Category Archives: Jesus
Friday had been the most difficult day ever. While it started out with a praise service in the Garden, it quickly turned to a dizzying sequence of arrest, skirmish, scattering and disbelief. Then, it was a joke of a trial, a campfire that still didn’t truly warm you, and denial (3 times).
Before you knew it, your Master had been brought before government officials, scourged, mocked, spat upon, and the increasingly growing crowds are screaming for His blood. Yes, Friday was a day you will never be able to forget, no matter how hard you try. The humiliation. The degradation.
The images of your Master being beaten to a bloody pulp, struggling to carry that heavy cross beam up the hill to the place of the Skull are surpassed only by the images of the spikes being driven in His hands and feet just before He is lifted up, high above the city, outside the city gates. There, the Master is hung out to die.
Too much to comprehend.
Hearing His cries of anguish still haunts you. But hearing Him say, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they are doing” is haunting as well. Forgive them? Seriously? Then, as the skies grew dark and the whole earth seemed to shake, He gave up His spirit and died. The Master died. Too much to comprehend.
Waiting, praying for God to intervene, and wondering why He didn’t answer those prayers, now it is Saturday, and the shock has not begun to wear off. You are numb to your very soul. “Why, God? What possible good could come from this? How could You allow the Master to be crucified?”
You keep praying, but God does not seem to answer. The silence is deafening. You are broken in every possible way. You wait.
Still, no clear answer seems to be forthcoming, so you wait.
Your fellow followers of the Master are scattered, but slowly start coming back to a place with which you are all familiar. Hushed sobs fill the air. No one dares speak aloud. All are wondering the same thing: why? What next? Still, no clear answer seems to be forthcoming, so you wait.
You are exhausted from the events of the past 36 hours, but sleep does not come. More crying out to God, “why, God? What do we do now?” Still, no reply. So you do the only thing you know you can do at this moment. You wait.
You have no idea what is coming next, but you are trying desperately to trust God Who knows all and will work all things for the good. At least that’s what you learned over the past three years from sitting at the feet of your Master. Still, it just doesn’t seem like ANYTHING good could possibly come from the events of the past day and a half. You would LOVE to drift off to sleep just for a respite from the anguish, but sleep eludes you. So, you wait.
Friday is done. Saturday is fading away. Sunday is coming. Wait.
On Wednesday, two men who have made (and continue to make) a significant impact on my life had heart heart procedures done. Denny Dawes had a triple bypass open heart surgery, while Bill Dixon had his aortic valve replaced. The surgeries took place within hours of each other about 30 miles apart. The love of Christ both of these men model has never been more evident than it has over these past several days.
Denny is the preacher at Central Church of Christ in Portsmouth, Ohio, where he has served for some three decades now. Denny and Joan are parents to three sons, all of whom are in ministry either on a paid or volunteer basis. This family has always been a strong example and encouragement to me as to how to do family right. They love Jesus. Of that there is no doubt. They love to laugh. If you hang out with them for any length of time, these two truths will slap you up side the head with a vengeance. And you will enjoy it.
I had the pleasure of seeing Denny yesterday, some 24 hours after they had pulled his heart out of his chest to repair the blood vessels leading to and from that heart. He was sitting up in a chair. He asked how Peggy’s Dad was doing. Yeah, he had just had open heart surgery, and he wanted to know how Bill was doing following his aortic valve replacement. Then we joked a bit, and then he let us know in no uncertain terms that he had gone into this surgery with full confidence in our Lord Jesus. He knew he was in a win-win situation because of his faith in Christ. He talked about the peace he felt as he waited in the hospital over the weekend and into mid-week before the surgery actually took place. His testimony was awe-inspiring. I thank God for my brother in Christ, Denny Dawes, and for his faithful family. They continue to be an inspiration to me. I am so privileged to be their brother in Christ.
