The Rest of the Story…

Matthew 27

Think of a time when someone you thought highly of or ‘put on a pedestal’ let you down by doing something you never expected from them. For some of you this person may have been a celebrity, professional athlete, or politician who you thought was ‘really a great guy/lady.’ This person may have even been someone very close to like a boss, mentor, parent, sibling, spouse, or even a pastor where the wounds from this experience are still deep today, even years later.

Have you ever thought about how the disciples and followers of Jesus must have felt when He was arrested, scourged, crucified, and died? They believed Jesus would be their Messiah (Savior) by sitting on an earthly throne and restoring Israel through freeing them from the oppression of the Roman government. This was their mistaken understanding of the Old Testament prophecies of what the Messiah would do (see John 12:16). They must have been certain He would be king because He could do anything…heal the sick, cast out demons, feed large crowds on next to no food, walk on water, and even raise Lazarus from the dead after four days! Think of the ‘pedestal’ He must have been on in their minds!  Imagine how they must have felt when they woke up Saturday morning with the realization that their Messiah who they saw do many miracles and believed was on a mission from God on their behalf was crucified, dead, buried, and would not save them from the tyranny of the Roman government. Talk about a letdown!

As Paul Harvey (ask your parents if you don’t know who that is) would say, we now know “the rest of the story.” We know the great news of the Resurrection that occurred on Easter Sunday! We know that Jesus saved them, and us today, in a way no one else could through freedom from the bondage and condemnation of sin.

What can we learn from this?

  1. The only person we should ever ‘put on a pedestal’ is Jesus. He is the ONLY one that will NEVER let us down. He is the only one without sin.
  2.  If God can take the worst injustice and event in the history of the world, the wrongful execution of the only person to ever live without sin, and turn it into the greatest event in the history of the world, then God can take the challenges and problems you are facing in your life today and will in the future and turn them into something good. The Bible specifically tells us this in Romans 8:31-32.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

Need more assurance? We are told this again in Ephesians 3:20 NIV.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according His power this is at work within us,”

It says that we can’t even imagine what good He can do! Also, did you catch that? It is not our power, but ‘His power’ at work within us….and he made the world and everything in it.

There is a “rest of your story” that He has planned for your life…just like there was for Him and us through His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

So let us move forward today calm, confident, and courageous because of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Breaking The Rules

Leviticus 14; Psalm 17; Proverbs 28; 2 Thessalonians 2

Don’t tell me what to think or do!

Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.-Proverbs 28:14

I was never one that could follow instructions very well. If I had to read them, forget it, I never did. From my earliest memories the way I went through life was to do as I pleased. If I had to figure something out, I just jumped in usually failing. One thing I was really good at was taking things apart. The putting back together part, not so much.

“How did that all work out?” You might ask. Honestly, in some ways very well. I learned self reliance, how to adapt and innovate. I was a creative type and received some attention for that too. But that’s where the story turns. You see for me, and perhaps all of us, despite my independent spirit, I needed something more. I was searching for truth. Within my heart was the need to worship God, but even in the absence of God I was still made to worship something.

Without God, my purposes were self directed. Born to be a rule breaker, the idea of law to me was more like a game or a puzzle than something to take seriously. Discipline was a disruption to the freedom of my rebellious spirit.

Since I didn’t really know God, I was missing the point of it all. Surprisingly life really wasn’t about me, it was about God and other people. When I came to this understanding I wanted to know who God really was, and in that exploration, I came to know that God was Holy. Everything about God was above us. He was set apart and pure — flawless in goodness and righteousness.

To have fellowship with a holy God I needed purification because of my unholiness. For the Israelites this sanctification came from ritual sacrifice. And all the ritual sacrifice prescribed in the law of the Old Testament demonstrated how far from God even His chosen people were. There was intentional and unintentional sin. Even the the need for purification from contact with anything or anyone that was “unclean.” God’s ways were above ours and it was impossible to earn the right to have fellowship with God. Stay with me now.

When I was introduced to the idea of grace through faith, things started to change. I came to see God’s law as a representation of who He was compared to who I was. It wasn’t possible to earn my way back to God. If I was to be restored to fellowship with God that existed before sin came into the world, I needed grace — the grace that God poured out on the world through the blood of Jesus. Reconciliation with God was offered to everyone by grace, through faith. The righteousness through faith that Abraham received (Romans 4:13) was the same thing offered to me and all creation through Jesus. This was the freedom I was looking for and it came from love, not from following rules.

Eventually I understood the law for what it was which wasn’t just following a bunch of rules (important as they are). We are called to pursue holiness in the power of God’s Holy Spirit. We are called to follow the righteous path which turned out to be the path back to the God who had already restored me in fellowship. It was the path of love. As God loved me I was supposed to love others as I loved myself. I was supposed to seek God first in all things. This was the actual path to God that I could walk in freedom and in truth.

The Bible is the story of how God in the flesh reconciled the judgement of the law with the power of grace. It was in His sacrifice that God demonstrated His love of the world and by which he perfected His creation. In this transaction, God for man, he allowed us to be united with God, by Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. -John 3:16

God please make me whole. Restore me to your perfect will in the knowledge of your love and grace, by faith and through the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.