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More Thoughts on Current Events

Again, I need to preface everything I write reminding folks that my stance if from a Christian perspective for Christians. God says that I am not to judge (even the actions) of those outside the church.

But here’s a question for those who support the Supreme Court ruling about same sex marriage:
If you have been living in a homosexual relationship and could not marry, how have you kept the marriage bed pure?

I never thought about that until today. I should have. I’ve always compared homosexuality to pre-marital sex and adultery. I believe they are all the same thing. They all fall in the category of “sexual immorality,” all defile the “marriage bed.” I know that there are those who consider themselves followers of Christ who also practice homosexuality. So, how have you kept the statutes of Hebrews 13:4?

I’ve never had to deal with a mature Christian who wanted to keep living together. As people in our congregations have matured in Christ, we’ve never even had to make their living together an issue, it’s always been something that God has convicted them of. So . . . it’s just something I started wondering about today . . .

It’s Time to Speak Up

John 3:17 says For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. So I assume it’s not my job to condemn. In fact it’s that thought that has kept me quiet when perhaps I should not have been.

Is it a coincidence that today I read Ezekiel? Ezekiel was made a “watchman for the people” (3:16), something I have felt convicted to be for a long time. And then God said to Ezekiel: “When . . . you don’t warn them . . . of their evil ways. . . I will hold you responsible.” (3:17) God repeats His command to Ezekiel making Him a watchman to the people of God. Interestingly enough, he was not commanded to speak those words to someone outside the community of Israel, only those whom God had chosen.

Those words from Ezekiel were the final conviction for me to finally speak up and say something to the people of God. If you don’t claim to be a Christian, you are welcome to read the following, but it’s not meant for you. I hope that if you aren’t a Christian, you’ll explore the love that Jesus has for you before you worry about anything you read here.

Below you’ll find words of warning I have to speak, but before I speak them, I feel a need to speak some words of repentance. I need to ask forgiveness for me and my people, the people of God who have been silent for too long.

Forgive us, Lord, for keeping silent when men convinced your people that you did not create us in your image. Forgive us for allowing your people to forget how precious humanity is because we have in us the potential to be replicas of You. I think this was probably the beginning of the problem, for if the enemy can convince us to forget the beauty and potential of every human to be like You, we are much more likely to approve of slavery and other atrocities against the only part of creation that you called “very good”.

Forgive me and those who’ve gone before me for allowing Christian prayer to be removed from schools. We just stood back and said, “Yes, those few people have more rights than the many.” And now, should we try to bring it back, it would not be an honor to You, it would be a party for the foreign gods.

Forgive us, Lord, for just sitting on our hands when the courts said that unborn babies aren’t really humans. Forgive us for allowing people to think your creation is less precious before it is born. Forgive me and those who’ve gone before me as we have allowed your command, “You shall not murder,” to be distorted and perverted.

Forgive your people, Lord, for our silence in the past several years. Forgive us that we have not followed the command you gave Ezekiel to warn and speak out against sin. Forgive us that we have listened to the voices of the world who continue to say we are judgmental when we call sin, sin. Forgive us that we have allowed those who are not Your representatives, those who call themselves Christians, but insist on condemning and being hurtful, to cause us who truly love with Your love to be silent instead of trying to balance their hurtfulness.

And to those of you who have been given excuses for your sin and been told “It’s OK, God loves you,” forgive us for sharing God’s love without being bold enough to remind you that our Heavenly Father and Omnipotent Creator says, “Those who love me will obey my commands.”

Yes, this is getting long, but to speak the words I need to speak without accepting some of the blame for the need to speak them would just be compounding the problem. You see, sin is sin. And I am convinced that the greatest sin, the unforgivable sin, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, is to reject the conviction that the Holy Spirit places on our hearts, to deny that the sin our Perfect King points out is truly sin.

So, this writing is not in condemnation of anyone. John 3:17 and Romans 8:1 don’t leave room for condemnation. However, Romans 8 tells us that Jesus’ death condemned sin, (8:3) and John 16:8 reminds us that the Holy Spirit was sent to convict us of our sin. So, here goes. If what I’m writing makes you upset, please pray, ‘cause I’m guessing it’s the Holy Spirit’s conviction. I’ve experienced it many times, and I praise God for it, because it’s that conviction that brings me closer to Christ every day.

Leviticus 18:22 says: “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” I haven’t figured out how that can be translated any other way. Some have said that it doesn’t mean two consenting adults, but “as one does with a woman” makes it sound like that’s exactly what it means. Additionally, I’ve heard those who like to defend the homosexual lifestyle saying that this is irrelevant because now we eat pigs . . . you can start out by checking out Acts 10 where even Peter decided God was now giving permission for His people to eat pork. One person even compared Leviticus 18:22 to the command from Deuteronomy 25:5. The theory is since a man doesn’t marry his brother’s widow anymore we don’t have to follow the commands from the Old Testament. I see at least a couple of flaws in that thinking. First, Moses said this was a command for brothers who live together, so I’m assuming that means a single brother, not every brother. Plus the purpose was so the brother’s name would not be “blotted out from Israel.” Perhaps single men need to take a look at that, I don’t know. I don’t feel any conviction about it one way or another, but I do know that the fact we don’t obey one part of scripture doesn’t automatically give us permission to ignore other parts.

