Posted by: gbake783 | March 27, 2013

Easter Message

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever. Isaiah 40:8

The only thing surprising about Jesus’s resurrection is how unsurprising it should have been, a point Luke painstakingly develops throughout the last chapter of his gospel.

Before Jesus’s death the disciples were so convinced that Jesus would immediately inaugurate his eternal kingdom that they were willing to take up arms just in case Christ needed a little extra muscle (Luke 22:38). Recalling Bible passages like Isaiah 54 or Joel 2 where God talks about his eternal Kingdom, the disciples were getting ahead of themselves. They demonstrated that wonderful human tendency to remember what thrills and forget what perplexes. In the halcyon days of Jesus’s earthly ministry, Peter and the disciples remembered Scripture rather selectively. When Jesus hung on the cross and actually died, the disciples’ faith came crashing down with a thud still reverberating through Scripture’s pages – in sorrow the disciples refused even to believe Mary Magdalane’s resurrection story (Luke 24:11;17).

The disciples were broken men; their faith was shattered. And I think this is a universally experienced sentiment. What do we do when our faith fails? How should we respond when God seems absent? Perhaps turning the question around will show the heart of our Savior. If you were Jesus and wanted to restore your disciples’ faith, what would you do? I’d probably conjure some dramatic and universal revelation so that none could deny my presence. Jesus did nothing of the sort, of course. Isaiah 55:8 is apropos, “My thoughts are not your thoughts and neither are your ways my ways.”

When Jesus restored the disciples’ faith he reminded them of his words before he revealed himself. In fact, Jesus had the angels remind them of all the times he predicted his death, burial, and resurrection. And then Jesus highlighted all those Old Testament passages that predicted the passion events – the same passages the disciples overlooked in their bewilderment. In other words, before the moment of physical revelation, Jesus reminded them of his words, both his spoken words and the written word of the Old Testament. He sought to restore their faith not through an experience physical, spiritual or emotional, but through his word. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

When the mourning ladies approached the empty tomb, the angels inquired, “Remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again?” (Luke 24:6-7). Jesus had, in fact, predicted his death, burial, and resurrection several times throughout his earthly ministry. In Luke 9, just after Peter confessed Jesus to be the divine Messiah, Jesus warned “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.” (v.22). Again, as Matthew records in chapter 12, after arguing with the Jewish leadership, who requested a sign from our Savior, Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (v.40-41). The disciples were without excuse for their forgetfulness. Before entering Jerusalem for the last time, Jesus said yet again, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again” (Luke 18:31-33). Time and again Jesus foretold the passion events; the disciples should not have been surprised.

But even more so than Jesus’s predictions, the Old Testament itself anticipated a resurrected Savior. For Jesus, failing to remember Old Testament promises was even more serious than failing to remember his own words. Jesus said to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26).

So, what do the prophets say about the forthcoming Messiah? The Old Testament takes four important lines of argumentation. First, the Old Testament unanimously agrees that Christ, the Messiah, is God. For example, Isaiah 54:5 declares, “he LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” Second, the prophets predict that the Messiah’s rule is eternal – Daniel 7:14 declares that “his dominion is an everlasting dominion.” These are the passages the Jewish disciples accepted – they believed Jesus to be the divine Messiah poised to bring about his eternal kingdom.

But they forgot the third and fourth categories, those verses that predict a suffering and resurrected Savior. Isaiah 53:4-6 declares that “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, with his stripes we are healed.” And Isaiah 53 cannot be dismissed as a Scriptural anomaly for Psalm 22 declares the same: “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint …. thou hast brought me into the dust of death …. they pierced my hands and my feet ….They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.”

How can it be that the eternal Messiah should suffer death? That’s where the fourth prediction is so important. Psalm 16:10 declares, “For thou wilt not leave my soul in the grave [author’s translation]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” The prophets look toward a Savior not only as the eternal King, but as the suffering servant to be resurrected. And Jesus expected his disciples to remember these promises. When they didn’t, he kindly reminded and taught.

God informs our faith through his word. When the disciples’ faith flagged, Jesus lovingly reminded them that none of those events had taken him by surprise. Perhaps you find yourself with waning faith. And although you may be dissatisfied with your current religious affiliation, I would beg you not to give up on seeking God regardless of the religious moniker you’ve taken. Jesus gave pretty good advice. Seek him not through shallow and subjective external confirmations, but through his word, specifically the New Testament. Why not find a Bible and read Luke 24? “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

The preceding was published by the our local newspaper, The Valley News. Special thanks to Jeannie Wendell for her cooperation in writing for the paper.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: