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(From Matthew 28, Mark 16; Luke 24; and John 20)

I am amazed that Jesus’ disciples were surprised when they discovered Jesus had risen from the dead.

I’m also amazed that I was surprised they were surprised.

Jesus predicted His death and resurrection at least three times, and He regularly alluded to it in many other passages. So how could they not expect it or, at least, be ready for it? It’s hard to get inside of their heads, but consider the fact that in their worldview, dead people stayed that way – they didn’t come back to life and walk around and eat and be seen by other people. On a deeper level, when Jesus made His statements about rising from the dead, what did He talk about first? His death. The disciples heard that, and it’s possible that nothing else was really heard after that point. “Death? Wait a minute! That can’t happen to You, Lord.” They heard Him say He would be raised from the dead, but it probably went in one ear and out the other. I shouldn’t be surprised – they didn’t know the rest of the story.

I shouldn’t be surprised by their response, but I am by mine. I find myself (and I’m certain you do, too) reading God’s Word and asking, “Why didn’t the Israelites get it? Why did they blow it so many times?” “Boy, those disciples sure were thick-headed.” All the while, we see ourselves as superior – “If I would have been there, I would have believed (or wouldn’t have fallen into that particular sin).” Here’s a news flash: If I would have “been there,” I would have done the same thing, and you would have, too. Our sinful and fallen nature is the same as ours.

Look at it this way: Are we surprised when God fulfills one of His promises? We shouldn’t be! He promises He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5), but we’re surprised when He actually is pres. He promises to meet all of our needs (Matt. 6:25-34), and we think it’s unusual when He does. He promises to forgive our sins if we confess them to Him (1 John 1:9), but think we’re too sinful for that to really happen.

The disciples were surprised and amazed, but we shouldn’t be – for the glory of God!

 

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I read Matthew 27 today in my yearly Bible read-through. Matthew records, among other things, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Shortly after I started reading, I knew I needed to slow down and think about what happened. As I meditated on Jesus’ death, several thoughts came to the fore.

The death of Jesus was voluntary. He chose to undergo horrific suffering, physical punishment, and death for the salvation of His people. He laid down His life because He wanted to do so. That’s amazing!

Even though it didn’t look like it, Jesus was in control of every single circumstance surrounding His suffering and death. Events did not “spiral out of control.” and make Him a victim of circumstances.

While the physical pain of death (in this case crucifixion) can be somewhat understood, the spiritual agony He experienced by taking all of the sins of all of His people upon Himself cannot. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me” (verse 46) is exponentially more painful than anything else that happened that day.

The rejection and hostility toward the sinless Savior – the embodiment of love – is real and strong. It was then, and it is now. Even in the act of ultimate self-sacrifice, He was mocked, ridiculed, beaten, and rejected.

All of this leads to praise: “Jesus paid it all! All to Him I owe! Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow!”

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Easter Monday

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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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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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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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It’s my goal in 2019 to read the Bible from cover to cover – from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22 – again. My plea is that you would join me. It’s a great discipline to begin and maintain.

Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” It’s indispensible to the Christian life. Much of the confusion we see in the church and in the world is a direct result of a lack of biblical knowledge as well as a lack of submission and obedience. Regular Bible intake will help solve that problem.

I’ve been using the 5 Day Plan for the last three years and it’s worked well for me. You can find it here. Ligonier lists around ten plans, all of them excellent and with different degrees of difficulty.

What’s the best read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan? The one you use!

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