Day 162 Living for the Future
“..we look not to the things that are seen but to the_things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” II Corinthians 4:18
Our minds often are dwelling on some future event – an unwanted event like a dreaded exam or some medical test; or a much desired event like a graduation or a wedding. It may be hard to focus on what’s at hand today. Former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was famous for his witty sayings. One of them is, “Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” The idea is that if we think mostly about heaven, we miss seeing the needs around us on earth. But is this true? C.S. Lewis stated, “A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is… It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” John Piper had this comment, “It is possible to be so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly use. My problem is: I’ve never met one of those people.” [ https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/so-heavenly-minded-youre-no-earthly-good/ ]
The Bible does tell us to anticipate the future.
“..we look not to the things that are seen but to the_things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” I Corinthians 4:18
[Note: “Unseen things” include things of the present but also of the future, as the word “eternal” suggests.]
“18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:18-23
[Note: Notice the terms used of future things: “the glory that will be revealed”, waits in eager expectation”, “to be revealed”, “in hope”, “will be liberated”, “freedom and glory”, “firstfruits”, “wait eagerly for…”]
Part of living with attention to today’s duties is knowing that we can place the future in God’s hands. God knows the future. Jesus assured us in Matthew 24 that the Father is well aware of what is to come.
- This gives us hope. “For I know the plans that I have for you declares the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.: Jer. 29:11 “ “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…” I Peter 1:3-4; “surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” Prov. 23:19.
- This gives us assurance for the present. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6.
- Because He knows the future, God alerts us and calls us to be diligent. Some things coming will be difficult and threatening. Some explanations given will be false, but stand with Christ. “We are called to work for what is right. 5 And Jesus began to say to them, See that no one leads you astray.6 Many will come in my name saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray.7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet…. Be on your guard…do not be anxious beforehand … the one who endures will be saved.” Mark 13:5-13 “11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ…” Titus 2:11-13
- God wants us to be aware that He is preparing an amazing future for those who love Him. Glory is coming. “18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but_because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to_corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of child birth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:8-25 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” John 5:28 5:28 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for_the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will_be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4
- Read all the passages above.
- Does what you know about the future the Bible tells us about make an impact on how you live now?
Day 163 – GRIEVING
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled…Jesus wept.” John 11:33, 35
If you go to this web site: https://www.openbible.info and click on “Topical Bible” along the top bar, you will find a very useful tool for Bible study. Put a word in the box that follows the question, “What does the Bible say about…_________ ? The search will deliver about 100 verses on that topic. I was interested in the topic of “grief” and the search gave me that many verses. I then looked at each verse and selected words or phrases that described grief, or gave me alternate terms I might find helpful. The verses also covered God’s provisions for a grieving person. So, here are two lists that cover grieving and relief from grieving:
|Affliction||Binds (up wounds)|
|Assailed||Bourn (our griefs)|
|Crushed (in spirit)||Cares|
|Crying||Carried (our sorrows)|
|Burden(ed) / heavy laden||(God will) come|
|Cords (of Sheol)||(God) called|
|Cast off||Crown (of righteousness)|
|Captive||Delivers / deliverer|
|Death (shadow of)||Fortress|
|Darkness / night||Gladness (and joy)|
|Despised||Glory (to come)|
|Fear||Lowly (of heart)|
|Fail (heart fails; strength fails)||(Steadfast) love|
|Fire / flame||Light|
|Grief / grieve (wasted by grief)||Liberty|
|Oppressed||Pray (or request)|
|Suffering||Strength / strengthens/stronghold|
|Tribulation||(God is) with you|
|Taken away||Wipe (away)|
|Weep / wept|
|Waters / rivers|
Now, if you look at the individual words, you can conclude that someone is grieving because of the death of a loved one, or because he or she is spent or exhausted, or because of rejection, or because of sustained physical pain, or because of a great disappointment, etc.
