Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | April 5, 2015

Thoughts on The Resurrection

He is risen!

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After the Resurrection, the Romans—as well as those in the Jewish hierarchy who opposed Jesus and his ministry—said that his disciples had stolen his body away from the tomb. It came about when the chief priests bribed the soldiers who had guarded the tomb.

Matthew 28 tells the story:

1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.

4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.

6. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now, I have told you.”

8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy and ran to tell his disciples.

9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them,

10“Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money,   13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

What a story. The part about the Roman guards is amusing—in a way. There had to be a number of them, not just one or two. Notice the quote, “…some of the guards…” Also, given the high-profile nature of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, these weren’t just ordinary men. These guards, I would imagine, were handpicked, tough legionnaires.

The fact that they were so terrified when the angel came and rolled the stone back that they “…shook and became as dead men…” takes on more significance when we consider the nature of the soldiers themselves. Those hardened warriors were shaking and paralyzed.

I’m reminded of a comment made by a preacher I knew long ago. He was talking about what happened in Gethsemane when Peter drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Jesus, rebuked Peter, telling him to put away his sword. Luke 22:51 says, “But Jesus answered, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.” The old preacher’s comment was, “I’ll bet that man left Gethsemane and went home!”

Notice that Matthew’s Gospel says that the angel rolled the stone away and then sat on it. How long he had been there, sitting on the stone when the two Marys arrived, we aren’t told. During that time, the Roman soldiers were in a state of shaking paralysis. That was the scene that the two Marys found when they arrived at the tomb. It must have been shocking and frightening, but the angel said, “Do not be afraid.”

A central theme in Christianity, not just in the story of the resurrection, is embodied in the admonition, “Do not be afraid.” Notice that Jesus said these words to the Marys as they met him. Remember that the angels, when announcing the birth of Jesus, told the shepherds, “Do not be afraid.” The angel, Gabriel, said to Mary, “Do not be afraid…” We need to remember those words and root our faith in them. Our faith needs to be strong enough to keep us from fear. Although the women were still frightened by what they’d seen, the voice of the angel and their trust in Jesus had made them stronger than the guards who were paralyzed with terror.

It has been pointed out, by the way, that the stone was not rolled away for Jesus to leave the tomb.   He had already departed. The angel rolled the stone back from the tomb to show the world that “He is not here; he has risen…” We can imagine the angel pointing to the empty tomb as he spoke. We can only wonder what the trembling, catatonic Roman soldiers were thinking.

Some of them went to the chief priests and reported everything that had happened. Notice, that they did not go the military authorities or directly to the governor. Why? They’d probably have been flogged or executed—or both. Imagine a hard-bitten sergeant of the guards reacting to their story. “An angel, you say, came and rolled back that rock? That rock took five strong men and a donkey to put in place! Have you been drinking on duty?”

Needless to continue, but it would not have been pleasant. Now going to the chief priests was a different affair. These were the people who feared Jesus so much that they had demanded his death. The guards correctly guessed that they, who had the most to lose from the resurrection of Jesus, would pay for the guards’ silence. And pay they did. The chief priests apparently paid the guards handsomely to parrot a story they concocted about Jesus’ disciples stealing his body away while they were asleep. They even—probably at the insistence of the guards—promised to provide a cover story for them with the governor if he should hear the story.

Why? In most military organizations, falling asleep at one’s guard post is an extremely serious offense. In this case, the guards could—and probably would—have been executed. Pilate himself was personally involved. “Take a guard.” Pilate answered, “Go, and make the tomb as secure as you know how.” (Matthew 27:65) They not only posted guards at the entrance, they tied a cord across the rock and put a clay seal on each end so that if anyone disturbed the rock, the seals—doubtlessly imprinted with a official signet—would be broken. For the soldiers to be so asleep that all the commotion involved in moving the rock didn’t wake them would have been serious dereliction of their duty.

We aren’t told what happened to the guards, but I’d imagine that they took their money and became very, very quiet men. Those who were directly paid would have had to share the money with the guards who didn’t go with them to the priests. They would also have had to tell the others the official line, and cautioned them to stick to it. The story concocted by the chief priests was, however, extremely thin.

Consider: They were saying that they slept through the racket of the disciples rolling back the rock. All of them!

