April 9, 2023
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING:
“Therefore, put on the full armor of God. In so doing you will be able to stand your ground when the day of evil comes. After you have done everything you are able to in that day, you will be able to stand [before the throne of God with humble confidence.]” (Ephesians 6.13)
“The angel of the Lord said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. He has risen just as He said it would be. Come and see the play where He had been laid. Then go quickly and tell His disciples: ‘He has been raised from the dead. He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him.’ Now, go, I have told you [what was needed to be said.]” (Matthew 28.5-7)
TODAY’S REFLECTION ON GOD’S WORD:
There is no question about it. “Easter” is an event which must be told in explanation and in confirmation. This is painfully evident in today’s culture and climate. How the world and the enemy of God have committed themselves to “steal, kill and destroy” the truth of our “holy days.” They have no respect for them because they have no respect for the truth, the author of truth and the people of truth. The evidence is plain and we are surrounded by the messages of a compromised celebration of the birth, the death and the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the only begotten Son of God who is: 1) King of the Jews; 2) King of kings and Lord of lords; 3) Messiah, Christ and Savior of the world and 4) High Priest of Heaven and Earth. More time, energy and money is spent on the worldly traditions accommodated into the message of the Christian Easter by Christians than by the promotion of the gospel and its mission by those very Christians. If the citizens of the world wish to celebrate solstice, mythology and vain hopes that is their choice. But, we as Christ followers and believers ought to take a serious look at the message we are presenting to the world when it comes to our “holy days.” We may say “there is no danger” and consider Paul’s sage advice about “food offered to idols” to be our guide on this. But, Paul’s caveat was based on “the weaker brother.” If what we do because we are “above such things” is what leads one who is susceptible to such things into temptation, corrupted thinking and thus enabled to substitute a lie for the truth by not fully understanding the validity and power of the truth, then the judgment is upon us. And we dare not operate in our Christian mission by assumption saying “oh, they know what we mean.” It is obvious that those who were closest to Jesus as He taught them of the events which would usher in the establishment of new covenant with His arrest, conviction and execution in order that there be a resurrection still didn’t get it, remember it or abide by it. The event of resurrection was the confirmation of Jesus’ teaching from beginning to end.
On Friday, I posted a statement of reflection that “Good Friday was the declaration of the need to put on the whole armor of God. Easter is the evidence of what happens when we do!” By that, I was intimating that it is the message of the “resurrection of Jesus” which makes all difference in the world and on earth for Christians on a daily basis. The resurrection is the evidence of the truth which Jesus presented to everyone regardless of religion, race, creed, culture, position, economics, gender and opinion. That truth is a call to one type of life and it is a “righteous” one. And I do not mean the type of “righteous” that was espoused by the character Sheridan, played by Wesley Snipes, in the movie U.S. Marshals. I am speaking of the righteousness of God which has its roots in the nature and character of God founded on the immovable concept of true love. The Apostle John spoke of that love as he related the core concept and creed of the Church which said, “For God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son so that whosever would believe in Him would not perish into eternal death but be raised up in eternal life.” We know it and most of the world is familiar with John 3.16. And while we speak of God’s love and we are grateful for that love, I fear too many overlook the end result which is God’s desired effect and should be our greatest desire. The end result is living eternally in peace, joy, happiness, contentment and fulfillment where suffering, sorrow, death, hunger, thirst or temptation cannot be a deterrent. What was Jesus able to do on earth following His resurrection that He did not do before the cross? I will let you consider your own answers to the question. The one that I wish to present for our reflection today as it pertains to “the whole armor of God” is to be able to show that death had no hold on Him. The cross was empty. The tomb was empty. The graveclothes were empty. Not only were they empty but they were neatly folded up and put in place where His head and His feet had been laid. The declaration of that act alone was the symbolism of “I will return.” And He did return and took His stand among the believers and with the believers. Consider the following:
- He stood in the opening of the tomb and spoke to Mary Magdalene.
- He offered His hand to her as she knelt and cried believing He was the gardener who might know where “they” took the body of Jesus.
- He appeared in the Upper Room which was locked to outsiders and greeted the disciples, sans Thomas, with evidences of His being alive and well.
- He appeared to the Cleopas and his wife on the Road to Emmaus. Walking with them all the way to their house, He entered in and broke bread with them by which they suddenly recognized “It was the Lord!”
- He appeared again in the Upper Room to the disciples including Thomas and gave Him the opportunity to know that He heard Thomas’s concern and prayer.
- He stood on the lakeshore and gave directions to the weary fishermen for an abundant catch. After that, He invited them to come and join Him for breakfast of fish and bread cooked over a campfire He built.
- He appeared to them at Mount Tabor and following a time of worship, commissioned them to be His disciples serving throughout the world making disciples. After that, He took His stand and promised “I will be with you always to the close of this age” and then ascended into Heaven.
- And there were other “appearance” stories in a wide variety of venues, the least of which was not the appearing to Saul of Tarsus and converting him to being not only a follower but to become an advocate of “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
Mighty one of God, believers in Jesus who is the Christ, all of this happened to reinforce the call to share the good news, to live out the good news and to be committed to aligning our thoughts and actions with the good news so that the world would know of the truth and come to believe in it for themselves. If the truth is to be told, Easter has less to do with Jesus (although without Jesus there would be no Easter) and so much more to do with the people of God covered by the distribution and institution of the New Covenant made in His blood. Is that the story we tell at Easter? Is it the paradigm by which we reflect on the meaning, purpose and power of the Day and of the Age? Are we merely celebrants of “so great a gift” of which we are not truly worthy to receive? Or are we the disciples who continue to use every opportunity to make others disciples building them up into the full measure and stature of Christ? Let us be intentional in the whole of our celebration to speak, teach and empower the truth of the gospel so that others will hear, know it, believe it, receive it and share it over and over again until Christ returns…just as He promised He would.
A PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father, Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. We are prepared and ready to meet and greet the opportunity presented daily to stand ready to rebuke the enemy and bring glory to God as did and does His Son who lived, died and lived again by the power of God’s love to raise the dead to live in Christ. AMEN.