The Ultimate Sacrifice: Voices Silenced…Voices Still Heard

Salvation

Knowing. Most people do not know when they are going to die, but there is One who did. Jesus Christ knew that His part in God’s plan meant the ultimate sacrifice for a human, the form He had on this earth. He must give His life so that we, the rest of mankind, might have life eternal. There was no other option. Christ prayed in the Garden:  “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). But Jesus knew His Father’s will, the plan from the beginning, would prevail, and He would fulfill the needed sacrifice.

Knowing. What would it be like to “know” the fate that awaits us in this life? The inner controversy over knowing one’s genome history and testing for predictive disease like Alzheimer’s or pancreatic cancer involves the question we would have to answer: “Do we really want to know it will happen to us at some time in our lives?” For many, this might be a looming dread, affecting every day forward from the point of awareness. For others, it could be a positive affirmation to live life more completely and appreciate every day given. Knowing could make us more fearful and vulnerable–or knowing could make us more purposeful in our life journey.

Knowing. Our Lord made His earthly life purposeful, with God’s purpose, knowing what was to come. He shared and taught His Truth and mentored the disciples to follow His lead. He healed the sick, gave the example of prayer, and took time to pray alone with the Father. He cared for His friends and wept with them when a family member died. He loved us all, even those who were not yet born.

Knowing.  Jesus knew His task on this earth and questioned His earthly parents who were looking for Him, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). He knew the plan, for He was in the beginning with God:  “ 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… 14 The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-5,14). His task on earth was to teach God’s Truth and give the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom from sin that we might have everlasting life with Him.

Knowing. Soldiers who go to war also know they might have to make this ultimate sacrifice to help secure the freedom of others-loved ones, acquaintances, strangers, and those not yet born. We designate a Memorial Day every May to remember their sacrifices. Like Christ, they are not really dead, for they speak to us through the freedom we have from their final bequest—their lives.

ArlingtonCemetery

“Are they dead that yet speak louder than we can speak, and a more universal language? Are they dead that yet act? Are they dead that yet move upon society and inspire the people with nobler motives and more heroic patriotism?” ¹

Knowing. We know, through faith, that Christ lives and still inspires us to strive toward His higher purposes. And we praise and thank Him. We know, through our experience in this earthly realm, that fallen soldiers live through the legacy of freedom that they bestow to us. And we thank them.

The Ultimate Sacrifice: Voices Still Heard

     In Remembrance

 

¹Beecher, Henry Ward. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes

(Sharon G. Tate blog 05/29/16)  teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

Advertisements

“. . .for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” : Seeing With the Eyes of a Child

Old-Man-and-Child

The man walks into the assembly minutes before church service is about to begin, quickly sitting down in an empty pew at the back of the auditorium. He fumbles with his coat and hat, accidentally knocking a hymnal to the floor.  Heads turn to look. Whispers. ..

“Do you know him?”

“No, do you?”

More heads turn– some smile, others just catch a glimpse of the stranger and quickly look ahead again.

“Who’s that man, mommy”

“Ssh, just turn around and be quiet.”

The child sneaks another peek over her mother’s shoulder, smiling at the man, who returns the smile.

After services, the man, again, fumbles with his coat and hat. The child walks up to help him. They smile at each other, not speaking. Some of the church members walk past the man and say nothing. A few nod their heads to him in passing, while talking with regular members. Others approach him with greetings, “Good to have you here. Where are you from?” They shake his hand–not noticing.

The man doesn’t say much in response. “From around here, not far from the church building. Just thought- I would come today.”

“We’re glad you did. Be sure to come back.”

“Yes, please do come back.”

The voices follow him as he leaves. The child, also, follows him. He stops to look down at the little girl and gently pats her head. She is watching his hands.

“Do they hurt?”

Scars. Wounds. From when? From where?

“Sometimes they do, little girl. They did today.”

“Mommy kisses my ouches when they hurt.”

“Well, I don’t have a mommy anymore.”

The little girl grasps both his hands and kisses them before running away toward her mother’s call, stealing a look back, smiling.

Holding the smile in his eyes, the man walks away, hands in his pockets, hidden from those he passes–yet, less painful with a little girl’s kisses, a soothing ointment, covering the scars.

*********************************************

We, the church everywhere, walk in and out of a building each Sunday, noticing new faces, recognizing familiar ones. Greetings and welcomes, hugs and pats on the back. Shaking hands with visitors. Worshipping and singing, studying the Word, sharing the Lord in communion, praying and giving thanks.

Smiling, laughing, telling stories of the past week before leaving. But do we notice the scars? Do we see the wounds? Have we looked into “the window of the soul”—the eyes? Do we ask?

