Luke 24:50-53 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?“
We spent time on Sunday looking at verses 1-12 in this wonderful Psalm (Psalm 139). These verses indicate that with God we can run but we can’t hide. God is wanting to be intimately engaged with our world, our lives, our concerns, our joy.
Women go to the tomb, expecting to find a corpse. They had seen the tomb being sealed, a large rock covering the entrance. But when they arrive the has gone. It’s not where it is meant to be. There doesn’t seem to be any explanation as to what has happened. The tomb of death had been closed and sealed. It was over, finished, death had its final say. But the rock speaks – Jesus had said so hadn’t he, on the road into Jerusalem, even the stones will cry out – and here is this stone saying something has happened. Death has had its door opened. Come in and see, things have changed.
The resurrected Christ changes everything!! It proves we are not the centre of the universe. That there is a God who truly is in control of all things.
It proves that the promise of life after death is true, the promises that for us there is an eternal life is true.
It declares that there is hope – that this life is not all that there is. Can you imagine that for those who cry for justice, for those whose life is in this world has been unbearable, this isn’t the end, death here is the beginning of a new and wonderful eternity.
It says creation can be and will be remade and reordered to what it was always intended to be.
It confirms that the God who promises to never leave you or forsake you is true to his promise. You will never ever be left alone.
It proves that God has entered our world, experienced our pain, knows our doubts, understands us and walks beside us. That this God is a God who has made himself known and wants us to know him again.
This reality filled these women with wonder and amazement, and the story had to be told. The story continues to need to be told. BUT are we amazed, do we wonder at the power of the resurrection and what it means? Are we telling the story of Jesus?
This week pray for opportunities to be a witness to the resurrected Christ and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to someone who will be open to what you say.
Vincent Van Gogh committed suicide at the age of 37. Depressed by his lack of success. A prolific artist who only sold two paintings in his lifetime. Plenty of people looked at his art., He did his best to get people to buy his art, to enjoy his art, but people couldn’t see his art for what it was. People would look at his art, study his art, but the could not recognise the beauty and the genius and the value of his art. They simply misunderstood what it was that they were seeing.
On what is now called Palm Sunday as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey – people cheered and celebrated the King they thought he would be. Here is our King. And he will bring peace. Here is Jesus the one we follow, the one we trust, the one we have seen working miracles, healing the sick, raising the dead.
Finally for these people who have been locked in wars, a defeated nation, in their own land but not the masters of it, a land occupied by a foreign power, here comes their saviour. He will defeat the Romans, he will throw them out of Israel, they won’t be paying taxes to them again. They will be the masters of their own country and their own destiny. They will have peace, and with peace will come prosperity. Imagine the opportunities.
But very shortly Jesus would be killed by the Romans. left hanging battered and scared on a cross. He wasn’t the saviour they were looking for. He didn’t come up to their expectations. The Jesus they were looking for was the one who would do what they wanted.
Sadly today we are no different. We want a Jesus who fits in with our lives. We want a Jesus who does what we want. We want a Jesus who defeats the problems in our lives. Who meets our needs, affirms our lifestyles, fulfils our needs. We want a Jesus who will bless us. Peace and prosperity, comfort and tranquillity. We want a Jesus who comes to us on our terms.
Jesus was in front of them, but they misunderstood him and his purpose. His purpose wasn’t to defeat the Romans, his purpose was to defeat the devastating consequences of sin and its hold on them. He wasn’t coming to deal with the military and political situation, he was coming to deal with them personally. To challenge them, to show them the way to God.
Jesus came to die not for his sake but for their sake and for our sake.
This time of celebration was mixed with Jesus’ sobbing wailing for what the people could not see.
His tears are for those who do not recognise him and respond to him.
Here, Jesus says, is an opportunity for you to see me and to understand what I am doing. I going to die for you. As a humble servant King – but a King no less, and despite what it looks like I am in control of what I am doing.
