They walked with him for three years. Each had plans of where it was all going. His many references to a kingdom spurred thoughts of overthrowing the current regime and freeing their people from its terror.
Such thoughts caused several to seek position and rank in that kingdom. Others were occupied with the method of bringing his kingdom into power. One was in it for the money.
None had planned for what actually happened.
His “Triumphal Entry” into the capital most likely had each of his followers pumped. By then his power was widely known by the people and greatly feared by the clergy. This is it, they might have mused, now we’re taking over and setting it all straight.
Proof of his master plan was all around them: He rode in on a donkey, as a king. He was surrounded by masses of worshipers shouting honor to his name, waving praises at him with palm branches held by hands he had healed. They threw down their cloaks in front of him in a royal path to the temple – but when he arrived, plans changed.
Instead of using his awesome power to overtake the city, Jesus rushed through the outer courts of the temple in Jerusalem in a mad rage. Thrusting tables into the air, he sent money flying, provoking screams from the money-changers. The ruckus infiltrated the inner courts. Priests and scribes peered between columns as word of who was causing the disturbance drew them out.
That zealous display in honor of his Father’s house preceded his bone-chilling apocalyptic prophecies, an unforgettable Passover meal and his heinous crucifixion. So horrific was this turn of events, his followers scattered, shocked and confused.
Plans changed again. More precisely, their plans changed.
Hiding in an upper room from religious authorities seeking to arrest them for allegedly stealing Jesus’ body, the disciples saw the real kingdom when their Savior walked into that room through a locked door.
Instantly, they knew he was who he said he was and all their previous conceptions of how this whole kingdom thing was going down dissolved into devotion.
Yes, their plans changed, and because they did – because things didn’t turn out as they had planned, the whole world changed!
In John 11:25, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.”
Easter may come once a year, but the power of the resurrected Christ can still change your life any day – for the rest of your life.
As a child of the 70’s, I believed that the year 2000 was fictional. I was convinced it was a year that belonged in a sci-fi movie and it was scary thinking of living in “The Space Age.” I remember hearing church people say that Jesus would come back before 2000 so we really didn’t have to worry about it – we’d all be gone.
Millions of Christians evaporated from the earth and the movie depicted life thereafter. Multitudes of disasters occurred as cars and planes, buses and trains were suddenly unmanned. Something far worse than the Holocaust took place in that film and it left me with a stark fear—so I put it out of my mind.
Well, here we are: January 1, 2013. Millions didn’t get “beamed up” into the sky. The world didn’t end on 12/21/12 as the Mayan calendar appeared to predict. Likewise, Y2K didn’t bring global chaos and the Fiscal Cliff doesn’t seem so scary now, either. I guess we can all assume the world won’t end any time soon, right?
But what about the Bible’s account of Christ’s return? Is that a myth as many proclaim? Tragically, even Christians have been lulled into the assumption that a biblical end of the world is not probable — at least any time soon.
Assumption is a risky pill to swallow in an attempt to calm such future fears. We all fear the future in one way or another. We can’t see it, we can’t touch it, and we can’t control it. So, what do we do with it?
Generations have wrestled with this looming question. It seems that everyone, regardless of race or creed, wonders when the world will end, what it will be like—or if it will occur at all.
But, we can think about that later, right? After all, 2013 is no different than 2012 or 2000, right?
How interesting, then, that between A.D. 64 and 66 the Apostle Peter wrote, “They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”
Peter knew many of his readers feared the future and so he added, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (2 Peter 3:4,9 NTL)
I’m well past my fear of the future and this is why: I accepted Jesus’ claims and exchanged my assumptions for His assurance. I truly feel that to assume Christ is not coming back soon, or ever, can anesthetize for the moment—for if the Bible is wrong, then it’s just another book on the shelf. But if it is right, and Christ comes back like a thief in the night to claim His own—then those who ignored His message and thought it was all just a good sci-fi story will be left behind with a fearful future.
Need a worthy New Year’s resolution? Resolve to examine the claims of Christ in the Holy Bible now before TODAY is the future.
Seriously, Daddy sent daily e-mails to a large list of family and friends in a passionate plea for us to watch and pray for our country. Though I only read a few of those e-mails and rarely forwarded any, I must say I admire how he stuck to his convictions. In fact, I admire all those who live their convictions – who do their homework and know what they believe and why. I admire those who dig for truth and don’t give up until they find it, even when the truth is on the opposite side of where they started.
That was my Dad. He researched before he decided and wasn’t afraid to be wrong. But while I didn’t like some of those doomsday-type e-mails he would send, I loved to hear him speak his heart. You see, my Dad was a quiet man, and he was all but silent when it came to politics. I grew up knowing only that he and Mom were Republicans, but not why they chose that party.
