The One Who Waits for an Invitation

We are continuing our meditation on the two disciples walking to the village of Emmaus. The risen Lord Jesus had come alongside them and walked with them, going over Old Testament Scriptures that spoke of God sending a Suffering Servant who would deliver them from sin. But as they approached the turn off to the village they were going to, Jesus went to carry on down the road:

28As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” 33They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread (Luke 24:28-35).

Why would Jesus act as if He were going farther? Why did He wait until He got an invitation? This is not the first time that the Lord acted as if He would pass them by. In Mark’s Gospel, we are told of a time when He went alone to a place to pray through the night. While praying in the dark, He saw that they were having difficulty rowing the boat against the wind on the Sea of Galilee, so He went out to them at three o’clock in the morning:

48He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50because they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” 51Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished (Mark 6:48-51).

Why would Jesus be about to pass by them? Perhaps, it speaks of the gift of free will that God has given us, i.e. that He will not come into the boat or into our homes and walk with us without invitation. If we want Him to be with us or, more truly for us to be with Him, we will have to lower our defenses and invite Him to come to us. How wonderful that Christ took the time to eat a simple meal of unleavened bread with them (the Feast of Unleavened Bread lasted seven days). He would not force Himself on them; it was only due to their fearful cries and invitation on the Sea of Galilee that He turned and came to their boat. Our God delights in being wanted not for what He can do for us but for Himself. He gently awaited their invitation to come to the house where they were staying.

Have you invited Him into the house of your heart? Does He live within? He has given you the gift of free will and longs to walk this road with you, casting your sins behind His back, if you will openly confess where you are. Give Him full control of who you are and everything you own. He wants to come and dine in sweet fellowship with each of us reading this message. At their strong invitation, He went with them.

As they ate with Him, their hearts burned within them as Jesus continued to open their understanding of the Word of God. He was connecting with their hearts as He talked. Their later confession was, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us” (Verse 31). The fire burns within our hearts when the Spirit of God breathes on His word as we meditate on the Scriptures. “My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned (Psalm 39:3). Do not underestimate the power of simple reading, meditating, and musing on the Word of God. How about you, dear reader? Have you invited Christ into your home?

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. Click on study 65 at this link, Jesus on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:13-35). Keith Thomas.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

We are continuing our meditation on the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (Scroll down for yesterday’s meditation). Some believe that the Shroud of Turin, a one-piece long cloth that is about fourteen feet long is the burial cloth of Jesus, but the evidence stacks up against it. There are two images on the cloth, one of the front of a person, and one of the rear. The heads of the image meet in the middle and some have noted that there should be a space between the heads if the cloth was under the body and then lay above. It has also been estimated that the head is 5% too large, the nose is disproportionate and the arms are too long. Most skeptics believe the shroud to be a painting and a religious hoax. Here’s what author Josh McDowell says:

The Shroud has been known to have been around since 1354 and was tested in 1978 and thought to have been the real deal due to having no sign of paint or dye on it. However, in 1988, three independent laboratories made carbon-dating tests of threads of the Shroud. They all gave it a late medieval date. Proponents of the Shroud objected that the sample was too fragmentary and was from a contaminated section of the Shroud that reflected a medieval church fire.[1]

If it was just one piece of white linen, then what did John the apostle see that made him believe? All he had been told was that somebody had stolen the body; they had run as quickly as they could. John emphasizes the head covering being folded away from the strips of cloth. Was he trying to describe that the head covering folded in on itself after the Lord passed out of the strips of cloth? Henry Latham, in his book The Risen Master, has this to say about the grave clothes: “There lie the clothes—they are fallen a little together, but are still wrapped fold over fold, and no grain of spice is displaced. The napkin, too, is lying on the low step which serves as a pillow for the head of the corpse; it is twisted into a sort of wig, and is all by itself.”[2]

As Peter and John went back to their homes, Mary Magdalene returned to the tomb (John 20:10). She saw two angels inside the tomb and talked to someone outside that she thought was the gardener.

13They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary” (John 20:13-16).

In talking with the One she thinks is the gardener, she still wants to know where the body was taken. When Jesus speaks her name aloud, “Mary” (John 20:16), she suddenly realizes Who the “Gardener” is, and she cries out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means teacher). When she heard His voice, she knew it was Christ. What a wonderful thing it is to know that Jesus is alive, and that He has conquered death for every man.

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. Click on study 64 at this link, The Resurrection of Christ (Luke 23:50-24:12). Keith Thomas.

[1] Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Nelson Publishers, Page 232.

[2] As mentioned by R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word, John. That You May Believe. Printed by Crossway Books, Wheaton, Ill. Page 453.

