All seems lost. The exhausting terror and noise of Friday has given way to the terrible silence of Saturday. Every footfall brings fear. What now? The despair, pain and fear is crushing. We can’t even run, it is the Sabbath and to flee on the Sabbath would attract immediate attention with the mob induced stoning the Law demands. So we wait behind locked doors fearing for our lives and wondering: what just happened? We had followed him for three years. We left our families, jobs, businesses and reputations. We all agreed with Peter that he was the promised one, the only one with the words of life and there was no where else for us to go. Last Sunday it looked as if the whole nation finally believed this as well. They shouted praises and quoted the promises from long ago. They made a carpet of their coats and shouted “Hosanna”. Maybe the kingdom was coming! It was a glorious week filled with Jesus teaching in the Temple to the growing crowds. The anticipation was palpable in the air. Even the religious leaders kept their distance for once. Relegating themselves to glowering in the periphery. Oh it was truly one of the best times I have ever known in Jerusalem.
But something changed after Judas left our Seder on Thursday. Jesus began to teach us and speak of the kingdom which was not new but he seemed to have an urgency and an intensity that was new. Then after singing a hymn we left the city and went to a garden just outside the city walls because Jesus wanted to pray. He left us to pray a short distance from where he, Peter, James, and John prayed. I tried to stay awake, I really did! But my eyes were sooo heavy. The week had been long and tiring and I could not seem to stay awake. I tried harder each of the 2 times Jesus awakened us but I still fell asleep. The next thing I knew Jesus was awakening us yet again and this time soldiers were coming! In my stupor it seemed an entire Roman Legion was bearing down on us! In actually it was just the Jewish Temple guards but we were still outnumbered and in my sleepy haze terror is all I could feel. After Judas kissed Jesus the soldiers went to seize Jesus and Peter drew his sword to defend the Lord. It was chaos with Jesus shouting at Peter to put the sword away then healing the man Peter had clumsily nicked in his attempt to remove the man’s head from his shoulders. Without the option to fight we could only run! And so we fled as they led Jesus away. Three illegal trials later we watched in horror as the same crowd which five days ago had hailed Jesus as their King now allowed the religious leaders to manipulate them into calling for his crucifixion. So the Romans flogged him beyond all recognition, forced him to carry his cross outside the city and then striped him naked and nailed him to a tree. I can’t even describe the horror of that day. It wasn’t even enough that they succeeded in getting the Romans to kill him but they continued to mock him and taunt him while he died. So grotesque was the scene that the Sun even hid its face. Finally, with a great cry Jesus gave up the ghost into his Father’s hands and died. Later they gave his body to Joseph of Arimathea who placed it in his own tomb and rolled the enormous stone over the entrance. So afraid of Jesus were the religious leaders that they persuaded Pilate to seal the tomb and set a detail of Roman soldiers to guard it. They could not even let his body rest in peace! Then as the sun set that terrible passover Friday evening the silence descended. Oh the deafening silence! And today I have been trapped with my thoughts, if you can call them that. I just want this nightmare to STOP! Have I wasted the last 3 years? Why did they kill my Lord? What threat was an itinerant Rabbi? I can’t get the images from yesterday out of my mind! Everytime I close my eyes I see his mangled form on that tree and I want to retch. He was innocent, I am the guilty one! I ran! I have many sins both public and private for which I deserve to be punished but he, he has done nothing! If he was the chosen one why did YHWH abandon him?
My words and questions ring hollow as the heavens are silent. The Sabbath is supposed to be a day of rest in which we have time to recount the deeds of YHWH and worship but this is the most awful Sabbath I have ever known. There is no justice, there was no rescue from heaven, no voice thundering to warn of impending doom to those who mangled the beloved Son, there is only silence.
Originally posted April 3, 2010 on apauper.com All Rights Reserved
Forgive ME of my depraved indifference!
An Oldie but a goodie! Enjoy!
I am not much for Rap but this still truth. Enjoy and be challenged!
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3–9, ESV)
My cancer treatments were all inpatient treatments due to the type of cancer I had and its aggressive nature. When you are relegated to a hospital room for weeks you have a lot of time to think and reflect. During one particular difficult hospital stay in which I was in intense pain, my thoughts were directed toward the truth that this suffering was going to reveal my true character. Oh how I desperately prayed that the nurses and techs would see the grace of God in me, how I begged God that I would have the grace and strength to not make their tough job worse. How I did on that front others would have to tell you.
However, during this struggle I kept thinking of a crucible. For those unfamiliar with this special vessel (as if I am some master smelter or something), a crucible is the specially constructed vessel used to test and purify precious metals. The master smelter will take the metal to be purified and place it into this vessel. Then the crucible is placed into the furnace to melt the metal into a liquid state. Once in a liquid state several options are available to the smelter to rid the metal of its impurities. One of the oldest is to take an implement and skim the surface of the liquid metal dragging the impurities out. Then the vessel is replaced in the furnace which causes more impurity to rise to the surface after which the entire process is repeated until the smelter is satisfied with the purity of the metal.
With this process playing over and over in my mind coupled with the knowledge that my pain and struggle was revealing my own character, I began to reflect on what spiritual value and truth I could glean, what did this tell me about God? What did the Word say about me in relation to these truths? What should my response be? One of the first things I thought of was that much like the metal in the crucible, I was being tried and tested. The genuineness of my faith was GOING to be revealed and how I desperately wanted the aroma of Jesus to permeate everything I did and how I feared that I would prove myself to be an unworthy servant. I wanted everyone to see the pure gold of the fruits of the Spirit but I feared that all that would be found was the lead of my evil heart. So I prayed hard that God would give me grace to bear up under this travail and if there is any praise it belongs to Him and He alone.
The second truth that I was reminded of is that unlike gold brought out of the ground and placed in the crucible, which has intrinsic value in and of itself, I had nothing good in me (Isa. 64:6-7). In and of myself I am a wretched rebel who of my own volition spurned the Law of the Righteous Judge, declaring war on the Holy One of Israel seeking to depose Him from his rightful throne as Lord over all of creation and all peoples. Because of that rebellion I was a rotting, bloated, lifeless corpse. Left to myself there was nothing to put into the crucible – I was nothing but impurities: there was nothing good in me.
The third truth is the corollary to the truth above, namely that any good that might come out of my life was the direct result of God’s imputation of Christ’ righteousness to my account (Rom 5:15-17). To have anything to put in the crucible to refine I must first be given it (Eph 2:8-9). God in His condescending benevolence, providence and mercy grants Christ’ righteousness to rebels like me. Does that meant that I have arrived? No, I am not yet what I will be but Praise God I am not what I was!
Finally, as I lay there in that bed I was overwhelmed with humble gratitude. Making it through each moment was not an act of my own power or ability but was in fact a gift of grace from a loving Father who chose not to rescue me from the flames, nor meant me harm in them but rather was putting His power and might on display as He walked in the fire with me.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Cor 10:13 ESV
“16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” ” Daniel 3:16-29 ESV