Tag Archives: Jesus

Where did He get the clothes?

Where did He get the clothes?

Having once again celebrated the resurrection of Christ at Easter, it can be easy to become dismissive about the story. It’s well-worn and well known. But this Easter I was asked an interesting question by one of the local clergy: where did the resurrected Jesus get His clothes? In John 20:15, we’re told that Mary Magdalene, upon encountering Christ on that first Easter morning, supposed Him to be the gardener. Apparently He emerged from the tomb wearing some ordinary work clothes.

Assuming that Jesus didn’t burst forth from the grave and burgle the clothing, where did they come from? The simple answer is that we don’t know, and all we can do is speculate. But this detail gives us an opportunity for some fresh reflection this Easter season.

A gardener. First thoughts take us back to the Garden of Eden, where God originally dwelled with mankind. The resurrected savior comes to take us to a new and improved Paradise.

A gardener. When we might expect the resurrected savior of the universe to be enrobed in sublime glory, instead we find a man, gentle, approachable. The humble King born in a manger is ever and always a man of the people. It’s not charisma or popularity—it is love, faith, and relationship that draws us to Him.

A gardener. But it’s the reality of that relationship that reveals to Mary that He is something more. When He speaks her name, it’s then that she sees Him for who He is. Not an anonymous figure, a nameless extra in the drama of her life, but rather her teacher, her lord, her savior.

A gardener. The most significant person Mary could have run into at the most significant time. Where did He get the clothes? Perhaps that’s not the main issue. After all, it’s not the clothes that made the man. But it’s the Man that opens the eyes of those who would seek Him at Easter.

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Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Theology


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Power, with Peace

Power, with Peace

It’s been quite some time since I’ve blogged here (more than a year and a half!). I regularly write at and, but neither of those platforms is the right place for this particular post. And rather than let the thought go—unwritten, unreflected—for lack of venue, it seemed best to rekindle this space of admission and exploration. Writers write, so they say.

In my spiritual life, I find assistance in using a devotional book entitled A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants. I appreciate its liturgical nature, each week offering an invocation, a Psalm, Scripture passages from the lectionary, readings for reflection, an invitation to contemplation, the lyrics of a hymn, and a benediction.

This week’s entry, marking the third Sunday in Lent, contains this short benediction: “May God be your source of peace and power all day long. Amen.”

Those words of blessing caught my attention—“peace and power.”

Having worked all over the world, and having spent the last several years thinking about authority, influence, unity, humility, and cooperation (all in the context of writing my book Embracing Followership), the notion of peace being coupled with power is something truly remarkable, and unworldly.

Skimming across the surface of history would easily reveal that an accumulation of power rarely breeds a stable peace. Stretching all the way back to “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” brings us to the character of a galactic emperor who rests his rule on the might of a planet-destroying battle station and the dictum that “fear will keep them in line.”

Power with peace…not a combination that mankind has been terribly successful at achieving. All the more reason why these words of blessing are so significant.

“May God be your source of peace and power….”

I heard a message on Wednesday night at a mid-week Lenten service. The minister was discussing Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:47-53). In the midst of betrayal by Judas, in the midst of aggression suggested and perpetrated by the other disciples, Jesus exudes power, and establishes peace.

At a time when Jesus appears stuck, as much like a sheep among wolves as ever—when He Himself even affirms the prevailing of the power of darkness—He affirms His authority as Master and peacemaker. When chaos, confusion, and conflict are about to erupt, Jesus silences all of it; clearly the Master of His followers. When injury results from impetuous activity, Jesus lays His hand on the victim, restoring Him; clearly the Creator even of His antagonists.

There is no doubt about His power. And yet He submits. He sacrifices Himself to establish peace. He could have perpetuated the conflict, resisted the arrest, caused more harm than His disciple’s single sword thrust, but He sets things right and goes along to the coming sacrifice. Like a sheep being led to the slaughter.

Power with peace.

Not as an instrument for domination, or coercion, but as a means to rescue and relate.

