Steve Macchia Blog

Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Thirty Four, Saturday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read John 20: 24-31

Tomorrow is the beginning of Holy Week. Even with all that will transpire there will be those among us who remain doubtful that all of this ever transpired in the first place. The historical record of Jesus, including the biblical accounts by eyewitnesses whose writing would be protected for thousands of years, won’t be enough for the doubters and the skeptics among us. In every generation, and sometimes even among our existing generation, there will always be doubters who raise objections to the Gospel.

This is nothing new. Thomas, one of Jesus’ original disciples, missed the first time Jesus appeared to the disciples as they gathered together behind locked doors, when he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord, and Jesus blessed them, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

So when the disciples tell Thomas about this encounter, he responds, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” A week later Jesus returns to be with them and standing among them says, “Peace be with you!” and immediately turns to Thomas. He invites him to put his finger into his nail scarred hand and his hand into his pierced side. Thomas replies, “My Lord and my God!” and believes.

Unflappable Jesus isn’t thrown off by Thomas’ doubts. In fact, with outstretched arms of love he invites Thomas’ doubts to be released by faith in the truth of his nail-scarred sacrifice in his behalf. Thomas’ doubts were welcomed by Jesus and addressed openly without any threat to his ultimate belief. By embracing Thomas and his doubts, Jesus speaks directly and forthrightly the Truth that sets him free.

What do you do with doubters who surround you or doubts that simmer within you? They are there with a purpose: to be proven real or wrong. Otherwise, they remain unattended and eat away the lining of the soul and like a cancer will keep fracturing our heart from our mind. By addressing doubts and exposing them, one can accompany each doubt with facts or affect, space or time, with mystery or faith.  When a person’s uncertainty is embraced and dealt with one question at a time, each doubt is respected for what it truly has become. Doubt is not the opposite or the enemy of our faith.  It takes holy and courageous boldness to face our doubts, whether or not they will ever be replaced with faith.

Behold Jesus initiating toward Thomas and his doubts; believe in the gospel amidst your ponderings; belong to those who ask hard and clarifying questions; become a believer who isn’t afraid to doubt nor is shattered to consider others who doubt.  And now we proceed to the greatest story ever revealed…Holy Week: the road paved with faith to Calvary, the empty tomb, and beyond.



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Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Thirty Three, Friday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Luke 23: 1-25 and John 19: 1-16

Even among his most defiant enemies, Jesus extends his outstretched arms of love.

Imagine standing among the throngs who were demanding that a criminal previously thrown in prison for insurrection and murder be set free and instead replaced by Jesus, the One who previously  restored life and miraculously freed those who were shackled by disease, poverty, injustice, and demon possession.  The crowds were filled with enemies of Jesus who stirred up the chant to “Crucify him!” and all forms of godly reason and fair rationale were gone with the shouts of hatred scattered by the wind.

Release Barabbas and crucify Jesus? This made no sense whatsoever, first to Herod, then to Pilate, but among the enemy crowd it was the best alternative replacement they could demand. So the leaders surrendered Jesus to the will of the crowd. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” is the best response of all, spoken freely, generously, and open-heartedly by Jesus.

Enemies are such because of perceptions or misperceptions held firmly and one-sidedly. Active opposition or blatant hostility doesn’t just come out of nowhere…it originates from deeply held convictions about why a person or philosophy would be hated or despised. To have an enemy is to create a tall barrier which is impenetrable and impossible to navigate unilaterally. Only in relationship can an enemy be won (back) to allegiance and alliance without creating further damage.

Those who kept shouting “Crucify him!” had no justification for their demand, except prejudice. They didn’t like what they saw in Jesus of Nazareth, and the accumulation of their pent up frustration reached a boiling point unsustainable by the leaders. The ground swell of opposition had gained such strong momentum, that the entrance into that first Holy Week was cascading upon the disciples and all other devoted but now depleted followers of Jesus. They were grossly outnumbered by the haters in the pack of wolves now descending on the humble Lamb of God, to flog, beat, and crown him with thorns.

