Counting the Cost?

on fire

Have you ever been “on fire” for Jesus? Maybe when you first came to Him and prayed that prayer, and felt the Holy Spirit invade you for the first time?
Just how “on fire” for Jesus were you? How excited are you, right now, to know that you have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe, the whole heavens, the earth, and everything in between??

on fire 2
Jesus knew that we would be “on fire” for Him. He also knew that we should be “on fire”, because He knows the deal He is offering. This is no late night telemarketing call full of fine print. The deal Jesus offers is entry into the kingdom of God, the kingdom of the heavens, complete with backstage passes and field access credentials. Full buffet and open bar. Not only do you get to meet the players and sit with the band, you are equal with them. You get to share meals, go into the locker room, room with them on the road trip. Nothing is held back.

buried treasure
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. How excited should we be when we get the deal Jesus offers?? How excited would you be if you were camping in a forest, dug some dirt to smother your campfire, and found undiscovered and unknown gold deposits??!! Or better yet, somehow you went deep enough and found some of that black gold, oil!! On coming out of that forest you find the owner and he says he’ll gladly sell you his 40 acres in the hills for $100,000? Would you mope around thinking about all you had to give up to buy that property? Of course not!!! You would see the opportunity before you, the chance of a lifetime. How fast you you move heaven and earth to get the funds and close that deal. You would cash in the IRA, the 401(k), the checking account, sell the car, sell the house, sell your shoes. You would scramble like never before in the excitement to gain that treasure you had found. You would count the cost and laugh at it, because what you were about to gain was so much more valuable than anything you had to give up to get it.

pearl
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” These days, we’re all searching, searching, searching, aren’t we? We read self help books, seek “spirituality”, consider Buddha, the Dalai Lama, Confucius, Plato, Aristotle, Darwin. We are like this treasure hunter searching the seas who finally found what he’s looking for.  We find the greatest treasure, it’s what we’ve always been seeking. We find that hope diamond, the heart of the ocean (Titanic anyone?). There is nothing we could possibly give up that would be more valuable, is there? We would sell everything we had for the chance to get it all back times a thousand, wouldn’t we?

oil-jed-clampett
Jesus tells us this is what the kingdom of God is. It’s all we’ve ever been looking for, everything we’ve dreamed of. We talk about counting the cost, but there is no cost too high, because the return on that investment is just too great!! All we can think about is the opportunity we see!! We know there is nothing greater we can ever achieve, nothing more valuable, no greater opportunity, no greater dream, no sweeter deal that we could ever hope to get. We see it and our hearts are filled with excitement, hope and joy!!

excitement
No one ever becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ sadly or reluctantly. We have been digging our whole lives, searching out our treasure. We’ve struck gold, oil, and the Hope Diamond all in one. We’ve counted the cost, and it doesn’t matter.

heart of the ocean
Because the cost is nothing compared to the treasure we’ve found.

treasure

“”The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:44-46‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mat.13.44-46.esv

John Lewis

Casting my Cares

mirror

I’m writing to myself today. We live in a world overflowing with anxiety, of which I myself have grabbed more than my “fair share”. I’ve struggled with anxiety my whole life. I’ve been in recovery for over three years now, and one of the greatest parts of my recovery was the fact that as I got into recovery and began working the recovery principle and 12 steps, my anxiety vanished. Which I can say definitively because, for the first tine I remember in my life, sleep was not an issue. When I say for the first time I remember, I mean that even as an 8 year old child, I remember lying in bed at night, unable to sleep. I would lie awake, waiting for my dad and step mother to go to bed, then very often get up and creep into the living room so I could turn on the tv and watch whatever was on, often watching until the station would sign off for the night.

3rd step
When I got into recovery, and especially got through step 3, turning our lives and our wills over to the care the care of God, the sleepless nights vanished. They were over. For the first time I could ever remember, I was not laying awake, thinking, worrying, stressing out about who knows what. Then stressing out about lying awake and being unable to sleep, causing even more anxiety. I had found the peace of God which surpasses all understanding. I didn’t understand it, I didn’t worry about, I didn’t have to think about. I was simply able live under the love of Christ with peace in my heart, my mind free of the anxiety which I had known my whole life.

leave it at the cross
But now here I am, and I’ve picked it back up again. The sleepless nights have returned. Most often it is Sunday nights, maybe because I know Monday morning is coming and there is always so much to do. So I lie awake all night, not actually thinking about anything in particular, just on edge. I will glance over at the clock and see its numbers – 12:00, 1:00, now 2:00. Now I’m thinking about how I’ve got to be up in the morning, there’s only a short time to go. I reset the alarm an hour later, but it doesn’t matter, sleep never comes. Now I’m facing the day with so much to do, and more thing added to do is to deal with the stress and anxiety created by the lack of sleep because I’ve got to think about all those things I’ve got to do.
Because I’ve picked it back up again, I am in control. Life keeps happening, things have not always gone my way. It’s not just work either. There are things in my life which I think I can control or affect. I consciously know that I can’t, but I also know that I am thinking and behaving like I can. Last week it wasn’t just Sunday night that I got zero sleep, but it came back around Thursday night into Friday. Then again this Sunday just passed. Which at that point made 3 nights out of 8 that I have gotten zero sleep.