What would it be like to be powerful, and yet unburdened by thoughts of maintaining a hold on that power? (I think of so many politicians.)

What would it be like to be powerful, but sober? Or better still, altruistic?

What would it be like to be peaceful, but not passive?

What would it be like to be a peacemaker, not a peace-faker or a peace-breaker?

And what would it be like to be powerful—capable of so much—and simultaneously peaceful about the use of that power, about the circumstances of life? More so, peace-focused in the application of that power?

Apparently, Jesus knows what it’s like. And our invitation is to live like Him, to have Him live through us.

And so, we find these daily words of blessing:

“May God be your source of peace and power all day long. Amen.”

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Posted by on March 4, 2016 in Life, Prayer, Theology


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Excruciating Injustice

Today marks the day that Christians acknowledge that Jesus Christ rose from the dead in victory, securing a clear path for all people to have a direct relationship with God, unhampered by the weight of sin or the sting of death.

Having spent my entire life attending church and pursuing–to varying degrees–a real relationship with God, the Easter message is not a new one for me. However, I found myself this year with a slightly different angle to my reflections.

Jesus’ physical sufferings were tremendous. My first reaction to the gruesome depiction put forth in the 2004 film The Passion of the Christ was, “Okay! Enough already!”

The pain, the beatings, the torture that He endured–these are overwhelming, and so very tangible that it is easy for us to grab a hold of this aspect of Christ’s passion experience.

But what of the emotional and relational suffering that He endured? What of the injustice, unfairness, and betrayal?

A close companion of 3 years sells Him out for a bag of money; an even closer companion disavows that he even knows Him. One “trial” after another before various secular and religious authorities presents nothing but a mockery of court, from outright lying witnesses to schemes to put forth trumped-up charges. A Roman governor and a high priest, both who would rather sacrifice the life of one man than cause disruption and rioting among an entire nation.

He was mocked by soldiers, challenged by onlookers…even self-professed criminals tried to wound His pride and question His veracity.

And He took it all. And then He was beaten, bloodied, and shamed some more.

I don’t have an overwhelming sense of justice, but there are times when I will not let myself be treated unfairly. Ask me sometime about the $25 parking ticket that I spent $11 and 3 trips to the police department to get overturned. In was unfair, and I was determined to make it right for me.

And that was just one instance. In the course of less than 24 hours, Jesus encountered a myriad of injustices against Him, personally. Not an anonymous parking ticket, but insults, abandonment, false testimony, and courtroom travesties piled one on top of the other, aimed directly at His heart.

And He didn’t fight back against any of it. Not once did He insist on fair treatment. Not once did He scream out, “Okay! Enough already!” and then proceed to call down 10,000 angels to punish His antagonists and set all things right.

No, along with His excruciating pain, He absorbed excruciating injustice.

When we consider our sin, our wrongdoings, our affronts to God, it is easy enough for us to admit that we deserve punishment–some sort of physical chastisement for living as law-breakers. But how often do we truly consider the relational damage done by our rebellion, our going our own way? How often do we consider the brokenness that we have birthed in our dialogue with God by living in our fallen state?

Jesus’ passion–His suffering–is not just a physical picture of what we deserve, but He also presents to us a horrifying example of the relational and emotional destruction that we have caused, the unfair way that we have responded to God, the lies and the abandonment and the selling-out that we have ourselves engaged in. And we get a glimpse of God enduring all of that…and yet, still coming to rescue us. In the midst of the excruciating injustice that we heaped upon Him, He walked the walk to the cross, bled and suffocated, and then kicked open the boulder that stood at the entrance to His tomb when He arose again to life in the fullness of His power! He endured, He exerted Himself, on our behalf–we who have lied, disavowed, gone with the crowd, and turned away.

While Holy Week is nearly over, Good Friday 2013 has passed, and sunset will soon come to Easter day, it’s never too late to contemplate the breadth and the depth of Jesus’ sufferings.

Thorns. Spears. Whips. Yes.

Shame. Accusations. Unfairness. Injustice. Even more so.


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Posted by on March 31, 2013 in Theology


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