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“Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Could he be the Messiah?” John 4:29 (CEV)

Everyone knew here in the small town she lived in. The men, when no one else was looking cast a lustful eye her way. The women looked on her with disgust. She quit going to the temple after her fifth divorce. Marriage wasn’t for her anyway. Men were users. Now that she was living with her new boyfriend things were just fine. The people at the Temple and throughout town were hypocrites intent on reminding her of the big scarlet letter emblazoned on her chest.

That’s why she showed up at the well that day at noon. Sure, it was the hottest part of the day but no one else would be there. Lugging the water home without the accompanying glares of the women was well worth it.

Then there was that day everything changed. As she neared the well she was met by  a group of Jewish guys. They were laughing and taking up the entire path. She stood aside so they could pass. “Dirty Jewish…”, she didn’t let herself finish the expletive. She may be Samaritan, but she knew the law and the commandments.

She rounded the corner and came face to face with yet another Jew. This man was sitting near the well. Strange, it was as if he were waiting for someone and that someone was her! She chased that thought from her mind as she heard him ask for some water from the well. The ensuing conversation was one that changed her life. She was her belligerent, stubborn, feisty self until he asked about her husband.

That took the wind out of her sails. Still, something made her look into his eyes. She expected to see judgment, but there was acceptance; She expected to see ridicule, but there was love; She expected to see the hatred all Jews had for her, but she saw love.

Their conversation was cut short as the same group of men she’d met earlier returned. She scurried off to town. She forgot about the stares. She forgot about the judgment. This was too important to hold grudges.

She went from house to house, from street corner to street corner, to the Temple; Wherever people gathered she told her story.

Come and see the man who knows my deepest, darkest secrets;

Come and see the man who understands my brokenness and pain;

Come and see the man who respects me like no other man ever has;

Come and see the man who is more interested in relationship that religion;

Come and see the man who loves me.

That was the day everything changed. She didn’t have to have a degree to tell her story, she just had to have an encounter with Jesus.

Like the woman at the well, each of us have wounds and bruises from the trials of life. Like the woman at the well, Jesus is waiting for us to come to him to receive the water of life that will never run dry. If you haven’t done so yet, come and see the one that wants a love relationship with you. If you have found him to be all he says he is, tell others what he has done for you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus I thank you that even though you know my deepest struggles you still love me. I pray that others may ‘come and see’ the life of freedom you offer us. Amen.


When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, as were all the people in Jerusalem. Matthew 2:3 (NCV)

Not everyone was happy when the news came of a newborn baby and the rumors of the Messiah being born. Tradition teaches us that Jesus was most likely an inquisitive little two-year-old by the time the Magi appeared in Jerusalem.

No doubt the goings on in Bethlehem had reached the streets of Jerusalem by then, but the stories were most likely, largely unsubstantiated. A few shepherds coming into town to tell of the miraculous birth would carry little clout. They were, after all, shepherds. Besides, most likely the new family had returned home to some little, insignificant town…Nazareth. After all, it was common knowledge that a king would be born anyplace other than Bethlehem, and a Nazarite? Not a chance.

But just about the time that the rumors had completely died, a caravan arrived in town looking for the new king of Israel and they caused quite a commotion.

King Herod had no right to the throne he inhabited. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He got to his position of power through violence, rage and deception. He ruled with an iron fist. If you followed Herod, you were safe. But no one dared cross him.

There were others worried about the rumors as well. The priests and others who were content in their tradition were nervous about making any waves with Herod. He allowed them to practice their religion as long as it didn’t interfere with his program. Tradition does that. It brings us to a place of complacency.

Complacency. Contentment. Religious tradition. All the things that kept Jerusalem quiet. But the Messiah was never about coming to bring complacency, he was about coming to expose the injustice of power and free those under its grasp.

No wonder then that all Jerusalem was in an uproar over the news of a new king. They didn’t want their way of life disturbed; their tradition tampered with; their religion shown to be full of hypocrisy and allegiance to a God-less King. They were unwilling to take a stand and uninterested in God changing them. They were more worried about the earthly King than they were excited about Messiah, God with us.

Not much has changed since the Magi came to Jerusalem that day. People are still content to worship their own way; still content to live safe lives steeped in tradition without making waves. Staying obscure is staying safe.

But that little two-year old the Magi visited doesn’t call us to complacency. He doesn’t call us to be safe. He calls us to a new life built on relationships, not rules. Our Father doesn’t work in ways the world expects, he works in ways that bring dramatic, life-long change.

PRAYER: Holy Father, I thank you today for the babe in the manger. The Magi remind us all that we should never be complacent in looking for you. They remind us that you work in ways we don’t expect. Empower us to be watchful for your working. Amen.

 


“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” Mark 8:29

To the educator he is known as a master teacher. To this day many methods of effective teaching can be traced to him.

The leader admires his style. Only eleven men of obscure background and little education yet they turned the world upside down as a result of his plan.

Those in religion see him as a catalyst of controversy. For some he is the bastion of trying new things. To others he’s the personification of conservatism and fundamentalist teaching.

But who is Jesus to you? It doesn’t matter who your parents tell you he is. It’s not important who your teachers tell you he is. Even the opinions of your closest friends don’t matter. What matters most is who YOU think Jesus is.

You can give him lip service and go to church and tell others that you believe he’s the Son of God and that he died on the cross. You can ‘believe’ he is who he says he is and that he did many miracles.

