Resurrection (Part 3) His Resurrection Brings Power

The Power of a New Resident

The Old Testament saints had the Holy Spirit working WITH them through past generations, but now there was a new possibility of exis­tence, and HE, the Holy Spirit, shall be IN you [John 20:21].  That inner iron that keeps the pressures of the world at bay, not conforming to it in any way, but pressing out and changing attitudes and values that are contrary to the kingdom ethic.

The Power of a New Equipping
The creative force of the trinity was now in residence through the breath of God, so that the quickening became the equipment; and the apostles, witnesses unto Him.  The gifting of God became evident for God’s hand in the resurrection and ascension of Christ, changed the bulbs, but not the wattage. The Holy Spirit could not come until Christ was glorified and His resurrection was part of that ennobling process.  His resurrection was the prelude to Pentecost and His breath the fore­taste. Gifts were now available and He more than willing to bestow them.

The Power of a New Perception
For the promise of God is that when the Holy Spirit comes he shall teach us all things, but especially those things that relate to Christ [John14:26]. As the disciples travelled through the holy land, Jesus was not always with them, His presence being restricted, and any questions they had, had to wait until reunion.  But now, the constant companionship of the Spirit en­abled them to receive answers at any time and in all situations. Their spiritual eyes became anointed to see the Christ in a new and living way, and the fulfilment of all God’s desire for the na­tions.

The resurrection brings pleasure

The Gladness of Re‑established Relationship
Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord [John 20:20]. The happy hours of fellowship as they walked and talked in the lanes of Galilee, those responsive moments of debate a spiritual quickening, experienced as the Saviour opened up His life to theirs and unfolded the Father’s plan for time and eter­nity. They had left all to follow Him and now here He was back again, the one that meant more to them than any other. They had the simple pleasure of talking to Him and shaking His nail scarred hand. We have that happi­ness through faith, as the Holy Spirit reveals to us His nature in the everyday things of life. There is just a simple joy about being with Je­sus.

The Gladness of Kingdom Ministry
Jesus spent forty days between resurrection and ascension teaching of things concerning the kingdom [Acts 1] and such was the teach­ing that they went into the upper room and did not come out until they were imbued with power.  What richness that ministry was as the divine part of Christ’s humanity began to ex­plain the past, the present and the glorious future.

Did not the disciples say “did not our hearts BURN within us as he talked to us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us” [Luke 24:32] there is hardly any pleasure more satisfying than to hear anointed preach­ing centred on Jesus.

The Gladness of a Continued Commis­sion
The ministry to which the disciples had been called was now re‑instated.   When Jesus died their preaching was finished, for He gave substance to their message. In that upper room they found their vision again, and with it the gladness of a commis­sion designed in heaven and authenticated by the Holy Spirit through the power of resurrec­tion.  There is hardly any pleasure greater than being wanted by God that through the foolishness of preaching many might be saved.

The resurrection brings praise

The Rejoicing of Victory
As the sadness of the disciples became glad­ness the Lord met them and commanded them to “rejoice” [Matthew 28:9] and they bowed and worshipped. Satan had been de­feated and all his hordes made a show of openly. The terror of the cross turned into tri­umph, sin forgiven, death finished, and the devil’s power broken. Could any command such as “rejoice” be ignored, in fact how could it not be spoken?

The Rejoicing of His Coming Again
He rose from the dead that he might return to His Father and then come again and put all things in order. The sceptre of His right­eousness must reign and be extended in mercy or judgement before the nations. Those who pierced Him shall see Him and bow be­fore that eternal name. Every knee shall bend and all proclaim that he is the Lord. Heaven and earth shall own His name and acclaim for eternity His worth and wonder.

 

 

 

Continuing Resurrection [Part two] –

His resurrection brings peace [John 20:21]
What does the resurrection of Jesus Christ have to say to me personally, and how should it or does it affect the way I live, the way I believe and the way I respond to theological truth.   Theories must have a solid base and a practi­cal outworking, and to sing hymns and celebrate the raising from the dead of God’s own Son, ought to have more than the flavour of celebration.

What advantage then
“And Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you!’…”   It had been promised on the hills of Bethlehem, by angels singing in close har­mony.[1]  Now it has been secured from the restless fiends of hell.   “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be dili­gent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.2  And “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,” 3 There is the peace of reconciliation and the peace of realisation as we understand God’s perfect will towards us.

