A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.
Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 27; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 183 through 189
This week we read about the unbelievable for too many people. It’s the thing that makes them pause and say, “It just can’t be true. It’s not possible. The story is just a story.”
What are we talking about? This week we read about the resurrection. We read the reaction of those closest to him who also recoiled at the thought that it was possible even after watching him do the impossible and them telling them it would happen. We watch Joseph and Nicodemus gently remove Jesus’ broken body from the cross and take it to Joseph’s newly finished tomb. We watch from afar as they race the clock before the sun sets to do some minimal burial preparation of Jesus’ body because nothing can be done on the Sabbath.
We hear of the disciples cowering in locked rooms discussing what they will do now that their king has died. The one they put their trust and hope in lies in a tomb. How could it happen? How could he be the One to rescue them if he is buried in a grave? What happened? Just a few days before, the crowds waved palm branches and cried out their Hosannas. Now he’s dead.
Then we see the Sanhedrin worry about these rebel disciples and the revolt that might arise if they steal Jesus’ body from the tomb and declare that he really did rise from the dead. We watch them plead with Caesar to put his seal and a guard on the tomb so no one would tamper with the body and continue the “farce” this teacher kept up.
We listen to the story of that first Easter morning when the angels meet the two Marys at the tomb and announce that their Messiah rose just as he said he would. We try to empathize with Mary Magdalene as she grieves and begs the “gardner” to tell her where he has taken her master’s body.
But the realization of what has happened begins to dawn on Jesus’ followers. Jesus calls Mary by name and she recognizes her risen Lord. She races back to tell the disciples the good news. Peter and John race to the empty tomb and find the linens collapsed on the bier. Those linens contain no body. The guards recovered from their faint race to tell the priests what happened. The Sanhedrin make up a story to protect the guard.
Two disciples walk toward Emmaus, puzzled by the events of the day, don’t recognized their master walking with them until they sit down to eat and he reveals himself to them. Have you ever wondered about that? I have. I think they were looking for a bloodied, crucified, disfigured man. The one they last saw hanging on the cross. Broken. Bruised. Bleeding. Flesh hanging in strips from the flogging he suffered. Instead they saw the risen Lord. Refreshed. Restored. Resurrected. Perfect. Except for the scars in his hands and side so he could later show Thomas.
Would I have reacted any different? Would I have thought Jesus anything other than a ghost when he suddenly appeared behind closed doors if I were one of the disciples that night? Would I have recognized a restored Jesus if he walked with me on the road to Emmaus? Would I have thought Jesus rose from the dead instead of being stolen by the gardner?
I sometimes we look at “doubting Thomas” and give him a hard time. I think I’d be a lot like him. It takes faith to believe in the impossible. Jesus told them some incredible things over the three years he was with them. He also told them some hard things. “You must eat my flesh and drink my blood to have any part in me.” How do you accept that in the culture you’ve lived in all your life?
If you live you lose your life, you must lose your life to gain it? How does that make sense when you hear it for the first time?
But there it is staring at you. The empty tomb. The reports of the disciples. The more than 500 people who saw him over the next 40 days. The fact that no matter how hard the religious leaders tried to squash the story, people kept it alive. Not just that, thousands upon thousands have been willing to die for this One person. No other figure in all history has changed the world the way this one man did.
All the things people through the centuries have tried to do to stop the message or discredit the story have only served to strengthen it. The risen Lord. The impossible story. It isn’t just a story. It truly is God’s story. His plan to bring us back into a face to face relationship with him. He is a holy God. So much higher in his thoughts and ways that the only way we could come near to him was for him to come to us and become the perfect sacrifice for us.
Hard to believe? So is the perfect balance of nature around us. So is the uniqueness of a snowflake. So is the diversity of humanity around our world. So is the warmth and light of the sun. So is the miracle of birth. All those things are impossible. So is it so impossible that God so loved us that he came to live among us in human flesh so that whoever believes in him will not perish but will live eternally with him?
Impossible? He tells us and shows us in his actions it is not. All things are possible with him. The empty tomb on the first Easter morning is just one more demonstration of the impossible to show us his love for us and his desperate desire to restore an intimate, personal, face to face relationship with each of us. All we have to do is believe.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.