Romans 12-16

ÇØÝÇá ÝáÓØíä

Monday April 28 Chapter 12

Verses 1-2.

First, the literal translation of the Greek text:

Therefore I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present the bodies of you a sacrifice living holy well-pleasing to God the spiritual service of you and do not be conformed to this age but be transformed by the renewing of the mind for you to prove what the will of God the good and well-pleasing and perfect.

Second, 21st Century KJV

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Third, The Complete Jewish Bible

I exhort you, therefore, brothers, in view of God’s mercies, to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for God. This will please him; it is the logical “Temple worship” for you.  In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standards of the ‘olam hazeh. Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what God wants and will agree that what he wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed.

Fourth, J. B. Phillips

With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.

Fifth, Living Bible

And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy—the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you.

Sixth, The Message

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Each of these translations, and there are dozens of others on http://www.biblegateway.com/, gives us a different way of seeing the one message.  The simple version is: do not become like the world, become like Christ.

Paul reminds us that we are all tiny cells in the body of Christ, yet every cell is critical to the body, especially the body of Christ.

Good News Translation has perhaps best captured verse 16.  Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties.  Do not think of yourselves as wise.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer began his sermon, Loving Our Enemies, January 23, 1938, with Do not think of yourselves as wise, but focus on God’s path to humankind, how God meets enemies, that path that Scripture itself calls foolish [1 Corinthians 1:18],  the path of God’s love toward all enemies, the love that Christ extends to them all the way to the cross.  It is wisdom at its best to recognize the cross of Christ as the invincible love of God for all humankind, for us as well as for our enemies.

Or do we think that God would love us more than our enemies?  If we thought that way, then we would be deeply rooted in Pharisaism, then we would have ceased being Christians.  Does God love our enemies less, having come for them, suffered for them, died for them as well as for us?  The cross is not the private property of any human being, but it belongs to all human beings; it is valid for all human beings.  God loves our enemies–this is what the cross tells us.  God suffers for their sake, experiences misery and pain for their sake; the Father has given his dear Son for them.  Everything depends on this:  that when we meet an enemy, we immediately think:  this is someone whom God loves; God has given everything for this person.  Therefore, do not consider yourselves to be wise.  Concerning our attitude toward our enemies, this means first and foremost:  Remember that you as well were God’s enemy and mercy has happened to you without your merit or deserving.  Second, that means:  Remember that God also went to the cross for your enemy and loves your enemy as dearly as you….

Now you are at the goal:  “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  This is what Christ did for us.  He did not become confused by our evil; he did not let himself be overcome by it.  He overcame our evil with good.  Let’s repeat how that happens:  not by feeding the other person’s evil with our evil, the hatred of the other person with our hatred.  Rather, it happens when the evil hits emptiness and finds nothing on which it can ignite.

Tuesday, April 29 Chapter 13

The first 7 verses are inconvenient words some times, especially around April 15.  We know that Paul was warning the Romans and all other Christians not to anger the Roman government because of the possibilities of persecutions.  Nero was the new emperor and had not yet shown his dark side, thought two years after this letter was written he had his own mother killed.  That was in the year 59 AD and he began a gradual slide into self-destruction.  In 64 AD a fire burned through Rome for ten days, destroying 75% of the city of one million.  He decided to blame the Christians and that is when the worst persecutions began.  Nero committed suicide 4 years later.  Later Emperors had Christians attacked when they needed public support.

The question is, do his words apply today?  The key to the answer is to consider the context of the whole letter.  In fact, chapter 12 is a clear indication of Paul’s thinking.  We must consider others first.  We support the government because it benefits all of us.

What then of those occasions when the government turns against its people?  Were John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington right to start a war because they did not like what the king was doing?  The increased taxes they complained about had been imposed to pay for a war with France fought mostly in the colonies and for the benefit of the colonies.  We could debate the question for a long time, but it is important to consider it in light of Paul’s words, not to mention the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus stood up for the poor and under-represented, even as it angered the leadership.  His motivation was always love and compassion.  Jesus did not ask, what will it do for me?  He also largely ignored the government.  He did not expect it to do his work for him.

