in a dark, dank tomb
wrapped in linens and spice
But not for long
because His love is strong
in a dark, dank tomb
wrapped in linens and spice
But not for long
because His love is strong
when He died
redeemed my lost soul.
Last year for Good Friday I posted a different sort of recipe. It was a recipe for Redemption and the Bread of Life. This year I had another idea for a special Good Friday recipe.
The Perfect Saint
1 sinner justified by faith
The Holy Spirit
The first part of this recipe comes as a gift from God. “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.” Romans 3:28 (NIV). It happens in an instant when the sinner believes in Jesus as their Savior.
Once the sinner is justified, the Holy Spirit dwells within their heart and begins the lifelong process of sanctification. This process cannot be rushed but must happen in step with the Spirit of God. “He who began a good work in [this justified sinner] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (NIV).
At the end of the lifetime of the justified sinner, he or she will stand before God as the perfect saint, clothed with the righteousness of Christ.
Although a single recipe for the Perfect Saint causes the angels to sing and our Lord to smile, each Saint is enhanced by the support and prayers of other Saints, a community of the children of God.
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:10-14 (NIV).
As I sat in church on Palm Sunday thinking about the coming events of Holy Week, I was again struck by how the tables turned on Jesus from the triumphal entry of Palm Sunday to the crucifixion of Good Friday. And so the idea for this found poem was born.
The Crowd Shouted
The crowd shouted:
“Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is He
who comes in the name of the Lord!”
The Pharisees looked for a way
to arrest Him,
but they were afraid of the crowd
because the people held that He was a prophet.
Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with You,
I will never disown you.”
And all the other disciples
said the same.
As He taught in the Temple court,
the large crowd listened
to him with delight.
Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now we can see
that you know all things
and that you do not even need us to ask.
This makes us believe that you came from God.”
Now the betrayer
had arranged a signal with the guards:
“The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.”
Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!”
and kissed Him.
Then all the disciples
deserted Him and fled.
Peter denied Him again,
with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
“What shall I do, then,
with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked.
The crowd shouted all the louder,
“Crucify him! Crucify him!”
Today I want to share a song by Mac Powell of Third Day called I Remember You. It is a short but beautiful song that is perfect for this Lenten season. As we look forward to Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter, this song is a wonderful reminder of what it is we focus on during Lent.
If you are a Wordpress blogger, you no doubt know that WordPress has a feature on the homepage called “Freshly Pressed.” On the top of this page it says the blog posts featured there are: “ The best of 382,141 bloggers, 468,361 new posts, 310,678 comments, & 187,062,601 words posted today on WordPress.com.” (Note: These numbers change each day, but this is representative of the Freshly Pressed intro.)
I’ve been blogging on WordPress for over a year now, and have posted 421 posts to date (this one is 422). I’ve received some great comments and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of sharing the love of Christ and being an inspiration on my blog. I’ve also followed the suggestions for being Freshly Pressed, except that I don’t always include a photo or other visual. I’ve had over 19,000 page views, so someone likes my blog. And yet, I’ve never been Freshly Pressed.
I also read quite a few excellent Christian blogs that follow all of the suggestions for being Freshly Pressed, but I’ve never seen a single one of them features on Freshly Pressed either. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Christian blog be Freshly Pressed, though I admit I have not checked the Freshly Pressed page every single day.
I have, however, read some really stupid blog posts that have been Freshly Pressed. I’ve read ones that have numerous grammatical and spelling mistakes. I’ve read ones that are not inspiring or uplifting, and though they might entertain someone they didn’t entertain me. I’ve read ones that didn’t have very catchy headlines at all (one even had the headline “342″), and I clicked on them only out of curiosity to see why something with such a boring headline would be Freshly Pressed.
This Easter weekend, as I looked over the Freshly Pressed blog posts on Friday and Saturday, I wondered to myself, “Why do I care?” It seems quite clear that whoever chooses the 10 blog posts per day that are featured is not looking for or interested in Christian blogs. I did find a few that mentioned Easter, but none of them had anything to do with the true meaning of Easter. One titled “Just in Time for Easter” was about hatching chickens. Another was about how to make handmade bunnies and Easter eggs, with the headline “Easter Eggs, Bunny and Bunting!” A third titled “My Easter Decorating Woes . . .” was about various egg and bunny craft project failures. There was also a post titled “Celebrate Earth Day“, which happened to fall on Good Friday this year. Finally, on Monday there was a post-Easter post titled “Peeps: Can They Be Trusted?” in which the words “Easter” and “hell” were three words apart, but there was nothing in the post about how to avoid hell through the power of Jesus’ Easter resurrection.
I guess for some people chicks, eggs, bunnies, Peeps, and the recently created Earth Day are more important than the death and resurrection of the Creator of the Universe. But for me, the Divine Love of Jesus revealed on the cross and the awesome power of God declared by the empty tomb are more important than anything. It’s just too bad the editors of Freshly Pressed don’t believe that a single post about the grace and love of Jesus deserved to be Freshly Pressed on this Easter weekend 2011.
