Better Than Peter, James and John

What must it have been like for the disciples to walk with Jesus before his ascension?

To sit around a fire with him and ask him the meaning of his parables.  To break bread with him and laugh with him.  To see him lay his hands on lepers and blind people and cure them.

And yet Jesus said that we who believe today have it better than the disciples did when Jesus was with them physically:

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)

Jesus indwells every believer through the Holy Spirit.  Each one of us has direct access to Christ every moment of the day.  Wake up in the middle of the night and we can talk to Jesus.  Driving to work we can ask him to save our loved ones or give us wisdom.  We can come to the throne of grace while changing our child’s diaper, or doing the dishes.  He’s nearer than the air we breathe.

Not only that, Jesus longs to fellowship with us.  He loves it when cast our cares on him and bring our requests to him.  He’s never too busy to give us his undivided loving attention.  He delights to reveal the Father to us.  And our thanksgiving and praise brings him joy.

Enjoy communing with Christ today.  You’ve got it better than Peter, James and John.

photo by chealion

Load Bearer

‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’ (LK 20.17)

Cornerstone: “A stone placed at the corner of the building to bear the stress and weight of the two walls. Thus, it is the crucial stone in the building.” — Expositor’s Bible Commentary

God has placed Jesus Christ as the cornerstone in our lives to carry the stress and weight of all we must carry, like a load bearing wall in a building which conducts weight from upper structures to the foundation.  Jesus doesn’t expect us to bear the full weight of our trials.  Our afflictions can be so much lighter if we can remember that Jesus desires to uphold us, like a mighty pillar lifting up a cathedral dome.

Our temptation in trials is to trust other things besides Christ to sustain us, to look to other things for refuge and comfort.  But a double cheeseburger is only going to provide stress relief for about 1 minute and seven seconds – depending on how fast you eat.  A new Land Rover or laptop might distract a bit longer, but nothing can sustain us like the One who upholds the universe by his Word.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt 11.28-30).

Jesus longs to bear our loads.  That’s why he invites us to come to him, be yoked to him and let him carry the weight.  When Jesus is our cornerstone, he shoulders the stress; we enjoy the rest, for he endured the crushing weight of God’s wrath on the cross so we can enjoy God’s grace.

When we see Jesus face to face, he’ll say of our trials that seem so weighty now, “I bore the heavy part, but I let you experience just enough to keep you seeking me.  I let you carry just enough to shape you into my likeness.  You experienced .001%, while I handled the rest.”

So keep resting on the Cornerstone, the Load-Bearer, whose everlasting arms are always underneath you.

photo by Giorgos~

The Face of Love

Old Woman Eyes

It is the Sabbath day, and she lies in her bed, trying to decide if she will get up. She rarely misses a Sabbath service in the synagogue, but today she’s aching worse than usual. She manages to get out of bed. It takes her a long time to dress because every movement sends excruciating waves of pain through her back. She’s 49 years old, but feels like she’s 79. Bent and deformed, unable to straighten herself, she hasn’t looked anyone in the eye since she was 31, when her disease fused the vertebrae in her spine and doubled her over, like a twisted reed.

She enters the synagogue after the service has begun. She’s well-acquainted with the synagogue floor and can identify a few people by their feet and sandals. It’s extra crowded today because of the news that the Teacher would be here. The woman shuffles over to her seat in the last row on the women’s side, hoping no one has noticed her, especially the Rabbi, the one many claim is a prophet and miracle worker. Maybe she’ll get to witness a miracle today.

She hears the teacher say, “Woman,” to someone. “Woman, come here.” She cranes her neck to the side, trying to get a glimpse of whoever the speaker is summoning. The woman next to her bends over and whispers in her ear. “He’s calling you. He wants you to come to him.”

Is he angry because she came in late? Has she distracted people from his message? With an effort she pushes up from her seat, bent over in a permanent posture of humility, and drags herself to the front of the room.

She can’t look up. She waits, a pitiful, poor, deformed creature, trembling like a dog waiting to be cuffed by its master’s hand.

Then she hears the most wonderful words she’s ever heard – “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” Did she hear correctly? Dare she allow herself to hope? She doesn’t move. Then she feels the touch of hands on her back. She begins to straighten up, slowly, tentatively, then the rest of the way – suddenly she’s standing erect, and finds herself looking into the face of Love. She’s looking into the eyes of the one who sees poor sinners in their misery, calls them to himself and frees them by his mighty word.

She’s healed. She can see the ceiling. She can bend over and touch her toes. For the first time in 18 years she’s looking into the astonished faces of her friends and neighbors. She breaks into spontaneous praise and hugs her healer, who is smiling, almost laughing. “Glory to God!” she shouts, “I’m healed, I’m healed! Thank you, Rabbi, thank you!”

Can you imagine her joy and gratitude? It must have been overwhelming. And Jesus has done even more for us who are saved. He saw us in our sin, misery and bondage, called us to himself, then healed us. And day after day, moment by moment he’s transforming us into his own likeness.

And someday, we too will gaze into the face of Love.

Do you think this woman took God’s goodness to her for granted? I don’t think so. I imagine she sang God’s praises for the rest of her life. Let’s praise our Savior today for his mercy and love.