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Archive for the ‘death’ Category

Good Friday and Easter Sunday deservedly receive a lot of attention. They are the pivotal events in not only Christianity, but also in History. On Good Friday we remember His sacrificial death for us. On Easter Sunday we remember how He defeated death for us through His resurrection. But what about the day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday? The day when Jesus’ body laid in the tomb. His followers were in despair. They had lost hope. They thought it was all over and done with and their beloved leader was gone forever.

I have been to the funerals of loved ones and friends. Looking into a casket is perhaps the most solemn experience we face in this life. That and watching a loved one die. I was with my father when he died. He died while I was reading from the bible to him. When my father died, I did not despair. That was because over a year before he died, I was with him while he made peace with God by trusting in Jesus. I had so much peace about where my father went to that I taught my class that evening, but I had the benefit of knowing the rest of the story which is that Jesus conquered death through His resurrection.

There are other moments in life that might we feel all hope is lost. We look at our life obstacles and wonder if there is anyway that we can find that job, get out of debt, experience our loved ones finally getting their life turned around, recover from an illness or any other of life’s seemingly unending problems. We at times are like the followers of Jesus on that Saturday between the first Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It is as if we are on the outside of the tomb lost in despair.

I often wonder how His followers felt that Saturday. What it must have been like for those who washed His body and prepared His body for burial. They had forgotten about how Jesus called Lazarus back from the dead only days before Jesus entered Jerusalem. They had forgotten how Jesus had told them that He would die and that He would be raised from dead. They had lost hope. We do the same thing. We lose hope even though we have the rest of the story. We know that Jesus defeated death. His resurrection proves that He has power even over our worst enemy. When we face life’s difficulties, it is too easy for us to lose hope and not keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

On this Saturday between Good Friday and Easter, I would like to encourage you to think about your problems and then remember that He has all power. His resurrection is the proof that we too will one day enjoy the benefits of heaven, and also that He does have all power. He is more than able to help us to overcome our difficulties.

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On this day, Good Friday, I am taking time to reflect on the death of Jesus and its implications for me and for all of us. Two things always come to my mind as I reflect on the crucifixion of Jesus, my own sin which He died for and His love, His unfathomable love for me and for all. Jesus spoke of this kind of self-sacrificing love when He said, “Greater love has no one than this to lay down their life for a friend.”

There are inspiring stories of people giving their lives for others such as soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save their friends or of mothers in crisis while giving birth telling the doctor to save their baby even if it means the mother losing their own life. When I hear these stories, I am inspired by their examples of true love for another or others. There is much discussion about what love is these days in America. The kind of love Jesus is talking about encompasses not only family/brotherly love but something far greater. Jesus is talking about the kind of love God has for us. He uses the verb agape as He speaks about greater love. Agape is the Greek word for God’s unconditional love. Jesus showed us the unconditional love of God when He died for us. Jesus, God’s one and only son, died for us.

An awe inspiring thought for me is the fact that Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him before He was arrested, put through a joke of trial, and was crucified. He knew what was going to happen and went anyway. In John 18 we read, “Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” He went out to meet those who were coming to arrest Him. There was a detachment of soldiers that had come to arrest Him which would have been at least 400 men armed with swords and spears. Lethal danger was approaching, Jesus knew it and went out to meet it. He has all power, so He could have stopped it, but He went out to meet it. He knew that He would be tortured and crucified on a cross. He knew that He would die a terrible death and He went out to the detachment of soldiers and allowed them to take Him away to what would lead to His death. Why?

Why? Because He loves you and me. His love is the love of God, self-sacrificing, unconditional, reaching out to those who suffer, reaching out to people like me who are unworthy of His love. This evening when I go to Good Friday Service at church, I will reflect upon and remember that Jesus loved us so much that He died for all of our sins because He wants us to be with Him for eternity in heaven. He died for us to pay our penalty for our sin. We do not deserve His sacrifice, but because of his love, He gave it for us. That is true love.

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While I do not believe in ghosts, I realize there are people who do. Some might be tempted to think that Jesus’ followers saw a ghost when He appeared to them after His resurrection. There were two occasions when Jesus appeared to His followers that He did something ghost cannot do. He ate food.

In Luke 24- “40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.[f] 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.[g] 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.” Jesus ate food in front of them to show them it was indeed Jesus and He was in His body. On another occasion in John 21 we see, “15 So when they had eaten breakfast” in reference to Jesus eating breakfast with his disciples. He not only ate with them, He even cooked the breakfast of fish and bread that He ate with them.

Jesus showed His followers the proofs of His scars from His wounds and ate with them to demonstrate that He was risen from the dead in His physical body. He displayed the fact that He had defeated death. He took on our worst problem, which is death, and defeated it through His resurrection.

It makes me think about the problems I may face in life from time to time and compare them to the worst thing we will all have to face someday which is death. It makes my problems seem not as monumental. It also helps me to realize there is hope in every situation because the one who conquered death, Jesus, has also made a promise. He said, “I am with you always….”

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In the summers of 2009 and 2010 I was able to travel to Brillion Wisconsin for 4th of July family reunions. The summer of 2010 was also a time to celebrate my nephew’s graduation from high school. Family reunions can be a time of joy for those who are able to attend. It was good to see my brother and his family in Wisconsin, my brother from California, and my sister and brother who live in Lincoln. We had fun with fireworks, a lot of good food, and seeing places like Lake Michigan.

