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Entries in Resurrection (17)

Wednesday
Mar192014

The True Jesus: Authority Over Death

Last week we saw how Jesus had authority over a terminal sickness.  The next section in Luke 7:11-17, shows that even if someone dies, Jesus still has authority over even death.

The story takes place about 12 miles up into the hills from the Sea of Galilee near Nazareth at the city of Nain.  Jesus and his disciples had left Capernaum and walked up to this city.  They were also followed by a large crowd that wanted to see what Jesus would do and hear what He would teach.

His Authority Over Death

As Jesus, disciples, and crowd approach the town of Nain, they are met by a funeral procession coming out of the city.  This tragic scene would be sad enough.  But, we are told that the situation gets worse.  The woman was a widow.  So she had already dealt with a tragedy of losing her husband.  Now she has the increased tragedy of losing her son and having to bury him.  Yet, even worse, this was her only son.  That means the woman would also be worrying about how she is going to live.  Who will take care of her?  Like Naomi in the book of Ruth, she has suffered great bitterness and yet we do not know if this woman has a Ruth like Naomi did.

It is in this moment that we are told that Jesus had compassion on the woman.  Now compassion is sometimes referring to the act of helping someone without regard to the emotions behind it.  But, here it is describing an inner emotion of love and pity that Jesus feels towards her.  This emotion leads Him to decide to do an act of compassion.  Jesus was not an unfeeling being that mysteriously did miracles.  Rather, he had compassion upon those who were bound by sin and sickness.  You might recall that when Jesus hears that Lazarus, His friend, had died that He wept.  So Jesus tells the woman to not weep.  Weeping and grieving is normal and God is not against it.   However, Jesus is about to turn her weeping into Joy.  He is giving her hope.  When the miracle worker says don’t cry, you begin to hope that He means He is going to help you.

Next Jesus steps up to the open coffin and simply speaks to the dead corpse.  This resurrection scene demonstrates the power of Jesus.  He does not require great build up and multiple attempts.  When you contrast this simple action to Elisha’s resurrection of the young boy in 2 Kings 4, you see the tremendous command that Jesus has over death.  This is not to put down Elisha, but rather to lift up the Truth about Jesus.  Jesus simply commands the young man to rise up.  This amazing power of speaking a word and flesh coming to life is parallel with God in the creation of Adam.  There he forms the man and then breathes life into the form.  The words of Jesus cause life to enter this dead body and further more heals the original problem that led to a death in the first place.  Thus God not only has the power to create, but also to recreate. 

Like the resurrection of Lazarus, this young man is brought back to life in a mortal body.  He is not immortal like Jesus was after his resurrection, but rather, restored to normal life.  He will eventually grow old and die of something else and at that point Jesus won’t be there.  The power of this story is not the hope that we can escape death if we have enough faith.  God does not show up in miraculous power in most of the sorrows of our life.  Even this woman could wonder where Jesus was when her husband died.  Yet, we see here that despite all of that Jesus does care.  God does care about the sorrow of mankind.  Part of the work of Jesus is to give man the evidence he needs to believe that God will overcome all those sorrows, even death.

In John 11 Jesus promises that a greater day of Resurrection is coming on the Last Day of this Age.  This is a day when Christ will command all the righteous to be raised from the dead and have eternal, spiritual bodies.  They are called spiritual because they are created by the Spirit of God.  But don’t be confused.  They are material bodies.

The apostles also pointed to this great promise as the Great Hope of all believers:  that we will be resurrected by Christ on the last day.  It is what makes all our sacrifices and difficulties in this life bearable.  Paul gives the most description of this event in 1 Corinthians 15 if you want to understand it more.  Let me just list some of these apostolic encouragements.  “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 4:13-14.  “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:21-22. 

The People Are Amazed

There is a part of us all that longs to have been there or to see something as dramatic as this.  But the reality is that our faith is not made better or worse for having not seen it.  Many in the Bible who saw the miraculous went on to not believe God.  Thus God gives us evidence, but don’t fool yourself that it isn’t real just because you didn’t see it.