There is peace from spiritual and mental dis­turbance and from a quarrelsome spirit, which is the result of a reconcilable state between God and man, and man and man.  Christ’s greeting in the closed room was more than a salutation it was a conveyance of ability.  When God wishes something on or to us then His word is the event. Peace is lost when we cannot control a situ­ation. When things are so far from our ability to master them, we lose the serenity that comes from our authority over circumstances. When Jesus rose from the dead he said in effect, the greatest uncontrollable circumstance has been conquered:

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” [John 14:27]. “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” [Rom 16:20] – Amen.

The peace of Mended Dreams
The kingdom dream had died, but it had now been re-established in a new dimension. The Romans may remain, but Christ’s reign would know no end.4  Perhaps the word ‘modified’ should be used – modified dreams, for Christ was to set-up the kingdom, but not in their time or possibly ours.   Until that time the disciples were encouraged to “watch and pray”5  and “live soberly”6 “looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appear­ing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”7

The greatest hope and disappointment rode side by side as Christ left the disciples in disarray as they looked unbelieving at the cross. Sometimes God confuses us by apparently shattering our aspirations as we see our an­swer die in anonymity. These disciples had lived for three years in the certain knowledge, or so they thought, that Jesus would bring in the new realm and reign of God. They dreamed, talked, sighed and looked for the coming king­dom, not realising that the kingdom had al­ready come. They mistook the divine will, as we often do, because they were looking like we often do from a human viewpoint. We cannot cope with contradictions that dash our dreams like broken pottery – we find it almost impossible to put the jigsaw together, the col­ours and shapes are too disparate for sense.

The Peace of Final Destination
Jesus had proved that there was life after death, and that he would greet us on that eternal shore.  He defied death and in rising over our greatest enemy left a candle to light the gloom of time’s termination. We know now that He has gone to furnish the mansions of Glory that need no doors for He can pass through them.8 People throughout the ages have wanted to talk to those who have gone on before them to the ‘other side.’ What awaits us in eternity, and is there life after death, forgiveness, love, joy peace and reconciliation?  Is there thought and sensation?

The Peace of Eternal Presence
If Christ has gone through death then nothing can separate us from the love of God that is IN Christ Jesus.  [Rom. 8:35ff]. He tasted death that we might never know its hold, and having raised up above the clutch of that inevitable and relentless foe, has con­firmed that He will be with us in all circum­stances [Heb. 13:5]. He will be with us al­ways for there is no enemy greater than death, and he has conquered it conclusively [1 Cor. 15:20‑28]


 

[1] Luke 2:14

[22] Peter 3:14

[3] Galatians 5:22

[4] Revelation 1:17, 18

[5] Mark 13:33

[6] Titus 2:12

[7] Titus 2:13

[8] John 11:25, 14:1

 

 

Mary’s Response to Resurrection

As we fast approach Easter, which will be on us very quickly, we see in John 20:26 Mary’s Response to Resurrection – “Jesus said unto her, ‘Mary.’ She turned herself, and said unto him, ‘Rabboni;’ which is to say, Master.”

The message of Mary is akin to those finding renewal in the modern church. There is a parallel which is very similar to her experience with the resurrected Lord. Something can be spiritually gained from this simple meditation. Let’s lay a few pointers down.

1                      She came in the darkness of the early morning

At least she came. Many of us come to God in the darkness and confusion of life not understanding fully what the darkness is all about.  Why she came to the sepulchre when it was sealed, we’ll never know, but she came. That’s a mark in her favour, she did what she could. She had a heart that longed for fellowship with divinity; she wanted his presence, even in death, just to be near the place of his resting. Her hope had gone but she came. Her light had gone but she came. Her deliverer had gone but she came.

The time is important for it shows she couldn’t sleep and urgently wanted to be near the tomb.

She was distracted enough to believe that although He was dead, at least if she was in close proximity to where He lay, he might help her. Her ignorance of the mystery of resurrection did not prevent her commitment to His memory. Sometimes in the bewilderment of life it is wise to commit to what He has done for us in the past. At least cling to that.

2.                    She came looking for comfort and safety –

She had been delivered of seven demons, and now who was to keep her free from being a vassal of the darkness again? Even the dead body of the Lord would have more power than the ministry of the living. Jesus asleep in the boat was more powerful than the devil awake! Even the woman who touched the hem of his robe was healed. Clothes are inanimate objects yet were able to perform miracles under God; the handkerchiefs of Paul’s day laid on the sick healed them.

