What Do You See in the Empty Tomb?

We have looked at Sunday’s Road to Emmaus appearance and an early the Upper Room appearance where Jesus came to the disciples, but today let’s go back to Resurrection Sunday morning and visit the scene again with fresh eyes. When you look into the tomb, do you see hopelessness and despair or hope and freedom?

The post resurrection appearances began at the empty tomb.  This fact occurs in each of the 4 gospels and 3 of the gospels include the appearance of a heavenly being (an angel) interacting with the grieving followers of Jesus.   Since Jesus had been hastily buried due to the need to have him buried before sundown, as it was the beginning of the Sabbath and no one could be buried on the Sabbath, His body was not properly prepared with spices.  It was wrapped but not fully treated.  The women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went to the tomb with spices intending to anoint Jesus’ body.  The gospel accounts say it was very early in the morning as they walked and talked on the way to the garden tomb.   They were concerned about how they were going to get the stone in front of the tomb removed so they could enter to anoint Jesus’ body.  When they arrived this was the scene:

garden tomb-Jerusalem

And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”  Mark 16:4-8

The angel, who appeared to be a young man, told them not to be afraid as he had good news about Jesus.  He encouraged them to look and see that Jesus was not there.  He also told them to go and tell the others Jesus had risen and they would see Him again.  The women rushed off to tell the disciples.  John describes their reactions in John 20:3-8. “So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;”

Can you even imagine their joy, surprise, awe, fear or confusion over experiencing the empty tomb, the angel, the clothes that had been wrapped around Jesus’ body empty and the face cloth neatly folded?  The disciples saw and believed.  How about you?  Do you look and see the things God does in your life? How do you explain unusual happenings in your life? Is it the providential care of God? Do these things register with you that God loves and cares about you?  God has a plan for your life just as He did for these disciples. He wanted them to encounter the living God. He wanted them to see and believe! Jesus wants that for us too. Jesus wants us to live with Hope in Him and know He is alive! He wants to dispel our doubts and fears so we may walk each day trusting Him. Open your eyes and see God today. He is alive! He has Risen indeed!

he-has-risen

May you encounter the Living Jesus and His transforming power today.

Linda

Alive? Feeling His Peace = Assurance

Jesus appeared to the disciples and others to show them living proof that He was alive.  He did not appear just once but multiple times between His Resurrection and His Ascension when He returned to heaven.  Over the period of 40 days He met in various places to reassure them He was alive, had returned from the dead and that their faith in Him was real and true.   On Resurrection Sunday He met the women in the garden, and the two men walking on the Road to Emmaus.  In today’s passage, Jesus appeared to those disciples gathered in the Upper Room.

After encountering Jesus and breaking bread with Him, Jesus disappeared and the two on the Road to Emmaus quickly went to find the disciples. “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. 36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.” Luke 24:33-43 NIV

What was their immediate concern?  Is Jesus real or are we experiencing hallucinations?  What was Jesus immediate concern?  Jesus wanted them to have and be at peace.  He did not want them anxious or fearful but open and willing to welcome Him into their midst.   What is your reaction when confronted by Jesus?   Do you doubt who Jesus is and question His reaching out to you or do you welcome Him with peace?

Jesus reassured the disciples that He was a real and alive just as He promised.  He proved it to them by calmly showing them His hands and feet- pierced at the cross, and eating food with them.  

How does Jesus make himself known to you?  Does He come to you in prayer, in the helping hands of others or through His Word?   Jesus can and does reveal himself to us if we are open and willing.  In Matthew 7:7 Jesus tells us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”   Be a seeker today and know the joy of His presence.  Be amazed as you encounter the living Lord Jesus, just as the disciples did in the upper room.  Each encounter with Jesus brings new revelation and understanding of who He is!   Be open to Him and He will reveal Himself to you and grace you with His peace.

Linda

upper-room
The disciples encountered Jesus in the upper room, where will you meet Him today?

After Jesus’ Resurrection, The Rest of the Story…

As we celebrated on Easter morning, Jesus did not stay in the tomb but rose from the dead. After his resurrection, he appeared many times to individuals, small groups and to as many as 500 at once. He was alive in their midst as He talked, ate and shared himself with them confirming his life and assuring them of his victory over death. As we move along the road towards his ascension and return to heaven 40 days after his resurrection, we will come face to face with Jesus’ divinity and power over death. Join me on this journey as I look at each of the appearances over the next 40 days.