And, thankfully, these words of scripture also offer hope in times of despair. God sends His relief in the struggle of grief. Thus, He comforts and cares. He rescues us from some difficult situation. He delivers us from a serious problem. He invites us to take our problems to Him in prayer, etc.
Grief comes our way often and sometimes at unexpected times. The other day, I received word that a former colleague of mine had passed away. I felt tears – grief. He had chaired the search committee that recruited me and had shown kindness and generosity to me during that time and as I settled into a new position and began to move forward in my career. The grief honoured his memory.
At other times we grieve for others who are going through rough times. In those times, we can be God’s agent of comfort and grace. God knows about grief and is ready to carry us through it.
- Read II Corinthians 1:3-7.
- Take a few of the words or phrases from the lists above and create sentences in which the chosen word(s) appears. This will help you in seeing what causes grief, or how it can be expressed, or how you can deal with it and find relief.
Day 164 – MATTHEW’S PASSION
“Truly this was the Son of God!” Matthew 26:54
There are many incidents associated with the last days of Jesus before the cross and afterwards to His ascension. Think of these: the plot to arrest Jesus, His anointing, the betrayal of Judas, the Passover meal, the denial of Peter, Gethsemane, His arrest and trials (a religious one and a political one), the freeing of Barabbas, the mocking of Jesus, the cross/crucifixion itself, His death and burial, the resurrection, and the commissioning. Most of these events are found in all the gospels, but some are unique to one over the other three. In this series of four Short Thoughts, I will pick two or three events from each gospel.
In Matthew 26:6-13 we find the anointing of the Lord which occurred in Bethany – before trial, crucifixion, and resurrection. The Lord and disciples are at the home of a man known as Simon the Leper – probably meaning this man had once had leprosy but was now healed. It would not be unusual for someone to anoint a visiting prophet, but in this case, a woman anoints Jesus with very expensive perfume. If this is the same instance as recorded in John 12, it is worth 300 denarii, or a year’s salary for a working man. It is no wonder that the disciples were impressed with the value but Jesus’ rebuke of them shows that their “indignation” (verse 8) was not appropriate. The consensus was that the perfume could have been sold and the profits donated to the poor, but Jesus’ response said, “No”, the anointing had even greater value than that.
They called it a “waste” and Jesus called it “beautiful”. The said, “Give it to the poor,” while Jesus said, You can always help the poor but you do not always have Me (in person).” Then, Jesus went on to explain what was really happening. This woman was preparing Him for burial (verse 12). Their attitude and words had “troubled” the woman (verse 10), while future generations would honour her by the telling of this story (v. 13).
Certainly, it is valuable to provide for the poor, however, Jesus is saying that there are times when a choice between two good things has to be made. He is also saying that, since He is worthy of such adulation, He is the Messiah. They did not see that as yet, nor His sacrificial death approaching. This woman had some understanding of these things. The presentation of this event here provides an introduction to the passion of Christ.
The Death of Jesus
In the twelve verses that describe the death of Jesus (Matthew 27:45-56), Matthew captures some important lessons.
First there is the darkness of this time (verses 45-46). Look up “symbolism of darkness” on the Internet and you find many sites that use words such as evil, death, fear, gloom, despair, sadness. In the Bible you see this idea, too: “To open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.” (Acts 26:18), or “If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (I John 1:6), or “The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” (Prov. 4:19). This is captured, also, in the Lord’s own words on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” (Matt. 27:46) These are words of loneliness and despair that emphasize the depths of Jesus’ suffering for us.
Secondly, though this was a moment of darkness and death, Jesus Christ was still in charge of what was happening. The crowd offers sour wine which some commentors see as further mockery and a way to extend His suffering, while others see it as a small mercy to a thirsty, dying man. Then, it is Jesus Himself who “yielded up his spirit” (Matt. 27:50), thus emphasizing that He gave Himself, of His own volition, a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28).
