Thursday, January 25, 2018

An Image in a Starbucks

'Then he appeared to James…’ 1 Corinthians 15:7

Two weeks after Beth died, I was going into Target to pick up a few things. Located inside the store is a Starbucks beside the produce. It was a very sunny morning, and something made me look over in Starbucks. Leaning up against the window with the bright sunshine at her back was the silhouette of a young woman whose stature and face looked just like Beth. As my eyes were adjusting to the figure, I could make out that she was smiling at me. The more I looked intently at her face, the more she looked at me with a smile that wouldn't stop. I started smiling back but knew in my heart it wasn’t her. Eventually I looked away, walking off with a sense of sadness but joy that I saw the incredible resemblance of my sister. I glanced back one last time to discover the empty window.

I cannot even wrap my head around the interaction of Jesus and his half-brother James once Jesus was raised from the dead. Their relationship had been shaky at best, since James did not hold the same views as his brother, and certainly never believed He was the awaited Messiah. But peeking into the window of Jesus and his siblings, the pane is dusty, and the curtains are drawn. The Bible remains silent on the young life of Jesus from age 12 to 30. The last mention of Him was being left behind at the Temple until we hear John the Baptist making way for Him in the desert as a 30-year-old man. At one point during the ministry it is written that His family showed up a house accusing Jesus of being crazy…maybe even being the black sheep of the family…the different one…the one creating havoc. “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind." Mark 3:21.

Then one day as James was walking out the aftermath of his half-brother’s death, Jesus was walking out His new-found resurrection. I can just bet that as He approached the back of James, His heart began to race. He was going to choose James to help spread the beautiful message of redemption and eternal life, despite the past. Jesus was looking forward in love instead of backwards in judgment.  James must have been stopped in his tracks when he heard Jesus call his name. There was no mistaking that voice…he had heard it over many years of dinners, on trips to Jerusalem, and among the trees of their boyhood home. As James turned around and met the eyes of Jesus, his world must have crashed down. I wonder if at that point, he realized that instead of his brother being the ‘black sheep’ of the family He was really the white Lamb of the world. The Lamb who laid down His life so that all of us could pick up ours.

These five words…'He appeared to James…' holds incredible hope for you and for me. Once we are in the family of Jesus it doesn’t matter how many times we have ignored or rejected Him. It doesn’t matter how long it took to notice Him or to invite Him into our fellowship. The sacrifice and love of Jesus has never been based on what we've done, but on what He did. Jesus is standing behind us, with His hand on our shoulder guiding…loving…reclaiming our position in His family. There is no sin greater than the love He has for us, and no mountain too high for Him to come and connect with us. I’m so grateful that Christ is not just an image in a Starbucks, but a resurrected Savior on an empty cross.

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