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Easter Reflections

When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him.  Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.
-Luke 22:14-15

What Easter means to me is that God has a plan.  God acted and carried out that plan.  

We were continually surprised by what God did.  Jesus interacted with the people as he carried out the plan.

The plan was not a script or a 'to do list', with check boxes.  The plan unfolded, for Jesus and for the people around him.

Jesus did everything he did, as a man; without the attributes, power or privileges of God; while maintaining his identity as Son of God.  He did this, so that He could save humanity completely, through and through; inside out.

Jesus had told and warned the apostles that he was going to suffer and be put to death, and rise on the third day.  But when we read the stories, it seems like they might not have understood.

Knowing where he was going, that he was about to suffer, Jesus wanted to have the last supper with his apostles.  He said, "I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer".

Some of the more literal translations say, "with desire, I have desired to eat".  Jesus desire to have this last meal with them was serious, sincere and intense.  Jesus was an intense person, a serious person and a sincere person.

His whole life was about passion for the Father.  We have John 3:16.  But that love is fully reciprocal.

Why did Jesus come?  To save mankind.  To destroy the works of the devil.  To reveal the Father.

If you have to boil it down to one word, the reason Jesus came was love.  God's love saves us, sets us free and reveals himself.

The key to the whole Bible is Jesus suffering on the cross.  His sacrificial love there defines everything else.  If you have a question, that is the lense to look through for the answer.

One of the richest sections of scripture about living as a person of Jesus, is the account by John of what Jesus said that night, at the last supper.

John opens with the scene of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, before they partook of the meal together.  The key lesson that Jesus gives them is servanthood through love or love through servanthood.

And love is the theme that is woven through everything he says to them that night.

Jesus is frank about Judas, as being a betrayer, while not outing him or confronting him openly.  Jesus is not chiding him nor resigned to his actions from a dark heart; but makes it clear that someone in that room, who has been at his side, now and over these past years, has chosen darkness over light.

Jesus washed Judas feet and shared the meal, including the elements of the bread and the wine.  We can draw a lesson here that we can be touched on the outside and even take communion into our insides and still align ourselves against Jesus.  In other words, having a level of familiarity with Jesus and doing religious things does not save you.

This seems obvious if you are saved and love Jesus.  But it needs to be stated for the ones who are delusional.  You must let Jesus change you, cleanse you and have intimacy with you in your deepest insides.

Jesus did not ask Judas to excuse himself before the supper, but called him out, but not by name, after communion.  The communion table or the Lord's Supper, whether it is a full meal, like how Jesus and the apostles did it, or the abbreviated style that many Christians practice today, is totally open.  The table is open to Christians, pre-Christians who don't know anything and to fake Christians, who, like Judas, are delusional and deceived.

Communion does not save you, but is a celebration of what saves us.  Jesus understands that people like Judas, come to the table and partake.  But that does not change anything, because change is an inside thing.

Everything Judas did in his life was a choice.  He was not elected or predestined to fail, but chose his path.

Do you know what Jesus said to Judas, in the garden, when he came to betray him with a kiss?  Jesus called him 'friend'.  Jesus continued to love Judas.  Jesus did not react and define how he felt about Judas by the betrayal, but by his choice to love a deceived, delusional, reprehensible man; who was still a friend, as defined by Jesus.

Compare how Jesus treated Judas to how we treat fallen leaders who get caught up in less egregious sins.

Is the Gospel strong enough to save someone like Judas?  Yes.

My reflection about Easter is that God has always had a plan and that was the case with Jesus coming into the world and finally being executed on the cross, dying and rising from the dead.

Jesus mentioned the cross many times before Holy Week.  It was a familiar motif to his first listeners.  Even though Satan could hear what Jesus said, he still went forward with his own plan to have Jesus executed in the most painful way ever devised on earth.

God had a plan and went forward with the plan and even though the Devil had plans, God's plan went forward and trumped the plan of the Devil.

Every one of the disciples denied Jesus.  Peter just got the spotlight.

John and three women watched the crucifixion, close up; but the rest of the apostles ran away and hid.  Jesus still loved and believed in the ones who hid and denied him.

The lesson might be that those who take a risk, for love and in faith, receive a blessing.  The ones who stayed away were loved the same, but missed out on something because of their fears.

And it is the same with us.  Life continually presents opportunities for us to take a risk, act in love, serve somebody and go against our fears.  We get to choose.  The light is green and a blessing awaits us if we will act, but we are still loved if we are passive, afraid or selfish.

