Jesus visits the home of two women, Mary and Martha. They are very different people. Jesus cares for each of them in a different way. This helps us to see that God can enter the distinctly different predicament of any of our lives. Do you need to hear of the mysteries of God, or do you need to let go of the accumulation of ordinary things that clouds your mind? God knows what you need. Are you ready to invite Him for a visit?
In today's Gospel reading a young lawyer asks Jesus, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Their conversation leads Jesus to tell one of His best known parables known as “the Good Samaritan.” In this story Jesus stretches our imagination about what godly love can do in the reality of our lives. How great do you think God’s love is? In Christ Jesus we see that God’s love is eternal, almighty, and ours forever, and even today.
In the Gospel for today, Jesus sends out seventy-two of His followers with power to heal and cast out demons. But most importantly Jesus wanted them to share that the Kingdom of God is near. As they bestowed care and concern on those they met they were embodying the Kingdom of God. The goodness they brought to people’s lives was pointing to the even greater blessing of our everlasting future in God’s Kingdom. In Jesus all this is near even for us. The Kingdom is near, now and forever.
When was the last time you had the comfort of pulling out a paper map that showed you the way you would travel? Now days many a journey is taken trusting that some sort of electronic voice will tell you when to turn and what to do. This occasionally results in people arriving somewhere only to realize that it is not actually where they were hoping to go. Led by faith in God our journey may be imperfect, there may even be detours, but guided by God’s wisdom and love both the journey and the destination will be good.
We are held captive by many things in this earthly life, but especially by sin, death, and Satan. In the Gospel reading Jesus asks his disciples to sail across to the side of the lake that they prefer to avoid. Jesus stepped ashore and encountered a man who possessed by many demons. This man had been chained so he wouldn’t hurt himself or others. Jesus comes to this man in his captivity and sets him free. There is no border to Jesus’ mercy and compassion. He can reach us wherever we are. By His death and resurrection, Jesus sets us free from our enemies, from sin, death, and Satan. We are free to tell of Jesus’s mercy and compassion.
Whenever we contemplate the mystery of God being three persons in one God, we can be in awe of how far above us He is in His divine nature. We were called into being when we were nothing, we were saved while still in our sins, and we are given faith to trust Him, purely by the grace of God. God’s creation itself is majestic in scope and grandeur. The more we learn about it, especially the vastness of cosmic space, the more we recognize the grace of God in His caring about us. God has not only provided the one place where we might thrive, but He also became one of us, showing us His Majesty in such a humble way. The Holy Spirit now lives among us to teach us all things and remind us how majestic is God’s name in all the earth, especially in our hearts and minds!
Jesus told His followers that they could expect the gift of the Holy Spirit. Ascended into heaven Jesus sent the Holy Spirit so that we can have God’s holiness and wisdom as a present reality. This Spirit can renew our mind and emotions. The Holy Spirit can inspire love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As we celebrate God’s Spirit, we pray “Come Holy Spirit.”
As we go through life we hope for a few little triumphs. So it was for Jesus’ disciples just before Christ was about to ascend to heaven. "Lord," they said, "will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" But God had a greater blessing in mind. Christ's ascension means His triumph is over all humankind, all nations, kingdoms, powers, and everything else for all time and eternity. He who was crucified, died, and risen, now takes His victory with Him to sit at God's right hand in power and majesty. He is triumphant over all things forever.
Jesus knows the world. He said to His disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation.” That is pretty obvious to us all. But then Jesus went on and said, “Take heart; I have overcome the world.” Troubles will come to us all, but Jesus gave us a reason to again and again defiantly find reason for hope. Our strength is in Jesus who triumphed over everything. He is our courage. Jesus strengthens our hearts even in the midst of things that are troubling and challenging. Because of Jesus we are headed toward the city of God shining with the light of the resurrection—a city alight with God and the Lamb, a city with no night. Take heart! Jesus has overcome the world!
Every page of God’s Word proclaims in some way that God is Almighty and All Knowing. What is extraordinary about the Gospel accounts of Jesus is that they show us what almighty and all- knowing look like up close. Not only can Jesus see what will take place in the future, but He can also tell us what will really matter. Jesus could tell His followers to take heart and have hope because He confidently sees that goodness and truth will be triumphant. Knowing that by His resurrection to new life Jesus has conquered death, we have every reason to trust in what Jesus sees will be the way.
