Featured Post

The Temple (Part 4)

1 Kings 8:14,  20-21, 25-26 “14 Then the king {Solomon} turned around and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Isra...

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Words of Christ on the Cross, Part 3

John 19:30; Luke 23:46

“30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

Luke 23:46

“46 Jesus called out with a loud voice,  “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.”

There was a great darkness when Jesus died.  It was as if the light of the world had been extinguished.  When Christ uttered “It is finished” from the cross, I am sure that those who knew Him and who witnessed the crucifixion felt that all mercy, goodness and hope had vanished from the world.

But Christ’s spirit was in the hands of God and with God all things are possible.  The end of Christ’s ministry on earth was the beginning of the ministry of the Disciples; the beginning of the Church; and the beginning of the worldwide spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

God’s light is never extinguished.  His word endures forever.  

And God’s work is never finished.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Friday, March 29, 2024

Words of Christ on the Cross, Part 2

Mark 15:34

“34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)”

John 19:28

“28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar  was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.”

We often forget that the Son of God was not only divine but also human.  In this context, He had lived the life of humanity; He had done the work that we do, suffered in the way we suffer, he knew the agony of hunger and thirst, and he had faced the temptations and trials that we face.  He knew the love and the betrayal of friends, and the hatred of enemies.

And now he experienced a suffering no person had ever suffered; the suffering for the sins of humanity and the deep, dark separation from God that is caused by such an accumulation of sins.

The cross was the final temptation for Christ.  The people who witnessed the crucifixion were yelling at him to save himself, to come down from the cross if He were truly the Messiah and in this we hear echo of the voice of Satan in the wilderness.

But it was not the nails that held Jesus to the cross. 

It was love.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Words of Christ on the Cross, Part 1

Luke 23:33-34, 39-43

“33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

John 19:25-27

“25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

How is it that Jesus could express compassion for others while on the cross?  Each of the statements above in bold are statements that Jesus made after being beaten, whipped, scourged, spat upon, forced to carry his cross, nailed by the hands and ankles to the cross, then slowly suffocating to death because of the weight of His body pulling down on His arms.

Yet, his concern is for those who crucified Him, for the criminals who were crucified with Him, and for His mother.

How many of us are able to think beyond our own pain to the needs and suffering of others?

Christ did this on the cross.

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Matthew 9:23)

This is the way.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Betrayed and Taken

John 19:13-18

“13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. 15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. 16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.”

The Disciples deserted Him.  Peter denied Him.  Now the people cried out for His death.  It was not just any death that they cried out for. It was a death reserved for criminals; a gruesome death used by the Romans to torture and humiliate the victim and to deter those who witnessed it from committing similar crimes against the state of Rome. 

Deserted by all who had walked and lived with Him, He had carried His cross to the place of His execution.  Two criminals on crosses were on each side of Him.  They were His companions in suffering and death.

The horrific nature of His death was reflective of the horrific nature of the sins of humanity that He was taking upon himself during the crucifixion.  The horrific nature of His death contrasted with the acts of love he had performed for others in His ministry.

But His death on the cross was more than an act of love.  It defined for us the kind of love that we are to have for one another- a selfless, self-sacrificing love.

And all who follow Him are called to this love.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Sitting Watch

Matthew 26:36-46

“36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” 43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Was there ever a time when someone sat up with you as you agonized over a decision to make, or went through a time of suffering?  What would you have thought if this person slept most of the time they were with you?

The disciples that Jesus took with him to Gethsemane were the same disciples that he took with him to the Mount of Transfiguration.  He asked them to sit and keep watch a distance away while he prayed, and agonized, and wrestled.  He described himself as overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.

And yet, the disciples slept.

During our times of struggle, we take it for granted that God is sitting watch with us. As we pray and cry out in our agony, God is with us.   As we suffer our greatest hurt, God is there.

As we dry our eyes and walk out the door, God is with us.

And He never slept.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Monday, March 25, 2024

The Answer

Matthew 21:23-27

23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

When we think of the things that Jesus did upon entering Jerusalem, particularly the cleansing of the temple, it was only natural that the authorities would ask Him on whose authority He was acting.

