The Guards at the Tomb
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So, give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. Matthew 27: 62-66
Who Is God the Son? (Part One)
A Wesleyan Faith
One of the most distinctive and beautiful portraits of John Wesley comes down to us from the past places Wesley, dressed in the attire of an Anglican priest, standing beside a cross in a market square. Small of stature, he stands tall, holding a Bible in one hand; with the other extended in an arc in the air, he is clearly calling on those present to heed the invitation to accept the good news of salvation. A motley crew of humanity is gathered around him: old and young, male and female, rich and poor. In some versions even the local dogs have shown up to listen. This is Wesley at full stretch, engaged in one of the central acts of Christian ministry: preaching the gospel to those who are really hearing it for perhaps the very first time in their lives. His favorite phrase for describing what he was doing was, “I offered them Christ.” This was not some cheap slogan, for Wesley meant that he offered Christ in all his offices, that is, as prophet, priest, and king. As prophet, Christ taught us truly about God; as priest, he made sacrifice for the sins of the whole world; and as king, he became Lord of all who put their faith in him. The neat summary of Christian belief concerning the person and work of Christ takes us directly to a pivotal element in any serious version of Christianity. We need to explore who Christ really is.
I previously shared about God as “three-personal.” The First Person of the Trinity is God the Father, and the Second Person of the Trinity is God the Son. Christian thinkers through the centuries have written untold pages on the Son who comes forth from the Father, but the point of all this high-flying theology is this: the Father sends the Son to save us from sin and death, so that we can live as God wants in this life, and so that we can live with God forever. The sending of the Son into the world is an act of divine love.
The people of Israel had always believed that God was at work in the world – through creation, by choosing Israel, by loving and chastening the nation, by giving the law, by the raising up of prophets, and in many, many other ways. The early Christians believed this too, though they also believed that God had acted most decisively in the life of one person: Jesus, whom they called the Messiah. The words Messiah and Christ mean the same thing. The first comes from Hebrew, the second from Greek, but both mean “anointed one.” What does anointing have to do with anything? It was a way of designating a person whom God had chosen for a special service, specifically for leadership. The first priests of Israel, Aaron and his sons, were anointed by Moses as a way of inaugurating their priesthood (Exodus 28:41). When Saul became the first king of Israel, the prophet Samuel poured oil over his head, kissed him, and said, “The Lord has anointed you ruler of his people Israel” (1 Samuel 10:1). Likewise, when David became king following Saul, Samuel anointed him as well, “and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward” (1 Samuel 16:13). Even a Gentile, the Persian King Cyrus, is called God’s anointed (Isaiah 45:51) because God chose him to accomplish divine purposes.
Jesus, like these other figures, is chosen to fulfill God’s plans, but Jesus is chosen to do so not just for Israel, but also for the entire world. Jesus the Messiah is the one through whom God would bring salvation to all people. Jesus’ work as the Messiah, however, plays out differently than that of other people specially chosen by God and anointed. Great prophets and leaders anointed Aaron and his sons, along with Saul and David. In the case of Aaron, it was Moses who anointed, and in the cases of Saul and David, it was Samuel. Jesus, however, was anointed by an unnamed woman in the house of someone named “Simon the leper” (Mark 14:3-9), and his anointing as the Messiah doubles as his anointing for burial (14.8). Jesus will save not only through his life, but also through his death on the cross. His role as the Messiah is inseparable from this salvation. While Jesus is the Messiah, then, he is a very different kind of messiah, one who is chosen to give of himself in service and humility, even to the point of his own death, so that people like us, people who have not always lived as God wished, can be restored to a proper relationship with God.
Jesus is different from other leaders of Israel in another way too: Jesus is the Son of God, not figuratively, but literally. Today, in the modern city of Nazareth of Israel, sits one of the most beautiful churches in the world. It is called the Basilica of the Annunciation. Within this church is an altar upon which are inscribed the Latin words, verbum caro hic factum est, which mean, “Here the Word became flesh.” Whether or not this altar marks the exact spot where the event took place, the idea is clear: God became a particular person at a particular time and place. When Christians talk about the “Annunciation,” we are talking about the angel Gabriel’s words to the Virgin Mary found in Luke 1:26-38. Gabriel says to Mary that she will conceive, bear a son, and name him Jesus. He says, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David” (1:32). Understandably, this confuses Mary. “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” she asks (1:34). Gabriel responds, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God (1:35). In other words, God – through the Holy Spirit – will be the father of this child. Presumably, Mary could respond with fear, refusal, or simply confusion, but instead she responds, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (1:38).
With that, the greatest miracle the world has ever known took place – the Incarnation. This term, Incarnation, describes what happened when God became a human being. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was conceived within Mary. Jesus was, in a very real way, the Son of God. Therefore within Jesus are both humanity and divinity. In Colossians 1:15-23, we find what is probably and ancient Christian hymn. Some of the ideas most crucial to our understanding of the Incarnation are expressed in this passage:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
This passage of Scripture offers us a glimpse of Christ’s divine nature – that Christ existed before all of creation, that he is the very image of God, and that the fullness of God dwelled within Christ. Christ is here called the “firstborn from the dead,” meaning that Christ’s resurrection is the first, but not the last, because resurrection is not just for Jesus only, but for all who follow him. Moreover, it was through Christ that all of creation came into being. If we think of this in terms of the three-personal nature of God, we could say that God the Father is the wellspring of life, but it is through God the Son that creation actually came into being. We see similar ideas in John 1:3 and Hebrews 1:2. The Father is the source, but the Son is the creator.
