When Jesus Came

Luke came around today asking about my memories of Jesus. He’s putting together the whole story so he can write it out for those that weren’t there or even alive when Jesus was with us. I put aside my work and sat down with him to remember.

There was this one time Jesus came to visit and I was so excited to host him, this man that healed so many. I mean, everyone was talking about him and how he was challenging to the Pharisees with their high and mighty ways. I was so ready for someone to confront them.

He had an entourage too, 12 guys, so when I heard they were accepting our invitation, I knew I’d need to provide a meal and wash feet and it was going to be a long, long day. I had staff and Mary but they all needed direction and that’s what I’m good at.

I wanted to do it right, you know, to show him how much we appreciated what he’d done for our community. I knew so many people who’d been healed, it just seemed like the right thing to do, to go all out.

I’d gotten a lot done by the time they all arrived. More showed up with him too! I should’ve known with the following he had at the time but it threw me for a loop. I was going crazy in the kitchen directing the servants and then I saw Mary, my sister, just in there with Jesus sitting in the main room!

She wasn’t helping at all! I started thinking that wasn’t right for her to leave me to do it all. She’d told me not to go overboard earlier that day. I knew how much she wanted to hear Jesus teach. We didn’t get that many opportunities to be taught as women. What we do get usually gets to us by way of other men like our brother Lazarus. He was great about passing things along to us.

But Jesus was always different. I’d noticed that in mixed groups he didn’t just engage the men but spoke personally to women too. One time I heard he actually talked to a woman about her cycle while on the way to heal a child of a priest. What man wants to hear about that?

He was different with women. He got us when no one else seemed to pay attention. It meant so much to me and now he was in my house. I just wanted to show him how much we loved him. But I got into my usual way and went overboard on prep and got “bossy” like Mary says.

In my mind, it just didn’t seem right that Mary wasn’t helping. I started sighing and making a little more noise than needed. It was our job to get the meal on the table and that’s all I could think about.

This is the funny party, I was sure Jesus would get it–how hard I was working for him and his guys.

I didn’t think he noticed, though, so I caught him in a calmer moment and asked him, ok told him, to tell Mary to come help me. I said more than that because I was pretty steamed at that point. If he really was caring toward women, he wouldn’t want me to be all alone in my chores, right?

I forgot how he kind of threw everything about our world and culture upside down.

I’ll never forget what he said. It really changed my life. With so much love in his eyes I can’t even describe it, he said my name…twice. Martha, Martha, he said. At this point I’d convinced myself he didn’t even know I was around. I was so resentful.

In that Jesus way, he showed me that I was so worried and easily frustrated by all my plans that didn’t even need doing! We could’ve gone without food that day. If I had realized that, I would’ve gotten to hear Jesus teach too.

I regret that. I didn’t sit there like Mary because I was making bread. Making bread, Luke! Of all things! Bread!

Of course I’d heard the stories but they didn’t sink in yet. Jesus fed crowds and crowds of people by miraculously providing bread. And there I was, making bread for the man who could provide it in an instant.

Crazy, right? I’ve always struggled with that, being so responsible and so good at keeping things running around our home. I put so much pressure on myself.

But then Jesus came and I could have rested but I wanted to show him my appreciation, worship I guess you could call it, when all he wanted was to give me rest…true rest. He didn’t want me making bread! He was showing me that I didn’t need to scramble to provide.

I didn’t need to make things so elaborate. I just needed to do what Mary did and be with him. The meal would work itself out. So what if we just ate bread bought from the bakery. Or what if we missed a miracle!

I missed out in some ways that day but I began to learn my lesson, the lesson. Jesus is the One, the Messiah and in Him all our needs are met. To sit at his feet that day, every day, is the best worship I could ever offer him. It’s all he really wants.

So when Lazarus died that time and Jesus showed up a few days late, I just knew I needed to put away all the chores and run to him. I still have that common sense, bossy side. I mean, I did tell Jesus the practicalities of opening that tomb. How laughable when I think back on it. Jesus, he’s gonna stink! I said, like he didn’t know!

You know the rest though. Lazarus is still with us and that miracle chipped away another huge chunk of my hard heart. Not only can he provide bread, he raises the dead.

And that was what I was before I trusted Jesus. Dead. But now, I’m alive and will be forever with Jesus thanks to his final gift of himself… his Spirit in me. Then one day, even more, a reunion.

I could go on and on Luke. How much time do you have?

The Finding

We opened the door on Sunday morning, Palm Sunday morning, and brought in our newspaper. I noticed a toy store ad that is usually not included. As toy sales, spring dresses, and candy ads spread out in a pile on my floor, I realized Easter is a big deal in America.

I absorbed the message. Kids receive toys, new clothes, and fun on Easter. I didn’t know. My husband replied, wisely, that is what stores want me to think about Easter.

In the shadow of my father’s death, this treatment of Easter feels especially offensive. We are all placing more of our hope than ever before in what happened that weekend so long ago. If Christ was not raised, we are still in our sins. My dad is still in his sins. My dad is forever separated from God if Jesus was not raised. My dad is on his way to hell if Jesus was not raised.

But Jesus was raised. 37 years ago, my dad responded to the news and changed the course of his life and our family for eternity. One of the most influential books he read at the time was Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict.

The cross at Kole Kole pass was removed in the 90’s. It stood on Schofield Barracks Army Base for decades after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Credit for this picture is: 1SG Gary Haynes at togetherweserved.com
It all happened in Hawaii. After my brother sustained a broken bone in a freak accident, my mother pushed a return to church. My dad complied. Then, he sought out the truth for himself.

One day, he came literally to the foot of the cross. A huge white cross used to stand in the valley where the Japanese planes flew to bomb Pearl Harbor. He ran to it and his soul cried out for more. It wasn’t long after that his soul was satisfied.

The Lord loves it when we come looking for Him.

Jesus is like my kids when they were young and we played hide-and-seek.. The goal of hide-and-seek was always for us to find them. Success was in the finding. Coughs, squeals, chirps erupted from their lips as we crept around “finding” them. We always knew where they were, but we played along.

Jesus’ wants us to find Him. He chirps through nature. He squeals through the Bible. He coughs through suffering meant to lead us to Himself. He longs to reveal Himself and there is great joy in the finding. Eternal joy in the finding.

As my dad suffers the effects of a growing cancer in his brain, he still rejoices in the moment of finding and being found.

When he told his story again a few weeks ago, we marveled at how little he really knew at the time. As one who has taught many the nuts and bolts of how to communicate what it means to trust Christ, it’s ironic how little he knew. He seemed only to know he needed to make a decision about following Jesus.

He decided. He found and He was found. The joy of Easter is that the finding lasts forever. The joy comes with being freer and freer and, then, finally, free.

There is some anger that is worth feeling about the Easter holiday these days. It’s worth letting sink in and disturb. Easter is more than amusement.

The ads get one part right, though. Easter is about new. It is about finding. It’s just that it’s about new life that lasts far longer and satisfies far more than a toy. And, it’s about a hunt that leads to more than a colorful, hard-boiled egg.