The Women Stayed With Him

The Women Stayed With Him

Women_Tomb_Jesus

Going back to the morning of the resurrection in the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel of Mark was and is the first Gospel which was written, which means that for a period of time the Gospel of Mark was simply “the Gospel”, the only gospel which was written.

The Bible
If we think about the week leading up to the death and burial of Jesus of Nazareth, it had been quite a week. He and a group of followers had made the trek to Jerusalem from Galilee, “And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him,” Mark‬ ‭10:32‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Jesus was headed to Jerusalem to be crowned king, this is why those who followed him were both amazed and afraid. Of course, those following were expecting a triumphant battle, Jesus knew his crowning would be far different than anyone else expected – “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”” Mark‬ ‭10:33-34 ESV.

rejoice greatly
As they walked they picked up more followers, and by the time they got to Jerusalem they had quite an excited crowd with them to witness Jesus purposefully fulfill Zachariah’s prophecy of Messiah – “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” Zechariah‬ ‭9:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬. And so Jesus rode into the city riding the foal of a donkey to command peace to the nations while his followers shouted their hosannas.

anointing jesus
On Monday he went into the temple to stage his prophetic protest which we call the cleansing of the temple, by Wednesday he had a meal with friends and Mary anointed him to be king with $25,000 worth of perfume, to which Jesus announces “She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.” ‭Mark‬ ‭14:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Which is NOT what Mary thought she was doing, those with Jesus thought they were on their way to see Jesus crowned king and that’s why Mary was anointing him – to be king.
On Thursday Jesus had his last supper where he instituted the Lords Supper, Thursday night Judah betrayed him to chief priests and scribes so they could arrest him without causing a riot, and  sham trials in front of all the principalities and powers, Pilate and Caiaphas and Herod and Friday morning he was crucified.

disciples
The disciples were scattered all throughout the region, they were no where to be found. Peter had denied him 3 times after proclaiming he would never fall away, he was in hiding. Only possibly the apostle John was still nearby.

women-at-the-cross
But the women had not left. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James (and Jesus), and Salome were there through the whole thing. It had all gone so wrong, but they stayed true to Jesus and never fled. They were nearby during the “trials”, saw the scourging, cried for him as he carried his cross through the streets, cried out to him as he hung on the cross. They stayed with Jesus through it all. Even after the life had left his body, they stayed. When Joseph and Nicodemus came and took the body, they had not left. They were with him, followed him to the garden, saw where the body was laid. Even when all the disciples had ran off in the interest of self preservation, the women never left.
Question for all the men reading this – ever have a woman who, even after all your friends had gone away, left you for dead shaking their heads about what should have been, what might have been, muttering about who and what they thought you were versus what you really were, after everyone else had given up and gone away and left your side, abandoned you, but she stayed through it?
The women stayed with him.

women bought spices
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And now, in their last act of devotion to Jesus whom they loved, they were going to add spices to his body.

Not-Jesus-tomb-but-a-tomb-none-the-less
And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. So, who’s going to move the stone?? But it’s already moved!!??
And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. Would you be alarmed? I would think so. These women had seen Jesus crucified, watched him die, and were at his burial. Now his body is gone and a young man is sitting where his body was laid.

untitled.png
And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. As always, the angel tells them not to be afraid. Jesus was crucified, but now he has risen! His body is not here.
Indeed, his body is not in the tomb. Jesus is risen!! What would you be thinking right now?

peter-denies-jesus
But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” I think it’s interesting he tells them specifically to tell Peter that Jesus is risen.

empty_tomb
And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. 
THE END.
This is the original end to the Gospel of Mark. This is the original ending of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

To Be Continued…

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Heartsight

Heartsight

heartsight

Good morning!! An example here of how we perceive the sermon on the mount to be disconnected sayings just thrown together, when in reality the whole sermon is a single, unified talk in which one idea builds upon the other. Jesus begins with the beatitudes, with listing all those the world had written off who would be blessed in the kingdom of God. We are then described as salt and light of the world, which we will be if we put off our old selves and through faith in Him follow Jesus in our lives. He then goes on to describe that he is not about to overturn the law and the prophets, but he is about to give a teaching that, if followed, would lead a person to live as all the law and the prophets intended, thereby fulfilling all that had been written in scripture to that point.