Letters-to-myself
Why do I tell you this? Because like I said earlier, I am writing to myself today.
I came across something this week that screamed at me. Listening to a podcast of Alistair Begg, I understood what had happened to my peace, and why I had picked up again the anxiety I had previously left at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. It’s from the first letter of Peter to some of the early believers in the church.

humble before the lord
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. That’s right, the famous “cast your cares”. But notice that in the ESV it is not a directive to cast your cares, it’s an action based upon the actual directive, which is a call to humility. It’s an active participle, showing an action that flows from the command which came before it. This, apparently, is more accurate translation from the Greek, because the in the original Greek it was written in this same way, as an active participle. In other words, the command here to humble ourselves is not separate from from the casting of cares. Peter did not separate the two. It is not ‘humble yourselves. Cast your care.’ It is ‘humble yourselves…casting your care.’

Cast-Your-Cares-Full-Message
I do have a point here. Humility is a trait which we know is desirable to God and in our lives. Most of us would wish that we could be more humble (at least, we might wish for our neighbor to be more humble, correct?). We would wish for more humility, at the same time we would wish less anxiety.

pride
If we read Peter honestly for what the lord is saying through him, casting our cares and anxiety upon him comes from our posture of humility towards him. The trouble is, my anxiety which I am suffering right now is a result of the return of my own pride and arrogance into my heart. This is screaming to me that I have no longer humbled myself, I have dropped the ball on that third step, and I am up and running again in control of my own life. The fruits of this is manifested in the anxiety and sleepless nights which I again am dealing with.

Pride & Arrogance
This is nothing new. Think about the believers Peter was writing to originally. He was exhorting them to be humble before the lord, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. We think we have worries, but I’m not sure we can compete with the stress these believers had. Peter was writing to scattered Christians living in the Roman Empire. The political environment was completely against them. They were thought of as antisocial nuisances. Many Romans thought they were locking themselves into rooms and practicing cannibalism, because they had no understanding of the Lord’s Supper.

persecution
Persecution was always right around the corner. They lived with their own daily expectation of “the big one” which was to come. And their big one did come, with the persecution of Nero (which would include the upside down crucifixion and beheading of Paul). It started with Nero and continued at points for the next 250-300 years. The Christians Peter was writing to, their anxiety was for their very lives. Not for the creature comforts of those lives mind you, but the very existence on their lives themselves. Their stress and worry would have been for the lubes of their children, their grand children. They would have had to worry then about their business, how to earn a living, and what about any hopes and dreams?

anxiety
We sorry about a lot of things today ourselves, don’t we?? We think we have major worries. We worry about our lives. Not the existence of the life so much, but we worry nonetheless. We worry about our lives, our families our hopes, our dreams. We worry about being caught in a crowd, we worry about being alone. We worry about failure, we worry what it will mean if we succeed, we worry about change, we worry about not changing. We worry about the heights, the dark, the light, or being brought down low.
We worry about our place in the grand cosmic scheme of things. We worry that there is no cosmic scheme.
We know fear, and we know anxiety. We worry about our past, we worry about our future. Anxiety distracts and divides our minds, which fuels our fears, which fuels our anxiety and distracts our minds even more, becoming as for me, it’s own self fueling and self fulfilling prophecy.

Image-06-I-Will-Give-You-Rest-mini
So Peter tells us to be humble before the Lord, casting our anxieties upon Him. I can’t help but thank of these words of Jesus himself, which Peter would have been right there to hear. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”” Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭ESV‬‬. It does not say the anxieties, the burdens, don’t exist. It does not tell us to deny or ignore our anxiety. This is not a call to repression, but a call to realism.
The fears and anxieties we face are real. Life is hard. It’s hard now just like it was hard 2000 years ago. Sure, we have our creature comforts and modern amenities, but that core spiritual truth remains – life is hard. But we should be casting all your anxieties on him. The verb here in Greek for casting is the same as the word used on Palm Sunday when his disciples untied the colt of a donkey and threw their cloaks on it in preparation for Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem that day. It is in this way we are to throw our very real anxieties upon Him.

Beautiful white passenger airplane in blue sky
Humbling ourselves before the Lord transforms everything else we do. Casting our anxiety upon Him is a necessary part of coming under Christ’s care and control. Because the question for us all is this – do we trust Jesus to be in control of our lives?? CAN we trust Jesus to be in control of our lives?? It’s like this – if you are on big jet airplane flying from DCA to LAX, can you trust the pilot to get you where you going?? Or are you trying to fly that plane from your window seat?? Can you humble yourselves under the pilots care?
He cares for you. He knows your children. He knows where you live. He knows who your boss is. He knows your neighbor. His instruction is to humble ourselves and trust him in the ride. If we don’t, we are taking matters into our own hands. When we do this, when we consume ourselves with worry, we reveal the truth that we are concerned with our own selves and not him. We will try to give the impression that we are concerned with him, but we are more concerned with our own pride than we are in making progress in his kingdom.

Mary and Martha
Here’s an example we might be able to relate to. “Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:38-42‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Notice Martha was distracted with much serving. Martha was distracted – we might say she was anxious. Martha was upset about many things, but Mary chose what was better. It’s not that we are not to be useful and of service to the lord and to those around us. It’s just that our posture and our heart needs to be like that of Mary during our times of activity and service. We are more like Martha, anxious and troubled about many things. But we need to remember it’s all in the name of and for Him, and he can never be taken away from us.
The posture of Mary needs to be the heart of OUR Martha here. If it is not, then our preoccupation of what we do for Jesus may rob us of our time spent with Jesus, and the enjoyment of the companionship of Jesus. This can create a bitterness in us that we will then resent the humble spirits of others who have chosen a less frantic way of life (is this hitting home with anyone?)

aneshetic
In the words of Alistair Begg, “The presence of anxiety is directly related to the absence of humility“. Having dispensed with the transcendent God who who is in control if all our lives, and exalted ourselves in our pride, we now fill in the blanks ourselves. As we scramble to fill in all these blanks, we have become a neurotic society. We are full if neuroses, full of anxiety, stressed out, burdened, fractured, divided, crushed, debilitated, and paralyzed. Until we humble ourselves and bow before God to acknowledge that our hearts are restless, we will never make sense of it all and we will continue to be unstable and riddled with anxiety.

90 proof
How do we cope?? We have our 90 proof anesthetic to get us through our fear of flying and everything else. We have our boozy lunches to get us through the day. We have the endless, 24 hour possibilities of entertainment in excess to temporarily give us hope and a quick lift.

Persecution of the Christians at Rome by Nero
As Christians, we are responsible to challenge the way of the world – not with false cries of bravado, but in the example of humbling ourselves before God and declaring how powerful we believe his hand to be in our lives. We are to be nit just saying it, but living it!! It’s easy to say we are living free of worry, it’s a whole other thing altogether to be experientially free of worry. It’s real easy to talk the good talk without actually living the good life.
We are not called to cast our troubles onto him, but we are allied to throw those anxieties which the troubles cause his way. Life sometimes takes turns which we simply can’t control. We can not be free of all trouble, we might not be able to change every condition in our lives. But we can be free of the anxiety, because he cares for you. I can refuse to be burdened by the cares weighing me down which have disturbed my peace and distracted my mind.

humble yourselves
I can refuse this because in the anxiety we face, there is an action we take, and an assurance we find. If we are in Christ, if we know the reality of sins forgiven, the joy of forgiveness, the presence of the spirit in our lives, then the promise of God’s word is that we are his personal concern. Our trust is not misplaced. “Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭121:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬. He never sleeps, he never slumbers. He never needs a wake up call. I am his personal concern.
Until man bows in humility to the god of the whole universe who knows every hair on my head – there is no hope for the neurotic lives we lead. Anything else may deal with symptoms. The care of God is ultimately expressed in a cross, sending his own son to die for us. The love of God is heard in a cry – “And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke‬ ‭23:34‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The peace of God is discovered in a moment – “And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭23:43‬ ‭ESV‬‬.
Sometimes we (I) live in a silent cave of our own creation. ‘I can share this with no one. No one cares.’ Except Jesus stands right there in the shadows making each one of us his personal concern.
I AM writing to myself today.
“…Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:5-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/1pe.5.5-7.esv

John Lewis

For All People

For All People

house of prayer

Looking at a meeting on the road of life between the apostle Philip and a certain man who, though excluded from the temple of God, lived his life with reverence and love for God anyway.

Acts_128

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” A few things about this eunuch. First of all, we can know that he was a man who had some wealth and power. In modern times we would call him the “Secretary of the Treasury.” It specifically says he was in charge of all the treasury of Queen Candace, queen of all Ethiopia (which was a much larger and more prominent nation than it is now). We know that this man loved God, because in spite of the fact that he was not allowed in the temple, He had come to Jerusalem to worship. Eunuchs were specifically excluded from worship in the temple (Deut 23:1), yet this man had made the trip to Jerusalem to worship. Not only that, but he had spent a large sum of money (books were very expensive in these days, because each one had to be hand written) on a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. And it is this scroll from which he is reading when Phillip, led by the Holy Spirit, boldly asks him “Do you understand what you are reading?” To which our eunuch perfectly answers “How can I, unless someone guides me?”  

philip-and-ethiopian1
I say this response was perfect, because it shows the humble heart with which this man was seeking the Lord. He was a wealthy man, probably had just about everything wealth could have given him. He was specifically excluded from actually entering the temple. Even at the most outer gate where Gentiles were allowed, this man was persona non grata. And yet, he takes his own time and own money and makes the trip to Jerusalem, spends more of his own money on a scroll which which he then has the humility to admit ha can’t even understand for himself. Perfect!!

