August 1, 2017
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”
The Message Bible
“Be bold, be strong
For the Lord thy God is with thee
Be bold, be strong
For the Lord thy God is with thee.
Do not be afraid
Do not be dismayed
Walk in Faith and victory
For the Lord thy God is with thee.
I’m bold, I’m strong
For the Lord my God is with me
I am not afraid
I am not dismayed
I’m walking in faith and victory
For the Lord my God is with me.”
Author and Performer
Today’s Study Texts:
“The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.”
“I lay down My life for sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason My Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father.”
“The Stone, The Watch, The Seal”
“The angel rolled away the stone from Jesus’ tomb, not to let the living Lord out, but to let unconvinced outsiders in.”
Donald Grey Barshouse
Why do I think it is so critical to remember the words of Jesus about His death and resurrection to His closest friends just before He left earth?
“If Christ be not risen, the dreadful consequence is not that death ends life, but that we are still in our sins.”
G. A. Studdert Kennedy
“The next day, the one after Preparation Day (Friday), the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we remember that while He (Jesus) was still alive that deceiver said,’ After three days I will rise again. ‘So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that He has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.’”
It was a Saturday morning and the chief priests felt it imperative to go to see the Roman governor Pilate. It seems that their problem was a rather simple one. What some might call a small nagging detail kept pulling out a certain file drawer in their memories. The drawer was labeled: “The Third Day.” It was the teachings of Jesus, who claimed to be the Messiah, which kept flooding these men’s minds. Especially those words “rise on day three.”
In order to make certain that such a remote possibility had no way of coming about, these leaders requested that Pilate seal the stone at the entrance to Jesus’ grave and that he also post guards at the tomb to stave off any secret night theft of Jesus’ body.
“What,” we might ask ourselves, “Were these so called holy men so afraid of?” Bible commentator Matthew Henry offers this perspective on the events which transpired after Jesus’ death: “That which really they were afraid of was Jesus resurrection for that which was most Christ’s honour and His people’s joy, was the most terror to His enemies…even when they had gained their point, they were still in fear of losing it again…The chief priests apprehended that if the doctrine of Christ’s resurrection be once preached and believed, that they would be routed and undone. In their words to Pilate, ‘Make it sure as you can, it looks like banter or perhaps it shows their fears.” But as Henry further notes, they could do all they wanted to keep Jesus in the grave. However, if He was who He said He was…if He was the Truth and the Life…and if His promise to rise in three days was true – “He would rise, in spite of the seal, the stone and the guards.”
With all that was done to ensure that Christ remained in the grave, the end result of His resurrection only served to magnify the good God brought out of it. As Henry summarizes, “Here was all the power of earth and hell combined to keep Christ a prisoner, but all in vain for when His hour was come, death could no longer hold Him...to guard the tomb against the power of God was fruitless folly.”
Some observe that Jesus’ resurrection is the best news the world, has ever received from a graveyard. And this is why! Just before Jesus left this earth, He reminded His followers that there was a reason He suffered, died and was resurrected again. As author Geoffrey Wilson points out, “The resurrection is the proof of our reconciliation.” I like to put it this way: when Jesus broke the chains of death, He brought hope into your heart and mine for He also broke the chains of sin. And thus, as A. W. Tozer so beautifully expresses, “the resurrection morning was only the beginning of a great, grand and vast outreach that has never ended and will not end until the Lord Jesus Christ comes back again.”
No wonder Jesus wanted His disciples down through time to never forget the reality and the truth of the resurrection for His promise fulfilled, “in three days I will arise again,” infuses His followers down through time with hope that Jesus’ words, “I will come again,” are true as well. In the words of evangelist and hymn-writer Charles Wesley:
“Vain the stone, the watch, the seal,
Christ has burst the gates of hell;
Death in vain forbids Him rise;
Christ has opened Paradise.
Lives again our glorious King;
Where, O death, is now thy sting?”
“I know that my Redeemer lives!
What joy the blest assurance gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead:
He lives, my everlasting Head!
Very Early In The Morning
“This is the day:
When tears are wiped away,
Shattered hearts are mended,
Fears are replaced with joy.
This is the day:
When the Lord rolls away the stone of fear,
Throws off death’s clothes,
Goes ahead of us into God’s future.
This is the day the Lord has made:
Death has no fear for us,
Sin has lost its power over us,
God opens the tombs of our hearts
To fill us with life…
You caught chaos unawares
Planting grace in a garden,
Setting love loose on creation,
Flinging joy into the air.
Jesus, Son of justice,
You staggered sin,
Throwing its weight off the world;
You confounded death,
Leaving it alone in the grave;
You opened the gates of the kingdom,
So all could follow You into life.
While we were washing sleep from our eyes
And trying to make sense of our lives,
You sang glad songs to us,
Rolling away fears from our hearts
So we can see the Risen Lord.”
Thom M. Shuman
“I serve a risen Savior,
He’s in the world today;
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy,
I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him
He’s always near.
He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives
Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart!”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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