When Jesus saw Mary weeping, he wept.
Mary had suffered the loss of her brother, and she wept, and Christ wept with her. This was God's heart for Mary's suffering, and this is God's heart for your suffering.
Jesus did not give reasons for the tragedy, or say to her that it was for the best. Jesus did not say this was her lot in life, written in the stars, or God's best plan for her. Jesus did not look for good things that led to this, nor good things that might come from it...
When Mary's heart broke, Jesus was 'moved deeply in spirit and troubled.' (John 11:33) He asked where her brother lay - and Jesus moved towards the tragedy, the darkness, the loss. Then the word simply states, 'Jesus wept.' (vs.35)
When at the tomb, we're told again that Jesus was, 'once more deeply moved.' (vs.38)
Jesus believed, prayed and called Lazarus forth from the grave. But what impacts me today, 2000 years later, is that the heart of Jesus for your pain, my pain, remains the same, and comes to us by his Holy Spirit. Jesus weeps with you. Jesus is 'deeply moved and troubled' by your sorrow. Jesus is 'once more moved' by your broken heart. Jesus moves towards you in this pain, and comes to heal, forgive, restore, and open the gates of heaven for you to come in.
'Jesus said, 'I am the door, and anyone who comes through me will be saved.' (John 10:9)
For more on knowing Jesus Christ personally, please visit: https://1peter1three.weebly.com/first-steps.html
This life is lonely! This life is cold! Almost every effort and investment we make is to counter the natural forces of life - which are danger, loss, decay, betrayal, discouragement... Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the burden that is life, the sheer load that each day places on my shoulders. Can you relate?
It is against this backdrop - life's brokenness and hardship - that Jesus came to earth.
Jesus - God in the flesh (Jn 1:14) - came to 'rescue us from this present evil age.' (Gal 1:4) Jesus - self-denying and compassionate (Phil 2:7) - came to find us in the cold shadows, and warm us with light. (Luke 19:10) Jesus - forgiving and healing (Luke 5:24) - came to embrace the lonely, restore the despairing. (Mt 12:20)
Listen to the words of Christ as he looked over the people, and cried:
'How I have longed to gather you together, as a hen gathers her chicks...'
When we are facing a terminal illness, all of life looks, feels and is different! Many philosophers and authors write about the anguish and mystery of a person knowing the day and time of their departure. The reason we are so mystified by this 'terror' of suddenly knowing, is more about why we are not terrified all the time - since we all know from early youth that a time is set...
But is death only to be ignored in order to find peace in this life? Can anything good come from knowing, or even briefly focusing on our end, on 'death's door'? I think so! The Psalmist writes:
'Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom!' (Psalm 90:12)
There is a way to look at death's door, in order to see life's door - now and forevermore...
The fact is, from the moment we are born, from the very get-go, we're on a timer, ticking down to that moment when everything stops. That fact is not enough to give us a map for living, but it certainly should frame up our pursuits, our sense of value, an urgency to get right with the one, true God and the very source of life. Listen to this incredible claim of Jesus Christ:
'I am the door. Anyone who enters through me will be saved.' (John 10:9)
And here is another claim of Christ, that can and should lift our eyes, map our steps, buy our soul:
'I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live!' (John 11:25-26)
A glance at death's door can throw light on the 'door' of Christ, the door of eternal life. Have you gone through this door?
For more on taking that 'first' and 'final' step of faith with Jesus Christ, please visit:
This title is jarring - Jesus as Serpent - but it was Jesus himself who made the analogy. What did he mean?
Many years before Jesus was born into the nation of Israel, this same people were led by a man named Moses. They were a 'family' at this point (a big family of many tribes, thousands in number), and they were wandering in the wilderness. God was leading them through the prophet, Moses.
At one point this people group began to grumble against God, complaining about their hardship. As a result, the Lord sent venomous snakes among them, and these snakes would bite the people, and they would die. The people began to cry out to Moses and God, saying they had done wrong. So God instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent, and set it up in the camp where people could see it. God said that if anyone was bitten by a snake, they could look up at the bronze serpent, and if they did this - lifted their eyes to the bronze serpent - they would be healed and not die. (Read this account in Numbers 21)
Jesus, over a thousand years later, said these incredible words, with an incredible promise:
'Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.' (John 3:14-15)
Like the Israelites in the wilderness, we have 'grumbled' against God, turned our backs on his leadership in our lives. This has left us 'bitten' by the mortal serpent of sin. We are destined to death, and eternal separation from God. When the Israelites recognized their sin, and cried out for help, God gave them something to 'turn towards', to believe in, as a way to show sincerity in their repentance.
In the same way, my friends, God has offered us a 'way' to walk free from our sin. He has provided us his Son, Jesus Christ, and calls us to turn and look to him for life. Jesus, crucified by man, was 'lifted up' in the camp for all to see, like the serpent. And he calls us to lift our weary eyes and look to him now for life, for salvation.
With a heart of repentance, and a heart of belief, lift your eyes to Jesus today, and be saved!
'...everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.' (John 3:15)
For more on taking a 'First Step' of faith in Jesus Christ, please visit: https://1peter1three.weebly.com/first-steps.html
One day I was in a fast-food line behind a lady and her four kids, a couple of them teenagers. She was at the till, fumbling through coupons and coins, trying to come up with the money for something really basic for them to eat. She was dressed as a prostitute, and the kids' heads hung low, their eyes on their shoes as mom tried to find the money... Her heart was broken. The kids' hearts were broken. My heart was broken... I asked for a quick word with her to the side, and gave her money. I remember as she looked into my face, with tears rolling down hers. She thanked me, and got back in line to buy the food.
