The Resurrection Changes Everything

His Is Risen three women
We don’t like to talk about death. When we absolutely have to, we fall back on euphemisms like “passed on,” “no longer with us,” or “didn’t make it.” Left to our own devices, we’ll ignore it entirely.

The arts are more willing to engage the drama and inevitability of death; as a culture, we read novels and watch movies to try to make sense of it. On our own, though, we’re sociologically and psychologically unequipped to deal with death’s reality.

I’m convinced that we support huge cosmetology and plastic-surgery industries not only because of our worship of beauty, but because we fear aging as the harbinger of death. Not only do we want to elude death; we long to avoid the very things we associate with it. As Paul tells us in Romans 8, we, like all of creation, struggle to be liberated from our bondage to decay.

You do not give me up

David wrote many Psalms while under great duress, and one of my favorites is Psalm 16. Unlike many of David’s laments, this Psalm acknowledges his troubles in a grateful and almost casual manner.

“Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also rests secure.
For you do not give me up to Sheol,
or let your faithful one see the Pit.”
—Psalm 16:9–10

Within the context of Psalm 16, this is a powerful testimony of trust for someone under the constant threat of death. In light of Christ’s Resurrection, it becomes something else entirely . . .

When Peter addresses the gathered crowd at Pentecost, he calls this Psalm prophetic. More than just David trusting God to preserve his life, Psalm 16 becomes a prophecy of Christ’s defeat of death and his complete reset on what it means to be human.

The Resurrection changes everything

Psalm 16 was right—both contextually and prophetically. God delivered David from immediate threat, and Christ from the grave. We’re beneficiaries of both David’s confidence and Christ’s triumph, and through us all of creation benefits.

Death has been declawed and gagged. We ride in Christ’s train as his victory parade publicly shames the powers and authorities who sought to subject us to corruption and decay. The Resurrection is our hope, life, and victory.

In a culture that fears and shrinks away from death, we have a privilege and sacred responsibility to share our optimistic assurance that death doesn’t have the final answer. God is at work through the power of the Resurrection, redeeming the world to himself, and he will never willingly give us up to Sheol or let his faithful ones see the pit.

by Jayson D. Bradley

Different Than It Appeared

Matthew 16:21

In the Story of Easter, Saturday normally gets lost.

The days (and even the few years) preceding it, however, were filled with amazing events and words. If it were a symphony, it would have all risen to a resounding yet horrific crescendo: the arrest and trial, the scourging and crucifixion, the agony on the cross, the death, the day turning to utter darkness, the ground shaking as if to split the earth, the veil tearing in two . . .

And then, just like the famous pause in Handel’s Messiah, it all comes to a screeching halt. Jesus is buried—and it is all over.

With Jesus gone, the disciples were left with nothing but the memories and His words, neither of which seemed to be affecting them, for they huddled in fear on Saturday, having little faith in what He had promised. The disciples had painted their own picture of who Messiah was supposed to be—a narrative they wanted Him to fulfill.

How many of us believers live with a Saturday mindset—somewhere between the truth of Jesus’ earthly life and the glorious resurrection that validated everything He said and did? It is easy to look at the disciples’ fear and lack of faith on that day and shake our heads. But are we so different, really? Do we have our own plans for God? Do you and I conveniently believe that the best thing for us is that God and everyone else follow our script for the day? Do we get angry when it doesn’t happen?

Do you find yourself speaking words that increasingly convey a lack of hope? Are they words of discouragement, gloom, doom—maybe even despair?

Two choices lie before those of us who live with such a mentality. Either we make the frustrating and futile attempt to get our own way, or we turn and revisit the truth of what God has told us: the truth about Himself and the truth about ourselves; the truth about what He has asked us to do in the disappointment of “Saturday.”

The disciples had not yet received the Holy Spirit. We now have Him in full. They did not have the fullness of God’s Word. We have all of it at ready access. They were living on the other side of the resurrection. We live in its reality.

Because the Truth, dear friends, is that the music will resume. Sunday’s coming! What an awesome Saturday we have been given!

by Del Tackett

Coming In and Going Out

“And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying, Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.” (Numbers 27:15-17)

The Lord answered Moses’ request in these verses by designating Joshua to lead the children of Israel. Joshua would be their new “pastor” (or “shepherd”), guiding and protecting them in all their ways. In reality, of course, the Lord Himself was their shepherd (Psalm 23:1) while Moses and Joshua had been undershepherds.

The name Joshua, of course, is the same as Jesus, and Joshua, as undershepherd, is a beautiful type of the Lord Jesus Christ, “that great shepherd of the sheep” (Hebrews 13:20). Jesus said: “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9). The shepherd of the sheep is also the door of the sheep, taking his own stand in the very entrance to the fold. The sheep cannot leave the fold, nor intruders enter the fold, because he is there at the door of the fold. The sheep come into the fold for rest and fellowship as well as for salvation, then they go out of the fold for work and service.

Joshua was the shepherd of Israel, but Jesus is our own Good Shepherd, who “giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). “Other sheep I have,” He said, “which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16). All who are truly “the sheep of his pasture” should “enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise” (Psalm 100:3-4) each day before venturing out with Him into the world. HMM

To do good and to communicate

To do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.—Hebrews 13:16.
Freely ye have received, freely give.—Matthew 10:8.

SURELY Thou hast some work for me to do!
Oh, open Thou mine eyes,
To see how Thou wouldst choose to have it done,
And where it lies!
ELIZABETH PRENTISS.

THEN saw I that each kind compassion that man hath on his fellow-Christians with charity, it is Christ in him. JULIANA.

Say not you cannot gladden, elevate, and set free; that you have nothing of the grace of influence; that all you have to give is at the most only common bread and water. Give yourself to your Lord for the service of men with what you have. Cannot He change water into wine? Cannot He make stammering words to be instinct with saving power? Cannot He change trembling efforts to help into deeds of strength? Cannot He still, as of old, enable you in all your personal
poverty “to make many rich?” God has need of thee for the service of thy fellow men. He has a work for thee to do. To find out what it is, and then to do it, is at once thy supremest duty and thy highest wisdom. “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.” GEORGE BODY.

His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones

His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. Jeremiah 20:9

Necessity is laid upon me; yea woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel. — They called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, … We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. — The love of Christ constraineth us.

I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth … Thou wicked and slothful servant, … thou oughtest … to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

Go … to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee.

1 Corinthians 9:16,18. Acts 4:18-20. 2 Corinthians 5:14. Matthew 25:25-27. Mark 5:19.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep

Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. John 10:7

The veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. — Christ … hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. — The way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

No man cometh unto the Father, but by me. — Through him we … have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God. — Having … boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh. — We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Matthew 27:51. 1 Peter 3:18. Hebrews 9:8. John 10:9. John 14:6. Ephesians 2:15,19. Hebrews 10:19,20. Romans 5:1,2.