Late To Easter…Always Relevant

My Sister sent me this version of Leonard Cohen’s tragically beautiful song “Hallelujah”.

Now…that song is one that I have never ever liked, even while I thought it was so beautiful, so sad.

This though…this version channels all the sorrow and grief into a Hope-Driven ending.

I am aware that so many think that Jesus was a good man, and that many more believe the myth making of Dan Brown, but I want to state it blatantly here for the record (in case this has been missed before *giggle*):

I believe that Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Son of God, the only begotten Son.  I believe that Jesus was the Pre-Existent God and Second Person of the Trinity and that He became as nothing to take on flesh and blood, and that He lived and walked among us fully God and fully man.

I believe that He willingly chose death on the cross in fulfillment of the plan that He and Mama and Father had made from eternity past and that had been accomplished from before the foundations of the Universe.

I believe that the Father raised Him up from the grave after 3 days, and His descent into hell to open every prison door and proclaim liberty to every captive that would choose to follow Him up and out of death.

I believe that His resurrection means that He lives forever in the flesh and as such is the first fruits of the New Creation and the older brother to any who believe in Him and put their trust in Him.  He is now Ascended into Heaven and seated at the right hand of God Living Ever to make Intercession for us to the Father.

I believe that we will someday be raised from the grave and meet Him face to face.

Here is the most important one:  I believe that a close examination of Jesus’ words preclude the option of believing that He was merely a good teacher…because His very words and life and actions proclaimed Him over and over again to be God Incarnate, given of the Father.  

He is either who He said He was (cue Dennis Green’s rant here), or He was insane, or He was a liar and therefore not “a good teacher”.

But…then again, you already knew all these things about me, and you still show up and read.  For that I am so grateful and humbled.

May you know, deep in your core, that anything here that is good, or true, or noble, or right, or inspiring or beautiful…it all comes from my heart touched and redeemed by Jesus the Christ…

…Jesus the Beloved, whom I love with my all.

Hallelujah

The Suffering One

Dear Constance…a fabulous devotional today.  I will not comment much except to say this:  God deals with suffering by entering into its bloody throbbing core, and never leaving.  May you always have the grace to look for Them there, in the crucible…for They are there.

Love, Charissa

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“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary…  The Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back,” writes the prophet Isaiah.

The words of Isaiah 50 are full of intense language of compassion and obedience, suffering and humility. Isaiah describes a deeply mysterious and suffering servant in a confronting passage of Scripture that is hard to take in and harder to ignore. How are we to take the descriptive words of servant-like humility that note, “I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6). What are we to do with this servant who suffers to sustain the weary?

Isaiah was equipped and willing to do the work of a prophet, to stand between God and humanity with difficult words as his only buffer. His words are political, poetic, and prophetic, enduring well beyond his life, reverberating in creative ways unknown even to the one called. In this chapter, Isaiah gives us the song of a Servant. He speaks of intense faithfulness in the midst of unjust opposition and steadfast obedience to God in the midst of extreme suffering. Isaiah speaks words that Christians believe are abundantly verified in Jesus Christ.

Almost 700 years after Isaiah’s words were uttered, Jesus came with a message to sustain the weary, teaching as one with an instructed tongue, speaking as one with authority, and indeed, living as one who had set his face “like a flint” upon the will of God the Father. He suffered in utter humility; he offered mercy to his tormentors and forgiveness to those who simply looked on (Luke 4:31-36, Isaiah 50:5,7). Isaiah likely spoke well beyond his own understanding, but he nonetheless asks his hearers to decide what we will do with this suffering one.

The Gospel of Luke describes a time when Jesus and the disciples go about the land teaching and preaching and ministering to the crowds, yet avoiding Jerusalem because of those who were plotting to kill him. And then almost as abruptly as their ministry began to spread, Luke recalls a deliberate change in direction. He writes that Jesus “steadfastly and determinedly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

Knowing what waited for him there, knowing the cross in the horizon, Jesus set his face as a flint toward his own agony. Exactly as was prophesied 700 years earlier, Jesus voluntarily and determinedly gave his back to those who would beat him, his face to those who would spit and mock, and his very life to present the jarringly redemptive mercy of God.

Can we still think that God does not care for us? Can we still think that the heart of the matter is what you and I will do with God? Perhaps in the light of this mysterious human Servant, the question becomes not “What will I do with Jesus Christ?” but “What will he do for us?” Or better still, What has he already done?

The altogether human Son of God invites a weary and burdened humanity to come and receive rest from him. “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” The one who became one of us and was destroyed by suffering stands and mediates the life-changing, life-giving presence of God.

Jesus takes us as we are—broken lives, clouded visions, weary hearts—and invites us to abide in all that he is, in all that is enduring, in all that is truly human. He remains the mysterious, suffering, captivating servant of God… in whose presence we are both undone and made new.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.