Wednesday, May 18, 2016

May 18th

Lord, I come empty to Your seat of mercy. All day long I have kept my mind skimming over the surface of Your presence, sometimes scattering away into shortcuts and wrong way turns, but brought back again by You, by habit, by beauty.

Lord, I long for You. I long for You as You are. I want to sink down into the words You spoke and the life You lived, I want to see You, Lord Jesus, Yeshua, Son of God. I want to see You and hear You and have Your words cut and refine my life, to prune me back right into shape with You, to line me up with Your truth and set me free from lies, from second best.

I want all that You are, the particularities of You, shocking and real- You coming and going from the house, going out to preach, teaching in the synagogue as was Your habit. Your habit, Lord Jesus. The thing which on the earth, at that time and place, You did in person so many times that it was expected of You-

Oh, here is Yeshua, to teach in the synagogue, just as usual. Here He is in flesh, in tallit, in sweat and blood and tears and skin tone, breathing and speaking in at least two languages, Your head and heart full to bursting with Holy Spirit, with Torah.

Here You are to sit down to teach, here You are, passing through the grain fields on the Sabbath. Why, dear Jesus? Was it a short cut to somewhere else? Where were You going? Which grain field? Can I go there, can I also eat that grain? To roll the head of the wheat, the wheat kernels in the palm of my hand until the chaff falls off and to crunch the hard grains in my back teeth, to look up through the field, through the falling sun, against the sky, to see You there- right there, right ahead of me, walking with Your particular step, with Your particular set of shoulders and angle of head, the way You held Your head, always walking on ahead, such a certain thing.

There is the Rabbi, the Master, the Teacher, the one who worked with His hands, whose sisters were still among them, whose father, as was supposed, and mother they knew, knew for years, knew Him as He grew up in favor and stature and wisdom, growing up like a green sprout from dry ground, grew up and them went out- out of the city, out into the wilderness and came back charged with truth and Holy Spirit, declaring spine tingling things, miracles sprouting up around His hands and the very hem of His robe and casting out darkness with a word, with a word commanding them- everything He does has authority, is peculiar.

“Amen, amen, I say unto you,” You would say. Amen, amen. It means verily, it means surely, it means put your whole weight on this, rest on this like rock, this is true all the way through, rest in this truth like a nursing baby in their mother’s arms.

Now You are living in Capernaum, a fishing village, amid fishing nets and fish scales and drying fish and weights for measuring fish and boats, small boats and large boats drawn up to the shore, the sound of the water lapping on the rocks. Capernaum, down at the bottom of the hills.

And You are going in and out from there. From which house? Were You a guest? Did You stay in the upper room? Your travels take You out in large circles, and the disciples and the multitudes following You, gathering and falling away and gathering again, trailing after You and then surrounding You in great clamor and urgency, and You preached the Kingdom of God to them, in parables, rich, unexpected parables drawn from the Scriptures, but each Your own unique creation, some You make up on the spot, others You think through in quiet times, composing them in Your thoughts, because You are brilliant like that and You love words.

And then You go out to the hillsides and You sit down amid the multitude and You speak them aloud to those poor, harassed and weary people, like sheep without a shepherd, You speak to them with Your own human voice, which carries over the air, but surely most of them can’t possibly hear You? But maybe in the quietness of the early evening they can. Maybe Your voice carries down to them on the summer breeze.

They hear it, they hear the tones of Your spoken voice, making compelling, sometimes shocking pictures in their mind, spilling out a moving story, the end always left hanging there in the air, and they are left to wonder, if it was them, what would they choose? Could they change the ending? Could they go back and start over? If it was them- which of the characters were they? That is the most pressing question.

Then back again to Capernaum, Your sandals worn out and dusty, Your feet aching, after a long succession of days- intense days of teaching and debating and being faced with increasing amounts of animosity, from particular people- not faceless, but persons. Persons with families and names and titles and positions and heavy weights of garments, trailing long titles of whom they studied under and who studies under them and how many laws are wrapped up and kept safe under layers and layers of over laws and extra laws, all tucked up and safe in laws. Everyone knows them.

Everyone knows You too, but You are a challenge and an invitation, and to accept the invitation of a Physician, you must know you are not well. But most of all, Beloved Lord, You are declaring things that are justifiably, utterly shocking. Who are You, to declare Yourself the Lord of the Sabbath? The Lord of the Sabbath? No one is the Lord of the Sabbath but the Lord Himself!

It’s clear as day what You are saying- the Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath. The weight of those statements, thrown out by You in the midst of them, sending out shock waves in all directions.

The next time they see You, they want to throw You down, to set You up, accuse You and be rid of You. Their animosity is shocking, seeming to come out of the blue, but it’s not out of nothing, it’s out of Your statements about Yourself, which are backed up by miracle after miracle after miracle, they are backed up by the swirling multitudes that are drunk on hope, wanting once to force You to be King, but You know better.

You always know when Your time is waiting for You. You wait for it, for that time. You are keeping no other appointment, You are just staying at other places temporarily. You keep Your eyes fixed on a Roman cross under the public scorn of religious condemnation.

When You return to Your Father, it’s as the Firstborn of a brand new creation, having made peace by the blood of Your cross, through the body of Your flesh on the cross- this hand, that hand, the Kingdom of God is at hand, crucified, calloused, particular. Your hands, Your very own hands, bloodied and bruised and trembling with agony and exhaustion, held up at the level of Your head by the iron nails, the blood running slow along the creases, pooling and falling, tracing the length of Your arms outstretched.

You are taking the throne of Heaven only by way of Golgotha, and You will be bringing  reconciliation and life for everyone else back with You as You are presented on the cloud of glory to Your Father and our Father, to the Ancient of Days, our Daddy.

Some nights ago, when I went to spend time with You, I found You at Capernaum again, sitting in the upper room. You were sitting quietly, perhaps on the floor, perhaps on a mat, in front of a table and You were lost in thought.

Everything was calm and peaceful and quiet and when I went to You, Your robes were dry and clean smelling, soft as cotton, like white linen, and the light was soft through the window above our heads. Your hands were clean, dry and calloused, gentle and You were still lost in thought, even when I curled up in Your lap, tucked up under Your tallit. Your arms went around me by habit and You were silent for a long minute in the warm room, and then You bent Your head to me and spoke in my ear, the words calm as a pond of water, full of quiet pleasure.

I’m sending out the seventy, You said. It pleased You very much, this decision, sent by the Father. It was right and good. It was time. You would call the disciples to You, You would commission them, instruct them, and You would empower them and send them out like sheep amid wolves, but You knew those You had chosen and You knew they would come back to You full of joy and overflowing with stories.

You would not wait at home for their return; You were also going out, going out again, going out to preach the Kingdom of God, to gather the sheep up in Your hands, to call the lost and heal the sick and cast out demons and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.


Let the spoken word of Christ have its home within you-
dwelling in your heart and mind-
permeating every aspect of your being
as you teach spiritual things
and admonish and train one another with all wisdom,
singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Whatever you do, no matter what it is, in word or deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
and in dependence on Him,
giving thanks to God the Father through Him.