CONNECTING – Chapter 7

Hello, Peter! It is so good to be back with you this week! I keep learning new things about Jesus and find myself thinking about them and how they connect to old things that I knew. Sometimes I even see something in my walks through the city and find it reminds me of something that I have learned that Jesus said or talked about. I think it all comes back to the stories that he told that I keep hearing from our leaders. Did you find Jesus to be a good storyteller?

My friend, it is so good to see you again, as well. Yes, I did find Jesus to be a good storyteller. Something in what you just said was a key aspect of inspiration for a story from Jesus. He would sometimes see something in our midst and make a brief comparison – a short metaphor or simile. “You are the salt of the earth.” “You are the light of the world.” “The eye is the lamp of the body.” “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed,” and then he would go on to provide a little broader explanation of that connection. He did something similar with the statement, “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast.” These would be insightful and make you think. But, they really were not stories. Yet, sometimes he would build an entire story – I have heard a term for them from the Greek, a parable – around something that was said to him or that was visible in our context, or even just something that was a common experience to everyone gathered.

So, he used these stories that connected to common experiences as ways of making hard things easier to understand?

Well, I guess that I would have to say yes and no to that. There were times when Jesus told one of these parables and I felt like I was taken deeper into understanding a spiritual truth. But, there were also times when I and the other disciples heard a story and we were even more confused and asked Jesus to interpret – to make the connections clearer. He would do that, but seemed to find our confusion interesting, as if our lack of understanding meant something to him.

It sometimes seemed that these stories were ways that interested followers could go deeper in their insights, while those who were trying to trap him in his statements could be left perplexed. Yet, other times it was obvious that the story was just a true resource for teaching clearly a particular insight or point.

Did he tell these stories often?

Yes, he did. And some of those stories were so powerful that you never forgot them!

So then, you have some favorites that you might be willing to tell me?

Oh my, “favorites” seems like such a dangerous category! I think that they were so well told and were so wisely connected to everyday life that certain situations inspire a story that is my favorite in that context.

Well, still, what would be some that you would want me to be sure to know about.

I guess I would confess that I am better able to talk about them than tell them again myself. That would be my way of passing these connecting stories on to you and hope that you will hear them in your worship times with new ears!

I remember a time when a lawyer asked Jesus, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus put it back on him as one well-versed in the law, “What is written in the law?” The man’s answer reflected key emphases that Jesus had made to us in our time with him. The man came back with quotes from scripture regarding loving the Lord our God with all that we are and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus affirmed this response and basically told him that if he carried those out faithfully, he would be embracing a journey into eternal life.

This willingness to lift up keeping of the law with high expectations was typical of Jesus. I found that Jesus often lifted the law so powerfully high so that we could realize that we had no chance of living lives of perfection under the law. Jesus was willing to let us wrestle with a statement like, “You must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” It was his way, it seemed, to drive us toward the understanding that our trust in him would yield the forgiveness and life that we wanted.

This is the Gospel. We find that we are less than God would have us be in small and large ways. Thus, we sin. Jesus died for us on the cross that our sin might be forgiven through his sacrificial death for us. He rose again that we might also have new lives in him. Through our faith in him, we have new life each day and even on through death into eternity.

This lawyer seemed to pick up on the sticky aspect of Jesus saying so simply, “do this and you will live.” He asked Jesus to clarify or define exactly who was his neighbor.
This led Jesus to tell one of his most powerful parables. It was about a man on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho who fell among robbers and was left for dead. A priest came by and avoided any contact with him, passing by on the other side. A Levite also came by but did the same. Key religious leaders who had great exposure to the law found themselves able to pass by and leave that man for dead.

But then, Jesus introduced a third traveler into the story. It was this traveler that left us all wrestling for the depth of truth he was revealing. Jesus revealed that a Samaritan, the most hated group of people for Jews in our time, came by. This Samaritan was moved by the man’s need. The Samaritan cared for the man, bandaged his wounds and even poured oil on them to help with their healing. The Samaritan placed the man on his own donkey while he walked until they found an inn. The Samaritan took care of him there that night and then paid the innkeeper to continue the man’s care until the Samaritan’s  return. The Samaritan promised the innkeeper that he would cover any other costs at that time.

Then, Jesus asked the lawyer, “Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man?” The lawyer responded with the obvious answer, “The one who showed mercy.” He could not even say the word Samaritan with the answer. Jesus told him to “go and do likewise.”

Did you notice that Jesus emphasized, in his answer, the loving, costly actions taken by the Samaritan and not the needy man as to who was the neighbor? Neighboring was all about the active response to a person in need.

Wow! There is so much there to think about.

There you are. That is what happens with these stories of Jesus. There are so many connections that they make into one’s life and into one’s experiences. In a powerful and meaningful way, they can haunt you with their meaning.

Can you walk by a beggar without this story working on your heart? Can you carry a prejudice in your life toward a group of people and not have this story work on your heart? Can you think about what it means to love God with all that you are and your neighbor as yourself and not have this story come to your mind and make you think and feel new things? Might it inspire one thing at one stage of your life and another at another stage? And this is just one story!

Yes, you said and I have heard that there were many stories.

Absolutely. Too many stories to be told this evening. But know that Jesus talked about a shepherd who left 99 of his sheep behind and went and searched until he found one lost sheep of his hundred. All of us matter in this gracious, good news search of God for us.

Jesus talked about a sower of seed whose seed fell into many different soils and how the different contexts left little yield except when the seed fell upon good soil. It has been so accurate to my experience of how this Gospel message touches lives and how people respond to it. It also has spoken personally to me about how I have received God’s word in my heart in different stages of my life and on different days.

Jesus told a parable about God’s judgment and how our interactions with people in need are really like interacting with Jesus himself. Jesus said in the story that people have found him, Jesus, hungry and fed him, thirsty and gave him drink, a stranger and welcomed him, naked and clothed him, sick and cared for him, AND you should note this evening, imprisoned and visited him! He said that those who had cared for the least of the world had cared, actually, for him.

Jesus told stories that live in one’s heart and rise to one’s mind as one lives every day. He made connections to real life – connections to the calling of being a follower, a disciple of Jesus. He made connections that inspire one to a more caring, faithful life that responds to the people we encounter every day and their challenges and needs.

Connections! I see it. I have experienced it a little in just the few stories that I have heard. Now I see even better how I need to hear more and really listen. I want those stories in my life. I want Jesus deeper in my life. Peter, you help me to yearn for a closer journey with Jesus. Thank you so much! I will be back!

 

SOME QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER FOR PERSONAL CONTEMPLATION OR GROUP STUDY:
1. As you think about the parables of Jesus that you know, what are some of the connections that you have experienced or that you see between the stories and real life?
2. What parables reveal possible contexts in which Jesus and the disciples were experiencing? Are there contexts in your everyday life that could yield some parables for thinking about the faith? Metaphors and similes make helpful connections as well. Are there just some simple statements that could be made like “The Gospel is like a refrigerator,” or “Following Jesus is like being on a baseball team.”?
3. The Cottonpatch Version of the Bible by Clarence Jordan shares Jesus’ parables in a more modern context. Would you have a way of updating or adjusting the Parable of the Good Samaritan that would bring it into our times?
4. What parable would be a favorite of yours and why?
5. Is there a parable that you have always wondered about or left you confused? This is a good opportunity to think about it, talk about it, or even research it online.

The Lamb

This was a poem that I came across in a collections of poems by famous poets – Longfellow, Whitman, Browning, Frost, and many more that included William Blake. I saw this little poem with a faith connection and thought that I could put a little music to it. This is what came about:

DYING – Chapter 6

Hello Peter! I have been so excited to come and talk with you today. I heard in a story as we were gathered this week in worship of a time when Jesus said to you, “Get behind me Satan!”  Is that true? Did Jesus say that to you?