Thirdly, Jesus’ death is clearly presented as the way to life. Miraculous things take place as Jesus dies. With the inner curtain in the Temple (separating the Holy Place from the most Holy Place) torn, the way to God was now open. This is taught in Hebrews 10:19-22 where it says that Christ opened the curtain allowing us to draw near, entering the holy places by the blood of Jesus. As the temple curtain was torn, an earthquake hit and tombs were open. Also, some believers were raised (possibly after Jesus’ resurrection), appearing to many (Matt. 27:51-53). And we mustn’t forget the transformation of the centurion who was watching and came to a place of awe, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (verse 54). I bet he didn’t begin his day with this observation in mind! Darkness is replaced by life.
Fourthly, this account of the death of Jesus concludes with mention of the women who witnessed His death. The text says “many” women watched including Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and John). Mark adds Salome and John mentions Jesus’ mother’s sister (who may be the same person as Salome). These women were from Galilee and assisted Jesus on some of His travels. Some of these were also present after His resurrection. Their mention is a word of praise for the faithfulness of women and their importance in ministry.
- Read Matthew 26:1-13 and 27:45-56.
- I wonder how often we are “indignant” of decisions made in our local churches, when God actually approves of the decision that was made. When we disagree is it because our different choice was really the better choice? Are we willing to reconsider our preference and re-think which option really would better honour God?
3, Can you recall some dark and difficult times that in the long run turned out to be necessary in God’s plan for you?
- Are there those in your Christian circle who are sometimes forgotten, but who need to be valued for their devotion to God and for their service?
Day 165 – MARK’s PASSION
“And he broke down and wept.” Mark 14:72
There have certainly been more than enough times when I’ve messed up – failing someone in some way and then thinking of myself as just plain stupid – I should have known better. Feeling like this can make you cry. Peter had a few of these times, too. In Mark 14:72, we read, “And he (Peter) broke down and wept.”
In Mark’s gospel the story of the Passion of Christ is told in chapters 14and 15, with the resurrection in chapter 16.
Many of the early church fathers and most Bible scholars today think that Mark’s main source in giving us an account of the life of Christ was the Apostle Peter. With that in mind, let’s consider what Mark records about Peter’s denial (Mark 14:26-31, 66-71).
The Forecast (14:26-31)
Upon leaving the Upper Room, Jesus warned the disciples, “You will all fall away,” and quoted Zechariah 13:7, “I will strike the Shepherd and the sheep will be scattered…” (Jesus also used this forecast to assure them that He would rise and meet them in Galilee -Mark 14:27). The words are for “all”, then more specifically, Peter in verse 30. Peter would “fall away” this very night, denying Jesus three times before a crow crows twice. So, Jesus signals that not only Peter but all of them will fail Him, even though Peter says, “I will not” and the others agreed that even if they must die for Him, they’ll not forsake Him. The prediction of Jesus is clear even to specific details, while the assertion of the disciples, Peter especially, is contrary and firm.
The Denial (14:66-71)
We have to wait only to verse 66 and following of Mark 14 to see whose prediction holds true, Jesus’ or the disciples’. Twice a servant girl identifies Peter as one of the followers of Jesus and once the bystanders agree with her (verses 66, 69-70). Three times Peter denies he knows Jesus: 1st -“I neither know nor understand what you mean.” 2nd – But again he (Peter) denied it.” 3rd – “But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know this man of whom you speak.’”. (14:68, 70-71) Twice the rooster crows (verse 68, 72). We can almost feel inside us, reading this passage, a churning of the stomach and anxious tightening of the heart. This is what Peter goes through, along with the recall of Jesus’ words, “You will deny Me three times.” (14:72) It is no wonder that he breaks down and weeps. But it is not only Peter who fails, it is also the other ten remaining disciples, and a n unnamed young man, as we see in this last thought, below.
Mark is the only gospel writer to tell us of a curious incident:
“And a young man followed Him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.” (Mark 14:51-52).
