Jesus Ascends to Heaven

Bible:

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:6-11 ESV

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God. Luke 24:50-52 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever seen a baby monitor? A baby monitor is useful for parents when their babies are asleep in a different room. The parents can look at the monitor and see how their baby is doing, and if he or she is asleep or if the baby is okay. They can also hear if the baby cries or any other noise in the bedroom. The baby can’t see the parents watching, but they are there, and they can help their baby if there is a problem.

When Jesus went up to heaven, he hadn’t broken the promise that he would always be with his people. The Lord hadn’t left the disciples he loved, but he took away the ability for them to see him and to touch him. Jesus reclaimed his power and authority as the king who rules with God the Father, and because of that, he can be with everyone and help and hear the prayers of all people all the time, all over the world. He doesn’t just help us when he sees we’re in trouble and need his help, but instead he is constantly with us to show his love and tell his message through us. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit so that his people could be his witnesses. We can tell others what Jesus has done for us, and we don’t have to worry about what God is doing through the history and events of this world. Jesus told his disciples to leave the times and seasons to God, their Heavenly Father, and to focus on what he has given us to do.

There were two men in white robes who appeared to the disciples as they kept looking up into heaven after Jesus had disappeared from their sight. These actually were angels, and  they told the disciples that Jesus would someday return. When that happens, everyone will see him. This is a wonderful promise for everyone who believes that he died to take our sins away. We know that when Jesus comes again, he will take us to be with him forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being with us and being our king, and for taking care of and helping people all around the world. Amen.

The Great Commission

Bible:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 ESV

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. II Corinthians 5:18-21 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a story that, while Jesus lived on earth, he got a letter from the king of a city called Edessa. This king, named Abgarus, had heard about Jesus and that he could heal the sick, and the king believed that Jesus must be the Son of God. King Abgarus was sick, and he invited Jesus to come and visit him and heal him. The king said that he would welcome Jesus into his city. Jesus answered King Abgarus’ letter and said that he had to do what God had sent him to do and then return to heaven, so he couldn’t come to Edessa. However, he said that after that he would send one of his disciples to the king, who would cure him of his disease and give life to everyone in the city.

This story may not be true, but it tells something that is true. Jesus completely finished the work his Heavenly Father had given him to do. He died to pay for the sins of the whole world, and then rose again from the dead to defeat death and win eternal life for everyone who believes in him. But Jesus also left work for his people to do. When he met again with his disciples in Galilee, he told them that they should go to all the people from all over the world and make disciples for him. They should teach people everything that Jesus had taught them, and give them the gift of new life by baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then Jesus gave a wonderful promise. He said that he would be with them until the world and time would come to an end.

Jesus continues his work today through his people. We are part of what he told his first disciples to do. We share the good news of his love and forgiveness with people we meet as we go through life, and we also send and support missionaries to take the Gospel to people from other parts of the world. Not only do we have the privilege of having Jesus work through us, but we also have the promise that he will be with us always, no matter what.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for sending us to share your good news with others, and for being with us and working through us. Amen.

Source:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/lbob/lbob09.htm

Do You Love Me?

Bible:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21:15-19 ESV

And [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. Luke 9:23-24 ESV

Reflection:

There’s an old story about Peter. He proclaimed the Gospel in the city of Rome for many years, but then came a time when he knew that he was about to be arrested and put to death. Peter was afraid, and he ran away from Rome so he wouldn’t have to face death. On his way out of Rome he met Jesus, and asked him, “Where are you going, Lord?” Jesus replied, “I am going to Rome to be crucified again.” Peter then felt ashamed of himself for running away, and he returned to Rome. When he was taken away to be put to death, he asked the soldiers to crucify him upside down, because he didn’t think he was worthy to die in the same way that Jesus had died.

This story probably isn’t true, although it is true that Peter was put to death in Rome many years after our Bible reading. When Peter met Jesus on the shore of the lake, he sat with him by a charcoal fire, and remembered another charcoal fire some days earlier, where he had stood and denied three times that he even knew who Jesus was. Now Jesus lovingly gave Peter a chance to repent of what he had done and to know Jesus’ forgiveness. He asked Peter three times if Peter loved him, and Peter said three times that he did. Each time, Jesus told Peter to feed or take care of his lambs and sheep. Jesus let Peter know that he had forgiven him and that he had work for Peter to do. Peter would feed children and adult with the good news of Jesus’ love. But this wonderful work would cost him his life in the end. Jesus warned Peter that he would die because of this work, but that this death would glorify God.

Jesus calls all of his people to be willing to face death for his sake. Not all of Jesus’ followers are put to death the way Peter was, but all of us take up our cross to follow Jesus every day. We take up our cross when, like Peter, we repent of the ways we fall short of God’s ways and know that we need his forgiveness, and that we can’t earn it for ourselves. When we know that forgiveness, we are able to love and serve others and to obey God’s call in our lives, even when it’s difficult or causes us suffering and trouble. Jesus is always with us to give us strength and help and to forgive us when we go wrong, and he will bring us home to be with him forever when our lives are over.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, please help us to follow you and to do what you want us to do. Please forgive us when we fall short. Amen.

It is the Lord!

Bible:

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. John 21:1-14 ESV

I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph. Psalm 77:11-15 ESV

Reflection:

Jean Valjean had been a criminal and had spent time in jail, but thanks to a kind priest who had helped him, he became an honest and kind man. However, there was a police inspector named Javert who was trying to track him down. He didn’t recognize the rich man who called himself Monsieur Madeleine who owned a business and took good care of his workers. But one day while Madeleine was walking down the street, he saw a man caught under the wheels of a carriage. Monsieur Madeleine was a very strong man, and he was able to pull the carriage off the man with almost superhuman strength. This made Inspector Javert suspicious. He remembered that the criminal Jean Valjean had also been very strong, and he had never met another man as strong as that. Inspector Javert didn’t know for sure that Madeleine was Jean Valjean, but he decided to watch him closely.

When some of Jesus’ disciples went fishing, they didn’t catch any fish all night long. In the morning there was a stranger on the beach, and he called out to them that they should throw their nets out from the other side of their boat. The disciples did this, and they caught a huge haul of fish right away. While the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus, John remembered that Jesus had done something like this before, and he said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Peter was so excited that he jumped into the water and swam to the shore. The other disciples brought their boat in with the fish, and Peter dragged the net to the shore. Jesus had made them some breakfast on a coal fire, and he invited them to eat with him. They all knew it was Jesus, and they were afraid to say, “Who are you?” They recognized him by the miracle he had done for them.

We don’t always recognize Jesus in our lives, either, even though he is always with us. But he gives us his word, the Bible, and sends us his Holy Spirit to help us see and know him. We sometimes want to see Jesus show us wonderful miracles, but what we most need from him is his forgiveness and his love. He went to the cross to earn our forgiveness, and he gives us the miracle of his resurrection to give us life with him now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, help us to see you and know you in our lives through your word. Amen.

Source:

Hugo, Victor Les Miserables Paris: A. Lacroix, Verboeckhoven & Cie., 1862

Doubting Thomas

Bible:

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:24-29 ESV

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be  against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-38 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a story that after Jesus returned to heaven, the disciple Thomas was told by Jesus in a dream that he should take the Gospel to India, but he refused to go. Then one day Thomas was in the marketplace and met a rich nobleman and started to talk with him. Another man joined them, a man who said his name was Abbanes, and that he was from India. Abbanes said that he had come to buy a slave, and then the rich nobleman said that he had a slave to sell. Abbanes wanted to see the slave, and the nobleman said that Thomas was his slave. The man from India bought Thomas, and then the rich nobleman said that he was Jesus. Thomas realized that it was actually Jesus who had sold him, and he knew then that he needed to obey Jesus and go to India.

This is only a story, but it’s true that Thomas carried the Gospel to India. There are some Christians in India today who trace the beginning of their church all the way back to the Apostle Thomas! We don’t know if Thomas was reluctant to go to India, but we do know that he was very reluctant to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. In fact, he said that he wouldn’t believe it until he had seen and touched Jesus for himself. So a week later, he was with the other disciples when Jesus came to them again, and Jesus told Thomas to touch the nail scars in his hands and the scar in his side where the soldier’s spear had pierced him. Then Thomas believed, and said, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said that people who heard the message that Thomas and the other disciples would bring and believe it would be blessed.

