Meditating on the Commands of Christ (107): Proclaim the Gospel to the Whole Creation

As we end this year and start looking ahead to 2021, I can’t think of a more fitting way also to end this series of meditations on the life of Jesus—how he lived and the instructions he has given us in the Bible. In the last chapter of each of the three synoptic gospels, Jesus’s parting command to his disciples was to preach the gospel: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). What is “the gospel?” In Luke’s account, Jesus gives a simple explanation of what “the gospel” is: “that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations” (Luke 24: 4 6-47).

The account in Matthew, often known as “The Great Commission,” states it this way, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). This last passage, where Jesus tells us to teach others to observe “all that I have commanded you,” is what first inspired me to meditate through “The Commands of Christ” on my blog.

Finally, in the book of John, Jesus’s last command (given specifically to Peter) is very much the same, “Follow me!” (John 21:22). “Do as I do and teach others.” If you are part of a church that has any other agenda greater than that of sharing the gospel, may I encourage you to consider finding a different church for your spiritual fellowship in 2021? Why? Because even though healing the sick and feeding the poor are crucially important ministries, they are only secondary to reaching people with the spiritually life-giving message of the need for repentance for our sins and salvation through faith in Christ! There is no social, physical, or political agenda on earth that can compare in value to reaching people with the gospel.

How do I know? Because first and foremost, Jesus preached the gospel, lived the gospel, died for the sake of the gospel (for our salvation), and commissioned us to share this good news with the world around us. Not only did Christ command us to proclaim the gospel to the whole creation, but this is also exactly what he did! At the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus taught, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17) . . . “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15) . . . “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because he has anointed Me to preach the gospel” (Luke 4:18, NKJV). In the book of John, Jesus’s first command (invitation really) was to “Come and see” (John 1:39), but his first clear command is exactly the same as what Jesus told Peter at the very end of his earthly ministry, “Follow me!” (John 1:43).

If we believe that Jesus really is the Son of God and the Savior of the world . . . if we have personally repented of our sins and asked Jesus to be our Lord and Savior . . . then our first and foremost commission is to follow him . . . to do as he did . . . to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). Are we doing this? How can we do this?

God’s calling to discipleship and to proclaim the gospel is universal, but He helps us fulfill our calling in unique ways. He calls some to follow him across cultural boundaries, learn new languages, and struggle to understand people very different from themselves. However, all of us are called to be witnesses to those around us of what we have experienced of the love, grace, mercy, and power of God. What has He done for you? What is He doing for you? Can we share what we’ve experienced in our walk with God with those around us? Our family, friends, classmates, coworkers, and neighbors?

I heard one minister explain the Great Commission this way: “AS you are going . . .” Even if we aren’t called to go to another country, we all go here and there as the normal part of our lives, and wherever we go, Jesus wants us to share the Good News with those we meet. Jesus actually prohibited the healed mentally ill man from following Jesus across the sea, instructing him instead to “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you” (Mark 5:19).

As 2021 approaches, let’s spend a little time reflecting on what great things God has done for us this year. Has He provided for you and been faithful to you for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health? Has He loved and cherished you? God has never left me and has carried me through every trial. His mercies have indeed been new every day, and His compassion has never failed. Jesus is the “friend that sticks closer than a brother.” God has never turned me away when I prayed for grace and strength. He has been my rock. His Word has been a lamp to my feet. His Holy Spirit has been my guide and wise counselor. God is more wonderful than I can begin to explain . . . but I’ll keep trying, and I hope you do too!

Della Reese singing “God Is So Wonderful” at the Grand Old Opry
(just prior to undergoing brain surgery)

Texts for this meditation (all from the English Standard Version): Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Mark 16:15, “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” Luke 24:46-49, “And said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.

(This is the song I was originally looking for . . .
a song we often sang in our youth group during the 60s and 70s!)

(Painting of Jesus with a sheep in the winter used by permission of Yongsung Kim, https://www.foundationarts.com/yongsung-kim )

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (106): Behold My Hands and Feet

Christmas is probably the most celebrated holiday in the world, and billions of people join in the festivities, often traveling long distances, since “there’s no place like home for the holidays!” In America, even people who don’t believe in God often celebrate the Christmas holiday, complete with time off from work and school, special meals, exchanging gifts, 24/7 Christmas music on the radio, and decorating Christmas trees. It’s a time for walking through a winter wonderland and watching Mommy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe.

