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The Brave Love Of The Man Who Loaned A Tomb To Jesus (via Paul Tripp)

Paul Tripp writes a thoughtful meditation on the brave love of Joseph of Arimathea, the man who publicly identified himself as a disciple of Jesus when all seemed lost, and who provided a tomb for a much shorter period of time than he would have thought.
From the article:

While the other disciples were hiding in confusion and fear, Joseph of Arimathea acted with remarkable courage and love. If you noticed from the passage, this man had everything to lose with this move. He was a member of the inner council of the Sanhedrin, and it was his peers who had just put pressure on Pilate to try Jesus for treason and hang him on a cross.
Asking for the body of this crucified man was a public declaration of his love for Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea would no longer be a secret disciple (John 19:38). When he could have remained under the radar, Joseph inserted himself into the middle of a religious and political drama, the very drama that sent the rest of the disciples into hiding. In one move, Joseph risked everything: his wealth, his reputation, his power, and even his life.
But Joseph of Arimathea loved his Lord too much to let his body rot on the cross or be ignominiously thrown with other criminals into some shallow public grave. With a heart of worship, he gave to the Messiah a tomb, and with a heart of love, he buried his Lord with honor.

Read the whole post here.


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The Resurrection: You Don’t Get It; It Gets You (via Will Willimon)

Will Willimon on why human understanding never expects resurrection:

Mary’s perfectly logical, understandably natural need to pursue the body of her beloved Jesus has not yet room for the miracle that has happened. The voice of Jesus has called to her, across an abyss of death, thrown a line to her across the cavernous expanse between her little logic of red wheelbarrows and all that and the power of God to work wonder. Like the voice that shatters glass, the voice of Jesus has shattered Mary’s world, called her forward to new possibility, new future.
Mary is now able to obey, to tell the others, “I have seen the Lord” (vs. 18). She has moved beyond her preoccupation with the corpse to an encounter with Christ. Her cause-effect logic is replaced by the larger logic called faith. She has been encountered, not by the dead corpse she thought she was seeing, but by a living Lord who is on the move and will not be held by us on our little logic.
Now there are at least two ways to think about things: cognition has two paths to the point of recognition. The first is, say, when you’re working on a tough math problem and after much effort you say, “I got it!”
The other way is, say, when you go to a great movie, and it changes you, lays hold of you to the very depths and you emerge changed. In that case, you don’t say, “I got it!” No. It gets you.

Read the whole post here.


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Call Me Barabbas by Nathan Tasker 2017

Nathan Tasker tells a little story behind his song ‘Call Me Barabbas’, sings a rendition (and another song).
This is one of my favourite Good Friday songs.


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Man Of Our Sorrows (via Ravi Zacharias)

From a brief reflection on sorrow, Easter and life by Ravi Zacharias.

Of all the descriptions given about Jesus, there is one that unabashedly stands out to confront us. It is a description uttered by the prophet Isaiah, prodding mind and heart at once: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Like one from whom men hide their faces; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted” (53:3). In this season of Easter before us, with whatever sorrows we might be holding, it is a description all the more fitting to reflect upon.
Maybe you are at a time in your life when hurt is writ large upon your thoughts. Jesus is not unacquainted with your pain. In fact, he draws near particularly with a hand of love. Your wound may still bleed for a while to remind you of your weakness. But he can help carry the pain to carry you in strength. This could indeed be holy ground for you. It most certainly was for him.

Read the whole post here.


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Never-ending Easter

Submitted to our local paper, the Border Watch.

The Easter weekend is now over. Seeing how many people were out and about on the day before Good Friday it seemed that lots of people were having a longer weekend than the four days from Friday to Monday. The wrench of returning to work was hopefully softened by a four-day working week until the next weekend.
Christians started preparing for Easter back on February 9, Shrove Tuesday. The supermarkets started preparing for it during the first week of January when the Hot Crossed Buns went on sale.
During the Easter week some churches held services on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For many Christians it’s the busiest time of the year.
More than a few folk will ask if we’ll be glad when the weekend is over.
It’s a funny question, really.
For while it is a good feeling when the Easter weekend is ended, for the Christian Easter never ends.
Every Sunday is just as much centered on the resurrection of Jesus as Easter Sunday. Every Sunday engages with the event of Jesus’ crucifixion as pivotal in the relationship between God and his people.
More than that, these events are central to every single day of a Christian’s life.
Many of us are familiar with family heirlooms, crockery and cutlery sets that are only used on special occasions like Christmas, birthdays or anniversaries. On ordinary days other ‘everyday’ plates and eating utensils are used. I suspect some of us even have special crockery sets that have never been eaten off because no occasion is ever special enough to merit their use.
Perhaps that’s how some people think about Easter: that on Easter Sunday and Good Friday the resurrection and the cross are central, but on the other weeks of the year focus can fall on other themes.
The reality for Christians is that the truths of Easter are for everyday. They’re not just special occasions.
Our everyday living is anchored in the life of the resurrected Jesus.
Our everyday motivation in love and service for others flows from an experience of the victory and transformation of the resurrected Jesus.
Our everyday hope is grounded in the reality of a life that lasts forever, stretching beyond the darkened times so many of us experience now into everlasting light because of the resurrected Jesus.
Easter is not just one aspect of Christian experience; Easter is not a part of our calendar; Easter is the power that instructs, enables, and fuels our lives as followers of Jesus.
Easter is past for 2016, but Easter never ends.


