Archive for October, 2013
“And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit'” (John 20:22).
Knowing that the missional task of being the presence of Christ in the world cannot be accomplished by even the most determined of human efforts, Jesus breathed his living Spirit into the disciples. What God the Father did in his initial act of creation (Genesis 2:7), God the Son has done in making us a new creation.
“Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).
Our mission and purpose in life isn’t new but, rather, a continuation of the one given to Jesus. It is a life focused on the glorification of the Father and the pursuit of his will. Being a sent people is the sole basis of our existence. Wherever you might be, you have been sent there. Never underestimate your influence as salt and light.
“And when He had said this, he showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20).
That he offered his hands and side for examination is further evidence that the resurrection of Jesus was not mythical, or spiritual, but literal and physical. This was a “game-changer” not just for the disciples then, but it created a new reality for all humanity. If the evidence is to be believed, this then is the only thing that really matters in life.
“So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you'” (John 20:19).
Just three days from their abandonment of Jesus, I think it’s significant that following the resurrection the first word Jesus spoke to his disciples was one of grace, Jesus knew that guilt and shame are terrible encumbrances; they stifle and strangulate the human spirit. In the place of these, Jesus offers his disciples unbroken love, forgiveness and acceptance.
“and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
If God is all loving, why does he allow suffering in the world? If he is all powerful, why doesn’t he do something about it? These are the commonly asked questions for which the critics of the Christian faith demand an answer. If, then, the followers of Jesus must bear the burden of explaining pain and suffering, consistency would require of unbelievers an explanation for the presence of joy in these same circumstances. It cannot be explained apart from the person of Jesus Christ, who came that our joy might be made full.
“Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left” (Isaiah 30:21).
As followers of Christ the life we live emerges not from a list of religious rules that promise reward or punishment but, rather, the growing transformation resulting from an abiding relationship with a risen Savior. Nevertheless, the choices and decisions we make each day, and how and why we decide as we do, are telling. Each one reflects our willingness to follow the leading of the still, small voice of God’s Spirit as He faithfully directs our path.
“for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21).
In the stain glass filter that many, if not most, utilize in reading scripture and seeking to tidy up the life of faith, a significant incarnational reality is lost–the inspired text was written not in the elegance and rhythm of classical Greek verse but the common street language of a peasant class. We should not be shocked that the God who sent his blessed son among such people would inspire such people to produce the sacred text. Thus, real talk and not religious rhetoric is the most effective means of communicating with those who will never read their bible but, most certainly, will be reading us.