Broken Pieces

broken pieces

Last week, Nathan and I shared Holy Communion with two others during our church service.

Our dear friend, Matt, brought a fairly conservative chunk of bread over to serve us and carefully broke it into pieces.  One of the pieces that lay on the plate was somewhat larger than the rest.  When offered the bread, our awkward Englishness seemed to take over, and each one of us avoided taking it – I mean, that would just seem rude and greedy, right?

As we bowed our heads to pray, it began to dawn on us – this bread represents the Lord’s body, broken for us.  When we eat of the bread, it’s in remembrance of Jesus’ death on the cross in our place.  Why wouldn’t we want the largest piece?!

Nathan began to pray:  “Lord, I thank you that you don’t give us little pieces of yourself!  When you died on the cross, you gave it ALL!  You gave up everything, and gave your entire self to us!  And You said: “It is finished!”  You paid the price in full!”

It was a real moment of clarity – Jesus didn’t somehow share Himself out, giving each believer a little chunk of Himself.  No!  He gave to each one of us His all.  A real sense of holy joy came over us.

Then Matt, reaching for the wine, accidentally knocked over the communion plate, which somehow slipped through the gap in the chairs and smashed.  Rather embarrassed, Matt started to collect up the broken pieces…all but one…which I will come to later….

The sharp crack of the breaking plate, instantly reminded me of the veil in the temple being torn in two.  Was God saying something here?

My ears were drawn to the song that the worship leader was quietly strumming in the background…it was something to do with bringing our broken pieces to Jesus!  This was a God moment.

Nathan reached down to retrieve the last piece of broken china. For some reason, rather than just gathering the broken pieces into a pile, which is what I would have done, Matt and Nathan attempted to put them back together on an empty chair.  And when the last piece of china was set in its place, we were completely and utterly staggered by what we saw:

Broken Plate (2)

 

“For He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes, we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Risen!

He is risen

Very early,

Sunday morn,

Grief rising up like a gathering storm.

Day-break,

Hearts ache,

As the weight of it all begins to dawn.

 

Thorns, nails,

Mournful wails,

Laid in a tomb that wasn’t His own,

Laden with spices,

We make our way,

Not even knowing who’ll roll back the stone.

 

Earth quake,

Guards shake,

Heavenly beings in dazzling white,

Our hearts pound with fear,

Too scared to draw near,

We bow to the ground at this dazzling sight!

 

“You needn’t fear!

He isn’t here!

“Why search for the Living among the dead?

Hurry, go!

Let everyone know –

That Jesus is risen, just as He said!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zacchaeus

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! – Psalm 32:1

zacchaeus-1

So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a Sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way…Luke 19:4

 

The streets of the city were crowded that day,

The Teacher was coming – He was heading this way.

My heart leapt within at the sound of His Name,

This man who healed lepers, the blind and the lame.

 

But the crowds all around me were blocking my view,

And try as I might, I just couldn’t push through.

Not much to be said for my stature – it’s true,

So I ended up right at the back of the queue!

 

Then ahead of the crowds in the distance, I see,

Down the long dusty road,

There’s a Sycamore Tree,

I was desperate to see Him,

It had to be done,

I kicked up the dust and I started to run!

 

My robes snagged on branches as I scrambled up high,

And I hoped, against hope, that He’d not pass me by,

Still my heart skipped a beat when He stopped by that tree,

And He peered through the leaves,

Looking straight up at me!

zacchaeus

What would He say to a man such as me?

What was I doing here?

How could it be?

That this wonderful stranger should call me by name?

In that moment, I knew, I would not be the same.

 

The people were outraged- He was going to eat,

At the home of Zacchaeus, the swindler, the cheat!

But whenever He spoke, all my pride fell apart,

And something was changed in the depths of my heart.

The tears started falling, my heart overflowed.

I would pay it all back, every penny I owed.

I would give it all gladly,

I would do anything,

For this wonderful Man,

For this beautiful King!

 

The love that He showed me,

The grace that He gave,

Swept over my being, like wave upon wave,

What joy filled my soul, and what gladness within,

When the Son of God cleansed me,

From all of my sin.

 

 

 

 

 

Three Words That Changed My Life

It’s amazing how three little words can say so much. Take these three phrases for instance:

I love you.

I am sorry.

I forgive you.

All of these phrases are small – but they can change an awful lot can’t they?

But never, in all of history, were three words as meaningful as the last phrase uttered by a dying man, over two thousand years ago. They were three small words that changed my life forever. And they can change yours too.

They were the words of Jesus as He hung upon a cross, dying.

“It is finished!”

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When Jesus uttered those words moments before He died, it wasn’t a cry of relief that His suffering was about to come to an end. He didn’t merely mean: “Thank goodness this ordeal is over!”

It meant so much more.

Jesus’ death was not just an unfortunate end to a good man’s life. There was something far deeper going on. The bible tells us that Jesus gave His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

He chose to go to the cross.

A ransom is a sum of money demanded for the release of a prisoner.

So who was the prisoner?

Me!

And you.

Okay, so let me just clear things up – I’ve never been to jail. This is a metaphoric image.

Before Jesus rescued me, the bible tells me that I was like a prisoner on death row, a slave, chained and bound by my sin. No matter how hard I tried to become a better person, I couldn’t get free.

So Jesus did the unthinkable. He paid my ransom. It meant that He had to die in my place. It meant that He had to take all of the sin off my back and bear it on His own. It meant that He had to be punished, beaten, bloodied and bruised instead of me.

And that’s exactly what was going on when Jesus hung on the cross.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, bore the sins of the whole world upon His shoulders, on a cross, on a hill called Calvary, on a day that changed History forever.

Which brings me back to those three words: “It is finished!”

The same phrase has been found on bits of ancient papyri, written across tax receipts. It really means: “PAID IN FULL”. Wow!

The price for our redemption, our ransom, was PAID IN FULL by Jesus’ death on the cross.

Perhaps you are familiar with the words from an old hymn: I pray they have new meaning for you today:

“Long my imprisoned Spirit lay, fast-bound in sin, and nature’s night,

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray, I woke the dungeon flamed with light!

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose went forth and followed Thee!”

All I had to do was say three little words in return. “I am sorry”.

And as Jesus arms were outstretched, nailed to that splintered cross beam, His answer was plain to see:

“IT IS FINISHED!”

“I FORGIVE YOU!”

“I LOVE YOU”!