At The Feet of Jesus

I sat on the ground disheveled, bruised… petrified. There was so much yelling going on around me and there was a precipice before me. It was as if an explosion occurred with all of the surrounding calamity, and my ears began to ring. My life was on the line. And I couldn’t focus. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t stay calm. And as I stayed on the ground, fearing to move, one of the men, the man they dragged me to, bent down next to me. It was there that a divide opened between time and space.

He drew a line in the sand.

I was dragged out of my house while in the act of committing adultery and was set at Jesus’ feet, though I didn’t know who he was at the time… But then again, did I really know myself at the time? In the heat of an argument, Jesus drew a line in the sand, a precipice, that divided me from my accusers. “The one who has never sinned should be the first to stone this girl,” he said. They knew at that moment that they all stood condemned. In a world where I was seen as a whore and they as God’s elect, Jesus put us on the same plane – we were sinners. And there, amidst the chaos and confusion is not just where I saw God, but it was where I met Him.

That was the first time I sat at Jesus’ feet.

Jesus always knew the right thing to say. That’s why I was always so enamored by his teachings. One time, he and the disciples came over to my house. As Jesus began to teach, I became so enraptured in his words that I completely forgot what I was doing. They were at my house, and I wasn’t doing what was expected of me as a woman or the host. I wasn’t helping my sister clean or tend to the house. But at that moment, I didn’t want to be the host – I wanted to be a student. I wanted to be a disciple. My sister tried to do everything herself but eventually her frustration spilled out, and she asked Jesus if I could be excused to help her. Jesus’ response was astounding.

He said that I chose the better thing by sitting at his feet.

As a woman, I was expected to tend to my male guests. The last thing I should have been doing was to sit while my sister did all the work. In a culture where I was expected to fit a certain role, Jesus included me with his Twelve. I was part of His own. I was a disciple.

That was the next time I sat at Jesus’ feet.

I was with Jesus even when the rest of the disciples fled. It was John who came to me and Jesus’ mother to tell us that Jesus was taken. It was then that we found out that Jesus was to be executed. I observed in horror as my mentor and my friend was beaten within an inch of his life. They dressed him up and paraded him around like an animal. They were making an example out of him, and there was nothing we could do but watch.

We followed him as he carried his cross through the winding city to the place where he would be made a spectacle. I had to look away when they hammered the nails into his fragile hands. What we thought was the end was soon approaching. Through everything Jesus was never hostile or angry. The religious leaders who were putting him to death were irritably standing next to us. Jesus looked at them with compassion and then looked up to the heavens. “Father forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” They weren’t his villains. They were merely victims of a sinful world – the world he came to save.

It was then that I realized what it truly meant to sit at Jesus’ feet.

Jesus truly lived out what he said were the greatest commandments – he loved God with everything he had, and he loved others like their needs were his. He deserved more than any ruler or king to have others bow at his feet, but instead he washed the feet of those who followed him. At the feet of Jesus is a place where all sins are seen the same. It is where all people are equal regardless of the gender or race they were born with. It is a place of unconditional love and forgiveness.

Do you sit at the feet of Jesus?

 

The Prime Optimist

Vincent Van Gogh was not alive long enough to see his fame. In and out of the mental hospital, cutting off his own ear, and painting a style of art that repulsed his critics, you wouldn’t imagine at the time that this man some day would be held in so high of a regard. It is shocking to find out how impoverished Van Gogh was while he was alive.

In the 19th-century, the famous impressionist movement was born. Like previously stated, the movement got criticism by nearly every “professional” in the field. With Claude Monet at the forefront of the movement, those who painted impressionism were sick of the way art had always been done before. Popular art until this point were pieces crafted in a studio, with fine strokes, posed and poised people, with high contrasts and usually (but not always) a religious nuance.

Impressionism was art for art’s sake. They looked at the world in a different light. They took the easel out of the studio and into the gardens and fields. They used heavy brushstrokes to convey motion in their art. They knew that the human eye could only focus on one point at a time, and their art reflected that, in showing textures over details, emotions rather than messages.

I like impressionism though not because of the brushstrokes or the flowing paints or the textures, but because I feel like the painters truly understood the world that they were trying to convey in their masterpieces.

I feel like there are a lot of people who truly don’t understand the workings of the world. For arguments sake, I will only discuss the most ignorant of these people – “immature optimists.” I HATE “IMMATURE OPTIMISTS”…

I know, such a pessimist thing to say. (and yes, this is a hasty generalization)

And I may sound macabre, but I hate when I have something constructive or cynical to say, and I am glared at by this ignorant fool. And then they turn a deaf ear as I try to explain my well rounded, realist view – knowing it to be a tool used by the “pessimist” to shift the “immature optimist’s” worldview. But what I hate the most about the “immature optimist” is this:

They refuse to believe that ANYTHING bad happens in the world.

After Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ in Mark 8, Jesus begins to tell the disciples in simple and understandable terms what is going to happen to him. He tells them of his suffering, his sacrifice, and how he will be rejected. After talking about all of this, Peter pulled Christ aside and rebuked him.

I feel like Christians today are trying to escape the idea of death. Many atheists say that Christians use heaven as a coping mechanism to escape the idea of their imminent death, and I don’t completely disagree with them. Many people want the cross without the sacrifice. They want eternal life without an earthly death. They want a rapture without a tribulation.

Jesus didn’t circumvent death to redeem our souls. He died on a cross. And more than that, he is risen from the dead!

So many people talk about a spiritual death to self, a death to their sinful nature, but they are running from the death of their earthly bodies. Christ didn’t ignore tribulation or suffering. He faced death. And that is the beauty of the gospel.

Christ defeated death!

The “immature optimist” looks for immediate happiness. The worldview itself is just an ignorant rouse a few simple shakes away from hedonism. They want a deathless cross. They want a resurrection without the defeat of death. They want redemption without a fall. The “immature optimist” has tunnel vision.

We need to expand our vision to the Vision of Christ – that there are bad things that happen in this world. There are diseases, there are wars, and there are sinners. It is up to us to be the change for a better tomorrow. We keep thinking that if we put the right person in a political office, or if we vocalize our opinions without action, that the world will change. Or even worse – we think if we ignore the outside world, home school our children, and donate to the Salvation Army at Christmas that we are changing the world.

The only way to defeat “immature optimism” is by grasping a cold, hard helping of the truth.

Who Is Your King?

“I remember the sheep crying out that day… Samuel seemed pretty angry. No, I’m not the king; I am just a soldier in the army. But that day, Samuel was infuriated with King Saul. It was as though Saul had done an atrocious act. All he did was take some sheep and oxen. And not only so, but he did it because we, the soldiers, told him to. But Saul always seemed to do that. He always did what we wanted him to, even when it wasn’t the best thing for us. That day, it seemed that he really got himself into a pickle.

There was another moment I remember when we were fighting the Philistines. They had a giant warrior on their side, taller than any man I’ve seen before. This man, Goliath, roared against the people of Israel and against our God… But Saul did nothing. Wouldn’t the king come and stand up for his people and his Lord? Saul himself was a head taller than any other man in Israel – it only made sense. But Saul, again, was cowering with us, the rest of his men.

Then I remember a kid, no older than a young teenager, strut with a righteous anger towards the king. His brother and others were hurling insults behind him, but I could tell it didn’t faze him. This boy went up to King Saul and said he would fight the Philistine giant! I remember standing from afar as David tried on the king’s own armor. But the weight and size was too much for him.

As David walked out onto the battlefield to stand against Goliath the silence seemed to permeate across the field. All the men stayed hidden behind the rocks, in expectancy to flee if things went awry. But with the swing of an arm the giant went tumbling, and moments later his severed head was held up high in the air. At that moment, every Israelite knew that the battle was won for them. I remember running out knowing that the people had gotten something they didn’t deserve: a victory.

I remember deciding that day that though this boy wasn’t the king that the people deserved, he was the one that would be given to them… King David”

“I remember the people crying out that day… Pilate seemed okay with what was happening. ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ echoed eerily in the crowds cries. I was shouting along. No, I’m no one important; I am just a Roman centurion. But that day, the Pharisees and the people seemed to be infuriated with this man called ‘Jesus’ – who they said was the self-acclaimed ‘King of the Jews.’ Jesus hadn’t really done an atrocious act, but the people pleaded regardless. I have to admit, I myself found it a bit humorous.

As I stood outside the city that day, watching this man hanging from a tree, my heart suddenly stopped. I remember him crying out amidst the screams, ‘It is finished.’ At that point the earth shook, and the clouds stirred up in the sky unlike anything I have ever seen before or since. And as this ‘King of the Jews’ took his final breath, I remember being filled with awe at what had taken place. Truly this man was the Son of God.

I don’t deserve the forgiveness of this man who I now call Christ. But I know that this is what grace is all about; my sins deserved death, but my Savior gave me life. He won the victory over sin and death, and all I had to do was receive it.

I decided that day that though this Man on a cross wasn’t the King that the world deserved, He was the King that was given to them… and to me… Jesus Christ.”