malice
He then gets into behavior, and one point builds on another. For example, unless you’ve dealt with anger and malice and envy in your heart, then talking about loving, forgiving and praying for your enemies is a wasted point. If you’re an angry, spiteful, jealous type of person, how can you be asked to forgive anyone their trespasses and sins against you? You’re still at the point plotting revenge, holding grudges and getting even. It’s only after you get anger and envy under control that you can then begin to be the type of person who might bring mercy and forgiveness into the world.

consumerism
So it is with Jesus’ teaching on our treasures. We see Jesus teaching on laying up treasures in heaven and not in earth, and can understand why it’s such a waste to be living for the acquisition of things which begin to deteriorate the minute we buy them, and/or the accumulation of money which we could then use to buy our things. We basically know that we will continue to do all we can to pile up our money and buy our things anyway because that’s how our American liturgy has formed us – we are formed from birth to be consuming consumers, coveting every hot new toy, shiny new car, big new house, and smiling pretty face our eyes come across. But at least we can understand the concept.

where your treasure is.png
So Jesus teaches on our treasures, telling us not to waste time in things that will rust away. He tells us then to lay up our treasures in heaven instead, where moths nor rust nor thieves in the night could never take it away from us. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:21‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

the eye
Jesus next seemingly jumps into a completely different teaching – The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! He goes from teaching on our treasures into this teaching about the eye being the lamp of the body, a completely separate, disjointed teaching which has nothing to do with what had come before it. Except that Jesus is teaching exactly the same thing. These are not two separate teachings, but just an expansion of one upon the other.

filled with light
The eye is connected to the heart. So we can read these scriptures together, just as they are in the text. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! The heart, again, is our will and spirit. It is the center of our soul from which our whole beings flow. If our heart is directed correctly, then our lives, personality, and character will follow.

if-the-light-in-you-is-darkness
Jesus next solidifies this truth, makes it more concrete. As Dallas Willard puts it, he compares our “heartsight” to our eyesight. Think about how our eyesight affects and enables how we relate to the world around us. The eye is the lamp of the body. If our eyes work well, we can easily move around whatever environment we find ourselves in. After all, we can see the obstacles before us, your whole body will be full of light. The world is illuminated before us.

drug of choice
If our hearts treasure what is eternal, that which lies within the kingdom of God, we see everything for its true worth and proper relationship. If we treasure what is “on earth,” then we have a distorted view of things and are generally misled in our lives. The relative importance of things, and their relationship to one another and ourselves is out of whack. Think about the person who is addicted, whether it be to drugs, alcohol, sex, food, whatever their “drug of choice” happens to be. The object of their desire is the center of the life, their “eye” sees everything in relation to their addiction and the fulfillment and enjoyment of it. Their own body and soul, everything in their life, even their very life itself, becomes secondary to feeding the addiction.

two masters
The addict is an extreme example, but it gives a clear example of what is meant when Jesus says but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. He expands this very quickly – If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! If the light in you -the eye of your soul – is not working, then you (I) are in the dark about everything. You know neither where you are nor where you are going. This is what it means to be a lost soul.

we-cannot-follow-two-masters-truth-or-tradition-720x340
Then, of course, cones the big finish to this particular point on the things we treasure. “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Is your treasure in your bank account, in your driveway, on your big screen, or maybe a smaller screen so you can be more “discreet”? Is everything just as ok as your 401(k)? If I lose my job tomorrow, will I have the same hope I have today?
We will serve our treasures. We work hard for them all day and dream about them all night. We think we can treasure both the things of this world and God’s Kingdom. We try, try, try to make it work, but there always comes time to make a choice. We can’t have two competing ultimate goals for our lives.