Consider: If the disciples—those men who had run away in fear at Gethsemane and had denied Jesus in public—had planned to steal his body from the tomb, what they’d have had to take into account. First, there were a number of soldiers guarding the tomb and most of the disciples probably didn’t have swords much less shields and armor. The disciples certainly wouldn’t have been able to count on the guards being asleep! And, they were demonstrably not all that brave in the face of soldiers. They had run away from and left Jesus alone in the garden. Second, if there had been enough of Jesus’ disciples to pull off robbing his tomb, there’d be enough people who knew of the theft that the story would get out sooner or later.

No, the angel did not roll the stone away so that Jesus could leave the tomb. He was already gone. When we look into the empty tomb, we see that it was there where the empty body of Jesus had been placed. Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, and because he was a prominent citizen, Pilate granted the request. “So Joseph brought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.” (Mark 15:46) Joseph was a wealthy and well-connected man. He would have hardly done the physical labor of moving the stone himself. Later, Mark mentions that the stone was quite large. No problem for an angel, though.

Luke is the only gospel that describes the reaction of the apostles when Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James told them of the empty tomb and the words of Jesus and the angel. “Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away wondering to himself what had happened.”

We call Peter, “The Rock,” and refer to “doubting Thomas.” It appears that there was enough disbelief among the apostles to go around. We consider the apostles, sometimes, as saints above us all. They were men. These men ran away when the soldiers came to Gethsemane. Their greatness came through their faith in Jesus. Peter’s wondering what happened was later replaced with a steadfastness that deserved the name, “The Rock.”

The empty shell, that had been body of Jesus when he was alive, was placed in the rock cave and lay there waiting until He returned and gave it new life. Jesus’ ministry and miracles included raising several people, recounted in the gospels, from the dead. A major theme of His ministry was resurrection from death—the conquering of death. Of course, the crowning event was His resurrection. Those He raised from the dead during his life on earth were people who were physically dead. Their resurrection is a bright symbol for the millions upon millions whose souls have been dead, but who may come alive again, for eternity, once Jesus enters their hearts.

 

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | April 4, 2015

The Darkest Sabbath

This came to me a year or so ago.  It’s an appropriate meditation for the Sabbath preceding The Resurrection.

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The Darkest Sabbath

The four Gospels tell the story of Christ’s betrayal, mock trial and crucifixion with few variations. All of these events took place on Friday, the day before the Sabbath. The Romans who crucified Jesus were going about breaking the legs of those who had been crucified to assure their deaths before the beginning of the Sabbath, which commences a few minutes before sundown on Friday and lasts until three stars are visible in the Saturday night sky.

The bible does not directly tell us what happened to the people who were closest to Jesus on the Sabbath immediately following his crucifixion and burial. We can only speculate.  Based on what we do know about several of Christ’s closest followers, we can imagine how the night and day following the death of Jesus affected them.

John

In the Gospel of John, the Apostle often refers to himself as the “…disciple whom Jesus loved.”  Not only was he one of the twelve, he was, along with his brother James and  Simon Peter, a member of those closest to Jesus and, more—considered himself as the Lord’s best friend. Recall that those three were selected to be with Christ during the transfiguration.

As darkness covered Israel the night after Jesus was crucified, John probably had Mary, Jesus’ mother, in his house. He had, at the foot of the cross, been charged with acting as Mary’s son. Possibly she was the one who lighted the candles for the Shabbat. John could hardly forget how, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had asked that he, James and Peter stay awake with him on the night he was in agonizing prayer before the crucifixion and they could not. He, along with most of the Disciples ran away at the approach of the chief priests and temple guard. Remorse over his failure must have deepened his grief.  Did he sleep at all during that during that dark Sabbath?

Peter

The fiery, impetuous leader, the disciple who became The Rock, must have had a much worse night and day, following the death of Jesus. Not only had he failed his Lord in Gethsemane, he had openly denied knowing Him three times before the rooster crowed.  Peter was a strong-willed proud man.  He was the only one of Jesus’ followers who offered physical resistance when the Jewish leaders and guard came to arrest Christ.  Recall, he drew his sword and cut off the right ear of one of the High Priests’ servants.  Of course, Jesus rebuked Peter and replaced the man’s ear.  I

Did Peter sleep that Friday night? Could he truly rest during the following Sabbath day?

Mary Magdalene

The woman whose name is, after the mother of Jesus, most prominently mentioned in the Gospels was faithful to her Lord throughout the Passion. She and Jesus’ mother did not leave the awful scene on Golgotha. They were there until the final moments and didn’t desert Him as his body was laid in the tomb. The women probably saw the mighty stone rolled in place to seal the entrance. Despair and pain must’ve filled the night and following day.