It says that fear came upon them.  In general this is a fear of realizing that this is no mere man.  Who is he?  What is he?  Yet, it also points to a fear of the Lord because the people began to give the glory and honor of this event to God.  His power and ability was so far beyond them that they were humbled in reverence and respect.  This was not a man to be trifled with.

They glorified God.  To whom do we give glory of all the amazing things that are happening in our day?  Don’t we glorify ourselves?  Even our technology is made possible by the glories of God’s creative genius.  Yet, we do not praise Him for His wisdom.  Instead we laugh at such quaint notions as a God, and praise ourselves.  The generation that doesn’t stand in awe at the greatness of God expressed through His creation, brings judgment upon itself.

They also declared Jesus a true prophet and a visitation from God.  Prophet is meant here in that most of the prophets did miracles to help the nation believe that what they said was from God.  But the emphasis was on the fact that they spoke for God.  Through this resurrection the people of Nain recognize Jesus as a prophet.  One who is truly sent by God to speak to His people and direct them.  However, we are warned in Scripture not to accept miracles as proof of the Truth.  So how do we know?  First the miraculous gets our attention.  Next we take the teaching of the “prophet” and we compare it to the teachings of the Bible.  If they do not match then we don’t listen to the prophet because they are not from God.  Lastly, if they predict something and it doesn’t come to pass then we know for sure that they are not a true prophet.  Was the teaching of Jesus true to the Old Testament?  The New Testament makes the case that He was the ultimate prophet of God.

Lastly, the “visitation from God” is a reference to the fact that God doesn’t always seem to be active in our life.  From time to time, however, He shows up.  These visitations can be good or bad, it depends on us.  Israel had been suffering under one empire after another and were longing for deliverance from God.  It seemed like He was not showing up.  They longed for a visitation of deliverance.  However, if we are not living right and crucify the deliverer when He shows up, then we are going to have a visitation of judgment.  The good news is that Jesus took the Judgment of God upon Himself so that those who put their faith in Him could avoid it.  That truly is amazing.  The amazing grace of God can be ours by picking up our cross (the things we have to die to) and following Jesus in faith.  God promises us eternal life in glorified bodies, but in His time.  Can you trust Him?  Turn to Jesus today.

Authority Over Death Audio

Tuesday
Apr022013

The Victorious Jesus

Today we are going to look at the passage in Isaiah 52:13—53:12.  This section has been referred to as the Holy of Holies of the Old Testament because in it we see the ultimate Truth that lies behind the whole sacrificial system that God gave to Israel.

It is easy for people in the modern world to take “pot shots” at God in regards to the “senseless” killing of so many animals.  Yet, even the Bible itself tells us that God did not take pleasure in the killing of animals.  No, animals are not equivalent to humans.  They were not made in the image of God; with the ability to reflect God’s nature.  However, neither was God pleased by their mere deaths.  We might ask ourselves the question, “If God wanted to communicate with man then what would the problems be?”  Think about it.

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Tuesday
Mar122013

The Ongoing Meaning of Jesus

For the next several Sundays we will be looking at what meaning Jesus has for today.  In a world that loves to take things from the past and give them whatever meaning it wants, we need to challenge ourselves.  Am I satisfied using Jesus for the meaning I want or do I want to know the True meaning God intended for him to have in my life?  People who have used Jesus for their own personal meaning over the years can grow tired and walk away from Jesus as if he has no meaning for today.  But this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Today we will look at Acts 2:22-32, as Peter explains to the people of Jerusalem what was going on.  Jesus had been crucified around 40 days earlier.  In that sense many people had moved on.  “Well, he must not have been the messiah.”  However, there were rumors of a “resurrection.”  But in reality Jesus had ceased to have any meaning.  He was a possibility that proved false.  “Let’s move on.”  It is in this environment that the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples.  As they walk out onto the streets of Jerusalem rejoicing and praising God, the crowd notices that they are speaking in many languages that is impossible.  In fact they assume the people are merely drunk and out of their mind.  But in this environment, Peter speaks to the crowd.  Let’s look at what he says.