Hello, my friend! What an opening for our discussion today!

Yes, that is true. Of course, there is a quite a story around that moment and so this is good that you have brought it up right away. Shall I get started telling the story?

Yes, please!

We had taken a northern journey with Jesus, away from the larger crowds although we were rarely completely alone with him. He was teaching us many things. He paused at one point and asked us who people were saying that he was. We told him some of the stories that we had heard – John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.

This was heady stuff for us. We knew that Jesus was becoming known and that people were realizing just how amazing and important that he was. And so then, Jesus said to us, “But who do you say that I am?”

He had never asked us THAT before. Who did we say that Jesus was? I knew in that moment in my heart that Jesus was the Messiah. And so, I just said it, “You are the Messiah!” We all knew that this was also something that people were wondering. We all knew that we were thinking it more and more. It was time that it got said and I was the one to say it to Jesus!

What came next shocked us, though. He told us that we were not to tell people this. And then, he began to talk for the first time about what would take place in the future for him. He told us that there was suffering ahead. He would be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes. He would be killed! And, he also said, although we almost missed it, that he would rise to life again after three days.

He was so open and matter of fact about this. I was stunned. This could not be possible. None of us had any sense that this kind of dying was what was ahead for Jesus. We had a totally different picture of what was coming both for him and for ourselves!

I took Jesus aside at that point and challenged what he had just said. He looked into my eyes and then beyond at the rest of the disciples and said strongly to me, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things!”

What did you say or do with such a statement?

I said nothing more and Jesus had much more to say. He called us all around him and began to teach about dying, the cross and discipleship. He provided new meanings to each of those ideas.

He said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?”

Dying. The cross. Discipleship. How did Jesus go on from there to teach about these things?

Well, it came in many ways. We had a hard time understanding that a follower of Jesus, a disciple, embraces a powerful mix of losing one’s old life and priorities and finding one’s new life with the Lord’s priorities. We were still very much men and women who had our minds set on human things and not divine things. Jesus worked to clarify this with us.

How? What more would he say?

Once we were all arguing as we walked with each other along a road over who was the greatest of us as disciples of Jesus. I honestly now cannot remember why it arose, but we were hard at it with each other. When we arrived at our destination he asked us what we had been arguing about on the road. We did not know how to answer him because we knew it was not something of which he would approve. He called the 12 of us aside and made it very clear that whichever of us wanted to be first of all of us must be the last of all of us and servant of all of us! He held up a little child and encouraged us to see that there was much to learn about being a disciple from how we welcomed a child and interacted with children in his name.

I have come to realize over these years that it all comes back to dying. In different and essential ways, small and large, followers – disciples – of Jesus die daily. The ways that we set our minds on human things must die. The lives that we live following those priorities must continue to die. Out of that can come new ways that our lives can be set on divine things. Our new lives then arise in new ways every day. Dying and rising. Losing and finding.

Were there other times that Jesus taught about this?

There was a time when James and John took Jesus aside after he had reemphasized that he was headed to his arrest, punishment and death. Somehow, they felt that it was a good time to specifically request to be on his right hand and his left in his time of glory that was ahead. I look back now with the clarity of hindsight and see the full irony of their request. Jesus said to them that they had no idea what they were truly asking – wondered if they were able to drink the cup he would have before him and be part of the baptism that he had to face. Like the rest of us, James and John were so clueless – even with what Jesus had clearly said – what it would mean to truly follow close to Jesus. There would never be the glory that they had in mind then. As you can see my current plight and to some extent what all of us have faced in one way or another in our ministries in Jesus name, there is not much of what the world would glorify.

Yet, Jesus knew what James and John would face – what all of us would face in one way or another. He told them that they would drink from the same cup and be baptized with a similar baptism, but that sitting at his right and left were not his to grant.

We were so angry with them when we heard all that they had sought. But, Jesus called us together and reminded us again about discipleship and servanthood. He mentioned how while worldly rulers lord it over their subjects, it would be different for his followers. He said again to us very plainly, “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

This all seems very hard and costly. I understand it in some ways, but I have also seen in the people with whom I worship an energy and love for the Lord and their lives that seem different than what all of this feels like.

Dying and losing to RISE and FIND. LEADING through servanthood. Embracing one’s cross daily to follow the crucified Lord takes us through dying into NEW LIFE. And, in that dying of the life that we so want to build up with this world’s priorities and trinkets, those new lives do arise with priorities centered in Jesus and bearing fruit like love, joy, peace and kindness. Those fruits of the Spirit are what you are seeing in your friends.

I hope that I can continue to discover this and grow in this way.

Just by sharing these stories with you right now, it encourages me in the truth of our Lord. My embracing of human things is dying a bit right now. You help me to die in our Lord. You help me to take up my cross in these conversations. You are Jesus to me as his Spirit moves in you and me together. Two of us gathered in his name and Jesus present!

You are very gracious in saying that, Peter. I guess I am dying a bit in this as well but had no idea it would happen or what to call it. I had no idea that the conversation would head in this way when I came. I was just so fascinated to hear about Jesus calling you Satan. Now, I know the deeper meaning behind that story, but am still afraid that I don’t die enough each day.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, my friend. The dying will come in small and large doses as he sees fit.

I need to leave again, but I will keep this in mind and seek to die a little each day and rise to new life in our Lord!

 

SOME QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER FOR PERSONAL CONTEMPLATION OR GROUP STUDY:

 

  1. In what ways is your mind set more on human things than divine things?
  2. Losing and dying do not seem like big selling points for following Jesus! How might you best describe why these are so essential in understanding what it means to be a disciple and follow Jesus?
  3. What would you like to see die in you today that might allow a new aspect of your life to come more alive in Christ?
  4. How is it possible to be a servant of all and, in that, be a leader?
  5. How was Jesus a servant/leader?

FOLLOWING – Chapter 5

Peter! What in the world happened? You are soaking wet! The cell is soaking wet. Everything is soaking wet!

It is just one of the things that take place in this prison. They come through with huge buckets of water to just clean out everything – us, our cells and anything else that might be here. It happens, I guess, when the stench just gets so bad that they decide they cannot stand it anymore.

Wow! You are soaked to the skin!

It’s certainly not the first time in my life (nor in this prison!). As a fisherman one ends up in the lake for different reasons from time to time. There was a time with Jesus when I followed him into the lake on a stormy night. I was really soaked that time!

Why were you and Jesus swimming in the lake on a stormy night?

Well, swimming had little to do with it and that is what makes the story important for a new disciple like you! We talked last week about the time that we were with Jesus and how over 5,000 people were fed. What we didn’t get to was that Jesus sent us all on our way after that took place. He dismissed the crowds and then we got into a boat to head across to the other side of the lake. Jesus stayed behind for some private time to pray up on the mountain.

A storm came on the lake. Storms on that lake can be vicious! While we were a good way from land, we also were not anywhere near our destination. We were out on a dangerous, stormy lake in the middle of the night!

As if that were not enough, suddenly we saw Jesus walking toward us upon the lake! I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true! We thought that it could be a ghost or something. But, Jesus cried out to us, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Something came over me in that moment. I am still not sure if it was the devil or the Holy Spirit, but, I found myself saying to what seemed to be Jesus, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come upon the water.”

What? Why in the world would you have used that as your test for whether it was Jesus or not?

Well, that is why I am still a little uncertain if it was the devil or the Holy Spirit. I lean more toward the Spirit, but, with what happened, you will see that I was not really prepared to take the next step, for Jesus did say, “Come.”

Now understand, as a fisherman for so many years, I was a pretty good swimmer. But also, as a fisherman for so many years, I knew that this was not a time to be out swimming in the lake at any distance from the boat! But, Jesus said, “Come,” and so I did!

