Tag Archives: salvation

Resurrection Sunday- From Rumors and Rabbits to Reality and Relationships

April 12, 2020

While we have celebrated the Empty Tomb and the Resurrection; we find that the disciples didn’t have the reality of the day. We do have scriptural accounts of what happened after the women returned and told the disciples that Jesus’ body was gone. They [peter and John] ran to the tomb and yes they found the tomb empty except for the grave linens. Two places give us insight to the Resurrection day – Luke 24 and John 20.  While we know Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, the disciples discounted her, thinking she was speaking {nonsense}. They hadn’t seen Jesus’ resurrected body yet. They like Thomas needed first hand evidence for themselves. Before we get to the John20 passage; we are given a conversation with two on the road to Emmaus. The two were returning home; the fireworks are over – No Jesus, No overthrow of the Romans, and no hope, the “Messiah” was dead and now missing. The two had heard the reports and conveyed them to Jesus. NOTE: I am amazed that Jesus doesn’t allow himself to be “seen” until He is ready to be seen. The two walking along discussing the last few days trying to make sense out of it all. Suddenly Jesus joins in and ask them what are you talking about. What are these things, What Things? Are you a visitor and don’t know what has happened the last few days? Isn’t it interesting that even though they do not believe the reports of what happened, they are readily willing to pass on the story. The HOPE that Jesus was the Messiah, who would redeem Israel, and now it is even the third day. Relating the visits to the Empty Tomb and yes it was empty – But they didn’t see Jesus – It does make sense that if Jesus was resurrected that He would be seen.  “O Foolish men . . . . ” Then Jesus teaches them what they should have already known from the scriptures. Their hearts and minds were on fire – and their eyes were opened – then Poof Jesus is gone. Now think about this next scene – already home, they turn around and head back to Jerusalem to tell the others. Think about this, the disciples have been in the Upper Room all day; nothing to report other than the women and their “vision”. The two return and start relaying their story to the disciples and yep you got – Jesus shows up. Could it be that Jesus was giving the disciples time to reflect and be ready believe then see? The two from Emmaus  – “He is Risen, the Lord really is risen!” Validation of the testimonies of us who have experienced the REVELATION OF JESUS BEING ALIVE AND OUR RELATIONSHIP TO HIM AS SAVIOR; IS affirmed by His presence in our Lives – Jesus’ resurrection changed the world, changed men and changed eternity forever.

I once heard that seeing isn’t believing – Believing is seeing; we call that FAITH!

I’m not really sure where the Rabbit comes into all of this – but the RUMORS were no more; the stories were TRUE – REALITY was finally settling in to the disciples hearts and minds; when Jesus appears.

John 20 – two different times Jesus appears; I mean walks right into the room, not using the door! And we wonder why they didn’t believe? I’m sure right about then, I would be jumping out of a window or something – this can’t be, Jesus is right here and He is talking to us! I have done nearly 300 funerals in the last 20 plus years. I have never had anyone sit up in the casket!

No more rumors, rabbits don’t have a place in this story. But RESURRECTION AND RELATIONSHIPS DO!

Jesus’ death was necessary for the blood sacrifice for sin; His resurrection was necessary for HIS LIFE IN US.  Salvation relationship is SOMEBODY [Jesus] IN SOMEBODY [Me]

As we close out this day  we have to remember it took all day before the disciples understood that Jesus was Alive. We know how the story ended before we got up this morning, they however had to wait until Jesus REVEALED  Himself to them.  It is my prayer for all of us – don’t lay your head down tonight until Jesus has revealed Himself as risen LORD, not just Jesus on the CROSS!

Leave a comment

Filed under Misc. commentary

By His Stripes We are Healed

Isaiah 51-55 reading this past week describes emphatically how Jesus was tortured before and while on the Cross at Calvary. Specifically chapters 52-53 are grotesquely descriptive. But before we get to that section of scripture, a passage found in Isa. 52:7 speaks of the “Beautiful feet of those who preach/proclaim the Good News of the Gospel. This verse is found also in Romans 10:15; where it detail a number of questions about how will people hear, unless they are called, sent, went and obedient to the calling of proclaiming the Gospel. I found this especially noteworthy, in that I just returned from a IMB parents of Missionaries conference. These verses were preached about for those who have answered the call so that the nations will hear the good news. Beautiful feet, odd compliment for someone who proclaims the Gospel, unless you are on the receiving end of this good news. The points of the speakers were that someone had to send, someone had to go, and someone had to be obedient to the task. The task isn’t just for missionaries or pastors; but for all people of God to proclaim the Good News that Jesus loves them and Jesus saves!

Now looking specifically at Isaiah 52:13-15; a description of the Messiah. He will have public acclaim; the people will lift him up in popularity and notoriety. Yet quickly this is followed by how he looks, “his visage [body] was marred more than any man.” The beatings Jesus took along the way to the Cross would have killed any mere man; he was beaten by the Jews, Mocked and ridiculed. Then by a garrison of roman soldiers [100] men; beat him with rods and their fists, pulling his beard from his face. As if that wasn’t enough, Pilate had Jesus scourged to try to pacify the Jews into releasing Jesus. It didn’t work as a bloody mangled, mutilated piece of flesh, then Jesus was required to carry His cross to Calvary. I do not know how he endured such traumatic loss of blood and the severe shock to his body. It is said that the flesh was literally ripped off his bones, the nerves and tissue flayed from His bones.

In Isaiah 53, a more accurate account of Isaiah 52:14; we initially get the lineage of Jesus, a “shoot from the root of Jesse” depicting His tribal ancestry to Judah and King David. We find that it wasn’t Jesus’ looks that made Him attractive to people, but His works and works. I guess if I were living back then, I may have missed Jesus because he was just a common ordinary looking man, another face in the crowd so to speak.

John 1:11; says He came unto His own but His own received Him not – they rejected Him – but it was the religious rulers, not the common hurting people of the day. I wonder how much Jesus would endure from us if He was here today? He was despised and forsaken, this speaks of how they wanted to kill Him, also about the stone of stumbling and rock of offense He was. Yet He is the chief corner-stone, which God used to bring salvation to the nations. It is odd that Jesus was rejected by His own people, and in the grace of God, we [non-Jews] are given access to the free gift of salvation. Jesus is acquainted with grief, and sorrow, he took on our sorrows, sins. Jesus took our penalty for our disobedience and sin against the Father. We deserved every  strip of the whip, we deserved every blow to His body; yet He took it all for ME!! Listen to these words – pierced, crushed, scourging, chastening and iniquity. All descriptive of what Jesus took that was ours. Surely we must see the reality of – “BY HIS STRIPES WE ARE HEALED”! Yet Jesus said not a single word, like a sheep before His slaughters is silent. But then it says in verse 10 – “It pleased the Father to crush Him” – Why how can that be pleasing? It is pleasing to the Father for now there can be reconciliation and restoration with His creation. Jesus is the advocate and restitution for man’s sins that we may come boldly to the Father based on His sacrifice. Yet Jesus is still at work – having paid the penalty, defeated death and Satan; He now makes intercession for us before the Father. WHen Satan accuses us [and we are guilty] Jesus pleads our case, not because we are innocent, but because He has redeemed us from ALL sin – there is no debt, there is no charge – It is Finished! And the Father looks at His Son and says – Justified upon the basis of the Lamb of God’s sacrifice. And that’s how Jesus purchased my salvation – praise God, praise God Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under 16 Prophets in 2016

Mocked, Merciless, Miraculous

In this last readings of Luke we find the Passion week relived. Each Gospel writer wrote from a different perspective and to a different audience. In the Passion Week [which by the way is the goal of Jesus coming to earth in the first place] we are given the events prior to Christ’s arrest, the trials and the crucifixion.  There is a tremendous amount of religious politics being played out by the Chief Priests, Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees. One almost gets the idea that they are suffering for Jesus Envy!

The interesting part about the narratives is the fact that Jesus doesn’t back down, but the opposite, He seems to fuel the fire of anger and hatred for Him by the religious leaders. He speaks parables that are meant for them, to indict them for missing God’s signs and warnings.[Luke 20:9-18] Now Jesus had been falling from public favor for a while because He wouldn’t be the king of King the people wanted. The Jewish leaders knew that they were in trouble because no one could argue with Jesus and win; but also many of the common people loved Him.

Jesus is accused of insurrection and trying to become King, lies and more lies were made about Jesus. The leaders twisted His words to fit their lies. He was accused of refusing to pay taxes, yet Luke 20:19-ff, indicates that Jesus was always observant to the laws.

Moving to The Upper Room, Lord’s Supper meal, we find that Satan has entered into Judas to betray Jesus. The room is a large room, probably because of the many who had been close disciples along the journey. Plus we find that there were 120 in the Upper Room in Acts – I think this is the same room where they ate the meal with Jesus. This blog isn’t the place to debate whether Judas had a choice or not to betray Jesus, but Luke 22:23, seems to indicate that they all thought each other could be the betrayer.

Now I have used the failure of the Apostles to stay awake while Jesus was praying in a very negative way in the past. However, something that we fail to understand is the wording “sleeping from sorrow” in verse 46. The word sorrow here, does not mean sadness, but overcome by stress and anxiety. The disciples felt that the coronation of Jesus was imminent, and were so excited, like a child at Christmas time, but were overcome and tired because anticipation of what was about to happen.

The trials come after the arrest of Jesus, now they had eaten in the city, walked to the Garden of Gethsemane, now are being taken back across the Kidron Valley in the middle of the night. The Mock trials before Caiaphas, Herod and at daybreak before Pilate were all illegal. The 70 – Sanhedrin couldn’t meet at night, but did so anyway. Where is Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus?  In the other Gospels we find how that many were brought to bring false accusations against Jesus – didn’t work.

Through mocking and beating [Luke 22:63] and constant quizzing – “Are you the Son of God?”  This is a dumb question, for Nicodemus has already told us that they knew Jesus was from God. [John 3] Jesus says “I am” – familiar – Exodus 3! After they Beat the confession out of Jesus – they head to Pilate, at daybreak, don’t want to get on the bad side right off – Pilate questions and finds no fault with Him. Oh, He is a Galilean, send Him to Herod. Herod and Pilate become friends that night. Again, the mocking and beating, humiliation with the robe and stick. On the way back to Pilate. Trying to see through the jealousy and plot of the Jewish leaders, Pilate tries to release Jesus – to no avail, Jesus is scourged and led out to the crucified.

Meanwhile, Peter is having his own problems, Jesus told Peter he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed. Luke 22:61 is a very sad verse – the third denial, Jesus looks at Peter, I cannot imagine what that look appeared like, but I can imagine what it did to Peter!

Jesus, Isaiah 52:14, describes for us the extent of the beating he took.  He was so marred, he was unrecognizable as a man – the Movie “The Passion of the Christ” is the best depiction I have ever seen portraying the merciless beating and scourging Jesus withstood. How did Jesus keep going, any other man would have died under such punishment. Yet Jesus made it to the Cross, that was the goal – Get to the Cross; earlier Satan had tried to get Jesus to accept “a” crown without the cross. I think is a weird way, Jesus embraced His crucifixion. I think He said to himself – I made it!! Hence He could say “it is finished.” Even through all the pain, agony and horror of the day, Jesus still had compassion on a guilty criminal – It might as well been me hanging there that day, for this is how He – King Jesus purchased My Salvation!