There is little anyone can do to fight defiant hostility and unreasonable predisposition. So, as the leaders surrendered to the crowds, Jesus simultaneously surrenders to the Father. Instead of putting up a fight, he willingly accepts the way of suffering, beginning with the physical carrying of his designated, splinter-filled, heavy-burdened cross up the hill to the place called The Skull. There would be his final breath of life, brought on because of the words of the enemies who called for his crucifixion.

Behold the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; believe in the Gospel which was hated by the enemies of God; belong to those who were in the crowd and stood up for Jesus; become defiant for Truth and Love without hatred, prejudice, hostility or damnation ever on your lips or in your heart toward any other.



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Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Thirty Two, Thursday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Luke 22: 54-62

“Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times – yes, deny three times that you know me, Peter.” These were shocking words from Jesus to his much beloved Simon. His retort to Jesus, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death” was genuinely spoken, but never came true.

Instead, by the charcoal fire pit, after they seized Jesus and led him away and into the house of the high priest, Peter sat with the others. In the middle of the courtyard he was confronted by a young servant girl seated near the firelight. She looked carefully at him and said, “This man was with him.” But he denied it. As quickly as that, he spoke his first renunciation.

A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But he denied it a second time. About an hour later, another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” But Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just after this exasperated response the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him at the supper table. And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Peter’s impetuous denials were typical to his rather spontaneous way of living. Peter was always the most passionate one of the Twelve. He was the one who tried walking on water but fell instead. He was the one who seemed quickest to speak and slowest to listen. He was the one who wanted to erect shelters at the transfiguration. He was the focus of the foot washing ceremony when he first denies needing his feet washed and then asks that not only his feet but his hands and head be washed as well.

Peter was a leader among the disciples, his name always listed first. He was in the core group of three disciples, including James and John. He was the first to perceive Jesus as Messiah, first to be called by name by Jesus, first to confess his sinfulness, and first to promise never to desert Jesus.  Jesus made a radical difference in Peter’s life, and his allegiance and alliance seemed unbreakable. Until his denial.

Jesus loves Peter and keeps extending his outstretched arms of love to his beloved friend. He reinstates Peter post-resurrection at another charcoal fire pit, this time by the water’s edge when Peter three times says that he loves Jesus and promises to feed his sheep and tend his lambs. From the fire pit of disgraceful denial to the fireplace of disarming devotion: Peter, dear Peter, reinstated companion of Jesus despite taking a few impulsive tumbles along the way.

Behold Jesus loving his hotheaded denier back into intimate friendship; believe that even a denial of Jesus can be forgiven; belong to the fallen who stand once more because of the forgiving cross of Christ; become an affectionate lover of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, even after the rooster crows thrice.



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Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Thirty One, Wednesday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Matthew 26: 14-17; Luke 22: 1-6

Judas Iscariot. His first name has become synonymous with one word: betrayal.

“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” he asks the chief priests. “Thirty silver coins” was all they had; and all Judas apparently needed. So they watched him until he was able to hand Jesus over to them.  Jesus knew it was coming, for when they were reclining at table, he foretold it by saying “Woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man!” Judas had a rather ambiguous reply, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered him, “Yes, it is you.”

Luke tells us that “Satan entered Judas” and that’s what led to his going to the chief priests and officers of the temple guard to discuss with them how he might betray Jesus. Of course they were delighted at the possibility that one of the Twelve would make such an offer. This made their job much easier. And, Judas became a bit richer.  But only for a short time…those coins must have burned a hole in his pocket.

Since we know the rest of the story, we know that this denial killed Judas too…he was a wreck. For when he saw that Jesus was actually being condemned to death, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” So he threw the money into the temple and left to hang himself.  How incredibly sad to be a betrayer, even one with penitent sorrow after all was said and done.

If you’ve ever been betrayed by someone you thought was for you, you know how much this hurts. One can only imagine how Jesus must have felt, despite this plot being a part of the God-intended meta-narrative. Judas was one of his Twelve disciples, who had traveled with him and watched him perform miracles of healing and grace. He had interacted with the other disciples daily and for a few very significant years. Most likely with obedience as his regular track record, this time he fell into the hands of evil and was used as a tool of Satan in this life-destroying betrayal.

Betrayals are rare but costly to any relationship. Like Judas, they most often come at the instigation of the enemy who wants to destroy every healthy relationship. And, in vulnerable moments, even the best intentioned person can be curtailed and led astray. When the enemy whispers in the ears of the most susceptible, his trickery can quickly create interpersonal upheaval and destruction.

