

It surprised people! I think it may have even surprised the four guys on the roof looking down. But here is what I think is significant about that.

Jesus knew what the guy really needed.

Even if his friends did not know the depth of the man’s need, Jesus knew and Jesus went straight to it. He went above and beyond their expectations. He takes care of the real issue (forgiveness of sin), and then Jesus turns back around and heals him physically too. People can’t believe it. They were amazed. I think the four friends had to be amazed as well!

So here is what this part of the story says to me:

Sometimes I don’t know what is needed, but Jesus does. And Jesus will do what only he can- if I will just go to him.

What about you- what does it say to you?


Inconvenience (or Mark 2, part 1)


Inconvenience.

I am not a fan.

But something stood out to me the last time I read Mark 2:1-12.

The story is basically this:

Jesus is becoming very popular and loads of people are coming to listen to him, see him, and watch what he might do next. So he is in a very crowded house talking with people. Four guys hear that he is close to where they are and they decide their friend needs to be brought to Jesus. They have to bring him because he is paralyzed and cannot walk on his own. So they carry him to the house- but the house is too full to get near Jesus. So plan B.

This is where it gets interesting. The guys decide to get on the roof of the house and remove the tiles that are the ceiling. Then they lower their friend down in front of Jesus.

Two things I can’t get past at this point in the story- First, they really had to go out of their way to make this happen. I know it’s great to do good things for a friend, but really, this was not convenient for them. Second, what was everyone thinking as tiles started moving overhead? This couldn’t have happened in just a split second. It must have taken a little bit of time. So what was everyone thinking? What was the house owner thinking? Why didn’t anyone speak up and say, “Hey, you guys want in here? You don’t have to pull the roof apart…” So what were they thinking?

On both sides I see an issue of inconvenience. It took a lot of work for the guys to get their friend to Jesus. Rather inconvenient. Their actions also interpreted everyone’s day. I am inclined to guess that no one offered to help them get into the house because it would be inconvenient for them.

So what do I learn from this? This is what:

Helping people get to Jesus is often “inconvenient.”

I don’t really think the guys anticipated that much trouble getting their friend to Jesus. It was not an easy task to get their friend to Jesus. But they were determined. They were sure if they got to Jesus, he would do something. But it took some work for them to get there.

But the value of placing their friend in front of Jesus outweighed any inconvenience.

The response of Jesus amazes me. Verse 5 says, “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man…” The faith and the determination of the friends to get the paralyze guy in front of Jesus moved Jesus to act. This challenges me.

There are times that I find myself thinking I’m too busy or tired to spend time praying for someone (placing them in front of Jesus)- it feels “inconvenient.” But how can taking someone before Jesus be inconvenient? At least that is what I hear this story saying to me. The four guys did not allow a little inconvenience stand in the way of getting their friend to Jesus. So, seriously, what’s my excuse?

I don’t want to be part of the everyone in the house. It was not their faith that Jesus responded to. It looks like they allowed inconvenience to stop them from helping the guys get into the house. I don’t want to be part of them. So while somethings may be able to fall under “inconvenient,” I am learning to never think of it as inconvenient to help take my friends before Jesus.


Easter


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Good Friday 2013


IMG_2386Good Friday. The day that marks the death of Jesus. It is a day I have been looking forward to for a couple of months now. This weekend will mark the end of the Lenten Season as we celebration the death and resurrection of Jesus. The focus for many Christians the last 43 days, has been on our desperate need for a savoir. Many have sacrificed something as a constant reminder of the sacrifice it was for Jesus to live on earth and ultimately die.

Now we have reached Good Friday. By the end of the weekend, our entire focus will have shifted. From desperation to rejoicing; from despair to victory- but not quite yet. I am glad we know what is coming on Easter. But today is the time to live in the moment of Jesus’ death.

Here is Matthew’s account of the day Jesus died….

Matthew 27

New Living Translation (NLT)

Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders of the people met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”

“What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.”

Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.

The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.” After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says,

“They took the thirty pieces of silver—
the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel,
10 and purchased the potter’s field,
as the Lord directed.”

11 Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. “Are you the king of the Jews?” the governor asked him.

Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

12 But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. 13 “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. 14 But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise.

15 Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. 16 This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas. 17 As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.)

19 Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.”

20 Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. 21 So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?”

The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!”

22 Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

23 “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”

But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”

24 Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!”