Big-Bible
This is perfect, because despite the rugged individualism we have been scripted into in our modern age, the interpretation and understanding of scripture is not an individual project. This eunuch couldn’t do it alone, and neither can we. The church gave us the Bible. The Bible was given by the spirit to the church, and the church then gave it to us. And it is the church, with its long history of interaction with the Bible, that is able to guide us in understanding what we read to this day.

lamb_slain
And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.”
The eunuch is reading from what we now know as Isaiah 53, Isaiah’s vision and prophecy of the suffering servant, the suffering Messiah. “Just who is this man?” As it says, from this point Phillip preached the good news of Jesus Christ to a man who loved and worshipped a God who did not even allow him into his temple to pray.

new temple
But there is a new temple coming, something else Isaiah had a vision of. Isaiah did not just gives a prophecy of Messiah as the suffering servant, one who Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent. Isaiah’s vision and prophecy continues beyond that. It is during the time of Isaiah, about 586 B.C., that the temple is destroyed. King Cyrus will eventually give the order to have the temple rebuilt, and it will be rebuilt, but Isaiah has some new ideas for the temple. Not architectural ideas, Isaiah is thinking far bigger than that. Look at what Isaiah says in Isaiah 56 – Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely separate me from his people”; and let not the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. In Isaiah’s vision of a rebuilt temple, things would be different. Foreigners, and even the specifically extra-excluded eunuchs, will no longer be excluded, but will be included in the temple. They will no longer be outside looking in, but will be inside fully participating. Isaiah continues – “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Temple-Inscription-286x300
To which we yell out a loud “Amen!!” Because, of course, we know that the Temple of the Lord IS a house of prayer for all nations. Because we grow up in 21st century America, and this would be one of those truths we hold to be self evident. Unfortunately, neither Isaiah nor this Secretary of the Treasury grew up in 21st century America. Isaiah’s vision was NOT fulfilled in the temple rebuilt under the order of King Cyrus. The temple was NOT a house of prayer for all nations, foreigners and eunuchs were still excluded.

house_of_prayer
Phillip understands all if this has he sits with this man. He understands that there IS NOW a new temple, and ALL ARE INVITED!! Philip might even have been there when Jesus endorsed Isaiah’s vision at what we call the “cleansing of the temple – “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”  
This is the Good News Phillip shared with the Ethiopian eunuch. It is, in the words of Pastor Brian Zahnd, “Good News for the excluded!” And this excluded Ethiopian eunuch is immediately baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and becomes the first Gentile convert baptized into eternal life in Jesus Christ. The temple Isaiah was looking for was not fulfilled in the bricks and stones of a new temple built by human hands. The temple Isaiah was looking for was built by the life, the blood, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A temple where there is no hierarchy (even though we try every day to restore the hierarchy). There are no priests- except that we ARE ALL priests. That’s right – we are a Kingdom of priests offering spiritual sacrifices and the sacrifices of our own lives before God.

spriitual sacrifice
There are only two things Jesus asks of us.
1). Be honest about your own sins. Don’t wear a mask. Don’t pretend not to be a sinner. We are all saints in the body of christ, this is true. But we are saints-in-process. We are all sinners in the process of becoming saints.

Exclusion
2). Welcome all the other sinners. Don’t try to keep everyone else out. Salvation is not just for “us”. It is for all who would call on the name of the Lord. “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” Acts‬ ‭2:21‬ ‭ESV

‬‬whoever calls on the name of the lord
Sometimes we try to keep people away, don’t we? Maybe we see them as “other” or “enemy”, and not as our “brother.” We’ve always done this, all the way back to the time when Jesus was with his disciples. “Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.” Matthew‬ ‭19:13-15‬ ‭ESV‬‬. We may try to keep people away, but Jesus just says “stop that” and ministers to them anyway.

jesus-children
Because your background, your past, and even your sin does not exclude you from the grace of Jesus Christ. Even those who thought they were excluded are welcome at the table of Christ. If you think you are excluded, Jesus tells you to “come”. All are welcome at the table of Christ, the true temple of the Lord which is the house of prayer for all peoples.  Jesus will welcome you personally.

lords_supper-1024x484

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.”

‭‭Acts‬ ‭8:26-35‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/act.8.26-35.esv

“Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my righteousness be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.” Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely separate me from his people”; and let not the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.””

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭56:1-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/isa.56.1-8.esv
“And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.””

‭‭Mark‬ ‭11:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mrk.11.17.esv
John Lewis

Do as He says…

jesus

We are all disciples of somebody. We all learned to live from somebody else, there are no exceptions. As human beings, we are the kind of creatures who have no choice but to learn, and keep learning, from others how to live.

john wayne
Of course, we live in 21st century America, the land of “rugged individualism”, we are all our own man, or our own woman. We do what we want to do, we ‘don’t need nobody‘ telling us how to live our lives. Except for one thing – we learned this “rugged individualism” from somebody, or more likely a whole bunch of some-bodies, who taught us this “rugged individualism”. We don’t need anyone telling us how to live. What we need is to get the right job, live in the right neighborhood, drive the right car, wear the right clothes, marry (or not marry) the right person, use the right phone on the right phone network, eat the right food, drink the right beer, use the right deodorant, get the right hairstyle…and everything will be just fine, because I GOT THIS. I am in charge of me. Yes, we have been taught and discipled in such a way that we know that we are to live our own lives as we see fit, and we don’t need anyone butting their stinking noses up into our business.

modern
This is what it means for us to be modern people, living in an overwhelmingly secular society. We are ruggedly individualistic. But we did not become the individualists we are through our own individual and independent thoughts and insights on ultimate truth. We did not come to our individualism individually.

discipling
We, like every other human being, learned how to live our lives from somebody, again probably several somebodies. We are all, mostly, students of a few crucial people who have been in your life at crucial times to help you form your standard responses in thought, word and action to the world around you. This process is really ongoing, never ending (which is a good thing for most of us), and self-correcting.
Usually we begin as disciples of our closest family members, hopefully our parents. For most of us, this is very good. Maybe you were taught very young by good, strong people who knew God and ways in his ways.

alcoholic-parent
Not all are so fortunate. Sometimes we are disciples very early on of parents and family that are dysfunctional. Our original family examples can for many of us be mildly debilitation or outright disastrous. We can look at the results of children who were raised by alcoholics or drug addicts. They learn from their chemically dependent parents how to exist and function in the world around them, and in many cases the results can be tragic.

peers
We later become disciples of our teachers, and our playmates and peers. Once we get to the teen years, those who are teaching us to live will set in stone for us the way we see and approach the world around us. We could learn from teachers or college professors or military instructors. We learn far more than we would care to admit from music stars, actors and actresses, the celebrities we follow. Maybe a writer or well know professional type. These people all give us an impression of what life is supposed to be about, and what we learn from them gives us the necessary orientation of our conscious behavior and outlook toward ourselves, toward others and toward God. We all have (must have) these orientations, even if they are wrong.
At some point in time, we must recognize who has taught us, mattered us, discipled us. We must evaluate and understand the results of the teaching we have received. This is a sometimes frightening task, and many of us just can’t do it. But when we do this, it can result in us opening the door to finally learn from the true master of life.

master of life
Jesus assumption during his time on earth was that his followers, his disciples, would live their lives as his students and coworkers. That his people would (and should) find him so admirable and wise in every respect that they would constantly seek to be in his presence and guided, instructed and helped by him in every part of their lives. He assumed this because he is the firstborn of the new creation, the new Adam who walked on the earth as the first Adam was supposed to – in obedience to our Father in the heavens. In the words of Dallas Willard, “he is indeed the living head of the community of prayerful love across all time and space.”

commanded by jesus
If we live our lives as disciples of Jesus, we will become the kind of people who would do everything we do “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col 3:17). We would do all we do in his behalf, or in his place, as he would do it. His great commission to us at the end of Matthew’s Gospel is “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” Matthew‬ ‭28:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Notice what it explicitly tells here, that we will baptize in the name of the the Lord – teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And what is implicit here? How would his disciples, then and now, teach others to obey all that he commanded them if they themselves are not obeying his commands? So we obey his commands (right?), and our inner life is transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Christ within us.

blameless-jesus-reaching
There is no good reason for us not to do what Jesus tells us to do, because he only tells us to do what is best. But do we do what is best? One day, we know we will stand in the presence of Christ. Have we been good and faithful servants, or will Jesus stand before and ask this question – “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”

021-lumo-jesus-disciples
What are the commands of Jesus? You know them, you’ve heard them. “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.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:30-31‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Pretty simple, right? Love your God, love your neighbor. And don’t forget this one – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”” John‬ ‭13:34-35‬ ‭ESV‬‬.
So why do we call Jesus ‘Lord, Lord’? Do we believe that he is lord? By which I mean, do we believe that he all power over all things right here and now? Maybe we don’t see his power playing out in the world because we don’t have his power in our lives. Maybe his power is not playing out for the world to see because those who claim to be his disciples call him Lord, Lord, but don’t actually do what he says.

jesus-love-your-enemies-lg
What am I saying?? How do we know we love God?? The biblical test for love of God is the love of neighbor. “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬. God is here, but we can not see or touch or directly work for him. Except that we can, because we do have our brothers, each one made in the image of God. The trouble with our brothers as opposed to our God is that we can see them. We can touch them. We can smell them. We can see all their bad habits. We can hear their annoying laugh. We know that they don’t love God like we love God. We know they don’t live by his word like we live by his word. We know they don’t forgive others like we forgive others. But we love them anyway, don’t we?

jesus-christ
We know we love God by our love for our neighbor. But, the classic question is, just who is our neighbor? Anyone we can help (see Luke 10). The biblical test case for love of God is love of neighbor. The test for love of neighbor is love of enemy. “”You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew‬ ‭5:43-45‬ ‭ESV‬‬. If we are living as the image of God, the image of Christ in the world, we will know that our enemy is our neighbor just as much as our closest friends.

forgive
Love God. Love neighbor. Love and pray for our enemies. How about forgiving others? “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 ‭6:14-15‬ ‭ESV

‬‬
Uh-oh.
Who’s disciple are you?

