God Reigns and the Son Shines
Pastor Lyndsay | March 21, 2021
Many people have a fascination with the weather…. and whether we have known a person for a long time or are meeting someone for the first time, talking about the weather has its place in a conversation. The conversation has often drifted to the weather as my friend and I plan an activity. What I have found interesting is that an Android phone and iPhone can give slightly different forecast for the same location – it reminds me that in life we can be looking in the same direction or reading the same material and our answer can differ…. it is all a matter of perspective. We want to know the future – even if it just a day or two ahead.
Somehow having the ability to plan – to be prepared for the day – is often great benefit – our day has direction. Well what if the future – our lives – have a solid direction each day!
The forecast was perfect ….
God reigns and the Son shines.
I enjoy this forecast as it reminds me that as we desire to live like Jesus how different the world would be – love, forgiveness and reconciliation would abound.
Each year I enjoy planning reflections around the events leading up to Easter, inviting us to be drawn closure into the loving presence of God. This morning I am going to offer those reflections to you. Love – forgiveness – reconciliation – were key topics Jesus taught disciples and people who gathered to hear him teach. I looked at Jesus’ response to the events leading up to his trial and death, and see love, forgiveness and reconciliation been lived out.
Station #1 – Preparing
Jesus teaching and response to Friendship & Love
For God so loved the world he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have external life (John 3:16)
As Jesus as he began his public ministry he chose 12 men (his disciples) to journey with him. They lived in community, listened to Jesus teaching, were present at many miracles, and witnessed first hand how Jesus lived/responded to life.
Jesus constantly poured his love into his relationships with others.
Jesus was full aware that this Passover Festival would be different for him and his disciples, for Jesus’ “hour had come”. Even after all the teaching and time spent together – Jesus know the disciples would fall apart, their lives would be shattered.
In those final critical hours Jesus prepares his disciples – he gave them his departing gift, saying to them know this for this is important, key:
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. This is my command: Love each other.” Taken from John 15:9-15
Jesus is ensuring the disciples:
Knew his love for each of them and for them to remain in that love.
2) That they are friends of Jesus. Jesus is emphasizing the relational component.
3) Jesus combine this love & friendship – giving a new commandment; to love one another as He loved them.
Jesus loves and nurtured a deep friendship with his disciples:
even though they often “didn’t grasp his teaching,”
even though they lack courage to be to be a supportive friend to him
even though one friend betrayed him….
People will misunderstand sometimes fail to hear what it is that we are saying.
People will accuse & judge you.
People will betray you.
However when time is short and the core message becomes important – he speaks of love.
Jesus could find love, compassion for people;
for Jesus knew – it was God, His Father he lived for
for Jesus was continually praying…. prayer nourishes of soul… as we talk with God, draw strength from God, as we lead by the Spirit of God.
This Easter season:
How healthy is your friendship with the Lord?
Jesus command: “we love one another” – we get along
Are there friendships, relationships that need attention?
Our lives need to be focused on God’s desire for us … not people.
Jesus did not give up on you or me, he did not walk way from tough times – he went to the cross for us… so we may be forgiven…so we may be reconciled to God and to one another! Please don’t give up – find strength in prayer… even if all we can utter is one or two words.
Station #2 – The Trial
Jesus teaching and response to being …Accusation
Meanwhile, the leading priests and the teachers of the religious law stood shouting accusations. Luke 23:10
In the heat of moment comments are misunderstood… spoken out of context – misrepresenting what was said. During these moments as accusation intensify…. It is tough to stay calm for for our human nature/instinct is to defend ourself. However Jesus remains claim, he don’t defend himself against the accusation.
Mark 14:55-59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” Yet even then their testimony did not agree.
Then the entire council took Jesus over to Pilot, the Roman governor. They began to state their case: “This man has been leading people astray by telling them not to pay taxes to the Roman government and by claiming to be the Messiah, a king.” Pilot turned to the leading priests and the town crowd and said, “I find nothing wrong with this man!” Then they became desperate. “But he is causing riots everywhere he goes, all over Judea, from Galilee to Jerusalem!” Luke 23:1-5
- how did Jesus remain so calm – not engaging in a heated debate,
`why did he not defend self.. pointing out their errors – Jesus was so level headed?
Jesus did not look for people approval.