He Saw and Believed

One man, Josh Mc Dowell, tried to disprove the story of the resurrection for his college thesis. As he began to study and write, his careful study of the Scriptures, evidence from history, and his own logical reasoning led him to the opposite conclusion. In fact, the evidence that he uncovered affected him to his core. He wrote a book called “Evidence that Demands a Verdict,” which has become one of the most popular Christian books of our time. It certainly illuminates the whole resurrection story. The climax of this story, i.e. Jesus’ rising from the dead, gives us all a foretaste of the victory we can expect to experience as Christians. Death had no power over Jesus. It will have no power over us.

Having watched where Joseph and Nicodemus put the body, it is likely that the women, having different homes in which they were staying, decided to meet at dawn at the tomb to put more spices on the body. The first there that morning was Mary Magdalene. She came alone while it was still dark, John tells us:

1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” 3So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) (John 20:1-9).

Mary Magdalene did not go into the tomb, but her immediate thought after seeing that the stone had been rolled away (and without looking further) was to run to where she knew John and Peter were staying the night. She burst into the house and stated that they had taken the body of the Lord and that she did not know where they had put Him. Perhaps, she was accusing the religious leadership, thinking that they did not want Christ to be buried in a rich man’s tomb and given an honorable burial. I’m sure she was angry and very tearful at the loss of Christ’s body. John wrote about how the news was received by the disciples that morning. When Mary burst into the room to tell them the incredible news, John and Peter reacted by running to the tomb. John writes that, after Peter went in, he also went into the tomb (John 20:8). What do you think he saw that made him believe? (Verse 8).

It’s possible that they had thoughts of accusation and anger toward the religious leadership because Mary had thought someone had stolen the body (v. 2). It is likely that Peter and John did not know what to expect as they started running to the tomb. John does not mention an angel when they arrived at the tomb. He writes about the strips of linen, and he mentions the way the head cloth was folded by itself and separate from the linen (v. 7). We know from Luke’s Gospel (23:53) that the body was wrapped in strips of cloth and that the spices were placed inside the wrappings as custom dictated. It seems very likely that what John and Peter saw was that the shape of the wrappings and spices were still completely intact, and that the body of Jesus had passed through the strips of linen, thus leaving a cocoon with the cloth that was around His head laying there on its own. He saw and believed. Can you? Will you?

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. Click on study 64 at this link, The Resurrection of Christ (Luke 23:50-24:12). Keith Thomas.

They Will be Like the Angels in Heaven

We are continuing our meditation from yesterday on the topic of Jesus’ words in Luke, chapter 20, where Jesus was talking about the eternal state. To the Sadducees who had scoffed at the thought of a resurrection of the dead, He had four thoughts for them. We looked at the first one yesterday, we’ll look at the second and third today. Here’s what He said:

34Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” (Luke 20:34-38).

2) The Lord speaks of the resurrection as a fact (v. 35), and although the Sadducees only use the five books of Moses, Christ used those books to prove the patriarchs are very much alive at the time He spoke these words, they are at the present time with the Lord. Jesus stated to them, “Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive” (vv. 37-38). When God spoke those words to Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had been dead for more than 400 years. The Lord reminded the Sadducees that God didn’t say, “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but they were very much alive after they had passed from this world, and He used the present tense to speak of them.

The Sadducees could see no evidence of resurrection in the five books of Moses, but they had a moment of revelation at the insight of Jesus. After this debate, no one dared to ask Jesus any more questions. His arguments were causing the religious leaders to question their own beliefs and they were not successful in swaying the crowd away from Jesus.

3) There is no death in the eternal state, for those who are considered worthy will be like the angels (Verse 36). If we are to be like the angels, what does that mean? Angels are trusted with great power. When the Assyrians attacked Jerusalem, King Hezekiah of Israel cried out to the Lord to deliver Jerusalem. God sent one angel. The power of one angel was enough to defeat a whole army!

36Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! (Isaiah 37:36).

The word angel literally means messenger. They were described as having a brilliant appearance. Often, the reaction when people encountered them in Scripture was to be afraid and to fall to the ground (Daniel 10:5-9). Meeting an angel is overwhelming to our physical state. We could say much about the holiness, power, and character of the angels, but suffice it to say that the believer in Christ, if he is to be like the angels, will be an awesome personality that will radiate the likeness of the Lord. Paul the Apostle told the Corinthian Church that God’s people would be “sown in weakness” but “raised in power” (I Corinthians 15:43). We are told in the book of Daniel the prophet, that those who are counted worthy, or wise, will radiate light when the end shall come and the dead are raised:

2Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12:2-3).

I don’t know about you, but I want that! Are you helping those around you to come to receive the righteousness of Christ? If you are, then you are wise!

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. To view, click here. Click on study 54. Luke 20:20-47. Questions About Eternity. Keith Thomas