One of my favorite post-resurrection appearances is the encounter of the two on the Road to Emmaus.  Overcome with grief because of Jesus’ death and disbelief over what the women said about seeing Him alive,  these two followers of Christ were walking along the Emmaus Road discussing all these recent events and reports.  Jesus joined them on their journey without disclosing his identity.  As they walked they were surprised that he did not know about all the events that had just occurred in Jerusalem and told him their hope that Jesus had been the long awaited Messiah.   Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  Luke 24:25-27

Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there and listened to Jesus explain all about Himself?  A little later in the story when they were sitting down to eat, Jesus gave thanks, broke the bread and began to give it to them.  Right then, their eyes were opened  and they recognized Jesus.  He then disappeared from their presence.  Even though it was late they quickly returned to Jerusalem to tell the disciples about their encounter with the risen Lord Jesus.

Jesus came to these two when they were in grief, despair and confusion, and He cleared up their thinking, encouraged and enlivened them.  Can you remember a time when Jesus came to you in prayer or through the actions or words of another believer to give you hope and encouragement?  Jesus promises that He will be with us wherever we go.  Just like these two, we need to look and recognize His presence with us and the hope that He brings.

I pray that my Lenten Blogs have brought you hope and encouragement these past 6 weeks.  I have been mightily blessed by being with you and in the scriptures each day.  I am still pondering the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice and all the truths gleaned from Colossians. I pray you will bask in the hope of the empty tomb knowing He has Risen, He has Risen Indeed!

Linda

Indeed, He has Risen!! Look and See

Happy Easter to you this Resurrection Sunday morning!  Scripture tells us that the women went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body and encountered 2 angels.  The angels said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen!  Remember how he told you, while was still with you in Galilee.  The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” Then they remembered his words.” Luke 24:5b-8    Then Mary encountered Jesus himself in the garden while she was weeping.  Jesus said to her, “Mary” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” John 20:16  Then she ran to tell the disciples filled with great joy as Jesus was Alive!

I pray that you will encounter the Risen Lord Jesus this Resurrection Sunday and experience great JOY in worshiping Him!   Here is a description of our future because of what Jesus did for us at the cross and through His resurrection. Praise you Jesus!

Isaiah 61 10

10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
    For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
    and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding
    or a bride with her jewels.
11 The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
    Everyone will praise him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
    with plants springing up everywhere.  Isaiah 61:10-11

Because Christ died on the cross and roes from the dead, I am redeemed and clothed in His righteousness forever! Thank you Jesus!

Have a Blessed Easter!

Linda

Holy Week, Saturday, Where’s Jesus?

Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb by his friend Joseph of Arimathea.  Scripture gives us some hints as to what Jesus was doing between the time of his burial and resurrection.  There is a lot of debate by scholars on the subject, but it is agreed that Jesus was in Hades preaching and teaching.  Ephesians 4:8-10 speaks of Jesus descending and leading captives as he ascended into heaven.  1 Peter 3:18-20 speaks of Jesus preaching to spirits in prison. We can be assured that he was not in the tomb waiting around but doing God’s Work.

Why is scripture basically silent on this period of time?  Probably because it is of little importance to us as believers.  The gospel essence is the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior.  His power over death is so miraculous and life giving that our focus needs to be on our redemption and His victory.  We also know that Jesus was always about His Father’s business.  “Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I , too, am working.”  John 5:17  God always has a purpose and a plan, and Jesus was always doing the Father’s work.  So on this silent day we can ask ourselves, Am I doing what God wants me to do?  Am I using the time God has given me to pray, study, witness and do good things for others?  Quietly think about God today as you prepare for Resurrection Sunday.   Know for sure the truth of Isaiah’s ancient words:    How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”   Isaiah 52:7

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can wait upon Him with assurance and hope knowing my future is secure and all His plans are for my good and His glory!

Blessings as we await His resurrection,

Linda

Holy Week, Friday, Where’s Jesus?

After His arrest Thursday night, Jesus endured 4 trials.  He went before the religious leaders, the Sanhedrin, then Pilate who sent him to Herod, the Jewish head of state, then back to Pilate.  The Jews wanted Jesus killed but they did not have the authority to execute Him.  They demanded that Pilate, the Roman authority in Palestine, crucify Him.  Pilate had Jesus flogged and beaten even though Pilate knew Jesus to be innocent.  He had hoped this cruel treatment would pacify the Jews.  However, the crowds pressed him and requested the release of the criminal Barabbas instead of Jesus since it was the custom to release one convicted person as a token of goodwill at the Jewish Passover.  The crowds demanded that Jesus be crucified and Pilate agreed to appease the angry and vocal Jewish crowds.   Jesus was then made to carry His own cross to the place of execution, Golgotha.  Along the way Jesus stumbled and Simon of Cyrene was conscripted to carry the cross.  Jesus was then nailed to a cross and hung to die.  His clothes were stripped from Him and as He hung naked on the cross then soldiers gambled for his clothing underneath the cross.

