Death & Resurrection

 

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Death and Resurrection

April 5, 2015

“Father! In your hands I place my spirit!” He said this and died. Luke 23:46

He knew before it happened. He and His Father were the only ones who did know. The knowledge brought great agony for Jesus, the perfect man, the Lamb led to slaughter. In the garden before he was arrested, he agonized over his obedience to the horrible, tortuous truth about to unfold. But even more unthinkable to Jesus was his brief separation from The Father…that terrible moment when He would become sin for the whole world. Was there any other way to accomplish what had to be done?

Then He went off from them about the distance of a stone’s throw and knelt down and prayed. “Father,” He said, “if you will, take this cup of suffering away from me (there must have been a long pause as the man Jesus waited for a reply different from what He knew to be God’s will). Not my will however, but your will be done.” (And then, in a remarkable example of God’s mercy) An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened him. In great anguish He prayed even more fervently; His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”  (Luke 22:41-44) parentheses added

And then, in a tumultuous swirl, he was arrested, questioned, horribly beaten, convicted, condemned to death, mocked, hated, spat upon, forced to drag his own cross up crude roads, experienced excruciating pain of nails driven through his hands and feet, abruptly attached to the cross as the taunting continued…and then, beyond human understanding…forgave the very people who did this to Him as life was passing from his body. 

Suddenly God blackened the unrelenting brightness of the mid-day sun for three hours! At the same time, the huge curtain hanging in the temple was torn in two! Then Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father in your hands I place my spirit.” He said this and died. (Luke 22:44-46)

A man named Joseph from Arimathea, who was waiting for the coming of the Kingdom of God, arranged to have the body of Jesus removed from the cross, wrapped in linen and placed in a tomb which had been dug out of solid rock and never been used. It was Friday and the Sabbath was about to begin.

Very early on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James arrived at the tomb of Jesus to apply the spices and perfumes to his body. They found the stone rolled away and did not find the body of Jesus in the tomb. Suddenly, two men in bright shining robes appeared and the women bowed down to the ground.

“Why are you looking among the dead for One who is alive? He is not here; He has been raised. Remember what He said to you while He was in Galilee: The Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and three days later rise to life.”

Then the women remembered His words, returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven disciples and all the rest. (Luke 24:1-9)

The impossible happened, Jesus was dead and now alive. Just as the Bible predicted, He was resurrected from the dead. His sacrificial death, the blood of the Lamb of God, provides eternal life, forgiveness of sins to all who believe. 

Perhaps you are more hesitant to believe such a story, perhaps you are like the apostle Thomas who proclaimed, “Unless I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my finger on those scars and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)

A week later, Jesus appeared to Thomas and said, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop your doubting and believe.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:27-28)

Now what? What is Jesus doing now, after His majestic resurrection? The answer is found in Hebrews 1:1-3 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things,through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Who then will condemn us? Will Christ? No! For he is the one who died for us and came back to life again for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us there in heaven. (Romans 8:34-35)

Our Sun and Shield

 

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For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory  Ps 84:11

Paul had given his heart to Jesus as a young man and quickly fell in love with the Lord. He was in a small church with what appeared to be friendly, loving people. He and his wife were on top of the world. The pastor made time for a Bible study just for them in his office once a week. “You’ve got to learn God’s word,” he said. And so they did for several weeks; Until it all collapsed.

It seems that the men who actually built the church were a little tired of this pastor preaching the Word. I mean believing it is good and all, they reasoned, but a pastor’s main job is to visit the sick and elderly, greet everyone in the foyer after church, make sure church is over by noon and give credit from the pulpit for “Christian good deeds.”

The “elders” of the church called a church meeting to vote on whether or not to cast this pastor and his wife out. Paul attended the meeting and witnessed the hard-hearted actions of “godly men.” As he sat in the meeting, listening to the petty, vindictive accusations leveled at the pastor, his heart was broken.

Finally he stood and said, “I thought Christians were supposed to forgive and to love each other.” One of the elders stood and condescendingly said, “Well, you’re young and a new Christian. You don’t quite understand how these things work. We’ve decided that this man is not the one we want as a pastor. But don’t you worry, he’ll find another church pretty soon and we’ll get a better pastor here.” And that was it. They paid him thirty days severance and sent him and his wife packing.

Because he was truly a man of God, this pastor got over the shock and looked to God for another church to share the Gospel. God provided. But the young man was damaged and confused. He and his wife went from church to church for several years until they found one to call home. And that is when his life changed. God’s word became his beacon of light in this dark world.

What about you, do you believe the Bible is literally God’s word and that it means what it says? When you feel down and out, filled with doubt and uncertainty do you think the answers can be found in the Bible and through prayer? What about when you are angry with God? Do you even admit that you get angry with God sometimes? As pastor J. Vernon McGee used to say in his Texas twang, “Well, the first thing you gotta do is tell God exactly what’s on your heart. You might as well tell Him because He knows anyway!”

And that is just one of the wonders of our relationship with God. We can tell Him everything because He made us and fully understands our feelings. God is not upset when we call out to Him in our anger, expressing our doubts and frustration. After we vent, He will replace those feelings with His love and compassion that soothes like a balm…the balm of Gilead.

“There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; There is a balm in Gilead
to heal the sin sick soul. Some times I feel discouraged, And think my work’s in vain, But then the Holy Spirit Revives my soul again.” (Hymn. Author unknown.)

Luke 10:41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Hebrews 13:5-6 Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never, never fail you nor forsake you.” That is why we can say without any doubt or fear, “The Lord is my Helper and I am not afraid of anything that mere man can do to me.”

Matthew 6:26-27 So my counsel is: Don’t worry about things—food, drink, and clothes. For you already have life and a body—and they are far more important than what to eat and wear. Look at the birds! They don’t worry about what to eat—they don’t need to sow or reap or store up food—for your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Will all your worries add a single moment to your life?

1 Peter 5:6-7 So, humble yourselves under God’s strong hand, and in his own good time he will lift you up. You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern. 

Proverbs 12:25 Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up. 

Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit makes one sick.

Psalm 84:11-12 For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you. 

2 Corinthians 1:1-5 What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we undergo sufferings for Christ, the more he will shower us with his comfort and encouragement.