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When Good Friday Is The Same Date As The Annunciation

March 25 is observed by some Christians as the date on which the annunciation by the angel of Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus took place.
It is very unusual for the day to be shared by Good Friday.
Read more about that here.
From Mockingbird, a poem by John Donne, “Upon the Annunciation and Passion Falling upon One Day.”

Tamely, frail body, abstain today; today
My soul eats twice, Christ hither and away.
She sees Him man, so like God made in this,
That of them both a circle emblem is,
Whose first and last concur; this doubtful day
Of feast or fast, Christ came and went away;
She sees Him nothing twice at once, who’s all;
She sees a Cedar plant itself and fall,
Her Maker put to making, and the head
Of life at once not yet alive yet dead;
She sees at once the virgin mother stay
Reclused at home, public at Golgotha;
Sad and rejoiced she’s seen at once, and seen
At almost fifty and at scarce fifteen;
At once a Son is promised her, and gone;
Gabriel gives Christ to her, He her to John;
Not fully a mother, she’s in orbity,
At once receiver and the legacy;
All this, and all between, this day hath shown,
The abridgement of Christ’s story, which makes one
(As in plain maps, the furthest west is east)
Of the Angels’ Ave and Consummatum est.
How well the Church, God’s court of faculties,
Deals in some times and seldom joining these!
As by the self-fixed Pole we never do
Direct our course, but the next star thereto,
Which shows where the other is and which we say
(Because it strays not far) doth never stray,
So God by His Church, nearest to Him, we know
And stand firm, if we by her motion go;
His Spirit, as His fiery pillar doth
Lead, and His Church, as cloud, to one end both.
This Church, by letting these days join, hath shown
Death and conception in mankind is one:
Or ‘twas in Him the same humility
That He would be a man and leave to be:
Or as creation He had made, as God,
With the last judgment but one period,
His imitating Spouse would join in one
Manhood’s extremes: He shall come, He is gone:
Or as though the least of His pains, deeds, or words,
Would busy a life, she all this day affords;
This treasure then, in gross, my soul uplay,
And in my life retail it every day.


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The Story That Never Changes, But Always Shows Us Something New

An Easter reflection for our local paper, The Border Watch.

There are times when you revisit something from the past that reminds you of the changing nature of your own life.
Go back to the place where you first went to school; it’s likely you’ll think it’s so much smaller than you remember it. School hasn’t shrunk, but you’re a lot bigger than you were in first grade.
Along the same line, that teacher who seemed so old when you were in school was probably in their early to mid twenties. It’s always disconcerting to realise that you’ve had more birthdays than those people that you used to think were so old when you were a child.
Year after year I revisit the familiar narrative that is the Easter story. Four perspectives unify into multifaceted account of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The story remains the same, but each year different details seem to come to catch my attention. The details aren’t new; they’ve always been there. But they remind me that I’m changing as I pass through life’s seasons.
This year the part of the Easter story that grabs my attention is Jesus’ prayer ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’.
It seems our culture is more committed to justice and accountability, but less able to forgive. Judgment is quick, but the pathway to restored relationship seems absent. There is a readiness to condemn character with a harshness that does not suggest a pathway forward.
Difference becomes division.
Though he spoke about forgiveness, Jesus does not say ‘Father, I forgive them’. His anguished prayer is motivated by personal forgiveness, but asks for something more. In asking for God to forgive those who had put him to death Jesus acknowledges that our individual failings are part of a bigger picture.
The problem is in each of us.
In a culture that cultivates and demands a sense of outrage, we would do well to understand that outrage is a sign that something needs to be done, but it’s no solution in itself. The solution is bound up in recognising the same human weakness in ourselves that is shown in the failings of others. It should draw us together as human, not drive us apart. Jesus understands that weakness all too well.
His prayer also indicated Jesus’ belief, even as he was dying, that rejection of him was also rejection of God. He alone had no failings of his own to confess, so he confessed the failings of the rest of us on our behalf. The Easter message of new life is essentially the new beginning that is experienced when God forgives those who acknowledge their own failings in sorrow to him.
If you have the opportunity to hear the Easter story again this weekend, please take the time. Even if you think you know it all, you’ve changed and grown since the last time you heard it. Let it speak to you anew and reveal fresh understanding of yourself, others, and God.