Thursday, March 27, 2014

Three Days for Us

Three Days for Us.
It's Lent. It is the time for the Three Days. Remember? Jesus spent three years teaching us how to live. Then He spent three days atoning for our sins. Jesus spent three days redeeming humanity from its brokenness and separation from God. This is the atonement. This is what lent is all about.
There is an interesting transitional verse in the Bible between the three years and the three days. In John's gospel, Jesus is praying for the disciples in the upper room. In His prayer He says this: I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. (John 17:4) Isn't that odd? Right before He leaves to submit Himself to His death on our behalf, He tells God that He has finished....
Let us ponder that phrase. Let us wonder: “How can He be finished when His most important work, being the sacrifice that bridges the gap between God and humanity, has yet to be accomplished?” What does He mean: finished?
During those three years of Jesus' teaching ministry, Jesus, as God/man, was working for God the Father. He was working the God part of His God/man existence by teaching us how to live and love each other. He showed us how to love. He showed humanity how much God loves even the least of all people. He was a friend to sinners. He invited the little children to Himself. He included women, people of other races, people from the upper classes and people from the lower classes. He invited everyone. And that was His work for God. It is intended as a way of life for us.
Then, for three days, the man part of the God/man worked on behalf of humanity. He provided the sacrifice for us. His sacrifice was not designed to shame or condemn us (John 3:16-17). Jesus' work for us on the cross was designed to restore humanity to God. He spent three years working on behalf of God, three days working on behalf of humankind.
So, here we are in Lent. Lent focuses us on Christ's atoning sacrifice. On Sunday mornings we have been looking at salvation, or as I like to put it: Restoration. I like that word because it includes everything. It isn't merely a fire escape from hell, but it speaks of the holistic restoration of Spirit, Soul, Mind, Body and Emotion. The restoration is first to our loving God and then to each other.
The Bible gives two signs that this restoration has happened. The first is internal: we get to experience first hand his love through the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us -restored to God. The second is external: we are reconciled with each other -restored to humanity, even to our enemies if we permit it. What a witness!
This Lenten season, focus on how God has drawn us back to Himself. Let us experience the fullness of the atonement. And let us be restored to one another because God has restored us to Himself.
Pastor Phil

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