Archive for April, 2014

HIS PASSION(Pt.4)

Jesus, My Sovereign

“A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you! ‘” (John 20:26 NIV)

 

The scriptures give no record of where Thomas was the week prior when Jesus appeared to the rest of His apostles. Perhaps he ( much like the two disciples who headed to Emmaus) contemplated leaving Jerusalem for good!  Perhaps it was too much for him to face the fact that he failed to stand with Jesus during the hour of his trial and suffering; He was taken away from them by such a cruel death. Plus, he did not remember that Jesus told them that he would rise from the dead after three days. Perhaps he had never felt like he was part of the “inner circle” of Jesus’ apostle while He walked on the earth…We can only speculate as to why Thomas missed the mysterious rendezvous of Jesus with the others.

NO SPIN

A week  passed and although the city was a buzz regarding the empty tomb there were no new “sightings” of Jesus. It no doubt left Thomas feeling even more skeptical of his fellow disciple’s report of seeing Jesus alive. He did not try and show a brave face in the face of doubts. He refused to believe!

Who cannot identify with Thomas? The worst part of battling the enemy of doubt and fears concerning God’s goodness or faithfulness is the waiting.  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”, says the scriptures.  When you know you’ve prayed (and cried), trying to be strong.  But no answer…yet!  It’s called the “the battle of faith”, which is fought in the mind.  The story of Thomas is instructive for us.

Suddenly! While the apostles were together again shut up behind closed doors, Jesus appears in there midst! This time, Thomas was present. And Jesus was present for Thomas. What does Thomas gain by Jesus’ appearance?

PEACE

“Peace be with you!” said Jesus.   It is impossible to stay in a state of perplexity if the Resurrected Jesus speaks. He will speak to our anxiety, fears and worry. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV). Thomas needed both the peace Of God and peace WITH God in that moment.

SIGNIFICANCE

Jesus further calls Thomas by name, establishing His shepherd’s role to His (potentially) wandering sheep. “My sheep know My voice and I call them by Name”(John 10). How Thomas needed that assurance that he was known, wanted and significant to Jesus. Thomas’s honest doubts did not create any distance between them. What he was personally going through truly mattered to Jesus. Honest doubts (when exposed to God) are often the occasion of true, closer heart fellowship with Him. Honesty of heart is necessary if you want to pray and be heard. “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth “(Psalm 145:18 NIV).

FAITH RESTORED

Thomas’s faith had been shaken by the “contradiction of suffering”, his Master, had experienced; A mock trial, tortured and then nailed to a tree! It contradicted everything his carnal reasoning could imagine. Nor did he understand (in that moment), that “the Messiah had to suffer these things and then enter his glory”(Luke 24:26).

 What convinced Thomas that Jesus was  truly, physically alive?  He showed him His hands and offered him to touch His side (John 20:27).

Jesus had the visible scars of his ordeal. He was not ashamed of them. They were the means that restored Thomas’ faith. And they brought new revelation. “Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”(John 20:28)

In that moment all of Thomas’ doubts were swept away! Seeing Jesus’ wounds, he regained his footing of faith and as it were, placed “his wounds” inside the One, whom Isaiah foretold that”…by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

Thomas discovered the mystery both of the Cross as well as the Resurrection. Jesus is Our WOUNDED Healer. He was healed from all wounds and doubts by Jesus’ wounds for him. This was the Savior for whom he had waited. This was the God in whom he could place his complete trust, “My Lord and My God!”  Historians tells us that Thomas later gave his life for his Lord in India.  He remained faithful and true to the ultimate lesson learned the day Jesus appeared to him…No Cross,No Crown!

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”(John 20:29 NKJV).

 

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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HIS PASSION(Pt. 3)

Jesus, The Satisfied

“May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! On account of his vast mercy, he has given us new birth. You have been born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”(1 Peter 1:3 CEB).