I took a step upon the water and it held me. I took another step and it held me.  I walked a few feet away from the boat and looking to Jesus as I walked upon the water briefly. But, the wind was really howling. The water was up and down. This was so crazy. I took my eyes off Jesus and started looking around at where I was and what I was doing. I lost it! I was afraid and then I began to sink! I cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of me. He said to me in that moment, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

He got me back to the boat and we both climbed in. As that happened, the wind just stopped, and the lake was soon still. We were amazed, humbled, and inspired to just worship him and realize that he truly was the Son of God!

What a story! He really walked on water!? You really walked on water!?

I know that it is miraculous, but, yes, it is true. But, what is even more important is what I learned as a follower of Jesus.

Those few moments that I walked on the water were purely possible because I had my eyes on Jesus and believed in his calling to me to come to him. The wind and the water were not as much on my mind as I stepped out of the boat because I was, for a few moments, focused upon him. He called, and I followed.

It was, in one sense, very similar to the fishing story that I shared with you when Jesus was with us and we had the great catch of fish. He invited us to go fishing and we followed – twice. First, out onto the lake where we acquired a huge catch of fish. Then, he called us to follow out into the hills of Galilee as he continued to preach his message of the coming of the kingdom. He called. We followed.

In this instance, when I took my eyes off Jesus and no longer saw him before me, I was lost! The wind and the waves were greatly beyond anything that I could handle by myself. I knew this as an experienced fisherman. What I had lost was all that I was learning about what it meant to follow Jesus. The storm was greater than me. The storm was not greater than Jesus.

I will say it again to you, I was lost when I took my eyes off Jesus.

This was the lesson that I have treasured since that day. I have taken my eyes off Jesus many times since, but I now tend to realize it sooner and turn back more quickly. (Well, there was one evening where that was not the case, but that is a story for another visit!)

I hear you saying that a key aspect of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus is learning how to follow him and keep my eyes focused upon him even though I cannot physically see him now.

It is the essential focus of a disciple. It is all about Jesus. He is there as you listen and learn from these stories of him. He is there as you walk in the wetness of your baptism each day (which especially comes to mind for me right now!). He is there as you eat the bread and drink the wine of the Meal. He is there in your prayer life, always hearing and guiding. He is there in your midst as you gather with other sisters and brothers who are disciples. He is there as you reach out in words and actions into the lives of your neighbors. He is there. He is here now.

Jesus said, “Follow me,” so long ago and my life has been blessed. He is saying to you, as well, “Follow me!”

What I am just beginning to learn is that, even though I never knew Jesus as he walked this earth, it is still possible for me to know and follow that same Jesus right now these years later in a completely different part of the world! What you are saying is that this is not just a novel idea that I should think about and toy with. This is the essential aspect of what it really means to be a Christian disciple. I am to follow Jesus and Jesus is ready and available to lead me daily in my life!

That is exactly what I am saying and could not have said it any better myself!

But, it must come so naturally to you as one who knew Jesus back then. How do I develop this ability to listen and learn where Jesus is leading me in any given moment?

We learned very early in those days after Jesus ascended that he left us with some key experiences that inspired us and renewed us in our journeys with him. We began to devote ourselves to the stories of his life and teachings as we recalled them and shared them, and as we studied and learned from the scriptures themselves. There was a powerful sense of new life in those conversations – his Spirit was there as we shared.

We learned that our baptisms had meaning not just at the beginning of our walks with Jesus, but for our daily journeys of faith. We found we were comforted by the promise of God in Jesus that came to us in our baptisms. They were resources of confirmation of God’s love and grace in times where we struggled and doubted. And, we were renewed as we celebrated the meal of bread and wine together as a community. We have that physical promise again and again that he gave his body and shed his blood for our forgiveness and new life. It is ongoing spiritual nourishment in physical form. He was and is present there with us in that simple meal.

