...Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. John 19:19
For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in Heaven, by making peace through His Blood shed on the Cross. Colossians 1:19-20
The Storm of the Ages
Dear family and friends,
It has been quite a week! We have witnessed extremes of weather the likes of which we have never seen before in Scotland at this time of year. The newspapers reported between 25th and 27th March that three new temperature records had been set in three days, going down in the history books as the hottest days ever recorded in March, reaching excesses of +23C in some parts. We have experienced glorious "summer" sunshine in early spring, but yet simultaneously, yesterday the coastline was assaulted by driving snow and high winds. It has been disconcerting and strange to watch the dramatic and sudden climate changes; to experience being extremely warm one minute and then in a flash to be shivering in sub-zero temperatures wrapped up in a warm woollen sweater and waterproof jacket. Ten inches of snow fell overnight and there were power cuts in more than 7,000 homes, with parts of Perthshire being -2.7C or less! Sadly, some people were involved in road traffic accidents due to the icy conditions.
There has been little constancy in the prevailing weather patterns. This climatic outburst is not in character for this time of year. It has both surprised and concerned me. I found myself praying for a number of issues, including protection of the harvest, and also praying for the hard-working farmers who have laboured so tirelessly to plant and then to protect their seedlings through the winter season.
I mused last week when the temperatures soared unexpectedly how the seedlings of many crops could be duped into thinking that it was summer and that they might therefore begin to germinate ahead of time. This would be fine if the weather did not change again and revert back to the extremes of cold that could potentially destroy the young seedlings. A couple days ago, I was shocked when the temperature plummeted below zero and snow showers fell amidst vicious wind storms. The little plants we had sown into our garden beds were all but ripped up from their roots. The icy wind blew mercilessly around them and the tender blossoms looked so fragile. I doubted if they could ever recover from such an onslaught. Could the seeds survive such a brutal battering? Was the diligence and hard work of planting all for nothing? Could a harvest still be saved? Could the seeds still produce precious life? The answers hung in the balance at the mercy of the changing weather.
Today as I write this, the sky is picture-perfect blue again and the wind has dropped to a gentle breeze and white fluffy clouds scud merrily across the skyline. It is hard to image that the storm really happened! I gaze out my kitchen window and notice that our plants have survived despite the severity of their experience. I look further to the green rolling hills that form part of the panoramic view from our home and I notice that the heather is on fire. This is an annual occurrence and is a deliberate and planned part of the farmer's harvest regime.
"Controlled burning, principally by moorland keepers, gets rid of over-mature heather, enabling new shoots to regenerate from roots or seed. The fires are planned to move steadily with the wind, burning old growth while doing little more than scorching the ground below. Careful consideration is given to conditions, such as wind direction and speed and the moisture content of the peat below. If winds are too strong or too light and fickle, or if warm, dry weather has dried the peat bed, then the wise keeper puts away his burning equipment; the very last thing he wants to do is to destroy the raw material of his livelihood!" (Extracted T.P. Baynes/S.N. Bostock, Moorland Policy and Information Officer, Chairman, The Countryside Alliance, The Moorland Association, June 2003)
From the ashes new life is brought forth!
As I ponder the unexpected anomalies of nature here in Scotland this past week, I cannot help but make certain connections with the Passover message. Our dear Lord Jesus must have reflected deeply as He journeyed to the Cross and beyond. His path from Bethany to Gethsemane, and from Golgotha unto glory, was marked by unusual events and brutal storms against both His deity and His humanity. The life Blood was torn from Him in scourging, in beatings, in ridicule, in rejection, in betrayal, in denial and in Bloody sacrifice, yet this was His chosen path to reveal the Father's passion for all mankind.