Now, there are those who believe that the laws against homosexuality were for Old Testament times only. I’m assuming these same theologians throw out Romans 1:26-27 “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” One such student of scripture basically said we can’t trust anything Paul wrote. He erroneously stated that Paul wrote “women can’t wear pants.” I’ve looked. I can’t find it anywhere. Deuteronomy 22 prohibits cross dressing, but since men wore robes at the time, it can’t have anything to do with women wearing pants. It does seem to set men and women apart; even when both wore robes there were definite men’s garments and women’s garments. Obviously God wanted to maintain a certain difference in the genders. This Bible student should have quoted the passage where Paul instructs women to cover their heads when they pray if he wanted to note passages we don’t observe anymore. However, even in this instance, I see it in context of the times. Modest women wore head coverings and veils. In fact, if I went to the Middle East right now, I might consider observing this passage because I would want to appear modest in every culture.

When these same folks seek permission to ignore Paul, they also site 1 Corinthians 14:34. Paul does say women shouldn’t talk (the Greek doesn’t mean preach – it means have conversation) in church, but if you keep reading on through verse 35, it would appear these noisy women were asking their husbands questions during worship. This, because they would have been seated far away from their spouse in a segregated congregation, would have been quite disruptive. In 1 Timothy 2:11, most translations read as if Paul does say that He personally didn’t let women teach men, although if we go back to the original Greek, more than one theologian believes Paul really means he doesn’t allow a wife to teach or take authority over her husband. In any case, as a women, I’ve never felt as though Paul was to be disregarded because he asked women to live within cultural expectations. Paul obviously didn’t have a problem with women in church leadership. He seemed to encourage Priscilla, and I’m sure as a devout Jew he knew all about Deborah and had great respect for this ancient Jewess.

Another thing that students of scripture will note is that Jesus never says a word about homosexuality. It’s not something He took the time to speak about. It’s not the only issue He didn’t mention, but it is one. Of course, if Jesus viewed homosexuality as “sexual immorality,” then he mentioned it at least a few times. And if we consider what he said about marriage, we can also question whether or not homosexuality is part of God’s perfect will.

The first thing that Jesus says about marriage, actually talks about divorce. I only address this because if you look up what Jesus says about marriage, this is the one that everyone talks about. Many think that those who have divorced should never remarry, and if you were the one who was sexually immoral or you were already a Christian when you divorced and your spouse didn’t cheat on you, then perhaps you should stay single. I’ll leave that between you and Christ. But I’m convinced that when Jesus inserted, “except for marital unfaithfulness”, He was making a way for those who’d been wronged to have another relationship.

But the other thing that Jesus says about marriage is one that we ignore. He says we’re ignorant about marriage. There won’t be any marriage in heaven. Even if you’re married now, you won’t be in heaven. So, if there’s no marriage in heaven, why are we married here on earth? The only explanation is for procreation. God made Adam and Eve male and female, one man for one woman. He blessed the humans that He loved and gave them pleasure in the procreation process, but as with most of our blessings, humans perverted it.

As a Christian, I can find no way around the Bible’s mandate that homosexuality is wrong, as is sex outside of marriage. In Hebrews it says to keep the marriage bed pure. The big Ten specifically says no adultery (which is not cheating on your spouse – it is having sex with someone you are not married to). I Corinthians 6:18 even goes so far as to tell us that sexual immorality may be worse than other sins because this is a sin against one’s own body.

I don’t want to pick on the sin of homosexuality. I believe it is the same sin as pre-marital sex and adultery, no worse than either of these much more socially acceptable sins. Plus, I believe in God’s eyes it’s not even any worse than stealing a pen from the bank or telling your mother she looks beautiful in that hideous dress. I believe that God judges the severity of our sin based on the hardness of our heart, which explains why we see taking that pen as a much more innocent faux pas than cheating on our spouse. It’s easy to unintentionally stick that pen in your pocket. There’s a little more planning involved in sleeping with your co-worker. But if one schemes to steal the pen, then . . .

I don’t like confrontation. I don’t like to make a big deal about sin. I prefer to make a big deal about forgiveness. I prefer to allow the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin; however, as the world covers sin up and makes excuses for it more and more, it’s imperative that I reiterate what scripture says. You see, my silence could be construed as “I don’t care if you go to hell.” And that’s not the truth. I don’t want anyone to miss out on eternal life with our Creator. Ultimately, God will decide who gets that gift. I can’t begin to say whether or not you will be excluded. However, I do know what the Bible says about what is displeasing to God. So, while I confess my pride and gluttony (yep, both are sins) and give them to my Heavenly Father over and over to clean them up, I hope you will see your sin as sin so that you can be right with God and experience the fullness of the abundance of His blessings.


