Sunday, March 30, 2008

Would I Crucify Him?

The day after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Luke provides a dramatic picture of the contrast between two groups of people. There we see the chief priests, scribes and leading men wanting to kill Jesus, but the general populace wanting to catch every word that dropped from His lips.

Now I have to ask myself: Who am I more like? The “chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people” (Luke 19:47) or “all the people [who] were hanging on to every word He said” (Luke 19:48)?

I certainly don’t want to kill Jesus, but I also don’t think that I’m often as mesmerized with the words of Jesus as Luke describes the people to be that day. So if I’m not quite like either, who am I more like? Well, because I do in fact love Jesus, I must be more like the people. But sometimes I’m conscious of a subdued irritation with Jesus—a barely concealed consternation over unanswered prayers or unanswered questions. A feeling that Jesus has let me down or that He has not done what I expected or wanted. And I can see in those turbulent emotions and disappointments that I’m capable of being more offended with Jesus than in love with Him, except by the grace of God. The truth is, apart from God’s grace, I can't be sure that I wouldn't have been among those who, shortly after Luke 19 (in Luke 23), shouted, “Crucify Him!”

How many of those people were disappointed that Jesus didn’t do what they thought He should do? Oust the Romans! Set up His Kingdom and revive the glory days of Jerusalem! It’s only with God’s help that amidst unanswered prayers and unmet expectations, we can see Jesus for who He is, love Him as we do and be hungry for His Word. And as we choose to trust Him with every longing in our heart, knowing that His will is always good, acceptable and perfect, we will grow increasingly eager for every word of wisdom—and for every moment in time—that He lovingly shares with us.

© 2008 by Ken Peters

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Facing the Facts! Rejoicing in the Truth! (church bulletin cover)

A rock moved away. An empty tomb. These are historical events that are as central to our faith in Christ as the cross on which He died. For as Paul said, “if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:16-17). And in a society largely convinced that truth is simply whatever you personally believe to be true, the resurrection of Jesus is an historical fact (that is, a truth) that people need to grapple with. We have a vast mass of literature claiming that Jesus was confirmed by Roman authorities to be dead, the tomb in which He was laid was covered by a stone of great weight, guarded by disciplined Roman soldiers, and sealed according to Roman authority to warn away any who desired to tamper with this tomb. Yet on that wonderful Sunday, the tomb was empty. Christ’s enemies could not deny it was empty because they could not produce the body. They blamed the disciples. But how and why would 11 frightened and disillusioned disciples defy a Roman seal, get past a Roman guard and move the stone? And how would such a scam result in their transformed lives which they were later willing to lay on the line for their conviction that Jesus was alive? The literature of the day, the many witnesses, the transformed lives — it is all credible historic evidence that cries out for a verdict. Jesus’ tomb is empty and He offers the same resurrection life to all who call out to Him. What is your response?

© 2008 by Ken Peters

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Finding Faith in the Storms (church bulletin cover)

What does it take for me to not be afraid? Does God need to make all the storms of my life go away in order for me to have no fear? When Jesus asked His disciples, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40), did He calm the storm first because He figured that was the only way His disciples could avoid their fears? Or did He want them to have chosen not to be afraid even in the midst of the storm? In the midst of our current sermon series on spiritual warfare, it’s an important question. Do the battles we face have to end in order for us to not be afraid? The answer must be no, for Jesus’ question was two-fold: it was about their fears as well as about what they had already witnessed as food for their faith. It feels as if Jesus is saying, “What is your problem, you guys? Haven’t you seen enough miracles to know that I can also take care of any storm you’re facing? Where’s your faith gone to now that the going’s gotten tough?” So as I face storms in my life, do I need Jesus to calm them in order for me to not be afraid and in order for me to have faith? Or have I seen enough of God’s hand at work in my life to have faith in the midst of the storms — even ones that are bad enough to leave me feeling like I could perish in them? I know the reality is that I’m afraid far too easy — long before I’m at risk of perishing. But I want Jesus’ questions to ring in my ears: “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Because I know that even in the storms Jesus doesn’t calm, He’s with me through it all, and can turn those winds around whenever He chooses!

© 2008 by Ken Peters