Talking On A Sunday

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.

Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have hap- pened there in these days?”

And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.

Die Jünger von EmmäusWhen he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.

They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”

Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.
Luke 24:13–35 ESV

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Zünd Gang nach Emmaus, Gemälde von Robert Zünd: Public Domain.
Die Jünger von Emmäus, Bernhard Rode: Public Domain.
ESV: English Standard Version.

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Joy On A Sunday

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures….
1 Corinthians 15:3–4

Christians know that our belief is grounded in Jesus Christ, who is truly God and truly man. He was born into this world, He died and He rose again. Because of Him we know what it is to be brand-new, forgiven and clean. Because of Him we know that death will not hold us, for the hold death had on us is forever gone.

Israel Sunrise cropped

In the glimmering dawn of the first Easter, the women who came to minister to a dead man found instead an empty tomb.

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?
The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55–57
…who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord…
Romans 1:4

He is risen!

He is risen, indeed!

Happy Easter!

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Lilium longiflorum (Easter Lily): CC-BY-SA-3.0/Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia
lehava Tirat carmel via the PikiWiki – Israel free image collection projectCreative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.
Author: דינה מלמד
Attribution: מרכז להב”ה טירת כרמל, מאלבומה של משפחת מלמד

Scattered On A Saturday

Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike down the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.’”
Matthew 26:31
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
Hebrews 2:14–15

…having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Colossians 2:14

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Cross at Sunset: FreeFoto.com

Love On A Friday

O sacred Head, now wounded,
with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

Example On A Thursday

Servant
The night before He died on the cross, as Jesus spent time talking with His disciples (John 13–16), there were two commands He gave them about how they were to live in relationship with each other—only two—but each is significant. He began by washing their feet—an act that was the work of a slave.

So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
John 13:12–17

Don Carson writes:

…the episode of the foot washing is turned in two directions. On the one hand, it is symbolic of spiritual cleansing (cf. especially vv. 8–10); on the other, it serves as a standard of humble service and therefore as a call to all of Jesus’ disciples to ‘wash one another’s feet’ (vv. 12-17).1

Not by words alone did He command them, but by His own example. And the second command?

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:34–35

You may know that the Thursday before Good Friday is called Maundy Thursday. Did you know that it is named for the New Commandment the Lord Jesus gave that evening?

Most scholars agree that the English word Maundy in that name for the day is derived through Middle English, and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” (“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you”)…2

Again, not by words alone did Jesus command them—and us—but by His own example.

This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.
John 15:12–14

Later that same evening Jesus prayed:

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.
John 17:20–23

In “The Mark of a Christian” I told the story of how a kind and loving sister in Christ gave me the fish pendant above. I also wrote about the sad reality of those times when Christian love is as broken and cracked as the ἰχθύς wheel symbol on the left. You would think that the last two things Jesus commanded on the night before He died would be taken soberly and seriously by His disciples and obeyed. Alas, they are not.

We have lived in different cities and in different regions, and we have seen far too many churches marred by a lack of service—remember that Jesus did the service of a slave—and a lack of love: unkindness, jealousy, arrogance, coldness and apathy to the needs of others. Not just the people, but the leaders have had the same ideas about being great and being first that the disciples had when they squabbled about prestige and power in the kingdom of God. Rather than take the Scripture seriously about how to live and care for one another, far too many in the church draw their template from the surrounding culture. The ironic thing is that even some within the business community recognize the importance of authenticity, generosity and kindness. We should not be churches of the ‘be warm, be filled’, who are rife with favoritism, but too often we are.

If the church is in any doubt as to what it means to love one another, Jesus gave us His example, and Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13, describes love with attitudes and actions we can see and recognize, that obviously flow from a mind and heart changed by the Lord Jesus.

I once expressed to another Christian the loneliness and lack of compassion I had recently experienced, and she said to me, “I guess you can’t make people be friends with you.” As I later thought about it, I realized, no, you can’t, but Christians aren’t given the leeway of shutting out fellow believers because they don’t want to be friends. While we will find those whose companionship we easily enjoy, love for all lived out in deeds is not an option.

The name of this day bears the mark of His command. Isn’t it time our lives were marked by it as well?
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Servant by Esther K. Augsburger. On the plaque is Matthew 20:28, “Whosoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.” Photograph by Billy Hathorn. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
Ichthus (the ΙΧΘΥΣ) Wheel in Ephesus: public domain.
The wheel is an overlay of the uppercase letters, ΙΧΘΥΣ. The fish has been a Christian symbol since the early years of the church. The Greek word for fish is an acrostic; each letter is the first letter of one of the five words of the phrase: Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior. ͑Ιησοῦς Χριστός Θεοῦ ͑Υιός Σωτήρ.
1D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI: 1990) 458.
2Wikipedia, “Maundy Thursday.”