On the Morning of the Resurrection

Morning of the Resurrection
Reflection on a painting by Eugène Burnand

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together . . .” (John 20:1-4 ESV).

Those of us who already know the gospel story are so accustomed to the plot that we can lose touch with the real drama—and emotion—of its unfolding. But what can make the story new for us is not necessarily further or deeper reflection on pivotal moments, but on the moments in between them. We encounter one of those beautifully rendered in Eugène Burnand’s famous painting, The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection.

Here we find a serene, seemingly ordinary day bathed in morning’s golden light. Above, a few scattered clouds in hues of purple and rose float above the landscape. And then, in contrast to all this peace, are Peter and John—both part of Jesus’ inner circle—abandoned to their anxiety. And while scholars will debate that the “disciple whom Jesus loved” mentioned in John’s gospel might not be the author himself, what matters here is not the accuracy of the names but the empathy of Burnand’s vision.

It is Sunday morning, the first day of the week after the darkest Sabbath they’ve known. Having gone to the tomb in the day’s early hours, Mary Magdalene sought them out, frantic. And from her lips they heard the shocking news: The body was gone. And with that, they started running.

Look at John’s worried eyes beneath a confused and determined scowl, hands clasped tight against his body, as he presses ahead in a posture of supplication, perhaps pleading with God for a good outcome.

Imagine the feeling in the elder disciple’s pounding chest as he runs onward, palm against his beating heart. No doubt Peter is filled with an ineffable combination of wonder and despair, and perhaps in some small corner of his heart, a hope that he doesn’t yet understand.

In all of this, a single thought must have propelled the men onward: Where did they take Him?

It’s helpful for us to linger in this moment, with this question—to run with Peter and John in our hearts, pondering the loss of Jesus, desperate to reach the empty tomb, eager to find Him.

by Cameron Lawrence

The Precious Blood of Jesus: Why It Matters

1 Peter 1:17-19

What do you consider precious? Perhaps it’s an heirloom that not only is costly but also has sentimental value. Or maybe your first thought is your family—the ones you love the most. Other possibilities may include your salvation, the Bible, or your church family, but if you’re truly honest, the blood of Jesus probably didn’t make the list.

Today’s Christian culture desires a sanitized version of salvation. We talk about the grace and forgiveness of God and sing about His love for us, but rarely do we mention the blood of Jesus. Yet that is the only basis for our salvation. Because the Lord is righteous and just, He cannot love sinners into heaven or forgive them simply because they ask. Every sin that has ever been committed must receive a just punishment, and the penalty for sin is death (Rom. 6:23).

The Lord had only two options in dealing with fallen humanity. He could let the course of justice lead to the condemnation of all mankind, or He could provide a substitute to pay the penalty for everyone. However, this substitute had to be sinless (Deut. 17:1). The only way to rescue us from eternal separation in hell was to send His beloved Son to earth as the God-Man who would live a perfect life and die in our place.

The blood that poured from Christ’s wounds bought your salvation. If you want to truly value what He did, think of Him hanging on that cross just for you. With that thought in your mind, consider how you should live. He gave Himself freely for you; are you giving yourself fully to Him?

Hidden Rocks

“These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear.” (Jude 1:12)

The “spots” that the translators chose for this description by Jude may be better understood as “hidden rocks” just below a lake’s surface or covered over by shallow sand in a pathway. Spilas is the Greek word, not used elsewhere in the New Testament.

The feasts that Jude refers to are somewhat difficult to describe biblically since this is the only time the word agape is used in the plural. There is some evidence that the early churches were extending the time of celebration of the Lord’s Supper improperly (1 Corinthians 11:20-21), and it is probable that his warning would apply to churches who are indifferent to maintaining purity (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).

But the imagery also appears to express the danger that the “spots” present amidst the loving environment of most churches. Jude gives several insights about the character of those who would resist “the faith.” These people have established themselves as they feast and are “feeding themselves without fear.” The word choices are powerful.

The spots are suneuocheo, getting along very well with the rest of the church and shepherding themselves (poimaino) boldly (aphobos). This is bad! These evil men have become so entrenched that they lead their own faction with no fear of resistance or confrontation. The Lord Jesus has stern words to speak to those churches who allow biblical error to establish itself through false teachers and unconcerned leaders (Revelation 2–3).

Peter describes such people as “spots . . . and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you . . . that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls” (2 Peter 2:13-14). Not a pretty picture. God does not tolerate such ungodly behavior, and neither should we. HMM III

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love; He will joy over thee with singing.—Ephesians 3:17.

MADE for Thyself, O God!
Made for Thy love, Thy service, Thy delight,
Made to show forth Thy wisdom, grace and might,
Made for Thy praise, whom veiled archangels laud,
O strange and glorious thought, that we may be
A joy to Thee.
FRANCES R. HAVERGAL.

IT is not of God’s severity that He requires much from man; it is of His great kindness that He will have the soul to open herself wider, to be able to receive much, that He may bestow much upon her. Let no one think that it is hard to attain thereunto. Although it sound hard, and is hard at first, as touching the forsaking and dying to all things, yet, when one has reached this state, no life can be easier, or sweeter, or fuller of pleasures—for God is right diligent to be with us at all seasons, and to teach us, that He may bring us to Himself, when we are like to go astray. None of us ever desired anything more ardently than God desires to bring men to the knowledge of Himself. J. TAULER.

God always fills in all hearts all the room, which is left Him there. F.W. FABER.

Enoch walked with God

Enoch walked with God. Genesis 5:22

Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

Having made peace through the blood of his cross …You, that were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. —In Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

Amos 3:3. Colossians 1:20-22. Ephesians 2:13. Romans 5:10,11. 1 John 1:3. 2 Corinthians 13:14.

Stand fast in the Lord

Stand fast in the Lord. Philippians 4:1

My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. The LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever. — The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back into perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. — If they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

If ye continue in my word then are ye my disciples indeed. — He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. — Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. — Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. — He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life.

Job 23:11. Psalm 37:28. Psalm 121:7. Hebrews 10:38. John 2:19. John 8:31. Matthew 24:13. 1 Corinthians 16:13. Revelation 3:11. Revelation 3:5.