HOLD HIM BY HIS FEET

Matthew 28:8-9 And did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

There is something amazingly different about Jesus. There is no angel in heaven nor any creature or human on earth that has the attraction that He has. Now not everyone is attracted to our Savior, only those who belong to Him. To those who are perishing Jesus is actually repelling, but to those who are being saved, He is the most prized possession of our lives. This first Resurrection Sunday these precious women were amazed beyond words. Those three days of darkness and depression had been swallowed up in an instant. “He’s alive, just like the angels said.” The appearance or words of angels had not driven the darkness from their souls, but one word from His lips and they were at His feet worshipping Him, overwhelmed with His love. This is how Spurgeon describes this scene.

“Jesus permits these godly women to hold him by the feet. It was an act of humility, worshipping and holding; and holding not his hands, but his feet. They must have seen the nail-prints before Thomas did, as they held him by the feet, and worshipped him. I do not find that these women ran to the angels, they rather shrank back from them; but they came to Jesus, for we are told that they came, and held him by the feet. I think that there must have been a new attraction about Christ after he had risen from the dead, something more sweet about the tones of his voice, something more charming about the countenance that had been so maimed at Gethsemane, and Gabbatha, and Golgotha.”

But what about us today? Do we have to go on someone else’s words? Do I have to live on the testimony of someone who lived two thousand years ago? Hardly! Jesus is in heaven but the Holy Spirit, the very One who raised Jesus from the dead is here with us. He comes to us just like Jesus came to the women on that road to Jerusalem that Sunday morning so long ago. He speaks to us and surrounds us with His love. Before you know it, you too will be at His feet consumed with the testimony of Jesus.

“The Heavenly Gardener”

MERRY MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” John 20:15

Such an encounter Mary had and she supposed him to be the gardener! Well in some ways he is a gardener of sorts tending to the gardens in our soul. It happens to all of us! The sudden surprise when Christ walks into the room. Throughout our ministry I have had the pleasure of hearing of such encounters. It’s what makes ministry the best occupation in the universe. When the heavenly gardener shows up everything changes!

Mary from Magdala had every reason to miss the Christ standing before her. The last 24 hours were full of blood, beatings, and then the tomb. She gathered the spices to anoint the dead and hurried to the tomb bringing her own tomb of troubles.

Little did she realize she was going back in time when she went forward to the tomb. There was another garden long, long ago where Adam and Eve did the unpardonable. Little did she know she was the new Eve restoring the kingdom and the curse that fell on man. The heavenly gardener is always about his fields tending to his harvest. He calls her out by name just as he did that other day in the garden. Mary woke up out of her dream of death and met Christ the resurrected one. He commissioned her to finish the story of redemption by going to all the world and telling others the good news.

Ambrose says this about the garden; “Jesus went forth with his disciples over the brook Kidron, where there was a garden (John 18:1)” many mysteries are included in this word, and I believe it is not without reason that our Savior goes into a garden… Because a garden was the place wherein we fell, and therefore Christ made choice of a garden to begin the greatest work of our redemption: in the first garden was the beginning of all evils; and in this garden was the beginning of our restitution from all evils; in the first garden, the first Adam was overthrown by Satan, and in this garden the second Adam overcame, and Satan himself was by him overcome; in the first garden sin was contracted; and we were indebted by our sins to God, and in this garden sin was paid for by that great and precious price of the blood of God: in the first garden man surfeited by eating the forbidden fruit, and in this garden Christ sweat it out wonderfully, even by a bloody sweat; in the first garden, death first made its entrance into the world; and in this garden life enters to restore us from death to life again; in the first garden Adam’s liberty to sin brought himself and all of us into bondage; and in this garden, Christ being bound and fettered, we are thereby freed and restored to liberty.”

No matter what you are facing my friend, the gardener has a way of bringing your winter to a close. He is tending to his business and calls you out by name. He has lifted the curse, and called you out by name! He is all around, he is in you working his eternal plan!

RESURRECTION CHANGES EVERYTHING

Matt. 28:8-10 – 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.”

The followers of Jesus were really caught by surprise by His death. Even though He had spoken to them about His imminent crucifixion it appears that none of them grasped it, and frankly, they wanted things to stay as they had been. Who wouldn’t? Their lives had been dramatically altered by the Lord and they could never go back to life without Him. When Jesus died His followers were in a state of sorrow and stupor, that is until they saw Him for themselves.