One person read my blog post last night . . . pretty sure that’s it. I guess it’s good that I write more to get things off my chest than to have them read.

I’ve been on Facebook a good bit today . . . probably more than I should. I’m so disheartened by all the “celebratepride” profile pictures. It’s not the pictures of those who I know don’t call themselves Christian. It’s the believers, especially some that I didn’t realize had abandoned the truth of God’s Word. I’m debating staying off of Facebook for a week or so . . . my chest is actually heavy every time I see another rainbowed profile pic of someone who I thought cared about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I’ve never made a big deal about the homosexual issue. You see, I believe that if I help people find Jesus, HE will show them the truth. I am convinced that pushing a “be straight” agenda will not advance the gospel of Jesus Christ and that helping people be “straight” and not Christian will just send a lot of straight people to hell.

Maybe I should have made a bigger deal about it in the past. Maybe I should have pushed the issue. But the honest truth is that all of those who are pushing the issue have the population convinced that I and those like me are bigots and are haters. If I share my opinion, it is assumed I am a homophobe. It’s always amazed me that I’m a hater if I have an opinion, but those who hate my opinion are justified in bullying me into hiding my opinion.

The trick now is to share my opinion, to take a stand, without being judgmental or condemning. There’s so much I want to say. So many people’s statuses that I’ve almost commented on today. Instead I’ve kept a lot to myself and I’m starting to feel anxiety when I see a rainbow.

I hope at the very least this issue is calling all Bible believers to prayer . . .

Is America Coming to An End

I should be in bed right now . . . in fact, I was in bed, but I can’t sleep.

Today (or yesterday, I guess, since it’s after midnight), the Supreme Court made a life-altering decision for America, one that may mean the end of her existence as we know it. It’s really kind of scary when I think of it that way, but history is said to repeat itself, and I’ve seen this story more than once. It’s not going to be pretty.

I’ve hesitated to speak up about the issue because no matter what I say someone will take it wrong. America has become a place where the only opinions that count are those that tolerate anything that comes around. It won’t be long before even serial killers are tolerated because of their genetic disposition or the environment they were raised in. Perhaps I’ve waited too long. Maybe I shouldn’t have kept quiet. Although I’m just not sure how my words can make a difference. And the worst part, if I speak my mind, too many people associate me with the Westboro Baptist bunch, and I’m anything BUT that!

By now, most of you have figured out I’m talking about the “same-sex marriage” case that was before the Supreme Court. I was pretty sure it would eventually come to this, I just didn’t think it would be this soon. It’s frightening really. No nation has stood for long after they have learned to publicly tolerate homosexual activity.

Truth be told, I’m really not bothered a lot by those who practice homosexuality but have no connection to Christianity. Why in the world SHOULDN’T they? Without the Bible as a moral plumb line, there is no reason a person should think that kind of behavior is unacceptable.
In my mind I picture Jesus weeping over these folks. He is devastated that they are dying in their sin. He knows the pain that kind of lifestyle brings to the psyche and the body, and it breaks His heart to know they have chosen to not allow Him to be a part of their life, ultimately choosing hell. It’s for these folks sake that I’ve kept quiet for too long. If Jesus didn’t come to condemn them (John 3:17), then why should I? I truly believe my job is to help people find a relationship with Jesus and then He will take care of poor choices and deliverance from years of sin.

What bothers me is those who say they are followers of Jesus Christ and just ignore scripture, those who are standing in pulpits all around America fulfilling the prophecy of 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” My heart breaks to know that there are folks who call themselves representatives of Christ who are sending people to hell because they choose to ignore what 2 Timothy calls “sound doctrine.” I wonder if Jesus would like to flip over tables and break open cages when He hears the lies and watches these so-called Christian leaders sell people to the devil for a “Good feeling.”

I know that if anyone reads this – pretty sure no one does – there will be several who will call me judgmental. They will call me closed minded and petty. They will think I am backwards in my beliefs and narrow minded in my thinking. Some will call me self-righteous and others will call me un-Christian. But what I am is frightened.

I am frightened for those who are being told this lifestyle they’ve chosen is OK with God. Scripture is clear that it is not! I am frightened for America now that she has embraced this anti-Christ lifestyle. Every other people group who has done such a thing has been either destroyed or brought to devastation. From Sodom to Israel, Rome and many other countries, and now America.

I’m not sure how much more clear Romans can be:

Romans 1:24 “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

Paul wrote that about 2000 years ago. It was happening then. This is not a new phenomena, it’s just that because the western world became somewhat Christianized not long after this was written, we haven’t seen it happen in a long time. Proponents of this Supreme Court Ruling have made up all kinds of great reasons why their battle is legitimate, but it’s only because they refuse to know the truth.

I am firmly convinced I can’t change your mind, only Christ can do that.