The little girl did. Maybe the others saw the hands of the man as well; some did shake his hand.  But the adults in the story said nothing, maintaining privacy and personal space, and possibly not noticing at all. The child, on the other hand, just saw and asked. She even followed the man out of the building to ask,

            “Do they hurt?”

The unabashed innocence of a child seeing the “ouch” and reaching out to “kiss” the wound to make it “feel better” : What can we learn from a child?  “. . .for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).

             What do we ask before we let visitors–and each other–leave the building?

(Sharon G. Tate blog 05/22/16) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

A Ripple in Time: The Difference of One Spreading God’s Wisdom

wisdom prayer

 17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
but one sinner destroys much good.(Ecclesiastes 9:17-18)

 13 I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: 14 There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. 15 Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded. (Ecclesiastes 9:13-16)

     **************************************************************************

The difference of one. Those who believe in the Great Man Theory contend that essentially all of mankind’s history can be explained in terms of the particular individuals who bring about a significant change or changes during an era of time. The life of the one affects the lives of the many, leaving an historical impact, which may be one of great positivity or great negativity.

The “sinner who destroys much good” creates a riptide effect through history, causing a violent disturbance. The “quiet words of the wise” result in a ripple effect, seemingly small at first, but extending outward to places and people we can’t even imagine, causing changes that, like small cracks in a dam, can burst forth in ways only God can direct.

Although you and I may not be contenders in the “Great Man” theory of history, we can speak quietly the “words of the wise” from the One who has true wisdom and make an impact on those around and beyond us. Even when it seems that wisdom is “no longer heeded,” we must continue to proclaim it calmly, consistently and without enmity, hostility, antagonism, or animosity. Let us remember the words of the Teacher:

“Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious.” (Ecclesiastes 10:12).

“…calmness can lay great offenses to rest. “(Ecclesiastes 10:4).

 A sinner may try to destroy “much good” in our city, our state, our country, and our world–but when we carry the love of Christ within us and share the wisdom of the Almighty around us, goodness cannot be destroyed.

“Wisdom, and its quest, breed kindness and compassion.” 1

Let us be ripples in time,

Patient with God’s plans,

Calmly speaking His wisdom,

Through our words and deeds,

That goodness may prevail.

 1Author unknown. https://www.psychologytoday.com

(Sharon G. Tate blog 05/15/16) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

Mary and her Son: Keeping These Things and Pondering Them in our Hearts

Mary and Jesus and John

 

26 When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27)

On the cross, while enduring the most extreme agony of suffering for our sins and abandonment by His Father, Jesus looked down and saw His mother. He knew she would need to be cared for, and John, his trusted disciple “whom he loved” was near. Jesus made it clear in the wording He used that Mary was to view John as her son and John was to be that son to Mary.  John accepted this great responsibility and took Mary home with him.

In providing for His mother, Our Lord demonstrated His love for this woman who bore Him. Mary was told by the angel that she, a virgin, would bear a child who would be “the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)  She didn’t understand but humbly accepted this responsibility by verbally stating: “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38).   When the shepherds came to Bethlehem to find THE Child, Christ the Lord in the manger, Luke recorded Mary’s unspoken thoughts and feelings about this birth: “… his mother kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:17-19) When Jesus was twelve and told his parents, who were looking for him, that he was about His Father’s business in the temple, they did not understand. Luke, once again, recorded her unspoken thoughts and feelings: “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:48-51). 

We can only imagine what Mary really pondered all those years. “Mary, did you know?” are the lyrics written by Mark Lowry to a well-known Christmas song. Mary had been “pondering” all these years, and she seemed to know that Jesus had the power to perform a miracle at Cana and provide more wine for the wedding occasion. : When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’  5His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you’ (John 2:1-5). And He, then, turned water into wine, performing His first recorded miracle. “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11). His mother had already believed in Him.

Mary was with Jesus, her son, throughout his life, and she was at the foot of the cross when He was sacrificing Himself for all mankind. She was a mother who loved her son and gave him up for us.  “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38) Her words could be heard, not only at the beginning, but also at the end of her son’s life on this earth.

Mother has the word “other” in it. A mother has a special bond with her child from conception until she dies. She looks outside herself to her child and gives to that child first above her own self. The “M” in a loving mother is never the completed word “me” for it defers, instead, to the full word “other.” Her “other” is the child she bears, the child who grows inside her, the child who continues to grow outside her body but never outside her heart.  Mary was this mother.

 **To those of us who are mothers or future mothers, let us strive to be the woman and mother Mary was: “The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you’ ” (Luke 1:28).

**Let us all be as caring toward our parents as Jesus was to His mother. In spite of all that He was going through on the cross, He remembered her and provided for her.

 Our mother is our deliverer into this life. Jesus is our Deliverer through this life.

May we keep all these things and ponder them in our hearts.

 (Sharon G. Tate blog 05/08/16) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word