What Were You Expecting?

  Just one week ago, the King made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  The people expected a mighty warrior, riding in on a valiant steed, sword at the ready, there to forcibly remove the occupying Romans.   What they got was a Humble Savior, strolling on on a donkey, heart at the ready, there to overcome sin and death.

Instead of attacking the Romans, He overturned the tables of the money changers at the temple.

Instead of being what the people expected, Jesus was the real Messiah.  He was God Incarnate.  And the Jews, who had a preconceived notion of their savior, missed the very Messiah they had been looking for.

When attacked, Jesus did not fight back.  Why should He?  Who is God that He needs to fight against His creation?  Instead, Jesus did what no one expected: rebuked His defender (Peter) and healed the wounded enemy (the Roman soldier’s slave who had just had his ear shaved off).

When put on trial – itself an illegal kangaroo court affair – Jesus did not defend Himself, as one would expect.  Why should He?  Who is God that He needs to defend Himself against man?  Instead, Jesus did what no one expected: He, the most innocent individual to ever wrongly face prosecution / persecution, willingly took the punishment: ridicule, beating and scourging to within an inch of His life, questioning, more torture and, finally, execution by the most excruciating, humiliating method known: crucifixion.

When hanging on the cross, Jesus offered forgiveness to the thief who recognized Him as Messiah.  The learned Pharisees – the ones who should have recognized Jesus for Who He is – were instead the instigators of this horrific end.  They expected He would die in quiet anguish.  But Jesus did not go quietly.  Why should He?  Who is God that man can harm Him or kill Him?  Jesus let out a yell, the skies drew dark as night, the earth shook violently and, at the temple, the curtain to the Holy of Holies was torn in two.  The place in the temple where God (allegedly) lived had been ruined, exposed to the world.

And so Jesus was buried in the tomb of a rich Pharisee.  He had promised to be back on the third day.  But, after seeing the unbelievable violence and apparent defeat Jesus faced, who on earth could believe this man would emerge from behind the one ton plus stone set to seal His tomb?  Yet, the women who went to His tomb found just that: the stone rolled back, the tomb empty, Jesus’ burial clothes folded neatly.  Why should He stay in the tomb?  Who is God if He doesn’t keep His word?  He has no need for lying, for He is truth.  He suffered and died and rose again out love for His children, as the only possible permanent and thorough sacrifice for our sins.

Jesus has never been a predictable Savior.  Why should He?  Who is God that He should conform to man’s ways and ideas and notions?  Do not expect God will do this or say that.  God is God, and He will do what He wants.  His will cannot be thwarted.  And He does not exist to prove or complete our religious notions and expectations.  Rather, we exist to bring glory to God.

We come expecting Christ.  That is more than enough.



This is the first time I have ever made charoset, a staple of the Jewish Seder table.  It is basically chopped dates, chopped walnuts, cinnamon and honey.  It is supposed to be more of a paste, but I think this turned out well.

Tomorrow night (Good Friday) our home church is having a modified Seder.  We will be focusing on the Last Supper (yes, I know, that’s Maundy Thursday, not Good Friday, but let’s not get legalistic) and, most of all, on Christ. We will be eating bitter herbs, breaking bread, drinking “wine” (yes, grape juice), reflecting and giving thanks.

Every course on the Seder table is very specifically symbolic, all of it serving to remind those partaking of the freedom the Lord provided.  For the Jews, it is with great emphasis on the Exodus.

But our “Seder” will also focus on freedom: freedom through His grace, freedom through being a slaves to Christ.  For believers in Christ, the charoset reminds us of the sweetness of salvation, the forgiveness of our sins, being bound to the law of grace as opposed to sin.  For the one the Lord sets free is free indeed!

Good Friday is the time to try to get some understanding of just what Jesus did for us – for you, for me – on the cross. To embrace His sacrifice with a depth of gratitude as great as we can muster.  It is a time to realize Who Christ is, why He did what He did on this earth, and why we need Him far greater than we can conceive.

So, tomorrow night, as we partake of the elements and prayerfully seek the Lord, it is my prayer that we find a deeper walk with the Lord.  And as you celebrate this most holy of weekends, I pray that you also find yourself drWn closer to Christ, that the reality of Easter becomes far greater and your heart is filled with joyous freedom in Jesus Christ. 

Before You Click Those Red Heels Three Times, Read This…


I am an Expatriate Hoosier.  My wife and I left Indiana almost 21 years ago.  You would think the Hoosier would have bleached out of my genes a bit by now.

But no.  I am still a Hoosier at heart.  I still feel the pain when March Madness starts out with five Indiana teams, only to have them all face defeat while our neighbors to the north and south are represented in the Final Four.

I still shake my head at legislation like RFRA and ask myself, “How many more toes does my home state have to shoot off?”

I miss the simplicity and slower pace of rural Indiana life.

And I start to get misty eyed for my Hoosier home.  I find myself watching reruns of IU basketball on ESPN2, or listening to more John Mellencamp than normal, or watching “Hoosiers” (and, for my non-Indiana friends who have seen the movie, Oolitic is a real town in Indiana).

But I have to stop myself.  The Lord has each of us where we are for a reason.  We are meant to be where we are to sharpen – and be sharpened by – the people in our lives and the circumstances we experience.  Had we never left Indiana, we would never have grown.  We would miss out on so much.  Mostly, we would never have had our son Austin.

Besides, you really can’t go back home.  In your memory you can sweetly revisit the past.  And you can always travel back to see loved ones.  But home is never what it used to be because, even though you can’t take the Hoosier out of the boy, Expatriate Hoosiers – and anyone who calls a new place home – grow and learn and change.

Don’t try to go back home.  You can’t live in the past.  Live for today, where you are.  

As for Hoosier basketball, well… there is always next year.