 

“”Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭6:46‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/luk.6.46.esv

John Lewis

The Man with No Name

The Man with No Name

man with no name

Do you ever feel like you are lost in the world and no one notices you? Do you ever feel like no matter how loud you cry out, no matter how hard you try, no matter how good you are, how smart you are, that you are just another face in a sea of faces, just another number among the millions and billions of numbers?? Ever feel like you don’t matter?

blind beggar
Look at the story of blind Bartimaeus for a moment. And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. When you read this, notice one thing. The blind beggar called Bartimaeus has absolutely no identity of his own. By which I mean, Bartimaeus, which has become a name for us (we would call him Blind Bart), is not a name at all. Bar-Timaeus simply means “son of Timaeus”. Bartimaeus has no identity of his own. He is a man with not even a name. He is overlooked everyday, barely noticed, not even having his own name to be called by. He is only known for being blind and as the son of his father, otherwise completely lost in a sea faces and the hustle and bustle of a busy city, left only to cry out for “alms” every day for his sustenance.
And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. The world may not notice him, but this son of Timaeus is paying attention to the world around him. He has heard of this Jesus of Nazareth, he knows this is the miracle worker, he believes he is the prophesied Son of David predicted in scripture to be the Messiah of Israel. But even in his cries for mercy to the son of David, those around him just want him to pipe down, like a child to be seen but not heard.  Or our own homeless and destitute, whom we would just as soon ignore, and who sometimes annoy us with their insistence that we notice.

have mercy
But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” Sometimes we just have to be heard!! Bart wasn’t going to keep quiet this time. He keeps crying out to Jesus, and Jesus calls him. Not by name of course, because this man has no name, but Jesus calls to him nonetheless.

miracle worker
And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” A very simple question, ‘what do you want me to do for you’? Isn’t this the essence of prayer, just asking God for what we would want him to do for us? Remember what Jesus tells us in John’s Gospel – “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” John‬ ‭14:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬. What is it you want the son of David to do?

blind bart
And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.” Jesus here pays the blind man without even his own name perhaps the ultimate compliment – the compliment of his own individuality. Go your way; your faith has made you well. Your faith – not the faith of his father, mother, brother, or the third cousin on his brothers side. Blind Bart cries out in faith to Jesus of Nazareth, and though blind from birth Jesus restores his sight on the spot.

miracles-of-jesus-feeding-5000-fish-1127605-tablet
Bartimaeus’ faith was based in the knowledge that Jesus had done the miracles, and that he was the son of David in prophecy. Jesus affirms him in his own individuality. Jesus, for every believer who cries out to him in faith, gives each of us our own individual respect and worth. I am the son of my father, and there are to this day people who know me mainly as ‘John Henry’s boy“. Which is fine in and of itself, my father was a good man and I’m glad when people recognize that. But I have my own DNA, I have my own identity. God made me an individual. When I finally cried out to him, I was saved not because of my fathers faith but because of the trust I had placed in Him. When you put your trust in Jesus Christ personally, he will affirm you and help you redefine everything in your life. And just like a blind beggar with no name, He will help you see the world as you’ve never seen it before.

faith-in-jesus-christ

“And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭10:46-52‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mrk.10.46-52.esv

John Lewis

Kingdom Come!!

Thy Kingdom Come

Looking at one of my favorite passages in the Bible this morning. I’m sure I’ve done this before, but there’s a lot to be said about this section of scripture, and this is just where I’m led today.

In Luke 24, after the resurrection of Jesus. It’s been a long week for the followers of Jesus. They entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday expecting a showdown which would result in Jesus being crowned King of the Jews. They already had a king, King Herod, but he was just an imposter, the official puppet king of the Roman Empire.

HerodtheGreat2
They had gone to Jerusalem with such high hopes. They believed in Jesus, believed he WAS the Messiah, the savior, the one who would rescue them from Roman domination. But things had gone so very wrong, one of the twelve had betrayed Jesus, making it possible for the temple police to come and arrest him under the dark of night and not start a riot (did you not know that Jesus was VERY popular?). From that point it was very easy for the temple officials and priests to manipulate the Roman governor Pontius Pilate and use the crowds in Jerusalem to get what they wanted – the end of Jesus.

Baburen_Arrest
So Jesus had his sham trials and was crucified that Friday morning, and was dead and buried by Friday night. Now it was late Sunday afternoon, and it was time to get back to life for his followers. Jesus mission to Jerusalem had failed. There had been rumors that day of same strange happenings and goings-on, but it still seemed as if all their hopes had died with Jesus that Friday.