But, we know Jesus didn’t treat Judas any differently as a result of his betrayal. We still see him with outstretched arms of love toward Judas, just as he always had offered. Behold Jesus exhibiting unconditional love toward his Judas; believe in the redemptive value of repentance; belong to those who are accused and betrayed because of Jesus; become strengthened in the power of Christ.



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Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Thirty, Tuesday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Luke 19: 1-10

Earnest seekers did many unusual things to get close to Jesus. Some pushed their way through crowds to touch the hem of his garment. Others opened the canopy of the roof of a home to drop a paralytic friend into the center of the room so Jesus could heal him.  In the story today we see Zacchaeus the tax collector climbing up a sycamore-fig tree to see Jesus as he was coming his way. Very creative for the short man who knew he could not see Jesus because of the crowd.

When Jesus reached the spot where Zacchaeus was up in the tree, he noticed him and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down and welcomed Jesus with gladness of heart into his home. It must have been the thrill of his lifetime!  But, when all of the towns’ people saw this they began to mutter silly slander, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

Not a gross sinner for very long, however. Zacchaeus was so delighted to be in Jesus’ presence that he was convicted of his sin and openly confessed how he wanted to make things right. He said to Jesus, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” The tax collector was set free to become a child of God, releasing his well-earned possessions to the poor, and paying back any ill-earned money four times the original amount. What a great picture of repentance – a total turn around for this “sinner.”

No wonder Jesus loved hanging out with sinners! It was the sinners who knew they were in need of a Savior. The sinners were the ones who were broken, sick, hungry, poor of spirit, troubled of mind, greedy of gain, and prideful of heart. Those who were focused on the Law more than grace, pointed fingers of judgment and closed their hearts to the gospel.  To be accused of associating with sinners was a badge of honor for Jesus, for he came to seek and to save what was lost.

Zacchaeus was found and saved by Jesus on that great day of joy.  Jesus declares, “Today salvation has come to this house.”  Zacchaeus believed and was considered righteous in God’s eyes, and was generous with his money, magnanimously offering it to the poor. The Son of Man declares this of Zacchaeus: he once was lost, but now is found.

Can you recall the time when you were seeking Jesus? When you received his outstretched arms of love? Perhaps you remember the joy and zeal you had as a new believer? Reclaim that once more! Behold the beauty of the Lord Jesus with a seekers heart; believe the transformation he desired for you then and now;  belong to the fellowship of those who continue to seek Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind and strength; become a curious seeker once again, even if it means climbing a tree to see better.



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Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Twenty Nine, Monday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Mark 9: 33-37; 10: 13-16

Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red, yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. If you’ve begun to sing along, that’s a good sign. When Jesus was confronting the pride of his disciples, who were arguing with one another about who is the greatest, he chose a child to make his point. It wasn’t enough for him to merely say, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, the servant of all.”

He put an exclamation point on his teaching when he took a little child and had him stand in their midst. Then, he welcomed the child with outstretched arms of love and said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me.” How they treated a child was an indicator to Jesus as to whether or not there was pride in their heart. Those who stooped down to the child’s level and extended their arms were lovers, in contrast to any who would stand prideful, aloof or dismissive.

When people were bringing their little children to Jesus for him to touch them, the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them, ”Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these…anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them. A powerful expression of his love.

It’s delightful to consider the many ways Jesus comes alongside children. He used a child’s loaves and fish to feed five thousand hungry souls. He healed children, cast demons out of them, and even raised a little girl from the dead. Children joined the chorus “Hosanna to the Son of David!” as their expression of love and gratitude for Jesus. He had a magnetic heart toward children and he encouraged his disciples to live likewise, welcoming little children, receiving and blessing them in his and their presence.

What is your attitude toward the children in your sphere of influence? Are they a nuisance, disturbance, or hindrance to your life? Or, are they welcomed with outstretched arms of love into your midst, embraced as an especially beloved child of God? Are they treated as a gift, like sugar for your soul? Are you able to join Jesus in inviting them into your life to challenge your pride and open up your heart to the kingdom of heaven here and now?  Consider prayerfully how God might be tapping you on the shoulder of your heart in regard to your relationship with your own children.