In all the unlawful acts to get Jesus killed, the religious leaders still wanted to be sure they were not defiled from the Passover Meal. Oh the hypocrisy of religious people!

A hasty burial by Joseph of Arimathea, the women watching on,; quickly get him into the tomb and get inside before the Sabbath. The long lonely hours of waiting for the Sabbath day to end, early in the morning, the women go running to the tomb with more spices to finish the job. Only to find, the stone rolled away and grave-clothes inside. What has happened? “I thought the stone would be our problem; but we don’t have a body to finishing burying!”

That empty tomb the seal of our salvation in that as Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection, so we too will join Him. Just as sin could not keep Him in the Tomb, neither can Satan and sin prevent our reunion with our Lord Jesus. That was a great day; greater than the greatest healing day Jesus ever had in His 3 years of ministry.

The take away – people will mock you, treat you merciless and humiliate you like they did Jesus. If you live out your faith, the same thing will happen to us. Expect it, get ready for it, and embrace it – for you are being fashioned into the image of you Savior – rejoice Matthew 5:11-12!

You are not of this world, don’t try to act like it, there is enough people already doing that!

Leave a comment

Filed under 15 in '15

The Kind Intention of God

Epistle to the Ephesians

Even though not a specific book to the Ephesians, being a circular letter, the contents is valuable to all churches. In preparation for the blog I re-read Acts 19 which tells the story of how the Gospel spread in the city of Ephesus. The pagan rituals and goddess Diana dominated the city. There were magicians and soothsayers in abundance. Paul’s ministry begins with giving a “fuller revelation of the Gospel.” Paul stayed and preached and healing even with a very unorthodox  means of handkerchiefs being used to heal diseases. The Ephesian letter is similar to another circular letter that was being spread through Asia, the Epistle to the Colossians. These two letters hold several like passages.

The first chapter is a remarkable filled passage of revelation of how God was working through Jesus to bring salvation to people. The high christology here is no where else as transparent in the New Testament. The focus is now that we are In Christ, what exactly does this mean? Terms such as lavished, predestined, adopted, and inheritance speak volumes to the believer. God has not only redeemed us from the impending wrath that was due us, but has elevated us to royalty. In Hebrews 1:1-4 passage is filled with the “last days” revelation of Jesus Christ. We can easily gravitate to a minimal opinion about exactly the work of God through Jesus; albeit to marginalization of how great was the Salvation work accomplished by Jesus through His death and resurrection. I find many people think the understand the significance of Christ death, yet fail to live out a faith that reflects the “Changed Person” they are to be. Another problem with marginalizing Christ, it the tenancy to believe that we have garnered something by our actions to please God and obtain for ourselves salvation.

The phrase “IN HIM” is repeated 5 times in the first chapter. The repetitive nature of the phrase should enlighten us to the fact that it is ONLY BECAUSE OF JESUS that we have the standing before God that we do. The Holy Spirit being Promised and the “active agent” in us enables us to know that we are sealed in Christ.

Paul after detailing all that Christ has done for us, he then begins to speak to our condition without Jesus. Being born dead in sin and living a life of sins, we were people with out hope. But is was God’s “good pleasure” and “kind intention” to us, that we have eternal life. If there was any doubt about the riches of God, they are dispelled by reading the first two chapters of this book. Our almost creed position of “saved by Grace” illustrates that there is nothing that we have done to earn salvation and restored relationship with the Godhead. [Eph. 2:8-10] Even the very idea of salvation as a gift and freely coming from the Father is God’s idea not ours. Now take into consideration the highly religious people who have only known the idolatrous worship practices of days gone by; and how this thought of God being personal and desiring fellowship with His creation. Quite a shock to their thought. The word “formerly” is used to draw the contrast from what was, to what is now true. Formerly walking in the flesh and sensuality of pagan worship, we are now redeemed by God to do good works through Jesus Christ. Once we [Gentiles] were excluded, but now we are included into the Salvation Plan of God.

