Friday, March 18, 2016

Beautiful Hope

1 Corinthians 15: 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

I will be away from my computer next Friday, so here is an early Easter greeting.

Yes, Friday was black. And for Jesus’ followers, the days ahead remained black. But amazing hope came with Resurrection Sunday, and soon they would share this hope with the world.

The women went to the tomb first, heart-broken, confused, but wanting to serve Jesus still. The tomb was empty, and angels told them Jesus was alive again. They were afraid but filled with joy. Then Jesus met them.

Matthew 28:10: Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

He honored Mary Magdalene by appearing to her, to comfort her and give her a message to share with the disciples. John 20:14-17.

Peter—one of my heroes—wept bitterly after denying Jesus. Matthew 16:15-17. He was afraid to hope Jesus was alive again; didn’t know what to believe. But Jesus had a specific message sent to him, to let Peter know he was still included. Mark 16:7.

Jesus appeared to Peter on his own. Luke 24:34. He reassured Peter that he still trusted him to care for those he, Jesus, loved. John 21:15-17.

Cleopas and his friend were dejected as they walked along the road, but Jesus joined them and explained how the Scriptures showed how his death had to happen. Luke 24:13-35.

Thomas—another hero of mine—was not the only one who doubted. All the apostles did. Luke 24:7-9. But Jesus gave a special gift to Thomas, singling him out, asking Thomas to touch him, convincing Thomas that Jesus was really alive. John 20:24-29.

Jesus leaves a special blessing for us today and—what a privilege—we get to share the assignment he gives to his disciples.

John 20: 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Matthew 28:18-20: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Like Jesus’ disciples I doubt. I am afraid. I am dejected and need to be reminded again and again of God’s will. Just as Peter denied Jesus, I deny him in so many ways, in my words and actions; like Paul, I persecute him. I, too, feel bitter with despair. But Paul reminds us that though we have failed God, with his unbelievable grace and mercy, he is still able to use us. 1 Corinthians 15:10.

We still struggle with blackness today, just like Black Friday. The blackness is our sin, which leads to death. Praise God, Jesus has saved us from all of this.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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