The Unofficial Israel Tour: Bet She’an

The ancient Greco-Roman city of Bet She’an was a huge city in Jesus’ day. It was one of the pagan cities of the Decapolis that was later destroyed in an earthquake. Since the 70’s it’s been discovered and excavated. It’s interesting to us because it MIGHT have been the site of the first missionary (the man possessed by a legion of demons and then freed by Jesus) to the gentiles.

The Unofficial Israel Tour::The Garden Tomb

Where was Jesus crucified and buried? There are two locations that have been suggested, but ultimately the specifics don’t matter as much as this fact: he is risen.

The Unofficial Israel Tour::The House of Caiphas

Jesus most likely spent his last night in this hole under the house of Caiphas, the high priest. Reading Psalm 88, it’s hard not to see it as a prophecy about Jesus’ experience. That night, as the psalm says, darkness was his only friend.

The Unofficial Israel Tour :: Caesarea Philippi

Why did Jesus take his disciples so far north to ask them a couple simple questions? Caesarea Philippi was in pagan territory after all! Let’s take an unofficial tour and see this famous bible story with new eyes…

I sensed this was the week that above all weeks was to be set aside for the journey into death. I knew the worship of the church would take me by the hand and lead me step-by-step into the experience of death and rebirth, if I would allow it to do so. I resolved then and there to walk in the way of the cross. I purposed to make this the week God intended it to be for me, a week of intense spiritual struggle—and reward!

-Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year

A Prayer Experience from Psalm 6

The Lord is merciful.

He is full of unfailing love.

The Lord hears our cries and hears our prayers.

He takes away our sins.

This is a prayer experience for Lent based on Psalm 6.

The purpose of the meeting between God and the Hebrews at Mt. Sinai was clearly to establish relationship with them (see Exod. 24:1-8). . . . Christian worship is like Hebrew worship. In worship, God renews his covenant with us. In worship, our relationship to God is deepened and strengthened when the order itself represents God’s speaking to us and God’s saving us through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son.

-Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation, Second Edition

Worship is a meeting between God and his people. Like all other meetings between two people, a certain amount of form is necessary. . . . God has already established the structural ingredients needed in a meeting with him, and we cannot improve on these forms. We simply need to understand what they are and practice them in faith, believing that we really are meeting God in…Preparation [Gathering], Word, Table [Communion], and Dismissal [Sending].

-Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation, Second Edition

New Song: Resurrecting

As Lent begins and we head towards Easter, we are going to learn a new song called, “Resurrecting”.  I was drawn to this song because of the interesting use of tense in the song’s Bridge.  It presents the idea that not only did Christ rise from the dead, but he is continuing to give us life or, as the song says, continuing to resurrect us.  But, it all starts with Jesus…

Vs1:
The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now
The Savior knelt to wash our feet
Now at His feet we bow
You can see that this verse comes directly from Hebrews 2:9 and Philippians 2:10

…see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…

Vs2:

The One who wore our sin and shame
Now robed in majesty
The radiance of perfect love
Now shines for all to see
What I love about digging into songs is that you get so much more than a lyric writer can fit in the actual song.  Check this out…

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.  After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. -Hebrews 1:3

So Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory…like light that radiates from a source and yet isn’t the same as the source…and yet is one with the Father!  AND he is holding everything together while taking away our sin and ascending to the right hand of the Father…crazy deep!  But it doesn’t stop there.  We have victory through the work of Jesus.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. –1 Corinthians 15:56-57

Ch:
Your name, Your name
Is victory
All praise, will rise
To Christ, our king 2x
The 2rd verse elaborates on the same theme, but makes it personal.
Vs3:
The fear that held us now gives way
To Him who is our peace
His final breath upon the cross
Is now alive in me
So what is “the fear”?  We find that in the book of Hebrews.  Jesus came to…

free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. -Hebrews 2:15

Br:
By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected King, is resurrecting me
In Your name I come alive
To declare Your victory
The resurrected King, is resurrecting me

 The theme of “ashes” in scripture is one of defeat and grief.  We see it in the book of Job when he says,

I am reduced to dust and ashes. -Job 30:19

BUT, in Jesus we have resurrection and life.  Jesus said this himself…

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.-John 11:25

As I said before, notice the change in tense in the word, “resurrection”!  Jesus gave us life and continues to give us life!  He was resurrected from the dead and now he has and will continue to resurrect us…and our response is one of praise…

…thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. –1 Corinthians 15:57

The last verse takes us to the point of resurrection which made everything possible.  What makes this verse so interesting is the use of the word, “robbed”.  You could say that our God has defeated or swallowed death, but he also took back what Adam had given to Satan, the power of sin and death, so in a sense God has robbed the grave.  God also robbed the power of death in calling us to follow Jesus into his death so that we can find life.  As Paul writes it,

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.-2 Corinthians 4:10

Vs4:
The tomb where soldiers watched in vain
Was borrowed for three days
His body there would not remain
Our God has robbed the grave
Our God has robbed the grave and he is resurrecting me.