Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Jesus Reveals Himself In the Breaking of the Bread!

Luke 24:13-30

On the Road to Emmaus
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas,asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
There are several amazing things about this story.
1. Jesus was interested in what was the prevailing story circulating about what had happened to him and its significance. He played dumb and they summarized all that happened, but were apparently still wondering if it is all true. Was Jesus really the Messiah?  They mentioned "they had told us", indicating that they were some of the disciples reported the news to. 
2. Jesus rebukes them for being so slow to believe. All they had all the information necessary they still did not see Jesus. They were spiritually blind.
3. They were hungry and plead for Jesus to stay.  Jesus accepts their invitation and eats dinner with them.  When he breaks the bread and gives thanks, they finally recognize him.  In the breaking of the bread, they see he is the one which their hearts were burning for when he read the scriptures to him about himself.  
What can we learn from this story?  Information will not necessarily bring us to see or know who Jesus is. But as we seek him and invite him into our lives, he will come in and eat with us.  The breaking of the bread is similar to what we do in communion, where we say, "This is His body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me!"  We meet Jesus in the meal and by faith experience his presence and our hearts burn! 
Is Jesus mainly a story to you or a personal relationship with the One who was broken for you?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Jesus' Second Resurrection Apperance!

This week we are examining the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, as we seek to understand the power of the resurrection in our daily lives.  Yesterday, after the Peter, John and Mary Magdalene had seen the empty tomb, Mary hung around still not being sure of what happened to her Lord.  Then, two angels appeared to her. And finally, Jesus appeared to her and called her name, "Mary".  Mary immediately she believed and went and told the other disciples that she had "seen" the Lord.  Appearance #1

We are going to take these resurrection appearances in chronological order, beginning with the above story which happened Easter Sunday at night.

Appearance #2 The other women have departed the apostles and are on their way possibly back home. Jesus then appears to them (Mt 28:9) after he had dispatched Mary. He also sends them back to the apostles with the news that he had risen and that he would see them.

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met
them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Jesus appears to the women again, possibly the ones who were not with Mary, when he called her by name.  This time he allowed the women to touch his feet.  Notice with Mary, he called her by name, and this time he allows the women to touch his physical body. Perhaps so they don't think he is a ghost or some "spirit being".  Since Jesus shows Thomas his scars in a later appearance, we know that his body had not yet been glorified.  

These days we hear so much about gender equality.  In the post-resurrection appearances, we see Jesus appearing to both the men and the women.  Jesus' ministry was counter- cultural, as shown by the inclusion of his women disciples in his re-appearances. Remember they were the first ones to see him risen from the dead, and to spread the Good News. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

How Mary Recognized Jesus!

As we begin the 2nd week after Easter, we are going to delve into the resurrection appearances of Jesus to his disciples.  Jesus knew that his disciples might still be mired in doubt, and so this week we are going the different ways in which the resurrected Jesus showed up in the lives of his followers.  

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
Our first story is Mary's encounter with Jesus after He had risen from the dead. In Luke 8, we see Mary Magdalene was the one whom Jesus had cast out seven demons . Mary Magdalene was also one of two "Mary's" who was there for Jesus' burial.  
In this instance though, Mary has not yet realized that Jesus was going to rise from the dead.  She was crying because she thought someone had stolen the body and she was still grieving his death.  Jesus appears to her apparently either in a form she did not recognize, or she was so overtaken by grief and not expecting him,  she did not know it was him.  
But when Jesus called her by name, she recognized his voice and called him, "rabboni", which meant teacher.  We don't know why Mary did not recognize Jesus right away, but we do know when Jesus called her name, she knew it was him.  How did she know?  Jesus had called her by name when he cast demons out of her.  The demons recognized his name when he rebuked them and sent them out of her. Mary had a personal relationship with Jesus. Like a good friend's voice on the phone, Jesus' voice was instanteously recognizable to her. There was no other person it could be other than Jesus. 
Would you recognize Jesus' voice?  Jesus speaks to us in several ways.  Through the Holy Spirit who lives in us and reminds us of what Jesus taught and did. Through the bible which continues to be the "living voice" of God.  And finally, God speaks through the church, through body of Christ and through individual people in it!  
Here is another question? If Jesus were to speak to you, would you be able to recognize his voice? Take some time today to be still, and listen for Jesus' voice? When he calls your name, you know it will be him!   

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Does Baptism Save Us?

1 Peter 3:21
And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We are looking at the diffferent uses of the word "resurrection" in the bible. As we are now post Easter, we are understanding how the resurrection is used in other senses in the bible. 

In this context, Peter reminds the believers about the story of Noah, and how Noah and his family were saved out of the water by God's grace. Then, Peter uses this imagery and says that water is also a symbol of baptism that now saves you.  Water now being a symbol of cleansing and re-birth.  

