You ever been really angry at someone who has wronged you? They have sinned against you, maybe injured you—either physically or emotionally.
You try to forgive because that is the ‘Christian’ thing to do—and so you put a smile on and try to pretend nothing is wrong. You try to get over it, but as much as you try, you just can’t seem to forget it.
It hurt. It is still painful.
You talk to the person and they blow it off or worse yet, blame you for what happened.
What do you do? Psalms, like Psalm 109, teach us that we can come to God even when our feelings are raw and we are in pain. We can be honest and real and express to God what it is we are going through.
But also Psalm 109 teaches us to cry out in dependence on God—that we ask for God’s help, that we ask for God to take care of the situation (starts in verse 21).
Romans 12:19 states: Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. It is written, Revenge belongs to me; I will pay it back, says the Lord. CEB
Instead of trying to take care out it ourselves, instead of trying to stuff our emotions (which then can come back stronger or in the form of depression), instead of trying to pretend that nothing is wrong, we are invited to put the matter into God’s hands, and just as importantly, put ourselves into God’s hands and rely on him for our deliverance.
Do you ever feel that certain emotions are “off limits” when it comes to God? That you can’t express anger to God? That you can’t express fear or confusion to God?
It seems, at times, people have a false sense of spirituality like “Oh, I could never say those things to God.” The reality is that God is the one person who is capable of handling any emotional expression that we bring to Him.
The ‘Psalms of Lament’ point out that we can express our fear to God, we can express our anger to God and we can express our doubt to God. In fact, God is the one person we can come to no matter what condition we find our soul and cry out to Him.
Indeed, God is the only person we can come to who can truly heal our hurting soul.
In Psalm 22 the psalmist cries out in the pain of abandonment and yet he ends with a statement of praise and commitment.
The reality is that when we don’t bring our hurts and doubts to God, we also rarely end up with true praise and commitment. When we don’t deal with our hurt and resentment, we can begin to build up a little bit of resentment because we think that God is holding out on us a little bit.
There are many things that come to mind as we think of the life of Joseph: how he persevered in the midst of bad times and was faithful to God in spite of circumstances; how he kept himself morally pure; how God worked through him and helped save both the Egyptians and his own family; how he was this person with some rather incredible gifts in accurately interpreting dreams. There is also the growth curve from being an seemingly arrogant teenager to a mature, humble, caring and competent adult.
There are many things we can learn and many things that stand out. However, none of those things mentioned are highlighted by God.
Highlighted in Hebrews 11 are Joseph’s burial instructions (11:22).
Really? Joseph is part of the hall of faith because of burial instructions? Actually, yes!
What Joseph’s burial instructions revealed is that he believed God would keep His promises. So, even though Joseph died in Egypt, he believed God would bring the people back to the promised land.
When we are a people who cling to the promises of God and live our lives in light of eternity, God is not ashamed to be called our God (Hebrews 11:13-16).
Jesus died on the cross and he was buried. Just the fact that he was buried is somewhat miraculous—normally criminals were just tossed in the trash heaps and were eaten by the dogs (I know, it doesn’t fit our sense of dignity but it was a 1stcentury reality). That Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate to ask for the body is also somewhat miraculous—normally you didn’t identify too closely with a person who was just crucified.
Of course, the true miracle is that he rose from the grave. Jesus demonstrated the veracity of who he is by his resurrection, which he had previously predicted. The resurrection assures us we can have a forgiveness of our sins, and it assures us that we too will one day be transformed to have glorious bodies (1 Cor. 15).
In celebrating the resurrection we are celebrating true life which will last for all of eternity.
Resources on the historical cultural background of the New Testament tell us that the Passover lambs were raised in fields near Bethlehem. (This brings an interesting thought on the shepherds who were watching their fields the night Jesus was born—there seems to be a good chance that they were watching over Passover lambs.)
The custom of these shepherds was on the first day of the week, before Passover, they bring the lambs into Jerusalem to be sold for Passover. The Jews would have been used to the sight of hundreds of lambs being led into Jerusalem for the Passover. Jesus comes into Jerusalem on the same day, entering to offer himself as the lamb of God.
Jesus is the true lamb of God. He is the sacrifice appointed by God for our sins. Hebrews 10:10 tells us: We have been made holy by God’s will through the offering of Jesus Christ’s body once for all.
John tells us: This is love: it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins. (1 John 4:10).
May we rejoice as we reflect on the fact that that Jesus entered Jerusalem to be the sacrifice for our sins.
May we look forward to the day when Jesus returns on a white horse full of power and glory.