But I guess I still haven’t answered the question, “Why do I care?” It is not so much that I personally haven’t been Freshly Pressed that bothers me. It is that all those who subscribe to the Freshly Pressed feed or who visit the Freshly Pressed page each day are not being told about any of the awesome Christian blogs that are posted on WordPress. It seems I find a new one at least once a week by following the link in a comment on one of the blogs I already read. These Christian blogs are filled with inspiration and encouragement to live a life worthy of our Creator. These Christian bloggers look at life from a Christian perspective and find in it hope and faith worth holding on to.
So I have decided to add another theme to my blog. Starting next Tuesday, I am going to write about posts from other Christian blogs that have inspired me and given me hope during the previous week. I know I don’t get the same exposure as the Freshly Pressed page, and being mentioned here won’t drive nearly the traffic to another blogger’s post as being Freshly Pressed would, but I believe it is high time the work God is doing on WordPress be showcased somewhere.
Lent is over. Good Friday is history. Easter has come and gone. Now what? If I was one of the original apostles meeting with Jesus after His resurrection, my next move would have been to wait.
Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:4-5 (NLT).
But I don’t have to wait for the Holy Spirit. He already dwells in me and has from the moment I believed that Jesus died for my sins and claimed Him as my Savior.
Pondering the journey of Lent, through the agony of seeing Jesus on the cross, and joy of His resurrection, I still have to ask myself, “Now what?” If faith in Christ doesn’t change anything about how I think and live, then what is the point?
And so the answer to the question ”Now what?” must be that now I let Him change me to be more like Him. I allow Him to change me to be more loving, more patient, gentler, kinder, less selfish.
I have already allowed Him to change me a great deal, but there is more that He can do in my heart and in how I think. On Good Friday, I nailed my sins to the cross, and Jesus desires for me to leave them there. To His cross I nailed fear, lack of trust, selfishness, anger, and unforgiveness. He desires that I move forward in my life with courage, trust, selflessness, understanding, and forgiveness.
So for me the next step I think needs to be to say, in the words of MercyMe, “So Long Self.”
The first time I heard this song I didn’t completely get it. But the more I spend time in God’s Word and in prayer, the more I express to Him a desire for the cross to really make a difference in my life, the more I understand what this song is all about.
I can’t go through life putting myself first. To be more like Christ, I must put others before myself. Just as Jesus laid down His life for my benefit, I must lay down my life for the benefit of others. This doesn’t mean that I must physically die for others (though some people are certainly called to do so), but it does mean I must set aside the selfish desire to improve only my own life and think of helping others. Sometimes that might mean giving up what society tells me are my rights, and it will often require me to trust that the spiritual blessings God will grant me as a result of my selflessness will far outweigh any material blessings I could gain by putting my desires first.
It will also require me to listen closely to the Holy Spirit and follow His advice and promptings. To truly say “so long” to my selfish nature, I must rely on Christ living in me.
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. Galatians 2:20-21 (NLT).
Christ died for me and you so that we may live free of sin and the law. He died so that we might be free to live according to His Spirit living in us.
Lent is over. Good Friday is history. Easter has come and gone. Now what will you do?
Before His arrest, trial, and crucifixion, Jesus predicted that Peter would deny that he even knew Jesus, not just once and not just twice, but three times, before the night was over. As all that Jesus said was true so was this prediction. Standing in the courtyard outside the house of Caiaphas the High Priest, when he was recognized and people suggested he had been with Jesus, Peter denied ever having known him. John 18.
I’ve been thinking about how Peter must have felt on Saturday. His Lord is dead. The man Peter believed was the Son of God was gone and he hadn’t stood up for his Lord, his Master, his friend when the time came. Peter remembered that Jesus had predicted what he would do, but that knowledge was not a comfort to Peter. I imagine Peter was feeling a lot of fear on this day after the crucifixion. And guilt. Tremendous guilt and sorrow. The scriptures say that the rooster crowed as Jesus had predicted.
At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly. Luke 22:61-62 (NLT).
I suspect that the desire to weep — both over the loss of Jesus and his own shame — continued throughout the following day. That kind of sorrow doesn’t go away easily. That kind of pain is hard to live with.
Third Day sings a great song about Peter’s denials from Peter’s perspective. It’s called “Can’t Stand the Pain.” I found this video of it with clips from the movie The Passion of the Christ. The scene where Jesus turns and looks at Peter is heartbreaking.
But Peter’s heartbreak of Saturday is not the end of the story. After the Resurrection, John records this conversation in John 21:15-17 (NLT):
After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”
There are a couple of things that I love about the story of Peter’s denials, and the Lord’s restoration of Peter after the Resurrection.
It proves that anyone can be restored by our Lord. It doesn’t matter what you have done before, even if you have abandoned Him and denied Him in the past, if you love Him as Peter did, Jesus will restore your relationship with Him.
It also shows how weak humans are without the Holy Spirit. When Peter denied Jesus, the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon him and his fear and sin overtook him, causing him to deny Jesus out of his own sense of self-preservation. If you compare this to how Peter boldly proclaims Jesus after he is filled with the Holy Spirit, the difference is astounding. See Acts 2. This shows me that without God we cannot be the bold and faithful followers He desires, but with His Spirit indwelling us we can do all things. “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NLT).