But Jesus’ question to the disciples was much more than a rhetorical question to test his popularity. It was a question of commitment and life-change. It was a question that demanded an answer with their lips, their attitudes and their desires.

If they said, as Peter did, that he was the son of the living God, then their lives demanded that they reflect the love, grace, mercy and faith that Jesus taught them. If their answer didn’t include a change of heart they were none better than the rich young man who walked away; the crowd that screamed crucify him; the Pharisees that refused to accept his personal message from God.

And so it is today, Jesus comes to us each day with the same question he asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”

How will you show those around you the answer to the question? The good news is that his Holy Spirit gives us the power to answer, as Peter did. You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. You are the Lord of my words, actions and attitudes.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I confess to you that it’s far easier to give you lip service than to show your lordship in my life. I testify, as Peter did, that you are the Son of the Living God; God incarnate, the son of the Living God. I ask that the power of your Holy Spirit would so invade my life that others would see you in me. In your name I pray, Amen.


The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:5-6

I wonder how many times the scene of Jesus’ last breath played itself over and over in the minds of the Mary’s and the other disciples of Jesus that Sabbath day after the crucifixion. What was it like in the synagogue services the next day.

Remember. It was Passover. The city was full of people who had come toJerusalemfor the celebration. Many of them had no doubt heard Jesus speak. They had seen him heal the blind and the lame. They’d seen him cast out demons and raise people from the dead. Some of them may even have been the recipient of Jesus’ touch…and now he was dead.

There must have been a tremendous amount of fear. The Synagogue rulers had always been powerful. They had made rules that were impossible to keep. And now, if the Jews could kill Jesus, what could stop them? Who was next? Would this bring down the Roman guard against others? Even the Roman that watched Jesus die said “Surely, this was the son of God!”

In the homes and gathering places of thousands of Jews there had to have been confusion. So many had thought this was truly the Messiah, and now he was gone. Some may have celebrated. With ever one of these ‘religious zealots’ that came along they carried a threat that the Romans would come in and smash the uprising. Others were no doubt angry. Angry at the Jews for killing a good man. Angry at God for not protecting Jesus. Angry at Jesus for getting their hopes up. Anger doesn’t have to make sense. It only needs an object to attack.

Were the Mary’s at the Synagogue that day? I’ll bet they were. So were many other followers of Jesus. Maybe even a few of the disciples. They came to pray, to worship, to ask ‘why?’ Sabbath was so much more than a ‘Sunday’ in our culture. There was nothing else going on. It was a time of reflection. A time for families. And on this endless Sabbath, a day of remembering.

It’s no wonder then that early the next morning a handful of women made their way through the quiet streets ofJerusalemwith a few vials of oil. They went to remember. They went to worship. They went so that one more time they could say good-bye to their Lord and Savior.

But what joy would await them. Two shining angels. A rolled away stone. An empty tomb. An announcement that would become the battle cry of Christ-followers through the ages.

“We know why you came here this morning. You came looking for Jesus. He’s not here. He’s risen…just like he said he would.

Isn’t that just like Jesus? He did EXACTLY as he said he would. He still does today. Every promise will come true. HE IS RISEN. HE IS RISEN INDEED!

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. Thank you so much for dying for my sins. Thank you for the forgiveness, grace and mercy you make available to me. I give you all the honor, all the praise for you are God! Amen.


“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23

A few months ago now, a friend of mine had a baby. As held that newborn I was once again amazed at the beauty of new life. The tiny little fingers. The soft, supple skin. The complete and total helplessness of this creation of God. Amazing.

My mind shot ahead. I’m a bit of a sap at times I guess. I thought of my own children and how every day became a new adventure in exploration and discovery as they grow older. Sometimes they get themselves in trouble. There are times when the ordinary and mundane to us is a complete and exciting adventure to them. And have you ever noticed how a little baby can turn even the most refined adult into a babbling idiot making all sort of gibberish to elicit a smile or a giggle?

I wonder if Mary thought about those things as she watched the events surrounding Passover the year of Jesus’ crucifixion. He was her first born. Together she had shared the wonder of new life with him. For him, a new life in a human body. For her the wonder of her very own newborn baby. The Bible says she treasured ‘all these things’ in her heart. The message of the angels; the events leading up to his birth; the visit from the strange nobility from the East; the tragic news of the slaughter of her friend’s children at the hands of a greedy, ruthless King.

Did she stand at the foot of the cross and wonder, “When did he grow up?” To a mom her first born is always her baby. Always holds a special place in her life.

There are a lot of things we don’t know about Jesus. Many events of his growing up years and his ministry that have been locked in the annals of time. Some perhaps far too mundane to even be mentioned. He was, to many after all, just a good guy, a great teacher, a friend who was closer than a brother.

Oh, but he was so much more than that! He was a king who never lost sight of the leper or the cripple. He was a gentle father who never forgot the true identity of the prodigal son or the woman caught in adultery. He was God and he came to earth to die for the undeserving and grant eternal life to the eternally hopeless. God with us. The true story of Grace. The true story of Easter.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. In light of your miracles and deity it’s so hard to remember that you were also a baby, a child, a man. You experienced all the tragedies and victories of life as I have. Thank you for giving your life so I can live forever. Thank you for taking my sin so I can live free of guilt. In your holy name I pray, Amen.

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