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Archive for April, 2019

Easter Monday

easter-monday

The resurrection of Jesus Christ was officially celebrated yesterday. He is risen. He is risen indeed!

But what about today – the day after? What different does it make? Do we simply go back to business as usual? I’m certain the first disciples of Jesus asked the same questions.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead changed everything. It means that Jesus is who He claims to be: the way, the truth, and the life – the only way to God the Father; God in human flesh; the sinless Savior; the King of kings and Lord of lords. It means that Jesus accomplished His mission – to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). It means our preaching and faith are real and mean something; that we are correctly representing God; and it means that our sins are forgiven (1 Cor. 15:12-20).

Christ’s resurrection permeates the New Testament. You couldn’t get away from it if you tried. In fact, in the epistle to the Philippians Paul desired “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” (3:10). He wanted to know Christ in a deeper way and experience the power that raised Him from the dead. He also knew that as he did, he would display that power in his own life. Jesus’ resurrection has an impact on everything.

Easter Monday is a reminder that even though our celebration of the Lord’s resurrection has passed (we should actually celebrate it very Lord’s Day), it’s a reality every day. Our very justification (Rom. 4:25) and every other blessing of God comes to us by His grace as a result of the resurrection (1 Pet. 1:3).

Resurrection Day has passed. The reality and results remain. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

 

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Easter2017.png

The uncertainty and despair of Saturday dissolved as light broke on the horizon Sunday morning. The tomb of Jesus was empty, the stone rolled away, and the Roman seal broken. The angels announced to the woman who had come to the tomb, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you” (Matt. 28:5-7).

Jesus Christ rose from the dead bodily (that is, in the same, yet different, physical body He had before His death). His resurrection is the most important and dramatic event in human history. But what was accomplished by His resurrection?

Here are just a few of them:

  • It fulfilled Old Testament prophecies (Job 19:25-27; Ps. 16:10).
  • It fulfilled His own prophecies (Matt. 17:9; Luke 18:31-33).
  • It confirmed His deity (Rom. 1:4).
  • It demonstrated the perfection of Jesus’ obedience to the will of His Father (John 10:18-19).
  • It was proof that the Father accepted the atoning work of Christ (Rom. 4:25).
  • It provides regeneration for the elect (1 Pet. 1:3).
  • It provides assurance that the sins of believers are forgiven (1 Cor. 15:17-18).
  • It declares that He is Head of the church and ruler of all creation (Eph. 1:19-23; Col. 1:15-19).
  • It secures justification for believers and the assurance that they will never be condemned by God (Rom. 8:1-11, 31-34).
  • It guarantees the future bodily resurrection of all believers (John 5:26-29; 14:19; Rom. 4:25; 6:5-10; 1 Cor. 15:20, 23).
  • It guarantees Christ will judge the world (John 5:24-30; Acts 17:31).

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

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saturday

Holy Saturday is the day between the crucifixion and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. For us, it’s a day of waiting We know “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say.

But consider the first disciples of Jesus – those whom He called to follow Him and those who saw Him betrayed, arrested, tried, beaten, mocked, scourged, and finally crucified. They didn’t know what would happen on Sunday morning. Yes, Jesus had told them on at least four occasions, but it’s clear that it didn’t register in their hearts and minds.

Jesus – the One they loved; the One they followed; the One to whom they had dedicated their very lives; the One they knew to be precisely who He claimed to be – was dead. Their beloved was buried in a tomb guarded by sixteen Roman soldiers. The enormous stone which had been rolled in front of the tomb’s entrance was decorated with the seal of the Roman Empire.

As far as these first disciples were concerned, it was over. What was over? Everything. Their Saviour, Lord, and friend was dead and gone. Their mission was over, seemingly before it even got started. The Romans and Jewish leadership had won. What would they do now? Their lives had been forever changed, and now it seemed to be over.

No hope.

No forgiveness of sin.

No reconciliation with God.

No peace.

No salvation.

No meaning.

No justice.

No mercy.

No future.

All of that would be true if Jesus had stayed dead in the tomb. Their faith, and our faith, is vain and useless if it would have ended with the death of Jesus. That’s what the disciples faced from Friday afternoon through Saturday night.

They didn’t know the rest of the story, but we do! Holy Saturday proves the importance of Resurrection Sunday.

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Good-Friday_ss_267935090

Good Friday is the day the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died by means of crucifixion on a cross – a vicious, brutal, horrific way to die. So why do we call it “good” Friday?

Listen to the prophet Isaiah:

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
and our sorrows He carried;
yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
and by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
to fall on Him” (Isa. 53:4-6).

The apostle Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

The apostle Peter wrote: “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:21-24). 

Good Friday is good because Jesus died a death I should have died. He died as a substitutionary sacrifice for my sins, and the sins of all of His people. If that wasn’t enough, He lived a life of perfect obedience to His Father in my place. Good Friday is good because of what He accomplished, and we can rejoice in that.

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Maundy-Thursday

On Thursday of what we call “Holy Week,” Jesus met with His disciples in the upper room to celebrate Passover. Before the meal commenced, the Lord Jesus – unexpectedly – washed the feet of His disciples, thereby taking the place of a servant/slave.

After Judas Iscariot had left, Jesus gave His disciples this command (“mandatum” in Latin  and “mandate” in English, hence the word “Maundy”): A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). 

The command is “love one another.” The Lord mentions it three times in the space of two sentences. But what does it mean to love? Although the answer isn’t directly given here, a grasp of the whole of Scriptures provides us with the answer – God’s law. We know how to love God because of what He’s commanded in His law. By the same token, we know how to love one another because of what He’s commanded in His law. Contrary to present-day sentiment, love isn’t a gassy feeling which drives our interactions with others (or with God). Our hearts are a bad guide to what’s loving and unloving. God’s law gives us a definition and description of love. It tells us how to love and how not to love. We can’t ignore God’s law or “unhitch” ourselves from it and truly love the way God has commanded us.

Maundy Thursday reminds us of the mandate to love one another. Thankfully, God has given us a blueprint (His law and Word) and a model (His Son Jesus Christ).

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keelboat_s

On Wednesday I was one of the adult chaperones on a field trip with our 8th-graders (I teach the 8th-grade Bible class) to the Maritime Museum, Astoria Column, and Fort Clatsop, all in the Astoria, Oregon area. We had a good time, and it’s always good to spend time outside of class with students, parents, and other teachers.

What caught my attention was something one of the rangers said during her presentation at Fort Clatsop. She said we could learn a lot about Lewis and Clark and their expedition by reading books about them looking at the exhibits at the museum, but the best way to learn about them is to read their journals, which are widely available. We need the original, or primary, sources. In other words, even though Stephen Ambrose’s book “Undaunted Courage” is great, you need to read the original source to get the best picture.

The same principle applies to the Bible. We can learn a lot about God’s Word by reading books about it, listening to sermons about it, participate in Bible studies about it, or listen to podcasts about it, but the best thing we can do is read and study it for ourselves. Go to the original source!

Commentaries can be fantastic resources. Sermons – from your pastor to preachers on the Internet – can be edifying and thought-provoking. Books written by the best scholars and authors can be helpful. Read them, listen to them, and study them all! Most of our time, however, should be spent on the original and primary source – God’s inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word, which, by the way, is a whole lot better than anything Lewis and Clark ever wrote.

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