Emmaus-Road
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. What is it about the resurrected Jesus that even those followers who had been closest to him – think Mary Magdalene at the tomb, even John, Peter, and the rest of the eleven by the shore of Galilee, and also these disciples here – did not recognize him? These disciples are walking along the road, the road of life, talking about Jesus and all the happenings in Jerusalem of the past few days. They had believed in Jesus, they were among his followers, they knew Jesus. Yet they were so wrapped up in their conversations about Jesus and all that had happened that they could not recognize him when he was walking right beside them.

jerusalem
And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Jesus even speaks to them, and they don’t recognize him.

jm_200_NT2.pd-P21.tiff
And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” They don’t recognize Jesus standing next to them, but they surely gave a pretty good grasp of what’s gone on regarding him the past few days. These were not časual followers, they were not uninterested observers. Clearly they were serious followers of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel.

oh foolish ones
And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. They were serious followers of Jesus, but Jesus has to tell them ‘You don’t know your Bible very well, do you?’ It’s too bad we don’t see what exactly Jesus shared here, but it says he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. So maybe he shared the story of Joseph, maybe he told how Joseph had been rejected by his brothers, had suffered that rejection, suffered being thrown in the pit and imprisoned for sins he did not commit, yet stayed true to the father and ultimately was seated at the right hand of Pharaoh, 2nd in command of the most powerful empire in the world. And Joseph, when his brothers who had rejected came in dire need and in danger of starvation, did not seek vengeance but instead showed mercy to his brothers.

david-spares-sauls-life
Maybe he shared the story of David, who had to suffer under King Saul, yet when he had the chance to kill him, he too showed mercy. Of course, much later, it was David who needed and sought mercy from the Lord for the evil he had done, and of course he received mercy, because as Jesus himself had taught, “”Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Matthew‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬.
It says he started with Moses, who was rejected by his own people, lived in hiding in the wilderness for forty years, all but forgotten before God used him. He probably talked about Isaiah, who told us that Messiah would be a suffering servant, and Zechariah, who said the coming king would be pierced.

broke the bread
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. So now their walk is at an end, their time with the stranger is coming to a close. He is going to walk further, but they ask him to stay, the night is coming soon. So he stays, a welcome dinner guest, but at some point the guest becomes the host. Maybe he asks, maybe he doesn’t, but he takes the bread, blesses the bread, he breaks the bread. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. They had walked at least two hours with Jesus, walking and talking and listening. But these two disciples of Jesus, even though they had known him in life, did not recognize the resurrected Christ. He walked with them, he talked with them, he shared from the Bible with them. But they did not recognize him until he blessed and broke the bread. Then, just like that, he was gone.

breaking bread
They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.” Now they see that it was Jesus walking with them all along, listening to them, sharing the scriptures with them, comforting them. It was only after the fact that they knew it was Jesus. There are times in our own lives that we encounter Jesus on the road, but just like these Emmaus Road disciples we almost never recognize Him until after the fact, after it’s over. It is almost always in hindsight that we can look back and say to ourselves ‘Yes, that was Jesus.’ But we also encounter Jesus in the bread of our shared sacrament, the ‘breaking of the bread.‘ And also just like these Emmaus Road disciples, we can almost always recognize Him in that breaking of the bread. We encounter Jesus both in our own surprising stories and in our shared sacrament.

fills all things
On the road of our lives, just like Easter Sunday on the Emmaus Road, CHRIST IS RISEN!! He is alive and risen, not just a dying man resuscitated, but a dead man resurrected. He went into death, fully experiencing all it means to die a physical death. But God the Father raised him in glory on the third day, vindicating his sinless life and his “Jesus Way” of co-suffering love and unlimited forgiveness. In doing so, he also destroyed sin and death, and us capable of being present to all people all the time. “And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.” Ephesians‬ ‭1:23‬ ‭NLT‬‬.

resurrected
Because he is resurrected and alive!!!, Jesus will remain unpredictable to us. We can, and should, expect to encounter him in unexpected ways. He will come to us in the kindness of strangers, and certain providential circumstances. The body of Christ is sometimes the embodied presence of Jesus, bringing exactly what we need. We will understand later that it was Jesus at work.
Encountering Jesus on the road of life is unscheduled, hard to recognize, and uncommon. We all have these moments, but for most of us, we can count them on one hand. But – we can encounter Jesus on a regular basis, and know we are encountering him as we do it. This is done through sacrament – or in the breaking of the bread.

road of life
We can encounter Jesus on the road, and when we do we will be surprised. It doesn’t happen often. It is individual, rare and unscheduled – we almost never see Him coming.
Or, we can encounter Jesus in the bread, and this is communal, common and scheduled. We never have to miss it, in fact. Many churches do it every worship service. Many do it monthly, some less frequently.
However often, every time we break the bread as He taught us, we know we are encountering Christ. And learning to recognize Him in the bread can only help us to recognize him on the road. Connecting with sacrament, intentionally, helps open our eyes and connects us to what we sometimes miss on the road of life.
And yes, Jesus IS in that bread which we break and that wine which we drink. He is both in the bread and in the cup. It is NOT mere symbolism. It IS sacred mystery. We can not explain, nor do we try. But we do confess. That is because we are sacramental and not secular. We will explain that which we can explain but we will simply confess far more than we can ever explain. And sometimes in the life of faith, confession is far more important than explanation.

cup of blessing
The apostle Paul tells us “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Paul has every chance to tell us that this is mere symbol, but he does not. In fact the word he uses here is translated as “participation” means far more than that. It means fellowship, communion, joining in, sharing, giving together. We are joining together with Christ in his broken body and spilled blood. Just like these Emmaus Road disciples, it is in the breaking of the bread that we can join together with Christ even today.
Jesus Himself had a lot to say on this in John chapter 6 after feeding the 5000. “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”” John‬ ‭6:48-51‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Are you following? Our ancestors ate manna from heaven, yet they all perished. Jesus is the bread from heaven which all can eat from and never perish.