We may speculate that she spent that night and the following Sabbath in the house with Jesus’ mother.  This is because the scriptures describe them as being at the tomb together on the third morning.

Mary Magdalene, the woman who had been possessed by demons before Christ healed her, was faithful to Him through the hour of His death.

Did she sleep past tears and mourning during those awful hours following Jesus’ death?

Mary, Mother of Jesus

God chose Mary to bring Jesus into this world.  Although the Gospel of Luke describes her as “…troubled…” when Gabriel told her of her mission, the sense of deep fear isn’t in the story. Remember, Luke was not one of the Apostles. His recounting of the Annunciation could have only come from interviewing Mary.

With no scripture that speaks of the desolate day following Christ’s crucifixion, it is possible to consider that the woman who was Jesus’ mother had a deep faith that her son’s death was not final.

She must’ve mourned and felt bereft of her reason for living and the treasure God had given her. Did she sleep?

Summation

Could any of these, who were closest to Jesus, find rest until they knew He was resurrected.  Certainly, there was no peace in their hearts until they had seen Christ again, much as there is no true peace in our hearts until we have seen Him.

Could any of these, who were closest to Jesus, find rest until they knew He was resurrected.  Certainly, there was no peace in their hearts until they had seen Christ again, much as there is no true peace in our hearts until we have seen Him.

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | March 29, 2015

For Vietnam Veterans Day

A Vietnam Vet is standing, dressed in old gear waiting for the approach of a parade. Those in the parade are victorious troops from Desert Storm.  The troops are being welcomed home by ecstatic crowds. He cannot forget what he left behind and what encountered when he came home.

Now, it appears that America is, at long last, ready to welcome us back.

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WAITING FOR THE PARADE

I had that dream again last night,
or maybe today…
dressing for a parade,
but couldn’t find everything I needed;
medals, rank insignia, or unit crests;
always something different,
-always something missing.

Memories of war
at first
ran just under my feet,
like foreshortened shadows
following at midday,
when yesterday was no more
than darkness
before this day’s light.
All senses remembered too much
and fear stabbed the gut
like frozen glass shards
or rage stung
like sweat in an open gash.

But here I stand anyway,
among all these people on main street,
-still wearing my green beret,
– my faded tiger-stripe fatigues,
and waiting for the homecoming parade
under this new American sky.

I’m looking through the crowd
for others,
wondering if their uniforms fit
and if they have their ribbons.
Months of war-stretched memory
numbed into distortion.
A long darkness trailed my boots
leaving only momentary shade
and disappearing holes
in watery mud.
Footprints in tall grass lifted back
stretched in long afternoon sun
unbent again by evening.
Showing no sign of passage.

Trumpets sound–
so distant that fluttering banners
and muffled pop of yellow ribbons
hide their songs.
American flags reach from every lamppost
like open arms
stretching in spring winds
to touch and bless
victorious columns in desert tan.

Shadows hide in night
like war’s remembering,
waiting for morning to cling,
mocking every clumsy movement
faster than running can escape.
Burning through flesh like white phosphorous
cleaving to the bone
with a phantom ache of loss
like pain in an amputated limb.

I cannot march to this coming drum
Bouncing too loudly against my ears
and echoing back from The Wall;
my uniform is out of date,
-colors out of style,
-decorations incomplete.

Unfaithful visions,
-blacker in strange winter light
mutable as shifting colors
walking beside me on unquiet waters.

That old land may have remembrance,
                                        but not of me.
My passing shadow touched its earth
more faintly than the wavering reflection
I throw in a lake.

Still,
when the brassy Stars and Stripes Forever
leads young heroes past chanting crowds
my toes, in worn-out jungle boots
will twitch to feel the rhythmic stamp,
my shoulder will bear the rifle’s weight,
and my ears,
filled with the surf beat of welcoming cheers
will let me pretend,
for a time,
I did not return alone.
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Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | March 28, 2015

John 14

The agony of The Passion was approaching.  Jesus was comforting his disciples ahead of the suffering he would endure and the pain of emptiness they would experience. The scriptural quotes are from the King James translation.

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A friend, Ralph C. Hammond—who passed away in December of 2010 at age 94—once told me, referring to the 14th Chapter of John, “…if that’s all I had of The Bible, it would be all that I need.” Ralph had a storied life as a WWII war correspondent, a press secretary for Alabama’s governor, and president of the Alabama Writer’s Conclave and State Poetry Society, then Poet Laureate of Alabama, to name a few of his literary achievements—yet he singled out this chapter as enough for his faith, if nothing else was available.