I must say that Bill Dixon (Peggy’s Dad) looked better yesterday than I have seen him look in more than a year. His color is getting back to “normal” with rosy red in his cheeks, and that mischievous sparkle in his eyes. Bill, like Denny, loves the Lord with all his heart. He also loves to laugh. Watching him yesterday afternoon as he walked to the bathroom on his own, just blew my mind. He was supposed to be in the ICU for up to three days, but he was transferred out in less than 24 hours. He was supposed to be in the hospital for three-to-five days. He MAY be released to come home today.
On Wednesday, the waiting room for the heart & vascular surgery folks was filled. There were at one point nearly 20 people in there. Only one of them was not with the Dixon family. We had three ministers, a handful of deacons, extended family and family in Christ. The love of God and His people was more than evident in that room. It was such a joy to see that love in action being poured out for Bill and Ruth Ann. I am so privileged to be their son (in-law). I am even more privileged to be their brother in Christ.
The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.
Both Bill and Denny credit the Great Physician for their ease in surgery and their healing post-surgery. The power of prayer is boldly on display in both of these men’s lives. The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. They truly exemplify the heart of the matter: they love the Lord our God with all their hearts, all their souls, all their minds and all their strength. May I always choose to live my life that way as well.
Reggie Joiner challenged all of us at the Orange Conference in April of 2015 to ask, “what would it be like if we pictured every child/teen as someone who was created in the image of God?” I want to expand the age range and ask, “how would we treat EVERYONE we meet if we truly believed they were created in the image of Christ?”
Because the truth of the matter is that EVERYONE is created in the image of God. Even those who want nothing to do with Jesus. Even those who would ridicule the very thought that they were created in the image of God. Even those who would react with hostility to that thought. Even members of ISIS.
Because the truth of the matter is that EVERYONE is created in the image of God. Even those who want nothing to do with Jesus.
Yikes! So again, how would we treat people if we truly believed that they were created in the image of God? Well, how did Jesus treat people? This is not as simple as it may at first seem to be.
Jesus knew the heart of those with whom He interacted. We don’t have that advantage. But let’s look at a few examples of how Jesus treated people.
*In Romans 8, we see an encounter Jesus has with a Roman officer:
5 When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him,6 “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.”
7 Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”
Wait, a Roman officer? A ranking member of the occupation army? And Jesus says that He will come heal the officer’s servant? The Jewish crowd must have been up in arms over this turn of events. Jesus must have been grinning from ear-to-ear on the inside, because He knew what the officer’s response to Jesus’ offer to come heal the servant would be. Let’s pick up the story in verse 8:
8 But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. 9 I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”
Amazing faith from a non-Jew officer of the occupying army. A man created in the image of God.
*A gentile woman requesting a healing for her daughter.
Again, let’s see how the Gospel of Matthew treats this story in chapter 15:
21 Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.”23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”
Jesus does not appear to be moved by this woman’s request, and His disciples are quick to ask Him to have this Gentile leave them alone. After all, she is not the “right people” for Jesus to be bothered with.
24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”
25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”
The Disciples must have been smiling to themselves at how things are going.
26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”
YES! You tell her, Jesus. She has no business asking for Your help, Your compassion, even Your attention.
27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”
28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.
Wait a minute…what? Jesus once again is impressed with the faith of a Gentile and grants the request for healing? His closest followers still weren’t getting it. Jesus knew that this woman was created in the image of God and was, therefore, worthy of His love, mercy, grace, and healing.
*We see other examples of Jesus treating people with extra grace when society would have brushed them aside or even had them killed.
The Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, and the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8, just to name a couple. The healing of lepers, the blind, the lame, the woman with the issue of blood for 12 years are all examples of Jesus seeing people as created in the image of God.
In my next post (yeah, this is a two-part blog), we will examine the the way Jesus handled those whose whose hearts were far from God, even though the people thought they were “right” with God. Yeah, Jesus loves everybody, but there are some folks He doesn’t like very much.