The Ransom Has Been Paid

 

Acts 2:14a,36-41

1 Peter 1:17-23

Luke 24:13-35

Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17

 

In our times, we tend to think of a ransom as a payment to kidnappers, but in ancient times it was mostly a payment for a crime—a fine. As an example: Numbers 35:31; Do not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer, who deserves to dieNIV For the crime of theft, it was possible to pay a ransom as a substitute for serving time in prison. Every crime had a specific amount that had to be paid to avoid the unpleasant cell time. The ransom is not to be confused with bail. There was no bail.

The point is, Jesus did not bail us out. Instead, he paid for our time in prison; he did our time in our place. Picture a packed courtroom. The judges directs you to stand and announces your sentence for multiple murders. The sentence is death. Then, there is a commotion in the courtroom. A complete stranger steps forward and tells the judge that he will gladly stand in your place to be executed so that you can live. That is what Jesus did.

We do not know what happened to Jesus between his death and resurrection. The only hint we have is his prayer time in the garden when he asked God to let him out of the deal (Luke 22). Spending a few hours of torture before dying would be easy compared to the result—the salvation of the world. Jesus knew it was going to happen, and I believe he was happy to let it happen because it was something so simple. What he was not so sure of was going to Hell to do battle with the Father of Lies and the Angel of Death.

In our timeline, Jesus was only in the grave for part of three days, but he may well have moved out of time and engaged in a long war before returning to our time-based dominion. That is speculation, but if you consider that Revelation may have described at least part of what happened in those three days, it is possible.

Anyway, now, just two weeks after Easter, we need a reminder of the willingness of Jesus to stand in for us before the Judge. But, also note that God is both Judge and Father. So, as Paul wrote, You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living. Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of GodPhillips

Having my sins forgiven is not an excuse to sin. I am a son of God, baptized into the Son of God. I must strive to become aware of my sins and strive to stop doing them. Again, Paul, It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in GodMSG

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Our Inheritance

 

Acts 2:14a,22-32

1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:19-31

Psalm 16

 

The first two verses of this letter from Peter are an amazing expression of the Gospel and the triune nature of God. Please take a few moments to consider those few words. God chose us, the Spirit nourished us, and Jesus saved us. The word Peter uses to describe us—those who read his letter—is eklektos, chosen, or Gods favorites.

In verse 3 Peter uses the word kleronomia, referring to our inheritance. The word in the first century was used in the law, not in religion. It meant what inheritance means to us today. Here, Peter wants to be sure we understand that God wrote us into the will of Jesus. We have been given a gift by our Father that we did not earn.

Suppose you received a letter from a court several states away saying that your grandfather’s, brother’s son, died and you are to receive a share of his estate, even though you had no idea the son even existed. That would have come from far left field, like from the moon left field.

That’s what Peter says we are getting.

Further, we need do nothing to earn the inheritance.

Even though we understand getting money from relatives when we least expect it, we have a hard time understanding why God does not put stipulations on the gift he gives to us. So, we make up rules. God will only let me share in the inheritance if I give money to the church—attend church—be kind to strangers—feed the poor—don’t lie, cheat, steal, or go with girls that do.

None of that. It comes from God’s mercy; a gift to those who do NOT deserve it. What’s more, God has it safely stored in his private vault in heaven where nothing can ever corrupt it or steal it. It is better than gold under the mattress.

We do get some benefit from that treasure before we get to heaven. Because we believe it is true, our lives are the richer for it in the here and now. It is like getting a small advance on the treasure.

We know that good Christians suffer in this earth. Torture, beheadings, cancer, and, car crashes, all happen to the good and the bad, but we have the faith that the treasure in heaven will more than makeup for what happens to us now.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Who Is It You Are Looking For?

 

    

Easter

Jeremiah 31:1-6

Colossians 3:1-4

John 20:1-18

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

Humans are searchers. From birth, we want to know what is out there. At first, it is trying to figure out what those moving blobs are that sometimes pick us up and sometimes feed us. We move on to other things that wander into our ever-sharpening vision, always seeking to know, and understand. Each year our universe expands until we see stars that existed millions of years ago.

Even then we search.

It is all good. We are better for understanding how the world and the universe works. But we also need God. Many of us are searching for God in all the wrong places; we do not even realize that it is God we seek.

In the Gospel reading, we see Mary standing at the empty tomb, weeping tears of sadness. She was thinking, ‘he died, now he is missing.’ Mary was looking in the wrong place. More to the point, she did not know what she was looking for.

Of course, if you go back to the start of the chapter, Peter and (likely) John were also clueless. They went away.

But Mary stayed, at least to be close to where Jesus had last been seen.

It was then that a stranger spoke to her. She was looking directly at Jesus, but did not recognize him. He was not the same Jesus she had walked and talked with. “Who is it you are looking for?” NIV

That is the question for us. Who am I looking for? Will I know him when I see him?

Jeremiah tells us that God said, I love you with an everlasting love;
this is why in my grace I draw you to me
CJB In the end, God finds us.

Jesus simply said, “Mary,” and she recognized him. Jesus found her.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Show Me Favor, Adonai, For I Am In Trouble

 

Agnus Day appears with the permission of www.agnusday.org

Palm Sunday

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Philippians 2:5-11

Matthew 26:14- 27:66

Psalm 31:9-16

 

Today is all about Jesus.

He spent three years teaching his disciples the Good News so that they could teach us. That time is past. Jesus is now on his way to the cross, the grave, and glory.

The past few lessons have led up to this moment. March 5—Adam Obeyed; March 12—To Save the World; March 19—Living Water; March 26—You Claim You Can See; and April 2—Dem Bones. All examples of what will happen April 9-16.

First, Jesus obeyed God. He did only that which God expected of him. Now he rides into the City of David as the heir to the throne.

Second, he delivered God’s message of Grace to the world. No one is exempt. Every single human has Grace splashed upon him/her. We may reject it, but it is there.

Third, the water that cleansed the world in Noah’s day is ready to cleanse the world again. This time it is the water of life.

Fourth, the Light of God stands in the streets of Jerusalem to show us the way. We need not walk in the darkness of our way.

Fifth, as Lazarus stepped from the grave after three days, so will Jesus.

The long reading today in Matthew is but an outline of the week that shook the world. Every word Jesus spoke and every action he took was scripted in the Old Testament. I believe that one reason that Jesus waited until he was thirty to begin his short ministry was that he had to learn every detail of what God planned of the Messiah. He had to talk with God until he understood how he was to do all that God had promised.

In those final hours when he was sweating blood while asking God to figure out another way, he was feeling his human limitations. He knew that death would be unpleasant, but the real problem was what he had to do after death. Nothing less than to enter the Gates of Hell and battle the Great Deceiver; a battle that is still ongoing in our human time-frame.

Agnus Day appears with the permission of www.agnusday.org

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence