An Authentic, Sometimes Gritty, and Always Hopeful Blog for All Who Live with Severe Physical Pain

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jesus--the Light!

Note:  Although I wrote this post in relationship to pre-Christmas sales, its topic transcends any calendar date.  I believe that is why this post is my most widely read post.

This past weekend’s “Black Friday” was darker than it has ever been, as consumer violence erupted across the country.  One man died, and dozens of others were injured in mob-like frenzies enticed by "Black Friday" sales. This year, "Black Friday" actually started on Thursday, as many stores decided to start their sales early; no doubt Thanksgiving Day will soon go the way of Sundays as just another day of fighting for the shrinking consumer dollar.

It is a dark game, and it leaves me feeling a bit greasy-dirty to be part of a culture 
that accepts it all with barely a shrug of the shoulder. 

I'm also feeling a bit "dark" myself.  I did too much in preparation for Thanksgiving and overstretched my boundaries.  Now I'm paying the price as dark claws of pain have dug their way into my face and head. 

I have needed to be reminded of the light of Jesus, on this Eve of December.  What follows is an abbreviated scriptural summary that I hope will chase away the darkness, and shine with warmth, goodness and truth into your spirit.   

Our Savior, Our Light
Always and Forever More He Will Be…

Jesus Christ, Always Present with God - John 1: 1 -4

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  he was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The Birth of Jesus - Luke 2: 1 - 19

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Jesus’ Ministry

Following Jesus’ time of preparation, he went to Galilee, leaving Nazareth to fulfill what was said through the prophet, Isaiah,  “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.” 
            From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”  (Matthew 4: 12-17)  .

Jesus brought the light to the people, having come to reconcile us to God, for we had moved so far from living the way that was best for us, which had caused a great separation between humans and God, that we had no way back without this light, our savior.  "For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten son (Jesus Christ) so that whoever believed in him, would live forever with God,rather than perishing." This is  message of John 3:16. (Jesus, was also called the "son of God", a relationship we cannot understand by our limited human brains.)  

Jesus' message was and still is, that if we will believe that He is the savior who came to redeem our relationship with God, and we repent of going our own way that was not God's way, we will be returned to a right relationship with God.  This means we will be given power to live according to God's desires, which are also the best possible ways for us, and we will join him in heaven when we die.

Jesus, lived in humble means with a small group of disciples whom he invited to join him as he went around telling this good news about reconciliation to God.  He not only told the good news, he demonstrated that what it boiled down to was love, which he demonstrated continuously by the way he cared for people by way of a servant-minded kind of leadership, unaffected by power, money or influence.  Instead, he was drawn to the every-day kind of person, and easily mixed with those discredited or overlooked by "proper society" such as prostitutes, racial minorities, or beggars.  Jesus also demonstrated a supernatural ability to see into the hearts of people and know their emotional and physical needs, healing both. Word got around about him, and followers grew rapidly.  It took two years for his ministry to catch the ire of the religious ire, who then sought to have him removed.  When God allowed, for the end was known before it ever started, an evil scheme was set. Jesus, knowing it was about to take place prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.   (John 17:1 - 5)

Jesus is Put to Death

Jesus was beaten savagely, and then nailed to a cross, which was raised up high, so that the townspeople who had been riled up to mob frenzy could enjoy a twisted celebration as they mocked Jesus, even placing a crown upon the head of this “supposed king” made from a vine that contained wickedly long thorns. Only Jesus’ mother, Mary, and one or two faithful followers remained close, the others hiding in fear for their own lives, and questioning if Jesus was truly the savior, for they had imagined Jesus would become a king on earth, regardless that Jesus had tried to tell them that he was leaving them.  Yet, the light of truth about who Jesus was shined even as he suffered.  The bible tells of two, even then who recognized it:  The first was one of the two men who were being crucified at the same time as Jesus.  This man a thief, observing all that was going on said, "We (meaning he and the other man being crucified) are being punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.  But this man has done nothing wrong.”  Revelation had come to him as he turned to look into the eyes of this man, and found his Lord.  Having done so, he made a request, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 
            Jesus, looking into this man's eyes and knowing that his words were not simply that of a desperate man willing to say anything, but of one who truly understood that he, Jesus, had come to save all who would ask from their sins when they truly sought forgiveness, and did what he had always done, and will always do--freely give it.  He said, through his own physical torment,  “I tell you the truth.  Today you will be with me in paradise.”  (from Luke 23)

The second man was the soldier standing guard at the crucifixion, a Roman, who had probably never heard about Jesus.  As Jesus breathed his last ,the rocks around  began to shake and suddenly darkness fell.  As others ran away in fear, this soldier spoke out, “Surely, he is the son of God!”  (from Matthew 23)

