For Good Friday: the Seven Last Words

For this Good Friday, I am sharing a cycle of hymns that I wrote for my master’s thesis. These are based on the so-called “seven last words” – the seven statements that Jesus makes from the cross in the Gospels, which many churches use liturgically for Good Friday services. I wrote the lyrics: the tunes are traditional hymn tunes that can be found in many hymnals.  May they bless you in reading and singing them as much as they blessed me in writing them. The Seven Last Words (PDF) 

The Yoke of Jesus

But not the one you think.  From Os Guiness’ The Call:

In the second century, Christian apologist Justin Martyr grew up over the hill from Galilee. Interestingly, he notes that the plows made by Joseph and Jesus were still being used widely in his day. How intriguing to think of Jesus’ plow rather than his cross — to wonder what it was that made his plows and yokes last and stand out.

Isn’t this an amazing thought – owning and using a plow made by Jesus? Justin Martyr was born early in the second century (Wikipedia says AD 100, the intro to his writings in the AnteNicene Fathers says AD 110).  The plows of Jesus and Joseph, then, were still in use nearly a century after they were made.

Today, I was staining a cabinet.  I wasn’t very good at it.  Though I often think that I like woodworking, whenever I try some project, I remember that I’m not very good at it. Jesus was good at being a carpenter. He was good at his job – superior, in fact. And I bet he enjoyed it, too.

Will our work survive a century? Can we be as dedicated to our daily calling as Jesus was at his?

What did Jesus look like?

In this post, Joe Carter respectfully disagrees with one of John Piper’s sermons, entitled “What Color Should Jesus Be?” (Friends who visit Carter’s post will recognize several of the paintings from my recent teaching series on world religions. I guess there are only so many public domain pictures of Jesus out there.)

Piper, in considering how Jesus should be portrayed, says (note that this is Carter’s transcription of the sermon),

But I think they should probably be black portrayals of Jesus, and white portrayals of Jesus, and Chinese portrayals of Jesus. And everybody knows that they’re not accurate. There isn’t one that’s accurate. That’s why it’s legitimate to do lots of inaccurate works. Because you just say we all know that we don’t know what he looked like so what we want to say with our inaccurate Jesus is something true about Jesus. Namely, he’s there for everybody. Continue reading

"…this alleged mortal…"

While reading a completely unrelated online discussion, I came across this strangely worded description of Jesus.  The writer, who is not a Christian and was uncertain whether Jesus even existed, referred to him as “this alleged mortal.”  This phrase stuck with me.

Who else in history could be called an “alleged mortal”?  Who else lived a life, proclaimed teachings, and died a death so striking that even someone who doubts his very existance can only say that Jesus was “allegedly” mortal? 

I recently attended the IICS Vision Conference and listened to Dr. J. P. Moreland of Biola University.   Dr. Moreland is a gifted philosopher who deals in both academic philosophy and popular apologetics.  His topic – “How to Present an Exclusive Jesus in an Inclusive World” – laid out a philosophic argument for Christianity as the true religion.  Towards the end, he described 4 criteria for choosing which religion to follow.  The fourth and final criterion was

Pick a religion where you get all of Jesus, instead of a watered-down version of him.

A person in the audience asked whether he was stacking the deck here by making Jesus a focal person in any religion.  Dr. Moreland replied, no, because every religion claims Jesus as their own.  Muslims call Jesus the greatest of prophets.  Buddhists claim Jesus as a bodhisatva.  “Jesus is the greatest figure who ever lived,” said Dr. Moreland, and everyone wants a piece of him.

Lou Dobbs vs. Jesus

I have not paid attention to Lou Dobbs in a long time, but this commentary on cnn.com caught my eye. Dobbs claims that religious leaders are “encroaching” on politics, particularly when it comes to illegal immigration, Dobbs’ pet topic. Dobbs feels that it’s inappropriate for religious leaders to criticize government policies regarding immigration, but at least he includes this great quote:

The Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners Magazine put it this way: “If given the choice on this issue between Jesus and Lou Dobbs, I choose my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.”

I don’t often agree with Jim Wallis, but here I say, “Go, Jim!”

Then Dobbs kind of goes off the deep end. He counters Wallis by citing Romans 13:

But before the faithful acquiesce in the false choice offered by the good Reverend, perhaps he and his faithful should consult Romans 13, where it is written: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established…”

Um, Mr. Dobbs, I hate to break this to you, but the last time I checked, you aren’t a governing authority.