Parting Words: Until We Meet Again

Parting Words: Until We Meet Again

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)

The wonderful part of looking at the parting words of Christ, is that Jesus did not ultimately say goodbye. Rather, He said, until we meet again. Essentially, Jesus parted with a promise and with directives and encouragement for His disciples. For all who would follow after Him. That’s the beauty of celebrating Easter, it is a reminder of the promises of God through Christ Jesus.

Easter is a reminder that the work of Christ is finished but the work for His Kingdom continues.

His finished work established our life’s work.

His purpose fulfilled, birthed our purposes revealed.

I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. (Revelation 22:12-13)

His ascension was God’s plan to prepare a place for us and grow His Kingdom and message of redemption all over the earth. Does Jesus really need time to prepare a place for us, unquestionably no. However, this is part of making everything beautiful in its time. His time.

For those in Christ Jesus, no parting words would henceforth be forever. A reunion of saints now awaits after this life. What joy! Promised joy and a weight of glory unimaginable. He came and conquered death and He is coming back…next time as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords not as a suffering servant nor sacrificial lamb.

This life’s temporal goodbyes which separate the living from those in eternity continue to sting, but joy filled reunions will resound in heaven for those in Christ Jesus. Take heart and press on until such time.

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Parting Words: At the Tomb

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“Mary.”

She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ “

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. (John 20:16-18)

Mary Magdalene was soaked with sadness as she approached the tomb. She had come to anoint Jesus’ body with spices, but could not cease her weeping as she mourned the loss of her Lord and Teacher.  Finding the stone rolled away and his grave empty, Mary knelt in the tomb anguished and assuming someone had taken Jesus’ body. Imagine what overwhelming joy was hers when she saw and recognized the risen Savior as he called her name, “Mary.”

Isn’t it comforting when someone close to you calls you by name? When someone you love and, or respect calls you by name without asking something of you, it prompts a feeling of being known and valued. Mary must have felt such feelings a hundred times over.

However, as Mary undoubtedly embraces Jesus, the Lord asks her not to cling to Him, but go and tell His disciples that Jesus is returning to the Father. Oh…and she also tells them that He is alive!

There are multiple opinions by theologians and scholars as to what Jesus meant when He asked Mary to refrain from clinging to Himself. I encourage you to go and study those for yourself. However, what the text is not saying is that Jesus was a spirit at this point. He was fully risen with a new human body–his resurrected body–which bore the marks of his crucifixion. As accounted in Luke 24:

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace, to you!”  But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” …“Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.(Luke 24:36-39, 41-42)

Jesus had risen in the flesh and Mary Magdalene was the first of over 500 that he would appear to. Mary, overcome with joy and emotion, wanted to worship her Savior and Lord, her Teacher and friend. However, Jesus wanted her to spread the word to His disciples because the mission was just beginning, and the advancement of the Kingdom was at hand.

May this Easter find you accepting Jesus’ words to the disciples and to Mary Magdalene: Peace be with you…go and tell.

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Parting Words: The Crucifixion

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 

~Luke 23:33

Imagine the scene unfolding, the Pharisees had seized the opportunity they sought. Jesus was finally receiving the repercussions for his blasphemous statements– at least that is how they viewed it. His disciples initially scattered both scared and confused. Of those within his intimate sphere we find recorded in the gospel at the foot of the cross, only his mother, John, and the women that had followed him left to observe the murder of their Lord. Considering that there are four gospel recordings of the events at the crucifixion, I believe it is likely that there were other disciples who were eye witnesses of the events of that day, although those disciples are not named specifically within the gospel accounts.

The people that had listened to his teachings and followed the murmuring in the streets and temple most likely watched the events unfold, but center stage were the Pharisees, the Roman soldiers, and the religious rulers mocking, “if you are the Son of God, then save yourself!” Were these crowds of onlookers the same Jews who had feasted at the feeding of the five thousand?Or the miraculously healed?  If so, it would seem they had forgotten the Lord’s words and works as quickly as their stomachs had digested the fish and bread. Or, perhaps they stood as followers of Christ, helpless to save their Savior, and broken over the plight of their beloved teacher.

Parting Words: Jesus at the Crucifixion

Finally, envision the criminals on his right and his left. These men had the birds-eye-view of all that unfolded from the time the nails bore into Jesus’ flesh and the spear pierced His side. As Jesus stretched out His arms for the nails to be driven into his wrists, He could not escape the reality, nor can we, that He was dying for the sins of wretched, but dearly beloved people, separated from God by rebellious hearts.

