Friday, March 29, 2013
You are a Barabbas. I am Barabbas.
Barabbas was a prisoner, a "notorious prisoner" according to the Gospel of Matthew who plays a prominent role in the Friday of Jesus' crucifixion. Matthew 27:15-26 records the episode in vivid detail.
The crowds are heated and growing more angry with each passing moment. Some want for Jesus to be put to death for claiming to be God himself and some, no doubt, are simply chanting along because they want to be a part of the action. Jesus Christ stands before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Jerusalem, and Pontius Pilate tells the people that because it is the Passover feast then one prisoner can be released from the prison.
Matthew 26:17 Pilate said to the people "Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Christ?"
The people chant for Barabbas to be released, to go free and for Jesus Christ to be crucified!
Crucify Him, Crucify Him they chant in verse 22.
So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man's blood;[a] see to it yourselves.” 25 And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
Barabbas goes free, while Jesus is delivered to be crucified.
The guilty goes free, while the guilt-less one takes all of his guilt.
The prisoner gets released, while the Son of God is sent to prison and to the Cross.
It is the great exchange. The great exchange of the Scriptures, and it is our story as well.
We are all Barabbas. We are guilty, we are sinful, we are condemned under the law...
Jesus Christ goes to the Cross to die in our place on Good Friday.
He takes our guilt, He takes our sin, He takes our condemnation.
The Great Exchange. The Beautiful Gospel.
Now, you were Barabbas, but through Jesus Christ you are now a Son, a Daughter--reconciled to God your Father.
A new creation, a new person, redeemed by the blood of the Son of God into his family.
As has been said "The son of God became a man so that men could become sons of God."
1 John 4:10
This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Amen and Amen.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
"Did you hear a plane crashed into the World Trade Center?" said my 10th grade classmate Eric Conzemius in the men's bathroom inside Maryville High School.
We were just leaving first period and in the "break" time before 2nd period began.
I thought to myself, I read the paper this morning (yes, I was that 10th grader who read the newspaper) and didn't see anything about it. He doesn't know what he is talking about I thought.
This was before Facebook, Twitter, and social media. And the internet was around, but not a super dominant force like it is now. So my mind went straight to the newspaper.
I walked down the 3rd floor hallway and crammed in with dozens of other students watching images of the World Trade Center towers on fire. Unbelievable. Literally.
We didn't know what to do. We were high schoolers.
The bell rang for everyone to go to their 2nd period class. As I sat in my English class the principal came on and delivered the sobering news of the hour. It was beyond shocking, it just was.
My mind raced back to the year before when my mom and I had walked on top of the World Trade Center tower on a tour. They were so high. They were majestic. They defined New York City and Manhattan. And then I watched on television as they crashed to the ground.
The images were like a movie. Firefighters and police officers covered in soot and smoke and ash. Darkness hanging over New York City. A plane hit the Pentagon, a plane was down in Pennsylvania, unconfirmed reports of bombs at the Sears Tower in Chicago, in Los Angeles, and elsewhere.
I remember walking the halls of the high school and every single room had their television on and scenes of 9/11 were racing through the sets.
The day at school finally ended and I went home to see my mom and brother and my Aunt Tracy who was in town. My dad was out of town--his plane grounded. The images of Manhattan, overcome with smoke were still filling our television.
I remember turning on the radio and the traffic reporter was giving updates. This guy was the most happy, jovial, excited traffic reporter ever. Every time he gave updates it was like the highlight of his life. So that is why it was so unnerving to hear him try with all his might to put a good voice on this, but fail to do so.
His words and his tone still echo in my head as he signed off...
"Try to have a good day everybody."
I won't ever forget it. It just stopped me for some reason. The truth was we just couldn't have a good day. It wasn't a good day, it was a terrible day, a tragic day.
And yet I remember how the fire of 9/11 gave way to the most "united" United States of America I had ever seen. President Bush rose to the meet the extraordinary demand of the time with soaring rhetoric and steely resolve. Whatever you think of him, he was everyone's President in those weeks after 9/11 and I will always associate him with how masterfully he led this country following the devastating attacks.
The baseball playoffs, especially the New York Yankees, the start of the football season, and other sporting events gave Americans cause for great unity and refuge. It was an unbelievable time, but a time where I saw the beauty and majesty of this country, of the people who make it up, and the ideals and values that we hold.
I was 15 years old on 9/11. I loved my country on 9/10, but I truly fell in love with my country in the weeks after 9/11.
Out of the ashes we rose.
So I pray for our leaders now, for our brave troops who carry on the battle for freedom in America's longest (and tragically forgotten) war in Afghanistan. I pray for even for our enemies, that they might become peacemakers themselves. And I pray for the world to come, that all (somehow and in someway) will be put right then.
So much has changed in the last 11 years. In some ways it feels as though Eric Conzemius was telling me a plane hit the World Trade Center just yesterday, and in some ways it feels as though it was a lifetime ago.
But no matter how old I get, I will always remember September 11, 2001. And I will always sing out our National Anthem with a little more conviction, a little more passion, and a lot more love for the people I share this great country with, for this beautiful place truly is...
The land of the free and the home of the brave.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
I am starting a new series here on the blog...
ROOTED: Reading the Psalms for Life Change.
This will simply be a chapter by chapter journey through the Psalms. Hopefully, through reading the Psalms we can all become greater praisers of God's greatness in all things!
The Psalms are life-changing words. They are gloriously God-centered and by rooting ourselves in these poems, by letting them take hold of our hearts and affections, we can be changed into greater degrees of Christ-likeness.
Let's read through the Psalms for life change, for deeper and richer worship of God, for a beautiful collision with our Father.
Get "ROOTED" in God by letting Him, His word, get "ROOTED" deep down in your heart.
So here goes...
1. Read (Read through the Psalm)
2. Meditate (Meditate on the Word, Wrestle with the Word, Think on the Word)
3. Pray (Ask God to Shape Your Heart According to Who He is)
1. READ THE WORD
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
2. MEDITATE ON THE WORD
a. Where should our delight be? What are you delighting in regularly (is it the gospel? is it your relationships?, is it the prospects of success or your job?, is it trying to please others?, is it your appearance?, it is your own righteousness?)
b. Are you regularly meditating on the character & nature of God?
c. What are you producing in your own life? Spiritual fruit? OR something else?
3. PRAY THE WORD
Prayer is shaping our hearts and minds into the will of our Father. We are praying for His rule, His reign, His will to be established, to be rooted in our own hearts.
Pray for God himself to be rooted deeply into the depths of your heart this day.
Get ROOTED in God by having His Word get rooted in you. Through planting yourself in a daily rhythm of reading, meditating, and praying the Scriptures.