Friday, September 23, 2011

When The End Is Actually The Beginnning

Today’s scripture: John 20:1-10 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):

Have you ever been faced with a problem that you just knew was impossible to solve?

Perhaps it made you feel overwhelmed, like this-is-it-there-is-no-way-out-I-am-going-under. Has a doctor ever shared the results of medical tests and the prognosis they gave was guarded at best? As you walked out of the office you felt a wave of despair and thought, “I’m not going to make it. This is the end.” Maybe your dead-end experience concerns your finances. The bills keep growing and growing and you think there’s no way out — you’re headed for the shame of bankruptcy. Or, maybe its child-rearing that has made you feel this way. You used to have a great relationship with your son or daughter, but when they hit adolescence things changed. Now, all you do is fight and from your perspective the relationship has gone down the tubes. You feel like quitting. It’s a dead end that you can’t avoid.

When I read the verses for today that is exactly how I imagine Mary, John, and Peter must have felt. This is the end. One-hundered-percent of the time, the problem with that thinking, as it was with Mary and the disciples, is that we forget that God’s plan is at work in all of our lives. Who can argue with Mary’s loyalty to care for the dead body of Christ and her right to mourn his passing? But clearly we can see that Mary believed that Jesus’ life was over. Peter, confused by what his eyes were telling him, did not know what to believe. And as for John, the text only says that he believed. What exactly John believed we aren’t told, but I believe that in that empty tomb John found hope! No grave robbers leave clothes intact or fold kerchiefs neatly in the corner. There had been no struggle at this scene — there really was only one logical conclusion. Christ must be alive! And if that be true then hope must live as well! If Christ can defeat the grave then what in this world could God not deliver us from and give us strength to conquer?

Did you know your sorrow can become joy and your disappointment can become hope? Did you know your guilt can become a cleansed heart and your fear can become love? The resurrection teaches us that the mission of Jesus was divine, and his willingness to enter into suffering on our behalf would bring healing. The resurrection assures us of God’s unchanging character and our own eternal life.

Thought for the day: The resurrection of Jesus is a down payment and assurance of our own resurrection; and the resurrection is Christ’s pledge that we can trust the goodness of Jesus and the truth of His message.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


September 7th, 2011 • Category: Gospel of John
Today’s scripture: John 16:16-33 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):

Today’s scripture: John 16:16-33 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):

I love the way Jesus uses imagery and parable to teach us. In our reading for today we are instructed that just as a woman must suffer and grieve before childbirth, we too will suffer. However, on the other side of suffering, after the pain there will be great joy! Joy so great that we will soon forget about the pain, much like a mother casting her eyes on her newborn child.

Clearly Jesus is attempting to prepare his disciples for what is ahead — the grief and suffering of his impending death and the joy will come at the resurrection when he and his faithful disciples will see one another again. We know the disciples didn’t factor the resurrection into their thinking about this Jesus, just as they had not factored in the cross. But as the story unfolds, we see them struggling to cope with the brutal death. We also see there surprise and joy at the news of his resurrection. In our lesson today Jesus is attempting to prepare them and us for both eventualities.

Eventually it seems as if the disciples get it! And in our own limited understanding, we too may believe that we get it. But if we were to read ahead a little further we might understand that the disciples did not get it, and while they struggled through their grief and disbelief they seemed to forget his promises. There will be grief but “in a little while” you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy!

Our understanding of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ must be viewed as an example to each of us. Yes, there is life and with that life will come trials and challenges but in every situation there is resurrection! When we grow through our struggles, learn from our mistakes, keep our eyes focused on God, and continue to put one foot in front of the other Jesus promises us today that their will be joy, great and unspeakable joy!

Thought for the day: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.” Jesus purpose is not to shame or humiliate; it is to lead us into his peace even while we’re in the teeth of the storm!