Hi friends.  It’s been a while since I’ve written here.  I’ve actually been playing a lot of music and recording some serious and some very NOT serious songs.  It’s good to be writing again. Hopefully, you will be hearing some of it soon. But for now…

Recently, I decided to start watching The Chosen.  I’m not very good at watching this show.  I probably shed tears in every episode and I’m only on episode seven.  Never mind the petty criticisms about the lingo and the filler dialogue and stories that have no way of being validated.  They have (so far) done a masterful job at showing Jesus as the gentle, kind, and compassionate Lamb of God.  

There is the scene where Simon (later to be renamed Peter) meets Jesus.  It’s so powerful.  He is at the end of his rope for various reasons and Jesus uses his boat to teach some people on the shore.  They had been fishing all night but caught nothing.  Jesus tells them to throw the net back out one more time.  It fills up such that it almost breaks.  And Simon’s response?  He threw himself at the feet of Jesus and asked him to leave!  “I am a sinful man” he sobbed.  But Jesus, looking upon him with his compassion and gentleness, said “Don’t be afraid Simon.  Follow Me and I will make you a fisher of men”.  

So many of us relate to Simon.  He’s the one who sometimes says or does the wrong thing.  He is raw.  He is real.  He has great highs and dreadful lows. He was a sinful man… Just like me.

If I were around at that time and Jesus came to me, I’d react the same way.  I’d start out by telling Him what a wretched person I am.  I’d tell Him that I will fail Him.  I’d tell Him that my brokenness is unworthy of the calling of the Lamb of God.  And then He would fix those eyes of compassion and love on me and say “don’t be afraid Rick”.  And my heart would be torn apart at the seams.  I, too, would fall on my face at His feet and sob.  In that moment, I’d know that the Lamb of God has not only accepted me as I am, but He has also chosen me.  And then… I would follow Him.

The show portrays many of the encounters Jesus had with the sick, the needy and the demon possessed.  In each scene, His compassion and gentleness was on full display.  And in each scene, I had to pause the ol’ Apple TV because I was overcome with just who Jesus is.  He heals the leper.  Pause and cry.  He forgives the paralytic’s sins and then heals him.  Pause and cry.  Then there is Nicodemus waiting around the corner to follow Jesus, but just could not bring himself to make that last step.  And Jesus waited for him…  So powerful.  So emotional.  I am fairly certain that if I were a disciple then, I’d cry at every miracle and for every convert.  I am also pretty sure that Jesus would probably tell Peter to go get me a stiff drink every once in a while.  I kid.  Maybe.

Why is this so impactful to me?  I know some of you are probably wondering that or maybe wanting to text me and make fun of me for crying so much. I’m thinking of you Scott 😉

One day Jesus tells His disciples that He is leaving to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house and that they know the way.  Of course, the disciples respond with…  we don’t even know where you are going, much less the way to get there. It is then that Jesus says the famous line “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father but through me”.  

From our modern vantage point, it’s often easy to shake our heads at some of the things the disciples asked of Jesus.  We have hindsight.  But we should be ever grateful for these questions or requests.  Philip responded by saying “Lord, show us the Father and that’s good enough for us”.  This request gives Jesus the opportunity to explain something that, to this day, should be a revelation to all who believe.  

9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time without your knowing Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own. The Father who lives in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves. John 14:7-11

So many Christians have a relationship with God steeped in fear and guilt.  We work so hard at penance or good works or anything we think can earn ourselves favor with God, an answer to prayers, or even our very salvation.  Through the centuries, some of us have come to think of God the Father as a sin counter who cannot wait to unleash His judgment upon us.  Then we look to His right and we see the loving Jesus who calms God down when He’s mad at us.  I’m not even saying we rationalize this completely, yet it is evident in a lot of our faith and spiritual behaviors.  

Throughout the dark ages, the organized church dove further and further into a graceless sort of faith that resulted in spiritual repression and a very wrong picture of our God.  Along comes Martin Luther and the protestant reformation.  Luther was on a pilgrimage to Rome when he read this Scripture in Habakkuk 2:4, “the just shall live by faith”.  This began his journey of justification by faith.  Faith, not guilt, penance, or fear.  Now all these years later, we have learned to inject the fear, guilt and penance into religion once again.  Jesus never admonished anyone for their strong guilt or fear. He never healed a person and told them that their penance has made them whole. No, He always admonished people for their faith.

It’s always been about faith. But it is a difficult thing to have faith in someone if you don’t know their true character…

Back to the verses in John.  And back to my tears and what I hope will be yours (the good kind, of course).  Jesus told Philip and the other disciples that they have seen the Father because they have seen Jesus.  He explains that His works, even His words are from the Father.  So every time we read that Jesus was MOVED with compassion before healing someone, we can read that as the Father was MOVED with compassion.  When Jesus chose Simon, the Father chose Simon.  When Jesus has compassion for the woman at the well with her many husbands…  The Father has compassion…  Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Him.  They are not good cop and bad cop.  They are the Creators of everything and their motivation is love.  Jesus perfectly demonstrated who His Father was while He roamed this earth. His goal was that we may know the Father through Him… That we may have faith in Him who sent Jesus. Not out of fear or guilt, but out of the incredible motivation of love demonstrated by our Father in Jesus.

To continue in a relationship of fear and guilt is absolutely not what the Father had in mind when He gave His only Son to reconcile a broken world to Himself.  Because of the obedience and sacrifice of Jesus, all are called unto reconciliation.  And when Jesus has called you…  so has the Father.

So when we read the Scriptures and are touched by the words and works of Jesus, let’s remember that these are the will and character of the Father as well.  And when you find it easy to believe that Jesus loves you with a love beyond understanding…  know that it is the same love the Father has for you.  If this resonates with you, then please join me at His feet in tears of joy.