Verse 10 is the key to chapter 13:  Love does no harm to its neighbor.

The present time is coming to an end, the hour is at hand.  Paul is near the end of his ministry.  May Apostles, disciples, and Saints have already died and Paul is looking forward to Christ’s return.  As we look back over 2,000 years of Christian history, we might wonder if Paul had a clue about the end times.  Paul is saying we need to live our lives as though Jesus is coming today, but also with the expectation that we will die of old age.  We have to find that balance; plan for the future, but live for today.

Wednesday, April 30 Chapter 14

All of chapter 14 deals with the tensions between groups of Christians.  I want Sunday service with the organ playing old hymns; you want a rock band.  I want to spend time with my old friends; you want to meet new people every week.  I want a pot luck dinner; you want McDonald’s in the building.  I will not attend church that allows for homosexuals; you will.

Paul teaches us to respect each other’s positions.  We will interpret the Bible differently, or more accurately, we will emphasize different parts of the Bible.  There is a reason Jesus gave us the two commands to love God and love one another.  If we think only of love, we will not hate.  How can I hate you for doing rap in church if I love you?  I cannot both love and hate a homosexual person.  Jesus says love.

Verse 12 is key: I will have to stand before God and give an account of myself.  Yes, Jesus will be there to help me, but I still have to face judgement.

Romans 14:13-14 from The Message.  Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.

We Christians have a habit of fighting over trivial issues, even as we believe them worth the fight.  When we stand before God, we may not be able to explain why it seemed so important at the time.

We Christians are often criticized for not allowing or encouraging people of different backgrounds into our congregations. I believe we should never reject anyone who wants to join us, but the reality of being human is that we will seek people who are like-minded.  If I belong to a wealthy church, I should work to get the church to sponsor a mission for the poor, either using the same facility or using another one.  Some church buildings are used by a dozen congregations in as many languages.

Thursday, May 1 Chapter 15

Paul addresses the strong here and includes himself in the group.  The strong are those Christians who concentrate on loving one another; who do not get upset with others who do not live as they do.  Jesus approached the very people others most avoided.  Can we do less?

Jews and Gentiles were to get along as Christians, but also Gentiles coming from different backgrounds.  Paul traveled enough to have seen many different fellowships, so he knew that the method of worship was not what was important.  Love and respect for one another together with praise and love for God is always the key to Christian living.

Paul quotes the Old Testament to prove the place of Gentiles in God’s Plan.

He moves on to explain his own mission work, how he tried to find new fields ready for the harvest.  He did not want to compete with or interfere with any other Apostle.  After his years of service to the Greeks, he believes it is time to visit Rome and perhaps Spain after that.

First, though, he needs to visit Jerusalem to take his collection for their support and to receive the blessings of that all important congregation.  The congregation in the Holy City served as the center hub of all missionary activities, so they had added responsibilities and expenses.

He ends the chapter asking for prayers of support.

Friday May 2 Chapter 16

Paul closes the letter with numerous greetings of people he knows who are now in the city.  He is sending the letter with Phoebe who is a deaconess in the fellowship at Cenchrea, one of the ports of Corinth.  This is the only time Paul uses the feminine form for deacon; he usually uses the masculine for both men and women.  He does use the feminine again in 1 Timothy 3:8, but only in a general way.

Most of the names Paul lists, like that of Phoebe, are unknown to us from any other sources.  There are both men and women.  Several are the known names of freed slaves.  The Mary of verse 6 is most likely Roman, not one of the many Marys of the Gospels.

In verse 10, the name Aristobulus may refer to the servants of the former king, or may be another family.

Greetings are included from those working with Paul, including Tertius who actually wrote the letter from Paul’s dictation, Paul’s usual method of writing.

Verse 24 does not appear in older manuscripts and is left out of many translations.

Paul ends with a wonderful benediction.  It is also a summation of much of the letter.

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

 

Haiti 2014 The Citadel

We went on to the Citadel with other stops along the way.  The fort, constructed over 20 years starting in 1804, sets at 3,000 feet and was designed to defend against an invasion of the harbor at Cap Haitian.  It is a major tourist attraction that is being upgraded even now.

