Happy Easter!

Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia!

I love celebrating the greatest day in history. Jesus defeated death, conquered sin, and rose from the grave to give us life! We cannot do anything on our own to earn salvation. Nothing. We can only choose to trust that Jesus did what we could not, place our faith in His sacrifice and substitution on our behalf, and walk in grace, forgiveness, and joy all the days of our life. Oh praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!

This Easter was spent in Richmond with the family, and we had a fun time together this weekend!

Happy Easter from my family to you!
Happy Easter from my family to you!

 

Hosanna!

Today is Palm Sunday, the day we celebrate Jesus riding into Jerusalem in triumph, just days before he took on all of our sin by dying a painful, horrific death on a cross, and then conquering death and rising again. I was thinking about his trip into the city today. He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, to signify his humility as a servant King. He allowed the people around him to worship him by throwing their cloaks on the road, waving palm branches in the air, and shouting at the top of their lungs:

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven and glory in the highest! – Luke 19:38

Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest! – Mark 11:9-10

Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest! – Matthew 21:9b

He allowed them to worship him knowing that these same people would be calling for his death in 5 short days. He allowed them to worship him because He is worthy of that worship. When the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke his followers, he responded with this:

I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out! – Luke 19:40

There were so many people on that day who got it right. They understood that Christ was the Messiah, the One sent to rescue people from their sin. And they worshiped him.

But there were so, so many more who stayed home that day. So many people who failed to see Christ for who he was. The city of Jerusalem was teeming with people in town for the Passover celebration. There were people everywhere, and on that day they went about their lives, oblivious to the King of Kings riding down the street on a donkey.

Jesus, the Son of God, is here. With us, in us. May we today get it right. May we celebrate and worship him as the promised Messiah. And may we this week soberly reflect on the price he paid that we could live. Worship him, for if we do not, the stones will cry out with the worship he deserves.

Hosanna in the highest! Praise, glory and honor to Jesus, our great Rescuer and Redeemer!

 

7 Statements that got Jesus Crucified

Jesus said a lot of controversial things in His three years of public ministry, enough to confuse some people and anger others to the point of desiring to have him murdered. At College Park’s Good Friday service last night, they had seven vignettes of statements that Jesus Christ made that incited the religious leaders to seek for His death on the cross. These religious leaders thought that by killing the rebel who was stirring up the people and making these claims they would be rid of Him for good. But, because the statements He made were completely true, they had no understanding that by killing their Messiah they were actually saving everyone who believed in Him.

1. “Before Abraham was, I AM” – John 8:58. It might sound like bad grammar, but in this statement Jesus is referring back to the story of Moses when God revealed His great and holy name “I AM who I AM”. Jesus was claiming equality with this God, saying that He too, existed before Abraham. To those who considered Him just a regular man, this was blasphemy. But this was no ordinary man…

2. “I and the Father are One” – John 5:10. Again, Jesus is speaking to the Jewish religious leaders of the day, claiming that He and God were completely equal on every level. If He was just a prophet, then this would have been blasphemy, and crazy talk for a Jew to compare himself to God.

3. “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me” – John 8:42. Here Jesus makes 2 bold claims. First, that they do not actually know the God they worship, because they have not recognized and loved Jesus. And second that Jesus came from God, making Himself out to be more than a prophet.

4. “Destroy this temple, and in 3 days I will raise it up” – John 2:19. The Temple was the very place where the Jewish people met God. It was the place of continual sacrifices, making atonement for their sin. In this statement Jesus is claiming to be a temple that will last forever. That the place of sacrifice is finished in His death and resurrection, and He is now the everlasting sacrifice for our sins. When He said it though, the people, including His own disciples, did not understand that He was going to rise from the dead.

5. “No one can come to Me unless granted to Him by the Father” – John 6:65. This statement made even some of His disciples turn away. Jesus was saying to them that salvation is not based on the works of the Law, or anything that they could do on their own effort, because our obedience will forever be incomplete. Our earthly minds would not naturally embrace this kind of salvation – our sin nature is hard wired to desire to earn favor based on our good behavior and deeds. It is only in the wooing of God Himself that we can be saved by faith.

6. “I am the bread that came down from heaven” – John 6:21. Jesus said this one day after breaking two loaves of bread in half and feeding 5,000 people. In this passage He refers back to the manna that was provided for the Israelites while they were wandering in the wilderness, and here claims to be greater than this bread. The disciples respond by asking Him to give us that bread always, and Jesus’ response is that He is the bread of Life, and anyone who eats of Him will never hunger again.

7. “But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” – Matt 26:64. Jesus made this statement while standing before the High Priest during His trial. The high priest asked Him to tell them plainly whether He is the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus answered by quoting two old testament passages – Psalm 110 and Daniel 7, effectively saying “yes, I am the Christ, the Son of God”. At this, the high priest tore His robes and called for Jesus to be crucified, showing us one of two ways we can handle Jesus. Either by refusing to believe His Word as true, rejecting Him as Messiah, attempting to put Him to death or ignore Him in an effort to continue in our own life. Or by believing that what He said was true, that He is the Messiah, and therefore surrendering our life to Him and believing that through Him alone we have salvation.

Even in light of these statements, Jesus still went to the cross on His own initiative. He chose to obey the Father and die, in order that we could truly live. Friday is called “good” because in the horror of the cross grace and salvation were born. In his song, Phil Wickham says “When blood and water hit the ground, walls we couldn’t move came crashing down. And we were free and made alive, the day that True Love died…”

As we reflect on and remember His death, take heart and lift up your head, because Sunday is coming…

 

Thankful Thursday: April 5th

Today, I am thankful for…

1. Matt Franklin. My brother celebrated his birthday on Sunday, and I was just reminded how much I love him. There is no one else I would rather have as a big brother, and I am thankful that the Lord saw fit to put us in the same family. I am so proud of the man he has become, and the gifts and abilities the Lord has given him. He makes me laugh and is the best brother in the whole world. I love you Matty! 🙂

A few years ago....

2. Rachel. Another dear fried celebrated her birthday this past weekend, and I had fun reminiscing about all of our adventures over the past 8.5 years. She was my first friend at College of Charleston – we met on the first day of new student orientation at this lame party on top of a parking garage – and have been friends ever since.

3. Holy Week. I was convicted this week about my tendency to celebrate Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and then just skip ahead to Easter with the resurrection without focusing on what happened during the days in between. The anguish, the goodbyes, the confusion, the betrayal, the death of our Savior, the cross, everything that leads up to the most glorious day in our history. This is a week to remember these things and to worship the One who bore them for our sake, yet my days fill up with other things that distract me from focusing on worshiping Jesus. Thankful for the reminder yesterday and today about the need to stop and re-focus, and the ability to do that today and tomorrow.

4. Water. We had a water main break in my apartment complex on Tuesday and had no running water most of the day. Something contaminated the water in the process of them fixing it, and we now have to boil our drinking and cooking water for 5 minutes before using any…indefinitely. The Lord has used this to remind me how much I take for granted here. It makes me thankful for when our water does work properly, but also thankful for a stove that I can boil water on until it is fixed.

5. Wisdom. I think this is a repeat, but it is a good one. Thankful for this promise: “but if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach [no judgment or disapproval on our need for wisdom – He knows we are a bunch of dumb sheep], and it will be given to him” James 1:5