Sunday, March 31, 2013

Risen ... That We May Live!

Here is Luke's breathtaking account of the resurrection of Jesus, the Christ:

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, 

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen! 
Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee: 
‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified 
and on the third day be raised again.’  

Then they remembered His words.
 
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing Him.
 
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” He asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him; but we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find His body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said He was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if He were going farther. But they urged Him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them.

When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, 

“Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road 
and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when He broke the bread.

While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them,  

“Peace be with you.”
 
They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at My hands and My feet. It is I myself! Touch Me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

When He had said this, He showed them His hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, He asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate it in their presence.

He said to them, 

“This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled 
that is written about Me 
in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  

He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what My Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

When He had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. (Luke 24:1-53, emphasis added)

May the Lord Jesus Christ open our minds and hearts to understand, believe, and receive these words, letting this Truth change us forever. He IS risen, indeed! Jesus lives, that we may have Life! Hallelujah!

Believe!
Dr Mari 

For more on the joy of Easter, read He is Risen! So What Does that Mean to You and Me? 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

What's So Good About Good Friday?

One of my most vivid childhood memories involves Good Friday. In the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, Good Friday was always a quiet, reflective day. Everything stopped. Stores were predictably closed--from gas stations to grocery stores. Even the malls closed their doors! Everyone stayed home out of reverence for Christ.

Why is such reverence due a man who lived two thousand years ago? And what is so good about Good Friday?

The Gospel according to John ends with these words, "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written" (John 21:25). This is how I feel as I ponder these questions. What I've learned about Christ over the years leaves me thirsty for more and, yet, fully satisfied. It is a precious paradox!

I have a few thoughts today about the One who's changed my life and heart and continues to transform my mind.

Born of a virgin in a lowly place, though a King. (He melts our pride with humility.)
Born into darkness yet called the Light of the world. (He can see right through the thick darkness of sin.)
Despised and rejected yet full of mercy, forgiveness, and grace. (He knows every human emotion and meets every need.)
His goodness and love were repaid on a lonely Cross--willingly chosen. (He knows all about sacrifice.)
Killed like a criminal yet called the Prince of Peace. (His sword is Truth and pierces every lie.)
Even from the Cross, He spoke forgiveness unto His accusers. (He is the definition of Grace.)
Also from the Cross, feeling forsaken, He trusted His Father and gave up His spirit. (His courage and faith can become ours.)
Risen on the third day, He lives on ... and spurs us on to higher living. (His plans for us are great.)
Not leaving us as orphans, He promises the Holy Spirit will fill us (if, having repented, we ask) and guide us into all truth. (His wisdom can become ours.)
Through the Spirit, He lives in us. (He supplies the power needed to live for Him.)
Because He lives, we can have eternal life. (We get to be with the author of life, love, and every good thing forever!)

The prophet Isaiah spoke about Jesus' sacrifice hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth. About this awaited Messiah, the Christ, he said,

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, 
nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain....
Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering....
But He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on Him,

and by His wounds we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:2-5)

By His wounds, we are healed. This is exceedingly good news! It means there is hope for us. There is hope for sinful man. For you and me. 

If Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins, the price has been paid in full. His death and resurrection have set us free. We've been given a second chance. This isn't just a good Friday. This day should be called Breathtaking Friday. Astonishing Friday. Life-changing, mountain-moving, evil-defeating, satan-squashing, death-conquering Friday!

Jesus has the last word. His death and resurrection opened the door to Life. Eternal life! 

As we get ready to celebrate Easter, let us thank the Lord for His sacrifice on the Cross. Let us recommit to give our all to the One who gave everything for us. And let us receive His love and grace with open hands and hearts, that we may love others as He loves us--with mercy, with forgiveness, with grace.

He lives!
Dr Mari

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)

And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:22-23)

For more on the joy of Easter, read He is Risen! So What Does that Mean to You and Me?