Jesus gave a foretaste in words of a judgement that was to come. An awful frightening judgement. He says, here is an opportunity to recognise me and what I am doing. To value the gift I am to you.
He says unless you see me and respond to me, obey me and follow me, then your opportunity is lost. You are free to make a choice, but if you choose not to follow me then the consequences of that choice are frightening, dreadful and eternal – why? Because you did not recognise the time of God’s coming to you.
How seriously do you take the Kingship of Jesus? Where are you putting your trust? Who is the Jesus you want to follow? The servant king of the universe or a puppet Jesus who fits in with your life?
Pray this week for a fresh understanding of Jesus as to who he is and his amazing love for you. Live the life he has planned for you.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. … The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us…
Here in the prologue to the Gospel of John, we are told something essential to us as Christians. Jesus is God!! Jesus is the eternal, creating, sustaining God. Not a created being but the always existent God.
And, John says, do you want to know God? Here he is, God lived among us. He became flesh and dwelt with us – Jesus is God incarnate – Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus is God flesh and blood, skin and bone, muscle and sinew. Living breathing, walking talking God!! Not distant, not cosmic, here present with us!!
Here he is eternal, creating, all knowing, all powerful, life-giving, life-sustaining God – in a body. Touch him, speak with him, walk with him.
This bodily contained God came to earth with a purpose. I have come, He says, to tell you really good news. I’ve got to speak it directly to you, I’ve got to act it out. It can’t be done from a distance – I’ve got to come close – I’ve got to walk among you, and tell it to you and show it to you. You just won’t get it otherwise. I’ve got to come down to your level – I really want you to grasp it. But unless I’m here with you, you just won’t get it.
He so embraced us that he walked where people walked.
He got jostled and bumped, he walked down crowded streets – he didn’t hide himself away – he let his feet do the walking. He travelled the worn pathways – he encountered people – he chatted, he joked, he lived and laughed – and there was something about him that drew people to him.
But there is more to it than the people can see.
Jesus came to do what we could not do – he came to give himself for us. He came to call people back to a relationship with Him – he came to save people from the lives of destruction. He came to build a church !!
A people set apart and called to follow him with purpose.
Jesus came as God embodied and look at what he did with that body!!! We are to be Christ embodied – as Jesus came and lived among us with purpose so are we. As Jesus lived with people walked with people shared with people so must we. We are not to hide ourselves away.
We are to be selfless – we are to be spending time with those in need, we are to be looking for those who are in need. We have a message of good news, freedom and life and light that we are given to share.
We are to be so committed to that task that nothing will stop us – not our comfort, not our pride, not our lives. We are the agents of Jesus Christ – we are so connected to him – that when people see us, spend time with us, hear us they see Jesus.
This week, ask Jesus to show you want he wants you to see. Go and speak and make a difference in the lives of others.
That is the message of Christianity, that what was is not what is. That who we were is not who we are. This is absolutely fundamental. We cannot enter into a relationship with the creator God and not be changed, not be transformed.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.
Here are the examples of change old to new, darkness to light, death to life. This is not minor adjustments, this isn’t a small correction of an annoying fault this isn’t a slight change this is a transformation. This transformation comes about not because of who we are but because of What God has done. In Ephesians 2 Paul writes this:
Do you hear the negativity associated with all these words – this sense of lostness.
And here we are told that that is no longer the case our situation has been radically changed – it’s not a circumstantial change but a change within us and for us. Don’t forget how it was, Paul says, and realise that what was is not what is.
The comparisons that we will make to elevate us above another – we are culturally superior, financially superior, racially superior, physically superior.
There is that more tragic barrier between us and God – a barrier that has eternal consequences and a barrier no one could break down but God and he did it through Jesus Christ.
We are not an example to the world because we meet on Sundays, we are an example to the world when we show them that the barriers do not exist. We must live to show that we belong to Jesus Christ – we live a life of sacrificial obedience to him, and we live as if we belong to each other.