Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this. Psalm 139:14 GW

I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do is marvelous! Of this I have no doubt. CEV

The conversation between two little babies in the womb might be a stretch of the imagination (see previous blog), but the wonderful and intricate way in which we are formed is incredible and true. We are here! We were born! There is life after the womb!

When I was formed in my mother’s womb she had complications. The last month of the pregnancy Mom  had to spend in the hospital because her albuminuria had increased alarmingly. It wasn’t fun for her because no visits were allowed due to epidemic influenza. She didn’t see my father for several weeks.

I had to listen to what other mothers told about earlier deliveries. One night the measure of sorrow was filled and I went to the bathroom to cry. I had seen twelve mothers leave with their newborn babies before it became my turn. That night a nasty midwife was on duty. She was the horror of the maternity ward. I asked God not to let me give birth during the night. I knew that another midwife who was a Christian would come in the morning. She came at seven and I got a feeling of security. Two hours later I was holding a little bundle in my arms. Such a nice little girl! So very cute! (from the book A Life of Adventure)

When I made my entrance to the world the delivery was critical because of my mother’s increased percentage of albumin. It was so high the doctor told her to have patience because she might have to stay a long time in the hospital. But a miracle took place and she could leave after only a week. The percentage was normal!

My first home was in a small town called Hjortkvarn, where Dad was serving as a minister in the Filadelfia church. They lived in a tiny one-room apartment above the sanctuary. “Tiny” is the key word! I visited there as a young girl and I could not imagine how the little family of three fitted there.

Daughter Eva-Marie singing at the church in Hjortkvarn

It was winter and cold when I was born. Mom tells me that Dad would rise early, light a fire in the stove that heated the room, change my diapers, wrap me in a blanket, and bring me joyfully to Mom so I could have my morning meal. “Here comes the package!” he would declare.

When fall came, my precious grandmother Signe took care of me so Mom and Dad could go to Bible School in Stockholm, in preparation for their life as missionaries.

I have been reflecting a lot lately on the wonders of life, the miraculous way we are woven together in out mother’s womb. For sure there is a Creator that has thought out every little detail. See this here . Yes, I meant the dot! That was my beginning! Yours too! In that little seed was everything needed to start the marvel of a new life, of a unique creature, given all the possibilities to conquer the world!

What a privilege to have received life! That cozy environment where I spent my first nine months, was just a cozy, warm place to prepare for what was to come, just as my walk on earth is a time to prepare for the next phase.

Here it gets very important! God made us to have fellowship with him. We’ll talk about the in a later blog. Due to our first father’s disobedience, the fellowship was severed, but Jesus came to bring us back into fellowship with our Creator and Father.

We make the choice! Just as there is life after the womb, there is life after this world. We are eternal beings and we decide where we want to spend eternity. Through Jesus, God invites us to spend it with him!

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

I can’t begin to express my thankfulness for getting to know God as my Father from those first days, spent in that tiny room above the sanctuary in Hjortkvarn, and later the time spent with grandma Signe. My life was conditioned in the perfect direction! There aren’t enough words to say Thanks!

Thousands of years back, King David, the second king of the nation of Israel, reflected like this on the marvel of God’s creation of man (and woman):

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you. Psalm 139:13-18

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.  (The Message)

Here is the account from Genesis:

Then God said, “Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26,27

The Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. Genesis 2:7,8

 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made[a] into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Genesis 2:21-23

We are eternal beings. We have a Creator. We are purposed to have a wonderful and successful life. How do I know? Because God made “everything beautiful in its time.” There is no end to the wonders of creation!

The choice is ours. King David ended his reflections of the miracles of life with this prayer. And that how I’ll end my reflections today, too.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:23,24

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Life after the Womb

I once read a parable about life after the womb.

Two babies were discussing life. The womb was such a comfortable place, but rather crowded. It was cozy, it was warm. Their every need was provided. But, could there be something more?

They fantasized, wondering if there could be something beyond their present stage.

“There must be something more than this,” one of them said.

“What could there be?” said the other. “This is it! I love it!”

So, their discussion went, back and forth. If they only knew all the wonders that awaited them after the womb! What a big and amazing world they would encounter!

I asked my faithful artist Absalóm-León Sixco to illustrate this for me. He did a good job! It’s thought provoking. Look at the picture and make up your own story. Imagine those two little babies and their questions and uncertainties. Picture them when they leave the womb and are born into the world.