crucified-king
We can not serve both God and the things of this earth. Their requirements compete and conflict with each other. Unless God is already the focal point, then what financial security demands will ultimately lead to conflict with Gods kingdom. This is why we have the first commandment – “”You shall have no other gods before me.” ‭‭ Exodus‬ ‭20:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

eccehomo
Remember what the chief priests and the scribes said to Pilate leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion? “They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”” John‬ ‭19:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬. They had no king but Caesar, the truth came out. They proclaimed their true allegiance to the king of this world. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. So they crucified the one true king. Their eyes were dark, therefore their souls were in the dark, they could not see when the light was right before them.
How is your “heartsight?” Is your lamp on or off?

jesus-christ-king-0205

“”The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:22-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mat.6.22-24.esv

John Lewis

Legacy

Lagacy

Looking again at what Jesus has to say about our treasures.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 

treasures in heaven
We spend our lives accumulating things, laying up treasure here on earth, building our “legacy”, trying and hoping to accumulate enough to “pass on” to the next generation so that we can “make a difference” in their lives. We hope and dream that we will pile up enough money so that all our hopes can be satisfied. We tell our children that they can whatever they wish to be, always with an eye and a guide towards being “successful” in life, with our definition of success nearly always being the ability to create an income and accumulate wealth. We consider ourselves blessed if we “succeed” in these ventures, the wealthier we are the more blessed we must be. Yet we know that Jesus said that “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭10:25‬ ‭ESV‬‬. So I ask you, exactly what kind of “blessing” is it we are receiving if will somehow remove us from or prevent us from finding the kingdom of God?

meaningless
Look at the words of King Solomon here, who just so happened to be one of the wealthiest men in the world, if not the wealthiest man of his time. “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.” Ecclesiastes‬ ‭5:10-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Solomon had laid up plenty of wealth for himself of his own here and now. But he had clearly come to the understanding that it was all worthless in the long run. In fact, Solomon, with all his wealth and wisdom and harems and wives and honor had come to this conclusion – ““Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”” ‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭1:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬. Over and over again, he tells this same thing, everything is meaningless. Twelve full chapters on the meaninglessness of wealth, pride, respect, honor, privilege, all the things we treasure in this world. And this is how he concludes it all, the only thing that gives meaning to any of it – “That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.” Ecclesiastes‬ ‭12:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬.

destroeyed by rust
So, Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. Treasures here on earth can not be kept forever. Nothing is safe from moths and corrosion, computer viruses, power outages and lost backups, identity thieves, the repo man, and the roller coaster market. Whatever survives all these hazards, will not survive the day that time catches up with each of us as we go gently (or not so gently) into that good night.

never enough money
The alternative laid out by Jesus is that we should lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. Direct your lives and energy in the making a difference for the world that lives for eternity, the kingdom of God. Invest your life in what God is doing and the investment will never be lost.

lords portion
This means we must invest time and energy into our relationship with Jesus himself, and through Him to God. Steps 11 and 12 in recovery go like this – 11). “We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and power to carry that out,” and 12). “Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” We try to improve our contact, our direct relationship with God, and carry his message to others, investing in his kingdom on a daily basis. This is part of how we invest in His kingdom here and now – by devoting ourselves to the good of other people, those who are around us within the range of our power and ability to affect. “But the Lord ‘s portion is his people….” ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭32:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Those around us are among God’s treasures, just as we are. We are to try to invest in his kingdom through those around us. But we must not forget the one soul each of us is most responsible for. We have the responsibility for the care of our own souls and lives in a way no one else does, and in a way we do not and can not have the care of anyone else.

established the earth
We are both neighbors to and parts of the world around us. “…You have established the earth, and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants.” Psalms‬ ‭119:90-91‬ ‭ESV‬‬. God loves the earth, the world he created. Because he loves it and it is good, the care of our world itself is eternal work and part of our eternal life.

Sowing
The apostle Paul says this – “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:8-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬. This is how we lay up treasures in heaven on a daily, even hourly basis. Do not grow weary, do not give up. If we sow from the flesh we reap corruption, from the spirit we reap eternal life and enter the kingdom of God even as we struggle daily between the spirit and the flesh.

faith23

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Do you treasure those things you must work for, the things we lust after and labor for, take out loans to buy and then work, work, work to pay off? This flows from your heart. Your heart is your will, the center of your being from which your whole life flows. Your heart affects your whole personality. It directs everything we do. A heart rightly directed toward kingdom purposes and desires bring health and wholeness to the entire personality.

 

“”Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:19-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mat.6.19-21.esv

John Lewis

Treasures

Treasures

treasure

Back to the sermon on the mount. Jesus has already been teaching about seeking security outside the kingdom of God in terms of prayers, fasting, and doing our good works. We should be after the audience of one, not doing these things to be seen or noticed by those around us. Our security does not come from our reputation or the opinions of others.

treasure chest
Jesus continues his teaching about seeking our security outside of his kingdom as he gets to our treasures. Treasures are anything we try to keep because of a value we place upon them. They may have no inherent value in itself; your wife or husband or neighbor may not see it as a treasure at all. Yet we go to great trouble to protect certain things. We treasure them.

treasures
We may treasure certain things which are not material goods. We might treasure our reputation or the opinion of others. We might treasure our job, our career. Or a relationship, or a person, our school, our company. But the first, most important commandment we have is the first commandment, “”You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus‬ ‭20:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬. This, of course is related to Jesus’ great commandment – “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:30‬ ‭ESV‬‬. We are to treasure God above all else. Our wisdom, safety, protection and fulfillment lies in treasuring God this way. It is only when we treasure God in this way that we will also treasure our neighbors, those around us, rightly, as God treasures them. It is only after we treasure God above all that we can fulfill the second half of Jesus’ commandment – “The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”” Mark‬ ‭12:31‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

first commandment
We all have treasures. It is part of what it means to be human. Nothing tears down or degrades another human being more than to diminish, destroy, or deprive them of their treasures. For the most part, no one even has a right or expectation to know what your treasures are. A big part of intimacy between two people is a knowledge of each other’s treasures. Treasures are very closely connected with our spirit and our will, even our dignity as a human being. Treasures are a part of our soul, and to have our treasures disrespected or destroyed does damage to our soul.

wilson
Remember the movie “Castaway”? Tom Hanks character had his treasure on that island, a treasure that seemed silly to viewers, a volleyball which had a face painted from his own blood which he called “Wilson”, because that’s the brand written on the ball. Hanks’ character went to great lengths, risking personal harm and possibly even his own life at times to protect his treasure. And when he lost that treasure, he mourned it like he had lost his best friend. Because he had. He had lost a part of his soul, a part of what it meant for him to be human on that faraway lost island.

wilson 2
I think I’ll stop there today, more to be said on Jesus discussion of treasures tomorrow.

“”Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:19-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mat.6.19-21.esv

John Lewis

Back to the Garden

TheGardenOfEden

I’m a couple of days late with this…but you know what they say, it’s better late than never…

mary magdalene empty tomb
Returning to the garden after Good Friday, both we and Mary Magdalene. Mary is up before the first light. It is still dark outside, but the sabbath day of rest has come to an end. So Mary, as soon as allowable by law, has gone back to the tomb where Jesus was lain to anoint his body with spices (we know this from Mark and Luke).
But she comes to the tomb to find the worst possible scene. She sees the stone moved from the front of the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Grave robbers!! Someone has stolen his body!!

Hope
So she runs to tell Peter and John, they come racing to the scene and look inside. There is no body, but the linen cloths that covered his body are laid out, and the face cloth is folded up nice and neat. Which would seem kind of strange, because if you’re going to steal a body why would you unwrap it?

mary weeping
Then the disciples went back to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. Peter and John head back home. But not Mary. She is not leaving that tomb, despondent and heartbroken as she is. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Two angels appear to Mary, that did not appear to Peter and John. Because sometimes you just have to wait for the Lord. Mary is simply broken, weeping, sobbing uncontrollably, and the angels ask, Woman, why are you weeping? Mary answers them “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Ever feel like Mary? Have you ever felt like Jesus has been taken away, he’s gone away, and you don’t know where he’s gone or how to find him?

