Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Communion

Easter Communion

The One in whom they had all placed their hope was dead. It was surreal. They all hoped when they awoke then they would realize it was all a dream. The Master could not be dead. He was the essence of life! How could life be dead? How could one who raised the dead allow His own life to be taken from him?

But Sunday morning came anyway; the first day of the week. The disciples were still hiding in fear of their own lives being threatened. The women, Mary Magdalene, out of whom Jesus had cast seven evil spirits, Joanna, the wife of one of Herod’s stewards, and Mary, the mother of the disciple named James, referred to as “the less”, and others, which may have included Susanna, went to minister to Jesus by anointing his dead body with spices.

Why would they do this? First of all, it was their custom to anoint the body with sweet smelling spices. But I believe the real reason was that ministering to Jesus had become normal to them. They did this during His ministry years. It had become their life! What else was there to do?

So, they made their way to the tomb, I’m sure, in tears. They were greeted at the tomb by two strange men with shinning white clothing. “Jesus was not there. He is risen!”, they were told. The women rushed back to tell the others what they had seen, but they did not believe them. They thought it to be idle tales. He was dead! You saw Him on the cross. You saw them take His lifeless body away.

After hearing the report from the women and giving their replies, two that had been with the disciples decided to get on with their lives. They set out for Emmaus to return home and start over. They, too, had forsaken all to follow the One they believed to be the Christ. But now that He was dead it was time to move on.

A stranger appeared as they walked. Cleopas and Simon could not believe this man didn’t even know what all had been going on in Jerusalem. They told the stranger how Jesus had claimed to be the Messiah, and that the Jewish leaders along with the Romans had put Him to death. As a matter of fact, some of the women had even said He was alive! Silly women.

The Stranger, who was Jesus, asked them, “Didn’t He tell you that all these things were going to happen?” He then went over it again, beginning at Moses and the prophets, explaining it all again. When He joined them in a meal at their house their eyes were opened and they realized it was Jesus in their midst. Jesus vanished from their presence.They immediately went back to join the other disciples to tell them that He was indeed alive!

While they were still telling their story Jesus appeared. Instead of being overjoyed with seeing Him, they thought He was a ghost!

Now, these events all seem a little strange to our 21st Century minds. Why didn’t Jesus go to the temple and announce His resurrection? Why didn’t He immediately go back to the disciples and put them at ease? Why was it difficult for men who had walked with Him every day for years not even recognize Him? Why wouldn’t Jesus himself greet the women that came to the tomb? He received from them regularly during his time of ministry. They had supported Him with their goods. It would seem only right that He would receive them now.

There’s not much given in scripture as to all of the “whys” regarding the days after the resurrection. We know from Hebrews that Jesus had to ascend to heaven to apply His own blood on the “real” mercy seat to atone for the sins of mankind; to pay once for all the debt created by the first Adam’s fall.

We also learn from Paul in Ephesians that Jesus “ascended to heaven, but also descended to hell”, where He took back the keys of death, hell, and the grave that satan had gotten from the first Adam. Redemption was now complete!

So why not some fanfare? I believe this: so that it would be by faith, and not by sight. His birth was accomplished the same way. No big royal welcome. No parades to announce His coming. In the same way that He came, He now was going to leave. Appearing to those He loved, and that loved Him; telling them good-bye. Then, leaving the rest to them.

And now, here we are; a group of people, believers, 2000 years later still telling the same story. The cup and the wafer, and our faith.

My question today is this: of all of those mentioned in the resurrection story, which one are you? Mary Magdalene, or one of the others, that keep doing what you do “for the Lord” regardless of whether He is dead or alive? Are you Peter, who denied that he ever knew Jesus, but then rushed to the tomb when he heard Jesus might be alive? Are you Cleopas or Simon, that enjoyed the good run they had with Jesus, but moved on after they thought He was dead? Perhaps Thomas, who wanted to see the scars Jesus bore in His body before believing He was Messiah?

I find it interesting that there are many people named in the telling of the resurrection story. Then I looked at the meaning of some of them.

Joanna (Jehovah-favored)
Peter (rock)
Cleopas (father of glory)
Thomas (twin, or to be complete)

I believe the names were just the Holy Spirit’s way of expressing through the writers that God’s fingerprint was all over the activities of the days following the resurrection.

Your salvation is dependent upon whether YOU believe. Mama’s faith will not get you to heaven. The legacy of a father that walked with God will not provide for your salvation. We have a choice to make. Will you believe today? Do you believe?