Things I See

In 2000 I released my first Solo album. the title song was “Things I See.” The Chorus goes:

There are things I See that make me wonder why
there are things I see that make me want to cry
There are things I see that make me lean on you more and more
Lord, I need your strength to face these things I see.

And the beginning of the first verse:
Cause I’ve seen good people die too young it seems To me
and I’ve seen older saints just holdin on for years and years…

And those two things still make me wonder why

I am sitting in the hospital tonight in a room with two women who both seem to know Jesus. One is frail and in terrible pain. The other broke her hip and doesn’t remember why she is here for more than 2 minutes at a time. On this same day my cousin buried his stillborn baby. How does this make sense?

I mourn my cousin’s loss. And while I know that baby has missed all of the evils of this world and is laying in Jesus’ arms tonight, I can’t help but wonder why these older two must suffer while these loving parents mourn.

There are no good answers. I have heard, and contemplated, every plausible reason. But I serve an all powerful God who can do anything including the impossible. I know His ways are higher than my ways. I know He has a bigger better plan. I know God is always Kingdom minded. I know all things work together for good. I Do Not know why God chooses to take the baby and leave the saints.

I will however trust that He has it under control. And l will lean on His strength in my wondering. And I will continue to pray for both these ladies that Christ will give them life abundant. Either here on earth or with Jesus

I feel like a prayer failure

I believe in the power of prayer. I believe all of the verses that promise my prayers are heard, are Powerful and effective. But often when I am praying the”BIG”prayers, I wonder where I have gone wrong.

I have to stop every now and then to avoid a full blown pity party. God has blessed me so much. He does answer my prayers. And I often feel His presence On those occasions when I am in His will, I even hear His voice.

But over the years I have prayed a number of really BIG prayers, prayers for healing and church growth. In fact right now I am constantly bombarding heaven, coming boldly before the King on behalf of my mother-in-law. I watch expectantly for these prayers to be answered. Even leaving room for God to answer In whatever way He thinks best. I am just praying that she will have an abundant life.But I just don’t see it happening.

So my only conclusion is that my prayer must somehow be lacking. obviously God is not lacking. He has not changed. He ls still omnipotent. I am firmly convinced He always does what is best for the Kingdom. In fact I am positive that right now He is doing just that. I only wish I could get my prayer more in line with His will.


I was recently invited to visit another church for a special event. When I arrived, the folks that had invited me weren’t around yet, but I didn’t know that.

I went in and several people said hi as they passed by. Many folks smiled and nodded, but even more didn’t acknowledge my presence. Worst of all after about 10 minutes I was actually starting to get a little anxious. What if I was in the wrong place or something? I know I seem pretty confident, but I’m really less comfortable in new situations than you might imagine, and in this instance I was just starting to think about bolting when I finally saw a familiar face.

While I waited a lot of thoughts went through my head. Obviously some of them were centered around myself and my feeling of being alone. But others were focused on how others would feel if they were in my place.

Had I been someone who didn’t know Christ, I’d have left. In fact, even knowing Christ had I not have been meeting someone, I may have deserted the place. I didn’t know what room to go in, and not one person stopped to see if they could help me.

Then my thoughts turned to Sycamore Tree Church. As far as I can tell, this wouldn’t have happened at Sycamore Tree, but what if I’m so comfortable there, I don’t notice this kind of stuff.

I try to make sure I welcome every new face and even as many regulars as possible. But I’m up front early, in Sunday School late and often not available to greet folks, so as good as my intentions might be, I can’t make sure every person is greeted all by myself. And the truth is, I’m not supposed to. We are “the body of Christ.” We’re called to work together to welcome people into our family.

So, I created these four steps to welcome. Anyone can do it! I’ve shared them with my home congregation, but I thought if anyone stopped by my blog, they might be helpful for them too. So, read on and don’t forget, you may be the person who makes a difference in that visitor’s worship experience!

First, STOP! I know that seems evident, but most of the folks I saw who were very nice, nodded and smiled, but they didn’t bother to stop.

Second, offer a hand of friendship. Yep, just stick out your hand!

Third, tell the person you’re name. Maybe you’re afraid you’re welcoming someone who already comes to church. Don’t worry about it! If you don’t know their name, they probably don’t know yours.

Finally, ask “Are You finding everything alright.” See, it’s a simple question. Make sure they know where the donuts are on Sunday morning. If they’re looking for someone who usually comes, help them find him (or find someone who knows that person if you need to).

You don’t need to make it difficult or complicated. You don’t even have to draw it out a long time. We just have to make sure that everyone feels welcome. It’s what Jesus would do.


I have been truly blessed. Many folks struggle with their in-laws, but mine have been wonderful. There have been times we haven’t seen eye to eye, but my mother and father-in-law have always been tremendously supportive and never interfered with raising the girls.

In 2011, Dad went to be with Jesus. His heart had been bad for a while and he was plagued with macular degeneration. I spent a good bit of time in his last year taking him to his eye appointments. It was during that last year that Dad especially began to notice Mom was having trouble remembering things.

