Friday, April 10, 2009

The Struggle to See and Hear

“What is this thing He is telling us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’, and ‘because I go to the Father?” So they were saying, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is talking about.”

When Jesus gathered his twelve faithful followers into the Upper Room, he gave them one last final talk. Some might call it a General’s final instructions. He is speaking more plainly than he’s ever spoken. No metaphors to color his words: “They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think he is offering service to God. But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.”

Christ’s tone is one of urgency. It is a bunker speech before the bombs start dropping, but the disciples don’t hear the enemy approaching. Then he shares one last metaphor about a woman in labor and the grief she must bear to bring the child into the world. He knows grief. It is his constant companion because it is full of men's shackles, the cries of the wounded, the tears of slaves.

The Upper Room speech was mingled with the disciples murmuring that he was making no sense; they did not know what he was talking about. As in other instances where they thought their Lord was losing touch with reality, the disciples muttered audibly their confusion.

Then Jesus told them some good news: “In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved me and believed that I came forth from the Father. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father. His disciples said, “Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. Now we know all things, and have not need for anyone to question you; by this we believe that you came from God.” Still, Jesus answered, “Do you now believe? Behold an hour is coming when you all will be scattered, each to his own home, to leave me alone.” He urges them to remember that as they hide out, He is not alone. He has never been alone because the Father is with Him. But to the disciples, surely this is a day far off.

He continues to underscore all the He has taught them, especially to define what a believer must do and what a Christ-follower looks like so they may recognize one another. He prays over them and leads them out of hiding into an open garden where he may easily be found.

This morning as I read Christ’s final talk to the disciples, I said, “This was your thesis, Lord,” to which he responded to my heart, “No, you are my final thesis.”

Today we commemorate the day that creation seized God by the arms and legs while heaven fell silent, while the sky darkened and the earth quaked in horror and the rocks cried out, “It can’t be so.” It is on this day we who, like the disciples, declare, “Yes, you are God. You are who You say you are.” And even though I spend much of my time hearing but not understanding, seeing yet not discerning all that God is doing and intends to do through us and on behalf of us, he is gracious enough to write his thesis on my heart so that I can return to His words when the clouds overshadow life and the days grow dark.

I can rejoice because he said these words to me and all of us and made us a part of his story. “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep, and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned to joy. . . I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”

“Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give him slaps in the face. . . There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between . . . Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”

Meditation: Think about the things in your life that God has buried with Christ. Name them out loud and then rejoice in the resurrection of new life inside you. Pray this scripture with a heart of gratitude: "Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we my offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire." Heb. 12: 28-29.