The first witness of Jesus resurrection was Mary Magdalene.  Despite the 'male only' club of the 12 Apostles, Mary was a disciple and had her own deep love for Jesus, that also contained faith that had courageous curiosity.

Mary was the first person that Jesus commissioned to speak on his behalf.  And Jesus sent her to testify, to the men and share the word of God to them.  Jesus is countermanding the rules of men that do not permit a woman to give testimony and do not permit a woman to share the word of God, with men.

Backing up, to the Via Dolorosa, have you thought about Simon of Cyrene?  Imagine he is you.  What was his experience and how does it apply to us?

He was curious.  Curiosity is completely neutral.  He was just in the crowd.

You and I are in the crowd or we have been in the crowd in life.  Suddenly and without warning you are chosen for something that is in the spotlight and might be embarrassing.  What is hard to wrap your mind around is that a person called you and pretty much made you do this and it is embarrassing, but that unsavory task is really for Jesus.

This thing you have been called to do is not what you signed up for, not what you had in mind and it is embarrassing.  You are annoyed, saying, "Why is this happening to me?", and you feel really not ready, not trained and not prepared for this.  This is not at all what you planned on!

Remember that the theme I am considering is plans, God's plan and our plans intersecting with all of the detours and unforseen circumstances of life.  There are unplanned pregnancies, sudden job loss from firing or layoffs, unexpected losses of people or things, accidents, natural disasters, theft and many other things that ruin your otherwise happy life.

A large percentage of people who are in love and get married end up divorced.  Bad things happen in their lives.  Many small decisions are made that result in separation and estrangement from a person who was once the person you loved the most in the whole world.

Was that God's plan?  No.  Is God with you when your plans are spoiled?  Yes.

Simon of Cyrene's experience is an 'in your face' illustration of someone's plans going awry and them facing an assignment that they never wanted that confuses them and embarasses them.

No other human being but this Simon has had the opportunity to help Jesus, in this way, at that time when Jesus was in agony and suffering.

Simon helping Jesus, against his will, is a picture of authentic ministry.  It is not prestigious, lucrative, performed to applause, nor clean.  It is dirty, bloody, embarrassing and filled with misunderstanding.

Authentic ministry is to and for Jesus and it is done today in the most dirty places that are unprestigious, not on stages, with blood, dirt and tears and very embarrassing to our pride and selfishness.

The highest call that we are all called to but few of us answer that call, is the call to be a slave to Jesus, child of God and friend of God.  I would imagine that people argue about these three, about which one is the top.

I would say that since Mary cared so much about Jesus and went to the tomb, that Jesus saw her as his friend: Lord and Savior and friend.  I'm not sure if being his slave is a higher calling that we are all called to or if it is a three fold calling of child, slave and friend.

This is our identity.  Many people want to be famous and there is nothing wrong with that and Christians should be the famous ones.  But what are you famous for and did you get famous through him and his love or some other way and was that other way selfish and hurtful to other people?

Have you found out who you are in the Bible?  I mean which Bible characters do you identify with or which ones has God given you a calling similar to?

There is no one in the Bible who desired fame or wealth who ended well.  There is no leader in the Bible who had the need to be in charge so much that he pushed others out of the way and was controlling, who ended well.  And there is no one in the Bible who talked but did not listen who ended well.

Easter is about God's plan colliding with our plans and the Devil's plans, and with God winning.  We either get to oppose God or die with God.  We either get to be monumentally frustrated and become jaded, cynical, carnal and at a loss of faith; or we can die and experience God's new life for us.

What if being born again is not an event, but a process?  What if being born again means to follow God's call and the life of God in us, to start over in every area of our lives?  What if being born again means to begin a new life that is continually renewed and starting over with God's life in my life?

What if what God has always been after with believers is changed hearts, but we have continually resisted changing our hearts and have sought to please God and others through actions without inward change and the dying with Christ, which is the only path that leads to his resurrection life, which is the Christian life?

God's plan has always been to bring his plan or his life out of your inward life, through your death and his resurrection.  We were never meant to just believe in the resurrection of Jesus, but to also live in his resurrection life, in our lives.

The plan of God 
That will prevail 
Despite any other plans 
That will take us 
In all sorts of directions 
Is his plan 
To take us 
Through the cross 
For cleansing 
And death
Then give us 
Resurrection life 
In Christ
To be 
Real Christians 
And live 
His life 
In our lives

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