We all have doubts the way Thomas did. We might wonder if the glorious Easter story is really true, but even if we don’t doubt Jesus’ resurrection, we still have doubts. We might see our sins and wonder if God truly loves and forgives us, or we might wonder if God still loves us and is with us when we have troubles and problems. When someone we love who believed in Jesus dies, we sometimes feel terribly sad and we wonder if Jesus’ promise of eternal life with him is really true. We might feel as if everything is against us, and doubt everything good that Jesus gives us through his death and resurrection. But Jesus comes to us through his word and gives us his promises once again, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to take away our doubts and reassure us that he is with us forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, please help us when we have doubts, and help us believe in you and know that you are with us. Amen.

Source:

Gauer, Joseph The Lore of the New Testament Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1952, p. 251.

Feeding a Ghost

Bible:

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Luke 24:36-43 ESV

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV

Reflection:

In the early spring the Chinese people have what is called the “Ching Ming,” or Clear Brightness festival. This is a time to honor people in the family who have died, and people go to the graves of their loved ones and clean them off and to offer them food. A delicious meal is put in front of the graves, which might include roast pig or chicken. Most Chinese people who do this believe that the spirits, or ghosts, of the dead people can come back and see them and the food they are offering, and even in some way “eat” the food. But the ghosts of their loved ones don’t really eat the food. In most cases, the families will eat the food after they’ve let it sit out for the spirits of the dead for awhile. In fact, there is a custom that will show them whether the ghosts are finished eating. They will flip a coin two times. If they get two heads or two tails, that means that their ancestors’ ghosts aren’t finished eating, but if they get a head and a tail, that means that they are finished.

On Easter evening, when the travelers to Emmaus had returned to Jerusalem and were telling the disciples about seeing Jesus, suddenly Jesus himself stood among them, blessing them with the words, “Peace to you.” John’s gospel tells us that they had locked the doors because they were afraid of the religious leaders, but just as Jesus had left his grave even though there was a heavy stone blocking it, so he also wouldn’t be stopped by a locked door! The disciples were really scared, and thought that he must be a ghost, but Jesus reassured them that he wasn’t a ghost. He had a real body with flesh and bones, and they could touch him if they wanted to. He showed them his hands and his feet, marked with the scars of the nails that had held him to the cross. Then he asked them for something to eat. Ghosts can’t eat meals, because they don’t have bodies to take in the food, but when they gave him some fish, he ate it in front of them. They didn’t have to flip coins to know if he had eaten, because he had a real body to take in the food.

We can’t completely understand what Jesus’ risen body was like when he appeared to his followers. They could touch him and hold onto him, and he could eat food, but he could also appear and disappear from sight and go through locked doors and heavy stones. Jesus is everywhere, and that’s how he can be with all his people around the world at the same time. We can be sure that he isn’t just a spirit or a ghost, but instead he is the same Jesus who died on the cross for us and came out of his grave. He is completely God, and he is completely human, and he gives us the peace of his presence, and the forgiveness of all our sins, and of life with him now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for all the gifts of your resurrection, especially the peace of your presence. Amen.

Source:

https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/features/2010/04/01/qingming-etiquette/

Recognizing the Stranger

Bible:

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. Luke 24:28-35 ESV

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. II Thessalonians 3:16 ESV

Reflection:

A long time ago Duke William of Normandy took his troops and invaded England, and there was a great battle for the control of England. At one point during the battle the Norman troops heard rumors that their leader, Duke William, was dead, and they became discouraged. The Norman line began to retreat and the English soldiers started to chase them. But then William, who had not died, rode furiously at his soldiers and threatened them with his spear. He pulled off his helmet and shouted, “Look at me, I’m alive and with the aid of God I will gain the victory!” When his troops saw his red hair, they knew their leader and realized he wasn’t dead. This was the turning point of the battle, and the Normans went on to victory.

