August 26 “Risen!”

Risen!

Dr. Luke is sparse on the details of the resurrection.
He takes up the story of the morning of the first day of the week with a group of women bringing spices to the tomb to continue to prepare the body of Jesus. They were surprised to find the stone rolled away. The resurrection of Jesus had already taken place. There were no human witnesses to the actual event. It is easy to imagine an amazing angelic celebration when Jesus came out of that tomb. Our purpose here is to flesh out the story that Luke tells and hold only to the facts he relates.

Somehow, the stone was rolled away. Did angels do the work? Did it move untouched? Was there an earthquake to move it? Did light pour out of the darkness within the tomb? Did Jesus walk out or materialize outside? No one knows. What we do know is that Jesus rose from the dead. Professional killers took His life. Joseph and Nicodemus, carefully observed by women who followed Jesus, prepared His dead body. There is no doubt that He died; He did not swoon and appear to be dead. He had defeated death during His ministry here on earth and now the Spirit of God raised Him from the dead, wresting Jesus from death’s grip.

The First Day of the Week
Somehow at some point before dawn, death was defeated. Jesus drew breath into His body again, not the crucified body, drained of blood, bruised and lacerated. This was a new body with a different kind of life. We know from other sources that the scars that bought our redemption remained but the wounds contained life, not death. This glorified body was superior to the human frame Jesus had occupied in the incarnation. This one was fit for earth or heaven and could pass through walls and doors and transport from place to place.

The Eighth Day of the New Creation
Christian tradition calls the Resurrection of Jesus, the Eighth Day of Creation, meaning that God restored the eternal life lost by Adam and Eve in the Garden. For this reason, Jesus is called the Second Adam.

“For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”

Jesus’ victory over death means that everything in creation is under His authority. It is a victory now and at the coming of the Lord.

“For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For “He has put all things under His feet.”

Greatly Perplexed
The women did not know what the meaning of these events might be: the stone rolled away and the empty tomb. Suddenly two angels stood by them in shining garments. The women fell to the earth in fear. The angels spoke

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

The women didn’t move. The question did not reveal the whereabouts of Jesus. The angels went on.

“He is not here, but is risen!”

The angels reminded the women of the detailed teaching Jesus had done predicting His resurrection. Slowly, they remembered. They gathered their belongings and hurried to tell the disciples. The men did not believe them. Peter ran to the tomb, stooped down and looked inside. The grave clothes were there but Jesus wasn’t.

Scriptures:
Luke:24:1-12
NKJV
Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.'” And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.
1 Corinthians 15:20-28 NKJV
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are Lord of all! Your victory is complete in every way. Death could not hold You. The Holy Spirit raised You from the dead and has the power to raise me from the dead also! The same Spirit that raised You from the dead shall quicken my mortal body. From dust I came and to dust I may return, but You will give me a new body, like Yours, and I shall live again and forever! If I am alive when You return, I will be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye. This mortal shall put on immortality! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Song:
Christ the Lord Is Risen Today

Words: Charles Wesley; Music: Paul Sjolund

1. Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

2. Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

3. Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

4. Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

5. Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

6. King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

May 31 “Risen!”

Risen!

Usually burial gardens were peaceful, uneventful places. Not that night.
The scribes and Pharisees remembered Jesus’ promise to rise again on the third day. At their insistence, Pilate ordered a Roman seal for the stone and a squad of soldiers to stand watch. No one expected a resurrection; they were worried that the disciples might steal the body.

Two Women Named Mary
As dawn approached and Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and another woman named Mary went to the tomb to continue burial preparations. Perhaps they expected the soldiers to give them access. As they approached in the predawn darkness the ground began to shake and smoke escaped along the edges of the stone. A powerful angel descended from heaven, broke the Roman seal, rolled the stone away and sat on it. The squad of Roman soldiers fainted as they had learned to march, all in perfect rhythm.

This was their second earthquake in the last 3 days but despite experience in such things, the two Mary’s were afraid. Over the sound of the sleeping soldiers, the angel addressed the women,

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here; for He is risen, as He said.”

How does a human mortal process such news:

  • Roman soldiers prostrate on the garden floor,
  • A mighty angel in shining raiment, sitting on the stone,
  • An open tomb with light and smoke dancing inside?

They were speechless and afraid. The angel went on,

“Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead…”

Though they wanted with all their hearts to look inside the tomb—was Jesus in there?—they obeyed and ran to find His disciples.

Alive Again!
As they hurried away, Jesus met them on the road. They fell at His feet and worshiped Him. He repeated the command of the angel and sent them on their way. How difficult it must have been to obey that command!

Back at the tomb, the soldiers began to wake up, each afraid to tell what had happened. A broken Roman seal was punishable by death. When they realized they shared the same experience, they appealed to the Jewish leaders for safety from their superiors. The Pharisees bribed them to change their story and offered to intercede for them if their officers questioned them.

With Jesus in Galilee
Jesus had instructed His men to assemble on a certain mountain in Galilee. With them, a host of followers gathered there. Jesus appeared to them and most of them believed. No one knows all the things He said to them there, but Matthew records these final words:

  • He claimed all authority in heaven and earth.
  • He commanded them to go into all the world, tell His story.
  • He instituted water baptism as a sign of the New Covenant.
  • He insisted that they study and remember His teachings.
  • He promised to be with them all the way to the end of the age.
  • They obeyed, and those who believed in Jesus obeyed and so on to this day.

He Is With Us
The Jesus Story lives on. No lies could taint its truth. No cross could kill it. No tomb could hold it. When people of all cultures hear it, it somehow makes sense to them and they believe it. Why? The Jesus Story lives on because Jesus lives on, in heaven, in the earth, and in our hearts.

Scriptures:
Matthew 27:22-66; 28:1-20
On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.
Chapter 28
Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are the absolute Victor! You have conquered all my enemies and opened up a new and living way for me to draw near to the heart of my Creator, my Father. Every day, I celebrate Your resurrection! The same Spirit that raised You from the dead, quickens my mortal life every moment of every day. I believe! I believe! I believe in You as my Savior, my Healer, my Baptizer with the Spirit and my Soon-coming King! I want to walk in love as You did, touching people in Your name! I will keep Your story in my heart and on my lips! Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!

Song:
I Love to Tell the Story
Words: Kate Hankey and William F. Fischer; Music William H. Doane

1. I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

Refrain:
I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

2. I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
what seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
the message of salvation from God’s own Holy Word.

Refrain

3. I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
seem hungering and thirsting to hear it, like the rest.
And when in scenes of glory I sing the new, new song,
’twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.