As the Roman soldiers nailed him to the cross, Jesus said,

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

Then the soldiers cast lots for his garments and proceeded, business as usual, unknowingly slaughtering the Son of God.

The minutes and hours tick by and Jesus next takes care of His mother leaving her in the care of John. Quintessentially posturing Mary at the foot of the cross for the rest of history (See hereJesus says to Mary:

“Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27)

Next we see the dichotomy of man’s response to Jesus for the rest of temporal time. A mocking rejection of the Lord, and a proclamation of  Jesus as the sinless Son, Savior, and LORD:

“Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

Following, we see a return to the ever present reality that Jesus was fully human and had physical needs even as He was divine. Additionally, we see the fulfilling of scripture as prophesied in Psalm 69:21,

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” (John 19:28-30)

The hyssop branch is perhaps reminiscent of the blood dipped on hyssop to frame the door posts of the Israelites (Exodus 12:21-27) to preserve them from the wrath of God–from the destroyer that would kill those not covered by the blood of the sacrificial lambs. The final sacrifice for all who believe had been made, the final blood needed for the forgiveness of sins had been spilled and therefore, as recorded in three of the gospels, Jesus cried out with a loud voice:

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” Which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” And having said this he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)

This final act commenced an eternal reaction and a physical response from the earth and observers,

And the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:38-39)

The parting words of Jesus finalize the sacrifice needed for the forgiveness of our sins and remind us that it is through Christ alone that we find salvation. It is not fellow followers of Christ, his mother, nor any works that save us. His parting words remind us that it is in Christ alone we are forgiven. Amen and amen!

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Parting Words: Jesus to the Pharisees

Everyone leans in to  listen to a dying man’s voice.  His last words. His reflections and final thoughts.

Christ fully knew when His time had come. He calculated every word and deed to coincide with the exact day that His crucifiction would take place. Consider, close to the Passover, and before His murder, Christ spoke seven woes to the religious men of his day. The 7 Woes are  discussed in detail here.

The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you— but not what they do. 

The greatest among you shall be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

~Matthew 23:2, 11-12

As we approach Easter and consider the woes to the Pharisees and scribes, we should examine ourselves to see if Christ finds the same fault in us which He found in these self-professing God-followers. (For an overview of Pharisees and scribes click here   and here.)

While they would seem to be godly, they were neither sober nor righteous. We are really, what we are inwardly. Outward motives may keep the outside clean, while the inside is filthy; but if the heart and spirit be made new, there will be newness of life; here we must begin with ourselves. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was like the ornaments of a grave, or dressing up a dead body, only for show. The deceitfulness of sinners’ hearts appears in that they go down the streams of the sins of their own day, while they fancy that they should have opposed the sins of former days. (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary at Christnotes.org,emphasis mine)

Pharisees point the finger and put the focus on the external and temporal.

Scribes are tempted to neglect the spirit of the Law while upholding the letter.

Clashing symbols both, don’t you think?

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness.These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 

 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

Matthew 23:23,25-26

Jesus’ final words to the Pharisees, the religious people of His day, were stinging. As a lifetime member of a church and a Christian over two decades, I default to the pharisee and scribe status if I am not very intentional. Christ’s parting words to me, not only include His parting words to the disciples, but sadly to the Pharisees as well. Those who are Christian are by default religious, and therefore should heed the seven woes.

This Lenten Season, what does pursuing justice, mercy, and faithfulness look like in your life…in mine? What filth needs to be cleaned out of the inside of the cup before the decay spreads to the outer portion? How should we stoop in service to follow the example of Christ washing His disciples feet? 

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Parting Words: Jesus to Judas Iscariot

Parting Words: Jesus to Judas Iscariot

 

Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me; one who is eating with me. Mark 14:18

Friend, do what you came to do. Matthew 26:50

Judas was proactive in his betrayal of the Son of Man. (See Matthew 27:3-10)

The betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot reminds me that we will only be betrayed by someone in close proximity to us. We don’t call malice from an outsider betrayal; only that from someone close.

Jesus ate, slept, traveled, taught, and ministered beside Judas. Why would we think that couldn’t or wouldn’t happen to us? If it hasn’t happened to you, the probability is high that it will. If it has, then would you like to respond even more like Christ the next time? Me too. Additionally, I would like to see the warning signs earlier so that I don’t open myself up to as much hurt in the future as I have endured before. (See this great post here via iBelieve.com.)

