We often think of the good life as good enough. But what if our understanding of a good life really meant something greater? What if, as followers of Jesus, we were meant to strive for greater instead of settling for good enough?
The idea of free grace is hard for us to comprehend or even accept. In the US, within a competitive, every-man-for-himself sort of culture, we compete for everything. And we inherently believe that whatever reward we get in this life is well-earned and deserved. We work for a paycheck, a raise, a promotion, affirmation, success, victory,
In these verses, Jesus tells us who God really is and who we are. In these verses, we find a picture of the relationship between God and us. The illustration is clear and vivid. Jesus reminds us that if a hungry child asks his or her father for food, the father will, of course, give them food, and not a rock or a stinging insect.
God made us in God’s image. We were created to connect to God, to the Divine. But God also gave us the great gift of free will. We can choose to love God, hate God, believe in God, or ignore God altogether. We have the complete freedom to choose. Yet, there is a yearning, an urgency to seek after God, to know God, to connect with the divine in God and through God.
You are “called to be free.” Freedom is a treasure, but it is also a danger. Think about kids. When they are very young, they have very little freedom. Why? Because they are not yet able to control themselves. Freedom brings all kinds of dangers to a young child. But as they get older, they slowly obtain more freedom.
I’ve never met a person who wants to live a bad life. We all long for a good life, but we all have very different perceptions of what exactly the good life is. Is it a wealthy life, a recognition and status life, a life full of family and friends, or some combination of all of the above?
Do you believe God “has been pleased to give you the kingdom?” Or do you often think God is just waiting for you to slip up, waiting to catch you in an unGodly behavior? Do you imagine an angry, authoritarian God or a loving, compassionate God?
Peter and another disciple looked in the tomb. They saw an empty tomb and the burial clothes. There was nothing more, so they left. Mary stayed. She kept vigil, looking, seeking. Her persistence led her to see, to hear to experience the risen Lord. She saw heard and found what Peter and the other disciple missed.
“You are witnesses.” A witness is someone who can testify to what they have seen and heard first hand. Jesus was saying to them, “You are witnesses to what I have done and what Has happened.” Testify! They did by changing their lives, the lives of others and their world.
“They were prevented from seeing him.” What prevented them from seeing Jesus? I always thought it was God or the Holy Spirit that blinded them to Jesus’ identity. I am now convinced it was something else, perhaps preconceived notions or a desire to fit it into their own understandings.
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Why do we live in our past failures, our nostalgia? The women came to the tomb not to find life, but to relive death. They were filled with despair and hopelessness. Their hearts were weary and sorrowing.
What frustration Jesus’ followers must have felt, the women, his disciples on the road to Emmaus, even those gathered in the Upper Room. They had experienced the risen Lord, but the world did not believe them. Thankfully, those who had seen him didn’t let the doubters deter them, Jesus didn’t cease his appearances.
As a child, I remember going to my Dad’s family reunion in East Texas. The schedule was always the same: meet at the school, visit, play washers, eat, visit with family, eat dessert and finally, go to the cemetery. Dad would give us a tour of family graves, detailing who was buried there and how we were related.
Friday afternoon, Jesus was buried in a tomb. He remained in the tomb in Jerusalem from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning. Can you imagine the thoughts of Jesus’ disciples when they woke up on Saturday morning, exhausted, hoping it had all been a terrible nightmare? Certainly, their minds were filled with questions. They were weary.
This Garden of Gethsemane was a spot Jesus and the disciples frequented for time of prayer. So when Jesus took Peter, James and John to this place to pray on this night, it was not unusual. What was most likely different, however, was Jesus’ urgency, his sense of unrest, and his deep sorrow.