One of life's most tragic realities is money. Some people have too little money to buy what they need, what they want, and it breaks hearts. People enjoy 'buying' when they have the resources to buy (that fun transaction, exciting exchange of one thing of value for another), but the issue of money and all that money is, has made 'buying' an impure experience from the craddle to the grave.
When God describes his heart for us, his home for us, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, he leaves us the thrill of buying, without the mortal currency of money:
'Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.' (Isaiah 55:1)
Here God gives us the dignity of 'buying', but without the limitations, pressures and shame that money brings. This is an impossible reality for us to fathom. This is the very essence of paradise. All peoples with the dignity to choose and 'buy', without needing money to do it.
This Spirit of this Paradise can be yours even now. Jesus called out to us all:
'Is anyone thirsty? Let him come to me and drink! He who believes in me... streams of living water will flow from within him.' (John 7:37-38)
Here Jesus echos the words of Isaiah from 600 years earlier, calling out to the thirsty, and promising not just refreshing, but 'living' water, and not just to flow over us, but 'from within us.' This is the 'impossible' reality of paradise, the Spirit of 'living water', the thrill of limitless life, buying without money... and this is the Spirit of Jesus that God offers us here and now. How desperately we need this in and through our souls! How desperately we need this in and through our land!
For more on 'First Steps' with Jesus, please visit: https://1peter1three.weebly.com/first-steps.html
When you watch the news... When you listen to what people say about other people... When you think about what was done to you... When you think about what you've done... When you think about your own thoughts...
Jesus said, 'You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' (John 3:7)
Maybe you've heard the phrase, 'born again', but when Jesus said it to Nicodemus no one had ever heard it before. And most of us don't realize that the first part of this phrase was, 'You should not be surprised by my saying...'
Why should we not be surprised by Jesus - God in the flesh (John 1:14) - telling us that we need to be 'born again'? Because every one of us is weary at the darkness and damage of our own lives!
There comes a time when there has been too much damage to patch something up, to refurb' it. We throw it out, and buy a new one. We start again. Jesus came not to cover up the old, or patch it up... He came so our sinful life could die with him, and rise with him to a new life. He came so that we could be 'born again'. Honestly, if I look at my life, my heart, my record, my despair - it does not surprise me that God would whisper, 'You must be born again.'
For more on taking a 'First Step' with Jesus into a new life, please visit: https://1peter1three.weebly.com/first-steps.html
Do you hurt? Is your heart broken? Do you ache?
Jesus said that he came for the hurting and weary. Jesus said that he came to 'seek and save the lost.' (Luke 19:10) Are you lost?
Jesus said that he came to gather you in his arms. (Matthew 23:37) Do you need his embrace today? Jesus said that he came to forgive. (John 8:11) Do you need forgiveness? Jesus said that he came to heal the broken heart. (Mt 12:20) Does your broken heart need God's healing?
Jesus' name actually means, 'God with us.' (Mt 1:23) Do you need to feel God with you? Jesus came not to bring us more 'words', but to bring us power to change. (1 Cor 4:20) Do you need power to change today? Do you need power to change your own heart, soul, and your life path, your job, your relationships, your legacy?
If you die with Jesus today, you will rise with Jesus today - into a 'new you'! Do you need a new start?
Jesus said if we repent of our sin - that is, if we actually take action, turn away from it, throw it out, cut it off, drop the call... - and if we believe in him, we will be saved! We will in that moment pass through the 'door of salvation' into a new life.
'Jesus said, 'I am the door, and anyone who enters through me will be saved!' (John 10:9)
For more on taking that 'First Step' with Jesus, please visit: https://1peter1three.weebly.com/first-steps.html
You are where it all happens! Not in a church building, not a camp or conference… Not in a committee, fraternity, sorority, golf club or masonic lodge… You – ‘God in you’ – is where it happens! Let me explain…
Jesus came to bring the ‘word off the page’. We are told that he was the ‘Word of God made flesh.’ (John 1:14) So God is no longer just ‘written words’ or ‘scripture’ to us, he is flesh – Jesus Christ!
Jesus also came as a ‘stone’ in God’s greatest construction – the very dwelling place of God. We’re told that Jesus is the ‘living stone’ and ‘chief cornerstone’ of God’s presence. (Eph 2:20; 1 Pe 2:4) And we are told that we – if we repent of our sin and believe in Jesus Christ – that we, too, are ‘living stones’, part of that same construction of God, his ‘dwelling place’. (Eph 2:22; 1 Pe 2:5)
God became ‘flesh’ to reach us, to connect with us. Jesus stepped into our world, so that he could actually ‘dwell in us.’ (Col 1:27) So in Jesus, God comes to us, and dwells in us – and we become ‘living stones’ in God’s dwelling place!
My friends, in Jesus Christ you are the church! You are the ‘living stone’, not just earthly bricks and mortar. Christ – through faith and repentance – lives inside you, and you are where God is, where truth happens. In Christ you do not go to church, you are the living stones of church.
Have you let Jesus into your heart, and become the very dwelling place of God?
‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?’ (1 Corinthians 6:19)
For more on taking ‘First Steps’ with Jesus, please visit: https://1peter1three.weebly.com/first-steps.html
Peter Walker. I hope you enjoy these reflections. Please feel free to comment!:)