Not on their schedule

All the gospel writers tell of a woman who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume. Mark says it happened two days before the Passover, when an unnamed woman anointed Jesus’ head. The disciples were shocked and angry at the apparent waste.

But more shocking than that was the brief scene preceding the story in Mark 11:1-2, where the “chief priests and teachers of the law were scheming to arrest and kill Jesus.”

But that wasn’t the most shocking part.

We’ve almost gotten used to the idea that Israel’s highest religious leaders were plotting to kill the Son of God, while an unnamed woman poured herself out in an extravagant act of worship, in the home of a leper, no less.

What’s most shocking is how completely powerless the religious leaders really were.

They were determined to kill Jesus, but only after the Passover, “for the people may riot.”

But they were in charge of nothing.

The crucifixion did happen during the festival.

The schedule had been set before the foundation of the world.

The Passover Lamb would be sacrificed on God’s schedule, not theirs. 

For your good

I’ve shown thousands of people around our church building. They marvel at the place. They say it’s one of the most beautiful places they’ve ever seen.

And for the vast majority, it doesn’t seem to change them. But I pray that God used me to plant a seed of faith that the Holy Spirit can make grow.

Look around this place. Look at the windows. Look at the pulpit. 

Listen to the way the organ and percussion thunder.

What was the congregation 120 years ago experiencing when they built this place? 

Or, more precisely, who were they experiencing? 

They wanted this place to point to a reality that so many are out of touch with. 

In John 16:7, with the minutes ticking down until his betrayal, Jesus said, “It’s actually for your good that I’m going away.”

How could that be? 

What could be better than being in the presence of the Living God? 

It turns out that the work of the Holy Spirit in us is even better. 

Creation was about to be reborn. Something was about to die, but something new was about to rise. It was like the pangs of birth. Something was going to happen that made the agony worth it.

It’s the Holy Spirit working in us that this place points to.

It’s the Holy Spirit working in us, killing us off and raising us again, that this place points to.

If that makes no sense, give it time.

It’s all up to the Spirit in you and it’s all on the Spirit’s timing. 

You cannot expect to be reborn on your schedule any more than you could expect to be born the first time on your schedule. 

Quit treating God as your personal assistant.

Keep showing up here for worship, even when you don’t feel like it.

Especially when you don’t feel like it.

Meal to remember

Years ago, as a new Air Force colonel, I got to chair a 15-nation committee at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. Part of my job was to attend meetings in capitals across Europe.

Tough duty, right?

Once I took Jana with me to a meeting in Madrid. The meetings were classified, but Jana could sightsee and hang out with the spouses during the day. At the end of the week, there was a banquet at a place with a spectacular view of the old city of Toledo. Somehow, the folks knew it was my birthday. Leaders from 15 nations sang “Happy Birthday” to me.

You don’t forget things like that.

Now, mostly I think God forms us into the creatures he intends us to be through the everyday experiences of life.

But he uses the big things too.

God puts events in our lives, anniversaries, celebrations, etc., that we’re meant to experience together

The greatest event—the defining event—in the life of ancient Israel was the Passover, the celebration of how God had rescued the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt. Every Israelite, everywhere, celebrated the Passover meal the same way every year.

Until Jesus did what only God could do.

Hours before his arrest, Jesus redefined the whole thing.

From now on, the meal would celebrate Jesus as the rescuer, not of a nation, but of the whole human race.

From now on, this shared meal would form us—transform us—into a new kind of people.

That’s something to remember. And celebrate.