Looking at the chapter, the reader is immediately struck by the wonderful words, “Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in Me.”

In Chapter 13, John reports that Jesus had washed his disciples’ feet, teaching them about humility. He was also preparing them for His coming crucifixion and giving them a new commandment: that they love one another. Much had been happening in a short period of time and the disciples were confused. They’d heard Jesus say that one of them would betray him, they’d seen their Master acting as a servant and Judas Iscariot had left. Jesus had also said that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed in the morning.

Now was the moment when Jesus comforted them and showed them the way to The Father. He told them that he was going to The Father and prepare the way for them to join him. He told them, And whither I go, ye know the way.”

Yes they did. They knew Him. I can imagine a loving smile on his face when Thomas spoke. “Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; how know we the way?”

The Lord then used Thomas’ question to teach them even more.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

When another disciple, Philip, asks to be shown The Father, Jesus’ words are loving and mildly reproving.

“Jesus saith unto him, ‘Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou, Show us the Father?’ Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.”

Look closely, Jesus has now definitively identified himself as one with God The Father. None of the other three (synoptic) Gospels report this declaration. In fact, Biblical scholars estimate that 90% of John’s Gospel is unique.

Consider the opening words of John’s Gospel: “1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2.The same was in the beginning with God.

3.All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.

4.In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.

5.And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

And then:

         14.And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

Lets go back about seven hundred years earlier—to the prophesy of Isaiah:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Next, in John, Chapter 14, Jesus promises the Wonderful Counselor, in Verse 16 and again in 26:

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

Now, in the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, we see the Wonderful Counselor (the Holy Spirit) and the Everlasting Father present in the person of Jesus.

The next verse, 27,  in John completes the Trinity.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Jesus was and is the Prince of Peace.

In many ways my friend Ralph was right. All that a Christian requires is in Chapter 14 of the Gospel of John.

 

 

 

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | March 24, 2015

A Song for Four Soloists and Choir

This song, again, has no melody—except in my head.  Until now, the only people who’ve seen are my wife, Marge and my son, Mike.

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First voice:

He restored my sight.

Now I can see His face,

He healed me with His mighty love,

Now I’m living in His grace.

Chorus:

Christ is our healer; his grace is the key.

He bought our redemption on dark Calvary.

He opened my eyes so that I could see

Glimpses of glory, in eternity.

Second voice:

He told me to stand,

Take up my bed and walk.

Now I’ll follow Him with my every step

And He will lead me home.

Chorus:

Christ is our healer; his grace is the key.

He bought our redemption on dark Calvary.

He gave my legs strength to walk by his side

And now my way’s clear, for he is my guide.

 

Third voice:

He set my soul free;

I was possessed by demons

Of sin and fear,

But His voice drove them from me.

Chorus:

Christ is our healer; his grace is the key.

He bought our redemption on dark Calvary.

He spoke and his power restored my soul,

His love has freed me and now I am whole.

Fourth voice:

He brought me to life,

Called on me to live again,

For I was dead and cold in the grip of sin

When His touch awakened me.

Chorus:

Christ is our healer; his grace is the key.

He bought our redemption on dark Calvary.

He gives us life to live with Him

Wrapped in his love for eternity.

 

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | March 22, 2015

Thomas The Good Student

I’ve posted this before, but it seems appropriate as Easter approaches.

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Think back to a time when you were in school, or the last time you were in a class of any type. There were probably moments when something the teacher said or did made you want to ask a question, but you may have held back for fear that someone else in the class would think you’d asked a dumb question.

Remember what a relief you felt when one of the other students stuck up a hand and asked, “Teacher…?”

Yeah, you remember that. And you can be sure that there were probably several other students in the group who had the same question and felt the same relief that you did.

Jesus was, and is, the master teacher. The twelve Disciples can be considered his first and closest students. Some of his students finally did ask the questions that I feel sure the others wanted to ask themselves.

Let’s consider Thomas. We don’t know very much about him, except that he has been given the dubious title of “Doubting.” Lets look closely at how Jesus used Thomas’ outspoken questions and how He even used his doubts to teach. Through these, Jesus taught his disciples and through the Gospels, he teaches us.

I have an affinity for Thomas. I may have just been that student who impetuously stuck up his hand to ask the question that none of the others would voice. I have often been that student who would ask the “dumb question,” and, I feel sure that other students were waiting eagerly for the answer.