This is all we know about the young man. Speculation is, he is Mark. Mark’s mother had a house in Jerusalem (Acts 12:1-5). Though we associate Gethsemane, where this occurred, with the disciples, it is possible the young man was mingling with the crowds assembled for Passover and being curious, found himself nearby and witnessed some of the events that evening. Later in the New Testament we encounter Mark as a companion of Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:5) only to leave them early on (13:31-38) and to be the source of conflict between the senior missionaries (13:39-41). Still later, Paul has reconciled with Mark, finding him a valuable co-labourer (Philemon 1:34; II Tim. 4:11). Thus, this incident in the gospel is part of the story of Mark’s development over time as a follower of Jesus. The clothing he is wearing is the outer garment (sindon) customarily worn with the inner garment (chiton). The outer garment was usually made of wool, but this one is of linen, an expensive material worn by the rich. All forsook Jesus (verse 50), even this young man.
- Read Mark 14:1-52.
- Have you ever boasted about the strength of your faith? Have you ever shied away or even forthrightly avoided identifying with Jesus?
- What kind of circumstances or situations make it difficult for you to stand up for Jesus?
- Have you deeply felt your denial of the Lord and asked His forgiveness? Have you confessed to Him that you are feeble and asked for His strength to publicly acknowledge Him as Saviour and Lord? 5. Public confession that Jesus is Lord is something God places great emphasis on, as we see in Romans 10:6-11, ` “6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
And, Matthew 10:32, 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
DAY 166 – LUKE’S EASTER
For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in Me: “And He was numbered with the transgressors.” For what is written about Me has its fulfillment. Luke 22:37
Luke’s account of the passion and resurrection week occupies chapters 22-24 and includes most of the events that Matthew and Mark report. But it also has two stories not reported in the other gospels. One is the discussion among the disciples about who would be the greatest in the coming kingdom (found in another context in Matthew 18:1-4 and Mark 9:33-37), and the other is the resurrection story of the followers who were joined by Jesus on the road to Emmaus.
- The Greatest
In Luke 22:24 we read that “a dispute” arose among the disciples about who would be the greatest. Jesus answered this question in three ways. This was a strange discussion to have considering the circumstances. The dispute showed that the disciples had missed the point of what was happening. Already Judas had secretly conferred with the religious authorities about betraying Jesus to them. Also, the Passover meal had been held, with the institution of the Lord’s Supper. Then, they have this argument. The Lord’s response starts with His making a distinction between them and the world. In the world at large, people “exercise lordship” and particularly those in positions of authority “are called benefactors”. That is, secular rulers like titles such as “Benefactor”. In I Peter 5:3 church leaders are warned not to “lord” it over others. The world’s leaders like status symbols and sometimes claim titles for themselves. “But not so with you,” Jesus states (22:26). This is an emphatic sentence: “You, no!” So that is not the way to greatness.
Next, He turns it around and gives two explanations of how to be truly great. First, be like a child – a person who had a lower place in their society than an adult, and, certainly, not one with a claim on ruling others. Secondly, be like a servant. Again, in society, the person seated at the table is considered greater and, therefore, waited on (served) in comparison to the one doing the serving. Jesus Himself (v. 27) has taken the servant role, He reminds them. So, His thought is not to aspire to greatness as the world defines it, but to humble service.
Lastly, He turns from correction to encouragement. They had stayed with Him, been faithful, through the past three years of “trials” of various kinds and would be rewarded in the coming kingdom the Father would give the Son. They would dine at the table and would rule over the tribes of Israel. There was no need to jostle for position. Even with all their faults, they were not to worry – just remain faithful and God would look after such things.
- Scripture will be fulfilled
As if to assure them that the true kingdom was really coming and that humble faith was the way into it, the Lord goes on in chapter 22, verses 35-38, and again in Luke 28:13-35 to emphasize that scriptures about His death and resurrection had to be fulfilled.
In 22:37 the Lord quotes (Isaiah 53:12) must be fulfilled in Him. He would be counted among sinners. This happens in chapter 23:32 when He is led away with two convicted criminals to be put to death on a cross. That Isaiah passage had been written about Jesus (“what is written about Me”).