For those of us without omniscience, which is all of us, we may have entertained the Judas unknowingly. That is, until the moment our betrayal was at hand. We may have postured for a Jonathon’s embrace only to be met with a Judas’ kiss. On the other hand, we may have simply been reluctant to see the warning signs and forged ahead with toxic relationships, that upon their end we wished we had never begun.

Christ knew that He would be betrayed by one of those closest to him. For him, it was only a matter of time. Yet, he chose to invest in Judas anyway. Why? What can we learn from that? What were his parting words to Judas?

  • Jesus parted without malice. We see no record or indication that Jesus slandered Judas or cast judgement on him. He warned him, however, that it would have been better for him that he would have never been born. (See Mark 14:21)
  • Jesus spoke the truth over the situation. (Mark 14:17-20)
  • Jesus’ omniscience ensures that he fully expected and anticipated betrayal and accepted that as the path towards the fulfillment of his life’s purpose.
  • Jesus continued to call Judas friend. (See Matthew 26:50)  Judas’ final act did not negate or erase the relationship that Christ had with him up until that point.
  • Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Jesus, being fully human and fully God, hurt just as we do when someone hurts us. His heart was not protected from pain any more than ours. Yet he did not retaliate against Judas.

When someone with close, intimate proximity to us stings us with their malice, acts of betrayal, or apparent apathy, we can rest assured that Christ empathizes with us, sees our pain, and will one day bring justice to the situations we experience. Further, Christ provides an example of holiness for us to pattern with our parting words.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will. That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. ~Reinhold Niebur

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Parting Words: Jesus Before the Cross

The Garden

It probably seemed a hairs breadth time between the calling and the cross for Peter, James, and John.

One day Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John were finishing an all-night fishing trip with no favor, when Jesus tells them, Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. (Luke 5:4, ESV) That was the fishing trip that would change their lives. No longer would they be fishing for fish; they would become fishers of men.

It’s funny how we never know what hello will change our lives. What new acquaintance will be a God-appointed friendship waiting on which to embark. Luke 5, and the other gospel accounts, is epic in our view because we know the outcome. But, did the disciples feel in their souls the gravity of that day’s events as they unfolded? It’s impossible to know.

Spring forward three years, and we once again encounter Jesus and three of his first-called disciples sharing a world-changing moment together. However, this time, the setting is a garden, not the sea, the food is bread and wine, not fish, and the task is to watch and pray, not to cast their nets to the waves.

Sometimes watching and praying can be much more challenging than working and casting. The sleepy disciples bear witness to this. There is a weight in the waiting.

Jesus had finished his final Passover meal with his disciples. He foretold of His betrayal, his death, and his resurrection (See Matthew 26) and commenced to sing a hymn and depart to Gethsemane. In these final parting moments with his friends and disciples, Jesus behaved in certain ways that we can pattern as we draw to transition points in our own lives:

  • Jesus drew close to those closest to Him. Jesus took all the disciples to Gethsemane, minus Judas who was too busy betraying Him; however, He drew even closer to his three friends: Peter, James and John. Jesus took them further into the garden and shared more of Himself with them.
  • Jesus shared the burdens of His soul with trusted friends. Jesus’ future was not veiled to any of the disciples, but the agony with which He faced his destiny was shared with a chosen few. He confides in Peter, James, and John:

My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here and watch with me. (Matthew 26:38)

  • Jesus drew closest to the Father. While Christ invited His friends and disciples to share in His burden through prayer, He petitioned His Father alone further still into the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus asked for the cup of God’s wrath to pass, yet ultimately he petitioned for the Father’s will to be done. We too can portray only so much truth to our closest friends and family–God is the only one who knows in fullness our joys and our sorrows.
  • Jesus used his fleeting time to continue to instruct His disciples concerning:

Their duty. Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41)

God’s power. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53)

God’s will. …all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. (Matthew 26:56)

It is comforting to me that even in partings, Jesus provides the way in which we can do so with the greatest impact.

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Parting Words: An Easter Series

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Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (Ecclesiastes 7:8,ESV)

Good-byes are difficult. The good-byes of life: the dorm room, the parting of child from family at the alter of marriage, the distance of a move, the deathbed…many moments in life involve parting words. As we enter into the Easter Season, I want to focus on the good-byes of Jesus and of Paul. What did the Savior of the world want to leave as parting lessons with his disciples–with us? How did Paul part with Timothy? What were his final instructions to the young man he mentored in the faith?

