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It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…

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It was a dark and stormy night, but the storms on this night weren’t in the atmosphere, they were in his spirit. Jesus was there, in the garden, wrestling in prayer for you and for me. The sin of all mankind had been laid upon him, and he was exhausted.

His friends were exhausted too, and they showed it by their inability to stay awake in watch as their rabbi prayed in distress. So many storms.

As he prayed his body trembled from the hematidrosis – an exhausting condition where the stress is so great that the capillaries in one’s skin burst and the blood mixes with sweat so that one literally “sweats blood”. Why was he so stressed? He had just taken on not just the sin, but the guilt of every sin ever committed past, present, and future. He felt guilty for everything that had ever been done and everything that would ever be done. It was crushing him, and he was sweating blood as he cried in anguish and trepidation.

“Let this cup pass from me” was his prayer. Why? Because the God of the universe was about to make Jesus drink the cup of punishment that had been filled with the sins of the masses. Jesus was about to die, and he knew it.

Even though there was such a storm brewing in his spirit that night, it was clear what the choice needed to be. “Not my will but Yours be done.”

Soon after there was the sound of heavy footsteps and the flash of the moon glinting off metal. Soldiers were coming. A whole squad of soldiers and religious leaders were coming armed with swords and clubs and spears. Here is Jesus, unarmed and with a rag-tag bunch of nobodies. Why did they feel the need to come at him so fully armed?

As Jesus and the disciples heard the oncoming ruckus, they stood up with Jesus at the forefront of the group. The leader of the army sent to arrest him? Judas – one of Jesus’ trusted twelve – the traitor.

Jesus calmly asked the group, “who is it you are looking for?”

“Jesus of Nazareth” was their reply.

What happens next can only be explained in context of a previous conversation Jesus had with the religious leaders of the day. They were trying to trap Jesus in blasphemy, and Jesus was accusing them of always getting rid of the prophets. Jesus was trying to get them to see that Abraham prophesied about Jesus, but they wouldn’t listen. Jesus, then, called them out.

He told them they weren’t children of Abraham. In fact, he went further to say that they were children of the devil. Then, he said something even more blasphemous: “Before Abraham was born, I Am.” Their reaction was swift and harsh as they picked up stones to kill Jesus because they remembered another conversation many, many years before.

Moses is watching his flock when he notices a bush on the mountain called Sinai. This bush is burning, but there is no charring – the bush never burns up. Moses approaches and God proceeds to talk to him from the bush. As God calls Moses to a major mission, Moses asks who he should say sent him. God replies, “I Am who I Am. Tell them I Am sent you.”

They had said they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth.

“I Am.”

How he said it is not as important as the implication of what was just said. Jesus just used the same terminology as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus just said He is God.

As this statement sinks in quickly through the ranks of the soldiers they fall to the ground – stunned.

Jesus had rendered the mob defenseless with two words, “I Am.”

He knew he was going to die. He knew he needed to die so that all those billions of people who ever lived and ever would live could truly have life, but he was going down on his terms.

Peter got excited and took a swing with his sword but missed his mark. Instead, an ear was cut off, but Jesus healed that too. It was then that Jesus explained things to Peter. “This sword is not our way of doing things. If I wanted to fight they would have no defense against the legions of angels at my disposal.”

Previously, Jesus had said (John 10) that no one would take His life from Him. Jesus had the power to lay his life down, and he was going to raise it back up.

Judas, the traitor finally came up and kissed Jesus on the cheek to signify the betrayal. Judas had just earned his 30 pieces of silver. This betrayal was not necessary. Jesus had already given himself over to them.

Jesus was bound and tried and beaten, and beaten, and mocked, and beaten some more, and eventually crucified. As he was hanging on that cross sin after sin was being dealt with. The justice of God was being appeased through this one act. When every sin had been taken care of Jesus cried out, “It is finished.”

Isaiah 53:4-5
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

What happened next is the power of Jesus. No one dies quickly on a cross. It could take up to 48 hours for a person to die this way. Jesus gave up his spirit and died voluntarily.

