New Testament Grace

The Silent Saturday?

I’m taking a short break from the Old Testament sacrifice focus. This Holy Week is so—holy. Where else should the heart and mind be but in contemplation of the significant events and story that took place? The events that thread together to make the crucifixion and resurrection story just can’t be relegated to the “musty, dusty, biblical, Classic Literature shelf” in my mind. How could that be? These events cried out their tremendous significance then—and they cry out to impact and transform the current day and age across generations, time, and space. If we cannot embrace that, for whatever reason, we have to at least engage the reality of it. To attempt to dismiss what happened as “long, long ago, involving people dead and buried” is a weak attempt at denial, if we’re gut-level honest.

That said, I left Good Friday alone yesterday. The entire Blogosphere lit up with countless entries, post after post after post, about Golgotha, Simon the Cyrene, the biblical and medical perspectives on Jesus’ pain and suffering, and the last words of Christ. There is no need to enter into that fray for me. I wanted to discover my own life and breath in the day. I hope you managed that for yourself. If not, there is no end to the meditations you could have within the blog universe, apparently.

But, Saturday. I’m tempted to sit with the silence that is Saturday. It’s quietly sandwiched between the agonizing, torturous pain of death and the magnificent celebration of the glory of life and resurrection. The silence of the Shabbat between death and resurrection.

What were Jesus’ followers doing on that day?

Sometimes we get a feel for it. We fill in some emotion between the lines in the Gospel accounts. Betrayal led to shame that, in its full measure, led to death. Denial must have led to shame-filled regret. A hurried burial must have left a bitterly sad temporary void until all that should be could be done. Confusion must have led to fear, disappointment, or apathy. How does one rest in a Shabbat when all this has happened? For the followers, it must have been a flood of hot tears and overwhelming sadness for their friend, son, brother, rabbi, and Lord.

I quietly muse they feared for their own lives next….

What was Jesus doing?

Some of the things I’ve heard and read suggest different things. The ideas include sleeping, resting, dead in the grave, folding the napkin, and the Apostle’s Creed uses the words “descended to the dead” or “into hell.” I agree with the Creed, but cannot say if that was Good Friday or Saturday. Here’s just a cursory glance at why.

On Friday, there is that conversation with the thief on the cross at the place called “The Skull.” In Luke 23:43 Jesus answered the thief’s request to remember him in his Kingdom with a promise:

And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.” (HCS)

What other “today” could that mean? Who could the “Me” be but the one speaking? What a beautiful promise to a man who desperately needed hope in painfully dire circumstances.

Revelation 1:18 confirms the descent. John wrote an account in prison on the Island of Patmos:

When I saw him, I fell down at his feet like a dead man. He placed his right hand upon me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, the Living One. I was dead, but look!—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys to Death and Sh’ol. Revelation 1:17b, 18 CJB

Sh’ol is the Hebrew term we translate hell in English. Notice the passage doesn’t place the timing, but affirms the Apostle’s Creed.

And on Resurrection Day, we know Jesus spoke with Mary Magdalene:

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” John 20:17

How sweet that Mary was one of the first to see the Risen Christ. She was a woman who deeply and wholeheartedly loved Jesus and knew all about grace!

Thankfully, where I rest with this is a good place for me, though it may not do the same for you. It seems to fall in the realm of silence from Scripture. The silent Saturday (in anticipation of Sunday) makes more sense to me now than it did. And, really—I like that. I desperately need answers to life’s questions and hard life experience difficulties. More than that, I need to know there are things I don’t know, either not yet or not until I meet the Lord face to face. God must be bigger than I can figure. It’s important for me to search the Bible, but I can’t make up what isn’t specifically said. It’s a fine line. People would like to say something about Jesus’ itinerary between Friday and Sunday, but I won’t make stuff up.

Whether Jesus was shaking Sh’ol with his presence, I cannot say. I can only imagine what that must have been like! 

I like that I don’t know.

Silence.

Anticipation.

And then came Sunday….

~Jennifer

As always, I invite dialog about these things. Please share what you may have found.

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The Pleasing Aroma

I needed to revisit this post from last year. It was precious then, and it is still a blessing to me now. For those who haven’t read it, maybe it will be a grace to you as you prepare for this significant remembrance we are entering into tomorrow.

Be blessed!

~Jennifer

Fragrant Grace

The other lamb you are to offer at dusk; do with it as with the morning grain and drink offerings – it will be a pleasing aroma, an offering made to ADONAI by fire. Exodus 29:41 CJB

As I begin my journey in this place, I’m starting with the beginning. It appears in the Torah, an instruction to Israel. I choose to begin with this verse because of its significance as a command that gives the framework for the fragrant offering that is pleasing to the LORD and its probable connection to Good Friday. You’ll see what I mean.

