12 things about the resurrection of Jesus you may not know

“But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of those who sleep….” (I Corinthians 15:20).

Even those who have served God all their lives need reminding of the importance of the resurrection of Jesus sometimes. Those new to the faith enjoy learning the full dimensions of the new life they have received in Christ.

Here are an even dozen aspects of the resurrection of Jesus that instruct our minds, inspire our hearts, and inform us all….

1) No one expected Jesus to rise from the dead.

Jesus’ resurrection was as much a shock to the disciples as His death had been. Thomas, known forever as the doubter, was merely voicing what most of them felt when he declared he would not believe in the risen Lord until He had done his own thorough investigation. (See John 20.)

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Those little “Oh my goodness” moments

“Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your heart” (Hebrews 4:7).

God was there, and I knew it not.

That night, on the run from his brother and facing an uncertain future with family members he was yet to meet for the first time, and dealing with his own self-centered deceiving nature which had got him in this mess and brought him to this how-do-you-do, Jacob had a dream.

“Behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.  And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac….” (Genesis 28:10ff)

Wow. The Lord is here. In this very place.  And He has my number.

That can be unsettling, humbling, and life-changing. As it was for Jacob.

Ever felt the Lord call your name?

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Tasks that are finished and ships that have sailed

“It is finished” (John 19:30).

In a panel discussion regarding the movie “Saving Mr. Banks,” actor Tom Hanks, who plays Walt Disney in the film, tells of the final conversation between Disney and the creator of Mary Poppins, P. L. Travers.

“Just after the premiere of the movie, Mrs. Travers said, ‘Oh, we have much work to do on this movie, Mr. Disney. Much work indeed.’ Disney said to her, ‘Pam, that ship has sailed,’ and walked away.”

Hanks says, “It was the last time they ever spoke.”

That ship has sailed.

It’s a wonderful expression to indicate tasks that are over and should now be set aside, events that are now history and cannot be improved on, and projects that are completed and cannot be tampered with.

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Sometimes saying less is more; but rarely.

“…and if necessary, use words.”

St. Francis of Assisi said we should preach the gospel, and if necessary, with words.

Or did he?

The online source called Wikiquotes has a dozen or more variations of the “preach the gospel; if necessary use words” line.  But they say, there is no indication St. Francis ever said anything of the sort.

I suspect the reason that line appeals to many of us is that we tire of all the wordiness of God’s people, frequently as a substitute for action. The danger is we may react too far in the opposite direction.

Words are a big, big deal to the Lord God–the One who spoke the world into being!–as well as to believers.  We hold in our hands a book we call “The Word,” and the pastor brings God’s message from it every Sunday.

“Take with you words and turn to the Lord,” the prophet Hosea told Israel (14:2).

Words are so important that the Lord Jesus Himself is called The Word (John 1:1ff.).

And yet, there are times when words get in the way, and quietness is called for.

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To those of us who love money

“Now, the Pharisees who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at Him” (Luke 16:14).

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money….” (II Timothy 3:1-2).

We are conditioned from infancy to love money.

In childhood: Family and friends come to the house and they give the kids money. You go into the hospital for a tonsillectomy and people give you money. You go to church and they ask for money. Your dad takes a job in a distant state and the family relocates there, all for money.  A few years later, the business shuts down and dad is jobless and the family moves back South and you say goodbye to your friends, because there is no money.

And later: You go to college and they ask for money. You take a part-time job to make spending money. You are walking along the sidewalk and you find money. You take a job working in a church and to your surprise, they pay you. You go to a larger church and they pay you more, which is a good thing since you now have to buy a house and send kids to school.

And so goes life.

When you are as rich as Donald Trump, the actual money no longer matters.  One can only eat so much food, wear so many clothes, drive so many automobiles, and live in so many houses.  “Money is how you keep score,” Mr. Trump says.

It turns out money is the smoking gun.  The Pharisees who were the Tea Party of their day–and by that we mean the diehard conservatives, the only true traditionalists, they felt–could be almost excused for their opposition to Jesus on the grounds that He was reinterpreting all the scriptures as they understood them.  Except that their motives were not quite that pure. They lived for money, in the same way untold generations before and after have done.

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Why this generation is so lost

“…holding to a form of godliness, althought they have denied its power….always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:5,7).

Anyone looking for the smoking gun which will explain this generation’s gradual, casual descent into despair and darkness need look no further.

In Second Timothy chapter 3, the Apostle Paul, facing a second trial before Caesar which would end in his beheading, is alerting God’s people to the dangers awaiting them. He says, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, althought they have denied its power, and avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

And that’s just the church people! (see note at the end)

Two things in particular stand out about this generation–if indeed we apply the term “the last days” to our own generation–and qualify as “the smoking gun,” referred to above.

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Options the Lord did not leave open to us

“If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12)


Over the years, in theological debates between liberals and conservatives, I recall hearing some say, “The Bible is not a book of science and never was meant to be.  It is not a history book, in the same way it’s not a cook book or a travel guide.  It is reliable in terms of spiritual matters, but should not be expected to get the other things right.”

On the surface, that sounds reasonable enough. Anyone who has read the Bible with discernment admits there are places in Scripture that challenge our understanding as we try to reconcile its teaching with other things we (ahem) “know to be true.”  (This would include the Creation, Noah’s Flood, miracles of one type or the other, and of course, the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection.)

Is it possible to accept Scripture when it speaks of salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life but reject it on lesser matters?

The Lord Jesus, in His conversation with Nicodemus, closes that door and removes that option. He tells this “ruler of the Jews” three things:

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Why so few give thanks

“And Jesus said, ‘Were there not ten (lepers) cleansed? But the nine–where are they?  Was no one found who turned back to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:11-19)

A friend doing a study on the healing of the ten lepers wondered why only one returned to give thanks to Jesus.  When he posted his question on Facebook, he received a myriad of answers.

I’ve thought about the question ever since and have come to a conclusion. Each man had his own reason for not returning to Jesus to say ‘thank you.’

1) One did not return to give thanks because he wanted to wait and see if this miracle was lasting. There would be plenty of time for that later.

2) One was so excited to go tell his family and friends, he did not have time to stop and worship.

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Confidence: What it is and where to get the best kind

“Now, as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were  uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

The religious authorities–rulers, elders, scribes, Annas the godfather of high priests, Caiaphas, his son-in-law and present high priest, and others of high priestly lineage–were stunned. They had not seen this before.

A small group of nobodies, untrained and unlettered rough fishermen-types, stood before them, resisting them and speaking up as eloquently and boldly as though they themselves were in charge.

Who did they think they were?

The authorities were used to people cowering in their presence.  They spoke and no one dared to say otherwise. They decreed, and it was so. No one dared defy them.

And yet, that’s what was happening today.

“Where did they get this confidence?” the rulers asked each other.

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Christmas Curmudgeons

“I bring you good news of great joy!” (Luke 2:10)

I love almost everything about Christmas. I love the Nativity scenes, the displays of lights, the cool weather, the festive clothing, the songs (well, most of them), the carols, the special foods, the candies and pastries, the church services, the pageants, the gift-giving, and even the crowded malls. I love the high-flying decorations downtowns attach to street lamps, and the happy songs about snow-falling and sleigh-riding even though I live in the too-warm South, and I even enjoy stories about Santa Claus. I love the Christmas specials on television, including the cartoons about Peanuts and Frosty and Rudolph (not that I actually watch them; but I like knowing they’re there).

If you feel called to point out all that is wrong about this happiest of all seasons, you will probably want to find another audience, because I love Christmas.


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