Easter 2016: I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING!

Yes, I realize Palm Sunday was LAST Sunday, but I’m trying to do a post every day of this week so things might be a little bit out of order. There’s a lot to cover. Also I already missed 2 days, but I’m going to make it up somehow. I have a lot in the chute.

There is something I think we tend to forget as Bible readers living in the future. We forget what the Bible was to the people of the time. We read Psalms like it’s just another book of the Bible rather than the hymnal that it was. I bring this up because it’s super relevant to the events that transpire throughout this holy week.

There’s something else to remember when we read the Bible as Christians of the future- the people of the past were exactly like us. They were living in the moment and it would be easy to think that if we were there, we wouldn’t behave the same way. But we would and I know this because we still act this way today.

Palm Sunday, in particular, highlights this perfectly. I know Christians who regularly attend Church will joke about how many people show up on Easter and Christmas that they have never seen before. Yeah, it’s kind of funny, but those people waving their palms and celebrating the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem were exactly the same kind of “believers”. They showed up, they celebrated something they didn’t understand, spoke words they didn’t mean and then went home to go through the motions of their various family traditions (religious and otherwise).

Let’s take a look at it-

John 12:12-16
On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” 14 Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” 16 These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.

They quote what was at the time a very famous and well-known hymn. It’s a song they sang so frequently that it didn’t mean anything to them anymore. It’s just what you sing around the Feast of the Tabernacles. As future Christians, we can’t help but wonder how the meaning was so lost on them. Did they really not notice that Christ was fulfilling all of this prophesy before their very eyes? No. They didn’t notice. It was just a song and they were just having fun. Even the disciples didn’t put all of the pieces together until after the fact.

Everything about this event is dripping with symbolism- the palms, the coats, the donkey. Everything that happened meant something to someone, but it wasn’t until later that it was totally understood. Christ is doing His victory march- claiming Kinghood, claiming Godhood but really nobody in attendance GOT IT.

Let’s check out the rest of that song they were singing. It’s Psalm 118-

Lord, save us!
Lord, please grant us success!
26 He who comes in the name
of the Lord is blessed.
From the house of the Lord we bless you.
27 The Lord is God and has given us light.
Bind the festival sacrifice with cords
to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will give You thanks.
You are my God; I will exalt You.
29 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His faithful love endures forever.

Click here to read the entire psalm

Look, they aren’t bad people for not fully understanding what they’re doing. It’s only because I possess the Holy Spirit that I have any ability to grasp such gigantic things (and even then, I only understand on the most superficial level).

So when we have visitors sitting in our pews on Easter Sunday, saying the words and singing the songs, I want you to remember the people who celebrated Jesus’ entry- waving palms, laying down their garments and saying Hosanna! (Save me!) Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Who then promptly went to their own homes and their own celebrations.

They’re celebrating things they don’t understand. But there is no place like in the company of believers, in the pew of a church, for the Holy Spirit to open a person’s heart and eyes and grant them a bit of that understanding.

Please pray for all of the new faces you see on Sunday. Pray that God reaches them and stirs something in them. Pray that Resurrection Sunday is the day they stop mindlessly celebrating family traditions and become the Body of Christ.

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Easter 2016- What Do you Say To That

Easter 2016: Such A Peter

Before His death, the very last miracle that Jesus performed was healing the servant’s ear after Peter sliced him. This was Jesus’ last PAY ATTENTION lesson before He died.

Comparing the different accounts in the different gospels, we get an interesting picture of the events that transpired.

So the disciples fall asleep. Jesus admonishes them and says they should be praying SO THEY ARE NOT TEMPTED. A few minutes later, it all goes down. What happens? Peter is tempted. He harms this man.

In harming the man, he didn’t just react with violence to protect Jesus. It was more than that. He gets in the way of his own salvation. Jesus tells him that He doesn’t need Peter’s protection. He can call down angels and squash this if He wants to. But it must happen. If it doesn’t happen, if Peter DID somehow stop it from happening, the entire world would still be condemned. God has a plan and lashing out doesn’t accomplish anything but gumming up the works.

Jesus simply answers the guard’s questions about who He is and they fall to their knees. The truth of that statement was more effective than Peter’s sword.

When we perceive Jesus as being ‘attacked’ do we fall into temptation by rushing to His defense? In doing so, aren’t we just getting in the way? We are making it harder for the attackers to HEAR…. and faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

“Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself.” -C H Spurgeon

When we’re in the good times…the peaceful times… we need to be praying and stay vigilant so when the bad times come we are not tempted. When we are attacked or face accusers, we are not tempted. God is fully capable of defending Himself. Our role is to unchain the Word- speak it, share it, in love.

Easier said than done.Easter 2016: Such A Peter

When someone says something against my God, my jimmies are full on rustled and I feel like I HAVE TO say something.

But I think I feel that way because I don’t pray in the peaceful times for strength to resist that temptation…as if I have completely forgotten those confrontations are inevitable.

God can do His own dirty work. He hasn’t called me to argue with people, He’s called me to love them and uphold the truth. It should never surprise me that the world hates Him, and yet it does.

I’m such a Peter sometimes, you guys.

Now, Peter does see a great transformation throughout his life and serves the Lord well. I’m so glad we have his example in the Bible because I think a lot of people can probably relate to him. I know I certainly can. He was so very human.

