Tag Archives: Jesus

Jesus, The Final Days [Book Reaction]

This was a good book to read with a study group through Lent. It’s a short one, but filled with very helpful guidance as to why Jesus died and why his death was and is important.

We studied this book in pursuit / guidance for the questions: “Why did Jesus die?” and “Why did Jesus have to die?” (Note the nuance between dying and the necessity of his death.)

I feel this little book helped us explore the answers to that question. And, it sums up like this:

Jesus, the crucified one, is also the resurrected one. In crucifixion, our king (Jesus) goes to battle against death, sin, and the Accuser.

Then he rises. And, we respond:

“Jesus is raised,” they say, “therefore he is the Messiah; he is the true Lord of the whole world; therefore we, his followers, have a job to do: we must act as his heralds, announcing his lordship to the entire world.” (Chapter 3)

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Palm Sunday and April Fool’s Day (Strangely Fitting)

Palm Sunday being on April Fool’s day has me thinking this morning…

They match, really, these two days. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem two thousand years ago the people met him with an expectation Jesus would not fulfill. The bloodlust, riled against the Roman empire, could not let the King of Peace come and stay. At the end of “Palm Sunday,” King Jesus wanders down to Bethany instead of staying in the capital city Jerusalem.

Like April Fools? Sure: when we do our pranks and say, “Ah, relax! I was just kidding! April Fools!”

Now, Jesus wasn’t being sinister. He was hoping for a prepared heart, a prepared people, a people who’d been immersed in the anticipations the prophets had written (and gotten killed for). He’d have rather gathered the people like a mom gives a good hug – but they’d have nothing to do with that. Embrace wasn’t their hope – vengeance was. (And it remains this way for the un-renovated heart – may God have mercy and work to change us.)

And for today? I wonder why we make such a big celebration out of Palm Sunday. It’s the day where we remember a human failure to see the king as the king was going to be (rather than as a fulfillment to our national desires, identities, etc.).

How can we adapt? Come the end of this week we’ll see the king beginning Jesus’ rule as he’s lifted high. Come the Monday after Easter we’ll see if the king we celebrated on Good Friday and Easter Sunday is someone we truly desire to have as our king. (Grace will flavor our steps and intentions.) If we cannot change and will not see change in our lives, each day will be a perpetual Palm Sunday – an unfortunate declaration of a king who’s not really our king.

 

The Difference Between Spiritual Mature and Not-Mature (Do You Resonate?):

“The difference between the teleioi (the ‘maturing’, ‘perfecting’ ones) and those Paul labels ‘babes in Christ, or ‘people of the flesh,’ or those dominated by ‘jealousy and strife’, is that the mature have been trained to recognize God’s power in the crucified Christ, and their spiritual maturity consists precisely in this: they rely totally on God’s life-in-the-midst of death, rather than on themselves.” (Elizabeth Koenig, “Cross and Spirituality,” The New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality, p.220)

What a fantastically deep quote.

How do you relate to this?

Finally, how can we train in this way together?

Who Are the Partially Evangelized? (From: Lausanne World Pulse)

Here’s an interesting, conversation starter:

“Trials, such as the McCourt’s, (from Angela’s Ashes) can be illuminating. They often display the substance of one’s character, or lack thereof. But struggles aren’t the only metric for identifying the nature of one’s faith. Other measurements include generous giving to ministry, the activity of gospel witness, and spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible reading, and participation in a local church. The last of these is especially revealing as we consider the contours of religious commitment in the U.S.

According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, over 132 million Americans identify with the Mainline Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox traditions. Sociologists of religion say that three in four of these individuals neglect church participation.

While these people generally use the designation “Christian,” they are in fact only “partially evangelized” since the person and work of Jesus remain absent or ancillary to their life. Despite exposure to the Christian tradition, the “gospel” (in terms of new life in Christ, the authority of scripture, and an active commitment to outreach) is conspicuously missing. This is precisely the need which evangelicals are poised to serve.”

What comes to mind after reading this?

Lausanne World Pulse – Ministry to the Partially Evangelized

http://ow.ly/81K61

What Would Have Happened if Mary had Denied the Presence of God?

What would have happened if 2,000 years ago, Mary the Mother of Jesus had denied the message sent to her? What if her heart was not prepared to receive it? What if, in her troubled state when the angel first visits with her (Luke 1) she disbelieves instead of anticipates?

 
Thankfully, I do not have to be concerned with the “what if’s” for Mary. Her example lays enshrined in history. Her response was faithful and nurtured by anticipation and hope.
 
