The Disciples’ Easter Weekend

          Nailed to a cross, held up in the air
          So his enemies could see Him there.
          Beaten and tortured, bleeding and bare
          Jesus died today.

          He did not cry out, did not complain.
          Like a lamb at the altar He was slain,
          So my sins with me would not remain.
          Jesus died today.

          He chose to die...the time and the place.
          He did it for the human race,
          the example of God's loving grace.
          Jesus died today.

          His place is a tomb, cold and alone,
          A borrowed grave instead of a throne
          To pay for sins like my very own.
          Jesus is buried today.

          There is no marker, no special way
          To see where Jesus lays today
          Because He said "Father, I obey."
          Jesus is buried today.

          Draped with cloth from his head to his feet
          The great sacrifice is now complete.
          Proudly all his enemies repeat
          Jesus is buried today.

          Women were first to see it was true.
          They went to the tomb while day was new.
          They told others. Soon everyone knew
          Jesus rose today.

          He left the tomb so cold and so bare.
          No need to look, Jesus is not there.
          The news is joy to men everywhere.
          Jesus rose today.

          Death is defeated. Jesus has won.
          This is the proof that He is God's son.
          He's the Messiah, the Promised One.
          Jesus rose today.

My Protector

I recently received this from my Sunday School teacher, David Martin and wanted to pass it along.
As I have shared with the class before, I am a world-class worrier. An anxiety expert. A virtuoso of vexation. While I have gotten better in this area over the years, it is still an on-going battle. So you can only imagine where my mind drifts during this pandemic. 

Last night I was engaged in another worry war. Coronavirus numbers grow. Quarantines abound. Even toilet paper is being hoarded, for crying out loud! These are target-rich times for all of us worry specialists. Wednesday night as I started to engage in a festival of foreboding, God led me to Psalm 35:1-3.

1 Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
    fight against those who fight against me!
2 Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help!
3 Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers!
Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!”  ESV

When David wrote these verses he was most likely being pursued by Saul who wished to put David to death. Now, I have never been stalked by a spear-yielding Israeli king, but unfettered worry is an enemy that can cause physical, emotional, and mental harm.

What spoke to me in these verses was the power and action and aggressiveness. David is asking the Lord to fight his fight for him. He was crying out to JEHOVAH TSABA* to go toe-to-toe with his enemies. Whoever messes with David, is going to have to deal his Father. My Dad is bigger than your dad. 

David is pleading with God to bring his holy weapons to the fight. "Take hold of shield and buckler**/Draw spear and javelin." Just imagine the God of the universe taking hold of shields, spears, and javelins all on our behalf against our enemies. As Mr. T used to say, "I pity the fool."

My most thoughtful, well-reasoned, and insightful worry-reducing ploys and tricks pale in comparison to what God can bring to the fight.

When I read the last two lines, I wanted to shout it out loud.  David  acknowledged that God is his salvation. Not the Israelite army. Not his warriors. Not man-made weapons. But God alone.  Even David, a man after God's own heart, needed God to speak that reassurance to him.

Look at how David punctuates the last line. It is not a mere period, but an exclamation mark. It is meant to be shouted.  Celebrated. Declared from the mountain tops. God is our salvation!

Will this completely obliterate worry from my life? Not likely.  I have spent many years honing the craft of consternation. But Psalm 35:1-3 will certainly be a powerful tool in my battle against worry.

*JEHOVAH TSABA:  The Lord our Warrior
**A buckler is a small shield.

Satan’s Banquet

In hell the celebration had begun about 3:00 p.m. the previous Friday. The banquet hall had been the scene of continuous revelry for more than twenty-four hours. The greatest victory celebration of all time was in progress. The music continued to be loud and raucous. The dancing was becoming increasingly lewd as the jokes grew more and more vulgar. Congratulations were being heaped on the host by every guest as they tried to ingratiate themselves to him. Toast after toast was offered to honor the treachery that allowed him to win such a great victory.

This was the all-out, no-holds-barred victory party of all time. After all, the gathering was commemorating the most significant event to occur since the creation of the universe.

Jesus was dead!

Satan had won the battle. Evil was more powerful than good. The heavenly foe was forever defeated. Lucifer now had free reign in the lives of all people for all time. He could hardly contain his glee. He tingled with anticipation as he considered all the pain, agony, death and destruction he would create in the coming years.

Jesus was dead!

Never again would Satan’s efforts to destroy mankind be thwarted by Christ’s goodness, power and love.

Jesus was dead!

Then sometime early Sunday morning it happened. As suddenly as a lightening bolt but as gentle as a butterfly, Jesus appeared and stood in front of Satan.

The music stopped. Glasses of wine halted in mid-trip between table and mouth. Jokes remained without a punch line. There was no movement or sound anywhere in the hall. All eyes were riveted on Jesus, the man who could not be there.

For what seemed like hours, Jesus looked at Satan. Then He gradually became larger and larger while Satan became smaller and smaller. Everyone in the hall could see it happening. Soon Jesus loomed huge as Satan shrunk and seemed to back away, although he never moved at all.

The Jesus spoke. His quiet, controlled voice carried the power present only in the One who created the entire universe, including Satan himself. Though spoken softly the Messiah’s words carried to every corner of the universe and echoed into every eon of time.

“Oh death, where now is your victory? Oh grave, where now is your sting?” The He was gone. He simply vanished.

The demons looked at each other and then at Satan. Where moments before he had seemed a vibrant, victorious general, now he had the appearance of a deflated balloon.

Jesus was alive! The crucifixion had not been successful. The tomb was empty!

Jesus was alive! Satan’s death grip on mankind was forever destroyed.

Jesus was alive! God’s power to transform His children’s lives remained intact.

Jesus was alive! Satan was eternally defeated. There was nothing left to celebrate.

Slowly, one by one, the guests filed silently from the hall. Satan’s pathetic appearance discouraged them from even trying to give him some parting words of encouragement. Jesus was alive and He would remain alive for all eternity.

And Satan knew it!