Thankfully, I adopted my Dad’s habits to do my own research. In the early years, I would simply settle on the candidate who agrees with my issues and ignore the condescending, truth-stretching, mud-slinging, well, you know. I was determined to exercise my privilege to vote, but I hated the incessant barrage of hateful ads and the underlying feeling that I could never really know which candidate was who he said he was.
Not so anymore. Daddy also taught me to pray for our leaders. He taught me that God decides elections, “It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall.” (Psalm 75:7) Still, the Lord gives wisdom to those who ask for it and answers those who pray. This year I’ve been praying a lot.
I watched the debates and closely observed how each candidate handled the questions and reactions of their opponent. One thing is clear: this election is different from all the rest. Never before have I seen such diametrically opposed visions for the direction of our great nation. Never before have I seen so many people gobble up the emotion-driven rhetoric and become so catatonically mesmerized by distracting stunts, rumors and sound-bites – no wonder Daddy couldn’t keep quiet.
The most important habit Daddy taught me was to measure my decisions against the standards and principles of the Holy Scriptures. The more I read it the more I am amazed at how its timeless advice speaks so directly to our society – and how many passages practically spell out tomorrow’s headlines!
This, then, is my personal formula on voting: stay objective, listen, research, measure the candidate’s words against their actions, read what God has to say in His Word, pray, and trust Him for the outcome.
He clopped up to my door in his fireman rain boots proudly holding his new umbrella and pronounced, “It’s going to rain Grammy!” I could hardly contain my joy at seeing my precious grandson, four-years old and all grown up, dressed for a downpour. Not a drop yet, but he was ready.
During the hour I watched him and his little sister play in my living room that morning, the topic of rain continued. “If a thunderstorm comes, we go into the basement or the bathroom,” he told me. “That’s right,” I said in confirmation, “That’s what we do.”
“Why Grammy?” I chuckled that this question followed on the tail of such an intelligent statement. He knew what to do, but could not comprehend the reason for such action, nor the dangers such action would avoid.
Silly me, I launched into an explanation of the effects of a tornado blowing out windows and how, if you’re close to them when they burst, you may be cut by the glass. His eyes grew big as Frisbees as his mind processed the new information. With both hands on his face, he said, “Thunderstorms will break my window and cut my face?”
A rush of regret rolled over me as I realized I may have instilled a fear of rain and thunderstorms in this little boy; I quickly differentiated the words thunderstorm and tornado, distracting him by practicing the word tornado. It was all I could do to suppress a burst of laughter when it came out of his tiny lips as tomato.
From there I attempted to describe a tornado and separate it from a thunderstorm in his mind, since he was so excited—and prepared—for a rain shower, but it all became convoluted and soon I was frantically looking for an exit door. I found one and thankfully, he didn’t seem spooked by the new information. I’d like to believe that he was able to trust me with the details of what a “tomato” could do to his house and that if one came, he would know to run to the basement.
I tell that story because it reminds me of several things I had forgotten. First, information is not the same as understanding, nor is it wisdom. Second, just because you know what you should do, doesn’t mean you understand why you should do it; third, God doesn’t always explain why things happen the way they do because if He did, we would get spooked by the information.
Isn’t that how it happens? We get some information and think we understand it, but inside we still want to know why. Then, when someone who is wiser than we are tries to explain it, we get spooked by fears and become emotionally paralyzed. From then on we avoid the topic altogether and rob ourselves of the wisdom that tells us when to run to the basement!
You might have read my column earlier this year titled, “Mr. Safety.” If so, you know that my Daddy was all about having a plan. Now, as a grandmother, I see in the eyes of my grandson what my face must have looked like when Daddy tried to explain to me the reason why we were sitting in the basement with candles and cookies during a bad storm.
As a Christian, I also see that I am not able to comprehend all the information behind why I need to listen when God tells me in Proverbs 4:23 that I need to guard my heart. A deeper search in Proverbs on that topic shows me, “People may cover their hatred with pleasant words, but they’re deceiving you. They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them. Their hearts are full of many evils.” Of such behavior—like last month’s movie massacre in Colorado—are the storms of this life: wicked people doing wicked things to good people.
Since last September, I’ve been reading a chapter-a-day from the book of Proverbs in my Bible. On the first of the month, I read Proverbs 1, and in months with 30 days, I read Chapters 30 and 31 together. Why not adopt this great habit for yourself? You’ll soon find its timeless wisdom is relevant to every storm, danger or troubling circumstance you face in life; you’ll learn the signs of oncoming storms and know when it’s time to run to the basement.
When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation. Proverbs 10:25
P.S. As you can see by the picture above, it rained later that day! 🙂