Names of God: The End

Jesus “The End”
by Pastor Bert Hitchcock

Our very first Lenten meditation focused on the fact that Jesus is called “the Beginning”. He is both the Creator, who accounted for the beginning of all things, and He is the Redeemer, who by His death and resurrection brings a new beginning of eternal life.

But the same two verses that call Jesus “the Beginning” (Revelation 21:6 & 22:13), go on to also call him “the End”. Now, a measuring tape, a book, or a year has a beginning and an end, but how can the Eternal Christ Jesus who lives forever with his new creation ever be called “the End”?

The answer is found in the fact that our Bibles were not written in English, but in Hebrew and Greek. And so, that word “end” in Revelation (the Greek word is telos) has a more complex meaning than our English word “end”. Telos primarily means “fulfillment” or “goal”, and that is how we must understand it in regard to Jesus. He is the fulfillment, the goal, of all things.

So, for example, Paul said in Romans 10:4 “Christ is the end of the law;” but Jesus made that statement about the scriptures clearer, when He said, “I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” So, Christ Jesus is the fulfillment, the goal, the intended ‘end’ of all that God has said and done. “It is all about Jesus!”

This must be our focus as Christians: that at the end of history the Lord will be “all in all.” The Apostle Paul put it this way: “from him, and through, him and to him, are all things;’ He is “above all, and through all, and in all.”

And if He is the reality that will fill eternity, we have nothing more important for our lives on this Resurrection Day.  It is all about Jesus!

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Listening to Easter: UP!

Hear the bells ringing
They’re singing that you can be born again
Hear the bells ringing
They’re singing Christ is risen from the dead

The angel up on the tombstone
Said He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell his disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead

Joy to the world, He has risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah

Hear the bells ringing
They’re singing that you can be healed right now
Hear the bells ringing, they’re singing
Christ, He will reveal it now

The angels, they all surround us
And they are ministering Jesus’ power
Quickly now, reach out and receive it
For this could be your glorious hour

Joy to the world, He has risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah, hallelujah

The angel up on the tombstone
Said He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell his disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead

Joy to the world, He has risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah
Hallelujah
~Keith Green

 

“Let Him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.”
― Gerard Manley Hopkins

Too often, the bright light of Easter morning dims over time
as we return to our daily routines.
In mere days,
the humdrum replaces the extraordinary,
tragedy overcomes festivity,
darkness overwhelms dawn.

The world encourages this,
we don’t muster enough resistance.
we climb right back into the tomb of our sin,
move the huge stone securely back in place,
and lie there waiting for rot to settle in.

We are not alone. We have plenty of company with us behind the stone.

The stone is pushed aside,
the burden shouldered,
the debt completely paid.

How can we allow the light to dim?

He is risen.

We are eastered beyond imagining.

 

Amen – An Easter Blessing

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 1:20

The Messiah’s last chorus, “Worthy Is The Lamb That Was Slain”, closes with the swelling refrain of “amen”, repeated with such frequency it is akin to waves upon the seashore. I count nearly 40 amens in the bass line alone. Is this all really necessary? Why not just one good “amen”? After all, how hard is it to simply say “the end”? But perhaps “amen” means something profound, and much more than just “the end”.

That is the conclusion toward which Scripture impels us. Let’s consider four passages, beginning with Deuteronomy 27: 14 – 26. As is true of The Messiah’s final chorus, we read there a chorus of repeated amens. But note the context of those amens. The statement preceding each of the twelve amens is a curse for a particular violation of God’s law for his people. The twelve corresponding amens, shouted by the people of God from the top of the mountain, serve to underline the curses and to invite the execution of those curses upon such disobedience if it occurs. We may say with ample justification that amen here is a swear word, yes, even a God-ordained swear word.  So is that the case with The Messiah—one of humankind’s most beautiful musical testimonies to the glory of our Savior ending with repeated imprecations upon ourselves?

