April 10, 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)
“Stand firm then [strong in the Lord and in His mighty power- re. verse 10], with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…” (Ephesians 6.14a)
TODAY’S REFLECTION ON GOD’S WORD:
So, in reflection of Easter, the call to stand firm in your faith that Jesus is the Christ and in the admonition to put on the full armor of God, how are you preparing yourself for the second day of the week? Yes, today is the second day of the week. We know from scripture that early on the first day of the week, the woman- Mary Magdalene or the women including all the Marys went to the tomb to grieve and to finishing the burial attire of Jesus before it was “too late.” What was too late? Well, the story of the resurrection of Jesus was preceded by another resurrection story- that of Lazarus. By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been in the grave at least four days. Traditionally, by the third day, the body would be rotting flesh and decaying matter. When Jesus arrived “late,” dare we say fashionably late as He delayed in order that God might be glorified, and commanded the tomb be opened, the response was “No, Lord, there will be a stench.” But, they obeyed having faith in Jesus. Their faithfulness to God and to Jesus was rewarded with the miracle of Lazarus being restored to life. So, while Jesus had not been in the grave three days and definitely not four days, it wasn’t too late for the women to come “and see.”
Wait, you may say hitting the logic pause button on this reflection, didn’t Jesus say “on the third day He will be raised from the dead”? Yes, he did and it is true. He did not say “after three days.” He said “on the third day.” He died and was buried before sundown on Friday (which would have been the signal for the Sabbath to begin.) So, Friday was “Day 1.” He then, by all we know, remained in the tomb all Sabbath. So, Saturday was “Day 2.” We know He did not leave the tomb until the first day of the week which was Sunday, “Day 3.” Why do we know that? Well, the soldiers guarding the tomb fell asleep at their post. That would lead us to safely assume it was after sundown on Saturday when the stone was still in its place. So, He could have been raised at 8:pm or 10:pm or midnight or any time before sunrise when the women arrived. Thus, on the “third day” Jesus was released from the borrowed tomb. He left the grave clothes neatly folded and placed where His feet had been. The “napkin” covering His face was also neatly folded and put where His head had been. They were stained with His blood and pulse and evidence that death had been in that place. But, Jesus was no longer dead. He was raised “on the third day” just as He said. This was reported to the women by the attending angels. The women had not arrived “too late” but they were late to see the stone roll away, the soldiers run for their lives and the glory of the Lord lifted up and out of the tomb leaving it empty (except for the grave clothes). Now that we have the first day of the week clarified, let me return to my initial question which was “How prepared are you for the second day of the week?” The women were prepared for death. The disciples were prepared for their safety, at least in part due to hiding in the Upper Room. But, all of that was put aside with the resurrection of Jesus who appeared to them all, except for Thomas. The appearance of Jesus in the Garden, on the Road to Emmaus and in the Upper Room girded the peoples’ faith so that they could “soldier on” as bearers of good news and the life-giving truth of the gospel proven righteous and true by the resurrection.
Now the fateful question is: Are you girded up for truth having celebrated the resurrection of Jesus “revisited”? Knowing it is true and the promise is secured for all believers, are you prepared to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations? Or is it back to “business as usual” which bears the burden of grief, fear, reluctance, despair, drudgery and hopelessness? It is a good question to ask to those who are urged to “put on the whole armor of God” starting with the girding of our waist with the belt of truth.
A PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father, Your truth is our life. Your life is our hope. Ours is the opportunity to bear the good news of the gospel so that others may be prepared in truth and in life for the fulfillment of hope which is life eternal. We seize the day in Jesus’ name. AMEN.