Among believers, the celebrations focus more on the wonder of God sending the love gift of his uniquely begotten son into the world to save us from our sins and bring peace and goodwill to earth. Baby Jesus in the manger and the wisemen bringing gifts. Still, most of us enjoy a 50-75% cross-section with our culturally-only Christian friends and neighbors. At my house, a Christmas tree is up and some of our kids are home for the holidays! (Of course, not many due to COVID restrictions this year.)

Doubting Thomas by Rembrandt (Public Domain)

Rejoicing and celebrating is fine, but I hope we don’t lose the true meaning of Christmas in a swirl of pageantry and twinkling lights. Jesus never commanded us to commemorate his birth . . . nor does he ever mention wishing we would! In fact, we really don’t know the exact day on which Jesus was born. But, as I come to the end of meditating my way through the Gospels to consider what Jesus did state as imperatives, this one really stood out to me: “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

The Doubting Thomas by Leendert van der Cooghen, 1654. (Public Domain)

Why did Jesus want his disciples to see and even touch his wounds? Because he wanted us to understand that he was not just a spirit, he was also a real person. The Christmas “story” is not some make-believe, feel-good myth like Santa Claus. The “Spirit of Christmas” is not simply the generalized mood of peace and goodwill that most of us feel. Jesus Christ was a real person who lived and died in time and space, just like you and me, and our parents and grandparents. In a hundred years, it may be that nobody knows we ever existed, and people may deny that there ever was a Kathryn Armstrong, but that doesn’t nullify the fact. There is a Kathryn Armstrong alive and well today, and there is a YOU alive (and hopefully well) today.

There was also a Jesus Christ who was born around 2020 years ago, who lived and died by crucifixion, and who rose again from the dead. The disciples were amazed and confused when he appeared to them after his crucifixion, even though he had forewarned them that he would be crucified and raised after three days (which the religious leaders also knew, and which is the reason they set a guard to keep his dead body sealed in the tomb).

Why were the disciples surprised when Jesus rose from the dead? They probably couldn’t believe their own eyes! How could someone so brutally tortured and completely dead . . . who had been bound up in linen cloths and laid to rest in a sepulcher for three days . . . how could such a person come back to life? They must have thought they were seeing a ghost.

Roman spikes from around the time of Christ on display
at the British Museum, London

But no! Jesus was not a ghost. After his resurrection, Jesus had a literal, physical, tangible, touchable body. Yes, he had been cruelly tortured and killed—and he had the scars to prove it—but he rose again from the dead, never to die again, and He is alive and well today!

We can not touch him today the way the disciples could 2000 years ago, but we can read the accounts in the Bible and learn from those who did have experiences with him, as the Apostle John writes at the beginning of his epistle: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life . . . declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:1,3).

Jesus is alive. He is here. He loves you! He wants you to believe in him and be saved. If you have never truly beheld his hands and feet bleeding from the spikes driven through them as he died on the cross for our sins, will you behold him today? Please, “Stop doubting and believe.” Read the Bible. Learn the true Christmas story: “Christ” + “mass;” it’s really the celebration of Christ’s sacrifice for us! If you’ve never read the Bible, try starting with the Book of John, who explained, “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31).

“How Beautiful” by Twila Paris

Text for this meditation: Luke 24:39, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

(*Credit for first painting by Yongsung Kim, used by permission of Havenlight Ministries,

https://www.foundationarts.com/yongsung-kim)

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (105): Go in Peace

As Christmas draws near, do you find yourself feeling a bit overwhelmed by the COVID Grinch? If you’ve got grown kids like me who usually come home for the holidays, you might be anguishing (also like me) over how to ensure that all of your kids feel loved and wanted . . . even if they can’t all be home together. Worse . . . you may have to stay at home all alone. 😦

Or, how about this one? Do you ever find yourself waking up at night feeling anxious but you’re not even sure why? Alan (medical internist by trade) says that generalized anxiety often increases as we age. I’ve read that as many as 25% of senior citizens struggle with diffuse feelings of anxiety. (I think stats on diagnosable “GAD” [Generalized Anxiety Disorder] is more like 10-20%.)

The gloomy thought that we’ll all have quite a struggle trying to keep the COVID Grinch from stealing Christmas only adds fuel to the fires of worry burning in our hearts.

We can’t just all hold hands around the world and sing together to solve our problem, either. No holding hands in 2020, please!

Many times during Jesus’s ministry on earth, he invited people to accept and experience peace: “And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole, go in peace, and be whole of thy plague” (Mark 5:34). Near the end of his ministry, as he was preparing his disciples to withstand the onslaught of evil forces that would be intent on destroying them after Jesus left, he offered them peace: “Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36, also recorded in John 20:19, 21, and 26).

If we’re not feeling peaceful, how do we get peace? There are some 420 verses that mention “peace,” but I want to share just a handful of the ones that are most helpful to me, and I thought might encourage you too:

Meditating on the words of Christ will bring us peace (and hope): “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Trusting in the Lord’s provision will give us peace: “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).

The humble are more likely to experience peace: “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:11).

The righteous are more likely to experience peace: “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace” (Psalm 37:37; however, “the end” may not be today!). “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:9). I had a mentor years ago who used to say, “A clear conscience makes a soft pillow.” That dear man died of a heart attack in his eighties and was found sitting in his favorite chair with his Bible open on his lap. I feel sure he died in peace!

Jesus provides peace for his followers: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

The peace that Jesus provides comes initially from knowing that we have been reconciled to God: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

Ultimately, Jesus himself not only provides peace, but “He is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14), “the Lord of peace” (2 Thessalonian 1:2), and “King of peace” (Hebrews 7:2). This is similar to learning that not only does God provide love for us, “God is love“(I John 4:8). To know Jesus is to know peace. If you are a believer (like me) who wants to experience more peace, let’s seek to know Jesus better!

On the other hand, whether or not you’re a believer, I’m pretty sure you want peace—that blissful state of tranquility in your soul. Isn’t that a universal desire for us as human beings? It’s one thing for Jesus to tell us to “go in peace,” but it’s another thing to be able to do that. There are a couple of warnings in scripture that highlight what will increase our restlessness: “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, ESV). If we focus our minds on the world around us, we will increase our anxiety.

Also, living for ourselves and indulging in ungodly behaviors destroys peace, whereas abiding in Christ brings rich spiritual rewards (like peace): “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5: 18-23, ESV).

Sixty years ago, when my husband was child, he heard the gospel message and always thought that “someday” he’d become a Christian, although he didn’t want to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior then because it might ruin his fun. “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3). Today he looks back and wishes he’d become a Christian sooner! None of us has a guarantee that we will live until tomorrow, and even if we do live many more years, I believe the day will come when we all wish we’d surrendered our hearts to Jesus sooner!

Why? Because Jesus is all that the prophets claimed he would be. About 725 years before Christ was born, the prophet Isaiah made this prediction: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). As we head toward Christmas this year, wouldn’t you love to have this child given by God who was born to govern the world and is all these things: Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace?!!

Oh, please, open your heart to him today, and let him bring peace to your soul!

Texts for this meditation: Luke 24:36, “Peace be unto you” (Jesus to gathered disciples). Also found in John 20:19,21,26, “Peace be unto you.” Mark 5:34, “And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole, go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.” Luke 8:48, “And he said unto her. Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” I pray that this is true for each of us who read this meditation: May we believe in Jesus, and through that faith find good comfort and peace today and forevermore!

(*For any Christian who is suffering from poor sleep and generalized anxiety, may I recommend memorizing the verses above? I have, and I tend to recite them to myself rather than counting sheep! There’s nothing quite so therapeutic as prayer and meditation for a good night’s rest.)

Psalm 63:5-8, ESV

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me
.”

(P.S.—If you are living well and still experiencing generalized anxiety, consider going to your doctor for a medical exam. It may be that your body chemistry is off and you need some medical intervention. There’s no shame in having a body that is low on serotonin or other necessary components to keep your brain and body functioning well. The only “shame” would be if you could get help but refuse to try, just as it would be a great sorrow to need the Lord’s salvation and refuse it.)

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (104): Watch and Pray

With a third of the world professing Christians, “Watch and pray” will not be a new concept to most of us, but just what is it that we should be watching? For most of my adult life, I assumed the “watch” part referred to being careful—watchful, alert . . . keeping a sharp eye out for trouble: “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.” (Proverbs 22:3). Of course, we should look in the backseat before unlocking our car door at night and avoid walking alone through dark alleys, but is that what Jesus meant?

Although prudence concerning our everyday behavior is a good thing, Jesus was rarely speaking only about the physical world. I’m quite certain our Lord was not commanding us to watch the news on TV or our favorite podcaster. He wasn’t admonishing us to continuously check the Dow Jones average, the weather channel, or even Johns Hopkin’s up-to-the-minute report on worldwide COVID cases and deaths. Watching the contractions of our world as it writhes in birth pains will not bring us peace; usually it dramatically increases our anxiety.

With head bowed and eyes closed, what was Jesus “watching” during his last night on earth? He wasn’t looking at anything on earth. He was communing with God. Watching His face. “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22). Jesus was lifting up his spiritual eyes to see the face of God, the eternal One: “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old [“wear out”] like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished” (Isaiah 51:6).

Jesus was watching the face of God to determine what God’s will was: “Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us” (Psalm 123:2). Jesus was determined to know and do the will of his father. He came “boldly to the throne of grace” to “obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (which we are also encouraged to do, Hebrews 4:16).

Why did Jesus tell us to “watch and pray”? So that we can avoid temptation and resist evil (see texts below). So that when we are tried by fire and have to do something terribly hard, we can “withstand in the evil day” (Ephesians 6:13) and “come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).

We learn from Hebrews 12:12 that God the Father also must have given Jesus a vision of future joy to strengthen him, and we are told that we can look to Jesus as our example, so I’m assuming that God also wants us to have a vision of heaven in our hearts to sustain us through our times of testing and trials on earth. Someday we will see Jesus face to face, and he will take us to heaven to be with him in the presence of his Father!

Face to Face

Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation:
my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7).

 Texts for the meditation: Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38, “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.Luke 22:40, “Pray that ye enter not into temptation.Luke 22:46, “Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” 

(*Painting Credit: the beautiful portrait of Jesus praying is used by permission of Yongsung Kim and Havenlight. https://www.foundationarts.com/yongsung-kim.)

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (103): Developing a Servant’s Heart

“I just want to be a boss!” This came in response to the question,”What would you like to be when you grow up?” We thought the question would make a great ice breaker for our high-school aged youth group back in the days when Alan and I were co-leading with our pastor and his wife. There were a lot of enthusiastic and thoughtful responses—most of which I don’t remember 20 years later. But, I’ll never forget that particular answer!

Probably her older sister won’t ever forget it either! Most of us were caught off guard and looked at Melanie* curiously, trying to figure out if she was joking. She was joking, right?! Maybe not; she looked completely serious. An awkward hush fell over the room. Some smirked; some smiled; some looked a little dismayed. In Brethren circles twenty years ago, being “a boss” wasn’t considered PC as the express intention of anybody, but especially not a petite highschool freshman!

“Melanie!” her older sister protested, trying to save the situation, “You don’t really mean that, do you?”

Melanie glared fiercely at her sister. She was fifth-born in a large family and a budding teenager, so I suppose she had some legitimate desire to be out from under the watchful eyes of her parents and older siblings! ” Yes! That’s exactly what I want to be! I want to be in charge!”

I must say that twenty years later, this beautiful young lady is—in many ways—in charge . . . of her lovely children. She’s married and I think happy. She never became the “boss” of a large company or business, but she is definitely one of those proverbially virtuous women who directs her home with tender (but also firm) care. She’s a good boss, but I suspect that didn’t come without a lot of pain in the process!

In the Bible, Jesus’s followers more than once debated who was the greatest and who should have preeminence when Jesus reigned as king. In that context, Jesus taught them: “He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he that is chief, as he that serves” Luke 22:26). In reality, Jesus didn’t overthrow the Roman government (as some of his disciples thought). As it turned out, Jesus’s kingdom was a spiritual kingdom, not a physical kingdom. Jesus will someday reign over all the earth, but in the cross hairs of BC and AD, Christ’s mission was to die as a sacrificial servant to pay the penalty for the sins of mankind.

Who became the leader after Jesus died? Really, all of the remaining apostles, but it cost them all their lives.

They led by example, constrained by the love of Christ, not for any glory for themselves, but so they could testify to the truth of the gospel for the love of man and the glory of God.

Jesus died so that the world could be saved. Stephen, one of the first servants of the church, died as a martyr, but through his death Paul was converted. Paul was martyred, but through his death multitudes came to faith. And on and on!

Leadership in the church of Jesus Christ has never been intended to be for the glory of individual people. True leaders suffer greatly. Jesus calls us to servant leadership—being willing to suffer so that others might hear, believe, and be saved.

Are we willing?

Here are a few quotes on servant leadership worth pondering:

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

Texts for this meditation: Matthew 23:10-12, “Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. Matthew 20:25-28, But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,  and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.Mark 9:33-37 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’ But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’ And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them,  ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.‘” Mark 10:4 2-45  And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.Luke 22:26, But he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.

Make Me a Servant

(*Melanie is a pseudonym, since this charming young woman is alive and well still today.)

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (102): The Case for Communion . . . Even Online??

What’s the point of the Christian practice of communion? Jesus instituted it the night before he died, and he commanded his disciples, “This do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). For Jesus and his disciples, it started out as the celebration of the Passover feast—the time when Jewish people remembered their rescue by God from slavery. On the night of the first Passover, God instructed each family to sacrifice a lamb and apply its blood to the top and sides of the doorway leading into their home, and then they were to eat the roasted lamb in preparation for their journey out of Egypt (where they had been slaves) into the freedom of “The Promised Land,” Israel. God warned everyone living in the land of Egypt that he was sending a Death Angel to kill the firstborn in every household, but if the angel saw blood from the sacrificial lamb over the door of any home, he would “pass over” that home and not kill anyone inside.

The Last Supper by Tintoretto, 1594. Public Domain

So, Jesus was celebrating this annual feast with his disciples, but the commemorative feast was also Jesus’s “last supper,” because the next morning he was to be sacrificed as the “Passover Lamb” . . . the one prophesied by John the Baptist at the beginning of his ministry: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Jesus was crucified on a cross, and blood from his wounded head and outstretched arms would be the perfect fulfillment of the blood being applied to the top and sides of the door.

In order to help his disciples understand all the imagery from the Passover, and how it was going to be fulfilled in his sacrifice on the cross, Jesus instituted what we now know as “communion,” “The Lord’s supper,” or the most ancient term— “Eucharist” (from root words meaning “gratitude for God’s grace”).

The Last Supper, by Carl Bloch. Public Domain

So, after the main part of the Passover meal was over and Judas had been dismissed, “Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’” (Matthew 26:26-28).

The Last Supper by Peter Paul Rubens, 1631-32. Public Domain

Jesus was teaching his disciples that his sacrifice—being the lamb of God—was a once-for-all-time sacrifice that would never need to be repeated again. After Jesus was crucified, there would never need to be another Passover lamb slain. All that anyone would need to do in order to be delivered from the slavery of sin and be set on the path to “The Promised Land” of heaven would be to accept Jesus’s blood as the perfect and complete fulfillment of the Old Testament law.

The Last Supper by Dieric Bouts, 1420-1475. Public Domain

From that night forward, Jesus was providing a “New Testament” for his disciples—both those with him that night, and for all who would come in the future: “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” What did he mean? The last Passover was the last time a lamb would need to be slain. This same meal was also the Last Supper, but it was the first time Jesus was introducing a new testament and a new covenant. Instead of a lamb, in future, Jesus asked all his disciples to remember his death on the cross with a simple feast of bread and drink.

Last Supper, mosaic by Sibeaster, 2008. Public Domain

Now, there are several interpretations of what Jesus meant when he said, “This is my body . . . this is my blood . . .” Some early Christians were terribly persecuted because the rumor went around that they were cannibals—eating the literal body and blood of Christ. Even today, there are those who believe in “transubstantiation” (the bread is mystically transformed into the literal body of Christ), “consubstantiation” (the bread is mystically infused with the actual presence of Christ’s body but is both bread and body), and those who believe communion is a memorial where the bread is symbolically and metaphysically Christ’s body but not literally. Whereas the first two groups believe communion is a sacramental means of receiving grace, the last group believes the Eucharist is an ordinance of thanksgiving, commemorating the fact that saving grace was received at the time of first believing and accepting Christ’s sacrifice.

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, 1490’s. Public Domain

I personally believe that the bread and juice are symbols, just as Jesus was not literally a lamb, but metaphorically. However, I may be wrong. When we all get to heaven, I’m sure Jesus will go to the chalkboard and help us understand exactly what he meant. Meanwhile, the most important things to remember in the present are:

  • Only those who apply the blood are saved; all others were lost. The testament was only fulfilled by those who accepted the blood of Jesus as the testator: “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator” (Hebrews 9:16). And, Jesus said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many” (Matthew 26:28). Jesus died so that all can be saved, but only those who accept his sacrifice will be saved.
  • All who are believing disciples are called to practice communion, and in so doing, remember Jesus’s sacrifice: “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

Are you a believer? Are you practicing communion? I know that during this COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a lot of confusion about the efficacy of celebrating the Lord’s Supper as corporate, online experiences, but let’s remember Jesus’s teaching: “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Texts for this meditation: Matthew 26:26-29, “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Mark 14:22-26,And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God. And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.Luke 22:14-20, “And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (101): Let No Man Deceive You

Have you ever wondered if and when the world is going to end? If you don’t have any religious affiliation, you might suppose the world should last for another 3-7 billion years, although scientists predict that life won’t be sustainable on earth for more than a few billion years. However, even two or three billion years is a long time . . . long enough that for all practical purposes we don’t really need to be concerned since that’s about six billion generations of our grandchildren away.

“The Great Day of His Wrath” by John Martin, 1851 (Public Domain)

However, Jesus taught that the “end of this age” (of life on earth as we know it) is coming while people are still living on earth—not billions of years from now, but possibly soon— and that it will come as a surprise (Mark 13:32, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father“). Furthermore, the end of this age is an event worth being continuously prepared for—like the servants of a great estate awaiting the return of their master (Matthew 24:42-44).

It is in this context that Jesus warns his followers: “See that no one leads you astray (Matthew 24:4). What did Jesus mean? He didn’t want us to make the mistake of unbelieving scoffers, who think “all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (1 Peter 3:4). Jesus doesn’t want us to fall into the trap of those who think we can do whatever we please because either God doesn’t exist or He doesn’t care. The truth is that all things will not continue as they always have. There will be an end, and here are some of the signs Jesus gave us in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 that will mark the “birth pangs” of the beginning of the end:

*Increased wars, lawlessness, and civil unrest
*More numerous famines, earthquakes, and pestilences
*Increasing hurricanes, tidal waves, and oceanic disturbances
*Unusual changes in the atmosphere and our perception of the sun, moon, and stars
*Increased persecution against those who follow Jesus Christ
*Many false “Messiahs” who will claim that they can save the world

If you follow the news, it’s not hard to cite examples of increasing unrest, pestilences (COVID-19, anyone?), atmospheric changes, etc. Global warming has been a hot topic for years and is touted as the cause for everything from hurricanes to forest fires. We all see and feel the changes in planet Earth—and the people living on planet Earth. We may disagree about how to deal with the problems, but we all recognize them. As a Christian, I want to point out two things:

#1. God has given us the responsibility of being stewards and caretakers of this beautiful world, and it’s our privilege and duty to pursue cleaning up our environment and restoring the world to the best of our ability. The fact that the world is going to end “someday” never gives us an excuse for careless management of our resources in the present.

#2. Despite our best efforts, planet Earth and we—the people living on this beautiful planet —are destined to succumb to the degenerative changes mentioned above. In fact, the earth isn’t just “warming” globally, we’re told “the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (1 Peter 3:6). At the end of the world as we know it, our whole solar system is going to be destroyed by fire: “the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (1 Peter 3:10).

In the light of Jesus’s teachings about the end of the age and the prospects for humanity’s future, what should our response be? Again, Jesus and the Bible give some very specific guidelines!

*Don’t be deceived by those who do not believe (Matthew 24:4-5, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray“).
*Don’t be afraid (Luke 21:9, “And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once“).
*Continue trusting God and following Jesus, remembering that “the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:13-14).
*Keep your love hot (Matthew 24:12, “because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved“).
*Anticipate persecution as a privilege to bear the truth to others (Luke 21:12-15,”But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.”)
*Keep the Lamp of the Holy Spirit within you lit and burning brightly, living with the awareness that Jesus might return at any moment (Luke 12:35-36: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning,  and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.”)
*Keep pursuing Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:17-18, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen“).
* Look forward to the happy ending of the story:Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Globespin of Earth on May 29, 2016. Public Domain

Texts for this meditation: The complete chapters of Matthew 24 and Luke 21 are critical, although in particular I’ve been meditating on these verses: Matthew 24:3-13, “As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.Luke 21:7-19, 25-28 And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives . . . And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (100): Love Me, Love My Dog

What? You don’t think “Love me, love my dog!” was one of Jesus’s commandments? Well, maybe not exactly, but it definitely struck a chord in me as I was thinking about what Jesus actually taught: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

My “grand dog” Rocco, cramming for finals in Belgium 🙂

Haven’t you noticed that if you love someone, you tend to love their pets too, quirks and all? My two older brothers both have dogs, and I’m a fan! My oldest brother’s dog is a little Scottie with incredible attitude. Quinn’s had pneumonia and while convalescing pretty much kicked my brother and his wife out of his (their) master bedroom. Talk about entitled and beloved, but I am 100% behind their indulgences because I know how much they love him and how they’ll grieve if they lose him.

