Pastor's Pen
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March 20, 2016, 12:00 AM

The Gift of Life

The Gift of Life

And

Palm Sunday

 

   Today is Palm Sunday. It begins the last week of Jesus’ physical life on earth and it is a week of extraordinary importance for Christians. With today’s parade of people and palm branches being laid on the road as Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a colt (Mark 11), to Thursday night’s last supper with His disciples (Maundy Thursday), to the trial and crucifixion on Friday, to the glorious resurrection on Easter morning, this is truly a week of extraordinary importance! We call this Holy Week, the most sacred time of the Christian year. And because of its centrality for the lives of Christians, how this story is told matters greatly!

   But, just before this week happened, Jesus performed a most amazing  miracle. The story is told in chapter 11 of John’s Gospel and it’s the story of raising Lazarus from the dead. It is in this story that Jesus says to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” (v.25-26). This means that believers have eternal life now, long before they reach the funeral home or the end of time. And so, in the present, in the midst of everyday reality, a rich quality of life is experienced in relationship with God, simply by believing in Jesus.

   It is just as Jesus had said earlier, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (10:10). So, may we then say that death is but a transition that does not break the bond between the believer and God.  This is one of the most distinctive and important theological emphases in John’s Gospel. When John speaks of eternal life (as he does frequently), he speaks not simply of future hope or of life that lasts forever. He speaks of a quality of life that begins now and continues forever, life that shares in the goodness and joy of God and is full, rich, and enduring. And to John’s way of thinking, it is fully accessible now through Jesus.

   So, enjoy the parade … the waving of palm branches and the singing of “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna.” And let us not forget that during this week to come, Jesus had a final meal with His disciples, He was arrested and crucified on a cross, and that He rose from the grave … all for repentant believers’ forgiveness of sins and for the promise of eternal life beginning even now.

Dr. Rick Baggett is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore (the church with the bells) and can be reached at: rbgoodnews@yahoo.com

 

 


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