In the beginning God created the heavens and earth and all was very good (Genesis 1:1, 31). There is an inherent goodness about all things God makes. A beautiful scenic overlook, the graceful flight of a bald eagle, the wonders of the human brain, a charitable act, these are all glimpses of the goodness of God’s creation.
Yet, despite these glimpses of the goodness of God’s creation, it appears that what was made good has been marred. Continue reading →
Ancient stone towers litter an ancient village located at the southernmost tip of Greece. The stone towers served as family homes, at a time when the village was self-governed. The towers not only protected the village from outside invaders, but protected the villagers from each other. The families of that village had turned family feuds into a blood sport. When one family offended another, they would hurl rocks and boiling oil from the height their tower on to the other family. The families built higher and higher towers to gain the advantage; the cycle went on until the village nearly destroyed itself. Continue reading →
The journey was long, arduous, around many bends, through streams, and up many mountains. Yet, their spirits remained high. A benefactor ensured they had all they needed to complete the journey, and his promise that they would make it too their long awaited and most desired destination was surer than money in the bank.
The Christian can use the word “hope” in a special way. Christians do not hope as the rest of the world hopes. The world often uses the word “hope” for something one would like to see happen but can never be sure it will. The Christian hope is different. It is a sure, certain, unalterable, and everlasting hope. The Bible tells the Christian in Romans 5:2, “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
The first Palm Sunday looked like people throwing a birthday party for a birthday boy they did not know. People had high expectations on the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem, but the full meaning of the event would not make sense till later. (Read John 12:12-19)
The crowd that met Jesus on the way expected a national hero. They came out to meet Jesus thinking he was the one who would lead an insurrection against Rome and return the nation’s sovereignty back to the Jews.
Other people there on that first Palm Sunday responded in a different way. They did not lift palms or chant victory. They boiled with rage. The Jewish leaders feared an insurrection would threaten their socio-economically beneficial relationship with Rome.
One day Jesus will come as a warrior king to palm branches and shouts of victory to claim his Kingdom once and for all (Revelation 7:9-10). However, if Jesus was marching to victory on Palm Sunday, victory started with a death march to the cross.
Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5).”
If you were to inquire of all the evil, sin, misery, and madness of this world, and keep asking the “why?” question, you would find out that the answer has something to do with the human condition. All of us are born into this world with a heart malady, and from this heart malady flows the problems we face in this world.
I once heard an environmentalist say that humans so endanger our planet that earth would prosper better without humanity. I disagree with that assertion, but I think people who say such things are catching on to something. To put the tragedy in biblical terms, the one creature God created to care for and cultivate this planet contributes the most to its destruction. Even the Book of Romans says that “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God (Romans 8:19).” Creation itself waits for the day when humanity will actually care for and cultivate creation how God intended.
It was the year 1510 when the monk Martin Luther first visited the holy city of Rome. Luther had greatly anticipated seeing Rome. When he first glimpsed it from afar, he fell to his knees and lifted his hands in praise, saying, “Hail to thee, O Holy Rome.” Luther’s excitement, however, quickly dwindled with every step he took into that alleged holy city. Luther later wrote, “No one can imagine the trickery, the horrible sinfulness and debauchery that are rampant in Rome.”
As furious as Luther became over the immorality of Rome, his fury paled in comparison to that of another man who entered another alleged holy city. When Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem, he too became indignant (John 2:13-25).
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” were some of the words Jesus cried from the cross (Matthew 27:46).
It is easy to look up to God, when our lives are filled with gladness. But, what about those times when we are at the absolute end of our robe, like life is ebbing away (cp. Job 30:16)? When prayers seem to go unanswered (cp. Job 30:20)? When we seem to suffer at no fault of our own (cp. Job 29:11-17; 30:1)? Continue reading →
Knowing the time of his betrayal and death drew near, what did Jesus do? He sat down to have one last meal with his disciples, a Passover meal.
The symbols Jesus used at that meal were common to Passover. This Passover bread was called the Bread of Affliction. Unleavened bread represented the affliction Israel endured as slaves in Egypt and their haste in leaving. Jesus gives this bread a new level of meaning. He would soon be severely afflicted by the breaking of his body to deliver his people from the greater slavery of sin (Matthew 26:26; Romans 8:2).