Who Can See the Resurrection? (A meditation)

The risen Messiah is revealed to Mary Magdalene

Jesus reveals himself to Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb. “The Bible”, Ep 10 “Courage”

A resurrection day meditation 

In the palm Sunday service this past Sunday, the pastor at my church mentioned that “the great crowd” (John 12.12) that had come out to see Jesus was huge. He mentioned it was likely multiple tens of thousand of people, something I hadn’t considered before. That’s a staggering number. So like a good Berean (Acts 17.11), I got out my Bible history to check.

Sure enough, in “Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus” in an excursus on the number of visitors to Jerusalem during the Passover, Bible historian Jeremias summarizes: Continue Reading

The Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn: A Christmas Meditation

Jupiter (the brighter object) and Saturn, December 8, 2020 – getting closer to their closest approach on December 21, 2020 – The Darkside Observatory

Christmas is a time of intersections. Think back to the first Christmas. God intersected with man in the person of Christ. Angels intersected with shepherds. Wisemen intersected with the human appointed King of Judah, as well as the divinely appointed King of kings. And if I’m right about the star of Bethlehem (see my meditation on it last year here) God announced the work he was about to do with a number of intersections concerning the star of Bethlehem. One of those intersections was the triple conjunction of Jupiter with Saturn, which I argued was understood by the wise men as a King (as in God’s king) was coming to Judah. That happened about the time that Jesus the Messiah, the Christ, was born.

Interestingly enough, there are some striking parallels between the intersections then, and intersections today, which though not perfect, make for some interesting thoughts to consider and meditate on – which of course is the purpose of a meditation. Let’s start with the king who was ruling at the time of the first advent: Herod, known as the Great, King of Judea. Continue Reading

This Easter, don’t miss the Big Picture


Tapestry depicting the resurrection hanging in the Vatican Museum

A Resurrection Day Meditation

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”
Matt 27.39-40

As I came to this passage while meditating on the passion narrative two things came to mind – a question and a conclusion.  The question:  If Jesus did come down from the cross, would those who hurled insults and mocked him have believed he was in fact the Son of God? The conclusion: No, most if not all who mocked would not have believed. The reason: there’s a recurring theme in scripture that talks about the spiritual blindness of people. It’s described as having eyes to see, but not seeing.[1] I’ll paraphrase it as missing the big picture.

Mockers at the Cross Miss the Big Picture

With the exception of the centurion who realized by his manner of death that Jesus was the Son of God (Mark 15.39), those at the cross who hurled insults were no doubt oblivious to the truth of Jesus’ identity and the many spiritual dynamics going on at the cross: That Jesus, the Son of God was, making atonement for the whole world (John 3.16) by dying in our stead on the cross. (1 Pe 3.18)  And though Jesus could have commanded he be taken off the cross by angels (Matt 26.53); as Jesus had already pointed out to his disciples, if he did that, how would the scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way (Matt 26.54) – with his death on a cross? Continue Reading

Star of Bethlehem – Divine Preparation for the Incarnation

A Christmas Meditation

The naiveté  of those who doubt that Jesus is the messiah because they suppose that he arranged to fulfill the requirements and prophecies of the messiah himself always amuses me – particularly at this time of  year when the preparations of God for the arrival of the messiah are so apparent.

It reminds me of the naiveté of the comic character Calvin, of Calvin and Hobbes – an active and curious child who with his stuffed tiger (who is alive to Calvin) always gets into amusing situations.  In one instance Calvin asks his father: Continue Reading

This Easter, Thank God For Thomas

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas

A Resurrection Day Meditation

The Apostle Thomas has been under-appreciated and unfairly characterized as “doubting” – as we understand doubting. Rather than doubting, Thomas is better described as the ultimate realist. He doesn’t put on rose colored glasses and see an idealized world. He sees things as they are in the real world. As such he provides one of the best proofs of the resurrection recorded in the Bible. A good thing to realize as we celebrate resurrection day. Let me explain why.  Continue Reading

Testimony of the Shepherds – an Enduring Sign

The Shepherds and the Angel

A Christmas Day Meditation

This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”


When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.


