Larry Roques

Larry Roques

The Pastor's Journal of House of Joy Church

LOVING THE UNLIKELY

              Loving the Unlikely

                                       April 13, 2014

 

 

“16 ¶  Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18  Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19  that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2Co 5:16-21 NKJV)

 

 

Our world is filled with paradox. We have electronics that are the best but also the smallest. We have laws that protect the offender as well as defending the victim. There are farmers that we pay not to grow crops and the list goes on.

 

The paradoxes of God, divine paradoxes, often times seem even more absurd as they reward a mankind that is anything but deserving of the goodness and mercy shed upon us by our God. Though our sins be as scarlet, they are made white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18) That scripture is even prefaced by the statement... “Come, let us reason together”.

 

Not everything God does makes sense to us....but it makes more sense than our human intellects are capable of grasping. And this is why, the more we delve into the life of Jesus and the amazing things he did for us, the more we find ourselves loving the unlikely.

 

 

 

 

 

A king on a mule

 

Matthew 21:1-11 NKJV

 

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me.  And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ” So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord !’ Hosanna in the highest!” And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

 

We come from a world where kings ride in golden carriages....presidents travel in fine black limousines. World leaders are transported in the ultimate of luxury. How likely is it that the King of all Kings would be brought to his fate courtesy of a small humble donkey?

 

What makes this divine paradox even more intriguing is that the people of the region recognized and revered Jesus as a Holy Man.  Jesus did not come to insure our comfort level. He came to up the ante and create a condition where we are continually tested and proven before him. He even told His disciples that the greatest among us would have to become the least.

 

As the people lay their clothing and palm branches before Jesus path into Jerusalem, the last thing on any of their minds is that they were paving a path to Jesus’ execution. The first thing he is recorded doing following His famous entrance into Jerusalem is overturning the moneychangers’ tables at the temple and taking a bullwhip to them.

 

Jesus proved two spiritual concepts in this divine paradox: One, that with authority will come responsibility and with responsibility...Humility. And, two...that we must be ready to lay down our lives before Jesus as he travels the roads through our time here on earth.

 

 

A reprieve in the midst of condemnation

 

 

Luke 23:39-43 NKJV

 

Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

 

Matthew 27:44 accounts of this same event saying that when the execution was ongoing...both of the thieves were mocking Jesus...but Here in Luke, something has changed. In the eleventh hour with minutes on the clock, one of these criminals has a change of heart with eternal ramifications.

 

Here is the picture of a paradox that has judgment, condemnation, and execution smeared all over it....and in the midst of it....there is Jesus with forgiveness.  I have seen some expositors try to make this about baptism, but no matter how you work your apologetics, at the end of the day...this is all about a life turned in the midst of sin and redemption apprehends the gates of hell once more!

 

While we were in the midst of our Sin, Jesus loved us. While we were in our darkest hour, His hope still burned bright in our lives. Perhaps the penitent thief heard Jesus preach somewhere at some point. Maybe he was baptized by John in the Jordan....all of the speculation in the world as to why the thief turned toward Jesus at the end cannot overshadow the fact that in the darkest hour....Jesus forgives sin.

 

 

A life among the dead

 

Luke 24:1-7 NKJV

 

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other  women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”

 

 

For as long as I can remember as a child, one of my strongest memories were all of the birthdays, and anniversaries, and all saints days and Christmases and Easters visiting my grandparents graves with my mother and father.  I never knew any of my grandparents so a natural connection was never there. I remember wondering why we spent so much time memorializing something that offered such little reward, yet exacerbated my parents’ pain and sense of loss so much.  When I grew up and lost my dad, I understood...as I made countless treks to his gravesite. After my salvation,  I began to understand that there is no hope in marble and floral arrangements...but hope and joy in Jesus.

Death...where is your sting? Where is your victory? The end of the human life begins at the grave. The beginning of eternal life begins with the end of self in this life. Those women visiting Jesus grave were there to tend to Jesus’ body in death....Jesus, on the other hand, was no longer there....for he had been tending to their eternal life and was not counted as among the dead.  We will never find Jesus among the mummified relics of our religion. We will never encounter his Joy, goodness and grace in the company of death. Where there is Jesus, there is life. There is nothing dead about him.

The life of the flesh is the cemetery of humanity. All of the dead relics we count on and visit in the hope of finding our happiness is a vane and futile venture. In the end, its rewards are none. We must seek life outside the graveyard. The moment Jesus sprung to life...he no longer had anything in common with the tomb in which he was laid. The stone on that grave was not rolled back so that Jesus could get out...it was rolled back so that we could see in.

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