I can not imagine the pain, anguish, humiliation and shame Jesus endured on my behalf. He took all the sins of the world, yours and mine, upon His pure, sinless and innocent body and the sin took him to a place he had never been before.  The sins He took upon himself, our sins, separated him from God, His holy Father.  He did this so that His sacrifice could atone for our sins.  1 Peter 2:24 explains what Jesus accomplished for you and me.

24 He personally carried our sins
    in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
    and live for what is right.
By his wounds
    you are healed.  (NLT)

I never realized how sweet Jesus’ final words from the cross were until recently.  “‘It is finished.’ With that, he lowered his head and gave up his spirit.”  John 19:30   He declared with His final breath that the work of redemption was complete, and He had accomplished what the Father had sent Him to do. Through His death He took the punishment, death, for the sins of all who would believe for all eternity with His blood.  Having accomplished His work, He gave up His spirit.  His life was not taken from Him, but He gave it up voluntarily at the time of His choosing.  Only God can choose the time of His death.  When we speak of someone dying, we say the person has life take from them.  We don’t get to chose the hour or minute of our last breath, but Jesus chose when and where He was to die for you and me.  I am staggered by His love and sacrifice that He would endure such punishment and isolation from God on my behalf.  As you ponder the cross today, think of all Jesus gave up and all He did on your behalf.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I live redeemed from the penalty of sin, covered by His incredible sacrifice and will be able to stand before God sinless.

Prayer:  Father, the enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice and your love in sending Him to die for my sin is incomprehensible.  ‘Your ways and not my ways’ Isaiah reminds us in Isaiah 55:8.  I am so thankful for your plan of redemption and stand humbly before you because of Jesus, my Savior.  Praising you in Jesus name, Amen.              

Linda

Holy Week, Thursday, Where’s Jesus?

As Jesus’ time on earth draws to a close, His Thursday was filled with love, encouragement, heartbreak and pain.  As Jesus celebrated the Passover supper with His disciples in the Upper Room, Judas was dismissed as he had already decided in his heart to betray Jesus.  Then Jesus spent precious hours teaching, reassuring and praying for His disciples.  Later they went to the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed and gained strength from His Father.  The soldiers came into the garden to arrest Jesus, and he was betrayed by Judas. They led him away to be tried in numerous trials both civilian and religious.  He was beaten, flogged, insulted and denied by Peter.

During all this time, Jesus was focused on doing the will of the Father and completing His mission on earth, the redemption of mankind.  I am touched when I consider His prayer in the Upper Room as recorded in John 17: 20-23 as he was thinking of me and you and not the ordeal he was facing.

I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.  (Message)

I was amazed that Jesus took time to pray for His mission, His disciples and All future believers that night in the Upper Room.  He wanted all future believers to be unified in faith so we can tell others that Jesus was and is real and was sent by the Father.  He says that the unity of our faith and oneness with Christ will give evidence to the unbelieving world that God loves us and truly sent His Son to redeem us.  This unity was so important to our Lord and Savior that He interceded for us.  Jesus wants us to be one in Spirit, united, telling others about Him.

What difference does it make that Jesus spend time on the last night before his crucifixion praying for you?  When you are with other believers do you strive for the unity Christ desired or are you seeking to divide and cause unrest in matters of faith with your brothers and sisters in Christ?  Are you about the sharing of your faith with others by showing kindness, love and speaking of the hope you have in Jesus?  Today, think of Jesus and what He desires for all believers.  Strive to walk in unity.  He promises it will show the world that we believe in Him and God’s love.

Prayer:  Father, I am humbled and amazed that Jesus prayed for me on His last night on earth.  He loved me so much and wanted me to be one in faith and unified in spirit with all believers.  Help me to live today with an abiding faith in You so that the people I meet will know that I love You and that You love me. Empower me to show your love to others so that you may be glorified in all I say and do. Amen.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be unified with other believers in Jesus’ name and share in His love.

Linda

Holy Week, Wednesday-Where’s Jesus?

It would seem that the gospel’s are silent on the whereabouts of Jesus on this day of Holy Week.  Perhaps he remained in Bethany with Mary, Martha and Lazarus, taking a needed day of rest.  Tomorrow will be a trying day with the Last Supper, Gethsemane, His arrest, beating and trials by night leading to crucifixion on Friday.  Jesus knew what was coming and how his human body would need strength for tomorrow so He rested.  Even though He was God, He felt all the pain and fatigue of a man when He was within His earthly body.  So He needed rest today.

