Here is my message, “The Painful Gift of Forgiveness,” from this past Good Friday at Eastbrook Church. The message is an extended reflection on the depths of Jesus’ words from the Cross:
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34)
I wrote three short poems as part of our Crossroads devotional for Lent at Eastbrook Church. I include them below. You can access the entire Crossroads devotional here.
“With loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand.” (Luke 23:23-24)
“Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he said this, he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46)
No law can withstand human demands.
No governor forestalls foregone conclusions.
We stand amidst the crowd, shouting
for the death of our God to satisfy
our thirst. With no words for the crowd
and no words for Pilate, Jesus submits
meekly to the grinding gears. No tears
now from the King who is not of this world.
No harsh rebuke of a holy and awesome God.
No one leaps to His aid. No angels descend
from the skies. No one stops what has now
been set into motion. The cold, cruel world
reaches out for destruction, but still,
even still, there is divine intention.
Hidden – within and without – from our eye,
God is working, transforming our reality.
* * *
Without fanfare, the King of Glory is pinned
with gory force upon the beams of wood.
The people watch with voiceless stares.
The sneering rulers speak their fears.
The soldiers mock with maiming force.
Overhead the notice speaks sharp
truth: this is the King of the Jews.
With no apparent human heroism,
His snapping skeleton – a bloody body –
hangs heavy as God’s heart becomes a wound
opened wide with welcome for all who wash
their weary selves within its messy flow.
Still now He hangs at God’s cross purposes
as holiness and grace collide with fire.
The vulture views the spectacle and waits,
as all earth’s air is drained out of God’s lungs.
* * *
In the clamoring cacophony
echoing around the execution,
unseen divine intimacy unveils
to human eyes and ears.
His heaving body, suffocating
with evil, wheezes out a prayer:
pleading, surrendering, commending.
The drama of humanity’s weakness
and God’s strength transfixed at
the crossroads, takes a hard
turn into unexpected avenues
as Messiah gasps, shudders and dies.
Darkness descends and everyone
gapes in stunned silence:
‘What have we done?
What has He done?’
Here are the discussion questions that accompany the message I delivered this past weekend at Eastbrook Church, “Difficulties at Work.” This is the second part of our series, “God at Work.”
- What are some of the most common difficulties we face at work? How have you dealt with one of those in your own life?
- We continue our “God at Work” series this weekend by looking at difficulties with work. Before beginning this study on your own or with a group, take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you.
- We work in a world impacted by sin, brokenness, and evil. In the Bible, this reality is known as the Fall, reflecting our fall from God’s grace and into sin. Read Genesis 3:14-19 and name some of the main effects of sin and evil upon our work.
- Jesus came to bring the good news that kingdom of God is near (Mark 1:13) and to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). This was, in one sense, the work that Jesus came to do (John 5:17). When you think of Jesus having work to do, what does that say to you about what it means to work?
- Read through Luke 22:39-23:56. As you read through this, take time to reflect on each episode of the story by asking the question: how is Jesus approaching His work here? This may take some time. You may want to take notes as you walk through this extended portion of Scripture.
- If Jesus worked His way through difficulties, how does that change your approach to working through difficulties? Maybe you want to consider one situation that is particularly difficult for you right now. How will you see or approach that situation differently because of Jesus?
- Sometimes we may feel that the distance between Jesus and us is too great for comparison on this topic. That begin said, we need to remember that Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to live in His ways. What is one way you are asking God to give you Holy Spirit power to work in the midst of difficulty this week? If you are alone, write it down and pray about that. If you are with your small group, share your answers with one another and then pray for one another about these things.
How should we respond when we face difficulties at work? What do we do when we run into tensions with co-workers? What if our work environment puts undue pressure on us or is simply at odds with God’s ways?
This past weekend at Eastbrook Church we continued our series, “God at Work,” with a message “Difficulties at Work.” The message dealt with…well…the difficulties we face at work and how we respond to them.
You can watch the message right here and follow along with the outline for the message below. You may want to interact with all the messages from this series here.
You can connect with us further at Eastbrook Church on Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or listen to the message via our audio podcast here.
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