Tag Archives: mission

And so it began

No, it did not begin with palms waving and coats thrown on the ground as Jesus passed. It did not begin with planning to secure the right animal upon which Jesus rode. It did not begin with the swell of public excitement and anticipation or the dread and angst of the Jewish authorities as Jesus approached the holy city.

“As Jesus was going along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. When He came to the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began to celebrate and praise God at the top of their voices” (Luke 19:36,37). “This was the moment they’d been waiting for. All the old songs came flooding back, and they were singing, chanting, cheering, and laughing. At last their dreams were going to come true. But in the middle of it all, their leader wasn’t singing.” “When He came near and saw the city, He wept over it” (Luke 19:41).

Why did He weep? Prophecies were being fulfilled. The Passover festival annually carried the hope that this was the year that Messiah would appear. Messiah did appear, but He was not chosen for an earthly kingdom. He came for a higher purpose. His tears flowed as He saw a people looking for another kind of king. He cried because of the cost of redemption. His sorrow overflowed because many would reject Him and every prophecy that hailed His coming.

It began at the foundation of the world. A plan had been formed to restore a broken world and to reclaim a lost humanity. It began with the Creator’s determination to save His creation from the ravages of sin and death. It began with a mission to save the world, not condemn it.

Holy Week acknowledges, mourns, and then rejoices over the plan that would send the guiltless to pay for the guilty. The perfect Lamb of God would be sacrificed on the cruel altar of the cross.

Jesus had set His face to Jerusalem. He had told His disciples what would happen when He came to the city. He was not surrendering to His fate; He was taking charge of the arrangements. Just as He set in motion the parade on the day we call Palm Sunday, He would make preparation for the Passover meal where He would share His last supper. He would see it through – blood, sweat, and tears. The King had arrived …

You shall know the truth

Among the many game shows that aired on American television, “To Tell the Truth” has an interesting history. It is one of two game shows in the US that have aired at least one episode in seven decades. Can you guess the other one? Sure, go ahead … google it, or just check at the end of this column – but only if you read the whole column. Tell the truth, now.

The whole idea was to feature people who either had an unusual job or had been through strange circumstances. The celebrity panel would question the contestants and try to guess which one of the three was telling the truth.

The latest version airs its first episode on June 14. That means the show has been on for 25 seasons.

Are we infatuated with telling the truth or with game shows?

People refer to truth is some strange ways today. Some will tell you that your truth is not necessarily their truth. Others will say that truth is relative depending on the circumstances. We even have different phrases for not telling the truth:

  • I might have mis-spoke
  • That was taken out of context
  • What I meant to say was …

I grew up when it was a little clearer – not telling the truth meant lying.

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). He also claimed that He was the truth (John 14:6). So, it seems that the path(or way) to freedom means knowing Jesus.

Using a number of resources this month, we will explore the truth as it concerns Jesus. He remains mysterious, controversial, and provocative. Some dismiss Him … mostly because they make no effort to know Him. Some dismiss Him because of the actions and attitudes of those who claim to follow Him.

When Jesus presented Himself in human form (John 1:14), He came on mission. He did not intend to start another religion. We have enough already. He came to reveal the Father; He came to establish the Kingdom; He came to redeem fallen humanity. He came to present truth.

The truth is that God loved the world so much that Jesus came, full of grace and glory, to rescue us. The truth is we cannot rescue ourselves. The truth is that He came to set us free.

In the game show, the dramatic moment would come when the host would say: “Would the real ______________ please stand up!” Compared to the real Jesus, there are no equals. That’s the truth!

Trivia answer: The Price is Right

MRE’s

Ask a veteran or an active duty soldier or Marine. Ask them what MRE’s are. Some would tell you “Meals Ready to Eat” – a lot would say “Meals Rejected by Everybody.” If you know a veteran old enough, he could tell you about K or C-rations. Improvements have been made since the Civil War when soldiers might carry hardtack and salt pork. Some soldiers joked that the hard crackers could stop a bullet. But providing nutritious food that would not turn the stomach has always been a challenge. These days, vacuum-sealed pouches contain a wide variety of foods, but bland is bland. If you checked the equipment and supplies a typical soldier would carry, you probably will find a bottle of Tabasco to either add some flavor or kill the taste.

Complaining has been around a long time – probably since Adam complained that Eve got the apple first. The people of Israel complained as they were escaping the bondage of Egypt. Don’t get them started on having to eat manna and quail.  They moaned and whined – “It’s too hot.”

“There’s no water.” “How long until we get there?” Their gripes sank to the outrageous “We would be better off back in Egypt” whimper.

While MRE’s would never be compared to culinary delights, those rations weren’t designed to please the palate. They were created to be nutritious and energy-producing in eat-on-the-march conditions. The meal was never as important as the mission.

The manna God provided for the Israelites would only last a day. That required the people to trust God to provide for them every day. He had promised to deliver them. With the memory of their miraculous rescue from the clutches of Pharaoh, you would think trust would come easy. Does trust come easy to us?

God promised to deliver us. An empty cross and an empty tomb prove His power. He has promised to guide, bless, provide, correct, sustain, and redeem us. He asked us to seek Him every day. He asks us to trust Him. Does trust come easy to us?

We, too, need to remember that the mission is more rimportant than the meal. We are a part of a great adventure He has invited us to join. Perhaps our MRE should stand for “Mission Ready to Engage.”

He Knew

Lois Cheney wrote: “ Who was Jesus? He was a very brave person. He knew what was coming. He walked up and into Jerusalem – just like that. A couple of nights before, He sat on a hill and looked and looked at that city. I expect He prayed, too. He saw the whole thing coming, and He walked right into it – just like that. And He did it. And He chose to do it. Of His own will.”

Holy Week. During these weeks of Lent, we have been preparing. But none of us understand the preparation required of Jesus. Luke 9:51 reads that Jesus resolutely set His face toward Jerusalem. He told His disciples what would happen when He got there. He made preparations for His entry, for His confrontations in the Temple courtyard, for the Passover meal, for the ordeal of the cross.

He knew. He knew what it would take. He knew the plan. He knew the cost. And He did it. And He chose to do it. Of His own will.

Open your Bible. Read of His passion. Follow the Gospel narrative captured by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It was a week that changed everything. Roman might, Temple authority, Satanic power, the devastating reality of sin, evil, and death … all gather to confront Him, to oppose Him, to defeat Him.

He knew. He knew what it would take. He knew the plan. He knew the cost. And He did it. And He chose to do it. Of His own will.

Simply Jesus. Who was He? What did He do and say? What does it matter? Have you come up empty? You should. Empty manger, empty cross, empty tomb.

He didn’t come to prove anything. He didn’t need the world’s validation. He already had the authority He needed. He possessed the power He required.

He knew. He knew what it would take. He knew the plan. He knew the cost. And He did it. And He chose to do it. Of His own will.

We will make choices next week as to how we remember, how we observe, how we pray, how we repent, how we praise, and how we worship. Like our sister churches, we will offer many ways to mark Holy Week. Make good choices.