First, it’s a shock when they leave the warmth of the only environment they know… but very soon they are embraced in the loving arms of their mother. And their father. And Brother and Sister. And Grandmother. And another grandmother. And grandfathers. And aunts and uncles. And cousins. The list goes on… They are welcomed by a love they could never imagine.

There is life after the womb! We know it by experience!

The best part of life is not life, but what awaits us after this life, if we are in agreement with God’s purposes. There is hope! The best is yet to come!

It all hinges on Jesus. He is our hope for today and hope for tomorrow.

It all starts with Jesus. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. Like the A and Z. Think of the alphabet. There are a lot of letters between A and Z. But it’s complete from beginning to end with A and Z.

Jesus is the Creator. He is the one that holds everything together. The image of the invisible God. In him we can see God. I once heard of a little girl who wanted to have “Jesus with skin on.” In Jesus we have God with skin on. He dresses himself with a human body, so the eternal and invisible God could show himself to us in a way we could understand.

[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Colossians 1:15-20

I am in the dark about who my readers are. What I know is that I have readers from all over the world. I can look at statistics and see all these different countries popping up. When I see India’s flag my heart skips a beat! When I complete my series of Bible lessons in Spanish, I’m going to focus on India. I can’t explain it! It’s just something God has put on my heart.

Something else I want to do is to write about why I believe what I believe. Maybe you have logged in to this blog and you are uncertain about life, about the meaning of life, and if there is an afterlife.

There is so much wonder to discover, so many awesome surprises awaiting. My faith is based on the Bible and on my personal relationship with Jesus for 65 years. I accepted him as my Savior and Lord at age six. Let me tell you my story.

There is life after the womb!

 Google: Search “A Parable of Life After Delivery” if you want to read the discussion the babies have in the womb. There are several versions. You might find a better one than I did!

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The Question That Can’t Be Avoided

When the Roman governor Pontius Pilate was faced with Jesus, he didn’t know what to do. He did not find him guilty of any crime. His wife warned him not to have anything to do with this righteous man because she had suffered much because of him in a dream.

At the Feast of the Passover Pilate had the custom of releasing a prisoner. That year, a notorious prisoner was Barabbas. Pilate asked if he should release Barabbas or Jesus. The crowd chose Barabbas.

Then came the question of the ages, the question every human being must answer:

What shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?

“Let him be crucified!” shouted the crowd.

And Jesus was crucified! He took the punishment of our sins upon him. Hundreds of years before, the prophet Isaiah foretold the sacrificial death of Jesus.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace
was upon him, and
by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:5,6

Nobody can escape the question. You might deny Jesus. You might not believe in him. You might completely deny the existence of God. But one day, everyone will have to acknowledge Jesus and bow before him.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

Mary Magdalene answered the question. She was set free of the seven demons that tormented her. After being delivered of this torment, she traveled with Jesus helping to take care of his needs. When Jesus was sent to the cross, she was there watching everything that happened to her dear Savior. She saw Joseph of Arimathea take his body down from the cross and she saw the grave where he put him.

Joseph also answered the question, although he did not want to publicly acknowledge that he was Jesus’ disciple. But when Jesus died on the cross he made public his faith. He laid Jesus in his own new tomb. Nicodemus helped him. He’s the religious leader that sought out Jesus by night, also a secret disciple.

The disciples answered the question and decided to follow Jesus, but after the crucifixion they must have felt miserable. Their Master, the hope of the world, was dead, buried by strangers, guarded by soldiers from the Roman army.

The disciples kept themselves under locked doors, maybe fearful that the religious leaders would do to them what had happened to Jesus. Judas the betrayer had hanged himself. Peter was devastated because he had disowned the Savior.

Mary’s dreams were shattered. Her beloved Master was dead. She had watched strangers bury Jesus. Who were those strangers? Mary had watched every move. She had put so much hope in Jesus—now her dreams had died. But one thing was for sure. She was not going back to her old life. What Jesus had done for her was beyond description. To be free from the tormenting spirits was out of this world. The least she could do was anoint his body. That would be her last farewell.

Early on Sunday morning Mary and some other women went to the tomb. What a surprise when they arrived and found it open! The stone had been rolled away.

Two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning gave them the news that Jesus was alive.

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Luke 24:5-7

Then they remembered his words.

Risen! Alive! Mary ran as fast as her legs would carry her. She knew where to find the disciples, all huddled up grieving their Lord.

