As Jesus is the cornerstone upon which the Church is built, so are his teachings the unifying cornerstone of Christian doctrine.

Looking for Jesus

Much of Luke 24:1-12 is about the disciples looking for the missing Jesus after his resurrection. It was the women who sought him first. They were at a loss because of the empty tomb. A couple of divine messengers pointed them in the right direction. “He is risen.” Then the women told the men about their experience. Most of them at first did not believe. They thought the women were just talking nonsense. They did not look for Jesus. Peter however, was different. He ran to the tomb to look for Jesus. Where do we look for Jesus? I’ll tell you where he is. He is risen. He is with the hungry and thirsty, the homeless and naked, the sick and imprisoned. Jesus is with his church and also out seeking the lost. Where are we looking for Jesus?

Jesus' 7 Last Words

1. Luke 23:34 “Father forgive them...” Forgiveness is the point of the cross - how easily do we forgive people even before they have repented? Can we forgive even when others cause us supreme pain?
2. Luke 23:43 “Today you will be with me in Paradise” Paradise is a description of a beautiful garden where we walk and talk with God - will we be there with him too? Can we forgive when others show no fruit other than a request for forgiveness?
3. John 19:25-27 “Woman here is your is your mother” Are we in the church a family - are we brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers to each other? Do we arrive early and stay late at church?
4. Matthew 27:45-46 “Why have you forsaken me?” At that point when Jesus represented sin, he was abandoned by God so that we may not be.
5. John 19:28-30 “I am thirsty” Jesus took on physical discomfort that we might be comforted.
6. John 19:28-30 “It is finished” Do we live as if Christ has finished the work of salvation, or do we think that we must still work for it?
7. Luke 23:46 “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” Have we committed our spirits to God as well?

Cross facts (John 18-19)

How long were the nails used to kill Jesus? Nails for crucifixions averaged about 6 inches (15 cm). How many nails were used? Three or four. Some authorities say there was one nail for both feet, but recent archaeology shows that some crucifixions used one nail for each foot, driven through the heel. What shape of cross was it? There were two common kinds of cross used in those days, a Latin cross is the one more familiar to us. It was shaped like a lowercase t. Another kind of cross was the Tau. It was shaped like a capital T. Where were the nails driven? Artists have depicted Jesus as having nails in what we call the palms of his hands. The wrist was also considered to be part of the hands and archaeology shows nails in the wrists.

Christ confronts politics

The trial of Jesus was nothing less than a political confrontation between this world’s ideals and those of the kingdom of God (John 18:1-19:42). The politics of this world is dirty with secret deals done under the cover of night. Christianity ought to be practiced in public as a light to the whole world. This world’s politics bows to public opinion. Christians ought to stand up for eternal, unchanging values, not bow to public pressure to let a Bar-Abbas go free or worse, to deny Christ. When we pray the Lord’s prayer we pray a politically subversive prayer, Thy kingdom come. We do not pray for the political right or left, or any other worldly politics, but for God’s kingdom to come. Christianity is banned in many countries because it confronts this world and shows a better way.

Resurrection is puzzling

The account of the empty tomb begins with a group of faithful women. Luke 24 indicates there were five or more: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and other women. Just as we would be, they were puzzled, perplexed. When those same women brought the good news to the men, they thought it was nonsense. Resurrection is not a logical, scientific experiment. It is not something that we can reproduce in a test facility. Yet it is the basis of Christianity. It is something that we either believe or not. Certainly we are puzzled by it, but being perplexed does not mean disbelief. It simply means that we do not even have the same experience as those ancient witnesses. Yet, it is something that we believe in, an eternity beyond this life. We are people of the resurrection.

Political comparisons

This world’s powerful people love to make comparisons between political parties and even between countries and their different forms of government. Such comparisons make this or that party look good to their constituents. John 18-19 makes a different comparison, the difference between God’s government and this world’s. We notice that even religious leaders can get seduced into worldly leadership as a temple official slaps Jesus in the face. Our political leaders are not much different than Herod and Pilate, gutless people bowing to public pressure rather than doing what is right. Like Pilate, many would ask, what is truth? Politicians make decisions based upon popular opinion or what is convenient rather than what is right. Anyone who tries to stand up for what it morally and ethically right about abortion, poverty or other human rights is shouted down, “Crucify him!”

Extravagant offerings

Jesus set us an example of personal sacrifice by offering himself completely on the cross (Hebrews 7:27; 9:14). In the manner of the sacrificial culture of ancient Israel, his offering was expensive, the best, without blemish (Leviticus 1-5). Many people offer God their best. They put their best effort into their church duties, whether finance, Sunday School, music, maintenance or prayer. Others sacrifice time for God in others ways such as in service to neighbors or taking time to learn a skill for church service. Offerings come in all shapes and sizes. Mary’s was oil, very expensive oil to anoint Jesus for his upcoming burial (John 12:1-11). What is our area of giving to Jesus? Is it a halfhearted giving, cheap and nasty, or are we thinking of ways that we can give to our Savior extravagantly?

Extravagant faith

Have you ever wondered at extravagant treasures in the church? Should they be sold and the money given to the poor? Jesus’ opinion on a related topic is interesting in John 12:1-11. Mary’s anointing of him was an over-the-top expensive act. I remember hearing of a family that wanted to donate their old furniture to the church and was offended when the church turned them down. Ought we give Jesus second best? In the Old Testament’s worship God expected people to sacrifice their best animals and offer up the best produce from the vegetable garden and the field. Next time we visit a beautiful church with lavish fixtures let’s think of the extravagant faith of the givers. Do we believe we are giving to a club or organization of mere human beings or the Church of the living Christ?

Extravagant giving

It is a valuable lesson after the story of the extravagant son and the father’s extravagant forgiveness to look at extravagant giving (John 12:1-11). Mary was an example of bounteous giving to Jesus. She was the sister of Lazarus, whom Jesus had brought back to life and naturally was very grateful. How grateful is measured by her lavish giving. Notice the elements of her gift. The perfume was contained in an alabaster box, an expensive stone vase. The amount used was about a litra, a Roman pound of around 12 oz. It was worth about 300 denarius, perhaps 300 day’s wage, about a year’s income. Why so valuable? In those days spikenard or nard was only found on the slopes of the Himalaya’s and had to be imported a long, long way. How extravagant is our giving to Jesus?

Repent or perish

We are all guilty of preferring a lukewarm version of Christianity to repentance. It’s as if we sing from a different hymnal. #57 O for a dozen tongues to sing; #89 Joyful, joyful, we kinda like thee; #110 A comfy mattress is our God; #136 The Lord’s my shepherd, I’m nonchalant; #140 Late is thy faithfulness; #176 Gadgetry, worship our gadgetry; #191 Jesus loves me, status quo; #196 Come thou long neglected Jesus; #299 When I survey the profit and loss; #349 Turn your eyes to my thesis; #354 All to Jesus I’m the lender; #369 Just like insurance, Jesus is mine; #526 What an acquaintance we have in Jesus; #575 Onward kitchen soldiers. We feel safe because we attend church, but Jesus warned in Luke 13:1-9 that there’s more to it. Unless we repent we will all perish.