Friday, February 08, 2008

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

10 Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11 but 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 "Woman," he said, "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 returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning 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.
I know I'm trying to go through John from the perspective of someone who is reading the Bible for the first time, but I'm also looking for inspiration into the text. John MacArthur suggests that the reason Mary didn't recognize Jesus is the same for all people; they are prevented from recognizing him until they are called. The moment Jesus calls, "Mary", she instantly knows him. This is reminiscent of Jesus' words in chapter 10, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

QYST Day 17 - The Breastplate of Righteousness

"He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak." ISAIAH 59:17

The second item which we are commanded to put on as soldiers of the Lord, is the "breastplate of righteousness." Jesus Christ, the Lord of Righteousness, loves righteousness. He has a vehement fervor for justice. The soldier who has been taught and trained by the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead will not only have righteousness, but will do righteousness. He should love what is right and hate what is wrong. The child of God longs for a new earth "wherein dwells righteousness." He "hungers and thirsts for righteousness." If we haven't that testimony, then we haven't seen an answer to the cry, "Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit in me," or perhaps that has never been our plea...

The breastplate keeps the heart clean, for out of the heart come the issues of life. How could be approach the King with soiled garments? Righteousness breeds holy boldness! If we had an audience with an earthly king, we would groom every hair on our heads. We would go over our clothes with a fine-toothed comb, and go over our teeth with a fine-bristled brush. We would check the mirror with the eye of a prosecuting attorney, looking for the finest of flaws. We would shine our shoes until the mirrored our face. The king's position commands such respect. How much more then should be cleanse our hearts and minds daily through the water of the Word, so that we might have a bold confidence before the King of Righteousness.

This devotion was excerpted from How to Win Souls and Influence People, chapter 2, beginning on page 18.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Empty Tomb

1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!"
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
Even if you were the first to the tomb, it would be difficult to believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead. This is exactly what the Bible says, though. If the whole message of Jesus was, "Do a good turn daily" then it would be a lot easier to pass that message on if you eliminated the difficult business of him rising from the dead. Why is this left in there? Because it is the central point of which the faith depends. Jesus actually died for our sins, and actually rose from the grave, defeating death for all time. 

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Wolf among the Sheep

I've been pretty bummed out all weekend. I got a message on Friday that one of my friends had been baptized into another church. And, by another church, I'm not talking about a different building, but another church. The Unification Church, to be specific. This is especially disheartening, as this was a friend who went out faithfully with us every Friday to evangelize on the street. For two years, this gentleman was out with us, carrying his Macarthur Bible in his arms. This isn't someone that doesn't know the gospel, who doesn't understand his position before a holy God, and doesn't realize that unless he repents and puts his complete faith in Christ, that he will one day stand before that God who will judge him. I don't really want to use this blog to gossip, but merely to express my sadness at losing a small battle in this spiritual war we are all in. 

I've been doing some reading on this church, and their beliefs. Some key things that stand out for me, are key things in ALL cults. They reduce Jesus to merely a man, and they elevate man to God, or at least the ability to attain attributes of God. Also, the god of the Unification Church seems to me a pretty weak god. He had a plan for the earth, but Adam and Eve messed it up for him. (Christianity teaches that nothing happens outside of God's will.) And then he came up with the idea of Jesus, but that plan fell through because John the Baptist didn't advertise enough for Jesus and he got crucified before he was able to accomplish his task of salvation. Finally, Jesus is back as a person, Sun Myung Moon, and is going to give it a try again. Maybe if he didn't spend so much time running the Washington Post, which he owns, he would be able to save mankind, but it certainly doesn't inspire much confidence. 

Bottom line here, it is not our persuasive abilities, nor our knowledge and ability to debate, that will draw people to Christ, but that is the job of the Holy Spirit. I pray, and hope you will join me in prayer, that God will remove the scales from my friend's eyes, and draw his heart back to the only name by which man will be saved, that of Jesus Christ. 

And, Lord, renew in me a passion for reaching out to the lost, wherever they are, as we really only have a finite number of days left that we will be able to evangelize. I thank you, Lord, for your patience with us, and ask to be continually used in your plan of salvation. - Amen

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Burial of Jesus

38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Let's continue in the 19th chapter of John. I don't see any great truths in this passage of Scripture, but simple details that, along with the other three gospels, confirm that this happened in a real place at a real time with real people. Pilate, Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea were all real people. myrrh and aloes were typical of the burial procedure of the day. All these details just add to the pile of evidence that Jesus was a real man, who really lived, and really was crucified and was really buried. There is no allegory in these stories.

Christianity stands apart from all other religions, where you can have the beliefs without the central figure. You can have Buddhism apart from the Buddha. You can have Scientology apart from L. Ron Hubbard. But, you cannot have Christianity apart from Christ. Christianity is not just a list of ideas and morals. It is the physical act of God satisfying his wrath in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Without that actual act, if it is just a moral story, then, as Paul says, "We are to be pitied above all men." But, if it really happened, then we have the hope that surpasses all understanding, and we have the obligation to point the world to their only chance for salvation.