At our Good Friday service last night, our pastor said something that I had never thought of before. Peter wasn’t the only one who was probably feeling such guilt and sorrow on Saturday. All of the disciples had abandoned Him, and so they were all probably feeling fearful and lost. But there is another disciple whose actions were equivalent to Peter’s denials.
Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus. Peter had to stay outside the gate. Then the disciple who knew the high priest spoke to the woman watching at the gate, and she let Peter in. John 18:15-16 (NLT).
This other disciple (possibly John) followed along and watched as Jesus was unfairly tried by the High Priest and the Sanhedrin. This disciple “knew the high priest,” and yet he didn’t speak up for Jesus. Although he didn’t deny that he knew Jesus, he did not defend Jesus either. He watched silently as Jesus was found guilty, and then spit on, beaten, slapped, and mocked. See Matthew 26:57-68.
Saturday weighed heavy on all the disciples. As a follower of Christ it weighs heavy on me, too, knowing that my sin was upon Him on the cross. As Christians today, we are blessed by the knowledge that the crucifixion was not the end of the story, and so that weight is bearable. But as they sat together in the locked upper room on Saturday, the disciples didn’t have that luxury of knowing what would happen the next day. Even though Jesus had told them He would rise again, the brutality of His flogging and crucifixion surely caused them to doubt and fear. I know it would have had that effect on me if I had been there. So today, in rememberance of the disciples who once deserted Him, denied Him, and silently watched as He was tortured and killed, but who later brought His truth to the world, I will ponder their sorrow and shame, and leave the celebration until tomorrow.
I know I usually post a recipe on Friday, but because it is Good Friday I decided I wanted to do something a little bit different. Instead of a recipe for food that will perish or last only for a single meal, I want to post the recipe for Redemption and the Bread of Life that will last you for an eternity if you choose to partake. This recipe was finished over 2,000 years ago, but to enjoy it you have to add two important things.
Redemption and the Bread of Life
All the sin of mankind
One Spotless Lamb of God
One crown of thorns
Two wooden beams
The blood of the Savior
One empty tomb
The first part of the recipe was already finished when the Spotless Lamb of God took upon Himself all the sin of mankind, wore a crown of thorns, and was nailed to a cross made of two wooden beams. The blood of the Savior was shed because of Divine Love. After three days, one empty tomb was added to the recipe, and Redemption and the Bread of Life was ready for all to partake.
To enjoy Redemption and the Bread of Life, believe that the Spotless Lamb of God died for your sins and that God raised Him from the dead, and confess with your mouth that He is Lord of all. And while you are at it, enjoy this great video of Johnny Cash singing “Redemption.”
Finally, I just want to leave you with a few scriptures regarding the Bread of Life and how Jesus finished all that needed to be done, except for you to believe. And even that, I believe, His Holy Spirit has a hand in allowing us to do. Today is Good Friday, a somber day on which our Lord was crucified. But Sunday’s comin’ and Redemption is nigh’.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 (NIV).
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 (NIV).
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” John 20:1-2 (NIV).
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NIV).
Psalm 22 holds so much prophecy regarding the crucifixion. Verse one is one of the things that Jesus said as He hung on the cross, as the Father looked away from our sin piled upon Him. Verses six through eight speak of the mocking that Jesus endured, as the Roman soldiers spat upon Him and the people challenged Him to come down from the cross if He was really God. (I wonder if they realized their mocking was fulfilling prophecy? These were, after all, Jews who were familiar with the Psalms.)
Verses fourteen and sixteen detail the physical effects of crucifixion on the Savior, and the fact that He died before the Roman soldiers had to break His legs as they did with most crucified criminals. Verse fifteen was fulfilled when Jesus said, “I thirst” as He hung on the cross. And verse eighteen was fulfilled as the Roman soldiers cast lots for His clothing.
1 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
2 Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.
3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 Our ancestors trusted in you,
and you rescued them.
5 They cried out to you and were saved.
They trusted in you and were never disgraced.
6 But I am a worm and not a man.
I am scorned and despised by all!
7 Everyone who sees me mocks me.
They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
8 “Is this the one who relies on the Lord?
Then let the Lord save him!
If the Lord loves him so much,
let the Lord rescue him!”
9 Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb
and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.
10 I was thrust into your arms at my birth.
You have been my God from the moment I was born.
11 Do not stay so far from me,
for trouble is near,
and no one else can help me.
12 My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls;
fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in!
13 Like lions they open their jaws against me,
roaring and tearing into their prey.
14 My life is poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart is like wax,
melting within me.
15 My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay.
My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.
16 My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs;
an evil gang closes in on me.
They have pierced my hands and feet.
17 I can count all my bones.
My enemies stare at me and gloat.
18 They divide my garments among themselves
and throw dice for my clothing.
19 O Lord, do not stay far away!
You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!
20 Save me from the sword;
spare my precious life from these dogs.
21 Snatch me from the lion’s jaws
and from the horns of these wild oxen.