Easter 2016- What Do you Say To That

Easter 2016: Gird Your Loins

I grew up on stand-up comedy, so I know a thing or two about Judaism. I also learned quite a bit from that one episode of Rugrats. Still, new things catch my attention all the time when I study the Bible. That’s how it’s supposed to be, by the way. You change and grow as a person, so you should be learning new things constantly, even reading the same text. That’s why it’s important to make study a regular part of your life. You’ll never have it all figured out.

Anyhoodle, every now and again I find a silly little so-and-so who asks me a goofy question like “Why don’t you celebrate Jewish holidays?” It’s usually followed up with more pointed questions about why I eat shellfish and do I think women should be forced to marry their rapists, etc etc.

Offensive as those questions are probably intended to be, they do get me thinking sometimes. Yeah, I don’t celebrate Passover, in the traditional sense. But I DO celebrate Passover. Allow me to explain-

John 8:32-36
and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.  So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

The slave does not remain in the house forever.

So, let’s rewind. Like all the way back.

Easter 2016: Gird Your Loins

Exodus 5 (super condensed version)
Moses goes to the Pharaoh and asks if everyone can have a couple days off to worship God. Pharaoh says no (cause he thinks he’s god) and starts cracking down hard on the Jews as punishment for their insolence. He tells them they have to make bricks while intentionally withholding what they need to make bricks, beating those who fail to produce. Not good. Also he’s standing in the way of them worshipping God and seeking atonement. Stupid move, Pharaoh.

*fast-forward sound*

Exodus 12:3-14
Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. 4 Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb.  Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.7 Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. 10 And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire.
11 Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
‘Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.

That was a lot of detail, right? Like a shocking amount of detail and specificity. There are all sorts of reasons for each of the things listed out in there, but there’s one section that doesn’t get much attention, so that’s the bit I want to talk about.

Eat it with your loins girded, shoes on your feet, staff in your hand…and eat it fast.

I honestly don’t think I ever really noticed that section before, but this year it’s jumping off the page at me and not just because I made it bold.

IT’S TIME TO GO.

Go where?

The Promised Land.

The slave does not remain in the house forever, and when God says you’re free, you can take that to the bank. You can be so completely assured that it’s as good as done, that you better put your shoes on. God claims His people.

Slow fade back to present day- where are we going? If we are free, no longer slaves to sin, then where are we going?Easter 2016: Gird Your Loins

The Promised Land. Sure, in the big Heaven afterlife sense, but in the more immediate sense, as well. It’s being in that sweet spot of God’s providence, when you’re fully in the game and doing the work He has set aside just for you. There’s nothing to wait for. Your eternal life begins the moment you possess the Holy Spirit. Gird your loins and get to it.

I don’t celebrate passover, as in the Jewish traditions and feast that commemorate an historic event of God freeing Jewish slaves from Egypt.  But I do celebrate passover by remembering an important promise of God- He claims his people, and in Him we are free. And as a free person, I’ve got stuff to do.

 

Easter 2016- What Do you Say To That

Easter 2016: What Do You Say To That?

Even without a calendar, I would know what time of year it is. The weather has been pretty nice, there are flowers in my house, we suffered through the daylight savings fiasco without anyone having a stroke, my Christian forum groups are arguing over the pagan origins of Easter and debating whether or not it’s appropriate to celebrate, and my facebook feed is filling up with offensive Jesus/Easter memes. Also, there are jellybeans.

Since becoming a Christian, every Easter has been different. Some of them have been very much focused on celebrating and having fun, while others have been more solemn and thoughtful. That’s nothing intentional, it just seems to work out this way. Leading up to Resurrection Sunday this year, the topic of evangelism keeps coming up. Afterall, we are celebrating the most pivotal event in human history. This single event is the entire linchpin of my belief system. Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. It’s the kind of thing you talk about.

1 Corinthians 15: 17-19 “…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

This is not a small deal. This isn’t just another food and candy holiday- a good opportunity to get together with loved ones and do whatever family tradition you grew up with. This is a major time for reflection and purely religious celebration. This is when every Christian should become slightly obnoxious to their non-believing friends as they shove the gospel down everyone’s throat, right?

Ok, maybe that’s a bit much. But we SHOULD be talking about it. I did a quick google search for Easter memes. Let me share a few of those with you here.

Easter 2016 - What Do You Say To That  Easter 2016 - What Do You Say To That

Easter 2016 - What Do You Say To That   Easter 2016 - What Do You Say To That

Easter 2016 - What Do You Say To That    Easter 2016 - What Do You Say To That

Easter 2016 - What Do You Say To That

Some of them were far too filthy or offensive to post up here. I’ll admit, there were a handful of funny ones that weren’t so blasphemous. Maybe I’ll include them in my posts throughout the week. But these, and others like these, are what the majority of society think of Resurrection Sunday. This is how they see Easter. Not just atheist internet trolls, but otherwise reasonable and caring people don’t seem to bat an eye at ‘Zombie Jesus’ and being so offensive on the most important day on the Christian calendar. Honestly, it doesn’t seem to bother some Christians as much as it probably should. As a truly peaceful religion, Christianity doesn’t vow to murder those who create offensive pictures of God or the prophets. We are believers in cosmic justice- offending me shouldn’t concern you quite like offending God should. But do I have an obligation to argue with you?? Shouldn’t I say SOMETHING to express my disapproval in some way?

As we make our way toward Resurrection Sunday, I’m going to try and post daily. This event we’re celebrating is a call to action… but are we hearing that call correctly? Evangelism and apologetics and the more interactive intellectual exercises are things I enjoy, and that’s what’s on my mind this Easter season. There’s a lot of ground to cover. I hope you post your thoughts as we go.