I personally think it all started when their youngest daughter discovered she had a third type of cancer. Mom has always been pretty quiet, never really sharing her feelings. I’ve always felt as though the stress of watching Rosie struggle is what triggered her memory loss. By January of 2010 when we’d lost her, the symptoms of memory problems had just begun. It was in mid-Spring that we had to take over dad’s medicine and early fall when dad asked me to take over the check book. Dad was on about 20 different meds, some he took once or twice a day, others three or four. I’m assuming she was terrified everyday that she would give him the wrong medication. Dad said after we took over those burdens, her memory seemed to be better, but by the time we lost Dad in 2011, the signs of memory loss were getting much worse.

Mom still drove for about a year, but between her own macular degeneration and the memory loss, she pretty much gave it up by the middle of 2013. It was about that time that I started going down to the house every Friday to take her to her hair appointment. Before that I’d call her on Friday morning to remind her of her appointment, and she would walk downtown. But she started to forget to go immediately after my call.

During the Summer of 2014 she even moved in with us for a few months, but after being with us for a while she began to get better and wanted to live on her own. Unfortunately, being alone and worrying about the people she saw because of her macular degeneration really took a toll on her. During the winter it was finally impossible for her to live alone and after a few months of living with her other daughter, she moved in with us.

Mom has been here for about a month now and there are a lot of things we’ve learned about her condition. Much of it might be unique to her, but I thought I’d blog about my daily adventures with her so that others who might be dealing with the effects of dementia or altzheimers might be helped.

My first offering of tips can be found HERE. I wrote this page when mom moved in with us last time. Keep checking back to find even more things we learn as we go.

Good Friday – Sermon Preached on 4/3/2015

John 18:1-6

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.
2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

Picture with me for a few minutes Jesus and eleven men walking a path into the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s a quiet night and the moon is full (did you know the moon is always full during Passover?) Jesus had just predicted that one disciple was about to betray him and another deny him, so it may have been a bit quiet and contemplative during the ½ mile walk from the gate of Jerusalem to the spot where Jesus prayed.

John doesn’t mention Jesus’ prayer in the garden, but we know from the other gospels that He was prayed with such agony that He sweat drops of blood as John and Peter and the other disciples slept. It was very late by the time Judas came into the garden with about 300 guards and some representatives from the chief priests. I’m not sure why the chief priests thought they needed that many soldiers. Jesus had always been peaceful. And obviously if He’d have wanted to escape, He could have; because just the acknowledgement of who He was caused the whole company to fall to the ground. But Jesus didn’t use their moment of weakness to escape. Instead He asked them again . . .

John 18:7-11

Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”[a]
10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

All the gospels tell of the high priest’s servant losing his ear, but only John names the disciple whose sword was the culprit. Perhaps John wants to redeem Peter since in the very next passage we’re going to hear the familiar story of Peter’s denial. Maybe John wanted us to know that when this disciple who disowned Jesus around the fire, he was confused because Jesus had scolded him for attacking when the soldiers had come to take them away. I think John wanted to remind us that even though Peter gets a bad rep for disowning our Savior, he was really one of the bravest disciples. Peter was ready to die in the battle. But like us, when things didn’t go the way he planned, it caused him to become discouraged and afraid.

We are all so familiar with this part of the Good Friday story. Almost everyone has put themselves in the place of Peter as he stood outside the gates of the high priest’s house.
John 18:12-18

12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.
15 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.
17 “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.
He replied, “I am not.”
18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.

Yes, this same man who we know as the denier of Christ is the disciple who cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. We tend to remember Peter as a coward, but John reminds us that Peter was ready to fight 300 soldiers to defend Jesus. Unfortunately, like us, Peter’s wonderful plan wasn’t in Jesus’ plan. He forgot to consult Christ before He lunged into battle.

But there’s one other interesting detail of this story that is only found in John. Only John shares the servant’s name, Malchus. I often wonder if John was the only one who knew this servant’s name, or perhaps the only one who knew it well enough to repeat it.
If we look a little closer at verse 15, we see John calling himself “the other disciple” who was known to the high priest. And not just “known”; he was obviously in pretty good standing with this local celebrity, because the high priest’s servant girl, the one on duty at the door, knew John well enough that she was willing to let John AND Peter into the priest’s courtyard. Considering the reason they were at the priest’s home to begin with, I’m guessing John was more than a mere acquaintance. Jesus wasn’t really on the high priest’s list of “friends and people of influence.” It’s the middle of the night! I can’t imagine two friends of this man who had just been arrested for treason being allowed to enter freely unless at least one of them had a pretty good reputation with the priest.

So, we can assume that the reason John shared his name was because He knew Malchus better than any of the other Bible authors. John had probably chatted with Malchus on more than on occasion. They may have even been friends. But there’s one more fact of the night that even John omits. I personally think it’s one of the most important, but for some reason it’s only Luke, the only one of the four gospel writers who wasn’t there that day, the man who had to investigate, probe, and ask questions to find out his information that tells us. Perhaps it’s because he was a doctor that he found it so amazing.