JesusandMagdalene
Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” They’ve taken Jesus away, and Mary does not know where he is or how to find him. She’s broken and weeping, desperate to know where Jesus has gone. Except he’s standing right next to her. Jesus comes to Mary Magdalene first, even before the disciples, because she was the only one who waited. In her brokenness, with her heart broken and soul crushed, she just had no where else she wanted to be. She had no one else she wanted to be with, no one else she wanted to find. And it was in that moment that Jesus comes to her, and she does not recognize Him. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” 

christ-and-mary
 Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Mary mistakes Jesus to be the gardener, which is only logical. Who else would be in the garden so early in the day?  Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary is weeping, mourning the loss of Jesus. The tragedy of his betrayal, arrest, “trials”, torture, crucifixion and death are still so fresh, and now his body is gone, missing. But, it turns out, Jesus has not gone anywhere. He is standing right next to her, talking to her, and she doesn’t even know it!! She does not recognize him and thinks him to be the gardener. To which Jesus simply says “Mary.” He calls her by name, because he knows her name. He calls you by name, he calls me by name. Because he knows my name.

mary-tells-the-apostles-she-has-seen-jesus
Jesus calls Mary by name, She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Jesus tells Mary to go tell HIS brothers that he is risen. Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.” Mary Magdalene, a woman whom Jesus had cast seven demons out of, a woman with quite a past, someone the religious leaders would have considered to be disqualified for such service (not even mentioning the fact that she is a woman), is forever enshrined as the first preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. She is the first preacher of the gospel because she is the first to encounter the risen Christ. She is the first to encounter Jesus because unlike John or Peter, she just didn’t have anywhere else to be but right at that tomb, grieving for her Lord.

in the garden
Mary Magdalene met the risen Christ and mistook him to be the gardener. Except for one thing – that was no mistake at all. Because Jesus is the Gardener. The first seed of resurrection raised is now the gardener of resurrection cultivating new life in all who believe.
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were both members of the ruling council, the Sanhedrin, who had condemned Jesus to die, but they had not consented to his death. In fact, after Jesus’ death, Joseph donated his own tomb and Nicodemus over $100,000 in burial spices to give Jesus a king’s burial, however hurried it might have been. The laid Jesus down in Joseph’s private walled garden. What is a garden? A garden is a place where you grow living things, a place of life.

Jesus-the-gardener
On Holy Saturday, the son of God is a holy seed lying in a peaceful garden. On Easter Sunday, that garden brought forth the first fruits of resurrection. Jesus Christ is declared to be the son of God by his resurrection from the dead.

jesus is the gardener
The first seed raised by God in resurrection has now become the gardener to help all the other seeds come forth in newness of life. The original human vocation is to be a gardener. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The first Adam was given the vocation to be a gardener in the garden of Eden, but he failed miserably at his task. As a result the human experience became a ruined landscape marked by war, sin, sorrow, suffering, misery and death. But the second Adam will succeed in His task. Jesus Christ will restore the Garden. “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭22:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The gardener at work, a tree yielding good fruit with leaves for the healing of the nations.
Jesus IS a gardener, what he’s cultivating is you. What he’s cultivating is me. If you believe, all who believe, we are resurrection ferns in the garden of God. Jesus is the gardener tending to the healthy growth of your soul.
King David said it like this – “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.” Psalms‬ ‭52:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Jesus is the steadfast love of God.

cypress tree
“Cypress trees will grow where now there are briers; myrtle trees will come up in place of thorns. This will be a sign that will last forever, a reminder of what I, the Lord, have done.”” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:13‬ ‭GNT‬‬. You are not a lost cause, I am not a lost cause. Jesus is working in his garden, clearing out the thorn bushes and the weeds, bringing up beautiful trees in their place.
“For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.” Isaiah‬ ‭61:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Is your plant dead? Jesus says “No it’s not!! It just needs a little work and I can BRING IT BACK TO LIFE!!”

hands-of-the-gardener
Jesus is the gardener of resurrection, working miracles and saving sinners and bringing those who are dead back to eternal, everlasting life. Christianity is much more about bringing heaven to earth than taking us to heaven. God is not mad at sinners. Which I think is really Good News, because that means he’s not mad at me! My problem is not that I’m guilty and need a lawyer to save me from an angry God. My problem is…me.

the gardener
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Read this part again…’I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ My father is not angry. God loves you, God loves me, just like he loves Jesus! We are part of the family!!

saving sinners
Jesus is a gardener cultivating resurrection life in you, and in me. And just so you know, my ruined landscape is not going to be fixed in one visit. The gardener has to keep working. His work is intimate, the gardener had his hands in the soil, in the humus. The garden is cultivated by living hands on living things. Jesus is not afraid to get his hands dirty with the humus of humanity – and we are messy business.
Your life (my life) is not so ruined that Jesus can’t bring it into a flourishing state. In fact, Jesus can turn it into a lovely garden. Ask Jesus to be the gardener of your soul.
You may not always recognize Jesus as the gardener. Mary didn’t. You may not recognize Jesus even though he is standing right there! But Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.

compostpile
But you say, you have a lot of garbage in your garden? Don’t you know that every good garden has a compost pile. We all know that in this life “stuff” happens. It always does. But when Jesus is our gardener, we know we can just let Him turn that “stuff” into fertilizer to help us grow!!
Because – Jesus IS the Gardener.

 

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.”

‭‭John‬ ‭20:1-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/jhn.20.1-18.esv

John Lewis

God is dead.

God is dead.

jesus_on_cross

 

It’s Good Friday. It’s getting on in the day, it’s about four hours before sunset. Jesus is suffering upon the cross, hanging there, part of a larger spectacle which was not even his own but shared with two revolutionaries. The time has come and from two different accounts of the scene we can get a feel for how it all played out. “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John‬ ‭19:30‬ ‭ESV‬‬ “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭23:46‬ ‭ESV‬‬. It is finished. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. Jesus of Nazareth is dead. His long ordeal has come to an end found only in death. For the next 48 hours Friedrich Nietzsche and Time magazine are both right. God is dead.

time-is-god-dead
Normally for those who suffer this bad end, it really doesn’t get better from here. Either they are left on the crucifix while their flesh begins to rot as an ongoing reminder to the people of who’s really in charge here, or get are removed and thrown into a morbid common grave, intermingled with the remains of others who also died in like ignominy.

But not so for Jesus. After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. Jesus will receive a burial, a burial in great haste, yet surprisingly a burial fit for a king.
Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the Jews, a very influential and wealthy man. But more significantly than that, he was a follower of Jesus. He’s been a follower in secret, but with the death of Jesus, it’s time for the secret to become known. He goes to Pilate to ask permission to remove the body, which Pilate grants.

jesus down from cross
So Joseph goes to retrieve the body of Jesus, letting everyone know that he was a follower of the Galilean prophet. He almost certainly goes with servants, and he also has someone else with him. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. Nicodemus, who as it says had come to Jesus earlier that same week by night, also in secret. The same Nicodemus to whom Jesus had said “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”” ‭‭John‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬ and of course “”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬. That’s the Nicodemus who comes to help Joseph of Arimathea remove the body of Jesus.

garden of jesus tomb

Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.” We know from Matthews gospel that it is his own new tomb that Joseph lays Jesus down in – “And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.” Matthew‬ ‭27:59-60‬ ‭ESV‬‬. So Joseph gives how own new tomb in his own garden in the shadow of Golgotha, Nicodemus gives 75 pounds of spices (think six figures plus!!) Together, they are giving this carpenter from Nazareth who had been crucified just hours before a burial fit for a king. That is the declaration they are making, no longer in secret but to all who watch, that YES!!, we think this man was the king, the Jewish Messiah.

golgotha

Jesus is taken from the crowd at Golgotha to what is actually a walled garden very nearby. Nearby, yet it seems like a thousand miles away. Golgotha means “the skull”. It is a terror and a horror, an abandoned rock quarry now used only for crucifixions, a brutal, lifeless place. The only trees are dead trees used to crucify.
Jesus is taken from here to a quiet garden. In a garden a dead man can Rest In Peace. Joseph’s garden is a walled garden and seems far away from Golgotha, the place of the skull. A garden is not a place of horrors, but a peace of life, beauty and peace. It is a place to grow herbs and spices, fruits and vegetables, trees and flowers. In it you will smell not the stench of death but the beautiful fragrance of life. In this garden Joseph lays Jesus into his own virgin tomb, and the virgin tomb becomes the new virgin womb.