I believe that our good-byes can be strengthened by looking at the good-byes of Jesus and Paul. In the next five weeks leading up to Easter we will delve into:

  • Paul’s last words to Timothy
  • Jesus’ last words to the Apostles
  • Jesus’ parting words in Revelation

I look forward to learning how to say meaningful and lasting parting words in this life so that the hellos of eternity will be all the sweeter. I certainly need these lessons, and I eagerly anticipate learning them alongside you this Easter Season.

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The True Love of Valentine’s Day

Valentine's

St. Valentinus of Rome, was a priest born 200 years after Christ and whose martyrdom we remember every February 14th. It seems that Valentinus disobeyed the ruling of Emperor Claudius the Cruel to cease all marriages within the Roman Empire and to worship the Roman gods.

Claudius the Cruel needed more men for battle and believed that unmarried men would make better and more willing soldiers. Valentinus knew this was against the law of God and chose to secretly marry couples under the blanket of night so that men could depart for battle having married their loves.

Valentinus’ worship of God and practices of matrimony was quickly found out and resulted in his imprisonment by Claudius the Cruel. He was beheaded on the 14th of February around 278 A.D. for his crimes of love and loyalty. Above the laws of men, Valentinus obeyed the One True God’s commandment for men and women to join together in holy matrimony.

Celebrating the faithfulness of Valentinus is an occasion that I can recognize with deep respect and gratefulness when we celebrate in truth. Like Valentinus, many people are held prisoner around the world for their faithfulness to the gospel and continue to die in the name of Christ Jesus for obedience to His commands.

The true love of Valentinus was love of God and His people. He brought men and women together under the biblical mandate: that for this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife. (Ephesians 5:31)

Valentinus cherished the love and obedience of God above the safety of conforming to the world’s demands. He showed true love in laying down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)  May we, if called upon to obey God above country, do the same.

This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 

(1 John 4:10, NLT)

I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels.

(Luke 12:8, NLT)

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

(1 John 4:16, ESV)

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Inspiration for the New Year

A little inspiration for our new year’s aspirations, paths to be tread, dreams to be dreamed, and travels that await.

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Dear Lord, please give me…

A few friends who understand me and yet remain my friends.

A work to do which has real value, without which the world would feel the poorer…

A mind unafraid to travel, even though the trail be not blazed.

An understanding heart…

A sense of humor.

Time for quiet, silent mediation.

A feeling of the presence of God.

And the patience to wait for the coming of these things, with the wisdom to know them when they come.

~W.R. Hunt

Taken from Treasured Stories of Christmas  by Guideposts

 

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I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,

with thee, O Father, as my harbor,

thee, O Son at my helm,

thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.

~The Valley of Vision

Inspirations for a New Year

Roads go ever on and on,

Over rock and under tree, 

By caves where sun has never shone, 

By streams that never find the sea;

Over snow by winter sown, 

And through the merry flowers of June, 

Over grass and over stone, 

And under mountains in the moon.

Roads Go Ever On and On ~J. R.R. Tolkien

 

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. ~Proverbs 19:21

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Homeland: Until We’re There

Homeland Part 3

He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

~O’Holy Night

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:14, ESV)

We find find ourselves waking to a world akin to the setting Christ entered into over 2,000 years ago. He came to bring peace and redeem lost mankind; even now, especially now, the Prince of Peace is needed on this earth.

The hopeful message of Christmas is that God became man and sympathizes with our weaknesses, our daily needs, and the temptations that are common to man. He is no stranger to the sting of death, separation from loved ones, betrayal, want, and the disappointment of broken relationships and broken people. Christ knows that rejoicing in darkness is impossible apart from the Light of the world; so He came to deliver the Light–Himself–for all mankind. (See John 1:9-13)

He is the Light that gives birth to the sons and the daughters of God. He is the Light that pierces the darkness with the full knowledge of how the darkness bears weight on all mankind. Jesus drew near to us so that we could draw near to the Father. How are we to press on in the meantime? How do we live until we reach our Homeland?

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  (Hebrews 4:15, ESV)

And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:11-12, ESV)

So, until we reach our Homeland, until we cross the threshold of time and space to Heaven and eternity, Christ sets the example for us to follow. He gives us a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12) to imitate their faith and patience so we may inherit the promises of God–eternal life through Christ Jesus.

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:14-16, ESV)

He knows our needs, and to our weaknesses He is no stranger. Behold our King this Christmas season and before Him lowly bend. God is with us and if He is with us and for us, then none shall stand against us.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

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