Plus I can’t help but wonder who it was that told him about it. Maybe it was Peter or John. Perhaps it was Mark, who ran away without his clothes when the guards tried to grab him. Luke doesn’t reveal his source, but I’d like to think he interviewed Malchus as part of his investigation into the life of Jesus Christ. Because, of everyone in the garden that night, I’m pretty sure it’s Malchus who could never forget what happened.

It’s only Luke, the doctor, who adds this fact:

Luke 22:51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

As quickly as Peter had lopped it off, Jesus reached up and put it back on. Luke goes on to tell us that as quickly as He healed that ear, Jesus told the entourage who’d come for him to go ahead and arrest him, and in spite of the three second healing service, the soldiers seized our Savior and led him off to a farce of a trial and crucifixion.

Every year we put ourselves in the place of one of the men or women of scripture. We’ve imagined what it would be like to be Peter, denying Christ, not once or twice but three times. We’ve examined our lives to make sure we aren’t more like Judas, betraying our friend, the one who loves us in spite of our sin. We have put ourselves in the place of the crowds who shouted “Crucify Him,” and we can imagine we’re the women at the foot of the cross or how it might have felt to have been one of the disciples who ran for their lives instead of defending the One who would lay down His life in our place. But tonight I’d like for us to step into Malchus’ shoes for ten or fifteen minutes.

Malchus was just following orders that night. I imagine when those servants and guards got the word that they were to go arrest Jesus in the Garden, they anticipated a quick arrest with very little skirmish. They’d seen Jesus preaching. They had heard Him avoid a riot with His wisdom when He’d said to “give to Caesar what was Caesar’s and to God what was God’s.” The priests saw Jesus as a threat to their role in government, but if I’d have been Malchus that night, a servant with no political agenda, I’d have wondered why they were arresting the guy. Three hundred soldiers was a bit much for 12 guys, most of which had never held a weapon, let alone trained with one. So I picture a group of soldiers and servants with their guard down.

Stop and think about it. This group couldn’t have gone up on that hill with thoughts of a battle. Otherwise, a fisherman would never have been able to get in the first slice. But Peter did. And the stunned Malchus just stood there with his hand over the place where his ear used to be looking at his ear on the ground. Or perhaps, depending on Peter’s skill with the sword, it may have been dangling by some skin there on the side of his head. But I want you to put yourself in Malchus’ shoes for just a moment and imagine sharp iron running along your head taking off your ear. To say that you’d be startled would be an understatement. I imagine the man being stopped in his tracks unable to move from the shear amazement of it; the pain delayed for just a moment because of the shock and the adrenaline. And, not that I want to get gory or anything, but imagine for a moment all the blood.

I looked it up, and when Van Gogh cut off his ear there was blood everywhere. For just a moment, the millions of thoughts that can run through a person’s mind had to run the gamut of “What just happened here?” to “I wonder if I’m going to bleed to death” to “I can’t believe the pain.” But it only lasted for a second before Jesus takes matters into his own hands, and He reaches out and fixes Peter’s hasty mistake.

As I put myself in the place of Malchus, I’m guessing that standing there in the garden, it all happened too fast to process; because no sooner had his ear been restored than the soldiers tied Jesus’ hands together and began leading Him back into Jerusalem. Without a struggle, Jesus allowed them to lead Him back into the city. The eleven disciples along with Mark scattered in fear, and somewhere in the crowd on the road back to Jerusalem was a confused servant named Malchus.

Put yourself in Malchus’ place tonight. The thoughts running through his head on the ½ mile walk back into the city must have been all over the place. He’d been sent to assist in the arrest of a traitor. What he’d found instead was a man of peace. He’d been told that Jesus was a blasphemer of the Almighty God, but what he’d found was a Healer. All of the lies that Malchus had been told about Jesus Christ crumbled in that moment when his ear went from the worst pain he’d ever experienced to completely made new. If it wasn’t for the blood all over his shoulder, he might have thought it was just a dream. In that walk back to Jerusalem, did all the stories he’d heard about this man from Galilee come flooding into his mind? Did he start to believe that Jesus really did feed 5000 men and their families with just a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish? Did he begin to know the truth of who Jesus really was?

When they got back to the priest’s house, I wonder if Malchus was nearby when Peter was denying that he knew the man from Nazareth. Did he want to run over and chastise Peter? I can just imagine him thinking, “Are you kidding? First you cut my ear off, then you deny that you know the man who healed it for me?” I wonder if Malchus agonized because he didn’t have the courage to rush into the trial room and tell everyone what Jesus had done?

As the servant of the high priest, there’s a good chance that Malchus would have been in the company of those who took Jesus to Pilate and then on to Herod. This man who’d lost an ear would have had a front row seat to every person who questioned Jesus. In fact, it may have been Malchus who later told the disciples and Luke what happened inside those rooms at Pilate’s and Herod’s palaces.