But there are many other places in the Old Testament that point to Jesus. So, in the last chapter of Luke’s Gospel the risen Lord joins two of His followers on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They were talking about reports of Jesus’ resurrection. They were confused, having hoped that He would be the one to redeem Israel – i.e., gain the nation’s freedom from Roman control. But He had been condemned and killed. What was that about? They had then heard that His body was no longer in the grave. This, too, confused them. That’s when Jesus began to explain “all that the prophets have spoken” (24:25). For the Christ to enter His glory, He said, He had to suffer the Cross. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (v.27) There are scores of such prophecies. A lot of scripture!
- Read Luke 22:35-38; 28:13-35.
- Who are the Christians you admire, the ones who talk about how smart and successful they are, or the ones who show honest humility? Whom do you recognize as the “greatest”?
- When you read the Old Testament, look for Jesus Christ in those passages.
Day 167 – John’s Easter
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”… John 20:18
In his Gospel, John covers most of the events found in Matthew, but does omit the anointing, Judas’ plotting, the Passover meal and the institution of the Lord’s Supper. Also, he adds some post-resurrection appearances including the breakfast on the shores of Galilee. For this ‘Short Thought’ let’s consider the trials and the resurrection appearances.
There was a religious trial (18:12-27) and a political trial (18:28-40). After His arrest, Jesus is taken to be questioned by Annas (the former High Priest) and Caiaphas (the sitting High Priest). In verse 19 we read that Annas asked Jesus about His disciples and His teaching. The High Priest would be interested in the teaching because that raised theological issues – e.g., Was Jesus’ teaching false teaching? Maybe his questions about the disciples concerned their number, their background, their identity as conspirators plotting the overthrow of the Roman government. Jesus did not answer the question about the disciples. Instead, He asked that they be let go (v. 8) and John recalls that He had previously stated He would lose none – i.e., they would be protected. But Jesus did answer the question about his teaching. He had spoken openly, in public places like synagogues and the Temple (v. 20), so He said, “Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them; they know what I said” (v.21).
Officers nearby struck Jesus, accusing Him of disrespecting the High Priest, and Jesus responds, in essence, ‘If what I taught is wrong, summon witnesses; if right, why strike Me?’(v. 23). Then, Jesus is taken to Caiaphas – though no details are offered here. Caiaphas was the High Priest appointed by Rome, so his office was needed to take the case to Pilate.
The political trial before Pilate is reported in John 18:28-40. The Jewish authorities wanted to avoid ceremonial uncleanness, especially this close to the Passover (v. 26-29), so they would’t enter Pilate’s court. Pilate went out to them and the back and forth begins. (I have paraphrased some of it.)
Pilate: “What accusation do you bring against this man?” Religious Leaders: If He has not done evil, why would we bring Him to you? Pilate: Take him yourself. Religious Leaders: We can’t sentence Him because we’re not permitted to pronounce a death sentence (vv. 29-32). Next pilate questions Jesus. Pilate: Are you a king? (meaning, Are you in opposition to Rome?) Jesus: Is this your idea or something the religious authorities claimed? Pilate: It was the Jewish chief priests who handed you over. “What have you done?” Jesus: Yes, I spoke of a kingdom, but it was not a kingdom like Rome’s – it was a kingdom of another world (v. 36). Pilate: “So you are a king?” Jesus: I am a king who came into the world to bear witness to the truth. Pilate: ”What is truth?” (vv. 37-38). (Pilate turns back to the religious authorities.) There is no warrant of a death sentence, but I will follow the custom of releasing a prison at Passover by releasing Jesus, if that’s what you will accept. Religious leaders: We won’t. Release the Barabbas, a thief [and probaby a violent man] … We demand Jesus to be crucified. Pilate [to Jesus]: Where are you from? Jesus: silence Pilate: I have authority to execute you. Jesus: You would have no authority unless it were given you “from above. Therefore, he who delivered Me over to you has the greater sin.” (19:11)
That ends the dialogue and the Lord is handed over for crucifixion. We see that the religious trial consists of hostile questioning, with a foregone conclusion. The trial before Pilate is concerned about political matters – who has the right to execute? Is this Jesus a “king”, opposed to Rome? Pilate wants to control the mob, but cannot see any justification for crucifixion of Jesus, yet gives in to their demand. On Jesus’ part, He accepts the designation of “king”, but not in the sense that Pilate is worried about. Jesus speaks simply and clearly and points out that He had a public ministry that was open and true. John has already quoted Jesus (in 14:6) as saying, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
All four Gospels mention some appearances of the risen Lord to His followers (Acts and I Corinthians add many more). Here are the Gospel references: Matthew 28:1 – Mary Magdalene, another Mary;
Mark 16:1, 9, 12, 14 – Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome, two unnamed disciples, and the 11
Luke 24:9, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, other women with them, two followers on road to Emmaus, Simon, the disciples
John records Jesus’ appearances to Mary Magdalene (John 20:16-18), the disciples (20:19-20), Thomas and the other disciples (20:26), then seven by the Sea of Galilee – Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples (21:1-2, 7, 15, 20).