Not at all, for it is precisely through the person and work of the Messiah that “amen” is transformed from curse to blessing. Galatians 3:13 tells us of this transformation in a most arresting way: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us . . . ” Note that it does not say that Christ took the curse from us, though that is also true. No, it says that he became the curse for us. Given the inescapable verdict of guilt upon us by virtue of our disobedience, and having with Israel uttered the amen which calls for God’s justice, we find ourselves face to face with Christ himself. This truth, which comes into focus through the cursed cross, is what the angel of the church of Laodicea had in mind when he spoke: “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.”  Revelations 3:14

What will Christ be for you, the curse that destroys or the curse that is really blessing? Christ himself follows the words of his angel-messenger with these words addressed to our hearts: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”  Revelations 3:20

Please, Lord Jesus Christ, Messiah for us, come in and eat with us, Amen.
~Dan Gibson

Resurrection Morning

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. 
John 20:18
Death cannot keep back love;  love is stronger than death.  The meaning of Good Friday and Easter Sunday is that God’s path to human beings leads back to God
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
On that promised resurrection morn,
the Light, unable to be bound,
In Sovereign triumph over death,
Stepped forth to leave an empty tomb
By folly sealed with silent stone.

Two Seraphic servants of the light,
at once in blazing glory stood,
Striking guards with bolts of fear,
Who fell prostrate like men dead.
The stone was moved to fully open.

Heaven’s witness to a Sovereign act,
is voiced aloud from age to age,
Witness to prophetic spoken words,
Death where is your victory, your sting?
The morning star is risen indeed.
~Pastor Jack Matheis

A Great Hope

Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
John 19:40-42

“Good Friday and Easter free us to think about other things far beyond our own personal fate, about the ultimate meaning of all life, suffering, and events; and we lay hold of a great hope.”
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Today as we wait,
and consider the ultimate meaning of life
we feel so finite,
so temporary on this soil.

To spend a mere six weeks of Lent
studying His Word
is only a glancing blow,
as we reach out to lay hold
of our one great hope.

These Words last while
our earthly bodies will not
the promises ring out while
our attention wanes
the blessings perpetuate while
our gratitude is paltry
the glory is overwhelming while
our appreciation is lacking
the power belongs all to Him
and not to us

It is the Lamb we know so well
the gentle willing sacrifice
taking our place
taking on our guilt
taking off our accumulating debt
taking us along for a walk,
for a breakfast,
for a touch of his side, his hands

He lets us know
through an infinite love
from both the man and the God
that He is with us
He is for us
He is the hope we reach to grasp.
~Emily Gibson

Our Hearts Burn Within Us

Luke 24: 30-32

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

This story of the risen Lord appearing to two despondent disciples later on the day of His resurrection tends to get overlooked in the excitement of the rolled back stone, the empty tomb with grave clothes left behind, and the angels announcing “He is not here, He is risen!”.   Yet at the end of a blessed and full Easter day today, and after 6 weeks of daily meditations in preparation for this day, it is the Road to Emmaus that I keep coming back to.  It reaches me because it makes my heart burn, not in a “too much acid” way, but in a “wishing I could more fully understand God’s plan for us”  way.  It helps open my eyes and see a living Jesus in the people around me.

Like so many, I tend to walk through life blinded to what is really important, essential and necessary.  I can be self-absorbed,  immersed in my own troubles and concerns, staring at my own feet as I walk each step, rather than looking at the road ahead and taking joy in the journey.

Emmaus helps me remember how He feeds me from His word, and I hunger for even more, my heart burning within me.   Jesus makes plain how He Himself addresses my most basic needs:

He is the bread of life so I am fed.

He is the living water so I no longer thirst.

He is the light so I am never left in darkness.

He shares my yoke so my burden is easier.

He clothes  me with righteousness so I am never naked.

He cleanses me when I am at my most soiled and repugnant.

He is the open door–always welcoming, with a room prepared for me.

So when I encounter Him along the road of my life,  I need to be ready to listen, ready to invite Him in to stay, ready to share whatever I have with Him.    When He breaks bread and hands me my piece, I want to accept it with open eyes of gratitude, knowing the gift He hands me is nothing less than Himself.

Alleluia!

~E Gibson

Straw Almost As Sharp As Thorns

“The whole of Christ’s life was a continual passion; others die martyrs, but Christ was born a martyr. He found a Golgotha, where he was crucified, even in Bethlehem, where he was born; for to his tenderness then the straws were almost as sharp as the thorns after, and the manger as uneasy at first as the cross at last. His birth and his death were but one continual act, and his Christmas Day and his Good Friday are but the evening and the morning of one and the same day. From the creche to the cross is an inseparable line. Christmas only points forward to Good Friday and Easter. It can have no meaning apart from that, where the Son of God displayed his glory by his death.”
opening words by John Donne in his sermon on Christmas Day 1626