 

I remember traveling by car through the countryside of Washington State. It was the season of the Wheat harvest. As far as the eye could see there was nothing but the beautiful golden grain fields. As I drank in the beauty of the countryside with this sight before me, I realized more than my own enjoyment what satisfaction it must be for the local farmers! They had prepared the fields, planted it with seed, cultivated it and hoped for adequate rainfall. Then at last! The harvest for which they had patiently labored had appeared.

As we contemplate this Passover season, we must ask ourselves, what did our Lord Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection mean for Him? The writer to the Hebrew believers wrote, “For the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…”(Hebrews 12:2 NIV).

 What possible joy could the Lord Jesus experience while being rejected by his own, being tortured and condemned to die for a crime He never committed on a Roman cross?

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Yeshua (Jesus) took joy in knowing that He had fully accomplished his Father’s will. He was not put to death by the will of man. He freely gave up His life according to the will of the Father (Acts 2:23).

DEATH WAS DEFEATED

Through death, Yeshua defeated death and snatched the grave’s victory from the devil!  “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death”(Hebrews 2:14, 15 NIV).  He not only defeated death for Himself but for you and me.

THE JOY OF HARVEST

Finally, the joy set before him was the fact he was going back to the Father but He was not going home alone! The scriptures foretold, “I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. You, who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him— may your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:22-28 NIV).

Again, we read from the prophet Isaiah, “After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors”(Isaiah 53:11-12 NIV).

A mighty harvest of souls will spring forth from the earth. And a heavenly anthem will be sung in heaven. “And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation”(Revelation 5:9 NIV).

Yeshua will  present many sons and daughters just like Himself,  a first-fruit offering, to the Father. Therefore, we can rejoice with billions around the world declaring, “CHRIST IS RISEN! Christ is Risen, Indeed!”  With them, we know that the worst that could ever happen to us happened to Him nearly 2000 years ago! The words of Jesus,“Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hell and of Death”(Revelation 1:17b-18).

That Good news brings us a blessed hope and to Jesus great joy and satisfaction.

 

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

HIS PASSION(Pt.2)

Jesus, Our Sacrifice

“Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son, Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘The fire and wood are here,’ Isaac said, ’but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’”(Genesis 22:6-7 NIV).

 

“Where is the sacrifice?” asked Isaac.   This is one of the most moving accounts in the entire Bible. Abraham as a friend of God has been an assignment by God to offer up Isaac in whom all the promises of his future destiny lie. This contradicts every thing, humanly speaking, that he has come to believe about God. But as God’s friend he has learned that faith is not always reasonable to the mind. Faith is rewarded as a knowing in the heart. Abraham knew God on a level that was so endearing that it is recorded that, “Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead”(Hebrews 11:19b NIV).

 As Abraham and Isaac take this fateful journey together, the servants could only go so far. They must remain at the foot of the mountain. This ultimately was between the father and the son (Genesis 22:4-5).

VOLUNTARY SACRIFICE

 In the story, Isaac willingly was bound and laid on the altar (Genesis 22:9). It is a prophetic picture for us. Isaac voluntarily became the sacrifice, so too, Jesus the beloved Son of God would give His life as a ransom for many.

 As he faced the unbelieving, religious crowd of his day, Jesus declared, “Your father Abraham was overjoyed that he would see my day. He saw it and was happy”(John 8:56 CEB).

 FATHER’S SECRET

The Father of creation had a secret. It was hidden in Himself before time. There was a lamb slain before the world existed (See Revelation 13:8). God foreshadowed the promise of an eternal sacrifice by taking the role of the first priest in scripture. He slays an innocent animal, shedding blood and providing a covering for Adam and Eve after they had sinned (See Genesis 3:21).

 Isaiah the prophet foretold that this would happen. “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:4-7 NIV)

 John the Baptist announces the sacrifice had appeared…the One whom Israel had awaited! “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world”(John 1:29).

JOYFUL RESONSE

What should be our response? Faith and a Festival celebration! By placing our trust in Jesus, the Messiah, we can join with the billions around the world with joy, thanksgiving and celebration!

Jesus gave His life, making atonement, once for all, for our sins. “Rarely will someone die for another, even a friend…But at the right time, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”(Romans 5:6-8).

