Morning Musing: Luke 15:14-16

“After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing. Then he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. He longed to eat his fill from the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one would give him anything.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever considered someone to be irredeemable? It’s easy for us to do. When someone does something terrible enough, our first instinct is to write them off. Or, when someone falls into a pattern of troubling behavior long enough, the ones who have tried to help them out of it for a long time finally throw up their hands and give up on them. Sometimes, when another person just irritates us enough, we pass a final judgment on their character as terrible, and that’s the end of their story as far as we are concerned. How many marriages have ended with the stated reason given being “irreconcilable differences”? In all of this, we begin to believe a lie: That person or situation will never change. This is certainly a tempting lie to believe, but a convincing lie is still a lie. Let’s talk about the truth this morning.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 15:37-39

“Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed his last. Then the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing opposite him, saw the way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Did you ever have anything as a kid that your parents made off limits to you? What was it? Sometimes parents put restrictions on what their kids can access as a matter of selfish convenience, but most of the time, they do it for an entirely better reason than that. My parents made throwing dirt clods from the garden at the shed off limits for me when I was growing up. If you’re wondering why they had to do that at all, just put yourself in the mind of an elementary-aged boy and you’ll understand. The explosion of dirt when those clods hit the wall of the shed was just so satisfying. I ignored this restriction, of course, and soon thereafter broke the window in the side of the shed with an errant throw. That was why they put that restriction in place, by the way. Other times a restriction is put in place because the thing on the other side of the line is genuinely harmful for us. There are fences and no trespassing signs around power substations. Those are to protect people from being electrocuted. Restrictions generally have reasons. Well, the people of Israel had a restriction around God. You didn’t go into His presence unless you were prepared for it. This restriction was actually put in place by God Himself. And it held until God took it down. Actually, He ripped it in half. I mentioned yesterday the tearing of the temple veil when Jesus died. This morning let’s dig a little deeper into just what that meant.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 14:55

“The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they could not find any.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Every now and then we learn of the simultaneously joyous and heartbreaking story of a man being released from prison after spending decades locked up for a crime he did not commit. Each one of these instances – far, far too many borne on the backs of black men who were unjustly locked up by a system laden with subtle racism that has proven far more difficult for our culture to eradicate than we once thought – is a tragedy. Innocent people being made to suffer unjustly is an outrage to all clear-thinking citizens of any nation. And the greater the suffering of the innocent, the more it should enrage those who learn of it. It certainly does our God who is fundamentally just in the core of His character. This is what makes the death of Jesus of Nazareth so scandalous. Have you thought of it in those terms before? We celebrate it because of what it accomplished for us, but this morning let’s pause a moment to remember that it also represented the absolute pinnacle of injustice.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 9:19

“He replied to them, ‘You unbelieving generation, how long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to me.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

If you are a parent, have you ever finally lost it with your kids? I’m not talking about a time when you fussed at them and they settled down from whatever tiff they were working out among them. I’m talking about a time when you finally blew your top. They had been at each other’s throats and argumentative with you over an extended period of time. You tried to be patient at first, but that ran out an hour ago. You upped the ante to sterner warnings and assurances of punishment if the chaos didn’t abate and that failed to take. At last you just erupted at them. Everybody got yelled at. Everybody’s feelings were hurt. Everybody was then sent to their rooms to sulk for the rest of the day and probably forever. My take is that if you haven’t hit that particular parenting milestone, one of three things is true: Your kids are too young and haven’t quite gotten to the age where that kind of thing starts happening; your kids are too perfect and you need to check to make sure they haven’t been replaced by body doubles; or you are Jesus. Actually, scratch that last one. As this passage reminds us, even Jesus hit His frustration max on occasion. Let’s talk about it.

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Brand-Spanking-New

We have talked so far in this series about God, people, and sin. Those are all good things to know, but we left things last week in a bit of a hard spot. I told you to come back this week and I’d finish the story. Well, here we go. Although you and I are sinners, God wasn’t content to leave us there. Let’s talk together today about just how He fixed that problem. It’s quite a story.

Brand-Spanking-New

When was the last time you got something unexpectedly good? That happens every now and then and it’s always fun. I remember an occasion like this several years ago when we were eating at a Buffalo Wild Wings. I happened to be wearing a KU shirt. In the next booth over were several young women from the military who were all stationed at Fort Lee. One of them noticed my shirt and immediately asked where we were from. We talked for a minute and figured out that her parents actually lived right around the corner from where my folks live. It was one of those occasional small world experiences that are hard to explain as anything other than a God wink. In any event, they finished their meal and left, but when we later went to pay for our meal, it had been covered in full. I can’t imagine it was anyone other than that soldier who got what was perhaps a welcome taste of home who paid for the meal. We never had even the slightest chance to do anything for her in return and almost certainly never will.

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