Wednesday, 10 August 2022
God’s resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead is the gospel—the good news—that He died for our sins and was raised to life. The lyrics of the Easter Song, help us celebrate this good news!
Hear the bells ringing, they're singing
That You can be born again
Hear the bells ringing, they're singing
Christ is risen from the dead
The angel up on the tombstone
Said, He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell His disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead
Joy to the world
He has risen, Hallelujah
He's risen, Hallelujah
He's risen, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Source: Musixmatch; Songwriter: Anne Ward Herring
The power of the resurrection gives us a sure hope. Not only hope that we will also be resurrected, but also that we will be reunited with our Christian loved ones in heaven. Philippians 3:10 speaks of this power, "I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death." This power is accessible to believers. "That power of the gospel is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead" (Ephesians 1:19-20).
Based on the power of the resurrection the disciples could offer forgiveness of sins. God is actually the one who forgives sins, but we have the power to share the gospel, which provides for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The disciples were given the power to declare what God does when a man either accepts or rejects His Son. "And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven'" (John 20:22-23).
The God of the resurrection is powerful enough to do all that we can ask or think. "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20). This is all good news, the power of the resurrection is reason to celebrate!
Life Application Questions
Do I celebrate the riches of this inheritance? Do I find joy in the resurrection?
Do I take seriously the power of forgiveness by sharing the gospel?
Do I want to know Christ, participate in His sufferings and know the power of His resurrection?
Famous Last Words
August 9, 2022
Last words count. Jesus’ last words are important. Our last words as Christ followers are also valuable. George Harrison said, “Love one another.” Winston Churchill said, “I’m bored with it all.” Randy Pausch got his terminal cancer diagnosis and he gave his Last Lecture which became the basis for his book, The Last Lecture. As professors come to the end of their academic careers, they are asked to consider their demise and ruminate on what matters most to them in their last lecture. From Matthew 28:16-20, what do you think the people perceived that Jesus valued the most in his “last lecture”?
Jesus establishes his authority throughout Matthew. By his death and resurrection, Jesus has defeated all questions about His ultimate authority. Since Jesus has all authority, we can obey Him and follow where He leads without fear. How does God’s authority impact how we minister to others? We minister in His name and under His authority. We do not face a lost world on the basis of our flimsy authority, but in the authority of Jesus Christ.
If Jesus has all authority, then it reasonably follows (therefore) to be going. Go is not a command, but a present participle: going. “While you are going, make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). What does “while you are going” mean to you? “While you are going” impacts your daily life. While you are going to the grocery store, or weeding your garden, or working in your cubicle, these are all part of your mission. To me, this “go” always felt like a mandate to foreign missions or marginalized people groups and not my neighbor with the colicky baby. “While you are going,” changes the directive to be very present tense and active in the mundane mess of our daily lives. In his last lecture, Randy Pausch said, “The key question to keep asking is, are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.” Where is your, “while you are going” and how will you spend your time?
The term “disciples” was the most popular name for the early believers. Why would some of Jesus’s last words be: “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…and teaching them…” (Matthew 28:19-20)? Apprentice might be a more equivalent term in today’s culture. Disciples in Matthew’s day attached themselves to a teacher, identified with him, learned from him, and lived with him. He learned, not just by listening, but also by doing. How do you make disciples?
I am with you
Some of Jesus’s last words were "And surely I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20). Though Jesus time on earth was coming to an end, He was not leaving his disciples alone. While we are going and making disciples with Jesus’ authority, we are not alone in our mission. Jesus knew his time was short when he delivered these last words. As Randy Pausch began his last lecture, he said, “If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?” What would your famous last words be in your last lecture? What is your spiritual legacy?
Believe it or Not
August 8, 2022
Today’s Bible reading presents two quite different reports on the resurrection of Jesus. If you attend a church that celebrates Easter, you're familiar with the story of Jesus' resurrection. But do you really get it? Would it take more than an earthquake, an angel, an empty tomb, and a Jesus sighting to convince you of the resurrection? Witnesses to this most important event in history tell two quite different stories. Both groups of witnesses were aware of the events surrounding the crucifixion and now both had seen the evidence of Jesus having risen from the dead.
The women believed what they saw, but the guards told another story. After they "came to" (The guards shook with fear when they saw [the angel], and they fell into a dead faint. vs. 4), they ran back to the city, told the story to the leading priests, and together they concocted a story to save face. The "large bribe" they took was enough to ensure they told the lie that Jesus' disciples came and stole the body.
A search on why people today doubt the resurrection could be very enlightening. You have to wonder why people think they need to defend or deny what Scripture says. How could a mere human think they know more than the Holy Scriptures, written by the very Holy Spirit of God himself? It’s not likely that today’s doubters are being bribed to believe a lie—as were the guards at the tomb—but they are ignoring the clear testimony of eyewitnesses as well as the clear teaching of the Bible.
There were doubters in the days of the early church, too, and the Apostle Paul directly addresses those concerns.
Why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless . . . And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised . . . In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died (1 Cor. 15:12-20 NLT, emphasis added).
The guards knew the infallible truth of the event (vv. 8:11). They actually reported the real story to the religious leaders, but, fearing for their lives, they accepted and reported a lie, which continued to the time of the writing of Matthew’s Gospel. The question for us is how seriously do we take the story of the resurrection. Is it just another curious Bible story, or does its reality spur us on to sharing its truth and the promise of the believer’s ultimate resurrection with a world without hope?
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
jbd & gmd
5 August 2022
Chained by death in a rock-hewn tomb
Wishing he never left his mother’s womb?
Tortured inhumanely, up against the wall
But ten thousand angels he would not call.
Shroud-wrapped body in a blackened box
Betrayed, denied, tried, troubling thoughts
Horrors of crucifixion more than enough
With this doom and gloom, even more rebuff.
Before Jews and Gentiles, his destiny discussed
The King of kings declared guilty—denial of justice
Abandoned by his disciples, left to die alone
Soldiers commanded to crush his bones.
“My God! Have you really forsaken me?!
Am I not one with thee?
Trinity—Spirit, You, and Me
What would life be without we three?”
“I must rise again,” he mercifully thought
“My promises will NOT go for naught
Pain, blood, death, burial, can’t be the end
These my new life will transcend”
“Are the disciples watchfully waiting?
To see me again, craving?
Or returned to their fishing nets and knots
Concluded the saga is over—I hope not.”
Gazing now, not on what confined him to the hole
But on what his followers would gain, when he was made whole
Three dark days, three long nights
Time for the stone to be rolled away: a bright and glorious sight!”
Life Application Questions
Death with Purpose
Heaven and Earth shake as the events set out by Matthew (27:38-54) set off cosmic vibrations. Angels gape in wonder as Father, Son, and Spirit bring holiness to the unholy through Jesus’ life and Golgotha.
Jesus intentionally sought the cross. He moved ever toward it. As readers of the New Testament, we saw it first in Jerusalem during a feast. Following that childhood event, and if we were reading with care, we saw the coming of the cross in metaphorical answers around his identity.
The cross is no accident. The cross is intentionally the desire and achievement of Jesus. “From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. "About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?' (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (Matthew 27:45-46).
Jesus’ death on the cross communicates overarching love. Whatever understanding we bring in seeking wisdom to explain his death, the truth resides in this analysis from our brother Peter: “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
Life Application Questions
What is different for you because of Jesus’ death on the cross?
How do you understand the meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross?
How would you complete this sentence? I believe Jesus’ death on the cross means... .
An old saying attributed to Plato states, “He whom love touches not, walks in darkness.” How might these words apply to disciples of Jesus?