Wednesday April 6- On earth as it is in heaven

Mark 16:12-13

Afterward he appeared in a different form to two of his followers who were walking from Jerusalem into the country. They rushed back to tell the others, but no one believed them.

This account is a short summary of a longer story in the Gospel of Luke. These two followers are probably husband and wife, Cleopas and Mary.

They already heard Jesus is alive from Mary Magdalene, but they didn’t believe her. Now we are told they do not immediately recognize Jesus themselves.

“He appeared in another form to two of them…”

What does that mean?

Well, the Bible says, later, Jesus is the first of the new species of humans in the new creation that is God’s kingdom finally coming to completion. Jesus is the first human to be given a new glorified body which isn’t exactly like these bodies of flesh and bone. He appears as a human, but he also has a glow. He looks like a man, but he can also pass through walls.

It appears Jesus is no longer bound to the physics of our world of space, time, and material dimensions. He can move between the heavenly and earthly dimensions. This points us to the kingdom of God now beginning to infiltrate the kingdom of our world. Intersecting first with Jesus.  The words of Jesus fulfilled. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

So, how do the others take this news of the risen Jesus? Not any better than when Mary Magdalene told them. Even the male, Cleopas, is doubted.

Me

When you have traveled to someplace well known the first time, how did your perceptions change?

Tuesday April 5- A Woman starts the Easter gospel rolling…

Mark 16:9-11  

After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went to the disciples, who were grieving and weeping, and told them what had happened. But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her.

Like in the other gospels, it is Mary Magdalene who is the first person to meet the resurrected Jesus on Easter, and the first one to proclaim the good news of, “Christ is risen!” Mary is the first proclaimer, the first preacher.

Now in the culture of that day it would be the last thing you would want to include in your book, that a woman is the first witness. Women can’t even testify in court. They are not considered reliable.

With Mary Magdalene, you would have another prejudice against here. She has experienced severe attacks from demonic forces which would look like severe mental illness today.

Of course, the early followers would know Mary had been healed, but if you are writing for everyone, which Mark is doing, you just wouldn’t have Mary be your first eyewitness of the most important event in world history, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Unless, of course, it really did happen just this way and Mary is telling the truth. The only reason you would include this first eyewitness in every gospel is if it is true.

Actually, this provides very powerful historical evidence of the truthfulness of the events. You record the worst possible person to rely on as a witness according to the prejudice of the day because, well, it happened this way!

But, needless to say, when Mary tells the others they don’t believe her. They appear stuck in their cultural stereotype of being skeptical of a woman’s testimony. Or the other followers of Jesus need to experience him for themselves.

Me

Do you have any strong stereotypes? Next time you catch yourself doing this, do a brief analysis as to how and why?

Friday April 1- This Is Not a Movie

Mark 15

They went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Here is another strange thing. The best manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark end just this way. Abruptly.

This is it. The women see the angel, the empty tomb and then they freak out.

The end…

It is no wonder there are other endings to the Gospel added. Like alternative endings you find in DVD’s of popular movies, there are two other endings recorded in Mark.

So, is this all just a story? A screenplay? Hardly.

The best evidence is that the last pages of Mark are lost. Seriously, just torn out or ruined. The later translators add endings that match what is already in the other Gospels. But, I like to think of Mark’s ending just like this.

And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Doesn’t that sound like most Christians?

Afraid to talk about our faith because we don’t want to offend anyone. Afraid to talk about Jesus because we don’t want to be asked any hard theological questions. Afraid to share the good news because that means we actually have to live like someone who acts like Jesus. Loving and caring, especially to people we might not want to hang with at all.

It’s as if we are trying to keep Jesus in the tomb. That’s right. He is risen, but we don’t let him out.

If we would simply share the unbelievable joy we receive from Jesus with those around us, the world will change. If we will simply share the story of Jesus with those who are receptive to hearing it, our lives will be overflowing with blessing no matter what is happening around us.

What does it mean to you that Jesus is alive and he rules the world with love and forgiveness? What does it mean to follow a God who says don’t take vengeance, forgive those who wrong you, and help those in need?