What do you need today? Here are a couple of scriptures for you to mediate on to encourage and strengthen you.  David knew his need for the Lord and relied upon Him each day.  

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
    you preserve my life;

you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
    and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.  Psalm 138:7-8a

3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday.  Psalm 37:3-6

Jesus knew the Psalms of King David and perhaps He drew strength and comfort from these words too.  He knew God had a purpose for him to complete and that He needed to trust His heavenly Father and rest in Him. Let David’s words bring you peace and rest today as you walk trusting in Jesus..

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can call upon Him for strength and rest in His ability to give me all that I need.

Linda

Holy Week, Tuesday, Where’s Jesus?

Bible scholars attribute many happenings to the Tuesday of Holy Week.  Jesus was questioned by the religious leaders as to by what authority was He speaking and performing miracles.  Jesus cleverly trapped them with their own questions, and they left him alone. (Matthew 21:23-27)  After that confrontation, Jesus proceeded to teach in parables about the tenants who killed the messengers sent by the master, then about the wedding banquet where those invited refused to come and then strangers were welcomed in their place.  Both of these pointed to the treatment of Jesus, God’s Son, by the religious leaders and Jews of His day.  Jesus also taught about taxes and where we owe our allegiance.  He spoke about marriage in heaven and who He really was. (Matthew 21:28-23:39)  Later in the evening, Jesus ate at the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. There Mary anointed Jesus with pure nard, a very expensive perfume, and the disciples were upset at her for using this costly perfume on Jesus. (Matthew 26:6-12)  From morning until night, Jesus used every minute to instruct and build up the faith of His followers as He knew His time was short.

During this day, one of Jesus’ most important teachings was revealed when the Jewish leaders asked Jesus what was the most important commandment in the Law?  Jesus replied: 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)

This statement about the right priorities for our lives is so simply stated, and yet is so difficult to live out on a daily basis.  Putting God first in our lives will keep everything else in balance and then loving others with as much love as we love ourselves comes next.  Do you love yourself?  Do you take care with what you put into your body, soul and mind? Jesus tells us that He expects us to love and respect ourselves. Out of that love for God will flow and be poured into those around us.  Think about your priorities today and the fact that Jesus spent time His last week on earth telling us how to align our lives in the most productive way for ourselves and others.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have His Holy Spirit’s indwelling power that enables me to keep my priorities in line with Him. Putting God first then yourself and others is God’s way. Thankfully, He is able to see this work to completion as promised in Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” He also promised help in Matthew 19:26 “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Praise God! He wants us to show His love to others and will enable us to do so in His time and His way.

Linda

Holy Week, Monday-Where’s Jesus?

Bible Commentaries give two specific events that Jesus was involved in on Monday before His crucifixion of what is now known as Holy Week.  Jesus entered the city humbly and triumphantly on Sunday and then cleansed the temple area of money changers and withered a fig tree.  Both actions seem harsh, but they give a picture of the worldly opposition to God’s kingdom.  From both we get a glimpse of divine justice.  You can read the accounts in Matthew 21 and Mark 11.

Jerusalem at Passover was a bustling city with many thousands of pilgrims arriving to make offerings at the temple.  They needed to purchase animals for sacrifice and change money so they could pay the yearly temple tax.  The exchanges were all being conducted in the outer court of the Gentiles.  Here is Matthew’s account from 21:12-14.

12-14 Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. He quoted this text:

My house was designated a house of prayer;
You have made it a hangout for thieves.

Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them.  (Message)

Jesus was then, is now and will be in eternity the Righteous Judge.  He saw the true motives of the people desiring to make money exorbitantly and uprooted and cast them out literally.  He placed a priority on prayer and worship when coming to God’s house.  He got right to the work of His ministry, healing and allowing access to God for everyone.

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As we near the cross, take heart from this short snippet in Jesus’ last week. Know that He came to save and set right relationships and motives towards God.  What attitudes do you need adjusted by Jesus today?  Do you attend church to make ‘connections’ with people for business or do you come to pray and reflect on your walk with Jesus?  Looking at the heart is what Jesus did then and does now in our lives through the Holy Spirit.  Let Him cleanse your heart today and put you on the right pathway with right motives.  May our hearts be right with God today as suggested in this quote by Charles Wesley “Make My Heart a House of Prayer”.  

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, God is accessible to me through prayer and I can trust in His righteousness. I can claim the truths of Philippians 4:6-7 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Thank you Jesus for making yourself accessible through prayer, your unsurpassed peace for my heart, and for your redemptive sacrifice.

Linda