death-of-Jesus
Continuing on, “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” John‬ ‭6:53‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood…we have no life in us. The flesh of Jesus is both human and divine. Jesus’ blood is both human and divine. Again, don’t try to explain it. But Jesus tells our problem right here – we have no life in us. We are dead in our sins. We are sick. Why, when Jesus tells us so often that we are sick, are we simply looking for a lawyer? We need a doctor, the great physician Himself. Jesus gives us the cure for our sickness, it is his body and his blood. This is the cure for the disease of death that flows through us. We receive this through the bread and wine of communion.

crucified
Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”” ‭‭John‬ ‭6:54-58‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The Kingdom of God has come. These Emmaus Road disciples thought that because Jesus was killed, the kingdom did not come. They were wrong. The true Kingdom had arrived. But – this meant big changes for the world as they knew it. Up until this point, the kingdom of God had come through the temple, and it’s whole system of hierarchy and domination.

temple
After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the kingdom no longer comes through a temple, but a table. There are no longer the ever shrinking circles of exclusion of the temple. There is no hierarchy or domination (no matter how hard we try to bring that back). There is always more room at the table. We might feel it’s getting a little crowded, maybe we try to squeeze some out, especially those people. Jesus just says ‘stop that’ and tells you to move over. Because there’s always more room at the table, and all who want to come are welcome.

table of christ
“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Communion is not symbol, its sacrament. Where in the words of Jesus (or Paul) does anyone get the idea that it’s only symbolic? This is a sacred mystery given to us by Christ himself. I don’t understand it, I don’t try to understand it, I don’t have to understand it. But I do believe and confess it, just like I believe and confess that Jesus Christ is the true Son of God who died so that my sins might be forgiven.
The communion table, the center of the Kingdom of God come to earth. All are welcome, and there’s always room.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭24:13-35‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/luk.24.13-35.esv

John Lewis

How to Move Mountains

How to Move Mountains

Dangerous Mountain

Looking at an example of Jesus Christ, Son of God, living out his teachings in the Sermon on the Mount at a moment in time when it would have been very useful to him to NOT follow his own ways. But of course, that would have been very un-Christ like of our Christ, wouldn’t it?
Look at this very famous passage in the Bible where Jesus knows what is coming. He knows the time of his arrest is drawing near, he knows the suffering he’s about to endure, and he knows that Peter is going to deny him through it all.

wheat
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Jesus surely would have been tempted to try to fix Peter here, don’t you think? Peter was about to do a terrible thing, something so bad we still point to it in comparison to ourselves in our pathetic spiritual state two thousand years later, knowing that as bad as we are, at least we didn’t do what Peter did!

jesus-prayed
And yet, what did Jesus do about it? No, he did not do nothing. But notice, neither did He condemn Peter. He does not attempt to shame Peter into ‘doing the right thing’. He does not attempt to manipulate, He does not break out his ‘pearls of wisdom’. He doesn’t use His power of God to rewire Peter on the spot. He just says to Peter, I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.   

codependent
He tells Peter that he’s about to be tested, and He prayed to the Father for the faith of Peter. He asks, seeks, and knocks, both of Peter and of the Father. He doesn’t try to fix Peter. He doesn’t beg Peter to stand with him through the trials He Himself was about to endure. He knew Peter was about to have his own trials, and how he must have wanted Peter to pass those trials!! But, showing His own faith and confidence in the Father, the same faith and confidence he calls us too (“…For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”” Matthew‬ ‭17:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬), He left Peter free to succeed or fail before both God and man.

last supper
Peter failed his tests that night. Jesus could have saved Peter from his failure, and could have personally gained help and comfort by doing so. But even at great personal cost to himself, he allowed Peter to fail. He did not manipulate or attempt to fix Peter. He prayed to the father, and let Peter know he had prayed and what he prayed for. He also made a request of Peter – And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. Jesus did not manipulate or control the situation, but he did assume his prayer for Peter would be answered. He asks Peter to strengthen his brothers, a request he would renew after his resurrection – “He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” John‬ ‭21:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

Mustard-Seed-Faith-by-CRI
Peter failed Jesus that horrible night. Jesus could have saved Peter from his failure, but that would not have allowed Peter to grow into the man he was to become. Peter had a mountain of failure to overcome after denying Jesus, but Jesus had asked both Peter and the Father that his faith would not fail. And Peter’s mustard seed of faith would move that mountain of failure, a mountain that should have prevented Peter from being the rock upon which Jesus would build his church. Instead, Peter indeed would strengthen the brothers and feed the sheep, and within weeks he would be the one to preach on the day of Pentecost and bring 3000 new believers to the eternal life only available in Jesus Christ.

knockin'
Because Jesus asked, seeked, and knocked.

peter preaching pentecost

“”Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:31-34‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/luk.22.31-34.esv

John Lewis