Has God ever offended you? (Or it seems to feel like it.)

Jesus started His public ministry with a miracle at a wedding. He performed His last one in the gospel of John at a funeral.

His friend Lazarus had just died. Lazarus’ sisters called on Jesus to come for he was a day’s travel away from Bethany.

But when Jesus heard that Lazarus had died, Jesus stayed 2 days longer (John 11:6). Now THAT didn’t make sense. You heard your very close friend was severely sick, and you stayed where you were for 2 days? Was He busy? Well, it didn’t seem that physical distance was a barrier when he healed the centurion’s servant healing for if He wasn’t there.

Have you ever felt that God didn’t make sense?
Why did He allow my baby to die?
Why did my husband lose his job?
Why did God let my mom and dad split up?

But Jesus already established the purpose in verse 4 – “This is for the glory of God!” Question, are you okay with that? If God chooses your situation to display His glory, are you okay with it?

But He didn’t just do it to bring glory to God. He also did it to strengthen the faith of His disciples. Verse 15 tells us, “And for your sake, I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.” Jesus was glad that Lazarus died? Now, THAT surely is offensive!

Jesus was doing a work in the hearts of the disciples. They were about to embark on a difficult journey filled with persecution and hardships. They needed to have a strong foundation. Jesus was building that foundation through this.

The sign was not just to REVEAL God’s power but also to REINFORCE the disciples’ faith.

Jesus let Lazarus die. He missed his funeral by 4 days. He didn’t just miss the opportunity to pray for him. He missed the memorial services altogether! When he came, Martha met him but Mary stayed in the house. Mary was always excited to meet Jesus and would sit at His feet and be in His presence. But this time was different. She was offended at Him for He didn’t show up when they needed Him.

She later tells Jesus, “If only you had been here.” (John 11:42)

You and I have had those “if only statements”.

If only you gave us a baby, we won’t be separated now.
If only you stopped my brother from starting that business, we won’t be in debt today.
If only you didn’t allow me to be molested and abused by my uncle, I won’t be as messed up today.
IF ONLY…

But Jesus moves past the ash heap of disappointment and tells them a profound truth – “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”
Because HE IS, then WE CAN.

Lazarus was raised from the dead.

Because HE IS, WE CAN.

If you have something that seems dead today, Jesus’ resurrection power can bring that thing back to life.

Dead relationships.
Dead business concept.
Dead dream.
Dead marriage.

Whatever is lifeless today, He can breathe life into it.

Remember, He breathed life in Genesis. He created something out of nothing. As humans, we can only create something out of another thing. But only He can create something out of nothing.

Out of something lifeless, He can breathe life into it.

Have a great week ahead!

Blog Banners.001Christmas is the most celebrated time of the year. I can understand why. 

But what Christmas started, Easter actually completed.
The climax of Jesus’ mission on earth wasn’t His birth but His resurrection.

Theologian and apologist Henry Morris had this to say,

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the crowning proof of Christianity. If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth.

What then is the reality, reason and relevance of the resurrection for the 21st century Christ follower?

1. REALITY

Jesus was crucified, died, buried and rose from the dead. Paul writing 20 years after Jesus died says in 1 Corinthians 15:6, “Then He (Jesus) appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of who are still alive.”

This is a critical statement of proof for the resurrection for there were 3 major theories to dispute the bodily rising of Jesus from the grave.

HALLUCINATION THEORY: The disciples were deluded thinking that Jesus rose from the dead.
Now if this were true, it’s hard to have 500 people hallucinate at the same time. And after they’ve finished tripping, you would think at least one would recant after being faced with a death sentence.

HOAX: Jesus’ body didn’t rise from the dead but was just stolen to make people think He rose.
This too is a hard one to pull off. It’s very hard to find someone willing to die for a lie.

SWOON THEORY: Jesus just fainted and didn’t completely die.
The Romans were experts at torture and execution. They couldn’t let this happen. And even if this theory was true, a half dead, wounded, mangled messiah wouldn’t be able to inspire followers to change the word – a fearful group to suddenly become extremely bold.

There’s only one explanation: He DID rise from the dead.

2. REASON

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17)

Paul tells us that Jesus defeated death, hell and the grave by rising from the dead. But if Jesus didn’t rise, then we would still be in our sins. And if this is so, we are to be pitied among all men for we are believing a lie.

“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”― Timothy Keller

3. RELEVANCE

Because He rose from the dead, we too have the hope of victory over death. That’s why Paul could trash talk death to its face and say,

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Corinthians 15:55, 57)

Because of this, we can live life fearlessly.
Because of this, we can be steadfast and immovable.
Because of this we can continue to abound in the work of the Lord because our labor in Him is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Easter is not just a symbol but a powerful event that is a game changer!

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What’s so special about Mandy Thursday? I understand Friday for that’s when Jesus was crucified. Saturday was when Jesus was in the grave. As for Sunday, it was the greatest event in all of human history.

What happened on Thursday? And why’s so “maundy” about it?

Maundy comes from the Latin word where we derive the word ‘mandate’. It was a day where a command was given by Jesus. It was on the night before he was betrayed where He took the cup and the bread, blessed and gave thanks to share the meal with His disciples.