Humanity and divinity are both fully present in Jesus Christ. Yet humanity and divinity are hard concepts to hold together. Early in the Church’s history, Christians debated with one another over such questions as, “If Jesus was divine, did he have a real human body?” “Was Jesus an angel or a spirit, rather than a human being?” and “Was Jesus more divine than human, or more human than divine, or equally human and divine?” Over time, however, the Church came to this basic consensus: Jesus was fully divine and fully human. Yes, Jesus had a flesh-and-blood body. Yes, he suffered, and he really died. And, yes, he was also fully God.
One of the oldest bits of Christian worship we have is found in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. In this letter, Paul is dealing with arguments within the church in Philippi. He tells these Christians that they should shun selfish ambition and conceit and humble themselves, even going so far as to regard other people as better than they are. He tells them that their example in this regard is Christ himself, and then he quotes from a song that these Christians sang together in worship.
In Philippians 2:6-11, Paul says that Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. Therefore, God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This is sometimes called the kenosis hymn. Kenosis is a Greek word that means “emptying.” This is a hymn about what it means for Christ to empty himself of his power and majesty, to become a human, to humble himself to the point of death – even death on a cross. Rather than seeking to hold on to the glory, power, and honor that were rightly his, he emptied himself of these, and he gave of himself for others. That is why God the Father exalted Jesus. God raised him from the dead, and the risen Christ lives eternally with the Father.
Next month we’ll look at part two of Who Is God the Son!
Peace be with you,
April Special Celebrations
04 Anne Foor
05 Todd Smith
09 Jeremy Kraft
11 Caden Elijah Penrod
13 Melvin Haisler
14 Pat Howell
21 Patti Temple
27 Ricky Schertz
29 Kelsey Digby
02 Bob and Pat Howell
16 Jim and Morgan Bridges
19 Robert and Dorothy Franklin
26 Chris and Jeannie Hardin
29 Wallace and Sondra Trietsch
30 Charlie & Gayla Ziegel
Let’s Celebrate Our Memories of Ray Brandenberger
June 23, 1937 – March 12, 2022
We Will Miss You!
THE RICH FAMILY IN OUR CHURCH
I’ll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy 12, and my older sister Darlene 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the four of us knew what it was like to do without many things. My dad had died five years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money. By 1946, my older sisters were married, and my brothers had left home.
A month before Easter, the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially. When we got home, we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. Then we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn’t listen to the radio, we’d save money on that month’s electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us baby sat for everyone we could. For 15 cents, we could buy enough cotton loops to make three potholders to sell for $1. We made $20 on potholders.
That month was one of the best of our lives. Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night we’d sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in our church, so we figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the Pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering.
The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change. We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before. That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep. We didn’t care that we wouldn’t have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering. We could hardly wait to get to church! On Sunday morning, rain was pouring. We didn’t own an umbrella, and the church was over a mile from our home, but it didn’t seem to matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart, and her feet got wet, but we sat in church proudly, despite how we looked. I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in their new clothes, and I felt so rich.
When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting on the second row from the front. Mom put in the $10 bill, and each of us girls put in a $20. As we walked home after church, we sang all the way. At lunch, Mom had a surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs, and we had boiled Easter eggs with our fried potatoes!
Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to the door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was, but she didn’t say a word. She opened the envelope and out fell a bunch of money. There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10 bill, and seventeen $1 bills. Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didn’t talk, but instead, just sat and stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling like poor white trash.
We kids had had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didn’t have our mom and dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. We thought it was fun to share silverware and see whether we got the fork or the spoon that night. We had two knives which we passed around to whoever needed them. I knew we didn’t have a lot of things that other people had, but I’d never thought we were poor. That Easter Day I found out we were poor. The minister had brought us the money for the poor family, so we must be poor.
I didn’t like being poor. I looked at my dress and worn-out shoes and felt so ashamed that I didn’t want to go back to church. Everyone there probably already knew we were poor! I thought about school. I was in the ninth grade and at the top of my class of over 100 students. I wondered if the kids at school knew we were poor. I decided I could quit school since I had finished the eighth grade. That was all the law required at that time.
We sat in silence for a long time. Then it got dark, and we went to bed. All that week, we girls went to school and came home, and no one talked much. Finally on Saturday, Mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money. What did poor people do with money? We didn’t know. We’d never known we were poor.
We didn’t want to go to church on Sunday, but Mom said we had to. Although it was a sunny day, we didn’t talk on the way. Mom started to sing, but no one joined in and she only sang one verse. At church we had a missionary speaker. He talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun-dried bricks, but they need money to buy roofs. He said $100 would put a roof on a church. The minister said, “Can’t we all sacrifice to help these poor people?”
We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week. Mom reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Darlene. Darlene gave it to me, and I handed it to Ocy. Ocy put it in the offering plate. When the offering was counted, the minister announced that it was a little over $100. The missionary was excited. He hadn’t expected such a large offering from our small church. He said, “You must have some rich people in this church.”
Suddenly it struck us! We had given $87 of that “little over $100.” We were the rich family in the church! Hadn’t the missionary just said so? From that day on I’ve never been poor again. I’ve always remembered how rich I am because I have Jesus!
by Eddie Ogan ** Submitted by Judy Klein
03 Holy Communion
10 Palm Sunday
Second Sunday Lunch, Noon
15 Good Friday and Passover Begins
23 Family Fellowship Night, 6:00 pm Fun, Games, and Food.
Easter April 17, 2022
BLUE MOUND UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
8421 N. Interstate 35, Denton, TX 76207-1537 (940) 382-0825
Midway between Denton and Sanger at Exit 473
Sunday School: 9:30 am, Sunday Worship: 10:45 am
Linda Boyer, Newsletter Editor
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