From the monthly archives:

May 2011

On evangelism as bearing witness to hope.

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John 19:38-42

by Lon on May 31, 2011

The burial of Jesus

38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.t40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

God in human flesh is dead and buried here.  Some call this the holy Saturday, situated between the death and resurrection of Christ.

Too often we quickly skip over this awkward moment.  The moments between glorious sacrifice and victory.  How do we embrace and live fully in these moments of silence?  Of grief?  of death?  Of despair?

This passage seems to suggest a respect of what was and what is left.  Could you do that in times of hopelessness?  Could you do that as you cry out to a God who seems dead or lifeless?

Sometimes we need to finish what we started, much like Christ did.

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What is God’s Global Urban Mission?

by Lon on May 26, 2011

The full-length plenary presented at the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, Cape Town, South Africa, October 2010.

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a letter to the church

by Lon on May 26, 2011

Every day the world ends, for someone.  And you’ve been left behind.  God in his wisdom, love, and soveriengty has chosen that you remain on this earth in this time.  For you there will be no swift and sweet relief from health issues, financial stress, relational conflict, pressures of the expectations of others, and every day injustice.  Church you need to know you are wanted here.  God desires that you be in the world but not of it.  The world needs you here to be reflections of Christ for our community to be a reflection of the Kingdom.  My deeper concern mosaic, is that we become okay with being here, yet disengaged.

It’s far too easy to just endure with future hope.  It’s so easy to let the days slip away.  It’s so easy to be lured by the comfort and convineience of this life and the next.  The harder thing is to live the life you’ve been called for.  To acknowledged your gifts and strengths and actually do something with it.  The harder thing is to choose Christ not in our death but in our lives day to day.  I urge you to choose Christ as he has chosen you.

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John 19:28-37

by Lon on May 26, 2011

Continuing our journey through John

28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ”I am thirsty.”29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ”It is finished.”With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”t37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”

“It is finished”, Jesus declared.  What exactly was finished, was it simply his life?  Or was something far grander far most cosmic accomplished upon the cross?  Does his death line up with what he spoke of and the way he lived his life?

The Jewish leaders did not want bodies left on the crosses during Sabbath – It’s amazing how we can get particular about the wrong things.  Here was a human being (regardless of whether they believed he was divine or not) who was just crucified at their request – and yet in this very next moment they are still hung up on keeping their religious ways.

Blood and water flowed.  This is bursting with possible metaphors.

It’s interesting the way John records his account of Christ’s death.  Quite often in scripture you’ll see the writer talking about how a current event was fulfillment of something written in the scriptures in the past.  I wonder if they missed any other tie backs from their times to the old testament accounts?

And more importantly, I wonder if we miss how scripture is fulfilled daily in our own lives?


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John 19:17-27

by Lon on May 16, 2011

Continuing our journey through John

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read:jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews.20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek.21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,
“They divided my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.”t
So this is what the soldiers did.

25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ”Woman,t here is your son,”27 and to the disciple, ”Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Pilate made an honorable gesture in fastening the notice that Christ was the king of the jews.  I don’t think he meant it mockingly, but he actually believed it in some ways.  However, he still played a role in the death of Christ.

I wonder how often we do the same.  We acknowledge him with our lips, all the while, denying him by our actions.

You could say the chief priests had more integrity in some ways – they believed crucifying Christ was the right thing to do, and followed through on it.

I can’t even begin to imagine what this scene was like for Mary mother of Jesus.  How must it have felt to have your own flesh and blood, your own child you’ve nurtured into adulthood, wrongfully tortured upon a cross to the point of death?

Yet, upon the Christ you don’t see him ever looking for pity, or playing victim, his concern was for his family, or others, for the forgiveness of those who sought to kill him.

Is there something we can learn from Christ’s example?  When we’re hung out to dry?  when we’re suffering?  when we’re blamed buy not at fault?  when we respond to those who seek to hurt us?


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John 19:1-16

by Lon on May 10, 2011

Continuing our journey through John

1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.”5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”
But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

7 The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid,9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer.10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

11 Jesus answered, ”You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha).

14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

It’s a bit odd the way the soldiers mocked Jesus.  I could understand someone just carrying out orders, but this was above and beyond.  There was hatred here.  The only other human emotion I could think of them having is some type of shocking disbelief of who Jesus was claiming to be.  They ridiculed him in order to express the insanity of such a claim.

Christ also seems to display a peaceful form of control and rebellion here.  His silence and his attributing of Pilates powers to God the Father shows a remarkable composure.

“We have no king but Caesar” – today we might think that the Jews here were outrageously misguided to have Jesus before them and pledge allegiance to Caeasar instead – but I’m guessing we pledge our allegiances in all sorts of places through our actions, our sins, and our desires, even when we know Christ is in our midst.


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