Behold Jesus among the little children and rejoice; believe once more how welcoming children is kingdom living; belong to those who love all God’s children; become childlike in your heart today.



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Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Twenty Eight, Saturday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Mark 10: 17-31; Luke 10: 38-42

One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord…” (Psalm 27: 4) The Apostle Paul writes of the one thing to do: pressing on to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14). Peter also writes, the one thing to remember is that with the Lord one day is a thousand years (2 Peter 3: 8, 9), demonstrating God’s longsuffering in the process of salvation, extending patiently his outstretched arms of love.

Here in the gospels, Jesus says to the rich young man, “One thing you lack…” and to Martha, Jesus answers, “Only one thing is needed.” One thing. Just one.

What is the one thing?  Loving devotion to the Lord. Jesus challenges the rich young man, “One thing you lack. Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” His great wealth stood in the way of his desire for God.  He stays with his wealth, which leads Jesus to the commentary, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

For Martha, she was distracted from attentiveness to Jesus by all the preparations of the household.  She speaks up about the work and how her sister Mary has left her to herself. “Tell her to help me!” she demands. Jesus comforts Martha with a reminder of the one thing that matters most, and “Mary has chosen what is better.” Jesus much preferred the loving consideration of Mary instead of the distracted inattentiveness of Martha.

The “one thing” that matters most to Jesus is love. It’s love that brings one to repentance, forgiveness and salvation. It’s love that opens the door to a life of listening attentively to the invitations of the Lord for faithful obedience and sacrificial service. It’s love that delights in the empowerment of the Spirit for all of life, and which envelops hope and faith, mercy and grace, truth and joy.

What are the many things that hinder you from attentiveness to the one thing that matters most? Is it the many things of your profession and the acquisition of possessions; it is your relationships and the desire you have to please or power over others; or is it something else or something more? Identify that which stands in the way of you enjoying the one thing Jesus invites: a deep, unending love for God.

Behold the audience of One; believe the One Gospel of grace; belong to the One True God and all who call him Lord; and become more like the One Jesus, who calls you by name and desires to love and be loved by the one and only you.



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Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Twenty Seven, Friday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read John 5: 1-15

“Do you want to get well?” Jesus asked the man who had been an invalid for thirty eight years. One would think his response would be, “Of course I want to be well!” But instead, the man responds, “I have no one to help me into the pool where the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Was this an excuse?  A rationale?  A legitimate argument?  Or, simply the truth, at least as he knew it.

For nearly four decades this man had been living in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate, by a pool called Bethesda, which was surrounded by five covered colonnades. Over the years many others had come to the pool for healing: the blind, the lame, and the paralyzed. This man had obviously seen the miraculous healings of others, but for whatever reason he wasn’t one of the healed.

Until Jesus arrives on the scene.  Jesus very simply urged him to “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” into the pool. At once the man was cured. When confronted by the Jews who were present that day, which happened to also be the Sabbath, he could not distinguish Jesus from the crowd since he slipped away so swiftly.  All he knew was that Someone had finally said to him the words of hope that powerfully transformed his life, “Pick up your mat and walk.”

These words of hope, planted immediately in the heart of the invalid, produced miraculous results. Even later in the day when Jesus found the healed man in the temple, he continues to press hope into his heart by exhorting him, “You are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”  Later, in Luke 18, we see a blind man begging on the side of the road and he calls out to Jesus for healing and upon receiving it is filled with contagious hope.

Hope is indeed infectious. It’s the starting line for the race ahead, the fuel for every mile of the marathon, and the delightful refreshment of the finish line. It’s what keeps us moving forward in our faith, and it’s what sustains us in our love. Hope is the catalyst for life-giving words, the impetus for good works, and the end result of the life well lived. Without hope we have no passion for developing our character into the image of Christ. Without hope we have no reason for living, and we become satisfied at the side of the pool of healing, but never stepping in for ourselves.

What do you want from Jesus’ outstretched arms of love today? What part of your life needs to be revolutionized by hope? Behold Jesus saying “Get up and walk” forward; believe that you too can be healed of your long-term heartache; belong to the church of the hopeful; and become one who freely spreads words of hope to all who cross your path each new day.



