Jesus Saves: Light and Judgement (My Redeemer Lives 4:4)

It’s easy to hear judgement in our culture:

You should look skinnier.

You should be a better parent.

You shouldn’t use your money that way.

You shouldn’t use that brand—it causes cancer.

There are a thousand unspoken messages of judgment we take in each day. Most people don’t mean to speak judgment, but how often does it press in unintended and uninvited? We can let them roll off, and we frequently do, but sometimes they start to work on us, even though we thought we bounced them off.

Where do you hear judgment from this world the most, on what topics or in what circles?

Instead of trying to escape all the judgement, let’s proclaim a new one today. This judgement combats all the others, that brings light into a dark world and replaces the noise inside our heads and in our social media feeds.

Read John 3:16-21. You’ll hear some beloved verses, but look for this one word and circle it in your Bible or jot it down on a piece of paper — judgement:

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Now go back and find the word judgment again. If it’s circled, bingo, it’s easy! Next, underline in our Bibles or write next to the word judgement on your paper what the judgement is according to John 3:19.

The Light has come.

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

For us, that’s all the judgement we’ll ever need… Light has come. The Spirit is in us from our baptisms and we stand praising the Lord that our sins are forgiven and there is no condemnation. Because of His resurrection, we too are resurrected into light in this life, not death.

You see, God loves light. In Him there is no darkness, and so everything touched by Christ is light. The world won’t get it. We shouldn’t be surprised when we see evil and darkness around us because people naturally love darkness; it’s the stain of original sin, and satan perpetuates that sin and shame for his benefit. With Christ, though, the judgment for us is Light. Someone can reveal something about us, poke at our tender places of sin and shame, but the judgement doesn’t change:

Our judgement in Christ is Light.

Sometimes I wonder when I feel judged if I just whispered “Light” if it might make a difference, if it might fix my heart and mind on the love of my Father, the mercy of my Savior, rather than the hurt of my neighbor. Jesus saves me dying on the cross and rising from a tomb, and He continues to save me with in this one word of judgement:


John 1:4-5 —

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

In Him was resurrection life and power from the beginning and it certainly is here, now, with us as He dwells in us. No dark judgement can overcome it. He is in us and with us. Jesus saves:


The only judgement that we need— Light of the world, Savior.

Win-Win, Resurrection or Resurrection (My Redeemer Lives 3:3)

One of the things that struck me when we moved to Nebraska was the vitality and life of our downtown.

Our downtown has stellar coffee shops, re-gentrified architecture that houses local businesses, eclectic stores with retro clothes and gorgeous items to add color to your home. There are festivals, music, and of course, food…farm-to-table, international, hand-crafted baked scones, and the occasional food truck. It’s really pretty fantastic.

This seems pretty rare to me— life in the downtown. The death of the downtown is found all over the place— from tiny farming communities to urban sprawl. I would venture to say that is the norm, not the exception. Towns, villages, and cities are all filled with their “questionable sections” and what that really means usually is not kept up, fewer resources put in, and higher crime rates.

2 Kings 13:20-21 is an obscure Old Testament account of resurrection in the one of these “questionable sections” where decay is the norm, but God brings in life:

20 So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.

This grave, maybe a cave along the side of the road, according to my study Bible, or a tomb of some sort outside of town, this was burial place of Elisha the prophet. There were probably others buried there, in keeping with the custom of communal burial places at that time in the nation of Israel. So, decay seems obvious on that level—death comes and bodies become bones relatively quickly.

“Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the Spring of the year…”

Add a questionable roadway, evidently a questionable time of year, and you end up with a funeral ended hastily wrapped in fear and more decay than the participants bargained for on an already cruddy day.

Then… Life.

And all it takes is two verses.

It’s not that Elisha’s bones hold more power than the average prophet guy. It’s not that this section of village life was miraculously resurrected. Rather, it is that our God is so filled with Life that He can bring it any where, any way, and at any time He wants.

Healing and restoration aren’t dependent on our small minds and timelines. Resurrection in our lives takes place when God wants it, where God wants it, and how God wants it. It’s not God-puppetry, but freedom found in God’s promises and plans. Knowing He can do it, and knowing that He has a plan when He doesn’t, or doesn’t do it our way.

Haven’t seen resurrection for your “questionable” places and spaces?

I know. It’s not easy. Moabite marauders exist and evil finds its way in, especially on the cruddiest of days.

