Monday, April 10, 2017


Easter week.  It's the last week of Jesus' life, and it has not gone as the disciples thought all along it would.  Not one iota like they'd thought.

He has told them all along he would be going.  He's been specific in saying he'd be turned over to the authorities, tried, and unfairly convicted.  He's even been quite clear that he will be put to death.

Yet they haven't believed.  Maybe their coping mechanisms won't allow them to believe.

Jesus has assured them, too, that he will rise from the dead in three days, but apparently that's just too much for them to fathom.  Dead bodies don't just come alive again.

Even though they've seen with their own eyes Jesus raising three others from the grave - the widow's son at Nain, Jairus' daughter, and Lazarus - it's easier for them to deny in their minds what he is saying.  He won't really die.  They want him here with them.

Now.  Always.

They've left everything to follow him, they've fallen in love with him, and now they can't imagine life without him.

And then, exactly as he told them, at the end of the week it happens.

He is arrested.  He is "processed."  He is brutally crucified.

With their own eyes they watch him die a horrific and torturous death on that rough, wooden cross.

His body is taken away, anointed and wrapped, and buried in a cave.  A huge boulder is rolled in place to seal the cave entrance closed.

Three days later it happens.  He rises just as he had said he would.  Nobody sees it happen in the moment, but his followers clearly see that his grave is now wide open and empty.

It's too much to believe, and they simply don't.

"When they heard that Jesus was alive and that [Mary Magdalene] had seen him, they did not believe it."  (Mark 16:11)

"Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either."  (Mark 16:12-13)

They didn't believe.  They wouldn't believe, for it didn't work in their human capability to understand.

But let's give those disciples some slack.  Are we any different than they were?  Is there anything harder to believe than a dead person (who they all saw crucified then died) coming alive again?


But Jesus is capable of doing all that we just cannot comprehend or even imagine.  He is God, after all.

He can make a way when there is no way.

He can heal when there is no hope.

He can provide when there are no resources.

He can create when there is nothing.

He can love the unlovable.

He can bring the dead to life.

He just...can.

If He can raise himself from the grave, why would we not trust him with everything?

When I think of all he did on that historic day, and everything he has miraculously done in my life since then, I cannot not believe.

And that is what he is after, in the end.  Belief.  He wants us to be with him forever, because he loves us that much.

"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."  (Mark 16:16)

Now that's unbelievable, but I choose to believe anyway.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

How Well Do You Know Yourself?

As we approach the Easter holiday, I've been  reading the accounts of the events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection in the Bible.  Today, as I read parts of Mark chapter 14, I wondered about Peter, one of Jesus' best buddies for his last three years.  Peter, the big-talking, burly buffoon-like fisherman.

Peter has experienced so much with Jesus in the three years he has followed Jesus.  Miracles of all sorts - healings, resurrections from the dead, violent storms calmed, whopping catches of fish, unbelievable food multiplications, walking on the waves, and so much more.  Oh, to have had these experiences right in the physical presence of Jesus!

Yet Jesus knew, when the pressure would come, that even after being through all of that with him,  Peter would deny knowing Jesus.  Jesus describes exactly how this denial will happen.  Peter thinks he won't do so and vehemently denies that it will happen as Jesus says.

Yet it does, for Jesus knows Peter better than Peter knows himself.  The scene goes down just as Jesus has said it will, and Peter does deny Jesus three times.

Let's step back and look at the larger picture, though.

1.  Jesus wanted Peter with him in the Garden of Gethsemane as he prayed and awaited his arrest.  He loved Peter so much.

2.  Jesus knew all along that Peter would deny him.

3.  Later, Jesus placed Peter in charge of the new church, in spite of Peter's shortcomings and failures.

The reality is that He knows our thoughts, our inclinations, our history, our flaws, our failures, our everything.  In spite of all of that and just like Peter, He wants us with him, AND he trusts us to accomplish important things for Him.

How well do you think you know yourself?

Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves.

Our past, our flaws, and our failures do NOT disqualify us!