A Small League of Unrecognized Radicals (repost)

I’m not good with the crucifixion. I read and write all around it, but I struggle with the actual event. I’ve never even seen The Passion of the Christ. Last summer, however, God gave me this perspective, and I managed to get the words down. So for Good Friday this year, I offer this repost of a biblical fiction piece based on John 19:38-42 (and the other gospels).

“Get me an audience with Pilate. Now.” Joseph’s servant nodded and stepped away, soon lost in the dispersing crowd, but Joseph couldn’t move. He tried not to think about the twelve-year-old who had amazed him in the temple more than two decades earlier. He tried not to list the many who had been healed in the last three years. He forced himself to breathe again and steadied his hands.

Now for his eyes. They hadn’t left Jesus since a centurion thrust that spear into Jesus’ side. Look away, Joseph. You have to look away. You have to take care of this, even if He isn’t what you anticipated. Jesus deserves that much. Continue reading

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A Rock, A Stone, and Some Scattered Shards

Of course, Peter was the first one to say it out loud. He always said what others only thought. Except sometimes he didn’t think before he spoke. “Act first, think about it later.” That’s how Peter rolled. But when he said this thing, everyone was still calling him Simon.

The Rock was just starting to roll. Continue reading

On the Way to the Cross: Collection

Jesus had this uncanny ability to be distracted without losing focus. Remember Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:40-56)? Jesus stopped to heal the unclean woman–giving her seemingly undivided attention, yet He never forgot or ignored Jairus and his daughter.

Someone said we should look at distractions as opportunities. Must have been before the days of smartphones. When I’m distracted by social media, that’s simply an “opportunity” to waste time. Throughout His public ministry, Jesus turned distractions and digressions into opportunities…opportunities for teaching, blessing, or healing, and sometimes for all three. Continue reading

Guilt By Association

Why do we group and categorize people? My Mom used to say, “You sleep with dogs, you get fleas.” I’m still not 100% sure, but I think that phrase means, if you spend time with people, outside observers will think you are like those people. You’ll be guilty by association even if you aren’t actually guilty.

What about being associated with Jesus? Would you want that label? I’m sure you’re thinking, “Yes, of course!”

What about during Jesus’ lifetime? Would you have been so willing then? Continue reading

It’s Okay If You Don’t Understand

It’s the night before Jesus will be crucified. He provides a place for the Passover meal. He washes the disciples’ feet. He points out the one who will betray Him. He challenges the one who will deny Him (John 13).

Then He starts talking. In my Bible, the next four chapters (John 14-17) are almost all red print. This is Jesus’ conclusion to the sermon His life has preached for the last three years. Continue reading

My Preponderance of Passion Week Posts

Easter seems early this year, and it’s on April Fools Day, which hasn’t happened since 1956. I Googled it. It shouldn’t take me by surprise since we’ve been talking about it since Valentine’s Day (start of Lent), and yet almost every year, somehow it does.

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I may have taken a few too many pictures this particular year. They mutinied. (c) Carole Sparks

I want the holiday to mean something more than plastic eggs and baked ham, more than crowded church pews and freezing toes in sandals for which it’s not quite warm enough (but you just have to wear them anyway because they look so cute with your new outfit).

Sometimes it helps me to go back through old blog posts (just like I go through old photos, finding ones like this) and remind myself of things God has already shown me from His Word, like a journal review but much more public. As Passion Week approaches, I’ve assembled a long list of posts–thirteen, actually–about various occurrences during the week. I offer them to you here in more-or-less Biblical chronological order. Use them however you like. I’m also posting one link per day on Facebook and Twitter (at 7:30am each day), so you can have a daily suggestion if you would prefer.

Palm Sunday

The Day The King Cried Why did Jesus cry as He looked over Jerusalem on the day He entered like a prince?

Tuesday (no special name for this day)

All You Need is Love…and More Love In this recent post, we sit down with the religious leaders in the temple as they challenged Jesus with difficult questions…and one question that was different.

Maundy Thursday, in the Upper Room

footwashing 1
a modern-day foot-washing several years ago (c) Carole Sparks

Servant Leadership: Focusing on the Foot Have you given much thought to Jesus’ view as he sat before those 24 feet?

Who’s Humble Now? Jesus and Peter share an interesting dialogue when Jesus stoops down to wash Peter’s feet.

The Error in the ‘I’ Peter’s declaration of commitment may have been noble, but it was flawed in one very important way.

Maundy Thursday, in the Garden of Gethsemane

Help! I don’t even know how to pray Here’s an easy-to-remember four-step prayer method based on Jesus’ one-verse prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. You don’t need alot of words.

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Dogwoods have long been a symbol of Jesus’ death and resurrection. (c) Carole Sparks

The Spiral Slide of Temptation Heavy eyelids, quiet garden, late at night: Peter, James, and John just couldn’t help but fall asleep. In this post, learn what that’s got to do with playground slides.

Two Questions about Your Calling Jesus’ words and actions in the Garden and on the cross reveal the two things that were most important to Him.

Flight, Fight, or Follow For Christ-followers, there’s another option beyond the instinctual fight or flight.

Good Friday

Rethinking Peter’s Denial (I’m assuming this was very, very early Friday morning.) Trace Peter’s descent into denying Jesus. We may have judged him too harshly. One of my earliest posts.

What’s So Good about ‘Good Friday’? My mild rant from last year at this time. I haven’t changed my mind.

Easter Sunday

Easter 2017 memeFaith Has No Formula When we take a look at that first Easter morning, we find that people reach faith in different ways and at different paces.

When in Doubt We call him ‘Doubting Thomas,’ but the moniker isn’t justified.

Take your pick of My Perponderance of #PassionWeek Posts–all scenes from the Gospels. Because #Easter is #NotAboutMe, via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)

What Gospel scene from Passion Week has been significant to you in the past? What strikes you here? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below or on the individual posts!

Easter greeting