He Suffered a Baptism of Fire In Order That We Might Receive New Life
In obedience to His beloved Father, Messiah Yeshua experienced a baptism of fire in the agonies in which He suffered in order that we might receive new life. To the naked eye the odds looked insurmountable and the pain unable to be endured, yet by persevering grace our Lord endured the Cross. He died and rose again in magnificence and glory. From the triumphal march through Jerusalem on a colt, the foal of a donkey, to the soul-wrenching surrender on the Mount of Olives; to the wooden Cross upon which He poured out every last ounce of His love and life for us, to a burial tomb with a stone to cover the entrance way, He was raised again from death to life. The storm of the ages could not take Him, for it was His process and His promotion, and the storm revealed the Father's purpose to save us all.
Jesus is the beginning. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together. Jesus testifies with His life to be firstborn from among the dead. In all things He has supremacy and He is the head of the Body, the Church.
What were Jesus' perceptions as He approached Calvary? He saw it all: the frailty and flawed nature of humanity. His disciples grappling for positions of influence and power as to who would be the greatest. Pilate washing his hands and denying the truth of what he really knew in his heart that Christ was King. His dear Peter denying Him in a moment of great need. And Judas the broken betrayer, whose hand was never far from the money bag, with a kiss that turned the key to unlock a religious mob that were intent on killing Christ: "Crucify, crucify."
Yet, along the way, the Lord also witnessed flawless acts of beauty and worship. Mary spending a year's worth of wages in one extravagant moment of love, as she broke open her alabaster box full of precious anointing oil and poured it out on Christ. In Christ's penultimate steps to Golgotha, we see Simon of Cyrene marked by the weight of the Cross as he carried the wooden timbers and assisted Christ. I do not think it was the edict of a Roman soldier that inspired such an act for Messiah. Surely Simon carried the Cross because of love?
What of the two robbers at the Cross? One spewing insults, but the other worshipping the Messiah, recognising His Kingship and His Lordship. The robber cried out for mercy and he received the promise that he would be with the Lord in paradise "today." What of Mary the mother of Christ who could not leave His side? A sword pierced her own soul too, her mother's heart torn open, as she watched her Son suffer and bleed for all mankind. What love held her in the darkest moment of her life? It was not only a mother's love, for Mary also worshipped her Lord and King of kings as He hung on the Cross.
The storm had come. From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness covered the land and the King spent Himself for humanity. "It is finished," was His cry, and it seemed as though death swallowed up life and time stopped for all those who loved Him. The temple curtain torn in two, the earth shook, the rocks split, the tombs broke open and many holy people who had died were raised to life. The work of Messiah was finished. Yet, we know this was not the end, for our Lord died and rose again resplendent on the third day that we might be forgiven of every sin and healed of all our sicknesses and diseases. His life swallowed up death. He bore the penalty for our sin and was punished for our transgressions. Christ reconciled the world to His Father; in Him is new life, new hope, and resurrection glory. In Him is constancy and faithfulness; in Him is righteousness, peace, and joy.
Our Storms Will Surely Pass
Our storms (whether literal or figurative) will surely pass, and as we reflect at this most precious time of year, may we know security in our relationship with God and with each other. He is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but by relationship through Christ. He is the Resurrection and the Life, and whoever believes in Him will live even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in Him will never die. He is the Light of the world and whoever believes in Him will no longer walk in darkness but will have the Light of Life.
He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep and His sheep know His voice. He is the Gate through which we pass from death to life; He is the Bread of Life and all who come to Him will never hunger or thirst. He is the Healer who heals us in every aspect of our beings. He is the Lord; He is our Saviour; He is the Captain of the Host and has defeated the evil one. May the world turn and see Christ Her Saviour. Christ has been lifted up so that we may see Him in all His glory and that all men, Jew and Gentile, be drawn to Him.
He has conferred on us a Kingdom and commissioned us to make disciples of all nations. May the power of the finished work of the Cross have its way in our lives as the Blood of Messiah sanctifies, separates, and anoints us for service. Above all, may we be marked by love and servanthood as we walk with the Master. We are revived for mission. My prayer is that our lives will always and ever reflect His heart and His holiness. God bless you and your family and friends this Passover.
With every blessing,Catherine Brown
Founder/Director, Gatekeepers Global Ministries
Co-Founder, Scottish Apostolic Networking Enterprise