So That’s What He Meant

It should be no surprise that the Lord means exactly what He says, but we may not know exactly what He means when He says it. As a case in point, we see this passage in Isaiah, where He promises to destroy death. No doubt some saw this as saying no one would ever physically die again. That’s reasonable. But He meant they through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, no one who suffer eternal death who embraced Jesus and put their faith in Him.

These promises made her are dependent upon faith in Christ. The destruction of death and the wiping of tears depend upon the Christian faith. The removal of disgrace may not even be realized thus side of heaven, but again, God is a eternal being. The short span of life we consider our whole lives is but a heartbeat to Him. What we consider our whole world is but labor pains to Him heralding our birth into immortality. How we choose to react and live in these scant fee years determines how we will live forever.

Those sound like some significant choices.

Right now you have the choice go follow God, to trust Him based on the evidence you’ve been given, or to deny Him. Your choice today has eternal consequences. But God did not leave Himself without evidence. That is why He abolished death in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He set forth this single indisputable fact on the landscape of human history. Whether or not you choose to believe it is laid before you.

Lord Jesus I pray for every heart that reads this blog today. May they each consider their choice for eternity and choose to follow You. May fhey consider how much You love them and gave Your life, the life of Your son Christ Jesus, so that we wound live? Lord Jesus so move us to faith in Your holy, precious name, Amen.

He is Risen

Christ the Lord is risen today, allelulia!

That quiet morning two thousand years ago was disturbed by an event unparalleled in history. While all the authorities were resuming work, the religious elite were pleased with themselves that they had saved their faith from a known revolutionary. The Romans were satisfied they had quelled another potential problem. The disciples of Jesus were huddled together, sleeping fitfully because they were terrified of what would happen to them since they lost their Rabbi, especially how they lost Him. Would Judas rat them all out?

But a few women, who braved the early morning air carrying spices, went out to the tomb. Perhaps to see Him one last time before His flesh rotted away, their topic of conversation on their way was how to roll the stone away. Did they know of the armed guard placed over the tomb? Were they worried they might have to convince a handful of guards to stand aside and let them minister their defeated Master?

But the sight that greeted them that morning was not a closed and guarded tomb.

I’ve always wondered why the gospel writers never talk about the actual event of the resurrection. There is no grand depiction of the stone rolling away, or the great moment when Jesus sits up, or when he peels off the grave wrapping. In an echo of Lazarus’ resurrection, there is no moment in the gospels where we see the risen Lord walk out of the tomb. No, by the time the gospels catch up to the event, it has already passed.

The women come upon an empty tomb, with the stone rolled away, the guards fled, the angels standing there over an empty pallet which once held the body of Jesus. The woman are told calmly and peacefully, “He is not here. He is risen just as He said.” There is a gentle scolding in that statement. Oh faithless followers, didn’t you believe? Didn’t He say He would rise again? Why did you not believe?

The women fled the tomb to tell the others, especially Peter, especially Peter, who of all the disciples most sorely needed to hear this message. Mary of Magdala still didn’t understand, and stayed behind, grieving, how could someone have taken the body? Of all the insults their “leaders” could have played on them, now they desecrate the body of the Lord? That is until the “gardener” shows up for work that morning. Maybe he knows what happened? But when she pours out her concerns to him, he responds with the most beautiful word she could ever hear, because it comes from the lips of the One she loves most, “Mary.” She falls to her feet and grasps them. The angels were right, He is RISEN! He’s ALIVE! Death could not hold Him. Their enemies could not defeat HIM. By the time John and Peter arrive, Mary has already left with her instruction to tell the others. John rushes into the tomb while Peter is still trying to grasp what he is seeing. John’s witness to the empty tomb includes the fact that he saw the graveclothes laid aside, with the facecloth folded up by itself. Jesus’ resurrection body passed through the graveclothes without needed to unwrap them. This is our first clue that Jesus isn’t what He used to be.

Over the course of the day, we see Jesus making various appearances to credible witnesses in diverse situations. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that one appearance was to His brother, James. James didn’t believe in his brother. He didn’t believe in His mission, and thought he was crazy. No doubt he mourned the loss of his brother, but probably thought Jesus got what was coming to Him. He didn’t expect Jesus to appear to him. I wish I was a fly on the wall during that conversation. But the transformation to James was night and day. James not only becomes a believer (and perhaps one of the first converts after Jesus’ resurrection) but becomes a leader in the Jerusalem church and an author of a New Testament book, The Letter of James.

The Day of the Resurrection of Jesus changed everything. His followers were no longer down and out, but out and proud, proclaiming the work of God through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus wasn’t just a country preacher, but the very God of very God, the Son who speaks the words of God. In Jesus we could all put our faith and our hope, for His return was very soon. We could have hope for the future. Since He rose from the dead, we can rise from the dead. In Jesus is all the hope we will ever need. All of this because of that Easter morning two thousand years ago. I look forward to the future, no matter how bleak the present, because He LIVES!

Humbled to Death

He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross!
(Php 2:8)

These two verses form a chain of progression, from heaven to the cross along the path of humility. Jesus, who lived in heaven, humbled Himself by becoming a man, and then as a man, humbled Himself further by being obedient to the will of His Father and submitted to the cross. It was no light thing He did. Each step was taken with careful deliberation and certainty of will. Jesus knew the stakes. He knew how much of a bet this was to convince men and women to believe in Him for eternal life. He knew how risky it would be putting His own life on the line to show His love, His Father’s love for the whole world. And this was in the days before the internet, before mass media coverage, before newspapers. He knew that what He was doing would be so profound, so meaningful, so impactful, that we would still be talking about it and celebrating it 2000 years later.

What other events from ancient history do we celebrate every year? The Jews celebrate Passover (the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt 3500 years ago), Hannukah (the oil in the Temple that continued to burn while a new batch was being prepared, about 2200 years ago) and some others. But the rest of the world? We celebrate the founding of our nation 250 years ago. We celebrate and remember events from recent memory, like 9/11 or maybe Pearl Harbor. We celebrate Christmas not because Christ was born, but that He died and was resurrected.

Celebrating Easter is our connection to the ancient world, a time when swords and sandals won the day, when the Romans ruled the world, and a small group of Jewish men and women celebrated the return of their Rabbi from death, the Son of God. This one event, in a Roman backwater, far from the seats of power and influence, has changed the whole world. We don’t remember the name of the Roman Caesar of that day (Tiberius) as well as we do the name of Jesus. What man sees as insignificant, God plans for His glory.

As we prepare our hearts for Easter this week, Whether alone or with family, lift up the name of Jesus in your conversation. Lift up the name of Jesus in your work. For this Jesus who died is alive again. He was crucified, but He has risen. Let us rejoice and praise the name of Jesus!

Lord Jesus, let me not forget what Yoru resurrection means. Though we are separated from the events of that morning by two millennia, Your Name still rings in our ears. May we ever sing Your praises, Amen.