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Lent is a time for Christians to fully examine their relationship with the Lord. Through prayer, sacrifice and service, we develop an understanding of what it means to "take up your cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34) As Christians, we are called to live Christ's life- not to study the life of Jesus and try to be like Him, but actually let Him live through us.

In my own journey this Lent, Our Lord is asking me to fully understand His love. Through several prayer experiences, I hear him calling me to this deeper understanding of His love- not just with my head, but with my heart. And the key to understanding that amazing love is to understand His suffering. My intellect understands that the Lord suffered, but I have never explored His suffering with my heart. His love is greater than His suffering, but how great was that suffering?

I am participating in an independent Threshold Bible Study called People of the Passion by Stephen J. Binz. In this study, I will explore the meaning of discipleship through the people who encounter Jesus during His passion. These people witness and are impacted by the suffering of Jesus. They saw the suffering of our Lord first hand. It is my hope that by going on this journey through their eyes, I will have a better understanding of His suffering and then of His love.

Please know that I am not a scholar. I have no formal education in theology, philosophy or church history. I'm just a regular person trying to make sense of what Jesus is asking me to do- to love like He loves.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 29- Nicodemus Prepares the Body of Jesus for Burial

John 19:38-42

17 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body. Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom. Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.


John 3:1-12

1 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born 3 from above." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother's womb and be born again, can he?" Jesus answered, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, 'You must be born from above.' The wind 4 blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus answered and said to him, "How can this happen?" Jesus answered and said to him, "You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?

In his commentary, Binz describes Nicodemus as a man who gradually came to know the Lord.  When he first approached Jesus, he did so at night so as to not drawn attention to himself.  Nicodemus questioned Jesus about his teachings in an effort to understand.  As that understanding took root inside of him, Nicodemus was changed.  He was transformed.  In these two passages, we see the transformation from a man with questions to a man who sought to lavishly serve the Lord.

Sometimes our conversion process isn't a night and day experience.  Seeds are planted here and there.  Maybe a homily catches our attention.  Or the prayer of a friend really moves us.  And when you compile these experiences together, over time, they change us.  God gently molds our hearts until we recognize our need for Him in our lives.  And when that light bulb starts to come on, awesome things happen.

I was at a retreat last weekend.  It was the second time I had been on this particular retreat.  In the previous retreat, we wrote all our sins and things that keep us from knowing God on rocks.  And then we threw the rocks into the lake.  Last weekend, my friend and I were walking along the shore of that same lake.  We noticed all the debris that washed up on the shore.  My friend turned to me and said, "I hope our rocks don't wash up!  I wrote a book on that thing.  I would be afraid for someone to read it."  We laughed and then we started talking about our rocks.  And in the conversation, I realized that those rocks have been sitting in flowing water.  There is probably not a word left on them.  They have been washed clean.  Jesus is the living water.  If we let him flow in us and through us, we are washed clean and made new.  That is the conversion process.  Its letting go of selfish desires and desiring that living water- desiring God in your life.  I imagine it took a while for Nicodemus to allow that living water bubble up inside of him.  But once he did, he couldn't help but show his love for the Lord.  So, he showed up in the darkest hour with a lavish amount of burial spices and anointed the body of the Lord.  His conversion was slow but complete.  And that is what matters.

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