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Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Twenty Six, Thursday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read John 2: 1-11; Luke 14: 15-24

Joy in the presence of Jesus was often the outcome for those who believed his message and followed his lead. It wasn’t necessarily a feel-good- happiness, but instead it was filled with meaning and significance to all who were in his presence. One can only imagine the joy of being with Jesus as he performed his first public miracle at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory in such a tremendous way, through the turning of water into wine.

It’s fascinating to note that it was Jesus’ mother who noticed that the wine was gone. Her comment “They have no wine” stirred Jesus up and he replied, “Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come.” But Mary, with her spiritual perception, simply said to the servants present, “Do whatever he tells you.” So the six stone water jars were filled with water at Jesus’ command, not for the customary ceremonial washing, but instead for all of it to be changed into wine.

Fine wine, we must note. The master of the banquet said to the bridegroom, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink, but you have saved the best until now.” Jesus made premium wine from the simple water in the jugs, nothing short of offering the best. We can’t help but to chuckle to ourselves that of course he would make the best!

Jesus’ outstretched arms of love performed this miracle of joy. His arms of love would extend many times hence to miraculously transform lives. The offering of well water in simple jars of clay would be multiplied throughout his earthly ministry. Prompted by the Spirit in every circumstance, Jesus evoked change everywhere he traveled. Those who welcomed his gifts of love would all become new from the inside out. Thus the meaning of the parable of the great banquet: to taste joy for all eternity. “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Joy is given to us by the Spirit no matter the circumstances of our lives. Joy is birthed in the heart and soul of the believer who finds contentment in any situation. Joy is evidenced whenever God is given the glory for all gifts large and small, easy and hard, even the good and bad. For Jesus, joy was found in children, in revealed truth, in divine paradox, in repentant hearts, in community with his friends, in prayerfulness with his Father, and even as he prepared for the cross.

Will you choose joy no matter the circumstances of your life today? Will you trust the Spirit to fill you with his joy despite the status of your feelings, relationships, health or wealth? Behold the joy of the Lord; believe in the possibility of joy; belong to the eternal banquet feast; and become joyful in Jesus, the One who miraculously turns your ordinary jars of water into fine wine.



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Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Twenty Five, Wednesday

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In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read John 14: 15-31

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” These were some of Jesus’ most comforting words to the disciples as he prepares them for his inevitable departure. They were his parting words, an important segment of his farewell speech heading to the cross, and they were wrapped around the provision of the Holy Spirit after he departs their presence.

Jesus promised his disciples to give them “another Counselor” to be with them forever – the Spirit of truth. Why? Because he loved them so much and he wanted them to continue to obey him long after he left their world. He pledges, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” The Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in the name of Jesus, “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” This gift is another expression of his outstretched arms of love.

Jesus offers his peace everywhere he goes, even to the very end when he promises to comfort his disciples in their grief at the time of his departure, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace” (John 16: 33). And, he offers peace as he enters the place where the disciples gather after his crucifixion, death and resurrection, “Peace be with you!” (John 20: 19).

The peace that Jesus promises is granted by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. God’s peace is not something that’s manufactured by human effort or desire. It’s not to be found in the world that surrounds us, nor is it found in that which we seek to have as an alternative to the Spirit. We don’t find peace in political decisions, in times of warfare success, in business enterprise, or in athletic, academic, or any other form of accomplishment or acumen. True peace only comes from God.

The peace of Christ is to “rule our hearts” (Col. 3: 15) since we are called to be filled with the peace of God which “transcends all understanding, guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). During times of greeting one another in worship we offer each other “the peace of Christ” as a response to the Word, in the preparation for the offering and the Eucharist. And, in our fellowship with one another, we extend peace as an ongoing reminder that we are representatives of the Prince of Peace.

Jesus grants us peace in the midst of a tumultuous world. Will you go first to Jesus for the peace you long to embrace? Receive the Holy Spirit, the promised Counselor, who will guide you into peace. Behold Jesus in his provision of peace for your troubled soul; believe in the gospel of peace found solely in Jesus; belong to those who genuinely pass the peace; and become a peace-maker forever.

 

 



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