IMG_5120    IMG_5123

 

IMG_5137    IMG_5144

 

IMG_5149    IMG_5150

 

Right now, there are two ways to the top, walk or ride small horses.  Our group split half and half.

IMG_5176 IMG_5189

IMG_5167 IMG_5194

 

IMG_5222    IMG_5240

IMG_5263 IMG_5267

IMG_5272

 

We also made it to the beach on Saturday, after 7 of our group flew home.  Sorry guys.

IMG_5319 IMG_5321 IMG_5456 IMG_5469

We tried to go to the beach where the cruise ships stop, but they would not let us in because there were no ships there and they were not ready for tourists.

IMG_5475 IMG_5485

We went back a ways to a hotel where anyone can use the beach.  It is nice.

IMG_5486 IMG_5516 IMG_5527 IMG_5545 IMG_5546 IMG_5549 IMG_5563 IMG_5567 IMG_5571 IMG_5573

On Monday, we visited a new church being built halfway up the hillside in Cap.  They are holding services there as they continue to build.  They have had 15,000 people there at one time.   It is BIG.

Big Church IMG_5731 IMG_5732 IMG_5734 IMG_5738 IMG_5746 IMG_5750 IMG_5755 IMG_5767

 

Four more of us flew home on Monday and the remaining 7 flew to Florida on Wednesday.  It was a great 9 days.  Those of us who have gone every year saw great improvements.  The streets are clean and paved.  Signs are up, street lights installed (but not working), and paint going on public and private buildings.  A new highway is being built to bring tourist from Labadee to both Cap and the Citadel.  We no longer see thousands of young men standing around with nothing to do.  We all agree that there is more hope now.

 

You Have Not Seen Him

 

file000638778040

Acts 2:14a,22-32
1 Peter 1:3-9
John 20:19-31
Psalm 16

Excerpts of sermon one, The Hands of God by Peter Marshall based on John 20:27.  Dr. Marshall was pastor of the Washington DC New York Avenue Presbyterian Church and Chaplain to the US Senate until his early death in 1947.  I have retained his printed style.

When Thomas returned to join the group, he heard the announcement told breathlessly

with shining eyes

as they gripped him by the arm

that the Master had appeared unto them, and that they knew—beyond any doubt—that He was alive.  Partly because of his overwhelming grief, and partly because he was by nature and disposition a skeptic, Thomas would not believe them.

he was, as it were, from some Palestinean Missouri

he had to be shown

he demanded proof

he insisted that he would not be swept

off his feet by any emotional reaction

he would have to be sure

and he refused to believe until the Lord

should appear before him

and until he could stick his unbelieving finger into the nailprints of the hands of the Son of God.

 

Before very long the disciples were again united in the room, and the door still being closed, and without bothering to knock, Jesus stood before them.

 

It was enough for Thomas, and it drew him to his glorious surrender: “My Lord, and my God!”

….

Here is our infinite comfort and strength—

“Behold My hands,” says Jesus.  That gives us confidence, and by this we know that the hands that today lay bricks

dig ditches

plant flowers

operate street cars

mine coal

wield shovels

hold riveting machines

use typewriters

wrap packages

wash dishes

Shall some day be occupied with the affairs of God in the New Jerusalem.

 

Excerpts of sermon two, The Joy of Ascension, preached in Berlin on Ascension Day, May 25, 1933 by Dietrich Bonhoeffer based on 1 Peter 1:7-9.  He was hanged in 1945 for his opposition to Hitler.

“Jesus, my joy”—is what we have just sung, and to be able to say that honestly, from the heart, is the meaning of a life lived with Christ.  If there is someone to whom it sounds very foreign, or who hears nothing in it but mush enthusiasm, then that person has never yet heard the gospel.  Jesus Christ was made a human being for the sake of humankind in the stable at Bethlehem—rejoice, o Christendom.  Jesus Christ became the companion of sinners and sat among tax collectors and prostitutes—rejoice, o Christendom.  Jesus Christ became a convicted criminal for the sake of convicts, on the cross at Golgotha—rejoice, o Christendom.  Jesus Christ, for the sake of his church, went from this earthly home to his heavenly kingdom—rejoice, o Christendom….  Say it out loud: Christ, my joy….

