The last week, facing the unspeakable horror of the cross, what did Jesus make a priority? Fellowship! (hanging out, socializing, or a get-together) The picture above is our little group of bicyclists at a restaurant in Missouri.
Jesus met with his friends in Bethany for a dinner party. (John 12:1-2, Matthew 26:6-7) We know Jesus showed his love for his friends in many incomparable ways, but here I picture Him as “one of the gang,” small-talking, telling jokes, laughing till his sides hurt, and, of course, listening to the others.
He also met with his closest, most intimate friend group, the apostles. That dinner is called The Last Supper or The Lord’s Supper, but to the disciples it was a holiday meal with their best friend.
Luke 22:14-15 tells us what Jesus said to them at that meal:
14 When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15 And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves;
I love that phrase “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you.” I believe Jesus wants us to earnestly desire fellowship with our loved ones as well. We were created to live in community.
Our current circumstances have forced us to fellowship differently. But, in preparing your heart for Easter, don’t forget to “gather” with those you love. Text, video chat or Facetime, make telephone calls, visit someone through a window. You just may be a "day-maker".
Today, make a plan to "visit" someone.
I believe, too, that Jesus earnestly desires to spend time with each one of us. So fix a meal and visit with Jesus. Tell him your fears, your frustrations, your anger. Thank Him for all that is good in your life. And then, laugh with him.
Job 8:21 God will not reject a man of integrity...He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting.
Usually the weeks leading up to Easter, the Lenten season, are filled with joy. Spring is arriving with early flowers echoing the Resurrection. Practice begins for summer sports. And we look forward with anticipation to new clothes, a church celebration, and time with friends and family.
But this year, the year of COVID19, there are clouds of worry, fear, and apprehension. Many of the activities we have linked with Easter have been canceled or postponed.
So, let's take a walk with Jesus on his journey to the cross. We will make 4 "stops" to read what Jesus did, and understand how that can speak to us today. Let's read again the Easter story, the story that can give us hope and joy, even in our uncertain and confusing circumstances.
Jesus chose to journey to Jerusalem even though He knew what was ahead. He faced the certainty of the cross with unswerving obedience to His Father. The crowds cheering and worshipping Him, were the same crowds that would join the throngs shouting "Crucify Him!" a week later.
STOP 1 At the Temple
Jesus in the Temple
12 Jesus went into the temple and chased out everyone who was selling or buying. He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of the ones who were selling doves. 13 He told them, “The Scriptures say, ‘My house should be called a place of worship.’ But you have turned it into a place where robbers hide.”
We often hear this story called "Jesus cleansing the temple." But he wasn't just cleansing the temple, he was cleaning the people--reminding them that what belongs to God is sacred, holy, and precious, and not to be turned into opportunities for greed and sin.
We have this wonderful gift of the world slowing down. So, push away those clouds of apprehension for a few minutes and turn inward. Believers in Christ are vessels of God's Holy Spirit--sacred, holy and precious. But we are constantly in need of cleaning. May I suggest not only washing your hands today, but cleansing yourself as well. Do you need to forgive someone? Do you have some bitterness hiding inside? Are you secretly angry at someone and show it only by your attitude? What do you need to confess and change? Spend time with God, then, if you need to, make that phone call, write that email or letter, contact that person and make things right again.
Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Why did you write about that?
Do you ever wonder where an author gets his/her ideas? There is an interesting story behind Restoration at River's Edge.
My husband and I have a group of friends who ride bikes. We call ourselves OOFPA, which stands for Ornery Old Folks Peddling Along. Our slogan is "We bike to eat" and we often bike to an eating place or picnic after a ride. The group also vacations together and ride bike trails around the country.
One of our favorite places to go is the KATY trail in Missouri. It meanders the width of the state, following an old railroad bed. Although it is not paved, the crushed limestone is easy to pedal on and the trail is flat and well maintained.
Several years ago, we were on our second trip on the KATY trail, riding the portion from Jefferson City to Hartsburg. We stopped for a lunch at a small winery, and one of our group, Paul, couldn't resist buying a couple bottles of wine to go. They wrapped them carefully, he put them in his rear fender saddlebags, and off we went, heading back to our cars.
We had not gone far when--clunk, clunk, clunk. The wine bottles had weighted the saddlebags down, they had tangled in the derailer and damaged it. Our pleasant ride ground to a halt. Two of the men took off knowing they could go faster, get the cars, and return for the rest of us.
Two of us rode more slowly, and Paul and his wife walked their bikes. When they passed a small restaurant along the trail, they stopped, hoping to locate a bike repair shop and call ahead to let them know they were coming. The restaurant wasn't open for business, they only served dinner, but the owner was there, and immediately was ready to help.
"Just take my truck," he told Paul. Now who in the world loans his truck to a complete stranger?
But this man did, and after they learned the bike shop would be closed if they continued to just walk, Paul took him up on his offer, loaded his and his wife's bikes, and headed to the shop. The rest of our group met them there. They were able to repair the derailer and Paul returned the truck.
We went as a group to the restaurant for dinner that night and had a delicious meal of fried chicken and all the sides, served family style. We were not surprised to learn that the restaurant owners were believers in Jesus Christ. They had certainly exemplified his teachings that day!
And I got to thinking--what if a man bought a house on a bike trail and planned to restore it and open a restaurant? Restoration at River's Edge was born. It went through a name change and many drafts on the path to publication. But it all started with a heavy wine bottle, a broken bike, and a man with a caring heart.
Proverbs 22:9 He who is generous will be blessed.
Susan Lawrence taught elementary school for 33 years before hanging up her chalkboard to write and speak. She writes novels for both adults and middle grade children. Susan lives in Iowa with her husband and short-legged Lab, Molly. She has 3 children and 7 grandchildren who love to hear her stories.