He died for you and me – on purpose – of his own will.

Then, that glorious Sunday morning so long ago, he rose from the dead to prove that he really is God, your sins really are forgiven, and you really can have eternal life through him. The one who laid down a mob with two words raised from the dead. He is the glorious first fruits of those who raise from the dead – and that can include you and me.

This is the good news of Easter. May you celebrate this Sunday and every day that the God of the universe cares enough about you to give up everything to save you. May you see where your life is disconnected from God and come back. Jesus has already made the way for you.

If you would like to know more about having a relationship with Christ, please contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at 245-1611. You can also catch me on my blog at http://www.mrdobbs.org. God bless you this Easter and always.


The Bacteria in Our Water

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When I was a kid I loved going to my grandparents’ house in Northeast Arkansas for several reasons. I mean, what kid wouldn’t love to go to a place where he or she was doted upon and taught many life lessons through outdoors and apprenticeship?! I remember many details of my many trips to see them each year, but there is one detail that seems strange to me that I would remember: the taste of their tap water.

Their water was great. I grew up in North Louisiana where the water was a caramel color, and if you filled up your bathtub with it you wouldn’t be able to see the bottom of the tub. Comparatively, the sparkling clear water of Northeast Arkansas was amazing with just the right mixture of pure H2O and minerals.

Did you drink tap water growing up? 20 years ago that wouldn’t even be a question anyone would ask because who didn’t drink tap water? Today, however, we have an entirely different set of circumstances. When you ask people for some water chances are they’ll go to their refrigerator and look for some liquid in a plastic bottle or in a pitcher that had been filled through filtered means.

Every so often I get a report from our water treatment plant for our town. It makes me aware of the different levels of chemicals in the water. Wait…chemicals? Yes! Then it tells me that the water is ok to drink. It’s not necessarily healthy, but it’s ok. Our water even contains arsenic! No wonder people are buying bottled water as fast as they can produce it.

In our consumeristic culture we have changed to buying our water off the shelves in bottles or jugs or filtering it by some means even after it has come from our “water treatment” plant. We can’t seem to get “pure” water any more; we just make do with the water that we think is “more pure” or tastes better than other water.

I’ll admit that I do the same thing. I would rather drink water from a spring or well, but in town I have a Brita water filter pitcher at the house. When I buy water in a bottle I prefer Dasani. Don’t ask me why. I just think it tastes better. When I find Ethos water I buy that because some of the proceeds are supposed to be helping to dig wells in underdeveloped areas of the world.

We seem obsessed with water. And we pay for it accordingly.

Why is it that we are more concerned about the bacteria in our water than about the sin in our lives?

We don’t keep “pure” lives as the standard to which we strive. We settle for “more pure” than others. What if Jesus lived his life that way? If He had sinned even once he would not have been fit to take our place as the unblemished Lamb of sacrifice.

Then he tells us to “be perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

What? I can’t be perfect! No, but I can strive for perfection. There’s the difference between what God calls us to be and what many of us have settled to become. He wants us to try and not to quit. He wants us to hate sin. He wants us to abhor it. We should loathe it, but we settle for “good enough” or “better than others”. God is not comparing you to others at your job or school. He is comparing you to Jesus. Then, if you fall short of that (which you do), he offers you the sacrifice of Jesus to cover your imperfections.

When Jesus died He took your sins on the cross and gave you righteousness – a new clothing unstained by sin. In Galatians, Paul says that the clothing we receive when we are baptized into Christ is Christ Himself. Then we go through our lives staining up that righteous clothing with the deeds of selfishness.

You wouldn’t go out in the $100 outfit you bought yesterday and play in the mud in it today. But that’s exactly how we treat our righteousness. In Romans 6 we are reminded that when we died to sin we were called to not live in it any longer.

May you hate the sin in your life more than you hate the bacteria in your water. May that new mindset this year change you into a better, more whole and more holy man or woman of God. And may your circles of influence see Jesus (your new clothing) as you live and move and function inside that clothing.

Happy new year, and if there’s anything I can do for you, call me at 979-245-1611 or email me at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you!


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