After: Living the Resurrection

The Easter holiday is gone by, we celebrated it in a strange and different way this year. But still Jesus is risen and we shout hallelujah! But now that the day is over, and we are back to semi-normal lives, were does that leaves us? Now that we have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus, we have to decide what to do with it in our lives.

It was the same for Jesus’ followers as well. What would they do after the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus? What would they do now with the news of the empty tomb spreading among them? They all had differing expectations of who Jesus was and how his life would play out with them in it. Even after Jesus told them what would happen, they did not expect this. Like us, they all had to decide what to do with the narrative of Easter.

I want to look specifically at Judas and Peter. Both were Jesus disciples, both betrayed him, yet Bothe responded on different ways. one of the things we learn from both Peter and Judas is this: Jesus knows we will let him down sometimes, He still brings us with Him.

Jesus knows we will let him down sometimes,

He still brings us with Him.

Let’s start with Judas.

Judas betrayal began long before his secret meeting with the Pharisees. Let me say this, I believe Judas loved Jesus. When he began following him, he believed in him, believed he was the Messiah, at least what Judas expected the Messiah to be.

When it was clear that Jesus did not come to establish an earthly kingdom, when Judas expectations were shattered, and he had no problem stealing from Jesus

And then when it became clear that Jesus wasn’t going to meet any of those expectations the relationship shifted – Judas had moved from loving Jesus, to try to benefit from him, to having no use for him at all. In the end he didn’t even make a demand for the payment he received, he simply asked ‘what will you give me?”

Judas betrayal shows us that even the closest followers of Jesus can fall over time.

Then there’s Peter.

Peter was the rock. He was outspoken, loyal and had a bit of a temper. The last one that we think would betray Jesu. “Even all fall way on account of you, I never will (Matt. 26:33)” He remain loyal even to the moment of Jesus arrest, cutting off a man’s ear when they came to arrest Jesus.

So when Jesus tells Peter that he would openly deny that he knew Jesus, not once, but three times, Peter was astonished. After all he was Peter, the rock.

Peter never intended to betray Jesus, but he let fear rule his heart in the moment. Peter doesn’t want to be arrested too, fear overpowers him and causes the rock to turn to sand.

Peter shows us that even the strongest of believers can waiver in fear and doubt, and fail.

Judas like Peter, walked with Jesus. Like Peter he saw the miracles, experienced the teachings and saw amazing things happen. Peter failed in the moment and denied Jesus. Judas failed in his walk with Jesus and betrayed him unto death.

We like it when the villain gets what he deserves, which is why we often don’t shed a tear when we read how Judas died. But by doing so, we miss an important chance to learn from his life.

Judas, like Peter, walked with Jesus. Like Peter he saw the miracles, and experienced the teachings. Peter failed in the moment and denied Jesus. Judas failed in his walk with Jesus and betrayed him unto death.

Both made mistakes, but Peter was restored, and Judas died a horrific death.

Peter never let his heart grow cold to Jesus. His denial was out of fear. Judas had let his heart harden towards Jesus, a betrayal driven by greed and bitterness.

When Judas betrays Jesus (Matt. 26:49), he greets him as Rabbi. Not Lord, not even Jesus, just rabbi. Judas had reduced Jesus to being a mere teacher, a good man.

But when we find Peter in the same moment he shouts “Lord, shall we strike with the sword? (Luke 22:49) and he does. He calls Jesus Lord in the moment of Judas’ betrayal, Jesus is still Lord to Peter.

And then we find Jesus and Peter, sitting on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (John 21:15). Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, and Peter responds “Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus is still Lord to Peter.

We all have our own expectations of Jesus. Sometimes (oftentimes), they don’t match up with who he is, or what is best for us. We get frustrated, we doubt, we have fear.

If we let our doubts, frustrations, fears, and pursuit of earthly things cloud our judgment, we can begin to deny the reality of who Jesus is.

Each us need to choose what to do with the new of Jesus’ resurrection. Will we Jesus as just a good teacher and discount the glory of his resurrection. Or will we see Jesus as the glorified Christ, risen and ready to welcome you with open arms.

Jesus was still Lord to Peter, and Jesus is still Lord today.

 

 

 

Knock-Knock. Who’s There?

With it being Holy Week, Christian’s world wide are preparing their hearts for communion, and getting ready to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. In this time of isolation and uncertainty there has never been a more poignant Easter celebration in my lifetime.

I have been reflecting on my salvation, what it looks like to love and follow Jesus, trying to find a way to minister to those in need, and even trying to reconcile myself as a pastor who can’t see his church. Knock-knock.

For the past two weeks, sleep has evaded me. And when it comes, it’s erratic and fleeting. But I wake up everyday with the energy, if not the usual enthusiasm, to face the day. It’s not fear that keeps me awake. It’s not worry that wakes me up at 3am. Knock-knock.

I have never been a great sleeper, but this is far beyond what I normally experience. There is more to my sleeplessness than a racing mind and contemplation. Knock-knock.

God has been knocking on my heart every night. Stirring me to prayer for my family, my church and the world. God is asking to come into my home (my heart) daily to commune with me, and for me to rest in his presence.

Revelation 3:20 NLT

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”

So many times this passage is used as part of a salvation invitation, and yes, Jesus is kicking on your hearts door, and yes he wants nothing more than for his children to come home. But we must remember, this passage was not written to unbelievers, but to the church in Laodicea. It’s an invitation to the church to open their hearts and commune with God.

So why does God knock?

For most of us right now, our lives are turned upside down. We are working at home. Our kids are having school at home. Right now, I am having trouble typing because our cat Luke keeps laying on my keyboard. Life has filled up with new routines, new distractions and new fears.  God knows that our human heart is easily distracted and that the busyness of our everyday can make this time with God (the most important part of our day) seem like a distraction in itself. I can’t help but think of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42).

Luke 10:41-42 NLT

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Martha invited him in to her home (heart), but was to busy to enjoy what really matters, Jesus’ presence. Mary had discovered it, taking the time to sit at Jesus’ feet. We have to create the space in our lives, no matter what else is going on around us, to let God not only commune with us, but to act as well.

Philip Yancey wrote,

“God, who mad space in the most literal sense in the universe, needs us to protect a God-space, to prevent our lives from filling up with other things” (Yancey, Zondervan, 2006)

While we shelter in place, we must remember to shelter with Jesus.

Why does this “God-space” matter so much to God. Why would the creator of the universe and author of life knock on our hearts, desire to commune with us – the creation – broken, fractured and misguided. Simply put, because we matter in ways to God that we will never fathom.

Easter is here, it should serve as a reminder of how much you matter to God. That he sent his son, Jesus, to die for your sins, and resurrected him in glory to redeem your life to him. That is how much you matter.

It’s God’s invitation, but we must answer the door.

Knock-knock.