Not all healing and resurrection comes when we expect it, want it, or as we think it should be. When life looks like this reality, we cling to the promises of the mysteries of what God in 1 Corinthians 15:51-58:

 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

The perishable will put on imperishable. God will bring Life to every last decaying thing one day. He will. He says so. It will look so much more shocking and wonderful and amazing than a few bones bringing life on the side of a road. It will scream Life and Healing and Restoration in every last corner of Creation and of our spirits.

It’s win-win for Christians. Resurrection or resurrection.


It doesn’t make it easier. 1 Corinthians 15:58 calls it labor, actually. But it does make it more hopeful.

Win-Win. Resurrection or resurrection.

Look a Little Closer (My Redeemer Lives 3:1)

It’s easy to feel unseen in this world.

I think this feeling contributes to at least 60% of our mental health issues. That’s me making a wild guess, but think on a few things and let them ruminate. Look closer with me, if you will…

Think of those moments that people feel invisible as children: in a classroom, in a family, lying in bed at night, on a playground.

Think of the time spent as a teenager or a young adult searching and praying for a friendship that holds unwavering acceptance.

Think of the mental energy we expend on any given day, wishing we were just a little bit smarter, a little bit more put together, a little bit more thoughtful…a little bit more.

This world can be a harsh landscape, even in the best of childhoods, given the best privileges, and treated with the utmost grace.

Now think of all the people who do not have that.

Every time I encounter Mary Magdalene in Scripture, she appears to me as one of the least of these —  lacking support, lacking friendship, lacking resources, lacking truth, carrying the weight of her baggage around her neck like an albatross. Invisible to the world around her.

Let’s look closer.

First read the resurrection account from Mark 16:9-11 Look for any details you can find about Mary. What healing had Christ brought into her life? What struggle may still have been there?

[[Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

Not one, not two, not three, but seven demons. I want to lift the pain of that from her, but praise the Lord I don’t need to. Jesus did. He healed. He sent every last one of those demons in her life away, far away, gone. He saw her. He looked closer at her struggle and granted healing and restoration from years of torment and struggle. That’s Who Jesus is. That is what He does for each of us. Whatever pain of the past, whatever pressing struggles of the present, He sees and heals through His Word and His touch—not invisible touch, but very real touch. Think about Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. This is the same real present healing offered to us, that Jesus offered to Mary besieged by her own demons.

Now look at another account from Luke 8:1-3 for me:

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them] out of their means.

Look closer.

What continued healing did Christ offer in this passage?

Was Mary alone? Far from it.

Also, some women…

Christ brings healing in a million ways into our lives, and this week, as we study resurrection, we are going to look closer at some of them.

Healing and restoration describe a far broader concept than we might see at first glance. We all need some healing and restoration— healing for relationships, healing in our hearts, healing for our health, healing for a more secure identity, restoration where there was discord, restoration to trust in whatever God is doing in our lives, restoration to walk in truth and love this day, and the next, and the next.

For the final passage today, look closer at John 20:11-18. In this awesome resurrection account, we see Mary look closer, angels looking closer in Mary’s need, and Jesus’s challenge and fulfillment of really, truly seeing.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic,] “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Jesus heals in His resurrection, once and for all. He turns death, real and metaphorical, onto its head. It holds no power. Mary, and each of us just like her, is healed by the power of Christ’s sacrifice and the new life He gives in the resurrection. He also offers a challenge. Not a heavy law, you-better-get-it-together challenge, but more an offering –

Look closer.

“Do not cling to me…but go…”

Jesus tells Mary to go and tell, yes, but doesn’t that include looking closer? Looking into the lives of their community of disciples and all those around them and saying, “He is doing something else! He is healing! He is restoring!”?

We can miss so much when we look down or look in, only at our own frustrations, annoyances, or struggles. Christ continues healing by giving us community to walk this life together. He gives brothers and sisters to share the Resurrection Joy with, and a world to proclaim it to.

He looked closer at you. He sees you. Even while you weep, as Mary wept, in the midst of it, He reveals an empty tomb and Hope through His Word and through people to bring that Word to us. Look closer — where has He healed you?

Also today, let Him look closer through you. Watch Him see, heal, and restore. Be the Word bearer, share Hope and Life today. He sees you. He sees us. Look closer – know that you are seen.

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20 Questions with Jesus

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