A Prayer for Holy Saturday

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life.

Book of Common Prayer

Patience: one part wisdom another part waiting

At the end of the feeding of the 5,000 in Matthew 6 there is an important sentence that is easy to miss.

When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself. [Matthew 6:15 NLT]

Timing is everything.

It is odd that Jesus didn’t want to be crowned king at this point. Isn’t that what he came to do? Didn’t he know, as well as everyone else, that his leadership would have been far better for the people than the Romans and the Jewish religious leaders? Of course and absolutely.

But the timing wasn’t right. There was more Jesus needed to do, including giving himself up to death upon a cross, before ascending to the throne from which he spends eternity. I am glad Jesus didn’t take the throne before he took the cross. For I would still be lost because sin and death would not be defeated.

Not every open door do we need to walk through immediately. Not every opportunity do we need to capitalize on quickly. Not every good instinct do we need to drop everything and do right away.

Having the wisdom to know when is just as important as knowing what to do.

That is what patience is all about. Yes, patience, that four-letter word that everyone says they don’t have. And you are right. We don’t have patience naturally. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit which consists of one part wisdom and one part the strength to wait. It is trusting God for the outcome to still be good even if the outcome may be delayed.

New Podcast: Unabridged and Unhinged

My friend Carol Cooper and I started something new last week for the good folks at the Downtown campus. We will be talking about spiritual habits mostly but there will also be special guests from time to time. Not sure how often we will record the podcast or how many times. If it is helpful for you we will continue. Would love to hear your feedback and ideas for future episodes.

The Predicament

So catastrophic a remedy demands a catastrophic predicament.

Stephen Westerholm

sermon here (starting at minute 38:53)

The cross is difficult to understand. Why was it necessary? Wasn’t there some other way to accomplish forgiveness? It is not until we see, as Westerholm says, the “catastrophic predicament” that we find ourselves in does the reality of the remedy of the cross come into view.

A holy God and an unholy humanity.

That is the predicament.

Why all the fuss? Why can’t God simply wave a hand and be done with it? Because our situation is dire due to Sin and sins. Sin is the evil power which actively sabotages God’s work. Sin also creates an environment in which personal misdeeds (small s – sins) reign. Oh, please don’t hear me say that we aren’t responsible for our actions. We cannot say, “The devil made me do it.” It is more accurate to say that “Evil was my partner.”

And because of this, as strange as it may sound, forgiveness is difficult for a holy God. For God to be true to his character, forgiveness must be part of transforming the unholy into holy. It is simply not enough for God to say you are forgiven and go about your business. God’s nature demands a pardon from our sins and freedom from the Sin that binds us in this broken world. That is why Jesus often said “go and sin no more” along with “you are forgiven.”

That is why this catastrophic predicament needed an equally catastrophic remedy.