Yesterday we considered the first post-resurrection appearance of Jesus, using detail found only in John’s gospel. The encounter with Jesus that took place on the Road to Emmaus is recorded only by Luke. I love this encounter — Jesus meeting some disciples deep in conversation, but pretending for a moment to know nothing of the events of the past days as he asks what they’re discussing. Luke tells us that God kept them from recognizing him as they talked and journeyed together toward Emmaus. Jesus goes on at great length to explain every Messianic prophecy in the Hebrew Bible, showing how they all pointed to him and how the Messiah must die this way before being glorified. Of all the documents we have in the New Testament and all the accounts of the things that Jesus said and did, I wish these disciples had written down what Jesus had told them on this trip. Only one of them is called by name in this account, Cleopas. Apparently the name is a shortened form of Cleopatros, meaning “son of a renowned father”. Now that Jesus has already appeared first to the women, he now appears to some who were considered reliable witnesses — perhaps Cleopas had some standing in the community, who knows?
The week following Easter weekend is a good time to think about some of the post-resurrection appearance of Christ. The painting here is by Rembrandt, featuring his conception of Christ’s appearance to Mary Magdalene. The first part of John 20 tells the story. Mary discovers the stone rolled away from the tomb and immediately tells the disciples. Peter and John enter the tomb to find it empty, then go back home, dumbfounded. Mary hangs back and looks into the tomb for herself, seeing two angels who ask why she is crying. After she responds she sees Jesus, but doesn’t recognize him. He too asks why she is crying, but she still doesn’t recognize him — not until he speaks her name, at which point her recognition is instant.
Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?
I’ve got a lot of catch-up to do… and I’m still about a week behind in my blog reading, having spent too much time this past week wrestling with blog upgrades, updates, migrations, and fixes. Should all be a thing of the past soon, then back onto “normal.” Interesting occurrence of the week — we spent a half-hour on a Skype call, video-to-video with family friends in China. Our two girls and their two girls were tickled to see each other on the computer as we talked, and they took us on a virtual narrated tour of their flat. Cool. I remarked to my buddy later that in all the movies and television I’d seen where video telephony was commonplace, there seemed to be a lot less giggling and waving than what my own personal experience suggested. He explained that it wouldn’t look right for James Bond to be talking to M with both of them waving and giggling into the camera. I had to agree of course — thought I stipulated it may have been more in character for Lazenby or Dalton perhaps, but not Connery, Moore, or Brosnan. Alright, on to the linkage, which this week is followed by a fine selection of quotations found around the Interweb:
I read John Piper’s book Future Grace some years back when it was still new. Through that book and through my various ruminations on the subject, I came to understand why having people implore me to “have grace for them” irked me at times. Some people (not everyone, of course), request grace as a means of keeping a relationship running smoothly without having to change or stop an offensive behaviour. But that’s not what grace is all about. Certainly a significant component of the grace of God is the removal of our guilt. Forgiveness, or as the evangelicals like to put it, “God’s unmerited favour.” Guilt be damned — by grace.
There’s a lot of definitions out there these days on what makes a good leader, and one of the common threads is that they are visionaries. Visionary leadership is considered a necessary trait for keeping an organization on track toward its goal, which the leader keeps in mind; the leader inspires others with the goal and influences them toward achieving it. For almost a week now, I’ve been considering the incarnation of Jesus, and his role as a shepherd in comparison — or should I say contrast — to the role which we’ve established today as a pastor. It’s gone something like this:
This post is a continuation of a train of thought I began yesterday in which I developed an idea presented by Robert Farrar Capon in The Third Peacock: The Problem of God and Evil (Part of a trilogy). Yesterday we noted that the incarnation of Christ was perhaps an inevitability even if sin had never occurred, partly because of the manner in which creation was set to being and function, and partly because the incarnation is an expression of God and what he is like. The mere fact of the incarnation has much to teach us apart from the message of an antidote to that nasty problem of sin that plagues us. I recommend a reading of yesterday’s post to get this all in perspective, but we left off with Capon’s words, “What [God] has a principle about is you… he loves you; his chief concern is to be himself for you.” We note that our best benefit is derived of God simply being God. I promised yesterday to begin in Exodus 3, which we shall do.
In considering the problem of evil, Robert Farrar Capon tackles creation — its very nature, how it functions, how God relates to it, and what keeps it ticking. I’ve been quoting Capon, but that’s likely to stop for a while — I returned the book I had borrowed, giving it my succinct review: “It was delicious, and it filled me up.” Anyway, he paints a wonderfully fascinating portrait of the essence of creation being fueled by that intangible desire like that which arises in the heart of one person for another. Boy meets girl, girl meets boy. He doesn’t so much just speak and conjure it up, he woos it into being. Creation meets God, and its heart is set aflutter: it is set and kept upon its axis by romance. Later on, after noticing that the “nice” desires of being that are experienced by the chicken conflict with those of the chicken hawk, he says we must deal with this tension of God having created both, despite the goodness of one being interpreted as “badness” from the vantage point of the other. He proceeds thence to talk about the incarnation.