The cryptic language of the Book of Revelation tells us the “the Lamb will be their shepherd.” That tells us a lot about God’s ability to understand and sympathize with us. Almighty and Eternal God became one of us. Jesus is our Good Shepherd who loves us more than life. He fought for us and has won salvation for us. He promises us that no one is able to snatch us from our Father’s hand. This is our joy amid struggle and sorrow, and our confidence. The One who gave Himself for us has triumphed. With Jesus’ resurrection we celebrate the Lamb has become the Shepherd.
Would you expect Jesus to show up if you went fishing or to a barbecue? His closest followers were surprised that now triumphant over death Jesus would come to be with them in the same places where they had first met him. Now it was real. In our celebration of Easter we want to carry this sense of expectation: where will we see the spirit and character of Jesus? He is risen indeed!
Jesus said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Though we don’t have the privilege of seeing Jesus in person as Thomas, the disciples, and many others did, we do have the privilege of seeing Jesus in the Word. We have the privilege of being touched by Jesus as His Spirit and personality live in on our world by the Holy Spirit’s work. Jesus came to His disciples who were hiding behind locked doors in fear. He still comes through the “locked doors” we may have and brings a blessed peace. As Easter has changed everything, let us live as His changed people—because Jesus is alive forevermore, so in Him we will live also!
Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. His return to life is a fact of history that is unlike any other. In this we mark that the impossible actually happened. This event opens new realms of possibility. In Jesus’ triumph over death God gives us reason to hope for a new heaven and a new earth. God wrote into the historical record reason to believe in what seems impossible: life after death. On this day of celebration, as we revisit the empty tomb where Jesus had been buried, we behold a mystery that has been revealed. Out of pure and sacred love for us God has done the impossible.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem He was greeted with exuberance, praise, and loud shouts of celebration. So many had been touched by His warmth. They had been impressed by the miraculous things He had done. They were ready to call Jesus King. But it was also risky and dangerous for Jesus to enter through the gates of the great city. There were those who considered Him a threat. Just five days later Jesus will be crucified. Then it seemed as if darkness and doubt had won. Who in Jerusalem could guess that the celebration of this King was just beginning? The triumph would be His!
After a hard winter every sign of spring is a wonder. We relish every little hint. Isaiah the prophet encouraged his hearers to the expectation that “now it shall spring forth.” As Jesus drew closer to His death on the cross He encouraged hope in His followers that even now the wonder of renewal and re-creation was very close. In this season of Lent we seek this kind of trust, that we see the infinite mercy of our redeeming God always before us.
The story is not done until we get to the good part. That is how it works for us who are in God’s grace. If his goodness is not obvious today it is on the horizon. It may be surprising to any of us how easy it is to doubt this just when we might need such hope the most. God’s steady persistence toward goodness is the message of the Prophet Isaiah and is present in one of Jesus’ most well know stories about a son who is lost and yet found. The road leads to praise.
God’s grace is strong enough to sustain us against every fear, doubt, and in every moment of trouble. Who among us has not wondered why harsh, grievous things happen and how much more we can bear? To all of these things, our Lord brings His mercy and grace in the moments of our greatest struggles. From beginning to end, the Scriptures are testament to one basic truth-God is faithful, especially when we need the shelter of His Grace.
Jesus laments over those who are far from him. Looking out over the most spiritual city in all the world Jesus sees the emotional distance that is ours, everywhere. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem. . . . How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Luke 13:34). The distance between us and God never deters His faithfulness to us. He is relentless in His pursuit of us, longing to gather us in grace and fill our emptiness. Jesus invites you to come to Him. During the season of Lent we can take on the challenge of naming the things that keep us at a distance from God. Together we pray to move a little closer to Him who longs to gather us together as the children of God under the wings of His strength.
Jesus goes out into the desert to fast and pray to prepare himself for what is ahead. Somehow He must show the world that He is the Son of God. Out in the desert the devil confronts Jesus with temptations hoping to derail the vital work of Jesus. For everything the devil throws at him Jesus answers by quoting the Word of God. With this simple faithfulness to His Father’s promises Jesus shows us who He is, The Son of the Living God.