At Christmas time we celebrate Jesus coming as a human baby. We celebrate God the Son who is eternal stepping down from His throne in heaven to become a human baby. When I think about this, I realize it truly should be Joy to the World as the song goes. But what about Jesus? Was there joy involved for Him?

In Hebrews 12:2 it says about Jesus, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”. Jesus came to die for us. There was joy for Him, not in being crucified on the cross, but something else set before Him. I have been pondering this because Jesus was seated at the right hand of the throne of God before He came as a baby. There seems to be something more in play here. Then when I consider Philippians 2 where it talks about how every knew will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord it seems to shed a little more light on the joy Jesus would feel because of enduring the cross. Jesus is not egotistic like we are, so the mere fact that all people will bow to Him does not seem to suffice as the sole reason for His joy. God gave us freewill, so the thought of Jesus taking joy in the fact that all people would bow to Him and many not out of choice, seems to not fit.

Then I think about how in Psalm 166 it says ” 15 Precious in the sight of the LORD  Is the death of His saints.” Our death is precious to Jesus? That could seem sadistic until we consider this fact. In this life we think of death as going away somewhere. In the eyes of Jesus our death means we come home to Him. The joy for Jesus was not just that He would be seated at the right hand of God. It was also that WE WOULD BE THERE WITH HIM. We can be home with Jesus forever. This causes great joy for Jesus. It makes His sacrifice worth all of the pain that we could be with Him forever in a place we cannot comprehend. We can only know that it is far better than this world.

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The loss of a loved one is one of the most sorrowful times we can experience in life. The grieving process is difficult to go through. We have deep valleys and conflicting thoughts. Our grief can seem overwhelming one moment and then we think we will be okay. I will never forget sitting with my father as he died. I was reading the bible to him when he drew his last breath and passed away. Jesus gave me the strength to take care of what needed to be taken care of that day and then still teach my class that evening. Yes Jesus gave me the strength, but it was not easy. The death of a parent is hard to endure.

The last mention of Joseph in the bible is the time Joseph took Mary and Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve. Jesus stayed behind and the caravan started back without Him. Joseph and Mary hurried back and found Jesus in the temple asking questions and sharing from the scriptures and amazing those who were there. When asked why He stayed behind Jesus replied, “did you not know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Jesus was not being insensitive. He was reminding them of who He is and the reason He came. There is a silence to this story that jumps out at me. This is the last reference to Joseph in the bible. He fades from the scene as Jesus and His Father in Heaven take over the story. Mary is mentioned in passages after this, but not Joseph.

This shows that Joseph would have died between the time Jesus was 12 and the time Jesus began His public ministry some 18 years later. Jesus would have experienced the death of His earthly step-father, Joseph, and Mary’s need for comfort from her son after the death of her husband. Jesus would have also taken over as provider for His family and protector of His mother. Jesus understands our grief and the complexities of taking care of those left behind. He understands how we feel when we are grieving and at the same time concerned for those who need us to take care of them.

If you are grieving, please remember that Jesus understands your grief. He is our Sympathetic High Priest who is able to sympathize with us in our weakness and He invites us to come to Him for rest for our souls. We can pour out our grief an sorrow to Him because He cares for us. We do not need to be alone in our grief and sorrow.

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January 6th is my father’s birthday. This year will be the first time he celebrates it in heaven. This is something I never thought I would be able to say with confidence because for many years he did not want to hear anything about Jesus or God from me. We did to have a very good relationship for a long time due to various reasons. I have previously written about how after I expressed forgiveness that we were able to talk about Jesus and pray together.

I was able to with him when he died and comfort him by reading from the bible to him and praying. He was not alone which was important to me. Now he is experiencing the glorious wonders of heaven. He is with Jesus and much better off than we are. I can say this with confidence not based on my father and how he lived his life since that is not what the decision is based on. God decides based on if we accept His son Jesus. It is a free gift God offers to all who will receive His son Jesus.

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Psalm 100 says “Enter His gates with Thanksgiving in our hearts”.  It is easy to enter His presence when things are going well. Sometimes things do not go well for us. Things happen such as sickness, death of a loved one, financial troubles, and relationship problems. It is at those times that we really need to enter His gates with Thanksgiving in our hearts. That is because the antidote for a spirit of heaviness is praising God. It helps us to not sink into the valley of depression when things are not going well for us.

I understand how tempting it is to not want to enter with Thanksgiving. I have been though the valley of sickness and recovery and all the work of restarting life afterward. My father died this past year after we finally reconciled due to issues involving his alcoholism.This life is not easy. Jesus even told us “in this  life you will have troubles, but cheer up I have overcome the world”. That is the reason we can be thankful no matter what. Jesus is alive and overcame the world and all of its struggles.

Psalm 100 also gives the reason to enter with Thanksgiving in our hearts. It says “His love and faithfulness endure forever”. No matter what happens in this life we can rest in the fact that God’s love last forever and we will be with Him forever. Corrie Ten Boom realized this when after being held in a Nazi concentration camp and watching sister die due to the terrible conditions. She said “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still”.

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