Mary is the obvious example. She was weeping outside His tomb after she had seen that it was empty. Jesus words that He would rise gain seemed like a fairy tale until she heard His voice. All He said at first was her name, “Mary”, He called to her. In a moment all of those fears that were hounding her disappeared. Jesus was alive and Mary was alive with hope. Jesus had truly risen from the grave.

Then there was Simon Peter. He could not believe his actions when push came to shove that fateful night. How could he have denied that he ever knew Jesus? To Peter, the dream was over. Even after seeing the empty tomb Peter was still overwhelmed with darkness. Even if Jesus was alive how could he even look Jesus in the face. According to Paul, Jesus met with Peter, probably alone, that glorious day. We aren’t privy to that conversation but Jesus didn’t need to tell Peter anything. One look into His eyes and Peter was good. Jesus was alive and Peter was forgiven, that’s all that really mattered.

Of course there was doubting Thomas. He seemed to be more angry than depressed. “I won’t believe unless I put my finger in the nail prints and my hand in His side that was pierced.” That also changed in an instant of time. Jesus appeared to Thomas and repeated Thomas’s words. “Put your finger here in my hands. Put your hand in the wound in my side”. Thomas was undone. All he could say was “My Lord and my God”.

So maybe you are a little down and listless this Easter morning. I have some good news for you. I have heard that Jesus is alive and He is still visiting people. Maybe you have an unexpected appointment today. Hope to see you in church.

FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD

Rev.1:5 – and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood —

John saw a resurrected man on the beach of the Isle of Patmos. Jesus was not a vision or a spirit, He came to John bodily and physically. That in itself has huge implications. First, the Creator, God Himself, was standing in front of John as a human. God became a man for all time. He died for us and is ministering as a priest for us before the Father in heaven. Here, Jesus is saying that He was the first man to raise permanently from the dead. Several others had been raised from the dead throughout history only to die again and go back into the grave. Jesus was raised in a new incorruptible body. He was the first of an entire race who will experience this. His body is an eternal, immortal body. Someday I too will have one. Here is how Adam Clarke describes this.

“The beginning, the first-born from the dead. In 1 Corinthians xv. 20, Christ is called the first-fruits of them that slept; and here, the chief and first-born from the dead; he being the first that ever resumed the natural life, with the employment of all its functions, never more to enter the empire of death, after having died a natural death, and in such circumstances as precluded the possibility of deception. The arch, chief, head, or first, answers in this verse to the first-fruits, Jesus Christ is not only the first who rose from the dead to die no more, but he is the first-fruits of human beings; for as surely as the first-fruits were an indication and pledge of the harvest, so surely was the resurrection of Christ the proof that all mankind should have a resurrection from the dead.”

For John this could be personal. John was in exile and all of the other apostles had been martyred (or would be shortly). Jesus was telling him, as well as us, that the final and greatest enemy, death itself, had been totally defeated by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As the book of Revelation unfolds we see the final scene of the great plan of God. The dead will be raised, we will be given new bodies like His, we will be comforted by Christ, and will rule with Him for eternity.

LAZARUS

Jn.11:25-27 – Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” She *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.

I love the story of Lazarus. It was one of the last miracles in the ministry of Jesus and had to be the most important of all. After all, when Jesus turned the water into wine as His first miracle, we learned He would save His best miracles for last. Why is this miracle so important? First, Jesus always takes care of His friends. Are you a friend of God? That is what Jesus called His followers, they were His friends. This is what we are called to, friendship with the Lord. This is definitely our place of safety.

Next, we see a picture of why Jesus came in this miracle. Lazarus was dead, laying in the tomb for four days. There was nothing he could do to fix his situation. There was no doctor, lawyer, politician, or health consultant that could change these circumstances. Lazarus was dead. This is a picture of where all of us are without Christ, dead in our sins. The only solution? Jesus had to intervene and raise Lazarus and us from the dead.

We also see the way our circumstances effect others. When something happens in our lives it effects everyone in our world. Martha, Mary, and the whole town of Bethany were devastated by Lazarus’ death. When someone’s life takes a downward turn it effects everyone in our world. Seeing Lazarus’ family weeping outside his tomb is all too familiar. I have seen far too many parents, siblings, and friends weeping outside of hospital rooms, prisons, car wrecks, and rehabs. Our “deaths” effect everyone we know.

When Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb their weeping was turned to joy. Lazarus was back. This is also a picture of what happens when Jesus brings us out of our misery, our death while we still live. Not only is our life resurrected, the joy of everyone we know is awakened. This is exactly what the ministry of Jesus is all about.

