Week commencing 21 April 2019

Devotions for the week following Easter Day

With a PDF found here

DAY 1: Read again Luke 24:1-8

Jesus didn’t stay dead! How gloriously wonderful! When the women who were planning to anoint Jesus’ body arrived at the tomb, the stone sealing the entrance had been rolled away. The message from the messengers could not have been clearer: He is not here; he has risen! Jesus had told his disciples on at least three occasions that this would be the case: but to no avail; they had been kept from understanding. Now, however, everything began to fall into place and they remembered his words.

Jesus is alive today! His resurrection from the dead is his victory over sin and death and the sure sign he was who he claimed to be! My prayer is that Easter 2019 will continue to bring great joy, as your see with greater clarity, why that final week and then the Easter weekend, changed the world forever!

DAY 2: Read Luke 24:36-43

I know of three professional investigators of modern times who have set out to disprove the biblical story of Jesus. In each case, as they weighed up the evidence, they were persuaded that it was all true, became Christians, and wrote books about their findings! (Frank Morison, Who Moved the Stone? Josh McDowell, More than a Carpenter; Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ.) Assuming Luke’s sincerity in his introduction, he almost definitely knew people who were here, in this room in Jerusalem, the night that Jesus showed up.

As you read through these verses, note the many and varied items of evidence for believing that this was the real Jesus, that he had really died, and that he had really risen from the dead. There is the evidence of eyewitnesses from earlier in the chapter: ‘while they were still talking about this, v36; Jesus’ own appearance in their midst, v36; he engages their senses of hearing, sight and touch in order to verify his identity as the same Jesus who was crucified, v39-40, and that he was truly and bodily risen, v39. Finally, he eats in front of them. Knowing their doubts and fears, he tailors his approach to meeting them head-on.

If this is put forward by Luke as eyewitness evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, then to negate the biblical account requires alleging that Luke and/or those he interviewed were deliberately making false statements. That some church leaders assert that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is a myth is truly remarkable!

DAY 3: Read Luke 24:44-46

The fact that the disciples were still having doubts and fears even while the risen Christ was in front of their faces is a bit sad; they should have felt an eager expectation of his resurrection.

For a start, Jesus himself had told them multiple times about what would befall him in Jerusalem (Luke 9:21-27; 9:43-45, where the parallel passages in Matthew and Mark provide more explicit prophecy of his death and resurrection; and Luke 18:31-34). Jesus knew his Father’s rescue plan intimately and knew every clue that the Holy Spirit-inspired authors of the Old Testament had dropped, pointing forward to his own great works of redemption. His death and resurrection must happen in order both to fulfil his mission and to fulfil the divine promises. (The Law, the Prophets and the Psalms was a Jewish way of referring to the whole of the Old Testament.)

Lest we be tempted to look down on the disciples at this point, note v45: he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. In Luke 9:44-46, when Jesus had prophesied his forthcoming suffering, Luke indicated that they did not understand because the meaning was hidden from them. In fact, understanding anything about Jesus at a deep level is impossible without God’s work of revelation! (See Lk 10:20-22) Even the disciples on the road to Emmaus were kept from recognising Jesus until he revealed himself to them. Why does God reveal Jesus to some and not others? I don’t know, except to say that it his sovereign choice. It doesn’t take away from my God-given job of telling the gospel to whomever will listen!

Pray that at every point, Jesus will open OUR minds to understand the scriptures!

Pray also for those who do not yet grasp who Jesus is, that he will open their minds.

DAY 4: Read Luke 24:47-53

The fact that there is a dead and risen Christ is very interesting, but it is the implications of that that make it a personal and global message of utmost and urgent importance: ‘repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’

Repentance had always been part of Jesus’ message. His first recorded words in Mark’s gospel were:  “The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” We saw in our Luke series, that it had also been at the heart of John the Baptist’s preparatory ministry, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. This repentance – a heartfelt turning away from sin and back to God – is the right response of anyone who recognises themselves to be a sinner.

Forgiveness of sins is always the result that God declares when sinners truly repent and turn to him for mercy. It is in the crucifixion and resurrection of his Son, however, that it is perfectly revealed how this could be possible. It is as the Spirit-filled apostles go about proclaiming repentance and forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus that some of the most wonderful Scriptures were ‘breathed out’: ‘Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God,’ (1 Pet 3:18); ‘(Jesus) was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.’ (Rom 4:25 NASB); ‘My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.’ (1 Jn 2:1-2).

John the Baptist’s ministry drew people from all over Jerusalem and Judea. Jesus’ ministry had been to the lost sheep of Jerusalem. But now, the mission is going global! This is a message for the nations. The creator of the universe deserves no less than for all sinners to repent of their rebellion against him, regardless of nation or language.

This was always to be the case! God had chosen the nation of Israel to be his treasured possession, that they might be a kingdom of priests to make God known to the nations (Ex 19:6). While Israel had failed to live up to this, that role eventually falls to Christians –  to all who would come  and submit to the risen Jesus as their king (see 1Peter 2:9-10). And wonderfully: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”(Is 49:6)

Proclaiming this message would initially be the job of the apostles, but not in their own strength. Rather, they must wait until ‘clothed with power from on high’, when the promised Holy Spirit comes to dwell in them, empowering, driving and directing them.

All of this leads to praise and rejoicing on the part of the disciples! And so it ought it to be with anyone who is called from death to life, having been given the Holy Spirit to empower them for a life of mission. We are now to tell the world about the need for repentance and the wonderful free forgiveness Jesus offers to all who turn to him. That’s your mission and mine.

Pray that together, we might do this all the more effectively across Noosa and Peregian – that many more may see who Jesus is and then come and bow before him.