3.                    She came out of unbelief into revelation –
She had to turn herself.  She was looking at despair and supposed death. The disciples came, to look and make the adjustment to Christ’s resurrection, but she failed to hear their conversation and still thought Him dead and stolen. The early morning was dark and she wouldn’t see very well, hence her mistake. The early morning often troubles us.

God comes to us and we think He is a gardener, because that vision fulfils our expectations, and we thus limit Him to planting flowers not planting vision. Because we don’t expect, we convince ourselves He must be someone else. The disciple rowing against the storm thought Jesus was a ghost walking on water.

4.                    She understood the revelation word –

‘Mary.’  Personal name for a personal revelation. When God speaks He doesn’t waste words.  He can say more in one word than an orator in a whole speech. He is able to step off this written page and speak a word, and only we will know it.  Our response to revelation is to fall at His feet. God can speak more than one word, and He might just do that to you to as you read this today.

God does not go into rational, dialogue to convince the sceptic that he is God, He just uses the ‘know word’ that releases faith and understanding. He used a word she knew and understood, He’ll do that through the prophetic word today, he did it to Paul on the Damascus Road.

5.                    She submitted to the position of dominion –

She fell at his feet, so must we. Getting down is the first step to getting on with God. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. I don’t need to fall down, and that’s absolutely right, but then you don’t have to have God’s revelation either. You are never free not to do anything, until you are free to do it.

6.                    She received a commission

Jesus said “Go tell.” She didn’t lie there forever, but she did lie.  And from thence went out on mission. Our revelations and worship must eventually lead to evangelism. We cannot stay on Transfiguration Mount, there are demons to cast out! Wouldn’t we all want booths and brightness, but ministry beckons.

 

Attending your own wake!

There is a growing trend not to miss your own wake but to make arrangements to be so positioned at your funeral it appears you are alive and ready for action. One man was buried astride his Harley Davidson motorcycle, propped up inside a see-through casket for a final road trip. Another made it known he wanted to attend his own wake dressed like Che Guevara, cigar in hand, sitting cross legged. Such is the fad to hit the American undertaker circuit. It’s all about putting fun back into funerals. But, how do you put fun back into funerals, or why should one put fun back, and was there ever any fun in funerals? Most of the ones I’ve attended over many years have been solemn and sad; some however have had an underlying joy but certainly not merriment.

The most recent send-off was that of Miriam Burbank, a 53-year old woman from New Orleans who decided she wanted to be seen at her wake in a posture familiar in her life. So her family arranged for her to be posed sitting at a table with a can of Busch beer at one hand, a menthol cigarette in the other, a bottle of whiskey within easy reach and a disco ball flashing overhead.  Two months earlier Mickey Easterling, an 83-year old New Orleans socialite, had bid adieu in similar fashion. Her embalmed body was displayed at one final soiree, where she sat on a wrought iron bench, a large pink feather boa around her neck, a champagne glass in one hand, a cigarette holder in the other. A thousand people came to see.  The funeral director, Louis Charbonnet, has also had other requests; one for a women to be seen in her kitchen, standing over her stove.

However, in Puerto Rico a deceased ambulance driver wanted to be seen behind the wheel of his vehicle and in January a boxer, who had been murdered in a shooting, was propped up in a boxing ring for his wake, how bizarre? All this so that mourners can see their loved one in familiar surroundings. I think even an open coffin is rather macabre. I can understand why people do it, but once gone nobody can be brought back, and no one can recapture real life. I think people should not be concerned too much to capture current lifestyle but anticipate new lifestyle in future glory.

The first dead body I saw was my father who died whilst I was in London and he in Birmingham, I went to see him in his coffin and hardly recognised him, but knew life had unmistakably gone – it was just a carcass. Empty flesh. The soul and spirit were with God – he made a profession of faith, his future was secure. Why foist upon him a past memory of days gone by? Why not let him now rest after a lifetime of service, in the arms of God, far better than to be surrounded by memories of hard work and unremitting labour just to keep us in necessities.

The second body was my wife who I had loved for 64 years and now her body, extremely diseased, ravaged by cancer and Myasthenia, was at rest. I was preparing her for cremation with a nurse who had unexpectedly called to see how she was and walked in on her death. Together we laid her out; washed her body and clothed it. Combed her hair and saw she was settled for the doctor to come and officially pronounce her death. I did not want to see her in any other way, for I knew she was with God where roses never fade, and she could now walk without effort and sing His praise again – the Myasthenia had robbed her of her voice.