“Peter! John! He’s gone! Someone has taken him. An angel said he’s alive!”

Peter and John also ran as fast as their legs would carry them. John, the youngest, arrived first at the grave, but Peter was the one to enter, not to a sepulcher like we are used to, but a cave.

What a sight! The grave clothed lay there neatly folded, as if someone had stepped out of them. They hurried back to the others. What could this mean?

Mary Magdalene stayed behind. A man she thought was the gardener approached her.

“Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

“Mary!”

That was all it took. The voice of her Teacher—unmistakable. Her Teacher! Her Rabboni!

“Go tell my brothers,” Jesus told her.

Once again, Mary was off running. “I have seen the Lord!” was her message. No one could take that away from her. And no one can take that away from you and me. To meet the risen Savior, to have him call your name—nothing compares to that!

Mary was in the forefront of millions that throughout the centuries have proclaimed,

“I HAVE SEEN THE LORD!”

Pontius Pilates question cannot be avoided:

What shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?

Mary, Peter, John, Joseph, Nicodemus, and millions through the ages have chosen to follow the Master of Galilee. It is wiser to bow the knee before him here, when there is time to repent and accept him as Lord and Savior, than to deny him now and have to bow before him when it’s too late.

TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION!

How will you answer the universal question:

What shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?

 

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Good Friday

Good Friday, 47 years ago, I received a precious gift. I became a Mom! It was March 27, 1970. God knows how I treasure special dates, so he gave me my girl on a day I always treasure. He then welcomed my girl to her eternal home on the day that the Queen of Lights is celebrated in Sweden (Lucia), on December 13, 2001.

My precious girl was welcomed to heaven because Jesus opened the way. My mother is there, my mother-in-law, and my dear husband. Thanks to Jesus I have the hope of meeting them again. My daughter Carina and her family will also be there with us.

Do you have a living hope for eternity? Jesus took the punishment for your sins on the cross. He offers you forgiveness, just like he did to the criminal crucified together with him. Everyone is welcome to receive his forgiving grace.

There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:38-43

“Remember me…” was all the criminal asked for. It’s not complicated. Just acknowledge Jesus, repent of your sins, and confess him as Lord.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-13

I’ve been reading this week the story of Jesus and the cross. My heart was moved once again by the awful treatment he receive. And he suffered all for me! And for you!

I made a list.

  • They spit in his face
  • They struck him
  • They slapped him
  • The priests bound him
  • Pilate flogged him
  • The soldiers stripped him and put on him a scarlet robe
  • They put a crown of thorns on his head
  • They put a reed in his right hand mocking him
  • They struck him on the head with the reed
  • The soldiers divided his garments among them
  • The chief priests mocked him
  • They spit on him
  • They blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!”
  • The guards took him and beat him
  • Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt
  • The crowds shouted, “Crucify him!”
  • The soldiers offered him sour wine
  • The officers struck him

What was Jesus reaction to all this?

 “Father,  forgive them,  for they do not know what they are doing.”

When the mob came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and Peter drew out his sword to defend Jesus, this is what Jesus said,

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” Matthew 26:54-56

Jesus did not defend himself, because the purpose of his coming was to offer his life as a sacrifice for our sins.

That is what we remember today, on Good Friday.

Be blessed!                                          

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Chosen with a Purpose

(Re-blogged from March 24, 2016)

In the Roman Empire, when a man was sentenced to be crucified, he would have to carry his cross, from the prison to the place of execution. That would be a weight of at least 100 pounds on the shoulders of someone that had been brutally beaten. They would tie the heavy beam to the arms, resting it between the neck and the spine. If the prisoner stumbled he had no way of protecting himself from a fall.

More than the weight of the heavy beam on his shoulders, Jesus carried the weight of our sins.

Isaiah 53:4-7

Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,

yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace
was upon him,

and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

The weight on the shoulders of our precious Savior was too much. They stopped a man coming to town from the country, Simon from Cyrene, “and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus” (Luke 23:26). That’s about all we know about this man, except that he was the father of Alexander and Rufus.

How this affected Simon we don’t know, but later on the apostle Paul writes to the Romans about Rufus. “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too” (Rom 16:13). At least we know it affected Rufus, and made him a follower of Christ.

Simon was probably never the same after that day. You’re never the same after an encounter with Jesus. Simon had been chosen with a purpose. In some way he alleviated the heavy road Jesus’ had to tread to the cross.

