Holy Week Thoughts: The Resurrection (The Jesus Storybook Bible)

The Lord is risen! Here is the Resurrection story as told in my favorite children’s Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago:

Happy Easter! May all the glory be to the God that makes all the sad things come untrue!

Holy Week Thoughts: The Silence of God

Note: During Holy Week, I’ll be featuring a daily devotional each day on the blog. You can read the main post here, which links to all the devotionals.

On Saturday after Jesus was crucified, it seemed that God was silent. Jesus’ followers were confused, heartbroken, and afraid. What had gone wrong? Perhaps their thoughts returned to a day when Jesus taught literally thousands of people, and many were eager to follow him. Or maybe they remembered the many people whose lives were drastically changed after being healed by Jesus. But now, it was all over. Jesus was dead. And God was silent.

Has there been a time in your life when God was silent? Perhaps you are currently in one of those times. This song, “Silence of God” by Andrew Peterson, has been incredibly meaningful to me during those times:

Lyrics:

It’s enough to drive a man crazy; it’ll break a man’s faith
It’s enough to make him wonder if he’s ever been sane
When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the heaven’s only answer is the silence of God

It’ll shake a man’s timbers when he loses his heart
When he has to remember what broke him apart
This yoke may be easy, but this burden is not
When the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God

And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they’ve got
When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
‘Cause we all get lost sometimes…

There’s a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
And He’s kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone
All His friends are sleeping and He’s weeping all alone

And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God

Thoughts on Holy Week: Good Friday

Note: During Holy Week, I’ll be featuring a daily devotional each day on the blog. You can read the main post here, which links to all the devotionals.

Today is Good Friday. The day we remember and mark the fact that in order that we might be reconciled to God, Jesus died on the cross, not just bearing excruciating physical pain but also the great pain of taking all of our sin upon himself. Here is Mark’s account of Jesus’ death:

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

The Gospel of Mark is my favorite. I love how Mark, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, makes great pains throughout his biography of Jesus to point to and emphasize the cross. It is almost as if, with every step he takes, Jesus plods slowly but deliberately toward the cross. And finally, in Chapter 15, Jesus hangs on the cross. Throughout Jesus’ life, there had been much debate as to his identity, but even his disciples did not grasp fully during his lifetime who Jesus was. Sure, there were flashes of light, like when Peter proclaims that Jesus is the Messiah. But those moments were usually fleeting, not to mention few and far between. But finally, once Jesus has died, it is a centurion–a man who participated in and oversaw Jesus’ execution–who finally gets it right. At the foot of the cross, this soldier proclaims that Jesus is the Son of God.

And that is the only proper place to understand who Jesus was–at the foot of the cross. Had Jesus shown us only miraculous feats of power and majesty, we would certainly have been impressed. In fact, Jesus impressed many during his lifetime, people who eventually walked away when his teaching became too hard, and the demands of discipleship too difficult. But by humbling himself–acting very un-Godlike–we see that Jesus truly is God, because of how he died on the cross for your sin and for mine.

Today, on Good Friday, may you kneel before the cross and truly see–perhaps for the first time–that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, our Savior.

Holy Week Thoughts – Maundy Thursday

Note: During Holy Week, I’ll be featuring a daily devotional each day on the blog. You can read the main post here, which links to all the devotionals.
Today is Maundy Thursday. (“Maundy” is probably a variation of the Latin word mandatum, which means “commandment” and refers to Jesus’ “new commandment” during the Last Supper in John 13:34.) Maundy Thursday, Thursday of Holy Week, marks the Last Supper, which Jesus celebrated with his disciples. Different Christian liturgical traditions celebrate the day in different ways, but for me as a former Anglican, my favorite part of Maundy Thursday has always been the ceremonial foot washing–usually done by pastors/ministers/priests for the congregation. During the Passover feast with his disciples, Jesus washed their feet as a lesson of how they were to serve and love one another:

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
John 13:3-17

This Holy Week, here are some questions to prayerfully consider:
As a leader, could my actions be best compared to washing others’ feet, or by trying to impress others?


