Today we find Jesus sitting in Simon's fishing boat, teaching a crowd. His voice carries over the water to the masses along the shore. After he finishes, he asks Simon Peter to take him fishing. Peter reluctantly does so…letting Jesus know that they had not caught a SINGLE fish ALL night. Moments later, they pull in such a load they have to call James and John to help. They just won the fishing lottery! Cha-ching! Cha-ching! If it were me, I would be tabulating exactly how much this haul was worth! Instead, Simon Peter falls down at Jesus's feet, confessing his sin, acknowledging who provided the fish. In that moment, Jesus calls this crew to be fishers of men and they leave everything and follow him. These fishermen just left those fish. They left a fortune behind without blinking an eye to follow Jesus.
Jesus returns from the desert and heads to the region of his youth, teaching from town to town, being praised by everyone. One Sabbath, we meet up with him in Nazareth. This is his hometown synagogue. His childhood playmates are probably here in the crowd. His parents' friends and family walk in and sit down, curious to hear what Jesus, the carpenter's boy, has to say. Jesus reads a prophecy about the Messiah from the scroll of Isaiah. He declares it fulfilled and sits down. At this point, the people are struck dumb, amazed, but as soon as he makes a reference to non-Jews who God reached out to in the Old Testament, a mob mentality overtakes them. Dust starts flying as his very own playmates and family friends drive him outside of town and nearly throw him off a cliff. (It's like a scene from Lord of the Flies). Then Jesus turns around and walks straight through the raging crowd, as if God parted the sea of angry men.
On this second day of Lent, let's follow Jesus out into the wilderness. He has been fasting for forty days in this lonely place. After more than a month without food, Jesus is famished. Satan descends in an attempt to thwart God’s plans for Jesus. He strikes where the human heart is vulnerable: identity. Each of the temptations lead with, “If you are the Son of God…” Satan questions Jesus’s identity (anyone relating here?). Forty days earlier, the Father bestowed on him his clear identity at his baptism: “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus knows who he is: God’s son, royalty. God said so…out loud. With this foundation, Jesus crushes Satan’s temptations. He knows who he is, and Satan cannot knock him off that solid ground.
Welcome to Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. It is common tradition in some churches to host services this day and for leaders to draw a cross on believers’ foreheads with ashes, saying to each, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” This tradition began in the 11th century, but since the 1970s has become an increasingly popular way to find a multi-sensory experience to connect the body and spirit in worship.
My family's journey to cultivate more Easter and Lent traditions. In this blog, you will see how we added hype to the lead up to Easter with a forty candle centerpiece to light each evening of lent. To create a space in our hearts and minds, I have put together a forty-day devotional on the book of Luke, written from the perspective of being on the ground with Jesus, visualizing what it looked like, felt like and the impact of drawing near to the heart of Jesus.