Each follower of Jesus is chosen with a purpose, chosen in the Lord. First and foremost we are chose for salvation, but then also for service. I will never forget the day I was “chosen” for service. At the early age of ten, God revealed to me that I was chosen to proclaim the Gospel to children. Jesus asked me in a vision if I was willing to go tell boys and girls about Jesus, specifically “brown” boys and girls. That is what I have done all my life, and my big passion to this day is to make teaching materials available so boys and girls in the Spanish speaking countries will hear about Jesus.

I was never the same after that day. As a teen-ager I didn’t fool around, because I always had in the back of my mind, “I have been chosen!” I knew God had a special plan for me, and even before age fifteen I started fulfilling that plan.

If you are reading this and you love Jesus, you are:

A chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

If you are not yet a follower of Christ Jesus, today is your day to be “chosen!” Really, God chose you to be his even before the creation of the world.

Ephesians 1:3-8

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Simon from Cyrene was seized and forced to carry Jesus’ cross. God does not force anybody to follow him and carry Jesus’ cross, so to speak. With love and compassion God invites you to come to him, to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, to be made his adopted son or daughter, to inherit his kingdom.

Come to him today. You will never regret it!

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Peter, the Look, and the Tears

There are all kinds of looks and all kinds of tears. These are some thoughts on Peter’s denial of Jesus and Jesus’ look… The Look that brought bitter tears of regret to Peter.

Peter had walked three years with Jesus. He is the disciple that has the most recorded conversations as well as confrontations. Many, many times Jesus and Peter had looked at each other. I wonder about the look when Jesus stretched out his hands to the sinking Peter, the bold man who had faith to walk on water.

People joke about Jesus healing Peters mother-in-law. What kind of looks were exchanged at that time?

Peter lent Jesus his boat to use as a platform. Peter paid his and Jesus’ temple tax with a coin he fetched out of a fish. Peter asked the question about how many times we should forgive offenses.

The Gospels have quite a few interesting instances recorded about Peter.

Prepared to die with Jesus!

Close to the time of his death, when Jesus said that all the disciples would fall away because of him, Peter was quick to proclaim that he would never fall away. That’s when Jesus told him that before the rooster crows, he would deny him three times.

“Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” Peter said.

Peter, who was so confident, had to cry bitter tears of regret because he disowned Jesus, not once, but three times! And he swore and he cursed (Mark 14:71). “I don’t know this man you’re talking about!”

Jesus looked straight at Peter

Then came “the look!” A look can say more than a thousand words. When Peter had called down curses on himself and sworn that he didn’t know Jesus, the rooster crowed (just as the Lord had predicted), and Jesus turned and looked straight at Peter (Luke 22:61).

That was The Look! I’m sure a million things went through Peter’s mind, not the least what had happened just hours previous.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” Luke 22:31-34

Peter could never take back the denials. Done was done! But there was The Look, and only Peter knows what was in it. We can speculate… but let me tell you, Jesus has that look for each one of us. I am sure it was filled with the most love you can see in a look, because that is how he is our Jesus.

What Peter remembered

I’m sure Peter remembered the time when Jesus borrowed his boat to preach from, and then gave Peter the greatest catch of fish he had ever experienced. That was the time when Peter left everything and followed Jesus (Luke 5:1-11).

He must have remembered when Jesus provided the money to pay for his temple tax, how he went down to the lake and found a coin in the first fish he caught (Matthew 17:24-27).

The transfiguration must have stood out clearly in his mind, when Moses and Elijah visited with Jesus on the mount and Peter suggested they stay there and make shelters (Matthew 17:1-8).

What about the time when his brother Andrew brought a little boy to Jesus that had a lunch worthy of a King, the one that Jesus multiplied to feed thousands (John 6:1-13)?

He surely must have remembered the time when he rebuked Jesus, when the Lord had told them about the suffering that awaited him, and Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23).

Before that incident, Peter had confessed Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah.

What else do you think went through his mind. For sure the time when he walked on water! And here he was, cursing and swearing that he didn’t know the man.

After the “look” that pierced through his soul, Peter went out and cried bitterly.

For Bitter Tears there is Supreme Love

No rebuke in “the Look”

There was no rebuke in “the Look.” When Jesus came back to life an angel sent a special greeting to Peter, after telling the women that came to the grave that Jesus was alive, “Go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you’” (Mark 16:7). Jesus sent a special greeting to Peter!