This is not a fairy tale. It is the most reasonable and loving thing you can possible do. Share Jesus with others.

Me

Who do you know who could really use Jesus in their life right now? Start praying for them daily and see what happens.

Thursday March 31- …and Peter

Mark 16:7

7 “But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him, as He told you.”

This is the strangest verse in the whole Easter story. All of world history will change from that day forward. Go ahead, give an honest assessment of what happens in the world from the time of the resurrection of Jesus onward. Everything changes and it still is changing.

This is still true for each of us today.

When Jesus breaks into your life, you are not the same. You are someone whose whole life is opened to new possibilities. But, what does this have to do calling this the strangest verse?

Think about it. We have been studying the Gospel of Mark for over a year. And in all this time, it seems like we are reading the Jesus and Peter Show. Especially during Holy Week.

Peter is not a very sympathetic person in the story. He is actually a washout. A hypocrite. A liar. A traitor. A horrible friend. I call him worse than Judas, because he is Jesus’ best friend, and still he abandons Jesus and denies he even knows him.

Now, Jesus is dead. The only good thing about Peter is he doesn’t commit suicide like Judas. He just lives with his betrayal.

But, then, the two most beautiful words in all of Scripture are spoken. The angel announces the Messiah is alive, the redeemer of the world is risen. All bets are off, and the new kingdom has come!

What are the two words? Listen carefully.

…tell His disciples and Peter

There they are…”And Peter.”

You think you have done something that makes you an enemy of God? You think you have  been a person unworthy of the love of Jesus? Have you done something that you hate you did and it haunts your conscious or at least your subconscious to this day?

Well, remember these words. They are being spoken directly to you.

…And Peter 

Me

What do you need to forgive yourself for? Spend some time with God today and give it to him.

We had a blessed Holy Week and Easter@ LIFEhouse! Thanks to all who served in so many ways.

Here are a few photo highlights…

Getting ready for Palm Sunday Worship

Getting Ready for Palm Sunday Worship

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Maundy Thursday First Communion

Maundy Thursday First Communion

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Easter Blessings!

Easter Worship!

Easter Worship!

 

Easter Egg Hunt!

Easter Egg Hunt!

 

Gotta get those eggs!

Gotta get those eggs!

 

Delicious Easter Breakfast!

Delicious Easter Breakfast!

Monday March 29- Already Ready- Women@ the tomb

Mark 16:1

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Him. 

Why did these ladies go to the tomb?

A quick lesson in ancient Jerusalem burial.

When a person dies, he is placed in the family tomb. This is a room carved as a cave, where there are many shelves where the bodies would be placed.

The bodies would deteriorate and then the family would go back in the tomb and place the bones that remain in a box called an “ossuary.” The person who is fresh dead would be soaked in spices so they wouldn’t stink.

The women went to the tomb on Easter morning because they wanted to do the proper burial of Jesus. You see, he died so quickly, before sundown on Friday, the beginning of sabbath, that they didn’t have time to anoint him with the spices.

But, in one sense, it wasn’t necessary. Mary, the sister of Lazarus, already prepared Jesus for burial. Remember?

She poured expensive perfume over him. I think of this when I think of the agony of Jesus on the cross. Even in the most cruel excruciating pain, Jesus knows he is the the anointed one. The Messiah. The awful smell of his own death is overpowered by the most expensive perfume in the world.

But, he still dies. So, they come to the tomb.

Me

What is a good smell that stays with you in your memory? Revisit this when you have stress today.

Easter Sunday Schedule March 27

8:00 a.m. Worship Celebration w/ Holy Communion

9:20 a.m. Easter Egg Hunt and Easter Breakfast

10:30 a.m. Worship Celebration w/ Holy Communion

How you can help:

Easter Breakfast- The men of the church host the breakfast. If you can help, please contact Paul Yaros pyaros@sbcglobal.net

Easter Eggs- Please bring candy-filled plastic eggs to the church office.

Easter Lilies- You may purchase an Easter lily to decorate the Sanctuary for $10. You can take this with you after worship.