When I was a kid, my favorite pastime was following my second-oldest brother around. He was pretty much like the Pied Piper . . . always doing something super exciting! My sister and I went on countless adventures with him. We nearly drowned once in a flash flood. We got lost hiking in the Black Hills. Once Wolle captured a sun shark for dinner when we were camping at Cape Cod. On another expedition, we caught 43 flounder and one electric eel off Long Island. Wolle became a marathoner and could outrun me while I was riding my bike. I thought he was Super Man and was never afraid—even on the scariest carnival rides—as long as I could ride with him. Today his own children are grown and he has an adorable cockapoo who follows him around everywhere just like I used to. Do you think I love his dog? You bet!!

My two youngest sons both have cats, and I’m a fan. Luna might knock over Stephen’s orchid, and Lionel might knock over Luna, but I feel a real affection for them because my son does!

Rigby demands the comfort of my youngest son’s lap pretty much all the time and wails if she’s barred from the bedroom, but my son loves his new wife and her adorable cats, so I’m a fan too! How could I not be?

For some reason, it’s always seemed like an automatic for me to love the Lord with all my heart! What’s not to love about the One who is Love, Light, Life, the epitomy of all things good, who loves me, sent his son to be my lord and savior, who listens to my prayers and pleas, and who showers me with the peace and presence of his heavenly Holy Spirit? How anyone can resist God is a total mystery to me, and I fell in love with God the first day I learned that he really does exist and that he loves me (and you, and everyone). The first commandment comes pretty “naturally” to someone who has been born again. What baby doesn’t feel love for his mother? Sure, we squirm and cry and fuss when we don’t get our way sometimes, but there’s an unbreakable bond of love and trust that (at least between God and man) will never end, even into eternity.

The second commandment—to love my neighbor as I love myself — has been a huge challenge over time. Mostly because I’m so selfish my nature, but secondly because people also tend to be selfish by nature, and it’s not easy to love others who are NOT like God! Right? Surprise? Not really. BUT, God loves all people, so if we’re really going to love God fully, then we’re going to have to learn to love and care for all His beloved people too. Ultimately we need to love our neighbors because they are loved by God. “Love me, love my children (even more precious than pets)!” When I find myself flummoxed by the foibles of family and friends, I try to remind myself that I have not been put off by the shortcomings of my relatives’ pets, nor should I be put off by the failures of my neighbors. After all, they also have to put up with my failures and weaknesses!

I wonder if it’s easier to overlook the faults of pets than of people? Perhaps the more we love someone, the greater their capacity for hurting us. But, again, it might help us if we can remember that the fountainhead of our love is God’s love flowing down through us, and the resource of our love is allowing ourselves to be a channel of God’s love and blessings. We don’t have to generate love; we simply have to allow His love to flow through us.

Can we be channels of His blessing to others? I pray that we can!

Texts for this meditation: Matthew 22:37-39, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourselfMark 12:28-31,And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, ‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (99): The Stamp of God

Have you ever considered what all in this world has the stamp of God on it? I’d heard the expression, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21), but it wasn’t until this morning that I started thinking about the far-reaching implications of this command. As a young person, I got the message, “Be a good citizen and pay your taxes,” but I never really thought about the deeper second half: God wants us to render (give) to him what belongs to him.

What belongs to God? What bears his “likeness and inscription” (Matthew 22:20)? As I looked around me, I realized that virtually everything I love—both visible and invisible—has God’s stamp on it. Among my favorite invisible treasures is the mystery of God and belonging to him, the gift of life itself, love, joy, peace, faith, hope, kindness, mercy, justice, compassion, goodness, security, friendship, tolerance, imaginative vision, light, creativity, the ability to think, rest, comfort, encouraging words, music, relatively good health, a cool breeze on a hot day and a cozy fire on a cold day, the fragrance of those we love and the sound of their voices, bird songs, the tantalizing scent of bread baking, forgiveness, resolution of pain, healing and restoration, the softness of a fleecy blanket and kitten fur, quietness of soul, eternal life . . . the list goes on and on!

