This past Saturday, as Denise and I checked out with the cashier at Save On (we will not go to the grocery store on a Saturday anymore), I thanked her for being on the front lines and serving us.
I know people are stressed and anxious, so I asked, “How are customers responding to you?” She looked at us and said, “Fifty percent are hard on me and difficult to deal with and fifty percent are encouraging, like you; it is tough.” It is a small reading on where folks are at and I suspect those struggling with fear and anxiety is escalating.
This past month we were privileged to celebrate Holy Week and Easter, which coincide with Passover. The Jewish people celebrate God freeing them from the oppression of Egypt, by bringing 10 plagues on their oppressors, so that Pharaoh would release them. This year, their family Seder Meal was different, for they will celebrate online, as we did for Easter. Yet, in the words of a Rabbi, “The holiday is about liberation from oppression and that makes it all the more important to observe this year, when the physical, economic and social consequences of the pandemic are affecting us worldwide.”
As I am reflecting on this challenging time for all of us, Holy Week 2020 will be one we will remember. Oh, what liberation we have in Jesus. Just think about where Jesus is at this moment, as Paul described Him in Ephesians 1: 15-23. He is exalted with highest honor and supreme authority, above all, gloriously enthroned forever, leader and source needed in the church, all are beneath Him and we are His Body here on earth; wow!
Here are five thoughts I have of Jesus, from this place of highest honor and power, as we remember Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday online.
- During these days, I sense that John 17 has a very special meaning for us. It records Jesus’ prayer prior to his crucifixion and He is praying for those who are the closest to Him, His disciples. He details what has come to pass, what is, and what will be and through all of these events, the name of God will be glorified. Jesus is praying for us.
- Everything that people worship today has been removed; sports, health, entertainment, finances, even church buildings have been closed. What is God’s message to us? I believe it is in John 17. In verse 14, Jesus says to us, “I have given you Thy Word”. Go to the Word and hang onto verses that proclaim who God is. Jesus is saying, “Go to my Word and be reminded of who I am.”
- In verse 15, Jesus says, “I do not ask you to take them out of the world, rather to keep them”. What assurance this is for us. Yeshua will keep you and take you through this storm. No, He will not remove us from the storm, rather, lead us through it. Friends of ours from Calgary told us this past weekend that their church had buttons printed which say, “It is going to be OK”. As they wear them, people are asking how do they know, and it is a huge opportunity to share the hope they have in Jesus. One asked, “How do I get a button? I need to know this”. Jesus is saying, “I will keep you.”
- In verse 21 Jesus says,”…that they may all be one”. I have never seen a time when denominational barriers are coming down and people are uniting in prayer and fasting. I heard last week of an international prayer time of over 75,000 joining together. I believe God is uniting the church from all the divisions which we have created. There is a supernatural power when believers unite, pray, and fast together. Jesus is calling us to be one, to unite together.
- In verse 24 Jesus says, ” … that they may behold My glory”. God will be glorified through this pandemic and may we pray that, yes, He will bring this to a close, however, only after He has been glorified around the world. I believe Jesus is calling us to seek His face and to glorify Him.
Be encouraged, my friends. It is going to be OK. Read John 17 this week and pray into my five points.
Someone said to me, “I will be glad when we are through this, so I can go back to normal.” I do not believe we will go back to what we knew before; it will be different, for we will be different. I am reflecting on what I want to see in my life that needs to change, for I do not want to go back to normal (if you understand what I mean).