The events of Good Friday moved fast. What started on Thursday evening ran all through the night. I doubt the servant would have had time to leave his duties to change his blood covered clothes. And each person he encountered would have asked about all the blood. What could he say? If he told the story of Peter cutting off his ear, he’d also have to offer an explanation of why his ear was back in place. Would he have risked giving any glory to the man they were about to crucify? And the real question tonight is . . . would you?

Malchus probably knew the soldiers that threw the dice for a chance to win the robe that Jesus’ mother had hand stitched with love for her son. Did a part of him want to rush in and rescue the garment to return to Jesus’ mother, explaining to her how grateful he was for the healing?

Is Malchus the servant who was sent to stand witness to the crucifixion? Did the high priest ask him to make sure the traitor was dead before they took him down? Did the man with the healed ear have to stand and watch as they whipped Christ and tore his back open with the scourging? Did he stand by helpless as the soldiers pounded the nails into Jesus’ feet? Was he almost numb as he watched that thorny crown be pressed down on Jesus head? Did he ache to cry out, “STOP,” but just didn’t have the courage to defy the powerful Sanhedrin? Were there tears in his eyes as he desperately wanted to tell the crowds his unbelievable story and thank this Man they were crucifying?

In my mind, I see Malchus standing there near the cross. I imagine him being able to get just a little closer than the crowds because of his position in the high priest’s household. I see him cringing as the soldiers mocked the Man who just hours before had held his ear in His hand. I hear him quietly cheering as the thief hanging there next to Jesus acknowledged the Christ for who He really was, secretly wishing he could be brave enough to do the same.

For more than three hours, Jesus hung in agonizing pain, and as Malchus watched, I imagine the events of the last eighteen hours playing over and over again in his mind, every scenario going back to the garden. As he watched Jesus pray on the cross, did he reach up and touch that ear? As he heard the groans of our Savior, did he glance at the blood on his shoulder and remember?

I picture Malchus standing close enough to hear Jesus say, “Forgive them, Father, they don’t know what they do.”
And I wonder if that statement made Malchus break down . . . ?

I want to be clear tonight that everything I’ve told you about Malchus is speculation. This servant’s name is only mentioned one time in all of scripture. The only thing we know for sure is that Peter cut off his ear, and Jesus put it back on. But when I put myself in Malchus’ place, these are the things I imagine.

Would I have had the courage to speak up where Malchus didn’t? Would I have denied the miracle of healing by my silence? Would I have followed the events of the night without saying a word? What would I have felt standing there at the foot of the cross, hearing the man I’d helped arrest say, “I forgive him.”

For Malchus, everything about Jesus became personal. Jesus was about to be arrested, but He took the time to heal Malchus’ ear. And even though Malchus obviously never made a big enough splash in Christianity to have his name recorded twice in the Bible, the man was never the same. Like Malchus, we need to make what Jesus did on the cross personal. Each of us needs to say, “Christ died for me.” In the midst of His darkest hour, Jesus healed Malchus, even though he was the only one who needed healed that night. In the same way Jesus died on the cross . . . even if I had been the only one who needed Christ’s death on the cross, He would have died. It was just for me.

We don’t know anything about Malchus, but we can assume that he could never touch his ear again without thinking about that Man in the garden. We don’t know if he accepted Christ’s death on the cross as payment for his sins. And perhaps that’s why we don’t know the rest of Malchus’ story. This way each of us can put ourselves in Malchus’ shoes.

Because whether you remember it or not, you have a Malchus’ ear. Each of us have a moment in our life when Christ touched us, but we get to write the end of the story. Like Malchus, often the touch of Jesus comes in just a moment, easy to pass off as a dream or coincidence. Some of us here tonight will write the end of the story as just that. When we reach up and grab our ear, the miracle will be forgotten. We’ll dismiss it. The gift of the cross will be lost on us, and we’ll continue living the drudgery of a servant.

But some of us will write the end of Malchus’ story with glory. We’ll be grateful for what Christ did, and we will refuse to pass it off as too small to talk about. We won’t care that others think it’s impossible or explainable. Every time we touch that ear, we will praise Christ for what He’s done, and the hope of Easter will allow us to call this Friday, Good.

Tonight I want to ask you to make Malchus’ story your story. I want you to go back to that moment when Jesus touched you. Like Malchus, it may have only been a split second touch, it may have been so brief that you left the memory of it in the garden, but it’s important that we never forget it.

You see Jesus’ death on the cross is much like the healing of Malchus’ ear. Malchus didn’t deserve to have his ear restored, and I don’t deserve to have my sins forgiven. Malchus did nothing to merit Jesus touching him, and I have done nothing to merit Jesus blood cleansing me. So I celebrate Good Friday as a reminder.

Tonight I encourage you to get a reminder, perhaps a pocket cross. Just like Malchus was forever able to touch his ear and remember what Christ had done for him, I want to have something like a cross, something you can touch that will remind you of the blood that flowed on that Friday we’ve come to call good. I want you to have something to hang on to that will forever challenge you to tell the world your story.