Jesus Rises from the Dead!  - Matthew 28: 1 - 10

1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers (meaning his disciples) to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Jesus Returns to Heaven  
 Luke 24: 36 - 51

Now while they were talking about this (the fact that some had seen proof that Jesus had arisen), Jesus Himself took His stand among them and said to   As they talked about those things, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them. But God kept them from recognizing him.
  Jesus asked them, "What are you talking about as you walk along?"
   They stood still, and their faces were sad. One of them was named Cleopas. He said to Jesus, "You must be a visitor to Jerusalem. If you lived there, you would know the things that have happened there in the last few days."
  "What things?" Jesus asked.
   "About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet. He was powerful in what he said and did in the eyes of God and all of the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed Jesus over to be sentenced to death. They nailed him to a cross. But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to set Israel free. Also, it is the third day since all this happened.
  "Some of our women amazed us too. Early this morning they went to the tomb. But they didn't find his body. So they came and told us what they had seen. They saw angels, who said Jesus was alive. Then some of our friends went to the tomb. They saw it was empty, just as the women had said. They didn't see Jesus' body there."
  Jesus said to them, "How foolish you are! How long it takes you to believe all that the prophets said! Didn't the Christ have to suffer these things and then receive his glory?"
  Jesus explained to them what was said about himself in all the Scriptures. He began with Moses and all the Prophets.
  The two men approached the village where they were going. Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they tried hard to keep him from leaving. They said, "Stay with us. It is nearly evening. The day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them.
  He joined them at the table. Then he took bread and gave thanks. He broke it and began to give it to them. Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. But then he disappeared from their sight.
  They said to each other, "He talked with us on the road. He opened the Scriptures to us. Weren't our hearts burning inside us during that time?"
  They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them. They were all gathered together. They were saying, "It's true! The Lord has risen! He has appeared to Simon!"
  Then the two of them told what had happened to them on the way. They told how they had recognized Jesus when he broke the bread.
  The disciples were still talking about this when Jesus himself suddenly stood among them. He said, "May peace be with you!"
  They were surprised and terrified. They thought they were seeing a ghost.
  Jesus said to them, "Why are you troubled? Why do you have doubts in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is really I! Touch me and see. A ghost does not have a body or bones. But you can see that I do."
  After he said that, he showed them his hands and feet. But they still did not believe it. They were amazed and filled with joy.
   So Jesus asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?"
  They gave him a piece of cooked fish. He took it and ate it in front of them.
  Jesus said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you. Everything written about me must happen. Everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms must come true."
  Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written. The Christ will suffer. He will rise from the dead on the third day. His followers will preach in his name. They will tell others to turn away from their sins and be forgiven. People from every nation will hear it, beginning at Jerusalem. You have seen these things with your own eyes.
  "I am going to send you what my Father has promised. But for now, stay in the city. Stay there until you have received power from heaven."
  Jesus led his disciples out to the area near Bethany. Then he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them. He was taken up into heaven.
  Then they worshiped him. With great joy, they returned to Jerusalem. Every day they went to the temple, praising God. 

The Helper Jesus Spoke About Arrives

Approximately two months following Jesus return to Heaven, what the Father promised, arrives. The apostles were gathered together in a house when a terrific wind surrounded them and light that appeared like fire appeared. (Acts 2 tells about this.) It was "the helper" Jesus spoke about--called the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is a part of God who lives inside every believer to help us better understand and live out our faith.  The helper gives us insight into the nature of God, better understanding of the bible, and shows us our own foolishness and wrong thinking. The helper grows us in spiritual gifts:  goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, love for others, peace, patience, and kindness.  One could say the Holy Spirit makes our light shine brighter!

Our Future Joy!  
A New Heaven and a New Earth
Revelation 21: 1 - 6

I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth were completely gone. There was no longer any sea.
  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem. It was coming down out of heaven from God. It was prepared like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
  I heard a loud voice from the throne. It said, "Now God makes his home with people. He will live with them. They will be his people. And God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or sadness. There will be no more crying or pain. Things are no longer the way they used to be."
  He who was sitting on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down. You can trust these words. They are true."
  He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last. I am the Beginning and the End. Anyone who is thirsty may drink from the spring of the water of life. It doesn't cost anything."

Glory to God, and on Earth, Peace and Goodwill to All--
The Light  Trumps the Darkness!  Amen!

 If you'd like me to tell you more about Jesus, just select the contact tab--it's totally confidential.  


 I care about you,

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