Thursday, October 31, 2013

Not Celebrating Ghosts, But God's Victory!

I Corinthians 15: 13-14: "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen, And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty." Continuing on in verses 17-19 it says "And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then these who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we of all men are most to be pitied."

Today is a day when demonic forces celebrate as humans celebrate ghouls, ghosts and witches. People are afraid when they see a ghost raise up from a grave, and rightly so. But Jesus was not to be feared when He rose up from the grave and appeared to His disciples. For believers are not to be pitied, Christ really did rise from the dead! He has shared with His children His resurrection victory!

“Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him and He vanished from their sight.” Luke 24: 31. I love how it says "He opened their eyes." For my eyes were opened again today, if only in a small way, to the greatness of these facts, and how they forever changed the course of human history. I read in all 4 gospels the account of Jesus showing Himself to the women and the disciples on the third day, when He rose from the dead. Jesus said the kindest words. He is still saying them today, to us, at this fearful time we live in.

In Matthew 28:9, He told the disciples to rejoice, and in verse 10 He said, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me." Did you notice there that He called them His brethren, not just the apostles or people? We have been made brothers and sisters with God because Christ completed His mission of paying for sins fully and presenting His perfect humanity as a sacrifice for us upon the cross. What could be more glorious than that?

In Mark 16: 9-10 it says this of Christ's resurrection: "Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe." How sad they didn't take stock in what Mary told them. She was one grateful lady, to have seven demons removed from her by Christ's power. They still tremble today.

John gives more detail about His appearing to Mary. He reports in John 20: 14-17: "Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”

Jesus is now including God as being Mary's God as will as His! How awesome is that! Before the cross and the resurrection that was not possible, but now Jesus is able to say, "...Here am I and the children God has given Me." (repeated in Hebrews 2: 13, originally quoted in Isaiah 8:18).

Finally, in Luke's gospel (Luke 24: 19-27)we read about Jesus walking on the road to Emmaus with some of the disciples, who did not know who He was. "Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days? And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”

Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." Again, I am amazed when the disciples said in verse 32, "Did not our heart burn within us when while He talked with us on the road, and when He opened the Scriptures to us?"

So, on this day when the world celebrates dead people, haunted houses and the underworld, I celebrate in only One who rose from the dead, thereby changing the course of human history. For the surest bet in the universe is Christ's resurrection, the one that assures the believer's resurrection as well.

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