Jesus, as he often did, countered with a question of his own.  “On whose authority did John the Baptist act?”  Their answer was an answer they thought would not condemn them either in Jesus’ eyes or in the eyes of the people.  They said they did not know.  But an answer of ignorance from people who should have known was self-condemning.  They could not face the truth.

The religious authorities had a duty to know these things, to know a true prophet from a false prophet. To say they did not know was to say they were not who they claimed to be.  So Jesus, rightly, refused to answer their question.

As Christians, we are to walk the path of truth, wherever that path leads, however difficult the journey, no matter how uncomfortable.  

And at the end of that journey lies the answer.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Saturday, March 23, 2024

His Time Had Come

Luke 19:45-46

“45 When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. 46 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’ but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.”

By cleansing the temple and teaching in temple each day, Jesus drew the attention of the religious authorities to himself.  I believe this was His intent.  He did not make the journey to Jerusalem to hide in a corner on some deserted street.  His time had come, so he acted in a way that was consistent with His coming.  Jesus knew the result of His actions, He knew how things would end, and he acted boldly and in public view.

Many times during His ministry, Jesus had asked people that he helped or healed that they not tell anyone.  Now, Jesus accepted their shouts of praise and their claims that He was the Messiah, the son of David.

His time had come.  

And the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the leaders of the people plotted to kill him.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Friday, March 22, 2024

Prophetic Actions

Matthew 21:8-11

“8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey to His fate.  The crowd received Him as they would have received a king (2 Kings 9:13 and Maccabees 13:51).  The religious authorities would receive him as a criminal.

Jesus’ actions in Jerusalem were deliberate. They were prophetic actions designed to awaken the minds of those who witnessed them.  Prophets often acted in such ways when words were insufficient.  

Jesus was in Jerusalem to openly proclaim himself as the Messiah.  His time had come, but his prophetic actions were not designed to capture a worldly throne.  

They were designed to lead him to the cross.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Encountering God’s Love

John 12:1-8

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

As Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem where he knew what was in store for him, He and the disciples stopped by Bethany to see Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  In Jerusalem He would encounter vicious acts of hatred.  In Bethany, he encountered an act of selfless love.

Nard is a perfumed ointment made from a plant that grows in the Himalayas in Northern India.  At the time of Jesus, a pint of nard cost a year’s wages or 300 dinari which is the equivalent to approximately $50,000 today.  Mary took the nard and poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair.  

It could be that Mary was wealthy and this extravagance was nothing to her, or it could be that she spent her life savings on this nard so that she could anoint Jesus with it.  In either case, Judas objected to her act as one of waste and callousness toward the poor. 

Was Mary anointing Jesus ahead of his death or was she anointing him as the Messiah she knew Him to be (after all, he did raise her brother from the dead).  Or both?

In her act of love, 

  1. We see selfless sacrifice (the nard was probably Mary’s most precious possession); 

  2. We see humility, as Mary kneeled at Jesus’s feet and anointed them; 

  3. And we see an act of  love that triumphed over custom, culture and the law (it was unseemly for a woman to loosen her hair and use it in such a way in public).

Before He encountered the hate of the world, Christ encountered Godly love.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

What Do You Want God to Do for You?

Luke 18:40-43

“40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. 42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.”

I used to have a dream that I could not walk and was confined to a wheelchair.  Then suddenly I would stand up and could feel my legs and I would begin to run, and running was the greatest feeling in the world.  I would be so happy, jumping around and running.  Then I would wake up.  

I used to imagine that this is the way the blind man that Jesus healed felt when he could see.

If God were to ask you what you want Him to do for you, what would your answer be?  The blind man asked to see.  He did not ask for wealth, or wisdom, or any material thing.  He asked only to see.

We take way too many things for granted that, if they were taken away, would be worth more than all the wealth or wisdom or material possessions we could possibly have.

Think hard.

What do you want God to do for you?

