Mount of Olives Jerusalem

A Seat at the Table

Easter

I loved this holiday growing up. We’d always have an Easter basket with candy, a couple of toys and that colorful Easter grass. Our parents would also hide hard-boiled eggs we had decorated around the house. There was more than one occasion where we couldn’t find all the eggs. And of course mom and dad couldn’t remember where they hid them. Only after a few months did we find them… Not because anyone found them because we saw them. No… we eventually found them by following the foul odor of a rotten egg.

As fun as Easter was growing up. It’s so much more than just eggs, toys, Easter grass and cute little bunnies. Check this out:

Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Mark 2:15-17

Easter. Jesus didn’t go the the cross for “good” people. God didn’t send His Son to die for “perfect” people. The Messiah didn’t rise from the dead for people who don’t have a “past” a “history” or a “current reality.” You see, it was the “perfect” people… the “good” people… the teachers of the religious law… the pharisees who were looking from the outside in at the table of Jesus. It was the people who were hated… people who were despised, people who had terrible reputations… in the words of the “good” people, it was the scum of the earth who had a seat at the dinner table of Jesus.

In other words… it was me. It was you. This isn’t a one-time deal with Jesus. He was known to spend time with people like this during His life. And, just before He was to be betrayed, He held one more meal where He invited His friends to eat with Him. The people who spent the most time with Him during His ministry were invited to the table… His disciples. The very people who traveled with Him. And…

The one who would betray Him.

And Jesus knew this. He knew that Judas would, the very next night, hand Him over to be murdered. But that’s the very heart of Jesus. To give His life… even for the very ones who we think don’t deserve His love and grace.

After He was betrayed and taken for trial, He stood before Pilate and next to a man named Barabbas. Now Barabbas was in prison for a reason… he was involved in an insurrection and had committed murder during the uprising. Pilate, not wanting to make what he knew to be the right decision, asked the crowd whom they wanted released… Jesus or Barabbas. Like any mob, there were bad actors who stirred up the crowd… the chief priests… who called for Barabbas to be released. There was one huge problem with this though. You see, just before the Lord was going to take the Israelites into the promised land way back before Jesus came, God wanted to remind the Israelites of the priorities of God. One of the legal requirements for the Israelites to follow was directly related to Barabbas. Check this out:

Do not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer, who deserves to die. He must surely be put to death. Numbers 35:31

The chief priests hated Jesus because He didn’t follow their laws. They wanted to kill Him because He was/is the fulfillment of the law. And now, they wanted to break a law that the Lord had spoken to them through Moses. A law that they knew the Lord had spoken. But they didn’t care. Their hate had overcome their minds and hearts. Talk about hypocrisy!

Jesus knew all these laws as well. But He kept silent. He could have spoken up and defended Himself. But He didn’t say a word. It was God’s purpose… It was Jesus’ purpose to go to the cross for the chief priests, the pharisees and Barabbas too. And so Jesus willingly went to the cross, hung between two criminals and died what some call a death without dignity. Execution from crucifixion was the cruelest form and was usually only for the worst criminals. Death from asphyxiation usually took many hours to possibly days. For Jesus to willingly die by crucifixion is not a death without dignity… No… it is the most dignified death… because He willingly died for you and me and Barabbas and the pharisees… for the best of us and the worst of us.

And then, three days later, what we now celebrate as Easter, He rose from the sentence of death… From the grave.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the  Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.” Mark 16:6-7

You see, Jesus willingly died a horrible criminal’s death. Beaten beyond recognition before being nailed to a cross. Was laid in a tomb. And rose three days later. When Jesus invited the tax collectors and “sinners” to His dinner table He knew He’d be sacrificed and killed. And when He hung on the cross, He knew that He was dying for those same people... and for me and you.

It’s because of Jesus’ death and resurrection that we too now have a seat at His table. This Easter, right now, in the midst of our past and our current reality, Jesus calls to each of us to come and take a seat with Him. It’s my prayer that you’ll accept His invitation to…

Have a a seat at the table… the table of Jesus.

Happy Easter


Pile of stones

Stone Piles

Thanksgiving is this week.

Looking back at this year, there’s a lot that we can be frustrated with… a lot that doesn’t look the way we thought it would look in a way that, if we had our choice, wouldn’t be. But, that’s not what Thanksgiving is all about. Thanksgiving is a time where we pause, and give thanks for all that we have… both past and present.

Thanksgiving is about being grateful… grateful for what we’ve been given, no matter how small it seems. It’s easy to look at the world… to look at our community… to get stuck staring at all that has gone wrong and forget what God has provided each and everyone of us.

God knew that it’s easy to forget His goodness and victory. He knew how easy it is to get stuck looking on all that has gone wrong… the difficulties… the hardships… the despair… and forget to celebrate His victories in our lives and be grateful… no matter how small they seem.

Check this out...

When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”

4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

8 So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. 9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been[a] in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day. - Joshua 4:1-9

God knew, that even a miracle as great as the parting of the Jordan River… literally stopping the flow of water… could easily be forgotten. So what did he tell them to do? He told them to get some stones and make a pile where they were to stay that night so that they would be a reminder of the goodness of God.

Rocks. Stones. They’re just ordinary pieces of earth that are lying around. But when they’re picked up and placed in a pile to remind you of the goodness of God, they become a supernatural sign that points you back to the One who is Good.

We have a stone pile in our living room. Six stones that were ordinary pieces of earth. But when you come over to our house and ask us, “Why are stones in a pile on that shelf,” they become a supernatural reminder to us of the goodness of God and how the trip to the Sea of Galilee and Jerusalem brought us closer to the living God.

I don’t know where you’re at today… what’s going on in your life. But on this Thanksgiving week…

Don’t forget the goodness of God.

Right now, you may think that you don’t have anything to be thankful for. I would ask you to pray to the living God and ask Him to show you His goodness. And the living God who gave His life for you, will hear your prayer.

For those of us who may have forgotten God’s goodness, go, take up twelve stones and place them in a pile where you live so that it becomes a supernatural reminder of the goodness of God in your life.

On this Thanksgiving week…

Don’t forget the goodness of God.

For He surely hasn’t forgotten you.


Always Remember - Memorial Day 2020

No post today! I'm taking the day to spend and enjoy time with family.

As you enjoy the day spending time with your family, let's not forget to remember all of the brave men and women who gave their life for our country.

I'll return to regular posting this Wednesday!