Peter Reminds Them About Jesus

Peter begins by reminding the crowd that the recent life of Jesus was one that was spectacular.  He says that Jesus was attested by God.  This literally means that Jesus was “exhibited” or “pointed out” by God.  The life of Jesus was highlighted with things that could not be overlooked.  God’s hand and power was clearly evident in it.  Peter mentions the miracles (literally the powerful actions), the wonders (that which causes you to stop and look), and signs (activity that points to something.  Jesus fed 1,000’s of people with just one lunch.  Jesus had healed people who had been blind, mute, or lame for long periods of times, even from birth.  These were not charades.  These were events that left people with their mouths open saying, “who is this?”  But Jesus was not just “wowing” the crowd.  The miracles had a purpose.  They pointed to something.  When Jesus fed the crowds out in the wilderness it was pointing back to how God fed Israel in the wilderness with Moses.  It was a Sign that was making them remember the power of God in Israel’s past.  They were supposed to make the connection.  Even the cross itself was a sign that was pointing back to the sacrifices of the Old Testament, especially the near sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham.  So with so much evidence of God’s hand of Jesus, how could he be killed?

Peter says that God had given Jesus into the hands of Israel.  This is a term that is used when we turn someone in to the authorities.  Yes Jesus was a gift, but he was also delivered into the hands of the authorities.  They had no power to take his life from him.  But God allowed them to exercise such power.  Why?  He had a “determined purpose.”  Jesus was to be his sacrifice for the sins of mankind.  He was to be the means of taking away the sins of sinners.  Also, Peter mentions God’s foreknowledge.  God knew that Israel would become so captive to sin that even though they were given truth, in the Law, they would be so corrupt that they would kill God if they could.  In Jesus they could.  So the death of Jesus was not proof that he wasn’t the messiah.  Rather, it was proof that God was doing something different with the messiah than they thought.

Peter then reminds them that the execution of Jesus was done unlawfully.  Now there was a trial and, even though it stretched the bounds of the law, it had the appearance of being lawful.  However, the truth was that this was an unlawful execution.  Throughout history man has operated within the boundaries of the law to do “unlawful” things.  These things are wrong by the laws of God, but also by the spirit of the law.  When we use the law to hurt others we are abusing the law and using it lawlessly.  So this is not a “legal” point in the courts of men.  It was a legal point in the courts of God.  They were lawless and guilty before God whether they “felt” guilty or not.  They did this over the top of God’s witness. 

It Is Impossible For Jesus To Remain Dead

Peter, in verses 24 and following, moves to the resurrection.  Jesus was raised from the dead because it was impossible for death to hold him.  The pictures are beautiful.  He was “loosed” from the birth pangs of death.  This reminds us of how Lazarus was loosed from the grave clothes that held him.  But here Jesus is having the “pains” of death unwrapped off of him.  It has been pointed out that for Jesus the tomb became the womb of the resurrected life to which he was going to be raised up.

Why is it impossible?  Peter answers that by quoting from Psalm 16:8-11.  However, if I were to sum it up, I would say that it was because of the relationship that Jesus had with the Father.  David’s close relationship with God brought him to a point where he not only realized that God would not leave him in the grave, but that God would not let the coming Messiah even see corruption, which is a clear reference to physical decay.   Jesus as the eternal Word of God had been in relationship with the Father before the worlds were ever created.  It was impossible for him to be “extinguished” by the mere death of his humanity upon a cross.  God would not let his promises to David go unfulfilled and He would not completely turn away from His Son.

In fact Peter states that the disciples were witnesses of these things.  Not just the 11 plus Matthias, but over 500 followers of Jesus saw him at one time; along with his multiple appearances to many different groups at many different times.  Peter and the other believers were witnesses of the fact that Jesus was resurrected and alive.  Though Jerusalem had moved on past Jesus, Jesus was not done with them.

