We followers of Jesus try so hard to summarize what He means, turning His words into eternal life advice. But Jesus has another message: die first, then live.
What does God think of the messiness of our lives? Is He mad like the parent who tells the kids to clean their rooms only to return and find them dirtier and more disheveled than before?
I’ve found through Jesus God the Father comes and cleans up the mess alongside us, even doing the hardest parts gladly, yet letting us feel like we’ve contributed to the project. Of course, without Him it (and we) would still be a mess, and simply put, He’s done it all. All because Jesus proves God doesn’t mind getting messy.
“We worship a God who gets His hands dirty, forming humanity from the dust of creation, becoming human and breathing His first breaths in the filth of a stable, and living an ordinary life as a carpenter. His hands are stained with blood and dust as He climbs Golgotha and His hands are forever scarred by nails as He dies for you and me. The story of the Gospel is a story that takes place within our world, beginning in a garden, journeying through deserts, and showing up in the landscapes and living rooms of our own stories, where we first came to know Jesus and hear what He’d done to bring us back to God.
… Though Jesus has ascended to heaven, He’s not finished with getting His hands dirty. Now, though, His intent is to get His hands in the dirt through you and me as we live in the world on His behalf.” 1
- Daniel Montgomery & Mike Cosper, Faithmapping: A Gospel Atlas for a your a Spiritual Journey, 195-196. ↩
The events of Jesus’ last week leading up to His death on the cross and resurrection are called “Holy Week” or “Passion Week.” His passion speaks of His sufferings in our place, on our behalf, to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18).
Starting in Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, and John 12, we get to walk beside Jesus, seeing and hearing what He did and said.
Creative artist Josh Byers has put the timeline of events of Passion Week in illustrated form. Follow along, from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday, and everything vital movement in between.
“The Incarnation,” a video spoken word piece from Odd Thomas:
“What good is the Christmas story if it’s void of God and His glory?
What’s the worth of the words ‘peace on earth’ if it’s not rooted in the Truth of Christ’s birth?
What benefit is it for us to discuss the joy of the season unless we fix our hearts and minds on the principal reason that Christ has atoned for us?
See Christmas is more than just a story of a baby born in a manger,
More than a poor fiancé engaged to a humble virgin teenager,
More than a Magi, more than gold, frankincense and myrrh.
It’s more than a narrative of a Nativity scene, it was so much more that occurred.
It’s the coming of the Messiah, the fulfillment of all Old Testament promises,
The prophecy of the suffering Servant and all of His accomplishments,
The second Person of the Trinity commissioned to abandon His position,
And literally set aside the independent exercise of His attributes in full submission,
The Word manifested in the flesh, the fullness of God expressed,
The self-emptying Jesus poured out at the Father’s request,
The image of the invisible God, the radiance of the Father’s fame,
Holy, but retained His humanness to empathize with our pain.
He was unjustly crushed, chastised, cursed and shamed,
Mocked and adorned with a crown of thorns, disgraced but He still faced the grave,
To fulfill the Father’s will, to come and die in the place of sinful men,
And receive the fully fury of God’s judgment upon Himself instead,
The most monumental mark for mankind made in human history,
Wretched sinners being made righteous only by the wounds of the risen King,
The condescending of a holy God made in the likeness of men,
A child born to be the Savior that would save the world from their sins,
The offspring of the virgin’s womb,
The Christ, God’s own Son, fully God, yet fully man, the only theanthropic One.
This is what we celebrate, Christ the newborn King, veiled in flesh, the Godhead seen,
Hailed incarnate Deity.”
Closing quote: Continue reading
Yesterday’s post on pragmatism may have struck a cord.
When we turn from pragmatism as our way to use God, we transition from trusting God for things to trusting God with our lives. This seems like a subtle shift, yet it makes a world of difference.
We still trust God for keeping His promises, as our hopes are rooted in the foundation of His faithfulness. He will not let us down. The key change is that we quit holding our hopes over Him. (Do this for me or else!) Instead we remind Him of all He surely has promised in His Word. Everything else is held with open hands, as we trust God with the changing circumstances, relationships, and opportunities that come our way. Example: Let’s say you are longing for a home to own. Are you trusting God for a home … or trusting God with a home? One has clenched fists, the other has open hands of faith.
- Shift from these three words: trusting God for …
- To these: trusting God with …
Along those lines, this quote came my way yesterday:
“The utter uniqueness of the Christian message — the heart of the gospel — is found in the three words of Christ from the cross, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). The message of every other religious system, without exception, is predicated on some variation of another three words, which stand starkly opposed to the gospel’s three words.
Religion’s three words are: ‘Get to work.’ And this is the heart of the bad news behind every approach to spirituality, enlightenment, or salvation that is not Christian.”
— Jared C. Wilson, Gospel Wakefulness (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2011), 131.
Let’s exchange one set of three words for the better set.
(Quote via Of First Importance)
Listen in & sing along:
In Tenderness He Sought Me
1 In tenderness He sought me,
Weary and sick with sin,
And on His shoulders brought me
Back to His fold again.
While angels in His presence sang
Until the courts of heaven rang.
O the love that sought me!
O the blood that bought me!
O the grace that brought me to the fold,
Wondrous grace that brought me to the fold!
2 He washed the bleeding sin wounds
And poured in oil and wine;
He whispered to assure me,
“I’ve found thee, thou art Mine;”
I never heard a sweeter voice;
It made my aching heart rejoice! (Chorus)
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
—Romans 6:1-11 (ESV)
What does it mean we “died to sin”?
The moment we become Christians, we are no longer under the “reign” or
“ruling power” of sin. This is the same as saying (6:14) that sin does not have the “mastery” over us because we are “under grace!” This is the same as saying (6:12) that we no longer have to obey sin, and thus it no longer reigns. “Let not sin reign…that you obey its evil desires.” Paul has just said in 5:21 that, “Sin reigned… so also grace might reign.” In other words, sin still has power, but it no longer can force its dictates on you. In 1:18-32 Paul says that outside of Christ we are “given up” to our sinful desires. Previously, those sinful desires so reigned and ruled over us that we could not see them as sinful, and thus we could not resist them. We were completely under their control. Now however, sin no longer can domineer us. We have the ability now to resist and rebel against their dictates.
“Our ‘old man’ is the old self or ego, the unregenerate man in his entirety in contrast with the new man as the regenerate man in his entirety.” —John Murray