Over the next few weeks in our Rooted in Christ Study, we’ll be looking at some of the favorite passages from our staff at St. Matthew’s UMC. These are some of the parts of the Bible to mean to most … Continue reading
Sometimes God’s grace is so outrageous it can offend us. We know we are saved by grace through faith. That is one of the greatest and most important Biblical doctrines. It is one of the things that we hold to … Continue reading
Today in Mark 15: 33-41 we look at the death of Jesus:
33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” 36 And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
40 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
One of the things it’s easy to do, and frankly you want to do, is skip through this part and get to the good part. Get to the resurrection. We know it’s coming. We know it’s almost there. We know what happens.
I think because we know it, it’s easy for us to forget, they didn’t. I mean, yeah, Jesus told them He would rise from the dead, He told them that He must die and be raised again, so they “knew” but they didn’t get it.
Can you imagine being them? Can you imagine seeing Jesus breath His last before your very eyes, without really believing what is to come?
We see here so much. We see the curtain torn within the Temple. With that happening, no longer must you go to God through the priest, but now all of us, you, me, everyone, we have access to God. Through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, we all have access to the throne room of grace.
We see the fact that Roman centurion saw all that happened, and believed that Jesus was the Son of God. No one does what Jesus did. We all fight for our life, no one lays it down like Jesus did, to save the world. If you ever want to know what love looks like, this right here. If you ever doubt that you are loved, this right here. If you ever feel as though no one cares, this right here.
One other thing, that to me, is truly beautiful about Christianity. Look at who remained? John’s Gospel tells us that he was there as well, but look. It was the women. They stayed. When everyone else fled, they stayed. And look what else the text tells us, they followed and provided for Jesus.
They were part of the team. They were valued. They were important. In that culture, that just wasn’t so. That wasn’t the way that it worked. But in Jesus’ kingdom, that’s the way that it works. All are loved. All are valued. All have a place. Jesus died for all. He died for the world.
And we see that today.
Yes, I know in a few days we’ll read about Easter. But stay here for a while. Remember what He did for us. Remember what He endured for us. Remember.
And be thankful.
Friday we’ll look at Mark 15:42-47.
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We all, me, you, all of us, we stand in equal need of salvation. None of us are perfect. None of us can earn it, none of us will get it right. We all need grace. We all need Jesus. We all need His mercy.
And what we find in Jesus, is we find that grace and mercy is there for all of us, no matter who we are, where we come from, any of that. We all find that His mercy is there, waiting for us, no matter what. No matter who we are, what we have done, any of us.
We find Jesus there.
So if we are equal in need and equal in grace, we are equal in worth. Listen to what Paul says today in Galatians 3: 27-28:
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
In Jesus, there is not male or female. There is not Greek or Jew. There is not slave or free. We are all one.
No matter what. No matter what barriers, differences, or distinctions the world tries to place on us, in Jesus, we are one.
No matter your race. Your views on things. Your wealth (or lack of). Your job. Any of these things. If you are in Jesus. If you are a believer. If you are saved through Jesus, then you are my brother or sister.
You are. In Jesus, we are one. Through Jesus, we are one. Because of Jesus, we are one.
Today, I love you like family. Because through Jesus, we are. Today, may we as the church, may we live as one. Because through Jesus, that’s just what we are.
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Our praise team at Asbury sang a song I just love yesterday. I’ll have to confess it’s a song that I had never heard of before until recently. It’s called “At the Foot of the Cross.”
The basic theme of the song is that we are all equal there at the foot of the cross. No matter what we’ve done, who we are, what we bring to it, we are all equal. Equal in our sin, equal in our need for grace, and equal in the eyes of God.
And we are all equally loved by God there at the foot of the cross.
Last week in our reflections we talked about “loving God.” This week we are talking about the Biblical command to “love neighbor.” And as I was reading a passage today in Proverbs that related back to love of neighbor, I thought about that song. Listen to what Proverbs 29:7 says:
The godly care about the rights of the poor;
the wicked don’t care at all.
The Godly care about the needs of the poor. Why? That sounds nice to say that the godly care about the poor, but why? Why do they and why should they?
Because we are all equal a the foot of the cross. Rich or poor, doesn’t matter. Young or old, doesn’t mater. Black or white, doesn’t matter. Male of female, doesn’t matter. We are all equal at the foot of cross.
So, we care about others, because God cares about them. And we are called to be like He is.
Today, may we care for all the folks in our lives, may we love all the folks in our lives. And may we try to point all the folks in our lives to the power and grace of Jesus Christ.
Because all are equal at the foot of the cross. No matter what.
It was something that Dr. Barry Bryant, my professor of United Methodist Studies shared with us in one my classes. I don’t remember the class, and I don’t remember what brought the statement about.
He was talking about John Wesley. And he said Wesley believed that everyone was equal. But, their equality was not based on their “worth” but on their sin.
The logic flowed like this. Everyone is equally sinful. Everyone is equally in need of a savior. Christ died for everyone’s sin. So, we are called to love everyone the same.
Because God did.
We are all the same, because we all need a savior. We are all the same because we are all equally in need. Each of us. There are no “better thans” in God’s family. We are all equal, for we are all equal in sin and in our need for salvation.
We need to remember that, so that we never become like the Pharisees:
30The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ 31Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; 32I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.’
They thought they were better than the tax collectors. They thought they were better than those sinners. They though they were not as needy as they were.
They didn’t see their sin. So, they needed see their need. They didn’t see they were just as needy for a savior as those they regarded as sinners.
Today, let’s not forgot our need for Christ. Let’s forgot our need for a savior. Let’s not forget that we are each in need of forgiveness and salvation.
You are. I am. We each are.
Even those folks that we think that we are better than. We are not better than. There are no better thans in God’s kingdom. We are all equal in sin. We are all equal in our need for salvation.
And God loves each of us. May we love each other just the same.