Let’s hear from those women!

Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.  It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles.  And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.  –Luke 24:9-11

It was a cultural thing, we are told.  Women were not considered reliable witnesses.  The Jewish writer Josephus said, “But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex.”  I’m not sure what precisely he meant, but I know what the effect was meant to be:  Keep women in their place.

Thank God for the women.  One of many reasons I love the Gospel According to Luke is the place it gives to women.  Consider…

Luke 8:1-2 The women supported Jesus.   Now, it came to pass afterward that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.  And the twelve were with Him and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities–Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.

Ask any traveling preacher.  Someone has to support them financially.  Thank God for these women who believed in Jesus and supported Him.

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Favorite scriptures on Christ’s resurrection

As a college student, I doubted the resurrection of Jesus in a sense.  I believed it in a spiritual sense–whatever that means–but “just knew” that there was no real evidence for this historically and that Christians had to take this doctrine, this “truth,” by faith.  Which means of course that I had a lousy foundation for my faith in Christ.

And then when I was 25 years old and a seminary student, I opened the latest issue of Christianity Today magazine–they gave free subscriptions to seminarians–and read a life-changing article by a British law professor named J. N. D. Anderson on “Evidences for the resurrection.”  I was stunned, and blessed out of my socks to learn there is genuine, I-can-prove-it-to-you evidence for the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.  My faith grew by a mile in one hour.

Later, when Professor Anderson enlarged the article into a book, I bought it and reveled in it.  Since then, I have been delighted to see many have written such helpful books.  See below for a couple.

Here are some favorite Scriptural texts on the resurrection of our Lord….

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The ultimate game-changer: The resurrection of Jesus and why it scares people

Jesus showed Himself alive by “many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3).  

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” (I Thessalonians 4:14).

If Jesus really did rise from the dead, then nothing is the same and everything has changed forever.

The reason Christians are positively giddy about the Easter Event–the resurrection of Jesus–is that in walking out of that tomb and leaving it forever empty,  He broke the stranglehold in which death had held humanity.

We are free.  We are free forever. We are free to live forever.

It doesn’t get any better than this.

Clearly, everything stands or falls on whether Jesus rose from the dead that first Easter Sunday morning.

The resurrection of Jesus was Heaven’s imprimatur on Jesus’s ministry, the Father’s validation of Jesus’ every claim, eternity’s “amen” to Jesus’ promises, and convincing evidence that Jesus Christ is everything He said He was.

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Jesus did indeed claim to be God. Why that matters.

“How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe.  The works that I do in my Father’s name, these bear witness of me.  But you do not believe because you are not of my sheep.  My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me….” (John 10:24-27).

If Jesus Christ is not the God-man, then we’re out of business and the universe is in the dark.

Nothing is more basic to the Christian faith and everyone’s hope than His deity.

Theological liberals like to say Jesus never claimed to be God, that this claim was put in HIs mouth by Christians who came later.

What fun they have with the story of Jesus.

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They had the greatest message ever, but needed one thing more. So do we.

I told a friend once that if I have gone to seed on anything in Christian theology, it’s the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I’m about to qualify that. As essential an element in the Christian faith as it is, the resurrection of our Lord did not end the fears, settle the nerves, conquer the phobias, or break the chains with which the early disciples were bound. It took one thing more.

To be sure, when the Lord Jesus Christ walked out of that garden tomb on the first Easter Sunday morning, it settled a lot of issues. His identity was forever established. His claims were solidly substantiated. His promises had just received the guarantee of Heaven.

When Jesus arose victorious from the grave, His enemies were routed. His opponents were silenced (or should have been, had they possessed a smidgen of integrity). His executioners were shamed. A bamboozled Satan and his imps were beside themselves with rage.

The resurrection of Jesus answers our questions, excites our hopes, and escalates our anticipation. It draws us back to the Scripture, back to the Church, and back to a new reality.

No wonder the disciples’ later preaching centered on the single key ingredient of belief in Jesus’ return from the grave as an essential element of saving faith. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus Christ as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

Settle that–that Jesus actually died on that cross, that He lay in that grave from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning, then walked out whole and healthy–and so many things fall into place.

Everything, that is, except one. And we see it in the Lord’s disciples, as recorded in John 20.

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If there is a God and God is like Jesus, then, what’s the problem?

“Come now and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). 

“Why should it be thought incredible by you that God should raise the dead?”  (Acts 26:8).

If there is a God, and if this God is the omnipotent Creator of the universe, then a thousand questions are settled.

–If God is God, then raising the dead should be no big deal.  After all, He made the universe of nothing and made humans from the dust of the earth, so anything after that should be a piece of cake.

–If this God exists, then the Person of Jesus Christ with all that Scripture affirms about Him is completely logical.  Jesus said, “No one has been to Heaven except the One who came from there, even the Son of Man,” referring to Himself (John 3:13).

–If God is God, then a Virgin Birth is no more miraculous than any other birth, which is to say, every birth is a miracle of the highest order.  Ask any new parent holding their treasure for the first time.

–If God is God, then the miracles Jesus worked during His earthly years were little more than child’s play.  Turn water to wine, feed thousands with a child’s lunch, heal the blind, raise the dead.  This is the God who spoke the worlds into being (Hebrews 11:3). What’s the problem?

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Five things I want the grieving to know about death

One: It’s not wrong to hate death; our Lord hated it also.

He broke up every funeral procession He came to by raising the dead.  Scripture calls death an enemy (I Corinthians 15).

Two:  Scripture says death is out of business.

“Shall never die” (John 11:25-26).  Jesus promised that.   “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).

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Laying aside the earthly. You might want to get ready for this.

“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”  (2 Corinthians 5:1)

“We do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:4)

My wife gets attached to cars. I do not.  Recently, I gave my 2015 Camry to my oldest granddaughter.  I’ve done that several times before–starting with the ’96 Camry to my son many years back, later the ’05 to a granddaughter, the ’09 to our twin granddaughters, the ’13 Honda C-RV to my son, and now this one.  I’m happy to pass them along, and as one might expect, they enjoy getting them.

To me a car is a thing, an instrument we use.  My oldest granddaughter names them.  The ’05 is Sandy and this ’15 is Pearl (names based on their colors).  Like most cowboys in the old west, I don’t name my mounts.  I take good care of them and have them serviced by the dealer on the recommended schedule, and thus have almost no trouble from the car.  But when it’s time to replace it with a newer version, I’m happy to let it go.

Think of that as a parable.  We let things go so they can be replaced by something better.

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Easter Foolishness

Here are twelve things we church leaders do on Easter Sunday that undermine our own effectiveness in reaching people for the Lord Jesus….

1) We fuss at those who come.

“Well, good morning! We would like to welcome those of you we’ve not seen since Christmas!  Hope you had a good winter!”

I put this in the same category as those who begin a worship service by rebuking the congregation.  You’ve heard this, and possibly done it (I have): “Well, good morning, church!”  And then, “Oh, come on.  You can do better than that.  Good morning, church!”  Oh great.  We begin the greatest hour of the week by fussing at the people of God.

2) We put on a “dog and pony show” instead of preaching the gospel.

Whatever we do to attract people to our church will be required to keep them. So, if we put on a spectacular to get people in but follow it with our normal run-of-the-mill uninspired preaching/singing/etc., we are doing no one any good.

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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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