We join with the apostle Paul proclaiming, “Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed, so let’s keep the feast”!(1 Corinthians 5:7)

 

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge, provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: WalterfletcherJr@gmail.com

HIS PASSION (PT. 1)

JESUS, The Servant

“Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus: Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit. But he emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings. When he found himself in the form of a human, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-9 CEB).

 

In the Novel,” The Prince and The Pauper”, Mark Train tells a wonderful story of a young prince whose father, the king is dying. The young prince wanted to know what his subjects were like beyond the walls of the gated and guarded palace. He wondered, ”How he could get out and get near his subjects without being recognized?” One day he sees a young pauper boy near the gate of the palace.  He was about the same height and age as well as having the same color hair and eye color.  He came upon a plan to swap places with the pauper.  The pauper in turn would assume the role of the young prince.

 

They exchange their clothing and the adventure (or misadventure) begins! The young prince enjoyed being among the commoners. But as adventures go, he soon faced real and unexpected adversity. But with great fortitude, the prince confronted each challenge without calling upon his princely authority.  

Meanwhile…Back at the palace, the pauper was in training to reign as king. He had to learn the royal protocol in order to think and act like a king.

 

THE SERVANT KING

 

What a wonderful story!  The story reminds me of the Good News story of Jesus Christ, our Servant King. He became what we are, human beings, saving for sin. He assumed the appearance and attitude of a servant. But we must ask, whose servant?

 

SERVANT OF THE FATHER

The prophet Isaiah foretold of His first coming, “But here is my servant, the one I uphold; my chosen, who brings me delight. I’ve put my spirit upon him; he will bring justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1 CEB). Jesus came first and foremost as the “Servant of Jehovah”. He did not come to please himself but rather to serve the will of the Father who sent him. Even his disciples had to learn of Jesus’ true assignment and mission. He received his directions daily from his heavenly Father.  Mark records, “Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer. Simon and those with him tracked him down. When they found him, they told him, “Everyone’s looking for you!” He replied, “Let’s head in the other direction, to the nearby villages, so that I can preach there too. That’s why I’ve come.” (Mark 1:35-38 CEB).

 

Jesus walked and worked faithfully as a servant of his (Father) Abba. In doing so, he fixed his gaze toward the Cross. Notice his prayer in the Upper Room. “When Jesus finished saying these things, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, so that the Son can glorify you. You gave him authority over everyone so that he could give eternal life to everyone you gave him. This is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent. I have glorified you on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do’”(John 17:1-4 CEB).

The all- consuming passion of Jesus was to do and “finish the work” his Father had given him to do on earth.  If we are one with Jesus we, too, will have one holy passion that His will be done here on earth.

 

SERVANT OF MAN

 

Jesus was also acutely aware of his role as a servant to humanity.  “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 NET)One of his last acts before his agony and intense suffering was to take a basin and towel and wash his disciples feet. The lesson Jesus demonstrated, as the Son of God was servanthood. Jesus said, “He who would be great must be your servant”(Matthew 23:11).

 

LOVE’S SACRIFICE

 

Jesus was not only passionate about doing everything for love of the Father but he also was passionately in love with sinners. John the Baptist proclaimed when he saw Jesus, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”(John 1:29). Jesus revealed Father’s love for us by dying our death. As Leonard Ravenhill once commented, “Love on any level demands sacrifice.”

 

Reflecting and meditating during this season upon Christ’s Passion, we remember that his going to Calvary had a two-fold mission. (1) To satisfy the will of God as His one-unique Son. On the cross, “After Jesus drank he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and died”(John 19:30 NIRV).  (2) To become our substitution on the Cross. Jesus “tasted death for every man”(Hebrews 2:9).  When we meditate on the two beams of the Cross, one vertical and the other horizontal, we must remember that Jesus died as the “Suffering Servant-King”. He did it as an act of love for the Father. He also did it out of love for us.

 

 

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be shared free of charge provided that is not sold or altered from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com.