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Monday, March 18, 2024

Just Like Me

Mark 10:35-40

“35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” 36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”  38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” 39 “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

There is a story about a preacher who, after 25 years of sermons in one particular church, began asking members of his congregation about the details of his sermons. Not one congregant could remember any of his sermons.  The preacher quit that day and became an artist.

In this scripture we see James and John as they were, warts and all.  Jesus had just announced to them, for the third time, that he was going to die in Jerusalem and He had actually described what was going to happen to him.  As a result of hearing that, James and John asked Jesus if , when the event was over and He was in His glory, they could have the honored seats beside His throne.

This is everything that Jesus had preached and taught against.  Pride, arrogance, ambition, selfishness, putting oneself before others, etc., have no place in the spiritual life, according to Jesus.  How he held his emotions in check while he spoke to them I will never know.  How could James and John have lived with Jesus for three years, sat at His feet, heard Him teach and preach, and dared to ask this question?

Had they not listened?  Had they not heard any of His sermons?

But then I wonder,  how long have I walked with Jesus?  How long have I sat at His feet? Do pride and arrogance and selfishness still rule in my life?

Maybe this is the point of the story.

The disciples were just like me.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Saturday, March 16, 2024

The Walk

Matthew 20:17-19

“17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

This was the third time that Jesus told the Disciples of His impending death.  He needed them to understand what was going to happen, to prepare them.  First he told them of the darkness of it all, the arrest, the mocking, the flogging, the crucifixion.  Then he told them of the light, the resurrection.  My guess is that they fixated on the darkness.

Jesus intentionally included the Disciples in the details of His impending death and resurrection.  It seems that even Jesus needed his closest friends to help Him through this ultimate trial; at the very least he needed them to understand the intimate details of the path He would walk.

The Christian community is a caring community that reaches out to those who are suffering and who are in need.

At the very least, we are a people who can understand the walk that you walk.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Friday, March 15, 2024

The Vineyard

Matthew 20:1-7

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. 3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went. “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ 7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’”

I love going to vineyards or driving by vineyards and seeing all the neat rows of vines bursting forth with grapes.  

I like to think of the kingdom of heaven being like a vineyard, where there is sun, fresh air, green plants and God given work to be done with your body and mind. 

I also like to think that the people who do this work are full of God’s grace.

In this parable we find that this is not necessarily so.  When it came time to be rewarded for their work,  many were unsatisfied with the way they were paid.

Why is it we do the work of the Kingdom?  Is it for the reward?  

As Christians, our reward is our faith; our reward is the Holy Spirit dwelling within us; our reward is eternal life.  We receive our reward before we do any work for the kingdom.   

Our work in the vineyard is done because of the love that flows from our faith.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Blessed are the Children

Mark 10:13-16

“13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”

The disciples, always pressed by the crowds, and acting in their roles as the gatekeepers and protectors of Jesus’ time, thought that people with illnesses and disabilities should be given preference rather than parents wanting their children to be blessed. So they rebuked the parents.  They saw the children as nuisances and wasters of Jesus' time and energy.

Throughout the scriptures we read that Jesus had a special relationship with children, but on this occasion, as Jesus was on his way to the cross, when his time on earth was short and he knew it, children and their innocence may have seemed especially precious and wonderful.

It is in this moment that we find in Jesus a most human emotion.

He took the children in his arms.  

We have a savior who, near the end of his life on earth, took children into his arms and blessed them.

This is the Christ.  This is the Messiah.

This is who we serve.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

The Tax Collector

Luke 18:13

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’”

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector is a well known parable that Jesus told to a crowd of people who were “confident of their own righteousness” who “looked down on everyone else.” Luke 18:9.

This means that they did all the right things, read all the right things, and said all the right things, but they did them with arrogance and pride. And in this pride and arrogance they did not acknowledge their sins.

The Tax Collector was a sinner and he knew it, and he acknowledged this before God.  In his remorse he begged for God’s mercy.

The Holy Spirit leads us, if we are willing, into an ever deepening relationship with God.  In this process comes an ever increasing sense of self awareness.  We become increasingly aware, not of the sins of others, but of our sins.  With this awareness comes a deep conviction that will not let us rest until we fall on our knees and beg for forgiveness.

We don’t know if the Tax Collector changed his life after he left the temple, although Jesus said that he left being justified (made right) by God.  The Pharisee left the temple still unaware of his sins, still unforgiven, and unjustified.

Let us all pray to be as self-aware and as repentant as the Tax Collector. 

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Take the Lowest Seat

Luke 14:7-11

“7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

I was once a supervisor in a large workplace.  The supervisors were asked by management to rate how well they thought they were managing their work teams.   After we rated ourselves, our employees were asked to rate how well they thought they were being managed.  The result was that the supervisors thought they were managing their teams very well, while the employees felt they were not being managed very well at all.

There is often a disconnect in how we see ourselves.  Some people think too little of themselves and others think too much.   In this scripture, Jesus was addressing those who automatically think that the empty chair at the most honored spot at the table is for them.

It is wrong to exalt ourselves, especially in spiritual things.  As Christians, we are to remain humble, recognizing that anything we accomplish is due to the grace of God and in the name of God; that we do not serve ourselves but the one true God.  However important we believe ourselves to be, we are yet sinners who are forgiven by a merciful and forgiving God.

“So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

(1 Corinthians 10:31).

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Monday, March 11, 2024

The Voice of the Messiah

John 10: 24-28

“24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

Who are you?  This is a question that we have to answer frequently for others and for ourselves.  Most often, when we answer this question, we state our name, where we live, where we came from and what we do for a living.  This seems to satisfy most people.

The Jews who surrounded Jesus wanted to know who He was.  “Tell us plainly,” they demanded.  While Jesus may not have told them in so many words, he thought that his works spoke louder than words.  After all, as he said to John the Baptist when John asked if Jesus was the Messiah, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” (Matthew 11:5).

After witnessing such miracles, why would they not believe He was the Messiah?  Why did they need to hear it from his lips?  Some things do not need to be put into words.  Every one of Jesus’s miracles was a shout to the world that the Messiah, as foretold by Isaiah (35:5-6), had come.  Maybe they did not believe and would never believe in the Messiah, no matter how loudly the miracles or the scriptures announced His arrival.

Sometimes the obvious truth of God is obscured by our own prejudice and refusal to believe.

But His sheep know His voice.  

And they follow.  

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Which Path Do We Choose?

Luke 13:10-14

“10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” 15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

Rules and regulations are necessary.  Without them there would be chaos.  People would act in the way they saw fit and pay no attention to their neighbors needs. The problems with rules and regulations come when they are misused, used without mercy, or used to oppress people.  

In this case we see where the rules of the synagogue were being enforced by the synagogue leader to the detriment of those who had come to be healed by Jesus.  The rules and regulations were more important to the synagogue leader than the needs of those who were suffering.

We all have to decide whether to follow the path of mercy and compassion or the path of the world; to open our doors to the suffering or to close them; to offer the love of Christ or the strict interpretation of a rule or regulation.

Which do you choose?

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Friday, March 8, 2024

Lazarus Raised

John 11:38-43

“ 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.”

The religious elite were threatened by Jesus.  He was performing many miracles.  Crowds of people were following Him.  The raising of Lazarus was the last straw.  They knew that if they let Him continue unchecked that all of Israel would soon follow Him.  

The members of the Sanhedrin knew that Rome would not allow a popular leader to emerge.  Rome selected all kings and governors.  If Rome had to intervene, the role of the Sanhedrin might be diminished or eliminated.  

They told themselves that by killing Jesus, they were saving the nation.  They told themselves that they were patriots, preserving their nation.  They told themselves that their actions were justified, that they were doing something good.  But there was also a reason they wanted Jesus killed that they would not admit; they felt personally threatened by Jesus.  He was doing too many good things.

Lazarus had been in the tomb for three days.  Jesus called him from the tomb and raised him from the dead.  A wonderful, unheard of, never seen before, miraculous event.

And from that very day, they plotted to kill Jesus.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)