I have seen the Lord!

“Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news:
“I have seen the Lord!”
(John 20:18)

 

Reflection:
Mary’s message was electric with meaning.

Christ was risen – and the Light restored to the world. Christ was risen and was in control. Christ was risen and still revealed Himself to individuals. Christ was risen and His purpose would be completed. Christ was risen and His kingdom would be established, in His Way.

Jesus calls each and every one of us today to come to Him. To come out of the dark tombs in which we find ourselves, away from the graves of love and hope, up from the sepulchres of sadness and despair, deserting the vaults of failure and misery. Not only has His stone been rolled away. The stones of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual crypts have been removed as well. It is the risen Christ now who calls to us. He calls us to come to Him so that He, and He alone, can give us life – a life that is not found with or through any other person or thing. Whatever our situation He calls us to put our focus and trust in Him, so that He might enter our lives and lead us forward.

We do not seek Christ now at His death. We do not weep at His grave. We find Him in the everyday gardens of our lives, in the rooms in which we live and the roads along which we travel. The risen Christ is with us. We can speak with Him.

Response:
Focus on Him today

Prayer:

Lord, open the eyes of my spirit, more and more and more to Your great and wonderful presence, power and love, In Jesus name. Amen.

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Sixth Word

“When he had received the drink,
Jesus said,
“It is finished”
(John 19:30)

Lent 31

Reflection:
Jesus had seen His mission and ministry through to the end. The Father’s commission and purpose were now fulfilled. He had taken upon Himself the sins of the world and would take them with Him to the grave. The penalty had been paid on our behalf by the only one who could – the spotless and sinless Lamb of God, the Son Himself.

Significantly, now, something had happened. As the end approached it was not an agonising and tragic failure. It was instead a glorious and triumphant victory. The man on the cross was not sinking into oblivion but rising to cross the finishing line. It was in so many ways His finest moment.

‘It is finished’ was not the exhausted mumble of a defeated man but the cry of conquest. Matthew and Mark have it ‘in a loud voice.’ Jesus was not the victim but the conqueror. He had come for a purpose. He had seen that purpose through to the end. He had taken and absorbed both the sin of the world and its consequences. He had suffered for them and had overcome the very powers of evil on the cross. He, the Living Word, had seen the Father’s will through to its final completion which, at last, was now upon Him.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

It was finished. In confirmation God Himself tore the heavy curtain of separation in the Temple from top to bottom. It was no longer needed. The way home to God had been opened by Jesus the Son of God, God the Son.

Prayer:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

(Isaac Watts)

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Fourth Word

“From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
(Matthew 27:45-46)

Lent 29

  • It didn’t get worse than this.
    • For the very first time in His existence – both as Divine and human – Jesus was separated from God.
    • The darkness that came over the land would have been as nothing compared to that which had appeared within Him.
    • Such was the effect upon Jesus that it tore this cry from the very depths of His spirit.
    • Jesus had taken our sin upon Himself.
      • “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • It was our sin that came between God and Jesus
    • It brought about this terrible separation.
    • As ‘the wages of sin is death’ so sin brought death to their intimacy and consequently death to the Jesus who was fully man as well.
    • In terms of His own illustration the branch had been cut off from the Vine – to be thrown into the fire and burned.
    • Jesus experienced the deepest and blackest spiritual hell so that we would not have to.
  • Steadily, and seemingly without end, the sin and sin guilt would have poured upon Him.
    • The sin of Adam and Eve, of Cain, of the people of the flood, of the bondage in Egypt and the unfaithful years in the desert,
    • the sin of David and Bathsheba, the repeated idolatries and adulteries of God’s chosen people,
    • the sin of the Great Wars of the 20th century, the Holocaust, the genocides, the apartheids,
    • the slaughters and merciless killings in Africa and the Middle East
    • the abortions, the abused, trafficked and neglected children and women
    • and all the other sin and sins of the countless individuals from the beginning to the end, and of all the nations and even the churches as well.
    • My sins, your sins of yesterday, today and tomorrow
    • See them as they are poured into Him in an endless stream
    • He would have sunk beneath the weight of sin without number or end, and been spiritually suffocated by the rising tide of thick and impenetrable darkness.
  • Alone, lonely and desolate, Jesus hung there.
    • Lacerated within and without,
    • flooded with darkness,
    • pinned to the Cross not by nails but by agonising love,
  • He would no longer be aware of the people around Him
    • He had moved into another world
    • An unseen world
    • Where He fought the greatest of all battles –
      • between darkness and light,
      • between love and sin,
      • between law and grace,
      • between holiness and evil,
    • Jesus hung determinedly on – to set us free.