Final Thoughts

The modern world has relegated Jesus to a thing of the past that is dead and gone.  Even many of those who do “believe” in Jesus, do so without believing that anything in the Bible was literally true.  They look to it as an inspiring story for what I want to do today.  But Jesus didn’t die to just be your inspiration.  It is impossible for Jesus to remain irrelevant to the politics and entertainments of this world.  Why? Jesus cannot remain irrelevant forever, precisely because he is alive and sitting at the right hand of the Father, awaiting the command to come and judge the nations of the world.  Are you ready?  Jesus must not continue to be irrelevant in your life, precisely because if he does then you will have to face God with the guilt of your rebellion against Him hanging over your head.  He is not relevant because you have a good feeling about him.  He is relevant because He is The Truth, The Way, and the only one who can give you Life.  Don’t wait another day without asking Jesus to forgive you of your sins and taking your place in his kingdom of hearts by following his word.

 

Ongoing Meaning audio

Tuesday
Sep042012

Our Heavenly Inheritance

We are going to start a series where we walk through the New Testament book of 1 Peter.  It is clear that Peter’s main concern is persecution because each chapter deals with it and many of the other subjects are an encouragement to those enduring it.  However, today we are going to be dealing with the inheritance that we have in Christ.

Who Is Writing

In order to set the stage, we want to recognize that this is a letter from the apostle Peter.  Peter was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus that lived with him wherever he went.  Within this group Peter was one of three who were closest to Jesus.  In fact, Peter is actually a nickname that Jesus gave to him.  Some try to make Peter out to be the head Apostle and first Pope, however, it is clear from Scripture that this is simply not true.  In Acts 15 we do not see Peter presiding over the council and decreeing God’s will ex cathedra.  Rather we see all the apostles speaking what God has been saying to them and coming to a consensus about what the Holy Spirit wanted them to do.  Also, though Peter eventually ended up in Rome and was put to death there, he does not appear as the first Bishop of Rome, nor was he the instrument to raise up a church in Rome.  This is not to diminish Peter, but rather to clarify who it is who is writing.  He is an apostle of Jesus; one who was sent by Jesus to proclaim the Gospel to the world alongside of the work of other apostles.

Who Received the Letter

This letter was written specifically to believers who had been spread out from Jerusalem due to persecution.  Believers went many directions to many places.  Here Peter describes areas that are in what we would call central and northern Turkey today.  Though some try to say these are Jewish believers, I don’t believe that is Peter’s point in speaking of the “dispersion.”  Most early Christians were Jewish by the fact that it started in Jerusalem.  So clearly there are many Jews in this group if not most of them.  The dispersion is not a reference to the overall Jewish Diaspora that had been going on, but rather to the issues of Acts 8:4 when persecution of Christians by fellow Jews caused them to disperse and scatter into the surrounding nations.  What Satan meant for evil God meant for good.  Thus the Gospel was spread beyond Jerusalem at a faster rate than would have occurred under the believer’s own direction.

Peter reminds them that they are “elect” (literally chosen) by God.  God chose them according to his foreknowledge.  God knows in advance what men will chose and how they will respond and He made a choice.  He did not choose to save the strongest or the wisest, but rather to save the humble.  Thus even the strongest and wisest can be saved, if they will humble themselves.  God did not choose our works of righteousness but rather chose a path of salvation that required men to confess their sin, humble themselves before God and put their trust in His righteousness, specifically in Jesus Christ.  Remember that God  has chosen you to salvation and to an inheritance not because of your great works, but because of simple trust in Him. 

They are chosen by God “in sanctification of the Holy Spirit.”  Sanctification is when we are set apart by God for his purposes.  That sanctification has aspects that are immediate and some that are ongoing.  When we believe in Jesus we are separated from the world as God’s children and recipients of his favor.  However, as we follow Him, the Holy Spirit enables us to be separated from the ways of this world and the image of this world.

