Row, Row, Row

From Commission to Culmination and on the Consummation

Reasons to Rejoice

The Commission

Luke 10:3 – Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

The costly commission to follow Jesus and to go forth as His ambassadors is so controversial as to appear adversarial. Jesus warns us to expect hostility and opposition. He does not say this to discourage us, but to encourage us. He does not intend to frighten us away, but to have us brace ourselves in the embrace of His grace and power.

“Go your ways,” He says, knowing that each of us has a path that is uniquely and wondrously ours. No two paths are exactly the same though they often intersect and frequently follow parallel courses. We may hesitate to go our ways because it is less risky to continue as we have been, sitting at the feet of Jesus in the cloistered environs of our religious retreats. But we must go. It is His commission.

“I send you,” He says and that gives us courage to go forth, knowing that we have been authorized and mandated we bear His Name and represent His kingdom. It gives us confidence and joy to know that we are not staggering through the darkness of meaningless humdrum. We have been sent.

“I send you forth as lambs,” He says. We are like baby sheep. We still need our shepherd. As we go from Him, we develop a new relationship with him. We discover that He has come along in a new way.

“Lo, I am with you always,” He assures us.

“… as lambs among wolves.” This is the scary part. It is dangerous out there to the extent that we really could lose some things along the way. And if the things we can potentially lose are dearer to us than the commission, we could lose everything. However, if we have relinquished our hold on the things of earth so that they “grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace,” then we have absolutely nothing to lose. We have died, as the scriptures say, and our lives are hidden with Christ in God.

Don’t be afraid of the wolves. Beware of them, but don’t let them stop you. Whatever you do, don’t miss the mission.

Real Rejoicing

Luke 10:20 -  Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven

The disciples on an early Kingdom mission had not only survived hostility, but had thrived in the process. To their delight and surprise, God had come along with them and had wrought miracles of healing and deliverance. Even demons had been subjected to them and they were excited. It was at that moment that Jesus had to remind them of an important lesson. It is in our moments of intense religious exhilaration and enthusiasm that we must learn the same lesson.

It is great to enjoy the frills and thrills of practical discipleship and divine manifestations, but that kind of rejoicing pales in comparison to the joy of redemption. A stirring worship service inspires us to face a week of temptations and challenges, but it is not the main impetus to our spiritual success. Inclusion in God’s purpose is the greatest cause of rejoicing of all.

It is true that spirits are subject to the believer as he or she prays in the name and authority of Jesus Christ.  It is a reality that when the Holy Spirit chooses to work through us, He can leave us as breathless as a roller coaster ride – and more so. All of this is true, but it is not our cause for real rejoicing.

We rejoice, no matter what is happening around us, that God has inscribed our names on the rolls of Heaven. No earthly joy and no spiritual fulfillment come close to the felicitous flame that glows in the heart of a redeemed soul. In the darkest night, it burns bright and warms the heart of the child of God.

It is why we rejoice now and rejoice evermore. Our names are written in heaven.

Written on Palm Sunday for Fools Like Me

Luke 10:21-22 - In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.

Let us celebrate Palm Sunday because it was on that day Jesus received praise from the people who really did not understand the full magnitude of what they were experiencing.  Let us celebrate April Fools Day for on this day, we recognize how vulnerable each of us is to folly.

The book of Proverbs defines a fool, not as one who has a low quotient of intelligence or one who cannot learn, but as one who will not learn and who shuns instruction, rejects discipline, and turns his back on God. Many such fools consider themselves wise and sophisticated. Paul says that God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise and the foolishness of preaching to proclaim the life giving message of the cross.

On Palm Sunday, hundreds of people who might have been deemed foolish in the eyes of the scholars of their day, gathered alongside the road to welcome the Messiah to Jerusalem. They did so almost instinctively, not knowing what was to come, not comprehending the magnitude of the moment.

Earlier, it was Jesus’ turn to rejoice. With all that He was about to face, He could see beyond the pain and suffering of the cross to the glory that would be revealed. He could see what others could not, what He had but given glimpses of to His disciples. He could see that some of His words were getting through as God revealed what was hidden to babes and He revealed His Father to them.

Those who deemed themselves wise and prudent would reveal themselves as fools and those who were thought to be fools, who waved palm branches to welcome a common King, would speak with unlearned wisdom and profound inspiration.

So, shout Hosanna without regard to how the world views you or evaluates your sophistication. God has revealed His Son to you and He has revealed the Father. Rejoice!

Blessed Are the Eyes – Easter and Always

Luke 10:23-24   And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

A great teacher and writer, T.W. Hunt once said that upon arriving in Heaven, he’d want to see Jesus first and behold the Lord upon His throne. After that, he said, he’d like to see two things in Heaven that no man ever saw on earth. One would be a full holographic replay of creation and the other would be the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave.

For those living in Jesus’ day, it was a greater privilege than they realized to experience Him in the flesh as first-hand witnesses of His teachings and of His Passion. Those who saw Him after He was raised from the dead had mixed reactions which almost always exploded into joy once they finally “got it.”

Jesus looked back on those who had believed and hoped over the centuries for the day of His coming. How they would have given everything just to live in that particular moment of history, the dawning of redemption!

We ourselves look back to those days and often pine for that experience, wishing we could have lived in that day. Yet, we do live in that day.

We have seen what even those who lived in Jesus’ day have not seen. We have heard what they have not heard. We have two thousand years of history and a bible that interprets that history for us in the light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and the promise of His coming again.

I agree with Dr. Hunt and would rejoice to see replays of those great events witnessed only by God and the angels. However, I would not trade one bit of what we know and celebrate this day for all the knowledge in the world. Namely, what we declare today is central to all else and we are blessed to see it and hear it:

The Lord is risen!

He is risen indeed!