Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Spruce Goose and the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus

Sidney Herald religion column published December 6, 2015
During World War II, Henry Kaiser, steel magnate and shipbuilder, conceived the idea of a massive flying transport. He turned to Howard Hughes to design and build it. It was 6 times larger than any aircraft of its time. Beyond its size, creating this airplane was challenging because of government restrictions on war materials like steel and aluminum.
Hughes designed this “Flying Boat” entirely in wood. Hardly anyone thought it could rise from the water. Hughes did not seem to know what he was talking about. His ideas of aeronautics seemed wrong.
The plane originally was designated the HK-1 for Hughes-Kaiser, but even Kaiser withdrew from the project. The plane was re-designated the H-4. But the press insisted on calling it the “Spruce Goose,” despite its being made almost entirely of birch. It was their way to ridicule an idea that would not get off the water.
But on November 2, 1947, during a taxi test, Hughes made an unannounced decision to fly. With a co-pilot, several engineers, crewmen and journalists on board, the Spruce Goose rose from the water and flew.
Jesus had his own Spruce Goose. It was his flogged, crucified, and dead body. He said it would rise from the grave, and people thought he was crazy or demon possessed.
In one of the four trials of Jesus, “Some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, ‘We heard Him say, “I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’’” (Mark 14:58) He had not said, “made with hands.” He had said simply, “this temple,” about the temple of his body. He meant that after his crucifixion, death, and burial, on the third day he would rise in his body from the grave.
Jesus said publicly that He “must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly.” (Mark 8:31)
John tells us the value of this rising of Jesus in his body from the grave. “When He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.” (John 2:19-22).
Because of the resurrection, they believed what Jesus had said. His bodily resurrection showed that He knew what He was talking about. As Hughes knew something about aeronautics, Jesus knows something about resurrection. Christ’s resurrection assures us that his teaching is true.
The teaching is what Jesus told Martha. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25) The Apostles “preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” (Acts 4:1) The Church still preaches today that by faith in Christ, our sins may be forgiven


Why He Went Out of State for Surgery

Sidney Herald religion column published September 6, 2015

The week he was gone from work, no one knew where he went. When he came back, he didn’t say, and no one asked. He seemed to be himself, except he was not going on like he usually did about his healthy lifestyle.

In time he confided in a coworker. He’d gone out of state for surgery. He gave a thin explanation of his condition. The coworker asked, “Don’t any surgeons in this state do that kind of surgery.” He said, “Yes, but I was ashamed.”

“Everyone has health problems,” the co-worker said. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of in that.” “There is for me,” he said. “You know I’m all about healthy lifestyle. Every part of my life is ruled by health consciousness. Some people say I preach it. Getting this condition ruins everything. It makes everything I’ve done and said foolish. It’s humiliating. I didn’t want people to know.”

The Church teaches that death is one of five steps in Christ’s state of humiliation. But why? Everyone dies. Where’s the humiliation in that?

It was humiliation because death made Jesus look like the healthy lifestyle preacher who, in truth, was sickly. Jesus not only preached life. He said He is life, that He has life in himself (John 5:26), that He can give life (John 6:33), abundant life (John 10:10), and eternal life (John 6:40). He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Because He preached such things, for him to die seemed to ruin everything He had done and put the lie to everything He had said.

Jesus went so far as to claim that all of Scripture is about him and his power to give life. He said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40) As extreme as that is, He went further, saying, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39) Really? All Scripture is about him? We must lose our lives for his sake? Wow. If that’s not true, talk about vanity!

But if it is true, talk about the humiliation of his dying. Christ “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.” (Philippians 2:8) This Person, who is life, obediently died to give life to us who were dead in our trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1, 5; Colossians 2:13) He snuffed the light of his life, hid his glory, and took our death-shame of sin.

Jesus willingly humiliated himself in death for us that we might live. “Christ died for the ungodly,” (Romans 5:6) “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Hebrews 2:14-15) This He did openly, being crucified for the entire world to see, because he is not ashamed to call us his brothers. (Hebrews 2:11) and our bodies may rise from our graves to eternal life and blessedness.


FUBAR: Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition

Sidney Herald religion column published July 26, 2015
In the movie, Saving Private Ryan, Private Reiben asks, "Where’s the sense of riskin' the lives of the eight of us to save one guy?" Captain Miller says, "We all have orders, and we have to follow 'em. That supersedes everything, including your mothers." Private Reiben asks, "Even if you think the mission's FUBAR, sir?" "Especially if you think the mission's FUBAR," answers Captain Miller.
Corporal Upham asks, "What's FUBAR?" As things go from bad to worse, he learns what FUBAR means: fouled up beyond all recognition. (sanitized version).

When something is messed up so badly that it cannot be recognized as what it is supposed to be, that's FUBAR. That's what happened to Jesus when He was executed for our sins. Not only was He so messed up that He could not be recognized as God, even his humanity did not appear. Both were hidden under our sin that He was bearing.
“His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind,” or “His appearance was so disfigured that He did not look like a man, and His form did not resemble a human being.” (Isaiah 52:14) Before crucifixion, Roman flogging already had accomplished this.
Flogging was a legal preliminary to Roman execution. Hebrew law prohibited more than 40 lashes. The Pharisees established a law of only 39, in case of miscount. Roman law was different. The executioner had discretion over the number of lashes. Some never made it to their crosses.
The tool for scourging was the flagellum, a short whip with several heavy, leather thongs. Some had lead balls near the end of each thong. Others had jagged stone, broken pottery, or pieces of bone. The pain of blows was intended, but the idea went further, to cut the skin.
“Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn bleeding tissue.” (C. Truman Davis, M.D. in the journal Arizona Medicine) In the movie, The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson was not exaggerating.
As preached by the apostles, the point was not how badly Jesus suffered, but that his appearance portrays how bad our sin is. Sin makes us unrecognizable as the humans we once were in Adam before the fall. We are FUBAR.
Our ruin showed on Jesus when He took our place and carried our sin. But Jesus triumphed over our sin with all its damage. He went from humiliation on our behalf to glorification. He rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven. He sat down at the right hand of the Father where He rules over all things. As He once shared our sinful ruin, now He shares again his Father’s glory. This glory is more dazzling than the ugliness of our sin. He prays for us. He sends us the Holy Spirit to commend the Gospel of forgiveness to us. Through the Gospel, He promises to share his glory with us in our resurrection.