When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

(Luke 2.12-18)

I often get the impression that many unbelievers think that if they themselves personally had a sign from God they would believe. Which leads them to wonder why God doesn’t give more signs.

This whole line of questioning of God’s use of signs makes me wonder – if you think God needs to provide you with a sign, if he did, would you believe him? As I’ve demonstrated previously, unless you’re already inclined to believe, the likely answer is no.  Signs are a type of evidence. And unless you’re willing to believe what the evidence is pointing to, no amount of evidence will persuade you. Even so it appears to me God has left evidence more powerful than a sign. But before we can understand it, let’s look first at how God uses signs: Continue Reading

If the resurrection is true, why doesn’t everyone believe?

Prefect Mauritius Gallas speaks with the Apostle Paul in “Paul, Apostle of Christ”

A Meditation for Easter

Just-in-time for resurrection day (aka Easter), is the movie Paul, Apostle of Christ. In it, we find the apostle Paul (played by James Faulkner) in the jail of  Roman prefect Mauritius Gallas (played by Olivier Martinez). As I mentioned in my review, this film presents the thinking Christian with many questions to ponder. One of those questions is about the resurrection and is posed by the prefect, which if memory serves, is actually phrased as a statement along these lines: If the resurrection were the truth, then all would believe.  The movie has the apostle answering with a verse from his often quoted chapter on the resurrection (1 Cor 15.1-20):

“… if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless…” (1 Cor 15.14)

But that response answers the question, “is the resurrection true?” It does not really address the deeper issue the prefect appears to be getting at. That question is, Continue Reading

A tale of two stories – a Christmas day meditation

The Nativity (Detail) by Franz von Rohden (19th century)

A Christmas Day Meditation

The word “story” is a rather ambiguous word.  It’s ambiguous in that the word itself does not tell you whether the story is true or not. Thus we’ve come up with phrases to help us with that.  When the story is true, we use phrases like ” the true story of…” or   ” (story name), a true story”,  or “the real story of” – to differentiate true stories from stories full of common misconceptions.

We also have ways identifying stories that are not true. When we tell “fairy stories” we’re telling a story we’re acknowledging to be a fanciful, made up fictional string of events.  Or we may end an explanation with “… that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”  Most people understand this as a tacit admission that parts or all of the story might not true, but the teller of the story is unwilling to tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” as you would in a court of law. Continue Reading

Total Eclipse: The Sign and the Wonder

Total Eclipse March 20, 2015

We’re all aware of the total eclipse of the sun on August 21st, 2017. But perhaps you’re not aware why so many are excited:

 

For us Americans, this will be the first total eclipse of the sun viewable in the states since 1979. So we don’t have to fly half way around the world  to see a total eclipse as astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez did in 1995, flying to Northern India to see the eclipse on October 24th of that year. Continue Reading

Waiting for the End – A Meditation for Easter

Crucifixion of Jesus – Marco Palmezzano

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’–which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’  When some of those standing near heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he’s calling Elijah.’
One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,’ he said.
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.”

 

“It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.
Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died.” When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.

Mark 15.34-37; 42-45

Pilate was surprised to learn that Jesus had died so quickly. That was because Roman crucifixion was not merely an  execution. It was a slow death by way of torture, filled with excruciating pain, designed by the Romans to  extend the amount of time it actually took to die as long as possible. “Historically the process could take anywhere from 3-4 hours to 3-4 days. And there were reports of people living as long as 9 days on a cross.”[1] The Jewish leaders and Pilate were both expecting it to take days for Jesus to die as was typical. That’s why the Jewish leaders petitioned Pilate to have his legs broken (John 19.31).   Because when hung on a cross for crucifixion, “Modern forensic research shows that a person whose hands are bound above his head has severe trouble breathing.”[2] The results being that:

“The muscles that run between the ribs are basically fully extended which means the ribs are fully expanded, which means the chest is essentially passively full of air. In order to get the stale air and the carbon dioxide and all the waste gases out, the victim would actually have to actively lift themselves up to get the pressure off of these muscles and allow themselves to exhale.”[3]
Robert M. Morris, MD
ER Chief, Stanford medical center

Continue Reading