Passion Week Meditations V

It’s Saturday.

The day between the Cross and the Resurrection. I wonder what the Apostles did on Saturday.

Did they pray, lamenting and interceding on His behalf? That’s an interesting thought, praying for God. Did they go to the Cross? Standing and staring. Interestingly, the scriptures give us no indication that any of Jesus’ followers ever went there again. (I, however, have been three times. Hmmm.) Did they go back to their old lives. Fishing, collecting taxes, and the like.

Saturday was like the proverbial pregnant pause. It must have been like the waiting on the High Priest to exit the Holy of Holies. Holding your breath to see if your sins were covered for any year. Watching. Waiting. Only for a full 36 hours.

That’s a difficult labor. That’s one long breath.

So today I will try to enter the story. As if I don’t know what happened on the glorious Sunday morning. I will endeavor to be desperately desirous of a better ending then the one that seems to have been written on Friday. I will attempt to place myself at the foot of an empty cross, in the company of the women crying out and in the midst of those despairing of what appears to be a failed effort at starting a new and revolutionary way of living with God.

It’s Saturday. Only Saturday. Here’s to hoping tomorrow brings better news.

Passion Week Meditations II

“Lord, why can’t I follow you now?”

Now that’s a good question.

It was posed by Peter at the conclusion of the Last Supper. Having just been told that he could not continue his pursuit of Jesus, he is baffled. Why not? Why can’t I follow you? Of all the Apostles, Peter had been the vehement in affirming his undying loyalty to the Master. He had made it known that he would live in the dust of the Rabbi. It was he who found Jesus in the morning during prayer. It was he who walked on water to meet Jesus. It was Peter who asked Jesus to wash his entire body, not just his feet, as a sign of complete allegiance.

So why couldn’t he continue his journey with Jesus at this time. A few thoughts to ponder for all who wish to be Christ followers.

He followed in his own strength

Peter is every man’s believer. We all relate to him. He has good intentions. He means well. He makes well-intended promises. He carries the torch. He’s a homer. Unfortunately, he does it all in his own strength.

The day will come when Peter will be empowered to follow Jesus. When he will be filled with a greater strength and be fueled by an unfading and unfailing source. He will be filled with the Holy Ghost. And the world will never be the same.

He followed on his own terms

Unmet expectations are powerful. They can be devastating. Work. Marriage. Parenting. Peter had expectations as well. Grandiose thoughts of an earthly kingdom ruled by a physical human throne. Like all of us, he had expectations of what he thought Jesus could do for him, and what he could do for Jesus.

Following Jesus means denying our self. Daily. And taking up our cross. Daily. It is the daily decision to join the mission of Jesus on the terms of daily death to my agenda, and saying yes to the adventure of living life without any other expectations of earthly comforts and conveniences.

He had stronger allegiances

When it came right down to it, Peter’s first allegiance was to himself. When faced with the prospect of suffering as a result of being aligned with Jesus, he denied knowing Him. Not once, but three times. Only hours after he asked the fateful question this post began with.

Peter was motivated by self-preservation. He was his first priority. Me, myself and I.

I get it. I can’t follow Jesus until I want Him more than I want me. I can’t take take up my cross until I desire more of Him, and less of me. I can’t follow Jesus until I can say with Jesus, “Not my will be done, but thine.”

So I get it.

I relate to Peter. Don’t we all. I can’t follow Jesus as I want until live in the power of the Holy Spirit, surrender to the terms of our relationship, and love His glory more than I love my own.

Lord Jesus, would you give me a glimpse of your unfailing love today? Would you open my eyes to see, my ears to hear, and my heart to know the greatness of glory revealed to us in the last week of your earthly life?

Would you help me today to follow you?

Passion Week Meditations – I

“And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”

It seems I always find myself at the feet of my Savior.

It’s not a comfortable place to be. Certainly not socially appropriate behavior for a woman. But it just seems to turn out that way every time I’m in His presence.

As a disciple

The first time it happened was when He came to our house. What an honor to host Jesus. Oh, how excited I was! I had heard of the things that Jesus had said and done. They were marvelous! Breathtaking. Captivating. Dare I say, liberating! Jesus and my brother had become close friends. My big sister Martha had invited Him for a meal.

I felt like a school girl, such was my excitement to have Him in such close proximity.

And so it was that when He entered our house and began to speak, I was mesmerized. Without even thinking, I sat down to listen.