It was during the meal that Jesus took a basin of water, wrapped a towel around His waist and started to wash the disciples feet. So what was the “mandate” that made Thursday Maundy?

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

What He did (washing the feet of his disciples) preceded what He said (love one another).

It was a powerful moment for if He only told them what they needed to do, they would most likely obey but the impact wouldn’t be as intense and compelling.

If their Master could serve them the way He did, how much more can they do the same to others?

His command to love one another is an overflow of the love we have received.
We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

REFLECTION APPLICATION:

1. Pray to Jesus now and thank Him for His sacrificial love to take our place on the cross for He died on our behalf. He paid the debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.

2. Pray for someone now to know Christ personally as their Lord and Savior (family member, friend, officemate, classmate).

3. Text that person a verse to encourage and reflect on what Jesus did on the cross.

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I’ve often wondered about this growing up.

If Jesus died on that particular day, then why would that be good?

On a side note, this is not a blog about whether or not it really happened on a Friday. It probably didn’t as many Bible scholars would claim. But that’s not our topic.

Back to our topic … why Good Friday?

When Jesus was crucified, there were several statements he was declaring.

One of which was “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

Now because this was a marketplace term (tetelestai in Greek), people probably were looking around if there was a transaction going on… or buying or selling of goods… or an exchange of items… or something of that sort.

How come? That term meant “PAID IN FULL.”

Now if Jesus blurted this out referring to himself being the ‘payer’, who then is the one in debt?

That would be me… and you.

All my greed and yours, all my lust and yours, all my pride and yours, all my immorality and yours…fornication, murder, addictions, adultery, dishonoring parents, dishonoring God…  the list goes on and on and on.

Those, he paid for in full by his death on the cross.

If he paid it in full, how much of our debt we need to try to pay for?

Silly question but it’s interesting how people still do the very thing that seems silly.

We pay for something already paid in full. How?

By trying to follow the list of commands given in the Scriptures thinking it can save us or make us more saved (if that were even possible).

What’s so good about Good Friday?

He paid a debt He didn’t owe because I owed a debt I couldn’t pay!

Since I grew up in a single parent home, I remember growing up (together with my siblings) with our househelpers. One of our ate’s, her name was Luz, had lots of things she downloaded to us during Holy Week.

Here’s Ate Luz’ top 5 things she told us every time Lenten season hits.

1. I can’t play during Holy Week, especially on Black Saturday since Jesus was dead.
2. I can’t take a shower on Good Friday, especially after 3pm. This one, I didn’t really mind as a kid. Haha!
3. Bad spirits are out during Holy Week because Jesus is dead.
4. Load up your amulets (anting anting) with prayers for more power. This one, I didn’t really understand.

No. 5 was my favorite…

5. I can’t cut my nails on Good Friday because just in case I cut my skin and wound it, it will not heal for a very long time.

Funny but for a long time, I held on to these beliefs as well.

But if there was one thing I learned and held on since I gave my life to Christ was the fact that Jesus took my sin and as a result, what I got was His righteousness. It was indeed an unfair exchange.

John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29).

In the Old Testament, the Passover lamb would only ‘cover’ the sin of the people. And it was for a limited time and a limited geographical location.

However, when Jesus came and died, He didn’t just cover my sin. He took away my sin.

Ps. 103:12 – “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

My greed, lust, imm0rality, pride, hatred, anger, unforgiveness… the list goes on and on and on…

All those, He took.  Bible scholars call that as imputation. My sin imputed on Him and His righteousness imputed on me. Unfair deal? You bet. But I’ll take it any day.

Listen to what Martin Luther said,

“This is that mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s, and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours. He has emptied himself of his righteousness that he might clothe us with it and fill us with it; and he has taken our evils upon himself that he might deliver us from them.” 

Result?

A grateful heart.

Jesus, thanks! I am forever grateful!

I’m not that bad, right? Compared to Hitler or Osama, I’m not a bad guy.

For sure, you and I can argue that point. And a thousand to one, we will win it.

However, that’s really not the point. We’re not as bad as those guys are. But we’re all as bad off as those guys.

Sin in its original meaning is ‘missing the mark.’ If hitting the bullseye was perfect obedience to God’s commands, then missing the target would be a transgression.

Now whether you miss it 5 millimeters or 5 meters, the fact is that you still missed it.

There’s no such thing as sort of bullseye.  It’s either a bullseye or not a bullseye.  Thus, there’s no such thing as “I sort of sinned.” It’s either I sinned or I didn’t.

So if I sinned and fell short, together with the rest of mankind (Romans 3:23), then there’s a debt I owe. Paying for that debt would be the logical thing to do.

However, the requirement God had for debt of sin to be paid was death. Not death by anyone, but death of an unblemished and perfect lamb. (Check out my last post here.)

This where the concept of substitutionary sacrifice comes in.

The penalty for my sin can be paid for by substitution.  But it needed to be by a perfect sacrifice. Thus, being imperfect myself, I am unable to pay for my debt.

Someone perfect, without sin had to take my place.

In this case, Jesus did.

Jesus paid the debt He didn’t owe because I owed a debt I couldn’t pay.

This is an unfair deal. For sure. Yet it was the Great Exchange. My sin for His righteousness and His righteousness for my sin.

To this Paul makes a declaration,

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

What a great salvation we have!