But how can people rejoice when they have been abandoned?  How can those who are left orphans be comforted?  How can those who are torn by homesickness be cheerful?  You orphaned church, left alone in your homesickness for Jesus Christ and his ascension, your ascension, rejoice!  For we are allowed to love him whom you cannot see; you are allowed to believe in him who is lost to your sight.  And nobody can take your love and your faith from you…. Without rejoicing, there is no church.  Let us talk today about joy in Christ….

Joy in the sermon—how hard that is for us people of today.  That’s because we are listening to the preacher and not to Christ.  We turn our own joy sour because we confuse earthly joy with heavenly joy.  Our poor Protestant church doesn’t offer us much earthly joy.  Don’t come looking for it here.  But heavenly joy Christ can give us, even through his frail church, and we should look for it only from him, not from the preacher.  In the sermon it is Christ who wants to visit us and wants to b himself our heavenly joy.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Romans 7-11

115

Monday, April 21, Chapter 7

Paul writes directly to the Jews in Rome by using the example of re-marriage to show freedom from the law.  In a similar way we are all released from the law because we are now free to do what Jesus tells us to do.  It is a strange concept, being free to be a slave.  Yet, only by being a slave to Jesus can we be free.

With verse 7 Paul has to defend against the possible attack that the Torah (law) is itself sinful.  He says it is not sin, it only points out what is sinful.  Remember that sin is separation from God, but also separation from our fellow humans, from all living plants and animals, even from ourselves.  In Heaven, we will be aware of every other person there.  We will be as concerned for them as for ourselves, maybe more so.  By following Jesus we come closer to God and others, even as we remain in a state of sin.  We are at best reforming sinners.  Hi, I’m Mike and I am a sinner.

The Torah teaches us about sin, but does not remove sin from us.  For that we need the Messiah.

Verse 9 may refer to the practice that a child was not responsible for any violations of the Torah until age 13, after the bar or bat mitzvah.  Paul is saying, now, what I cannot have is what I want.

Paul interchanges sin and death; they mean the same thing.

Verses 14-20 relates the human, or at least the God fearing human, condition of wanting to do good, but being unable to always do it.  For reasons we do not understand, we end up doing the wrong things, wrong because they hurt others.

Because we accept God’s Mercy of salvation through Jesus, we live in between, or perhaps in both, the world of sin and God’s perfect world where we will understand everything others say and do and we will never do anything to hurt another.

Tuesday, April 22, Chapter 8

Having explained to the whole church, but especially the Jewish followers of the Messiah, why the Torah cannot save us, Paul turns now to the joy of living in the Holy Spirit.  With the Spirit we can defeat sin more often; we can come closer to living the life we were created to live.

Paul Tillich, Witness of the Spirit, paraphrased.  This eighth chapter of Paul’s letter is like a hymn praising, in ecstatic words, the new reality which has appeared to him.  A Christian is one who participates in this new reality, that is, one who has the Spirit.  And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ,  he does not belong to Christ.  Flesh is the distortion of human nature, the abuse of its creativity.  He describes the will of flesh with a depth which cannot be equalled.  The natural man hates God and regards Him as the enemy, because He represents for man the law which he cannot reach, against which he struggles, and which, at the same time, he must acknowledge as good and true.

That is why Jesus is so important.  He connects us with God in a human way, a way we can understand, a way that seems to us to be natural.

Romans 8:26, In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

From Paul Tillich, The Paradox of Prayer.  There are two main types of prayer, the fixed liturgical and the free spontaneous prayer.  Both of them show the truth of Paul’s assertion, that We do not know what we ought to pray.  

The liturgical churches which use classical formulas should ask themselves whether they do not prevent the people of our time from praying as they honestly can.  And the non-liturgical churches who give the freedom to make up prayers at any moment, should ask themselves whether they do not profane prayer and deprive it of its mystery.