It’s time for soul-searching, because with our actions we many times disown our Lord. Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith may not fail. Jesus is still lovingly interceding for his own.

Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:34

I hope these words encourage you. Even when we have to cry bitter tears of regret there are loving arms ready to embrace us. Let “the look” of Jesus’ love penetrate your soul. He loves you more than words can tell.

“Greater love has no one than this,
that he lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13

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A Tragic End to a Life Full of Promise!

I wrote yesterday about Mary and the gift of love she offered Jesus. Each day this week we will look at one of the key players in the Passion drama.

I can picture Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, wiping his feet with her hair, lovingly kissing the feet that for three years had trodden the dusty roads from Galilee to Judea, and from Judea back to Galilee. Hers was a humble kiss of devotion. Today we will talk about another kiss, a kiss of betrayal.

Mary didn’t know the great suffering that awaited Jesus. She didn’t know that in a few days she would be weeping at the sight of her Master hanging on the cross. Mary was only interested in showing her great devotion. She poured on Jesus’ feet a perfume worth a year’s wages. Money was no issue for her.

The first one to protest Mary’s expression of love and generosity was Judas, the man with the money bag, not because he cared about the poor, but because he helped himself to the content. Jesus had put him in charge of the money!

A life full of promise

Judas is another one of the key players in the Passion drama. Judas had a life full of promise! He was one of only twelve chosen as Jesus’ inner circle. He knew Jesus better than Mary! She only got to see him when he came to Jerusalem and visited Bethany. Judas traveled with Jesus. As the treasurer, he was close to the Master!

Money became his downfall! Mary was generous, Judas was greedy!

Money! Money! Money! That was the word the little boys on the coast of the Pacific mastered with excellence. I was just a kid but I will never forget when our boat anchored at a port and the little boys would swim around it, crying out “Money! Money! Money!” to the travelers. As soon as someone threw some coins in the water they would quickly dive to retrieve them.

Money! Money! Money! From the youngest to the oldest we cannot live without it, but at the same time it can mess up our life big time, and we can be so bound by it that we let freedom elude us.

One of my Cuban friends tells the story about a lady that let freedom escape her, when there still was time for her to leave Cuba after the Castro take-over. She showed my friend some jewels, maybe valued at two hundred dollars, and said, “I cannot leave, because I will not leave these behind!” And she let the opportunity go, tied down by some earthly goods.

What started well, ended in disgrace

The love of money is the root of all evil. We need to be free to be generous like Mary, to lavish on our Lord whatever earthly possessions we might have. Not that he needs them; he owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10); but it’s one way to show our love.

Judas’ story started so well, with the privilege of being one of the chosen Twelve, but ended in the worst disgrace. The thirty silver coins Judas Iscariot was paid for handing Jesus over to the chief priests burnt in his hands. When all was said and done, he threw the money in the temple and went and hanged himself.

I wonder what went through Judas’ mind as he approached Jesus to kiss him. Could it be that even at that moment remorse had set in? Oh, but the prospect of owing those silver coins erased all the scenes of his walk with Jesus for three years. One kiss, just one kiss… and he would be rich. He could travel that world! He could do his own thing!

I’m sure Jesus’ words pierced him like a sword, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48).

Betraying Jesus with a kiss

Judas went and hanged himself! Such a tragic end for someone who walked three years with the Son of God. Jesus said,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

This is a week of reflection. We concentrate on the precious gift the Son of God offered mankind. He gave his life to save us from sin and opened the way to fellowship with God and eternal life.

Where is your treasure?

Mary’s treasure was not her flask of precious ointment, but her relationship with Jesus. Judas’ treasure was his money bag, forgetting his relationship with Jesus.

Where our treasure is, our heart will be. Take time to reflect on what you treasure.

Judas, Judas… such a tragic end to a life full of promise!

Open your heart to the SON (Jesus the Son of God) as a flower that seeks the sun. Jesus is the Bright Morning Star, “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13). Nothing can compare to his love!

You can have the same loving relationship that Mary had with Jesus. Money and worldly possessions are nothing compared to what Jesus has to offer. Judas was blinded by money. He betrayed his Master for 30 silver coins.

You only have one life. Live it to the fullest with Jesus. What comes next is so wonderful we cannot even imagine or comprehend it.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9

May your life end in glory, not in tragedy!

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