That brings us to Mary. Her weeping for Lazarus was over. Now she was crying tears of joy. It wouldn’t be long until these tears of joy would wash the feet of Jesus. She was beginning to understand who Jesus was and why He was their friend.

RAISED BECAUSE ?

Rom.4:25 – He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

This is one of those verses that I couldn’t quite understand for many years. The NASB is helpful in this verse, it brings out the fact that Jesus was raised “because of” our justification. We have an understanding of the importance of the cross, understanding the resurrection is also critical. According to this verse Jesus was raised because man had been justified, declared righteous, by the sacrificial death of Jesus. When Jesus was raised from the dead all of His sons and daughters were raised with Him. The resurrection was God’s declaration that man had been redeemed. Here is how the ESV Study Bible describes it.

“Both the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are necessary for forgiveness of sins and justification, raised for our justification. When God the Father raised Christ from the dead, it was a demonstration that he accepted Christ’s suffering and death as full payment for sin, and that the Father’s favor, no longer his wrath against sin, was directed toward Christ, and through Christ toward those who believe. Since Paul sees Christians as united with Christ in his death and resurrection, God’s approval of Christ at the resurrection results in God’s approval also of all who are united to Christ, and in this way results in their justification.”

Adam Clarke took it a little farther. He says that this is a title to eternal life in the bliss of fellowship with the Lord in heaven. Here is how Clarke describes this verse.

“He was raised that we might have the fullest assurance that the death of Christ had accomplished the end for which it took place; our reconciliation to God, and giving us a title to that eternal life, into which he has entered, and taken with him our human nature, as the first-fruits of the resurrection of mankind.”

What an amazing verse, we are not only forgiven for our sins by faith, we are connected to the life of the risen Savior. I was crucified with Christ, buried with Christ, raised from the dead with Christ, and I am seated in heavenly places with Christ. This is the point of Paul’s preaching in the book of Romans. We have touched the other world by faith, not only touched it, we have entered into the kingdom by faith in Christ.

RESURRECTION BREATH

John 20:21,22 – So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit”.

It finally happened, the day Jesus was raised from the dead, man began to come alive once again. Since that first dark day when our first parents fell into sin up until the time of Christ, new life was only a hope and a promise; it had now finally become a reality. Jesus wasted no time, the very first day that He had been raised from the dead He met with His closest followers. Think about it, the blood for the cleansing of sin had been poured out and Jesus had been raised from the dead proving that man was now justified by grace through faith in the work of Christ at the cross. New life, resurrection life, had raised Jesus from the dead. He breathed this resurrection life on His disciples, “receive the Holy Spirit”. Life was surging through every part of them, they had been born again. Here are some thoughts from the Fire Bible on today’s verse.

“During Jesus’ last message to his disciples—he promised them that they would receive the Holy Spirit as the One who would regenerate them: “he lives with you and will be in you”. Jesus fulfilled that promise when he was with them following his resurrection. It is reasonable to conclude that Jn 20:22 refers to regeneration because of the phrase, “he breathed on them.” The Greek word for “breathed” (emphusaö) is the same verb used in the Septuagint in Ge 2:7, where God “breathed into his [Adam’s] nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” ….John’s use of this verb suggests that Jesus was giving the Holy Spirit in order to bring life and “a new creation”. Just as God breathed “the breath of life” into the first man’s physical body “and the man became a living being” —a new creation—so Jesus breathed on the disciples and they each became a new creation in a spiritual sense.”

Today, we can receive this resurrection breath into our lives. When we do we are instantly transferred from one kingdom to another. We are no longer part of the kingdom of death, resurrection breath has made us alive.

HE IS RISEN INDEED

Rom.1:4 – who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,

Jesus made some amazing claims during His ministry on earth. He said “I am the Bread of Life, I am the Resurrection and the Life, before Abraham was I am”. He also said things like “I have power to lay down my life and take it up again” and “if you drink the water that I have to give you will never thirst”. As C.S. Lewis said, “Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Son of God”. According to the Apostle Paul in today’s verse, the resurrection backed up all of these claims. The resurrection was the Father’s great declaration that Jesus Christ was His only begotten Son, there is no other conclusion that can be drawn. Maclaren speaks about God’s declaration in his comments on today’s verse.