We learned the value of prayer. We found that it mattered to talk with the Lord and listen for guidance. We learned that it inspired and guided us as we turned faithfully to him in prayer. For me, talking in prayer to God was all I knew in my earliest days. Learning to listen has been fascinating and inspiring. I have found that the Lord gives guidance during my prayers if I listen.

We learned that it was healthy for our journeys to be together and share with each other. Our community in him, our fellowship, was not just a nice experience. It fed our faith and we found that there was a strong sense of his presence as even two or three were gathered together in his name. He told us, “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

We learned that as we reached out in words and action into the needs and lives of our neighbors, Jesus was there. If fact, it brought the full meaning to his parable where he had said: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” In those times of vulnerability in which one becomes available to people who are in need, the Spirit is present. Jesus is there. Conversations and actions of love and grace happen in ways that are often unplanned and amazing.

Jesus rose from the dead and is alive and present in us, with us and through us! It has been a truth that I have experienced for many years now.

So, for a disciple, there are disciplines to focus upon – the scriptures and the stories and teachings of the apostles; fellowship with other followers; our baptisms; the meal; praying – talking with and listening to Jesus; and reaching out in the love of Jesus to the needs of our neighbors!

Yes, he is still with us and leading and calling us to follow.

I get it. And, I know I will have a lifetime of learning, but eternity to enjoy! But, now my damp friend, I must leave and will be back next week.

Go in Jesus!

 

SOME QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER FOR PERSONAL CONTEMPLATION OR GROUP STUDY:

  1. When have you felt that the living Jesus was particularly present and providing support, guidance and/or grace to you in your faith journey?
  2. How have you sought to keep your eyes on Jesus in your faith journey?
  3. Peter listed a group of five things, disciplines, that have been used by disciples to grow more connected with the living Christ over many years: God’s Word (those stories); the Sacraments, Prayer, Fellowship and Witnessing in words and actions. As you consider these five disciplines, which has been most helpful to you in your faith journey?
  4. As you think about those five disciplines, of which have you taken least advantage as you have sought to grow in your faith?
  5. What would be one new step that you might take with one of those disciplines upon which to focus for growth in following Jesus – keeping your eyes on him?

HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN!

The women walked with heavy steps

Their loss so great to death

The darkness deep around them still

Some tears and out of breath

 

Light began to barely shine

The arrival of the dawn

“Who will roll away the stone?”

They wondered but moved on

 

And then, they saw the covered tombs,

An eerie land of loss,

The tomb to which they sadly trudged

Created by the cross

 

The first surprise of a surprising morn

A rumble from the ground

The second startling circumstance

An open tomb they found

 

The third an angel from above

Had moved the stone away

And seeing the women stopped far off

Said, “Do not be afraid!”

 

“I know that you are looking for

Your Master and your friend.

I know that He was crucified

And you thought His life at end.”

 

“But come and see the fact that He

No longer lingers here.

He is risen! He is risen!

See! The evidence is clear.”

 

The women moved close to the tomb

And stared within in awe

For Jesus truly wasn’t there

The tomb was bare. They saw!

 

“This is news that must be shared,”

The angel continued on

“Go and tell that Jesus lives

To Peter, James and John.”

 

And so these women hastened back

“Great news!” they shouted out

“He is risen! He is risen”

But, the men were left in doubt

 

Yet, finally Peter had to see

If what they said was true

And John ran with him to the tomb

A race toward truth, these two

 

John beat Peter to the tomb

But stood outside to see

While Peter, as soon as he arrived,

Went in immediately

 

And sure enough as Mary said

No body did they see

Just linen wrappings lying there

Where Jesus ought to be

 

What could this mean? Why was He gone?

What plot had been conceived?

Peter struggled with these facts,

But John saw and believed.

 

The men walked back the dusty road

Together, lost in thought

Reviewing all that Jesus did

And all that Jesus taught

 

But Mary Magdalene remained

She’d followed close behind

She felt confused, surprised and lost

Was Jesus there to find?