What about my own hope and anticipation? What if God is today desiring to cause life from himself to take root within my soul? How might my soul be prepared to anticipate, receive and obey in faithfulness? 
 
Yours?
 
 

On the Incarnation (St. Athanasius) | Book Note

I’ve begun a pursuit, a wrestling over this question: Why did Jesus have to die on the cross and what did his dying mean, create, cause, etc? I’ve read articles, study notes, and commentaries, and now have begun reading some books, ancient and modern, about the subject.

I began reading Athanasius’ persepective on the subject by suggestion of C.S. Lewis as well as Renovare’s 25 Books Every Christian Should Read, which starts its list with On the Incarnation (their list is categorized by date). Lewis listed it (cited in the intro to my copy of On the Incarnation) as one of the most influential books he has read.

I’ll attempt to pick apart Athanasius’ ideas here though citing the perceived purpose of life, the problem thwarting that purpose, and the solution or remedy for such.

For Athanasius, the purpose of human life is to dwell with their maker and to live a happy and blessed life in light of that knowledge.

The problem: humanity sinned, turned away from God. They defiled their own soul so completely that they not only lost their apprehension of God, but invented for themselves other gods of various kinds. This, of course, would prevent the true purpose of human life – that is, knowing and dwelling with God.

The result of the human rebellion was the declaration of the curse: you will die. By cutting themselves off from life with God, from knowing God, humanity thus cuts themselves off from life and the source of life, which is to say, the Divine Word, the logos.

It would have been unthinkable, Athanasius states, that God would go back on his declaration of the curse. It would have also been unthinkable that beings which once shared the nature of the Word should perish and turn back again into non-existence through corruption.

The solution: death needs to be dealt with. How so? Athanasius posts that repentance does not cover this, for repentance can surely reverse an action and an instance, but it is powerless toward changing an overall disposition, a nature. So while we make small, help-to-the-moment situational changes, our disposition is ruined – we are against God by nature, propelled by our own selves on a trajectory toward death. This trajectory would tear apart all humanity and all creation if left unchecked, unresolved.

So, what needed to happen, by Athanasius’ belief, is that the Divine Word which caused all life to be and sustains life as it is, needed to take on human flesh, and die, absorbing that curse of death. This happens in the person of Jesus, whom John’s Gospel cites as being that very Word of God. The Word is fully God and fully man. When he dies by his own will and purpose, the Divine Word takes that curse of death with him. Yet, because he is the Divine Word, death does not keep him dead, but rather, he rises to life, bringing life and hope to all humanity. Because that curse has been defeated, it has been killed, it has been taken to the grave itself, and it no longer threatens humanity, now there is hope and life.

Being the Divine Word, that which/who sustains and holds all life together, Jesus as man and God would be a fully sufficient exchange for all, since all are held together and given life by him. In essence, all of life was at the cross. All of humanity’s life-driving, life-sustaining force died on the cross, yet rose again.

Now, all men are clothed with incorruption in the promise of the resurrection, states Athanasius. Death’s curse has been destroyed – we are now capable and drawn to restorative relationship with God the Trinity. As we once knew only death, now we are becoming alive and aware of the Presence of God, the Love of God, the Power of God.

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The True Presence of Christ With Us (The Heart of True Obedience)

(Thoughts on obedience and life with the EverPresent Jesus)

I believe it is the lack of faith in the reality that the Living Christ is always with us that deflates our courage, faith, and obedience. We feel isolated and it feels to be a burden to carry out our Lord’s will, as if he is distant from us and we that we may hear from him some time later regarding our actions. …much like hearing reading a letter a week later after you first wrote.

Rather, when we live life from faith in the reality of the Everpresent Jesus, the one who is with us and before us as a real person and presence, we have the faith that whatever is done in life is done not for Jesus but with him. Any change, healing, or hope that we walk into, we discover and realize is not from us but from the presence of God, of Jesus, the one who is with us always.

We believe and live this way, no longer preoccupied with carrying out a distant Lord’s will, but instead, by accompanying Jesus in all of life. In this way we are keeping his will because our attentions have been shaped by Scripture to be on him, which is to say, to pray without ceasing – not casting prayers to a distant deity, but keeping company and conversation with Immanuel, God-With-Us.

When we live from this state of being, this posture, we see resurrection life around us take shape, not as a result of our obedience, but because the Christ himself is present and shaping us to be ones who express life as we are healed and vivified by the Spirit. This is true obedience: to be ones who once again have been gifted the capacity to express the Image of God (that is, Jesus).

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