Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> EAGLES' REST: April 2017

Sunday, April 16, 2017

GREAT PROOF, A GREAT EVENT, A GREAT DAY

Christianity as a faith is determined, differentiated, and declared by the empty tomb. The tomb borrowed from Joseph of Arimathea, on the day of Jesus crucifixion.

Jesus didn't own much beyond His robe and gown ... if you ignore the fact that the whole earth and, everything in it, belonged to Him ... so His followers had to borrow a tomb in which to lay Him.

One might suppose that they knew He wouldn't be gone for long, but were that the case, I doubt they'd have prepared Him for burial in accordance to Jewish traditions. Spices, burial cloths etc.

Interestingly, the person who brought the spices with which to wrap Him, was Nicodemus, the Pharisee to whom Jesus said "You must be born again" ... in the first recorded use of that term.

We're all familiar with the story of what happened on "the first day of the week...". After just a couple of encounters, word got to the followers that Jesus was, indeed, no longer in the tomb. And, after a few hiccups along the way, things got back on track for Jesus' continuation of the building of His church.

There have been a number of things offered, as proof that Jesus really did rise from the dead. First, of course, is that the Bible says so. And that really ought to be enough. But there are folks who tend to want to explain away what Scripture says, by saying it really means something else. Well, I don't buy that.

One evidence is the persistence of the church to this very day. That in itself is pretty strong evidence that something supernatural has been going on. There's no reason why a supernatural resurrection wasn't part of that. Add to that the persistence of Scripture, coupled with the miraculous way it all came together, and we just know that clever men could never accomplish something like that.

I've also heard that contemporary historical accounts also tell of the prophet who came back from the grave.

There's also the fact that most of His Apostles died an early death at the hands of the enemy. One does not do that for even the biggest of lies. So we know the Apostles were convinced of the truth of the resurrection. But, to me, the greatest proof of all is contained in Scripture itself, and not just what it says about the resurrection.

Matthew's Gospel, 28th chapter, beginning at verse 11, reports "While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, the gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them "You are to say His disciples came during the night and stole Him away, while we were asleep."

I am convinced that you do not bribe someone to tell the truth. This leads me to believe the elders and chief priests we convinced, as were the guards, that Jesus had been resurrected.

Wow.

It's been said that, when the devil tries to intervene, he invariably shoots himself in the foot. For instance, the sign Pilate painted, stating "The King of the Jews", and which hung over Jesus' head, told the thief on the cross that Jesus was a King. I don't think Pilate intended that, when he painted the sign, and even refused to change it when one of his soldiers challenged what he wrote.

Then, of course, there's Joseph, and what eventually came from his brothers' jealousy and hatred.

Of course, the ultimate example is the Crucifixion itself. What the devil surely meant for evil, God intended for our good!

Maybe that's what happened with a certain lie concocted by the elders, chief priests and a few guards on a certain Sunday. They proved that which they would not admit, even to themselves.

For me, that's the checkered flag at the finish line. The "amen" after the prayer. The gavel at the close of the court case.

Case closed.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

You think YOU Have Experienced Tension?

I have little doubt that the day after The Crucifixion was the most tension-filled day, ever.

Consider:

Jesus had been with them for a little over 3 years. He had performed many miracles in their sight, so they knew something was extremely special about Him. More special than anyone they'd ever seen, I'd guess.

They also saw Him as a Human Man. He ate with them, slept within their sight, prayed to His Father ... albeit differently from what they did.

He always prayed a little way away from them ... far enough that they could not hear His prayers. That's why, IMHO, they had to ask Him to teach them to pray like He did.

They knew there was something special going on there, and they wanted some of it.

But they did not have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Hence, they could not have understood the Spiritual truth that Jesus and His Father were, in fact, One. I doubt they could have understood the truth that Jesus had the authority to lay His life down, and to pick it up again.

They knew He had authority over death, but now He was dead. He wasn't there, so they could never have understood that He ... His Father ... could bring Jesus back to life.

If you think about it, the Disciples weren't just biding their time on the day after the Crucifixion. They were huddled in fear, Leaderless. And when the women went to the tomb on Sunday morning, it wasn't to greet a Living Savior, it was to anoint a dead body. They had so consigned Him to death that they did not ever recognize Him when they first saw Him.

If they'd have realized ... connected the dots ... that Jesus said He was going to be killed one day, and would come back to life 2 days later (as we celebrate it), they would have seen that the entirety of their faith was on the line, that day. Either....

  • He doesn't rise from the tomb, meaning their faith was in vain, what Jesus said was all untrue and hence He was either a liar or a lunatic, And certainly not a Savior... or ... 
  • He rises to life, meaning He was what He said He was, He really did make the atonement for all the sin of His followers, And God was putting His seal of approval on everything Jesus did and said. 
So there it all was. Pass/Fail. Go/NoGo. Life/Death. Win/Lose.

It was ALL on the line. What a day it would have been to be there, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, just waiting in anticipation of the greatest event the world will ever know.

I think that's why we're reminded, in Hebrews 9:27, that it is appointed to us to die. There will be a day in our life when it'll be Pass/Fail ... Go/NoGo ... Life/Death ... Win/Lose.

I am thankful I'm on the winning side. 



Friday, April 14, 2017

WELL, IT WAS A GOOD FRIDAY

I recall the day I had my first knee replacement surgery.

As I recall, it was a Monday. Now, surgery is surgery. This one was preceded by Versed, which always eases the ride into the O.R. Then Propofol took over, and I didn't even dream

Just slept.

Woke up for the usual groggy amusement of the Recovery Room, and then back to the private room and the family.

The really unpleasant part of it all was the pain. I got to the room in mid-day, and the knee hurt a lot, when the anesthetic wore off. Sure, the nurses tried the usual meds, but morphine and acetaminophen have no effect whatsoever on pain, in me. The nurses didn't believe me, and didn't want to give me anything else after they gave me that stuff.

I was in extreme pain all night. I slept not one wink, all night.

Next day, they finally gave me a pain-killer that worked, and I finally got some sleep.

Four years later, I had the other knee replaced.

Now, many years later, the knees are fine and I am sure glad I had the surgery. Despite the absolute agony and the disruption of the surgeries, everything came out just fine.

So's my family! I can recall when walking was painful and stairs were out of the question, that I wasn't a lot of use to anybody around the house.

NOW:

There's little doubt that Jesus' pain during the scourging and the crucifixion were excruciating. Much much worse than you or I have or will ever experience. I get that it was monumental. Considering God's economy, I would also guess that, as much worse as Jesus' experience was, than any we'll ever endure here, that the beauty and the wonder and the profit from the experience would be much greater than anything we'll ever do, or endure.

I look back on the surgery date ... for both of my knees ... and recall the pain that went with both experiences. But that's not the overriding thought; that's assigned to the fact that I'm 78, had knees that were totally worn out, and today, they're absolutely no problem.

My hips, neck, back and shoulders are all complaining loudly every day about the arthritis they contain, but not my knees!

Such, it is, with the Crucifixion. As terrible as it was, it became wonderful on the following Sunday. And it still is, yet today.

I believe Jesus would say the same thing about that first occurrence of the Friday that was Good, even when nobody else on earth knew it.