What about all the visible treasures God has showered around his creation? I think the list is infinite—or at least seems so to my finite mind! Can you think of a few of your favorite treasures? I asked Alan over lunch—it might make a memorable “game” to play with your family around the supper table. A few of my favorites include a functional body, family and friends, shelter, food, clothing, clean water, starry nights, towering trees, flashing butterfly wings, colorful flowers, glass windows, blue skies, flowing water, a reliable car . . . pretty much anything of beauty and value surrounding me. There is not one good thing I enjoy that isn’t a gift from God and bears his likeness: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).

What does God ask us to do with these treasures? Give them back to him. Does that mean give them away? No; I think not. Rather, I believe what God wants us to do is keep our hands open and our hearts surrendered. He doesn’t want us to grasp anything tightly. He wants us to be living sacrifices and good stewards of the wonderful gifts he gives us, acknowledging that he is our Lord, and allowing him to give and take as he sees fit.

Job with his friends by Gerard Seghers. Public Domain. 1591-1651

This is easier said than done, and we often begrudge God if he takes away something we particularly treasure and think of as our personal possession. But, God wants us to develop the faith and attitude of Job, who—after he had suffered the loss of almost all that was near and dear to him— “arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (Job 1:20-22).

Job and His Friends by Ilya Repin. 1869. Public Domain

What a challenge for us!

Texts for this meditation: Matthew 22:15-22:Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, ‘Whose likeness and inscription is this?’ They said, ‘Caesar’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.” See also Mark 12:13-17: And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, ‘Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?’ But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, ‘Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.’ And they brought one. And he said to them, ‘Whose likeness and inscription is this?’ They said to him, ‘Caesar’s.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they marveled at him.Luke 20:19-26: “The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. So they asked him, ‘Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?’ But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, ‘Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?’ They said, ‘Caesar’s.’ He said to them, ‘Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (98): Come Down

Do you know the story of Zacchaeus? In a nutshell, he was a small man with a big bank account based on his willingness to work for the government extracting taxes (sometimes unfairly) from people in Jericho. Basically, he was generally considered a despicable traitor, and I’ll bet he didn’t get invited to many dinner parties.

The Conversion of Zacchaeus by Bernardo Strozzi, 1581-1644

Thankfully, Zacchaeus wasn’t satisfied with his life. He became a seeker. Specifically, he developed some heart hunger and curiosity about the famous itinerate preacher and miracle worker, Jesus, who was passing through town. But, Jesus was surrounded by crowds of people who were also curious, and I suppose Zacchaeus knew intuitively that no one would make a way for him to get through the masses so he could see Jesus. And, if he tried to push his way through, everyone would most likely push him out of the way . . . or worse.

How could he get to Jesus? He was too short to see over all the other men. Zacchaeus looked down the road and saw where Jesus was headed. There was a large sycamore tree overhanging the road, and this gave Zacchaeus a brilliant idea! If he climbed up into the tree, he wouldn’t be harassed by anybody and could probably get a great view of this famous person without anybody even knowing he was there.

Jesus wasn’t oblivious to his presence, however! Jesus knew his heart’s desire, so he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5). Jesus invited himself to dinner! Imagine that. Everybody else hated Zaccheaus, but Jesus loved him and chose to have fellowship with him! The rest of the story records that this simple act of acceptance by Jesus brought out a response of joy and repentance in the “filthy rich,” much-despised Scrooge, and Zaccheaus promised to give half of his wealth to the poor and restore four-fold whatever he had unfairly taken from the people. The end of the story is a beautiful benediction by Jesus: “Today salvation has come to this house . . . for the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:9-10).

True repentance is truly transcendent, like watching a rose unfold from a tight, green bud or a butterfly emerge from a dead cocoon. When I read this account in the Scripture, I sometimes fear that I am like the self-righteous citizens of Jericho who despised the corrupt government official and would not make a way for him. Am I making it hard for someone to find their way to Jesus? How do you identify? Perhaps you’re more like Zacchaeus: unloved by others, or wealthy from being unscrupulous and hard-hearted in your business practices.

No matter who you are, Jesus sees you. He knows you’re there and has stopped to reach out to you today. His invitation to you is: “Hurry and come down!” Invite him into your home and heart. He wants to meet with you and fellowship with you! Allow his life to inspire you to repentance and change. Experience the joy of putting greed behind you and putting goodness before you!

No matter who we are, let’s make sure we’re not blocking anyone from coming to Jesus. Let’s become “way makers” to lead others to the true Way Maker and miracle worker who can meet our needs and change our hearts.

Way Maker, Miracle Worker by Leeland Mooring

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost‘” (Luke 19:1-10).