Tag: cross

Watching from a Distance

It’s Saturday morning. I’ve walked with Jesus and His disciples this past week.  I’ve tried to hear the noise, the shouts, the whispers, the work sounds, the shuffle of dusty feet. I’ve tried to smell the animal smells and the sweat and the anointing spices. I’ve tried to feel the heat, and uncertainty. I’ve tried to draw near and touch Jesus’ robe.

We walked into Jerusalem with excitement last Sunday, out to Bethany to eat and rest with friends, back into Jerusalem filled with stress, activity, agendas, fear, and hatred, out to Bethany to be anointed, and in for the Last Supper and Passover. Out to the Mt. of Olives for prayer, and into Jerusalem for His trial and death.

Here’s one of the things I’ve noticed. Everyone was watching.

Judas watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over. (Mt.26:16)

Jesus asked His disciples to keep watch with Him on the Mt. of Olives. (26:38)

Peter watched from a distance when Jesus was arrested. (26:58)

Many women watched from a distance at the crucifixion. (27:55)

But one person did more than watch. He courageously drew near after Jesus had been crucified. (Mt. 27:57-61)

When a criminal was executed the body was often left unburied or put in a pauper’s field. A relative, like a mother might ask for the body, but Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy member of the Sanhedrin.

The Sanhedrin. One of the groups committed to getting rid of Jesus. But Joseph had become a disciple. And now he went to Pilate and advocated for Jesus. Asked for the body. Gave him a burial in a new tomb. He didn’t follow at a distance. He drew near and honored Jesus.

Joseph felt the sacrifice and was willing to share in it, not just watch.

Watching from a distance is like scrolling through our Facebook newsfeed and “liking” what we see others post. It’s like giving Jesus a wink and a thumbs up without getting our hands dirty. Without any cost to us.

Sometimes Easter morning can feel like that. Just a thumbs up for Jesus before we return to our agendas.

The thing I’m thinking about this morning is how Jesus was “all in” for us. How He didn’t watch from a distance, but drew near and loved us thoroughly and sacrificially. Because of the cross…

There is nothing we can do to make Jesus love us more, and nothing we can do to make Him love us less.

Forgiveness in Christ is there for the taking, but it’s not cheap. It’s not meant to be appreciated from a distance. It’s only as we draw near that we learn that grace cost Jesus everything. And as we do, we see that grace isn’t the permission to withdraw, but the courage and power to step in.

Praying that you and I will draw close this Easter…


Failing Lent

How’s Lent been going for you?  Me? I’m really terrible at it.  My husband majored in Lent, growing up Catholic, but not me. It was never part of our faith tradition, and now it always seems to sneak up on me and all of a sudden it’s Ash Wednesday and I’m stressed about what I should or shouldn’t be doing or giving up, and what the meaning is supposed to be.

Am I supposed to identify with Jesus’ sacrifice or am I supposed to fast from worldly stuff that is sucking the life of Jesus out of me, or am I supposed to pull back to reflect on All Of The Deep Things?


Those words “should” and “supposed to” float through the air in slow motion like a hand grenade or a heat seeking missile looking for where it can do the most damage. I end up feeling muddled and guilty that I haven’t done it “right”, whatever “right” is.

I can’t find the word “Lent” in my concordance, and certainly not “Thou shalt prepare for Easter by…” But I do think intentional preparation for Easter is a good thing.

I think the idea of Lent is to help us pay attention to God and life and death and resurrection the way it would be good to pay attention to Him all the time – like at 5 o’clock on a July evening when we’re sitting on the patio eating burgers, or on October 3rd in line at the grocery store.

So I’ve muddled through Lent again this year, unlike a young friend I mentor who has fasted from pop (but only brown pop), and sweets (but not on on her birthday or during the week she was in Italy, and chocolate covered almonds don’t count).  I laugh at her, but she says even this has really helped her pay attention and turn to Jesus in the moments she wants things she is sacrificing.

You cannot have resurrection without death.

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The Fool’s Bench at Easter

It’s early Easter morning as I write this at Starbucks.  Husband John has already come and gone to church to proclaim, “He is risen!” at the second of six services (The first was last night.  Weird, but I guess it was already Easter somewhere in the world)



As I sit here, some come in dressed in their Easter best – pastel and fancy.  All patent leathery.  Others wander in their scruffy Sunday morning grunge – either clueless or apathetic or defiant.  I wonder which as I watch them.

Last night John got an email from some friends who have had no use for church.  It started, “You probably hate those ‘dicks’ who just show up at Christmas and Easter, but ___________(his wife) has had a rough month.  Her dad died and she may show up at your church tomorrow.” Continue reading

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