The two followers of Jesus had walked along the road to Emmaus with the stranger who had explained to them the meaning of the Bible and how it all pointed to the promised Savior’s death and resurrection. When they reached their home, their companion pretended he was going to continue his journey, but they urged him to stay at their home because it was getting late. So he came into their home with them, and the three of them sat down to eat dinner. The stranger picked up the bread and blessed it by thanking God, and then broke it and gave each of them a piece. This is what the host of the meal would usually do, but instead their guest did this, and as soon as he did, they realized it was Jesus! It wasn’t the color of his hair or any special way he looked, but instead the way he acted as their host that made them recognize him. As soon as they did, Jesus disappeared from their sight. But they knew the truth, that Jesus was alive and that everything that had happened to him was according to God’s plan. They said that his teaching along the road had made their hearts burn with joy, and full of that joy they hurried all the way back to Jerusalem to tell the others. In the meantime, Jesus had also appeared to Peter, but the Bible doesn’t tell us anything more about that.

We know that Jesus is also with us even though we can’t see him. There is a saying that many Christian homes have used for a long time: “Christ is the head of this home, the unseen guest at every meal, and the silent listener to every conversation.” His death paid for our sins so that we could be his people, and his resurrection means that he is always with us. Jesus’ presence is good news for us, because he knows our needs and our sorrows and is able to help us. He forgives our sins and teaches us through his word, the Bible. We look forward to the day when we will be able to see him face to face.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being with us. Help us to always know you are there. Amen.

Source:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/normans/1066_01.shtml

Help from a Stranger

Bible:

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and  when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:13-27 ESV

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. II Corinthians 1:20-22 ESV

Reflection:

When my family and I were living in China, we took a trip across the country. We came to the city we wanted to visit, and we tried to buy return tickets at the train station. Unfortunately, we didn’t speak Chinese very well, and the person who was selling tickets couldn’t understand us, and we couldn’t understand him. We felt lost and worried, because we weren’t sure how we were going to get back to our home again if we couldn’t buy train tickets! But then another man who was standing nearby and had seen what was going on came up to us. He was a stranger to us, but he spoke English as well as Chinese. He explained to us how we could buy train tickets, and he helped us communicate with the ticket seller. Because of this man’s kindness and help, we didn’t feel lost or afraid or alone anymore. We understood how we would be able to get back to our home and when to catch our train.

On the evening of Easter Sunday, two of Jesus’ followers were walking home from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus. They were feeling lost and alone and very sad, because some terrible things had happened. The one they had thought was God’s promised Savior, Jesus, had died on the cross, and all their hope seemed to have died with him. They had heard some of the women say that they had seen angels who had told them that Jesus had risen, and that the tomb was empty, but none of this made any sense to them. As they were walking and trying to figure things out, a stranger joined them and started walking with them. He asked them what they were talking about, and they told him their story. This stranger was able to help them understand many things. He went through the whole Bible that they had, what we call the Old Testament, and showed them that the promised Savior had to suffer and die, but then he would enter into his glory. Because of this stranger’s help, these two followers of Jesus started to understand why Jesus had died. They didn’t feel so lost or sad anymore.

The stranger, of course, was Jesus, but he kept them from recognizing him. He wanted them to listen to his teaching and understand why he had died and come back to life again. Jesus also comes to us when we’re worried or afraid, alone or sad. He helps us understand that he is with us and that he will never leave us. Jesus speaks to us through his word, the Bible, just as he used the Bible to teach the two travelers on the road. Jesus teaches us the things we need to know about him and about our life with him. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us understand that he died so that our sins could be forgiven, and rose again to give us life forever, and that no matter what happens to us, we are his people.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to walk with us on our journey and helping us to understand our life with you. Amen.

A Cover-up

Bible:

While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. Matthew 28:11-15 ESV

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.
The violence of the wicked will sweep them away,
because they refuse to do what is just.
The way of the guilty is crooked,
but the conduct of the pure is upright. Proverbs 21:6-8 ESV

Reflection:

Peter was in trouble. Greg, Peter, and Bobby had been playing basketball in the house when a wild throw by Peter broke his mother’s favorite vase. Peter was upset, because he knew he’d be grounded for what he had done, and he wanted to go camping with his friends that weekend. So the boys glued the vase back together again, but when their mom put some flowers and water into the vase the glue didn’t hold, and water poured out through the cracks. Then all five of Peter’s brothers and sisters tried to take the blame for breaking the vase to cover up for Peter so he wouldn’t be grounded.