Garden Wide Desktop Background
Jesus is dead. God is dead. Dead and buried, buried in a garden. A garden is a good place to grow a good seed. As Good Friday rolls into Holy Saturday, the son of man is turned into a good seed in a peaceful garden.
Remember what Jesus had said earlier regarding his own death? “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John‬ ‭12:24‬ ‭ESV. The seed has died and been planted, ready to bear much fruit.

Gardens are important places in the Bible. We began in a garden, Adam and Eve were put in charge of the garden of Eden, until they lost the garden because of their sin. Much of the point of all the law and the prophets is to recover that garden.
Jesus’ passion began in the garden of Gethsamane, it all ends up in the garden of Joseph of Arimathea. The Son of God is planted as a holy seed in the quiet garden.

jesus laid to rest
And so we come to an end of all our quests and all our striving, to a holy sabbath. When the work is done and the seed is sown, there is nothing left to do but wait.

 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”  John‬ ‭12:24‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.” John‬ ‭19:38-42‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John‬ ‭19:30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

“Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.” Luke‬ ‭23:46‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

John Lewis

Weeping over US

Weeping over US

weeping over jerusalem

It’s Passion week, our Holy Week, the time when we remember the suffering, persecution, crucifixion, and ultimately the resurrection Jesus Christ our Lord. It’s the time when we remember all the events, decisions, and obedience of that week, and there is a lot to remember. I’m looking today at the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus riding into the great city to fulfill prophecy and be crowned King, the Messiah of Israel.

triumphal entry

“And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.” Mark‬ ‭11:7-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

hosanna

When Jesus came into Jerusalem from Galilee for his coronation, he came in riding on a donkey’s colt. Jesus was purposefully fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah from about 350 years before – Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. We know Jesus did this intentionally to fulfill this prophecy. As he approaches the city he specifically tells two of his disciples “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.'”” Mark‬ ‭11:2-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬. How did Jesus know the colt would be there? I don’t know, but the colt was there, his disciples did as they were told, and Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of the foal of a donkey, probably with his feet dragging the ground because the foal would have been too small for him. The whole scene would probably have seemed ridiculous if CNN was there covering. Picture a crowd of peasants from Galilee, shouting hosanna to their king, who rides in not on a great war horse, but on a donkey. And not even a full grown donkey, but the foal of a donkey. This was quite the piece of prophetic theater orchestrated by Jesus.

pilate on a horse

Pontius Pilate also would have ridden into the city to prepare for the Passover. Not because he was a Jew, but because Passover was (is) the celebration of the liberation of the people of Israel from bondage to the Egyptians, and it was a time that would spark new thoughts of rebellion and liberation from their current bondage under Caesar. It was not in Pilates best interest to stay home in Caesarea during this time. He needed to be present in order to deal promptly with any thoughts of rebellion that might occur during the festival.
When Pilate rode into the city, he came in not on a donkey, but a great horse. A war horse. If you read the Bible in the Old Testament, you will find that Yahweh did not much care for horses. It’s not that God does not like the majestic beauty and power of the horse – of course he loves them. He created them after all. But what he did not like is what mankind had come to use these beautiful animals for. Horses were not used for transportation, agriculture, or any other domesticated purpose, it was the donkey that was the beast of burden. Horses, from the time of the warlords of Sumer about 4500 years ago, were primarily instruments of war. They were the tanks and fighter planes of their day.

Warrior_chariot_war_horses1
This is why it was told specifically to Joshua in his victories over the Canaanites “Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will give over all of them, slain, to Israel. You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.”” Joshua‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Keeping the donkeys was fine, but they were told to hamstring the horses. When we read this, it sounds really strange. Why are they commanded to hamstring their horses?
Maybe we should reread all these passages in the Bible, and everywhere we read the word “horse” re-translate it into what they really were – “war horse“. Better yet, just change it to read “tanks“. Because in the ancient world, that’s what the horse was used as – an instrument of war. So when the Israelites are told to hamstring the horses but keep the donkeys, we can better understand it as being “keep the tractors and destroy the tanks“.