What was His message to these several women and men who are mentioned in John’s Gospel? Mary Magdalene had gone to the tomb and found it empty. She was concerned about the open tomb and the missing body of the Lord. Twice she says this -once to two angels and a second time to Jesus Himself whom Mary thought to be the gardener (20:13, 15). God gives her comfort, then the revelation of the ‘gardener’ to be Jesus Himself. How wonderful for her to relay to the disciples the news, “I have seen the Lord!” (v. 18) So, we see that God is the comforter and the deliverer of good news.
In 20:19-23 the Lord comes to the 11 disciples with a word of peace. He shows them His wounds (hands and feet), repeats His word of peace, sends them out like the Father had sent Him, and gave them the Holy Spirit. This is John’s record of the Great Commission found in Matthew. He adds that in preaching the good news of salvation, they can assure recipients that their sins are forgiven (v. 23). So, here we have a message of assurance that He is indeed risen, of a peace that only He can give, of the inner presence and power of the Holy Spirit, of a call to go out and tell others about Him, and of forgiveness.
Next, we have the special appearance to Thomas, who had been absent for the appearance in the previous paragraph. Thomas’ big issue was that he needed proof. Earlier, Jesus had shown the disciples his hands and fee, and Thomas wanted the same assurance. Jesus comes and invites Thomas to investigate His hands and side for the wounds of Calvary. He also challenges Thomas to believe He is risen and adds, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (v. 29) The message of Jesus to Thomas is to believe that He has actually risen from the dead and is living among them. He would say the same to us, even though we have not seen Him, and says it is even a greater sign of faith if we who have not seen him believe.
Finally, we have His appearance to seven by the Sea of Tiberias (Galilee). The seven are Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, the sons of Zebedee (James and John), and two unnamed disciples (21:1-23). To all the Lord shows Himself to be God by informing them where to find the fish. He is the provider of food and income (since the fishermen would sell them at market). By breaking bread and giving them fish, they might remember the institution of the Lord’s supper. After the meal, Jesus has a special conversation with Peter. Three times He asks , “Do you love Me?” Peter is most likely disturbed by the repeated questioning of his love for the Lord: “You know that I love You” (21:17), or it may be because of the different verbs for “to love” used by Jesus: “agapao” the first two times and “phileo” in the third instance. Peter uses “phileo” all three times. (It may be that “agapao” is a deeper love and “philao” a friendship type of love, but the two words are used without such distinction in other places in the New Testament.) “You know everything,” Peter says (v. 17), ‘including that I love You’ – and the Lord moves on to commission Peter to take care of the church with “Feed My sheep.” Though Peter had failed a test of loyalty during the trial, he would be found faithful at the end of his life (v. 18). To Peter, then, the message is to be a good pastor to the believers in his charge. The final message is to John, the disciple whom Jesus loved” (v. 20). Peter asked what John would face at the end of life (v. 21), but Jesus does not reveal that. The lesson is to be faithful in whatever your own calling is to be. It turned out that John did not live until the day of Jesus’ return, but he did live a long life and was probably detained as a prisoner at the end.