We cannot put the clocks back: time marches on unremittingly. We change imperceptibly and the human frame sags, hair is lost, sight diminishes, strength fails and it is best covered and hidden and let our memories soar in yesteryear where there is our reality. You cannot put fun back into death, and anyone who just laughs at the death of a loved one must be warped. Why must people be amused in sorrow, why not let pain work its fruitful work. My last funeral was for a women of 98 and she was unmistakably born again, and it was joyful and solemn, solemn because we grieved for we mourned our loss and she no doubt was joyful because she was free to be heaven’s guest. That’s how it should be. We should not make charades to help our grief. It’s an empty work.

 

The four minute mile

Sir Roger Bannister, who in 1954 became the first man to run a mile in under four minutes and went on to become a distinguished neurologist says: “the order of things I am proud of is: No. 1 marriage, No. 2 family and children, No 3 medicine and No. 4 sport.” Perhaps his words may strike a chord and give comfort to all those who endeavour to win medals at various games worldwide for priorities are important. A gold medal is a great thing but marriage, family and a career are all infinity precious, probably more so.

The medals come whilst we are relatively young and our ambitions are fierce and overwhelming. As we mature we realise there is life after the track, the pool and the gymnasium. Sport has taken on a disproportionate value in modern society, and those involved in it may well understand that. The lure of fame is almost irresistible. It stalks all avenues of life: to be famous and rich seems to predominate teenage years; the quickest way to the top is the attraction to many. Unfortunately often the quickest risers are the most easily forgotten.

Some of the greatest people of the Bible were often in obscurity for years. Abraham a name most religions know, honour and welcome walked for fifty years with God starting at 75 years old, Joseph languished in servitude and prison for 13 years, Moses walked in a wilderness for 40 years and King David minded sheep in anonymity. If God has a plan, He will bring it in, if you are to succeed you will, whatever the field or discipline. Circumstances are irrelevant, he superintends them. He looks at your priorities, always looks at that. He goes to the core of our life, to the moving of our motives; do we want earth’s or heaven’s gold? Is it the jubilation of this world or the justice of God’s kingdom? Which will last, which will satisfy?

Sir Roger learnt early and walked right, his values soon crystallised, famous for moving fast, more famous for helping disability in others. For a lasting marriage, for good children, for a career that touched people who hurt. As the years passed his medals could tarnish, but not the lives he touched. The determination that took him through the time barrier also helped those who needed to cross their disordered physical barriers. His knighthood was for more than just running fast.

On 7th August 1954 Bannister ran against Landy who held the world record for the mile having beaten Bannister’s time. Landy led for most of the race, building a lead of 10 yards in the third lap (of four), but was overtaken on the last bend, and Bannister won in 3 min 58.8 s, with Landy 0.8 s behind in 3 min 59.6 s. Bannister and Landy have both pointed out that the crucial moment of the race was that at the moment when Bannister decided to try to pass Landy, Landy looked over his left shoulder to gauge Bannister’s position and Bannister burst past him on the right, never relinquishing the lead.

This is interesting, it was clear that Bannister was a technician who studied his opponent, and his surprise passing on the apparently wrong side flummoxed Landy. Bannister’s life was as a doctor and his sports training was minimal, had he trained properly he would probably have reduced the world record time even more, but winning was sufficient. There is a bronze statue in Vancouver of Landy and Bannister, and Landy quipped “While Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back, I am probably the only one ever turned into bronze for looking back.” Lot’s wife turned into what she should, have been – salt. We are all called to be salt that is what we are and what we do is shine. Perhaps that is the basis of life in reality. That is the priority. Salt stops putrefaction and seasons; puts taste into dishes, as we put taste into secular life.

Let us not be turned into something metaphorically inanimate because we are not walking in the pursuit of God and those things that matter. Lot’s wife longed for the sin-pots of Sodom for to her these could not have been better years, but it destroyed her. Israel in growing discontent looked back and it cost them 40 years privation, trial and suffering, for Egypt was their prison not their freedom. We need firm ground in slippery places (Psalms 26:1) “Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide.” God is willing to put salt on the ice if we are willing to exercise integrity.