The guards at the tomb were also in serious trouble. They had been responsible to make sure that no one entered the tomb or took away Jesus’ body, but when the angel rolled the stone away and broke the Roman seal, they were terribly frightened, and then they found that the tomb was already empty! What could they do? They would be facing some serious punishment. They went into town and told the religious leaders what had happened. The religious leaders gave the guards some money to bribe them to tell a lie. They were supposed to tell everyone that they had fallen asleep, and then that the disciples had come and stolen Jesus’ body. This was a dangerous lie, because falling asleep on guard duty could have been punished by death. But the religious leaders promised that they would cover up what had happened and make sure the guards weren’t punished. So that’s the lie that they told.

The guards and religious leaders missed out on the wonderful truth of Jesus’ resurrection because of their schemes and lies. The guards were too afraid to face the truth, and the religious leaders were too angry and jealous. They preferred to tell a story instead of believing that Jesus had risen from the dead. His resurrection changes everything. It shows that our sins are forgiven and that death and evil have been defeated for all time. It means we have life forever with the Lord. We don’t want to cover up Jesus’ resurrection, but instead we want to share the good news with everyone!

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for rising again from the dead to defeat sin and death and the devil for us. Amen.

Source:

Radnitz, Brad (Writer) & Mayberry, Russ (Director). (1970). Confessions, Confessions [Television series episode]. Howard Leeds (Producer), The Brady Bunch. New York: American Broadcasting Company.

Tears Turned into Joy

Bible:

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. John 20:11-18 ESV

[Jesus said:] “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” Revelation 1:17b-18 ESV

Reflection:

Geppetto was a old woodcarver who had made a wooden puppet named Pinocchio, who had come to life to be his son. Some time later Geppetto was swallowed by a whale named Monstro, so Pinocchio got himself swallowed also to rescue his father. They built a fire inside the whale to make Monstro sneeze, and when he sneezed, they were blown out. But Monstro became very angry, and he went after their raft and smashed it. Pinocchio pulled Geppetto to safety, but in doing so, he died. Geppetto was heartbroken and brought Pinocchio’s wooden body home and laid it on his bed. He knelt beside the bed, crying for his son. Then a fairy came in and brought Pinocchio back to life, no longer as a puppet, but instead as a real boy. Pinocchio asked Geppetto why he was crying, and Geppetto said, “Because you are dead, Pinocchio.” Pinocchio tried to tell his father that he wasn’t dead, but Geppetto said, “Yes, yes you are!” But finally he looked up and saw Pinocchio, no longer a puppet, but a real boy, and his tears turned to great joy.

After Mary had gone to tell Peter and John that Jesus’ tomb was empty, she returned to look for Jesus’ body. She was heartbroken to have lost Jesus and to not even be able to take care of his body as one last gift of love. She saw two angels inside the tomb who asked her why she was weeping, and she said that someone had taken away her Lord, and she didn’t know where. Then Jesus himself stood by her, no longer dead, but alive with a glorified body that would never die. He also asked her why she was crying. Mary didn’t recognize him. Perhaps it was because she didn’t expect to see him, or because her eyes were blurry with tears, or perhaps Jesus had changed. Mary thought he was the gardener, and that maybe he knew where the body was. She begged him to let her have Jesus’ body to take care of. Then Jesus lovingly said her name, “Mary.” Mary knew him then! He told her to tell his disciples that he would soon go up to be with God his Father, and she went and told the disciples that she had seen Jesus and what he had said.

Jesus gave his life for us so that we could have new life with God, now and forever. Because of what Jesus has done for us, we can call God our Heavenly Father. Jesus’ resurrection means that after we die, our bodies won’t stay dead forever. Jesus will someday raise us to a new life, with bodies like his that will never die again. He gives us comfort when a loved one who believes in him dies, the comfort of knowing that death is not forever, and that we will all be together with him in heaven someday for all time.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving your life for us, and for turning our tears into joy by your resurrection. Amen.

Source:

Jackson, Wilfred, et al, dir. Pinocchio Disney Movies, 1940. Film.