What I did not know until this weekend’s teaching at my church was that Israel, particularly in Jerusalem at the Temple, sacrificed two lambs each day, every day (Exodus 29:38). Can you imagine that?

Daily. Morning and evening. A trumpet would sound. A bleating lamb. A bleeding lamb.

Silence.

Crackling flames…

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Grace, Time, and the Trump Card

My last entry graciously played hostess to a collection of meandering thoughts on time, rivers, and oxbow lakes. You know I didn’t stop thinking the moment I published it, right? Of course not. Without further ado, a sort of part deux

Time is a slippery concept.

Like good water—time has no color, taste, or smell. It’s fluid: here and everywhere, close and too far away, unmanageable and contained in jar-sized portions called memories.

It is comprised of an insane number of microscopic pieces that make up a whole. Sometimes the bonds between events in time are as difficult to separate as the H2 and O.

Time is experienced inconsistently. If you’re not sure of that, measure 5 minutes at the grocery checkout or traffic light and an equal 5 on a critical deadline or roller coaster. Five minutes is never just 5 minutes.

That’s our experience of linear time. It’s common and basically how we live our lives, for the most part.

And now, for something completely different…

Infinity. What do we do with that word, that concept we can’t begin to absorb in our limited perspective? It’s not a foreign concept in Scripture with over 300 occurrences of forever alone. Think about it. Soak in it. We never quite grasp the elusive eternity. We construct an imperfect, elementary idea in our minds, and it feels long and inevitably boring.

Maybe infinity, eternity, and forever are impossible in our minds because we understand beginnings and endings so thoroughly. God created that for us. Brilliant! Always a beginning and, predictably, an ending. Sometimes I fancy that I know why, but I really don’t.

Genesis. Revelation.
Birth. Death.
Eden. Earth.
Everyday events.
Our whole lives…

Human life is as short-lived as grass. It blossoms like a flower in the field. Psalm 103:15 GW

A voice was saying, “Cry out!” Another said, “What should I cry out?” “All humanity is grass, and all its goodness is like the flower of the field. Isaiah 40:6 CSB

Like flowers? That lands with a soft thud in my heart. Short-lived. How many times have I been overcome by the magnificent beauty of a floral arrangement? Joy-filled days or a week. It fades to an all-too-quick end.

And this is how our world is hard-wired. For good reason!

The trump of the timeline…

God, in his infinite wisdom and power, lives both in and outside of our timeline. He is—

He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the One who is, who was, and who is coming, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8

And he punctuated the timeline for us. Remember the beginning and the end, Eden and Earth, birth and death? God did something. He played a trump card.

Now it was nine in the morning when they crucified Him. Mark 15:25

Perfectly inserted onto our linear timeline from eternity is the death of the God-Man that didn’t have the expected end. Observers expected death. Death of relationships, plans, and dreams. Some thought it was the death of a “problem” in their synagogues. That event, Jesus on the cross, was anything but that! That moment he died meant life!

Infinite, fragrant grace…

No wrinkles. No “wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff.” 2  Here’s where it’s grace beyond measure. From that loving, power-infused moment in time, Jesus addressed all of time, all of the lives that had or would ever live inside it, and all of the sins that had or would ever be done. Steep in this for a minute. Eternal God sent his Son (the God-Man) for us (John 3:16-17).

Think about this:

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  John 1:29

Which of us is not included in “the world” category?

So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone. Romans 5:18

Every one of us is, first, under “condemnation” and then has access to “life-giving justification.”

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:1

Which of your poor choices, mistakes, or offenses (sins) can eclipse “no condemnation” in Christ? True, this is for those who have found themselves guilty before a holy God and confessed that (Romans 10:9) to be “in Christ Jesus,” but this grace is unlimited and a bit of a complete time buster.

My past, present, and future met the powerful, grace-filled, sacrificial moment on a hill outside Jerusalem one afternoon 2,000 years ago. My Abba—intricately woven throughout my everyday existence and not limited by it—

Linear timeline trumped.

Yeah, I’m wrapping my mind around that today. And it’s beautiful and amazing and overwhelming and understood. Then it begins to slip out of my grasp into the totally incomprehensible.

Thank you, God, that you are not so small that I can understand….

More thoughts flowed here, there, and everywhere.  😉

~Jennifer

Questions to Think About:
Do you find yourself noodling these things, too? What happens when you remember nothing can eclipse “no condemnation” in Christ? What threatens your confidence in this truth? Take that to the Lord in prayer.

The biggest question we face is directly linked to God, whether we believe it or not. No other question weighs more than “Where will I be one minute after I die?” What happens in your heart when you think about that question? (It’s a biggie.)

____________________

1 L’Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time. 1962.

2 Doctor Who: Blink (Episode 3, Season 10). 2007

Scripture references from http://www.biblestudytools.com.