Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Options for Old Ears...Any Ears
He had said something to the effect that you can't take it with you. All the praises of those in your circle will one day amount to nothing. He read a disturbing portion of Psalm 49, and then smiled and stared at the seniors gathered in the retirement chapel. Some were alone. Some had a spouse or friend. Some in wheelchairs.
The next thing that they heard was a portion of a song. He presented it in a passable baritone:
"Surely...Surely...He hath borne our grief...Surely...Surely...He hath borne our grief...He hath borne our grief and carried all our sorrows...Surely He hath borne our grief and carried all our sorrows."
That was familiar. That was Handel. The Messiah. Yeah, that's right.
The speaker continued, "That is the Good News, folks, for the taking. This is Easter Morning. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is fact in history. He has come through death and the worst that men and the devil could throw at him, and he will never again die. The established fact assures that this is God's appointed Servant-Messiah, the one who would defeat wickedness and death, and make things right. God assures a similar Exodus to those who trust His Son.
Did I say Exodus? That's the Old Book isn't it, and Moses, or was it Charlton Heston, and the little lamb's blood over the door frame. Death escaped. Slavery ended. A new identity. A beautiful promised land to come. That's the story of the Jewish Passover. But then a verse in our New Testament says, "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us". Another innocent victim. Another blood-letting. Another mystical transaction called forth by God's say-so.
Jesus brings His very active ministry to a close. He allows Himself to become passive. Cruel ignorant men apply the manacles. Drag Him to several mock courts. Flay his back into a furrowed and bloody mass. Nail Him to a cross of shame. Gamble, laughing, for His only possessions. Watch Him die. This is His Passion. He doesn't do much. He doesn't say much. He simply obeys the eternal plan of the Father.
But maybe we should hear Jesus' words now. Maybe in their brevity they are filled with content:
1. Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
2. Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
3. Woman, behold thy son...Behold thy mother.
4. My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?
5. I thirst.
6. It is finished.
7. Into Thy hands I commend my spirit."
There was a pause between each statement from the Cross. The room was quiet.
"Listen dear friends, listen to the words. Look upon the suffering. Know that He will never again endure the sting of death. Take now His obedience and suffering to your credit. God has said that it is possible. Indescribable eternal life is being offered. If this is coming to you right now in a new light, simply accept the offer. The Passover. The Christ. Rejoice evermore.
May it never be said, The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." (Jeremiah 9:20)
A songstress with lyrical voice and earnest heart concluded the service.
One of the men, a paraplegic, spoke out with a large breath preceding almost every word, wide eyes slightly out of kilter, "I love bolth... I love 'em bolth... I love Gawd. And I love DJesussss."
A Holy Presence was tangible.
Well said, Sir.