Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Week - Saturday

"Joseph of Arimathaea" by James Tissot, 1836-1902
To Read: Mark 15:42-47
(Readings suggested by Canadian Bible Society)

In these five verses, nine words popped out at me: "who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God." Ping! That's me. That's you if inside you is that deep yearning for His peace, love and justice to win; for God's order, His kingdom to come on earth.

Joseph of Arimathaea, the man who was waiting, had heard Jesus' teaching and seen his miracles. He just knew Jesus was the fulfillment of God's promise of a king, come to establish a new order. But now his hero was dead.

Still, that kingdom sense in Joseph prompted him to get up the courage to ask Pilate for Jesus' body. Because that's what "waiting for the kingdom" is about too. It's about facing the meaningless, the awful, the sad, the tragic. It's about not slumping into unbelief just because things aren't going the way we thought they would but carrying on, even in the dark.

We too must wait for the kingdom through good and bad. It's easy to anticipate the kingdom when things turn out the way we hope: we get the job, health is restored, the house sells. But in the face of unemployment, sickness, dashed dreams, does our kingdom hope survive?

Dear Lord, please help me wait for Your kingdom with positive action, never losing sight of the fact someday it will come "on earth as it is in heaven."

Story time

This "waiting for the kingdom" reminds me of a little story Richard Stearns (head of World Vision USA) tells in his book The Hole in Our Gospel. He was visiting a desperately poor family high in the Andes. Octaviana was a widow trying to support herself and her children as well as pay back a $300 debt her husband had incurred. The whole family was sick with parasites. Her small flock of sheep were sick too. Here is Rich Stearns' description of his visit with her. I think it's a beautiful illustration of both sides of 'waiting for the kingdom.'

"I asked her what she prayed for, because I could tell she was a woman of deep faith. She said she prayed to God that He would not forget her and her three children on that remote mountain -- that He would help her carry this burden and that He would send help. And as I held her hand and prayed for her, God revealed to me a profound truth -- that I was the answer to Octaviana's prayer. Eight thousand miles from my home in Seattle, 14,000 feet up in the Andes Mountains, she had cried out to God for help, and He had sent me. God had sent me to help her, He had sent me to comfort her in her suffering, and He had sent me to be Christ's love to her. She had prayed and I was God's answer, I would be God's miracle in her life.

And then the even bigger truth washed over me. I could see that all across the world people were crying out in desperation to God for help, for comfort; widows, orphans, the sick, the disabled, the poor and the exploited. These millions of prayers were being lifted up to God, and we, each of us who claim to be His followers, were to be His answer. We were the ones who would bring the "good news" of Christ to the poor, the sick, the downtrodden. God had not turned His back on the poor in their suffering. God had sent us. This was the good news of the gospel -- good news indeed for the poor."

(The Hole in Our Gospel, pages 166,167)


jkuntz said...

Thank you for commenting on Rich Stearns’ new book, The Hole in Our Gospel. To find out more information about the book and Stearns, you can visit You’ll find on this site a lot of great resources and supplemental material to the book. You can also read Rich’s blog and engage in a forum discussion there. It’s a fantastic site – I encourage you to check it out!

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