The question is: can we pray at all?  According to Paul, it is humanly impossible.  We talk to someone who is closer to us than we are ourselves.  We tell him our darkest secrets, but he knows the secrets we will not even tell ourselves.

When we pray, it is God Himself who prays through us.  The Holy Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  Words, created by and used in our conscious life, are not the essence of prayer.  The essence of prayer is the act of God who is working in us and raises our whole being to Himself.

For the last section of chapter 8, I will quote parts of Paul Tillich, The Meaning of Providence.  These well-known words of Paul express the Christian faith in divine Providence.  They are the first and fundamental interpretation of the disturbing words in the gospel of Matthew, where Jesus commands us not to take any thought about our life and food and clothing, and to seek first the Kingdom of God, for all of our daily life and needs are already known by God.  We need such an interpretation.  For there are few articles of the Christian faith which are more important for the daily life of every man and woman, and there are few more open to misunderstanding and distortion.  And such misunderstanding necessarily leads to a disillusionment which not only turns the hearts of men away from God, but also creates a revolt against Him, against Christianity, and against religion.

When I spoke to the soldiers between the battles of the last war [WWI, the sermon delivered at the start of WWII], they expressed their denial of the Christian message in terms of an attack upon the belief in Providence–an attack which obviously drew its bitterness from fundamental disappointments….  The idea of God seemed to be impossible, because the reality of our world seems to be in opposition to the all-mighty power of a wise and righteous God….

[What is Providence?]  It is certainly not a vague promise that, with the help of God, everything will come to a good end; there are many things that come to a bad end.  And it is not the maintenance of hope in every situation; there are situations in which there can be no hope….  But the content of the faith in Providence is this:  when death rains from heaven as it does now, when cruelty wields power over nations and individuals as it does now, when hunger and persecution drive millions from place to place as they do now, and when prisons and slums all over the world distort the humanity of the bodies and souls of men as they do now–we can boast in that time, and just in that time, that even all of this cannot separate us from the love of God.

 Wednesday, April 23 Chapter 9

Paul begins, or rather picks up again the advantages of the Jews.  Jewish tradition, believed in Jesus’ time, states that six things existed in some form before Creation:  the Torah, the Throne of Glory, the Patriarchs, Israel, the Temple, and the Messiah, or rather the name of the Messiah.  Since there is only one God, Jewish teaching does not allow for a Son of God or even a god-like man.

Paul, naturally, places the Messiah at the top of the list.  His whole point in this chapter is that Israel served as a model for the gentiles.  They acted as the custodians of the Faith until it was time for the Messiah to arrive.  Because of that special status, they were given special treatment.

With verse ten, Paul introduces the twins, Jacob and Esau, destined to be in constant conflict and destined to become symbols of faithful followers (Christians) and not faithful (gentiles).

In verse 14 Paul begins to deal with the likely objection that God is not fair, he had no good reason to pick Jacob over Esau.  The same question comes up in other forms in this chapter.  Paul’s answer is always:  God is our Creator; we are His to use as He sees fit.  Out if it all, Paul concludes that Israel and Gentiles are equal in God’s eyes.

Exodus 33:19 gives us the answer from God:  And the LORD said, I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, l  the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Exodus 4:21 is in sharp contrast to the verse above.  The LORD said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.  Yet, both tell us that God is in complete control.  He alone decides who receives mercy and who does not.

Some people will argue that if we are the clay and God is the potter, He must be responsible for our imperfections.  Paul will have none of that.  We have free will.  Contrary to Calvin’s teachings, humans have the freedom to accept or reject God.  Did God force Pharaoh to chase after the Hebrews?  No, God knew Pharaoh would do it even before the Creation.  That is a power of God we have a hard time understanding; He stands outside of time, so can see everything that happens in the universe.  Think about an oil painting.  I know that I am a blue speck of paint next to a yellow speck; God sees all of the billions of specks that make up the complete painting.

We are made perfect by the perfect God, but we have to live in a world of sin which degrades us.  Sin works on us even before conception, sometimes resulting in malformed bodies and minds.  God wants us to meander through life, always seeking Him and trusting that He will remake us in the perfect form we started in.

Paul’s quotations from Hosea and Isaiah are proof texts of Paul’s point that both Jew and Gentile will be shown Mercy.

Paul asks an important question about Jews who have not come to follow Jesus, but he does not answer it in this chapter.  He will get to it in chapter 11.

Thursday, April 24 Chapter 10

As a Pharisee, Paul knew all too well how important it was for him to become perfect or righteous, not understanding that only God is righteous.  To become righteous, he and we must become a part of the body of the Son of God; perfect righteousness.

Verses 5-8 uses the following quotes:  Leviticus 18:5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD.  Deuteronomy 30:12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  Deuteronomy 30:13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  Deuteronomy 30:14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

The message of Jesus is another paradox; it is both simple and complex; both easy and difficult; both of Heaven and of earth.  All who believe the message and the Messenger will receive the Mercy of God, regardless of their good works or lack of good works.  It is always about the Faith of Abraham.

Friday, April 25 Chapter 25

Paul takes up the former question of the fate of Jews and provides the same answer he gives to Gentiles:  those who have faith can expect Mercy from God.  Do not be misled by the citation of 7,000 as the remnant.  Remember that 7 is the number of perfection; the thousands acts as a multiplier of the 7.  The actual number in human terms will be totally in God’s hands.

Paul hopes that Jewish non-believers will become jealous and become believers.  He continues to preach with that hope in mind.

To the Gentiles, Paul points out that being grafted onto the root of Jesse, the Jewish root, does not make them superior to the grape branches that have broken off the vine.  They are still God’s Chosen and He can do with them as He pleases.  Never forget that the Vine Dresser will prune off unproductive branches.

If there is any doubt, study verses 25-27 carefully.  God’s Covenant with His Chosen people is still in effect.

This is what Origen (about 230 AD) had to say about verse 33:  Paul did not say that God’s judgments were hard to search out but that they could not be searched out at all.  He did not say that God’s ways were hard to find out but that they were impossible to find out.  For however far one may advance in the search and make progress through an increasingly earnest study, even when aided and enlightened in the mind by God’s grace, he will never be able to reach the final goal of his inquires.

Pelagius (about 400 AD) comments:  Paul praises the wisdom of God, who according to his foreknowledge waited until all were in need of mercy in order to take from everyone the glory that derives from unfounded boasting in works.  The judgments of God are a great deep, for they cannot be clearly grasped.

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Why Are You Crying?

DSC00674

Easter April 20, 2014

Jeremiah 31:1-6
Colossians 3:1-4
John 20:1-18
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

As the Holy City of God was still in darkness and the eastern sky was promising its light, Mary Magdalene made her way with the other women to the tomb where her beloved Master was buried on that horrible Friday. They carried the spices and cloths needed to complete the burial; her Yeshua would not be dumped like a common criminal.

Even in the darkness it was evident the stone was rolled from the entrance and the guards were gone.  The women had their lanterns, but none dared look into the tomb.  Instead, they ran in different directions.  Mary made her way to the hiding place of Simon and John, telling them the startling news.

Forgetting their fears, both men rushed to the tomb while Mary followed with more decorum.  Sunlight was now filling the valleys and all were able to see clearly that the burial linen lay on the stone slab, but Yeshua was gone.

The two men entered the small tomb and came out dazed, making their way back into hiding.  Mary watched them leave her alone at the tomb.  She looked through her tears at the empty stone slab, only to discover two men dressed in white and sitting on the stone.

Why are you crying?

Why indeed.  Her Yeshua was tortured, killed, buried and now stolen.

Confused, still half blinded by tears, she turned away from the grave only to face another man.

Why are you crying?

Her emotions boiled over.  She ignored propriety and spoke to a man she did not know, her words spilling in a torrent.  I want my Master back.

Mary.

In an instant she knew.  Yeshua.  Am I dreaming?  He is real.  I touch my Master.  The Messiah lives.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence