Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Reading: Mark 15: 1-15

Verse Five: “But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed”.

In our passage today, Jesus stands trial before Pilate. The religious leaders bind Jesus and bring Him to Pilate. Pilate asks Jesus a simple question: “Are you the king of the Jews”? Jesus gives a simple answer: “Yes, it is as you say”. Then the chief priests pile on the charges against Jesus. He remains silent in the face of all the accusations. They do not matter. Who and what He is has been established. What He came to do clearly lies ahead. All is going according to plan. So Jesus just stands there. Verse five reports, “But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed”.

In the same situation I think we would defend ourselves right up to the moment the nails we’re driven in. But not Jesus. The work is done. If one looks back over the course of His ministry, this fits the pattern. In all of His teachings, Jesus said what He wanted to say and left His hearers to make their own decision. Sometimes His words were encouraging, sometimes they were challenging. Sometimes they were loving, sometimes they were hard words of truth. But they were said and the rest was left up to the hearer. Jesus did not ever chase after someone who chose to walk away. He did not ever try to reword a parable so someone could understand it better.

So when Jesus stands before His accusers and Pilate, He is silent. The past three years give plenty of evidence as to who Jesus is. In the miracles we see divine power. In the teachings we see incomparable wisdom. In the parables we see the path to living for God. In the words of forgiveness we see what grace and mercy look like. Over all of this we see love. In the silence after we encounter Jesus each time, we too are left to decide. Do we follow closer or do we choose to remain where we are at? Do we engage and become a greater part of Jesus or do we remain on the edge of the crowd? Do we commit or do we wait and see what happens?

Over the cross on which Jesus died Pilate wrote these words: “King of the Jews”. It was one more silent testimony to who Jesus is. He desires to be our king as well. But there is no forcing or coersion. The choice is fully ours. Will we each choose to let Jesus be our King today?

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Way, Truth, Life

Reading: Matthew 22: 15-22

Verse 16: You teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.

As the religious leaders begin their attempt to trap Jesus, they begin with words probably intended to lure Him into their question.  While this may be their intent, the words they speak are full of truth.  They begin by recognizing Jesus as a man of integrity.  They have learned the hard way that Jesus always does what is right, even if it is unpopular, even if it is hard, even if it angers people.  The healings on the Sabbath and the challenging words that caused some followers to walk away are the best examples that testify to the integrity of Jesus.

Then they say to Jesus, “You teach the way of God in accordance with the truth”.  Ever since He was a young adolescent in the temple courts, where Jesus amazed those around Him, Jesus has always spoken for God and has always had solid truths at the core of His teachings on the scriptures and in all of His parables.  Jesus’ connection to God is undeniable.  He always speaks truth, even when it is a hard truth.  They end their small talk by saying that Jesus is not swayed by men because He pays no attention to who they are.

The religious leaders then try and trap Jesus using a question that pertains to the secular world: paying taxes.  His response reinforces all three things that they have said about Him.  In saying to pay to Caesar what is his, Jesus is a man of integrity, saying to follow the ruler’s laws.  In saying to give to God what is His, He is saying to follow the Law of Moses.  In His answer Jesus shows no partiality.  At His answer there is nothing more to be said.  They simply walk away amazed.

Is this how we as Christians also see and experience Jesus?  Do we honor His teachings as filled with God’s ways?  Do we believe in the truth that Jesus reveals?  After each encounter, do we walk away amazing, knowing that He is the only source of true life?  Yes, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  This is Jesus’ offer to one and all.  The invitation goes out to all.  Praise be to God.

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Teach Them Well

I’ve heard that when people have an experience where they think they are going to die, that their life flashes before their eyes.  At times with those near to death, they often reminisce about their lives as the end draws near.  Even after death, at funerals we tell stories and share about a life well-lived.  We are wired to be connectional and relational and this process of remembering our past brings comfort. peace, and often strength.

The process of remembering and retelling also serves to help the next generation.  So we must not limit this gift to end of life moments.  When we share our lives and experiences, we can teach the young people in our midst.  Our stories of faith and life lived as a believer can strengthen and encourage them.  It may even give them a model to follow or an example to look upon as then navigate through life.

From the beginning, God directed the parents to instruct their children in His ways.  They were to write His word on the doorposts of their homes, to write it upon the hearts and minds of their children, to carry it in little boxes tied to their foreheads and forearms.  This charge is the same for us.  May we too be diligent in teaching our children and young people about Christ and what it means to live as a Christian.

Scripture reference: Deuteronomy 34: 1-12

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Life in the Word

When Jesus taught He often used parables – stories that always had a point to them.  Sometimes the point was hard for His audience to get.  And sometimes the disciples struggled to get the meaning too.  Jesus wanted them to wrestle with the meaning.  Fortunately for us, Jesus often unpacked the parables for His disciples.  It is then that the meaning often comes alive.

We tend to remember a good story much longer than a list of do’s and don’ts.  We can remember many of Jesus’ parables and they continue to speak to us today.  They contain lessons and insights that will always be relevant to life in any day and age.  The Bible is truly a living, breathing book.

As we spend time reading His word, we are storing up instructions for life.  Soak in its rich teachings so that Jesus Christ may permeate all of your relationships, interactions, and life.

Scripture reference: Matthew 18: 23-35