“Still further, the Resurrection is God’s solemn ‘Amen’ to the tremendous claims which Christ had made….If the Cross and a nameless grave had been the end, what a reductio ad absurdum that would have been to the claims of Jesus to have ever been with the Father and to be doing always the things that pleased Him. The Resurrection is God’s last and loudest proclamation, ‘This is My beloved Son: hear ye Him.’….The old alternative seems to retain all its sharp points: Either Christ rose again from the dead, or His claims are a series of blasphemous arrogances and His character irremediably stained.”

In the first century, the power of the gospel being preached by the apostles was in the fact that they were eye witnesses, they had seen Christ physically after He had been raised from the dead. As a matter of fact, there were at least five hundred people who had seen Christ after He was risen. That was the power of the Apostle Paul’s words, Christ Himself, not a vision of Christ, appeared to Paul on the Damascus Road. Paul was instantly converted from being a strict Pharisee and a persecutor of the church. There is no other explanation for how the world was turned upside down by those first preachers. In the same way today, our testimony of Christ, when it comes from a personal experience with the Risen One, carries the power of the resurrection. The only conclusion; Christ is risen, He is risen indeed.

BORN AGAIN BY RESURRECTION

1 Peter 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Peter knew exactly what he was talking about. He was there the very evening after Jesus had been raised from the dead with the other disciples. They were shaking in their boots (I mean sandals) when Jesus walked through the wall right into their room. They saw the wounds in His hands, feet, and side. It wasn’t a vision or an apparition, Jesus was there in flesh and bone. That’s when the born again thing happened, just as the Father had breathed life into Adam at his creation, Christ breathed life into Peter and the other disciples. “Receive the Holy Ghost”, Jesus declared. Peter was never quite the same after that, he had been born again by the breath of the resurrection that first Easter evening. Here is how John Gill describes this verse.

“by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; which may be connected either with the act of begetting again; for Christ’s resurrection is the virtual cause of regeneration, or regeneration is in virtue of Christ’s resurrection; had he not risen from the dead, none would have been quickened, or made to live, or have been raised to newness of life: his resurrection is the exemplar of regeneration; there is a likeness between them; as his resurrection was a declaration of his sonship, so regeneration is a manifestation of adoption; and as Christ’s resurrection was his first step to glory, so is regeneration to eternal life; and both are wrought by the same almighty power: or the clause may be connected with the foregoing, “unto a lively hope”; for the resurrection of Christ is what is the means of, and lays a solid foundation of hope….”

So Easter is a celebration of our new life, we have been born again by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When Peter wrote this epistle many years after Christ’s resurrection he still had the resurrection life and power surging through his body. It was that same power that fell on him on the Day of Pentecost; just a stronger, more potent dose. Today, this resurrection life can be received by anyone who hungers for something real. Call on His name, just maybe He will walk into your room.

JESUS SNORTED

Jn. 11:33 – When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

 

You could say that this miracle, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, brings the ministry of Jesus to a place of culmination. You could call this the defining moment of Jesus’s life and ministry. Lazarus is Everyman, laying in his tomb of his trespasses and sins. He is a picture of the tragedy of man’s fall into sin and the terrible ramifications that the fall brought on all of us.

Look at the picture painted by the Apostle John in this verse. John could see this scene in his mind’s eye like it was yesterday (it had probably been 50 years before he wrote about it). He describes Jesus groaning or snorting in anger. What is John describing? He is showing the Lord’s hatred of the consequences of sin. This miracle shows the solution. Christ Himself is the answer, He alone is the Resurrection and the Life. Here is how Bishop Ellicott describes this scene.

 

 

“The word rendered “groaned” occurs, besides in this verse and John 11:38, three times in the New Testament…the original meaning of the word is “to snort, as of horses.” Passing to the moral sense, it expresses disturbance of the mind—vehement agitation. This may express itself in sharp admonition, in words of anger against a person, or in a physical shudder, answering to the intensity of the emotion. In each of the passages in the earlier Gospels the word is accompanied by an object upon which the feeling is directed. In the present context it does not go beyond the subject of the feeling. Here it is “in the spirit”; and in John 11:38 it is “in Himself.” Both mean the same thing; and point to the inner moral depth of His righteous indignation; the object of it, however, is not expressed.”

This story tells it all, Jesus became a man because we were all rotting in our tombs of sin and shame without a way of escape. He came to call us out of sin and to break its hold on our lives. Just as it was in Lazarus case, our troubles trouble Him, He despises what sin has done to us all. He has come to rescue us totally and finally through the power of the Resurrection.