Sunday, 08 April 2012
A woman wrote J. Vernon McGee: "Our preacher said that on Easter Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed him back to health. What do you think?" McGee replied, "Dear Sister, beat your preacher with a leather whip for thirty-nine heavy strokes. Nail him to a cross. Hang him in the sun for six hours. Run a spear through his heart. Embalm him. Put him in an airless tomb for three days. Then see what happens."
There are those who want to believe whatever it is they believe in spite of the facts. This is not intended to sway non-believers. That will come for all, sooner or later.
This morning, however, we look to the borrowed tomb. And, just as the women found it on that great resurrection day, will still find it open and empty! “Why is the tomb open?”you ask? To show us Jesus is not there! “Where is He?”you ask? He is alive! Why would you seek the living amongst the dead? Jesus promised, and Jesus delivered!
Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead
Friday, 06 April 2012
In our culture, following a burial, we cover the freshly turned soil with dozens of flowers. It just makes it look a little better, doesn’t it? In the days of Jesus, the tomb would be surrounded with spices and fragrances, just makes the stench of death a bit less painful.
But the fact remains, the Lord is dead. As hard as we can be on the disciples at times, let’s give them a little grace for this day. Suddenly, their Rabbi, whom they watched and followed so closely – to the most minute detail – is gone. No more words of instruction or explanation from the Master teacher. Those hands that broke the bread, washed their feet, opened blind eyes, are now scarred by nails and lay folded and cold in death.
Do we ever fully realize what we have until we lose it? How must those eleven men felt the day after the crucifixion. Lost, confused, bewildered can only begin to describe this day for them.
Thursday, 05 April 2012
Today I reflect on the darkest day in the history of the world. Oh, there have been many dark days. Some dark days on an international scale such as days of the holocaust, and some days on a national scale such as 9/11. Then there are dark days on a very personal level…the loss of a child, or betrayal on a level you were completely unable to deal with.
But this day was a day like no other. Following a very long night of betrayal, arrest, false charges, fixed courts, abandonment and an angry mob demanding the death of one in whom it was ultimately said, “I find no fault in Him”. Today, the created beings will put to death the Creator. Today the guilty will murder the innocent.
Before Christ was nailed to the cross, He endured a terrible beating. Listen to this graphic description given to us by Eusebius, a church historian of Caesarea: “For they say that the bystanders were struck with amazement when they saw them lacerated with scourges even to the innermost veins and arteries, so that the hidden inward parts of the body, both their bowels and their members, were exposed to view” (Ecclesiastical History, Book 4, chap. 15).
Once on the cross, the world grew dark. Is this the Prince of Peace? Is this the same man who just days before raised Lazarus from the dead? How can this be?
And what does He say while suspended by those nails, gasping for breath? It almost seems absurd!
Father forgive them… (Luke 23:34) Forgive them? Shouldn’t they be crucified instead?
…today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43) But he truly was a thief!
Woman, behold your son: behold your mother (John 19:26-27) The humanity of Christ!
My God, My God, why have you forsaken me, (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34) The divinity?
I thirst (John 19:28) Yet He created the oceans!
It is finished (John 19:30). He came not to be served, but to serve, to seek and save the lost!
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46) The light has been put out.
Wednesday, 04 April 2012
It is Wednesday of “Holy Week”. For me, a week I enjoy more than any other throughout the year as I reflect on the final days of Christ’s ministry on earth, His cruel crucifixion followed by the glorious resurrection! I pray you too are focusing on these things.
While tradition tells us Wednesday is not really spoken of in Scripture, I believe it to be the day of the Last Supper and Jesus’ arrest. The belief that Jesus died Friday evening and rose Sunday morning does not fulfill the prophecy of Christ being entombed for three days and nights, as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for that length of time.
So today, I see our Lord spending His final moments – sharing His final words – with His closest disciples. Flawed as these men were, the Great High Priest lovingly, kindly, graciously served them, washing the feet that would soon lead them away, but eventually lead them to distant cities carrying the Gospel, turning the world “upside down”. The bread will be broken this night, the cup shared, the betrayal completed.
On the Mount, we see the humanity and divinity of Christ on full display. As He prays, “let this cup pass from me…nevertheless, not my will, but thine, Father”, we see His body responding by sweating blood. What was in the cup? My sin. The Holy, pure Son of God suffered far more Wednesday by taking on my sin than He did in the scourging, crown of thorns and nails of crucifixion on Thursday. This doesn’t speak of my worthiness of such sacrifice, but of His extravagant mercy and grace. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
I pray you spend time today meditating on this great Savior, and worship Him in response.
Now, on a practical note, this Sunday following the service we will be going to Spring Creek Park for food and a good time of fellowship with the church family. We realize some of you will have family plans that you need to honor. I hope the rest of you will join your church family at the park. Please RSVP so we know how to prepare.
God Bless you today!