There was no other good enough
To pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gate
Of heaven, and let us in.
(C.F.Alexander)

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Third Word

“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”
(John 19:26-27)

Lent 28

Reflection:
How easy it is, when we are absorbed in matters of consequence, to forget the needs of those nearest to us. Very often too the calls and demands of others take precedence over those of our own families.

Jesus was not just hanging on the cross, like the two other dying men, waiting to die. He was involved in a battle of immense proportions – on the final outcome of which depended the future of all humankind, past, present and future – and the worst was still to come. In the face of such enormous pain and pressure, with the most terrible consequences if He failed, He still found the time and the love from which to care.

Years before, when His mother and Joseph had taken Him into the Temple to ‘present Him to the Lord’, they were met by a faithful man named Simeon who, after blessing them all, concluded by saying to Mary, “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” How deep and how excruciating must have been the sword that pierced her now as she stood and watched her son’s continued rejection, humiliation and suffering.

This was one pain of His that she could not make go away. But He, out of the midst of that pain and the particular struggle in which He was involved, reached out to her and provided for her as best He could. His beloved John would look after her for Him.

Wherever we are, and whatever our involvement, there will probably be someone who looks to us for love and attention. No matter how much they might understand the demands made upon us it might still sadden them when they feel ignored or taken for granted. It might delight and cheer them if we turn to acknowledge them and love them in some way. If Jesus could do it from the cross there is no excuse whatsoever for us. He just cared so much for this ‘dear woman!’ She had been honoured in His birth, He had honoured her in His first miracle and now He honoured her as He died.

Prayer:

Lord God, please help me to show my love to the special people whom You have placed near me. Amen.

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What a Promise

“Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth,
today you will be with me in paradise”
(Luke 23:43)

Lent 27

Reflection:  
What a very strange thing for one dying man to say to another! It was strange enough that the criminal next to Him had asked Jesus to “remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Stranger still was the response from a man Himself not far from death! Within a few hours they were both dead – yet Jesus rose from that death in power and glory and suddenly His promise to the dying person next to Him takes on a new significance.

The love and grace of God is revealed in a new and breathtaking way. After a life that appears to have been socially and morally unacceptable a crucified man’s dying acknowledgement of the Lord took him from eternal darkness into eternal life with the Lord who told him, “You will be with Me in paradise.”

No conditions were placed upon him, no formal act of repentance was required, no further discussion or teaching were necessary. A very simple appeal, containing within it an acknowledgement of Jesus, and a faith that was probably not much bigger than a mustard seed, brought about an immediate and heart-warming reply. It brings out so clearly the wonderful truth and simplicity of Jesus great teaching,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” 
(John 3:16)

Most of us do have longer to live than that man. And so we would need to look at the ways in which our lives should respond to the love and grace of God. Yet there is a simple truth that we need to accept. Our righteousness with God – that is being made right with God – depends not on us but on Jesus. This is what the Cross was and is all about. We accept it and then respond.

“Jesus remember me” – “I promise you.” Does it get clearer and simpler than that? As simple as sincerely saying “Jesus, please be my Saviour and my Lord” – and then following Him.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, please help me to always acknowledge You as my Saviour and Lord – and may my life reflect this relationship. Amen.

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First Word

“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them,
 for they do not know what they are doing”
(Luke 23:34)

Lent 26

Reflection:
Naked He came into the world and naked He would leave it. But Oh the glory and honour and majesty and grace with which Jesus is clothed.

The world mocked and laughed at Him, scourged and spat upon Him, rejected and crucified Him. Yet His first words, after the brutal nails and tearing pain of the cross, summed up His ministry as it embraced the soldiers, religious leaders and the shouting crowd,

 “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

And the tense is such that it indicates that it was an ongoing prayer, uttered aloud in response to all that was happening to Him. Quietly and without fanfare He took into Himself the sins of those around Him and the sins of the whole world – all the sin and sins of those who had been, those who were then, and those who were to come. Reaching down the pathway of the centuries His words, His life, His death and the resurrection to come, embrace you and embrace me and reach lovingly beyond us.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us” 
(2 Corinthians 5:21)

When we turn and fall into sin – whether once or again and again and again – our sin, by the wonderful grace of God, is already on the cross where it has been fully dealt with by Jesus. We can cringe alone in wretched fear and shame. But, gloriously instead, we are welcome now to approach and kneel before the Father. There, with deeply saddened heart, we are able to confess, ask for and receive His cleansing and liberating forgiveness and strengthening help.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
(1 John 1:9)

Such love is beyond our understanding, but not beyond our knowing.

  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”
(John 3:16)

Prayer:

Help me Lord God to trust and accept Your love – from which nothing is able to separate me. Amen.

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