“Good” Friday

Somewhere in the midst of the dinner, prayer and the garden, Thursday turned into Friday. Whether you count days like the Jews, as if the day began at sunset, or you account for time like we do today, marking the beginning of Friday at midnight, either way the change of days is just a blur. And how much more it must have been for Jesus and the disciples.

As that garrison of soldiers embarked on the garden, I’m pretty sure you could never have convinced any of the men with Jesus that the day was “good.” There are so many things I wonder about that night/morning:

    Did Peter mentally beat himself up that he slept and didn’t keep an eye out for the soldiers?
    What did the disciples think when they saw the drops of blood as Jesus prayed?
    Why did the high priest see a need to send 300 some soldiers and servants to arrest Jesus?
    What was Peter thinking when he drew that sword? Did he really think he could take on a whole company of soldiers?
    When the 300+ who came to arrest Jesus all fell down when the Messiah revealed who He was why didn’t a few of those guys decide that arresting Him was a bad idea?

And that’s just the questions that the garden scene raises!

A middle of the night trial by the Sanhedrin just SOUNDS wrong, and Pilate and Herod not doing a thing to make it right (even after a warning from Pilate’s wife) makes it even worse. I have put myself in the shoes of many people in this Thursday/Friday story, and in every scenario, I can only hope that I would have been standing with the minority. Even running away would be a better alternative to me than being in the crowd that shouted “Crucify Him.”

I have imagined myself as Peter, John and any of the twelve, Herod, Pilate, Caiaphas, Annas or the Sanhedrin (which always begs the question, “Were Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea invited to the impromptu trial and then silent, or was their notification conveniently delayed because they were known sympathizers?”) I have pictured myself as the soldiers and the servants, as Mark running away naked and the women at the foot of the cross. I have tried to put myself in Jesus’ mother’s sandals, and have even speculated what Judas may have felt like.

Every picture makes me ask myself, “Would I have stood up for Christ or held my tongue for fear of being killed myself?” I’d like to think I would have fought for Him, but if all of the disciples ran away in fear, how can I think I would do better?

By daybreak on Friday Jesus had already been condemned. Before the morning was over, the governor and the tetrarch had both questioned him and sentenced Jesus to death. Soldiers beat Him almost unrecognizable before they took their lunch break, and then a man whose sons would later become followers of the Messiah was forced out of the crowd, probably at random, to carry the cross of the One they called a traitor.

Not once did Jesus fight. We never hear a word of disrespect leave His lips. He didn’t act like a rebel. And if anyone along the way would have paid attention, they’d have noted that there were many moments when Jesus could have just walked away, one being in the garden when all of the soldiers and guards had fallen down at the mention of His name. Maybe many of them noticed, but every one was afraid to be the one who brought the notion out in front of everyone else.

By noon, most of the excitement was over. The exhausted Jesus, the man who’d been up for at least 30 hours or so and endured ridicule, lies, floggings, beatings and nails driven through His hands and feet, was now just waiting to die. It was only a matter of time. And from everything I’ve read, it could have been a LONG time.

Again, the story raises questions . . .

    Did the sky going black cause anyone to wonder if they were making a mistake?
    Did the tearing of the thick cloth between the Holy and Most Holy Place cause any of the priests to have second thoughts about murdering this Man the people loved?
    Did the soldiers regret their part when they heard Jesus say, “Father, forgive them.”? What kind of guilty traitor says that right before He dies?

But God out of love for His Son did not allow the agony to go on as long as it could have. Everyone was surprised to find Jesus dead as quickly as He was. (although the 3+ hours on the cross and the floggings and more before are more than I can wrap my brain around).

Friday was a hard day. I felt very alone most of today, so I can’t imagine how much more so Jesus must have felt. He had been deserted by all of His friends. All the people He had healed and touched, fed and blessed, and no one bothered to stand up for Him. He may have been fully God, but the fully human part of Him felt the separation from His Heavenly Father. Carrying my own sin is hard enough, my heart begins to feel heavy and burdened when I picture Jesus carrying the weight of my sin also. It’s difficult for me when I think about the fact that my sin is what caused the words, “Father, Father, Why have you forsaken me?”

Friday is only “Good” because of the gift that the sacrifice is. In no other way can it be classified as good. The loneliness and pain that Jesus felt can not be humanly imagined. The reality of what happened that day is sort of surreal. I want to embrace it, but I think I embrace the truth of it more than the reality of it. The reality of the day more than my mind can comprehend. It is unfathomable that so many people could let it happen without a fight, yet I truly believe God gave none of them the courage to enter the battle because Jesus, in His humanness, begged His heavenly Father that none be lost. And had any of them had the guts to stand up for Jesus, I’m pretty certain they would have lost their lives.

So, tonight I can only Praise Jesus for hanging there for me . . . for taking my pain, for wearing my sin. I can never thank Him enough, but I can live every day trying!