Do I “wash the feet” of others only when my actions are noticeable, or do I serve others even when no one will ever know I’ve done so?


Have you ever refused to clean up a mess or help set up a room because “that’s someone else’s job”?


In what ways might God be asking me to humble myself and serve someone in a way I really don’t want to?

Holy Week on Discipleship Family Ministry

Credit: Creative Commons (Sam Howzit)

Over the remainder of this week, I’ll take a break from this blog’s “usual programming” and instead post short devotionals on Holy Week as we prepare ourselves to remember the cost required to be reconciled to God and the absolute joy that we have because of the Resurrection. I pray you have a meaningful Holy Week and Easter Sunday, and I pray the devotionals on this site for the next few days help you prayerfully consider and meditate what Jesus did for you on the cross.

Blessings,
Benjer

Update: You can read the Holy Week devotionals here:
Maunday Thursday Devotional
Good Friday Devotional
Holy Saturday and the Silence of God

Video of the Week: Matt Chandler on the Gospel Project

This video’s not necessarily an endorsement of The Gospel Project curriculum from LifeWay. It’s not that I don’t like the curriculum–I think it’s a good idea, and I need to look into the project a bit more. The point of posting this video is that Matt Chandler really expresses one of the mistakes we make in treating the Bible primarily as a road map or instruction manual. Check it out:

Video of the Week: "Blessings" by Laura Story and the Story Behind the Song

In my opinion, one of the hardest truths of Christianity is the fact that God is sovereign, all-powerful, all-benign, yet we as followers of Jesus experience suffering. Too many times, when we or someone we know is experiencing a difficult and trying time, we just say something stupid and trite, or we throw up our hands and pull the “you gotta have faith God will bring you through” card. Instead, we ought to search Scripture–especially the life of Jesus–for answers. And while we certainly won’t get all of the answers we’d like, but God does provide sufficient comfort and knowledge of himself for us to cling to Jesus through difficult, desperate times.

Laura Story wrote an amazing song, “Blessings” that addresses suffering in the life of a follower of Jesus. This week’s video is her story behind the song. She admits that she and her husband, Martin (who was diagnosed with a brain tumor about five years ago) “still have more questions than answers.” The best quote from Laura’s explanation of the song is, “Could God possible be blessing us through not giving us the things we’re praying for?” I highly recommend you take the time to watch the whole thing:

And if you’ve never heard the song, here’s a rendition of “Blessings” Laura did on KLOVE:

Church Signs, Eternity, and Evangelism

I thought we’d start off this week with a good discussion. I came across a church sign (see below), and I think it will make for some good conversation. The photo may or may not elicit a strong reaction, so a few ground rules:

1) No cheap shots. Stick to discussing the sign and the questions, not passing judgment on others.

2) If #1 is unclear, please take a moment to read Matthew 7:1-5.

Without further ado, here’s your sign (sorry, couldn’t resist):

QUESTIONS:
Is this sign an effective evangelism tool?

Is this sign a biblical evangelism tool (meaning it does not go against Scripture, and may even be supported by Scripture)?

How Much Is Enough?

I first saw this parable (sometimes called “The Parable of the Mexican Fisherman”) on a poster at a Jimmy John’s sub shop and have been meaning to post it here. As far as I can tell, the author is unknown, but if anyone knows the source, I’d be glad to know. Enjoy!

How Much Is Enough?
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.
The banker complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The fisherman replied, “Only a little while.”

The banker then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The fisherman said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The banker then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The investor scoffed, “I am an Ivy League MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. “

The investor continued, “And instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would then sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution! You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The fisherman asked, “But how long will this all take?”

To which the banker replied, “Perhaps 15 to 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The banker laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”

“Millions. Okay, then what?” wondered the fisherman.

To which the investment banker replied, “Then you would retire. You could move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”