Next they are chosen by God for Obedience and for Service.  Part of Obeying God is to first believe on Jesus and then to pick up our cross and follow him.  In other words we enter into a life of dying to things that Jesus may live in us.  Just as Jesus was obedient to go to the literal cross, so God will call us to do many things that are like a cross to our soul.  We won’t want to die to certain desires and fears, but to obey God we will eventually have to learn.  We may be disciplined at times, but as a loving Father, we need not worry that he seeks to disqualify us.  On the contrary, he died that we might be his children.  Trust him!  The reason I said we are chosen for Service is because of the imagery behind the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus.”  It is pointing back to the Old Testament sacrifices.  Anything that was going to be used for holy purposes, whether it was an altar, clothing, or a person like the priests, had to be sprinkled with blood from a sacrifice.  It represented that it had been cleansed and set apart for God’s work.  That physical lamb that was slain and the blood that was literally sprinkled on things point to the death of Jesus.  So, how are we metaphorically sprinkled with the blood of Jesus?  This is done by the Holy Spirit when we believe on Jesus as our substitute.  He died for me that my sins could be covered.   I believe an then God applies the blood to cover my account.

Peter’s Desire For Them

Peter ends verse 2 by praying Grace and Peace for them and that it be multiplied.  Clearly our greatest need is God’s grace, peace with Him, and peace from Him.  Though God’s grace and peace are already potentially multiplied towards us all the time, we do need to rest in that grace and peace.  If we allow our confidence to be undermined then we can lose our grip on His blessings.  Thus Peter prays that it will be in constant renewal and supply.

Peter’s Praise of God

God’s plan for mankind is truly magnificent.  It is not the plan we would have made for ourselves, but it is amazing.  Thus Peter blesses the Father because of His abundant mercy, which is a mercy that is inexhaustible.  If every soul on the planet repented today, God would have enough mercy to draw them all in and more.  However his mercy is not just abundant in quantity.  It is also abundant in quality.  Thus the next phrase, “begotten us again,” is a reference to the new birth or spiritual birth of John 3:3.  Simple mercy would be allowing us to be His slaves.  As you increase that mercy we can rise from slaves to friends.  But God’s mercy is so great that he adopts us into his family and makes us his children.  He spiritually births us into his family.  No, we do not become gods as some may claim.  But our Father is God and His Spirit does live within us, which is an abundant mercy.  We also have a “living Hope.”  It is living because Jesus who was dead is now alive.  However, it is also living in the sense that the Hope is lively.  It can’t be put down or quenched.  When satan tries to convince us that there is no hope, the hope we have in Jesus jumps up and sends him fleeing.  In Christ our hope cannot be touched by satan.  Even his death words can’t destroy the living hope we have in Jesus.  Lastly it is a living hope because it is the hope of eternal life that we have in our own personal resurrection by Jesus.  Thus the resurrection of Jesus becomes the assurance or proof that the Father will do all he has said he will do.  Our hope is a hope of life eternal.

But notice the reason God has given us spiritual birth.  In verse 4 we are born for an inheritance.  A divine inheritance has been created for those who are God’s children.  This inheritance is “incorruptible.”  That means it can’t diminish or be lost in the stock market.  It can’t grow old and die.  It is imperishable.  The next word to describe the inheritance is “undefiled.”  It is a clean and pure inheritance.  God didn’t steal it from anybody and it is not ill-gotten gain.  It is a righteous and pure inheritance that does not “fade away.”  How?  It doesn’t fade because it is kept in heaven for you.  Here things fade and luster is lost.  But our inheritance is just as shiny as the first day God made it.  Nothing, not even satan himself, can get near it to tarnish it.  In fact in verse 5 Peter says that even we ourselves are “kept by the power of God.”  This is a military picture of a spiritual guard that is placed upon us as his children.  This doesn’t mean Satan can’t attack.  It just means that his attacks are only as successful as we let them be.  That is why he couples the guarding power to our faith.  When we simply believe God in the face of every lying demon of hell then Satan can’t touch us.  Like Job of old we can lose everything and yet not, because our faith is in God.  “Though God slay me yet I will trust him.”

God has revealed the plan of his salvation.  But the day is coming when the heavens will open and Jesus will return.  And , in that day, his salvation will be revealed in all its power and glory!  This is our heavenly inheritance that we have in Jesus.  Amen.