 

Had the message of the angels

Really been the truth of God?

Was Jesus truly living now?

Or just some story odd?

 

And then a voice broke through the morn

It startled her to hear
“Why do you weep? Whom do you seek?”

It rang out soft but clear

 

Perhaps the gardener of the tombs

She thought, he might know more

The missing Jesus could have been

For him another chore.

 

“Tell me, sir, if you have moved

My master and my friend

Just tell me if you’ve taken him

To meet some other end”

 

“Mary!” she had heard her name

Said by so many men

But only one had spoken it

Like she had heard it then!

 

“Rabboni!” teacher, Master, Jesus

“It is true. You really live!”

“Yes, my faithful, caring friend,

I’ve a message you must give.”

 

“But, Lord, just let me hold you

Let me cling and not let go!”

“No, dear one, you must hold back

There’s still much you must know.”

 

 

She listened to her Lord again,

His voice so great to hear.

The message was so wonderful

But still it brought a tear

 

Jesus promised her that He would come

Into their midst again

And so she left reluctantly

With this message once again

 

He is risen! He is risen!

As she burst right through the door

I have seen Him. I have touched Him!

It’s the Master! I am sure!

 

They talked and talked of what this meant

The doors and windows locked

They feared their capture even yet

Might come just as they talked

 

When in their midst Christ did appear

He lived as Mary said

He is risen! He is risen!

He is risen from the dead!

 

“Peace be unto you my friends,

The peace from God so true

As the Father has sent me

So now do I send you”

 

And then the Lord did breathe on them

With power from above

“Receive the Holy Spirit,” He said

Receive the heavenly dove.

 

And carry to the world the truth

Accomplished on my cross

Forgiveness is available

Life given through life lost

 

But it was only ten of them

That were gathered there that night

Thomas had been somewhere else,

Lost chance to see the Light

 

And later, after Jesus left

Came Thomas to the room

He is risen! He is risen!

Rang the message that burst the tomb

 

Thomas doubted, Thomas struggled,

“It’s a story, can’t be true

Living? Jesus living?

Back alive for me and you?”

 

“I can’t believe it, can’t believe it

He is dead; was crucified.

I won’t believe, I won’t believe it,

‘til I touch His hand and side!”

 

One week later, Jesus came

In the room with Thomas there

Went right over swiftly to him

In his eyes did Jesus stare

 

“It was hard I know to trust,

But now you know you weren’t deceived

You may touch my hands, my side

Thomas saw, and now believed

 

He exclaimed, “My Lord, My God!”

But on his senses he did lean

Jesus said, “The truly blessed

Will be believers who haven’t seen.”

 

And thus the story, thus the message

Of our Jesus, crucified

He is risen! He is risen!

Yes, He lives, the man who died.

 

It’s a message shared at Easter

Shared with hope for me and you

It’s the message of our Savior

One to tell and one to do

 

It’s a message shared in summer

Shared in winter, spring and fall

It’s a message of a man who died

And rose again for all

 

And so it is a message

Ringing out this Easter morn

Jesus lives! O’er death He’s conquered,

And with Him new Life’s been born!

 

Can you feel it? Have you heard it?

Can you sense both gain and loss?

Jesus gave His body, shed His blood

And died upon a cross

 

And had that death, but ended there

It would be pure tragedy

But we have heard the fuller tale,

A tale of victory

 

He is risen! He is risen!

He is risen from the dead!

Jesus lives! The devil’s conquered

Death has lost its grip, its dread

 

It’s a message that each Christian

Has embraced down through the years

Each has felt the Master’s presence,

Needed it in times of tears

 

Even now if you should find

That with your life you cannot cope

Easter morning brings a message

Full of promise, full of hope

 

God has done it, God has acted

Done a miracle, it’s true

It’s a sign of strength and power,

And a gift for me and you

 

Feel it strongly! Hold it tightly!

For to you it has been said

He is risen! He is risen!

Christ is risen from the dead.