Tag Archives: Jesus

XMAS, Improved

My friend, Rick Martinez, with whom I’ve shared wonderful intellectual and philosophical conversations—as well as my writing efforts throughout the years—comments on some of my blogs. This is in response to my last blog, and is a beautiful thought for the season. I formatted it as a blog, but the thoughts and words are Rick’s, unchanged.

Thank you, Steve, for writing about Christmas—the Birth of Christ. No matter of all the “scientific” facts surrounding when Jesus was born and who believes what–there’s at least two general things we all acknowledge and accept as true. At the time and in the area of Christ’s birth, what was true 2000 years ago continues to be true today–some 2000 years later: There were believers and non-believers and warring factions back then as there are now. And–for Christians all over the world, the most tragic words ever written of our Lord are those set down by the Apostle John in the beginning of his Gospel:

He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

Bethlehem had no room for Him when He was born;

Nazareth, no room for Him when He lived; and

Jerusalem, no room for Him when He died.

As Silent as a Tomb

tombHoly Saturday, Jesus’ body has been laid in the tomb. I don’t usually think much about Holy Saturday—it’s kind of the runt of the litter—the unappreciated day of Holy Week.

On Holy Saturday, was Christ aware of His body lying there? I’ve always felt that at death I will discard my body like the first stage of a rocket and launch the next stage. But Jesus wasn’t moving on just yet. When the Risen Christ revealed himself to Mary Magdalene the next day, He told her not to hold onto Him because He had not yet ascended to the Father. If He was aware of his body in the tomb, was he glad for the quiet after the screams of the crowd, first praising him then demanding His death? Was the cool comforting after hours on the cross in the scorching heat?

On Holy Saturday, the Apostles, as far as we know, were busily doing the only logical things—running and hiding from the authorities, frightened, confused, and bewildered.

And what about the Jews who had demanded His death? Did they go home to a pleasant celebration of the Passover Feast as if this was just a normal event? What about the Roman officials and soldiers who knew the whole event was bogus with an illegal overnight kangaroo court? One of the soldiers had been shown the truth and had proclaimed that, “Surely this was the Son of God.” Did Pilate resent being played for a patsy by the Jews, forced to do their bidding even though as governor he was supposed to be the one in charge.

How many had second thoughts and regrets once the mob mentality had passed? How many asked, “What have I done?”

How many didn’t.

And one last thought. I am amazed at places where I unexpectedly find God, one of which seems at least semi-appropriate for today. In the Harry Potter series, Harry and Hermione find Harry’s parents’ gravesite. Included on the stone is the inscription:

 “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”

which plays in integral part in the plot. It is also a quote from 1 Corinthian 15:26 recounting how Jesus conquered death.

Greater Love

Greater love has no man, but to lay down his life for a friend.

Regardless of your faith, religion, or decision against, we all can appreciate this statement.

To Christians, Jesus took on all of our imperfections and died in compensation for all of us.

But there are others to whom this applies. Many have laid down their lives.

God knows, over the past twelve years there have been ample opportunities for young men and women to fall on a grenade or take a bullet for a comrade.

Yet, it does not always require death. Then there are the parents, especially many single parents, who put their own lives aside to provide for their children; not to merely provide essentials, but to prioritized a school event when they’re dead tired or to have more modest meals to allow for a school ring or a yearbook.

How many adults juggle both care of their children and care of their parents?

And what does this mean?

All of these things are heroic, and yet none of them are. We are merely following the example set by Jesus, our Savior. We are called to express our love for others above our love for ourselves.

So, on this Good Friday evening when Jesus was laid in the tomb, in earthly terms to rest; in celestial terms to prepare for the next phase. In any case, to be “put away” in one form, yet to return in another that is more, beautiful, more powerful, more wonderful, with the promise that His next return will be beyond comprehension.

With all that in mind, share a greater love, to someone, in some way. Call someone you loved, with whom you haven’t spoken in a while. Tell a family member what wonderful attributes they have.

You know what to do.

And, as you do, prepare for the stone to be rolled back from the empty tomb and share in the joy.

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let His face shine upon you. May the Lord look upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord bless you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

Slavery & Murder in Religion

The Islamists are telling us infidels that their religion includes slavery and murder.

At first this infuriated me.

But somehow the Holy Spirit always manages to put things in perspective for me.

My religion also includes slavery and murder, but there’s one huge difference.

Instead of being encouraged to inflict these things on others, it was our savior, Jesus, the only Son of God, who was murdered—crucified—the execution reserved for slaves.

 

 

 

Misnamed Religious Days?

Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane  1746   Pinacoteca, Vatican City, Vatican

Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane 1746
Pinacoteca, Vatican City, Vatican

It seems odd that we call this Holy Week. After all, it’s a week when everything seems to have fallen apart.

“Holy Thursday” – Jesus asks for Peter, James and John to pray with him, but they fall asleep. He’s betrayed by one of his closest followers. Those charged with representing His Father are the ones orchestrating His demise. His trusted right-hand man denies Him.

“Good Friday” – Jesus is tortured, humiliated, abandoned and condemned to a death reserved for slaves who threaten the emperor. His own people don’t so much choose Barabbas to live as condemn Jesus to die.

“Holy Saturday” – The hope for the world lays cold and dead in a sepulchure.

But, as God told Samuel as he looked at each of Jesse’s sons, and as Jesus told Peter – God sees things differently than we do and His thoughts are not like ours. The week is Holy because it unfolded according to God’s plan – not ours.

Jesus’ Timing

Superstar

If you have followed my blog for a while, you may remember that during Lent I listen to “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Although it’s an artistic musing, it does cause me to think of my scripture reading from a different perspective. In the recording, Judas asks why Jesus came, “in such a backward time in such a strange land.” He goes on to say, “If you’d come today, you’d have reached a whole nation. Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication.”

It’s a fair question, and I pondered it for a while and arrived at an answer that at least makes sense to me.

I think that Jesus’ aim was to inspire, teach, challenge, and demand that we take things into our own hands and do God’s work. It is up to us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and perform such works in His name and to give glory to the Father.

But what if He had chosen today? I suspect for a while He would be the top story on the news and a meme on the internet. But would we take Him any more seriously? Personally I doubt it. Besides, in a few days some other story would have pushed him out of the limelight.

It was within His power to solve all our problems – disease; poverty; everything. Instead, He solved the biggest problem – our separation from God.

The rest is up to us, but don’t worry. He taught us how.

Writing In the Dust

Jewsus

I picked up a copy of National Geographic’s special publication about Jesus. I’m always trying to learn just a little bit more about Him.

I learned something that I didn’t expect.

They pointed out how He left behind no writings or other historical evidence. We know He wrote, but it was in the dust.

He may not have left anything tangible behind, but what He did leave behind was powerful.

Salvation. The fact that God loves us. A new relationship with God.

Jesus wasn’t about Himself – He was about the message.