Jesus remained true to God’s plan… Jesus had prayed for strength to endure… The power of prayer!
Recall the story (Luke 8:1-11) As he (Jesus) was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman they had caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus “this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What did you say?”
They keep demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “all right, stone her. Let those who have never send throw the first stone!”
Every clenched rock intended to be aimed at her held the weight of their own sins. How quickly they must have dropped the heaviness in their hands, knowing Jesus accurately named the truth of the callous hearts. When Jesus turn to the woman being accused, he met a fragile human being caught in the net of her weakness and confusion. Instead of harsh words of condemnation at her, Jesus spoke kindly and offered a way out.
Jesus provides the same opportunities for us when we are caught in the mess of our failures. We are not condemned by Jesus; instead he extends an invitation to amend our ways … graciously giving us a new beginning.
We need to be more like Jesus, offering a merciful attitude towards those we would prefer to condemn, criticize.
We need to acknowledge the injustice and sinfulness, yet we must also look at the stones in our heart and words we have spoken, a willingness to examine our own involvement.
This Easter season:
Where do you find yourself in this section of the story?
What part do you play?
Are you the one being accused?
Are you the one accusing?
Station #3 At The Cross
Jesus teaching and response to…. forgiven
As we read through the Gospels – we encounter narratives where Jesus forgives someone or teaches on the topic. He not only does Jesus speaks about this; he acts on it, forgives those who caused him pain.
As Jesus hang on the cross, he prays “Father forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Forgiveness – because Jesus was focused on God, not people.
Jesus knew what was ahead and he knew Peter would abandon him. Jesus knew the heaviness, the pain Peter would carry as a result.
What was Jesus response to knowing Peter would deny him? Jesus spends time praying… Jesus prays for Peter…. specifically Peter’s faith – for Peter to believe he is forgive… listen.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have all of you, to sift you like wheat. But I have pleaded for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthened and build up your brothers. (Luke 22:31-32)
When we stumble, when we fall, when we fail….Jesus knew our human response is to wallow – sit about – tumble around – in self pity. Jesus prays that Peterss faith should not fail…. come to me (Jesus), tell me you are sorry – I (Jesus) will forgive you… and entrust to you to strengthen and build up your brothers.
When we are hurt by others, our first response might be a natural, human one of anger, hurt, or desire for revenge. Being stabbed in the heart by another’s harsh words and actions leaves a sharp, emotional wound. Our wounded spirits do not heal quickly. Old, painful memories get triggered, attaching themselves to the pain which now intensifies.
As we begin to address the wound and begin to cleanse it…. the process stings….. Don’t let scar tissue grow over the wound….
This Easter season: What are your wounds? There is cleansing, healing for our wounds… and it begins with
“Will I forgive and the love as Jesus has loved?”
Station #4 The Resurrection
Jesus teaching and response to…. Reconciliation
Reconcile: “to restore friendly relationship.” Restoring friendship does not come easily – for we want the one who hurt us – to come to us – to admit they hurt us and to expressed their regret. However, reconciliations do not work that way.
When it comes to rifts in human relationships, life was not all that different in the time of Jesus than it is in ours. However Jesus response is different to our natural/instinctive response:
Jesus doesn’t harden his heart,
Jesus doesn’t make others apologize first,
Nor does Jesus hold grudges.
I look to the story after the resurrection – when Jesus meets his disciples on the beach…. Peter is present this time. Jesus did not wait for Peter to say he was sorry. Peter never left Jesus heart, and Jesus wanted him to know that. Jesus restored their relationship and welcome Peter’s return with the questions: “Do you love me?” Peter’s – “You know that I love you” (John 21:15). Their relationship, their love was restored – it had grown deeper and richer. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, entrusting his sheep, his lambs into Peter’s care.
Resurrection – The stone to the tomb was rolled away and Jesus arose from the dead….victorious over sin & death…. Jesus offers Life.
Jesus invites us into a loving relationship where forgiveness and reconciliation abound.
This Easter season:
Do you need the stone that is on your heart to be rolled away so the love Jesus offers can flow through you?
Pray ask God if you need to take first steps to reconcile with another?
Easter is a glorious season – a season that reminds us to always focus on God… know and receive friendship, love, forgiveness and restoration.
At the foot of the cross we, the church, are equal so let us continue to pray to God as individuals and as a church family for his leading, his guiding.