Paul is careful to make sure that both Jews who have the Law and those without the Law have the same salvation and savior. This does counter the Jews who were trying to create a Jews salvation only – requiring all non-Jews to become like them. Paul calls this revelation “the mystery of Christ] that Gentiles are fellow heirs and partakers of the same salvation. Today this is debated from a different position – not salvation, but another salvation through other means, whether that is works or false teaching. Acts 4:12 – no other Name, but the Name of Jesus. John 14:6 – the Way, the Truth, and the Life!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Get Right – Stay Right

Weeks reading – Romans 5-9

One summer I went to a youth camp with our kids from the church I pastored. We saw a lot of emotional response to the Youth Camping experience. However, I noticed that even though the kids dealt with sin in their lives inside the sanctuary [gym], as soon as they got outside it was back to the normal of being a youth. I do not doubt that their worship and confession were real. If fact I believe they genuinely wanted to live for God. The struggle was that they were confronted with the “real world” as soon as he music and preaching stopped. The next night they would try all over again to “really mean it” and stay committed. We adopted the phrase “get right-stay right” as a group to hold each other accountable.

Paul addresses the same problem I believe that all believers experience, the spirit is willing, but the flesh it weak. How can we live out that spirit filled life that seems to evade all of us? We find that so much has been done for us through the cross, yet that isn’t the end, the Life we are looking for is the Resurrected Life of Jesus. The blood of Jesus saves us from the wrath of our own sins, but the Resurrected Life of Jesus Christ is our new life. Romans 6:1-7; is used all the time as a New Testament instruction of what baptism is all about. We die when Jesus died, when Jesus was buried, then resurrected, we to are raised to walk in newness of Life; all is symbolic or so we say. If it is only symbolic – I am still alive and sin rules over me. Gal 2:20; repeats Paul’s words that the person of faith and trust in Jesus has died to who they were so they can be free from the Law; released from the tyrant of the Law to condemn us. But we are still alive, and cannot grasp the fact that we were, but now we are dead TO sin because of Jesus.

Because of the Law we know that we are sinners, and that God is holy. For as in Adam all died because of the transgression in Eden, but because of the obedience in Gethsemane, we are all justified through Christ. Salvation is secure for sure. But the problem isn’t salvation but Sanctification. The kids on Youth Camp understood salvation, was to free them from sin, but when they continued to sin, they came into bondage all over again. Romans 6, Paul commands us to no longer submit the members of our body to sin, but to present them to God as slaves of righteousness. [Rom 6:19]

Chapter 7, through a simple but wonderful illustration of marriage and the vows, Paul explains, that if a woman goes to another man, while still attached to husband, she is committing adultery. However, if he dies, then she is free to marry another. In our case, the Law doesn’t die, we die – when we die, we are free from serving the old master. In chapter 7:14-ff, has been a relief for me as I grew in the Lord. The frustration of not being able to do what I want to do, but actually wind up doing the very opposite; continuously gave me a guilt trip. I knew better, but still could not seem to stop myself from doing the very thing I was convicted about.  I embraced Romans 7:25 gladly, Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord; He has delivered me from the Law! Because we are delivered, justified, and made to be sons and heirs with Christ, chapter 8 can say that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Free at last! Our salvation is not based upon our good behavior. Nor is it based on our bad behavior. It is based solely on Jesus Christ doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Sanctification is an ongoing process of growing in Christ. We don’t ever stop sinning because we are in the flesh. However, we cannot use that as an excuse to allow sin into our lives. We CANNOT live the Christian life. We were never meant too. Jesus is the Christian life. [John 15:5] Jesus has already lived the life that the Father originally intended man to live, and now wants to live in each of us. I do not live, but Christ lives in me! We get Right by Faith in Jesus, we stay Right by Faith in Jesus. He [Jesus ] is the Christian Life!


Leave a comment

Filed under 15 in '15