25 And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!”

26 So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

27 Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. 29 They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. 31 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.

32 Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. 33 And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). 34 The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it.

35 After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. 36 Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. 37 A sign was fastened above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.

39 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. 40 “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

41 The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. 42 “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! 43 He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way.

45 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 46 At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

47 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 48 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. 49 But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”

50 Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, 52 and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. 53 They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

54 The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

55 And many women who had come from Galilee with Jesus to care for him were watching from a distance. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James and Joseph), and the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee.

57 As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus, 58 went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. 59 Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. 60 He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left. 61 Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching.

62 The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. 63 They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ 64 So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.”

65 Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” 66 So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.


Words Are Important


Something really awesome happened on Sunday. We were reading from John 13 and one of the kids caught what seemed like a very little phrase… Here is what happened.

We were going along, reading a little at a time, and asking questions; Who are the characters? What is happening? What is the setting? We started at verse 21 and we were headed to chapter 14 verse 1, when one of the girls suddenly had a very perplexed look on her face.

“Wait!” She interjected, “Wasn’t it already night time? Aren’t they at dinner? Why does it say ‘and it was night?’ Why does it need to say that?”

Enter awesome moment!

“Well,” I said, “The writer is using his words on purpose, every word is trying to help us understand something. So what would ‘it was night’ help us understand about what is happening?”

This led us into a whole discussion about what “night” communicates to us…. Our basic conclusion: the things we are generally the most afraid of seem to happen at night, when it’s dark. We tend to be the most nervous and scared at night. DSCN5705.JPG

At this point of the story in scripture, we decided the author is trying to help us understand that this is one of the darkest, scariest moments for the disciples… Jesus is even described as “troubled.” Jesus knows what is happening next, but the disciples are still clueless! But they are getting nervous about things… they are headed into one of the scariest times of their lives. But that is what makes Jesus’ words in John 14:1 so amazing.

In the middle of the scariest moment, Jesus says this:

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

When we understand and really look at the words in the passage, I think it brings a new significance out for us. I’ve seen and heard John 14:1 a lot. But the time on Sunday really paying attention to the words around it was significant.

IMG_0530As we wrapped up on Sunday, I asked one last question, “What does this mean for us?” This is what we concluded: In the middle of the night, when everything seems to be the most threatening, the scariest, the darkest, we need to hear Jesus say, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” We don’t need to be overcome by fear; we can trust Jesus even in the darkest time.

It was a really good lesson in children’s church on Sunday…


Forgiveness


I have been learning more about prayer lately. The things I am learning are coming a lot from our time as a congregation praying. We have set aside time on Tuesday mornings to gather and pray. It has been incredible.Prayer

Learning to pray is significant. So significant that the disciples actually asked Jesus to teach them. Prayer was a very important part of Jesus’ activity. There are moments in scripture that describe him going off to pray all night. In Matthew 6, Jesus gives instructions on how to pray:

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:5-15 ESV)

I have to admit that I struggle with that last part…. The part about my forgiveness for others influencing God’s forgiveness of me. One of the readings I came across during this Lent season described the connection between prayer and forgiveness in a very good way. It helped me so I wanted to share it with you.

If prayer is about heaven and earth coming together at one time, in one place, within the lump of clay we call ‘me’, then it’s going to change this person called ‘me’. In particular, it’s going to make me a forgiver. Jesus was quite clear about this. All of us have been hurt, wounded, slighted, annoyed by other people. How much more have we ourselves done that to God! Yet we want him to be with us, to hear us, and — yes! — to forgive us. How can we not be forgivers too?(N.T. Wright, Lent For Everyone,Day 7)

God is willing to forgive me. So why would I not forgive others? And how could I approach God without humility, knowing I am forgiven? And if I have been forgiven, then as I pray, I am changed and forgiving others is a natural response from time spent talking to the one who forgives me.


God the Father


Here is a thoughts from our John reading today….

One of the things that is standing out to me as I read through John this season, is the relationship between Jesus and God. Jesus was very serious about doing only what his Father wanted. Jesus really did have a very deep Father-Son relationship with God.

Part of this relationship is described to us in John 14:8-14. Jesus, at one point, says to Philip, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” Jesus will not do anything without knowing that it is what his Father wants him to do! It’s an amazing relationship…

It makes me wonder what would be different for me if I worked on deepening my relationship with God…

John 14:8-14

English Standard Version (ESV)

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.