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Fertile Ground by Pastor Connie Day of Little Church in the Pines

Island Park News of Island Park, Idaho

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My daughter s Drama Club is working on a production of Romeo and Juliet. I can't imagine having to memorize the lines of a play by Shakespeare. It's hard enough just to read it! There are two important parts to memorizing lines for a play: knowing WHAT to say and WHEN to say it. The right words delivered at the wrong time would not make sense.

In the drama of the passion of Christ, there are a lot of things that people say and do. A week before Jesus was crucified he was welcomed into Jerusalem by an adoring crowd. They waved palm branches and called out to him saying, "Hosanna! Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" People were excited to proclaim Jesus as their king and savior. Only a week later, there was another crowd. Maybe some of the same people were in both. This time, they shouted, "Crucify him!" They called for his death, or at least stood by silently while others did. The hopes of the people who saw Jesus as the "king who comes in the name of the Lord" fell silently away as he was led up a hill and nailed to a cross.

Where in this story would you expect these words to be spoken? "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." If I didn't know the story and had to guess when they were said I wouldn't have guessed correctly. I would think that the people shouted those words when they were waving the palm branches and joyfully praising God. In that part of the story, something exciting was happening. A new kingdom was coming, and Jesus was being hailed as the new king.

I could imagine someone saying those words to Jesus a little while later, when the crowd disperses, but the memory is still fresh and a feeling of great hope and triumph still hangs in the air. I wouldn't have been surprised to read that one of the disciples took Jesus aside and said to him, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Those words "fit" that part of the story. But then, everything falls apart. People are mocking Jesus. They are taunting him. They call him "KING", but only to make fun of him. Even his closest friends have given up by then. Their hopes and dreams of seeing a new kingdom have faded away, and the palm branches are all dried up. Some of his disciples stood at a distance watching as the one in whom they had put all of their hope was being crucified. How could the kingdom come now? It seemed impossible. But as his friends stood at a distance and watched, one of the criminals who was being crucified alongside Jesus spoke those surprising words of faith: words that seem to be so "out of place". "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." How could he have thought — at that point in the story — that the kingdom was still a possibility? Jesus was dying. It was too late to think about what might have been, let alone have any hope that things might still work out. Yet, there is no doubt at all expressed by this condemned man hanging on a cross next to Jesus. He didn't say, "Jesus, remember me IF you come into your kingdom." He said, "Jesus, remember me WHEN you come into your kingdom."

There is no doubt at all that despite appearances, despite the apparent hopelessness of the situation, Jesus would, indeed, come into his kingdom. There was no doubt either that a lost sinner, such as he, would be welcome in Jesus' kingdom. Do you have that kind of faith? It seems out of place in a world that often feels dark and discouraging, like the last moments of Jesus' life. Faith seems out of place when we are faced with hopelessness and defeat. But that is when we most need to trust in Him and believe in Him. There are some days when things are going so well that it's easy to believe and trust in God.

I want to have a faith that remains strong through all the times of despair and adversity in my life: those days when nothing seems to be going right, when darkness and hopelessness seem to prevail. I want to have a faith that trusts in Jesus against all odds: faith that enables me to believe in him even when there doesn't seem to be a logical reason to believe; faith that looks to him in the midst of darkness and hopelessness, knowing and believing that Jesus can overcome the darkness and that when Jesus is with us, there is always hope. That's the kind of faith I want to have.



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Original Publication Date: March 26, 2015



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