Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Outlook: Cloudy with 100% Chance of New Life

Less than halfway through his gospel account, Luke records Jesus turning the corner toward his crucifixion, in chapter 9. Twice (in verses 21 and 44) he predicts his death, Then in verse 51, he "resolutely set out for Jerusalem." All this emphasis on such a small slice of time gives us a detailed understanding of the events around our Savior's death and his miraculous -- and world-changing -- resurrection!  As we finish up our
time during Lent, let's stop to consider where we've been before we move into Holy Week.

Earlier, I suggested focusing on some of the themes of the season, like remembering that we are but ashes and dust, so we need the new life God gives us through Jesus. Also, that the heart of God is love, which is by nature self-sacrificial, so as we journey into the heart of God, we are called to sacrifice ourselves as Jesus did, for others. Finally, I suggested stopping to "Notice" in ways that would open us up to God's heart.

First, let's admit we didn't all do all those things. That's okay, we'll probably get another shot at it next year. (Were you reminded by any recurring thoughts or incidents, of some lessons from the Lord? What were they?)

As I've been studying the Gospels again, I've been impressed, again, with Jesus' focus on responding to the Father in his mission to die on the cross and be raised again. In Luke 9:51, Jesus 'resolutely' sets out toward Jerusalem. Despite distractions (as detailed in that whole chapter) he didn't get turned aside or let anyone else tempt him to stop. Jesus was on his way to die. Painfully, slowly, and with maximum suffering, cut short only by Jewish Sabbath practices. Yes, he knew he would rise again, and his resurrection would create a complete change in human life -- but he walked without hesitation toward Jerusalem, every step bringing him closer to that awful weekend.

My own dedication to God, on my own strength, is worthless. But the new life Jesus gives me, also gives me his thinking and a measure of his dedication. I waver, he is faithful. When I can't, Jesus can. That resurrection life, which showed up in the disciples along with the Holy Spirit, gives me some of the same energy Jesus had, when I respond to the Father's call as the Holy Spirit keeps after me. One lesson of Lent, and the resurrection, is: We can't, but God can, and he will do it through us when we submit ourselves to him.

Jesus had to walk toward the darkness of the crucifixion before he gained the brilliance of his new life. You and I may have clouds on our own horizons (and see Psalm 23:4) but the resurrection of Jesus has already thrust us into the new life of his kingdom. Let's walk into it!

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