My apologies for not writing in a while and being absent from posting online in a number of weeks. The reason is that we are five weeks into a full kitchen renovation. We essentially gutted the kitchen area and have replaced pretty well everything except the wall studs! Doing this with three children while continuing to work has been an adventure. All of us have been eagerly awaiting the finished product. The good news is that we are almost finished and we should be all set for Easter week-end! Another good thing is that I have had some time to ponder more faith issues, and I am prepped to come back and share some with you. So here we go.
As we approach the Easter weekend, and if we were Jewish, we would be making preparations for the Passover meal. Passover is a much celebrated Jewish holiday tradition that lasts an entire week. On the eve of Passover, a special Jewish Seder meal is celebrated together. During this special meal there is often an extra place setting at the table for a potential guest to come. Wondering who? This time the answer is not Jesus. In fact, the extra place setting is for the prophet Elijah.
Elijah is held in high honour within the Jewish faith as a man who operated in God’s power to deliver Israel from their enemies. Elijah is also believed to physically return near the end of time to usher in God’s eternal Kingdom. During the Jewish Passover meal these aspects are celebrated. Here’s how.
When the meal is over, the host will pour wine into ‘Elijah’s cup’ and opens the door of the house for the prophet to come in. There are various reasons for doing this, and depending on the host, a selection of Scriptures can be read pertaining to a certain theme. One such emphasis is that when the ‘Cup of Elijah’ is poured, the host would recite verses from the Psalms where God is beseeched to pour His wrath upon those who persecute and oppress His people (Psalm 60, 69, 79). In this light, the cup of Elijah is linked with God’s wrath to be poured onto those who oppose God. God’s wrath is generally understood as something that would impact His own people.
Another emphasis (I like this one) links the ‘Cup of Elijah’ with the God’s coming Kingdom and ultimate redemption for God’s people. Again, various Psalms are read along those lines (Psalm 93-100) which focus on God’s Messiah and the coming eternal Kingdom. This time, the ‘Cup of Elijah’ is linked with hope for a future renewed world and participation in God’s divine glory for eternity. Did I mention that I like this one better?
Now, I am not Jewish and I do not celebrate a Passover meal. However, let me ask you this question: When you think about what God is doing in the world, which lens do you naturally gravitate towards? Is it a lens of ‘wrath’ or a lens of ‘hope’? Now consider and apply the same thing to what God did through Jesus. Which lens do you use? In other words, when attempting to explain what God is up to in the world, and especially what was happening through the death and resurrection of Jesus do you lean towards the ‘wrath’ end, or towards the ‘hope’ side?
One of the things that I often say is that when it comes to the death and resurrection of Jesus, we need to be consistent with the ‘Big Picture’ of God’s Story, as well as be Trinitarian (Father, Son and Spirit) in our worldview and theology. In other words, we need to make sure that everything fits with God’s Personhood and His Mission.
I am personally very thankful for the gospel writers who tell us much about Jesus. One conversation is particularly important to keep in mind. It is with a prominent Pharisee named Nicodemus. Essentially Nicodemus is having a tough time working out just who this ‘Jesus’ guy is and what God is doing through Him. Cutting right to the heart of the matter, Jesus keys in on Nicodemus’ worldview and what that meant God was doing.
In this conversation Jesus utters the following words which we have come to embrace:
“And just as Moses in the desert lifted up the brass replica of a snake on a pole for all the people to see and be healed, so the Son of Man is ready to be lifted up, so that those who truly believe in him will not perish but be given eternal life. For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life. God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it! So now there is no longer any condemnation for those who believe in him, but the unbeliever already lives under condemnation because they do not believe in the name of God’s beloved Son. (John 3:14-18 TPT)
Did you notice Jesus’ emphasis on the love of God and His plan for eternity? It almost makes you think that God (Yahweh) is love, and He desires to live with His creation forever. In fact that is exactly who He is.
At the church where I pastor, we are committed to being a people who act this way and model this understanding of who God is. We believe that God is love, and that He has a great eternal plan for humanity and the world. The entrance is to believe and have faith in His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only Way to God, the divine Truth about God and the abundant Life of God.
As you prepare for the Easter weekend, I encourage you to consider reflecting upon the God of The Bible and what you think He is up to in the world. If you are in the Lindsay area, consider yourself invited to our Good Friday service (10 am) and Sunday morning (10 am) services where we will specifically be talking about ‘Finding your place in the world’. We are also doing an Easter Adventure on the Saturday featuring an animal farm, arts and crafts, and an Easter egg hunt. It’s going to be a great week-end here at Calvary.
Regardless of where you live, consider attending a Christian church were the Resurrected Jesus is celebrated. It is an important event. In fact, it totally changed the world forever.
Stay tuned for more …