When, in John 14, Jesus said:

“Do not your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Then Thomas stuck up his hand.

“Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” he said.

Thomas, like probably some of the other Disciples, took Jesus’ words as describing a physical trip, as to Bethany or Jerusalem. Some of the others were probably saying—silently—to themselves, “Whew, good for you, Thomas. I’m glad to have you ask that question rather than me! I didn’t understand either.”

Jesus must have smiled at Thomas, knowing the thoughts of the other disciples, and I picture Him as looking around at all of them with deep love as he told them, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” and, “If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well”

Jesus, the master teacher, used Thomas’ question as a way to teach the disciples—and you those of us who read His Word—that, if you want to know the way to The Father, here it is: “I am the way…” John has recorded the words “I am…” said by Jesus as the words that signify the oneness of Jesus with God The Father. These words, remember, are the words God spoke to Moses from the burning bush when Moses asked who he should tell the Israelites had sent him to them when they asked, “What is his name?” God answered Moses’ question with, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I Am has sent me to you.’” The Jewish religious leaders were incensed at Jesus’ use of the phrase, “I am,” since it linked Him directly to the almighty.

He told Philip, in John 14:9: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”

That was a part of the same conversation when Thomas asked his famous question about where Jesus was going.

Thomas was a strong and loyal Disciple. At one point when Jesus told his Disciples that he was going to the home of Lazarus, who had been sick and died; they knew that He was walking into danger. Thomas’ grim but faithful statement to the other disciples was, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” These are the words and of a man who truly loved and believed in Jesus.

In the scene that has forever laid the title, “doubting” on him, Thomas probably stood mentally where some of the Disciples had been before they had seen Jesus themselves. We aren’t told why Thomas wasn’t with the other ten Disciples when Jesus appeared to them on earlier occasions, but they had surely told him excitedly over and over that He had risen.

It is easy for us to understand why Thomas doubted the others. He had seen His Lord had brutally humiliated and crucified. The structure of his faith had been shattered. Like students in classes every class, Thomas had not listened closely enough. Jesus had told them of his impending death and the reasons for it. Thomas, along with the others, had run away and left Jesus in Gethsemane, but he had watched the scenes of The Passion and the crucifixion play out from a distance, and obviously knew what the physical wounds had been on Jesus’ body.

The defining moment that tagged Thomas with the “doubting” label came when Jesus had been crucified and had risen.   The Gospel of John tells us that:

“Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’”

Thomas, still in anguish over the loss of his Lord and the destruction of the very fabric of his faith, probably wished and hoped that they were right, but told them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” We can imagine that those words were spoken through the awful pain of loss.

We also aren’t told what happened during the next week, but I have to wonder if the other Disciples tried again and again to convince Thomas that the Lord had truly risen.

A stubborn, hurt man; Thomas—probably with a hollow pain inside him—mourned his Lord. He didn’t, however, desert the others. He was with them in a locked room when Jesus came to them and said, “Peace be with you!”

Imagine the flooding of relief and the glory of hope restored that must have swept through Thomas. Imagine also, the awful, sinking feeling of shame and embarrassment that he had not believed what the other disciples had told him. At this point, Thomas didn’t have to actually touch Jesus to believe, but when Jesus told him to “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

His answer was the answer that Jesus wanted him to finally say and understand, “My Lord and my God!”

We can only speculate what would have happened if Peter, or one of the other Disciples had not seen Jesus and was in the place of Thomas. Peter, who had denied Christ three times, may have been stronger. We don’t know. But we can be sure that Thomas was probably not alone in his doubts before he had seen Jesus for himself.

Thomas, through his stubborn doubting, gave us the chance to know the words of the Master Teacher that echo down the centuries.

“Because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Jesus used the doubts of a strong, loyal Disciple to tell those of us who, in time, are so far away from the days when He was physically on earth, that we are blessed when we believe in Him although we have not physically seen Him.

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | March 19, 2015

It’s That Time of Year Again

This piece was, as the page shows, published in Cast Magazine.  I simply scanned the page.  I like the artwork and what they did with the Dylan Thomas Quote.cast_jonquil

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | March 16, 2015

More Song Lyrics

I note that I’ve not published every day as I’d hoped. Today’s offering is the third (final) verse of a song titled Trust Me.

Much of the imagery comes from Psalm 23. This has never been performed in public, but the first two verses were performed, several years ago, before my Mother passed away, and dedicated to her and my Father. This verse came quite a bit later.

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When my courage falters, I listen for His voice,

knowing He will comfort and protect.

Then when I hear him speak, my joy overflows,

for He restores my soul and cares for me.

“Trust Me,” He says,

“Be not afraid.  I am your shepherd, have faith in Me

and follow, though shadows darken the way.

Trust me, just trust me, he says.”

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Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | March 12, 2015

Five Loaves, Two Fish

I have posted this essay before, but I think the story, and its message, bear repeating.

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Only a few instances exist in which all four of the Gospels tell the same story. Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the Synoptic Gospels because they are so aligned that often, they use the same words. The Gospel of John is different. John often reports incidents that the other three Gospels do not. One of the incidents that all four report is the feeding of the five thousand.

The miracle of the five loaves and two fishes is reported in Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:1-14.

Jesus and his Disciples had just learned that John the Baptist had been beheaded. They went across Lake Galilee to be alone. But, the people had anticipated their travel and when they arrived they found a huge crowd waiting for them.

After healing the sick and teaching about the Kingdom of God, the time had come that the people should eat. The Disciples came to Jesus and asked that he send the multitude away so that they could go into the countryside and buy food. They said, “… this place is like a desert.”

Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.” [Luke 9:13]

The Disciples, of course, began to come up with all the reasons that it was impossible for them to feed the huge crowd. They talked about the cost and finally Jesus asked them what they had to give.

John is the only one that reports the source of the food. In John 6: 8 “Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the disciples. He spoke up and said, 9. “There is a boy here who has five small loaves of barley bread and two fish. But what good is that with all these people?”

All the other Gospels just mention that the tiny amount of food was available to feed the crowd. Only John says a boy had the food.

You know the rest of the story: after blessing the food, Jesus broke the bread and divided the fish and everyone was fed and there were twelve baskets of leftovers.

The Disciples were, once more, being taught lessons. First, they were given what appeared to be an impossible task. “You give them something to eat.”

Their reaction was natural. They could not do it. Notice the word, “they.” It wasn’t feasible for them to meet the needs of such a massive crowd. It was not, of course, impossible for Jesus. With Him, anything was, and is, possible.

Think about the boy John mentions. Why did he have the food with him? Was he the only person present who had enough foresight to pack a lunch?

The Disciples must’ve gone through the crowd asking if anyone had food with them. When the boy came forward, it was a generous gesture. He could have hidden his cache of food away and eaten it himself, but he chose to answer the call.

He could have said, “What I have is too little to make a difference.” Yes, and he would’ve been right if he’d tried to do it alone.

He didn’t. He placed all that he had in the hands of Jesus and The Lord made it more than enough.

When Christians are called upon to do tasks that appear impossible, they can follow the example of the unnamed boy. They can put all that they have in the hands of Christ and He will make the offering more than enough.

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | March 10, 2015

Pascal’s Quote And An Essay

I didn’t write this essay,  and can’t remember where I found it.  I did keep it, though.  It’s a fine sermonette on man’s relationship with God.

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“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus”

Blaise Pascal

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The God-Shaped Vacuum

“His [God’s] purpose in all of this was that the nations should seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist.”

Years ago Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) insightfully said, “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”

This is true and vital but I would dare to suggest that it doesn’t present the entire picture for as there is a God-shaped vacuum (or cup as I like to put it) within the heart of all of us, there is also a people-shaped cup. And while our God-shaped cup needs to be filled with the love of God, our people-shaped cup needs to be filled with the love of people.

If either one of these cups is empty life can feel void and meaningless. And then we seek to fill the void within and deaden the pain of our empty lives with things, endless activities, seeking approval, super-busyness, illicit sex, alcohol, drugs and stuff, stuff, and more stuff and, at least here in the West, we are left longing in the midst of a land of plenty.

The fact is that God has created us for relationships both with himself and each other. It has been rightfully said that 80 percent of life’s satisfaction comes from the quality of our relationships. Without loving relationships we limp along in the shadows of life and will most likely die long before our time. While it may not be desirable, we can live without romantic love but we cannot live healthily without healthy loving relationships with at least one or two—and preferably more—other persons.

Furthermore, without a meaningful relationship with God, there is a deep sense of spiritual emptiness of the soul. When God created mankind, he created us with the capacity to communicate with him, to be connected to him in spirit. The tragedy is that when sin entered the human race, we were separated or disconnected from God. But because God loved us he sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for all our sins so we could be reconnected to God and then, through Jesus, get our God-cup or vacuum filled.

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