At His feet.

I instinctively and involuntarily assumed the position of a follower of the Rabbi.

Was I the first girl to follow Jesus? To sit at His feet? I am asked that question often. To be honest, I don’t know. But I do know how sweet it was to be allowed to sit. And listen. And learn. At His feet.

As an intercessor

I somehow grew to believe that being a disciple of the Lord Jesus would insulate me from trouble. From pain, hardship and loss.

That bubble would burst one fateful day.

You see, Lazarus my brother and a friend of Jesus had taken ill. We had sent urgent word to reach Jesus to come quickly to heal him. We knew He was in the region. Yet, He didn’t come. And Lazarus worsened. Then, he died. Where was my Jesus? Why was He late? So late.

When He finally reached our home, it was four days too late. I was inconsolable. Hearing that He was asking for me, I ran. And ran as fast as I could to meet Him. I had not rehearsed my speech. My emotions raced between anger, joy and sorrow.

 Upon seeing Him, I fell. At His feet. And I pleaded. I complained. “Where were you? You could have helped! You could have saved him!”

What was I thinking? It was so disrespectful, yet it seemed perfectly appropriate. Then I started weeping. Uncontrollably. At His feet. As I looked up, through my tears, I saw an unforgettable sight. Jesus was weeping too.

My Savior, oh my Jesus, how He loves us. How He cares about us! And you know what happened next.

As a worshipper

Shortly after Lazarus was raised from the dead, we held a celebration to honor Jesus. This was Martha’s idea, and it is how she communicates her affection. Serving is her love language.

I was so overjoyed to host Jesus again. Yet, something told me this would be our last time. Things were heating up, and Jesus now had His share of detractors. Mixed with awe and gratitude was a sense of foreboding.

Was His time near?

I wanted to bring an expression of devotion. Something that truly communicate my extravagant love for Him. My total surrender to Him as a disciple and a worshipper. And it hit me. The most valued possession I owned I was an expensive jar of perfume. I had been saving it for my husband. For my marriage bed.

Without thinking, or maybe I was, I broke the alabaster jar open and poured it out.

At His feet.

The sweet aroma filled the house. Yes, my complete love and worship of my Messiah had now taken center stage. It was all I could do to say to Him that I would be emptied of myself. All the days of my life. Not holding anything back from my Jesus.

And so it was. I lived my life at the feet of Jesus. I have no regrets.

Neither will you.

Overlapping

I’m a big fan of breakfast. Particularly a hearty one at a good restaurant with family or friends. I love everything on the menu, generally speaking, and am hereby launching my campaign for the breakfast bowl…where all my favorites are tossed and mixed. Don’t think they have one of those in Tel Aviv.

Now there are those who don’t share my sentiments. I know who you are. You don’t like your bacon near your eggs, and you certainly can’t stomach your eggs touching your pancakes. You’re the folks that ask for extra plates. You drive servers up the wall! Liberate your syrup, and let your taste buds experience something new, I say!

Israelis like their holidays the way I like a great meal in the morning. All together. Our tour guide made a startling observation yesterday. “Everything is attached in Israel.” Unpacking this statement further, we learned that Israelis celebrate their Memorial Day and their Independence Day…on the same day.

That’s like letting the syrup touch the eggs. That doesn’t quite calibrate, even for a masher like me. One day is a time for somber reflection, the other a cause for wild celebration. Not so in Israel. Everything is attached. They can mix their emotions, preferring to commingle rather than to segregate days of sacred observation.

And it dawned on me. Isn’t that how we should approach the Passion Week? Mourning the betrayal, abandonment and suffering of our Messiah. Feeling the 40 lashes, recalling the searing pain of physical and emotional injustice. We are called to remember. More than an opportunity to slide into a holiday weekend, we are given an annual chance to reflect and feel deeply the pain that purchased our freedom.

Our independence from the lingering effects of sin.

Then we can enter into Sunday morning with all the joy, praise and celebration that the day deserves. We have been set free! We have been liberated from our bondage to decay, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and reconciled to our Creator and Father, who has loved us with an everlasting love! Hallelujah! Our God reigns, and we will live with Him forever!

So may God allow you to experience all He has for you today. Pain may come in the night, but joy comes in the morning. Feel all that the world may bring you today, knowing that you aren’t the first one to do so. Let your food touch, allow joy and sorrow to cross paths.

 We know how the story ends. He is risen.

 He is risen indeed.