So the question one might have as they read this verse is, "Does Baptism save us"? And the answer is yes and no.  It is no, because Jesus is the only one who can save us by his death and resurrection and our trust in Him.  But Baptism is a sign of that death and resurrection and therefore is a sign of salvation.  See Romans 6:4 for Paul's image of baptism.    

So Baptism saves us in the sense of how Peter ends this verse, "by the resurrection of Christ."  Like Noah is saved from the flood by the water, we are saved from sin by Jesus' death and resurrection, which is publically proclaimed when we are baptized in Jesus' name. 

Make sense?  I hope so!  Baptism is a constant reminder of death of our old life and rising to new life. We are drowned to our old life way of life, and raised to new life in the power of the Holy Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead.  If you are baptized, thank God for it. If you are not, pray about getting baptized as Jesus commanded us to do. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

How Did Jesus Bring Us To God!

"He was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification." Romans 4:25

As we continue our week after Easter, we are studying the role of the resurrection in the life of a Christian.  Paul says Jesus died for our sins, and was raised to life to bring us back into a right relationship with God.  So his death delivered us from our sin, and his resurrection reunited us to a new relationship with God.

Sin separated us from God, and the resurrection sealed our eternal friendship with God. His death was the means for the deliverance from sin, but his resurrection finalized victory over sin and death. His resurrection proved he was God and though he died as a many he back to life as the Risen and Eternal Son of God. 

Notice he uses the word "our" for both clauses.  Both his death and resurrection were FOR US!! And both were necessary for us!

So what does this mean?
God did everything for us.  When Jesus cried, "It is finished", he paid for our sin in full. When God raised him from the dead, he rescued mankind to live with him forever! 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

How Do Living and Believing Relate to Each Other?

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

I am curious about what Jesus says in this translation when he says, "whoever lives by believing in me."  Other translations says, "whoever lives and believes in me."  The bottom line is that Jesus in some way equates our believing with our living, which relates to the nature of eternal life. 

So what might we make of this?  First of all, I think that this is saying that believing is not all about just an assent to a set of intellectual assertions. Meaning belief is not just agreeing to a set of propositons.  In our Western intellectual mindset, I think we sometimes overly focus on the intellectual aspects of faith.  I am not saying we not be mindful of what we believe, or that thoughtful inquiry into what we believe is not needed.  But what I am trying to point out that is that belief is inextricably related to our lives as well as our thoughts.  

It seems as though Jesus is saying in John, "to believe in me is live in me." Meaning we don't bifurcate belief from everyday life.  This creates problems when "belief in Christ" is separated from our life "in Christ".  Paul uses in the phrase "In Christ" 27 times alone in the book of Ephesians, and 81 in all his letters. 

What might this mean for us? I think this points to relational nature of our faith and our relationship with the object of our faith, Jesus. Faith is trusting in something. In Christianity it is trusting in Christ who is a person.  When Jesus called his disciples he did not say, "Believe in these aspects of who I am!" He said believe and live in me for, "I am the resurrection and the life". Finally, he said "follow me", which was a whole life proposition to his disciples.  Jesus did not separate out belief or faith in him, for a life in him.   

A Question for You To Consider? Does what you believe dictate how you live? What would it mean for you to "live in Christ"? Or if Christ were living in you, how would that change how you live each day? Since this is what I believe Jesus is saying, I think it is important for us to consider.  To believe in Jesus is to follow him. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I Don't Know If I Am Making A Difference???

1 Corinthians 15:58
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."
Paul concludes his 1 letter to the Corinthians with this verse.  He was trying to encourage the Corinthians to be steadfast to the end.  Though they would face many trials and troubles as they lived out their Christian faith in the city of Corinth, which was known for its pagan idolatry, their labor would not be in vain.

I know sometimes when I am doing ministry, I wonder if my labor is in vain. We try to reach people with the gospel and sometimes we feel as if certain people will never believe no matter what happens. This can be discouraging especially with those people we love and want to spend eternity with in heaven.  
But Paul says in effect, "Don't lose heart! Stay rooted in the power of the resurrection. Always give your heart to the work of the Lord.  Keep up the fight. Don't be moved. Stay rooted in Christ. Why? Because there is a crown laid up for you in heaven that will never fade away! Despite the sufferings you endure on earth, one day it will be worth it all.  Paul says in Romans 8, "I consider the sufferings we face in this world are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us through Christ Jesus our Lord!" 
Where does your work feel like it is being done in vain? Where are you tempted to give up with someone or some ministry because you just don't feel like you are making a difference?  Remember that God is always at work through us in ways that we often can't see.  Though we may not see the fruit of our labor on this side, God will always redeem what we do for His glory!  Your labor is not in vain. Stay steadfast and immovable my friends it will be worth it all some day!