Having reviewed the interactions between Jesus and these seven followers we see that the Lord takes interest in each of us individually and has a mission for us to accomplish in this life, giving witness to the risen Lord.
- 1. Read John 20:1-18.
- If you ever feel falsely accused, read again the scriptures that describe the trials Jesus faced before the High Priests and Pilate!
- Which of the personal messages to those who saw Jesus after He arose do you find most appropriate and needed for yourself? Jesus delivers comfort Jesus conveys good news Jesus commissions us to share the gospel forgiveness assurance belief God knows that we love Him God knows our destiny – and is with us
Day 168 – THE RESURRECTION
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at_one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. I Corinthians 15:3-9 ESV
Having considered some passion week and Easter scenes from the four Gospels, let’s move out of the Gospels to the marvellous 15th chapter of I Corinthians, where the Apostle Paul writes with much assurance of the resurrection of Christ. This is only one of many New Testament references to the resurrection. In it, Paul links Jesus’ rising from the dead with the hope of our own, showing the necessity of Christ’s resurrection, He being the “firstfruits”, with believers following, and all the way to the defeat of earthly powers and the arrival of the kingdom of God.
But first, Paul establishes the certainty of the resurrection. Notice the steps and proof he lists in verses 3 to 9:
-Christ died and was buried – the necessary prelude -Christ was raised on the third day, as Scripture said would happen -Christ appeared to Cephas (Peter), the 12, over 500 at one time, James, the apostles, and, lastly, Paul
Consider these evidences to the risen Christ:
Death & Burial: There was lots of evidence of His death – secular soldiers at the Cross and guarding the burial place, religious leaders, spectators, faithful followers, a sealed tomb.
Raised the third day – His followers entered the empty tomb, saw and talked and ate with Him; the authorities had to bribe witnesses to cover up His disappearance; “in accordance with the scriptures (Hosea 6:2; Isaiah 53:9; Jonah 1:17 and Matthew 12:40; Luke 24:27)
Christ appeared – to Cephas (Aramaic for Peter – Luke 24:12, John 20:5-6, Mark 16:7); to the 12 (including Judas’ replacement, Mathias (Acts 1:21-23, 26); to over 500, (some now deceased, but most still alive and thus able to confirm this statement); to James, brother of Jesus and leader in the early church (Acts 21:18); to all the apostles (the 12 plus others such as James, Paul, ones who had seen the risen Lord (I Cor. 9:1), and lastly to Paul( Acts 9:4-6).
In addition to the witnesses, Paul raises a logical case for the necessity of the resurrection (I Cor. 15:12-19). Trusting in Christ without the resurrection provides no hope and leaves us as “people to be pitied” (v.19). The Apostle also argues that Christ is the firstfruits – preceding we who belong to Him. Current day rulers are not the answer, but Christ will destroy death and establish His kingdom on earth. A religion with no resurrection is useless and you might as well just go on eating and drinking with no prospect of life beyond the grave (verses 20-28).
Paul even goes on in I Corinthians 15 to discuss what the resurrection body is like (15:35-57) and concludes it is an imperishable, spiritual body, suited for heaven.
His challenge for us is to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord”. Why? Because “in the Lord your labour is not in vain” (15:58)! Working for the Lord is worthwhile because in Him we are going somewhere – not just to a grave after our years on earth, but to victory and immortality.
- Read I Corinthians 15.
- Do you ever wonder whether following Jesus is worthwhile? (Remember, your labour for the Lord is not in vain!)
- Do you ever find yourself fearing death and what comes next?
- Paul uses factual evidence that leads to a logical conclusion and a practical challenge for today. Does this chapter encourage you and strengthen you in your commitment to follow Jesus?