Kuwaiti_M1_Abrams_tanks
Acquiring “many” horses was specifically prohibited for Israel’s kings in the law set down in Deuteronomy- “Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’” Deuteronomy‬ ‭17:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Of course, this was a command ignored by the kings of Israel. We know king Solomon kept over 12,000 horses. We also know that every time Israel relied on their horses in battle, they were defeated, it was only when they turned to the Lord that they were delivered.

N1401-SCN-S94-012

What is the point of all of this? It’s not that God does not like horses, he certainly loves horses. But God does not like the fact that we use horses as war horses. Just like he does not like our tanks, our missiles, our military might. We live in 21st century America, home of the free and land of the brave. But where is our trust? Remember Psalm 20? “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalms‬ ‭20:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Here is my unofficial 21st century American translation of that verse – “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but WE trust in nuclear submarines, cruise missiles, aircraft carriers, stealth bombers and our full nuclear arsenal!!” Let’s see their horses stand up to that!! Of course, they are not relying on horses anymore either, are they?

majestic horse
The prophecy Jesus fulfilled by riding the colt into Jerusalem was from the 3rd – 4th century BC from Zachariah. It was written during the time of Alexander the Great, the greatest of the Greats the world has ever known. All the greats – Alexander the Great, Peter the great, Cyrus the great, many more I’m sure – were pretty much great at the same thing – they were great at war. They were called great because the people who wrote the history after them were on their side. The people who wrote the history were on their side mainly because the people who were not on their side were now mostly dead.

the_aftermath_of_hiroshima_640_19
Rome once spoke of the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome. I think it was Tacitus who said of Rome at the time – “Rome creates a desert and calls it peace.” They would come to opposing territory, kill everyone there, destroy the nation, and say to themselves “Isn’t it peaceful now?” We’ve been fighting wars to achieve “peace” for 4500 years now. Except for war never leads to peace, each and every war only leads to the next war, the next battle.

Alexander on Bucephalus
Alexander the Great rode his Great War horse Bucephalus into every battle he ever fought. In case you don’t know, Bucephalus is probably the most famous animal in history. To this day, we know where this horse is buried. A giant war horse, worthy of a great man. A majestic animal, projecting the pride and power his rider would want to project. But we would do well to remember this admonition in the psalms – “The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.” Psalms‬ ‭33:16-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Remember the for horseman of the apocalypse.  The white horse, the great horse of conquest. Followed by the red horse of war, because people don’t like being conquered and will eventually fight back. Then the black horse of famine, because we fight each other with and for our resources producing scarcity. Finally the ultimate fate of mankind as we trust in our war machines for our salvation, the green horse of death.

 

The prophecy of Zachariah – “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” Jesus rode into Jerusalem for his coronation not on a conquering war horse but a peace donkey. While those shouting hosanna were looking for a conquering hero, Jesus the Great, to bring salvation to them from the oppressive hand of the Roman occupiers, their Messiah was bringing the only salvation that can last through the millennia, the salvation that comes from forgiveness and reconciliation. While the crowds shouted their hosannas to the one coming in the name of the Lord and not Caesar, the one who came in the name of the Lord cried over Jerusalem “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Luke‬ ‭19:42‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

jesus-on-the-cross1

Jesus cries over us to this day, for even as we shout our hosannas to our savior, we still do not know the things that make for peace. Paraphrasing the words of Ravi Zacharias, until we can accept the sacrifice of the only begotten Son of God on the hard wood of the cross, we will continue to sacrifice our own sons and daughters on the battlefields of the world.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

‭‭Zechariah‬ ‭9:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/zec.9.9-10.esv
“And Joshua did to them just as the Lord said to him: he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.
And all the spoil of these cities and the livestock, the people of Israel took for their plunder.”

‭‭Joshua‬ ‭11:9, 14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭11:7-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mrk.11.7-11.esv

John Lewis