Where is the Body?

Today’s reading is Acts 2.

Peter was certain David wasn’t strictly talking about himself in Psalm 16 because he could take the Jews to find David’s tomb. Are you catching the subtle test Peter is throwing out for all who were listening? It’s as if Peter was saying, “Do you want to prove me a liar? Take me to Jesus’s tomb.” That would have been easy. They could have questioned Pilate about who took the body. They could have found Joseph of Arimathea. They could have rolled back the stone. They could have produced the body. But they didn’t. We can find where Mohammed is buried. We can find where Joseph Smith is buried. We can find where Pope after Pope and Anglican Archbishop after Archbishop were buried. The world is littered with the tombs of religious leaders. Their followers pilgrimage to them year after year. But not Jesus. There is no tomb. We can’t find it because they couldn’t find the body. Praise God! Jesus arose!

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 2.

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A Sequel

Today’s reading is Acts 1.

“In the first book,” Luke begins reminding us that Acts is a sequel. In the first book, Luke dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach. This implies that the book we are about to read is about all Jesus is going to continue to do and teach. This isn’t really the Acts of the Apostles, it is the Acts of Jesus. Of course, Jesus isn’t physically present, rather He is working through the apostles and through the church that gets established. But that reminds us exactly what the church is. It is Christ’s body. The church is the incarnation of Christ in the world today. With that in mind, “Acts” is continuing on today. In a real sense, we are part of the sequel. It is not being recorded in Luke’s account, but it is being recorded in heaven. Christ is the head, we are His body. In our doing and teaching, when we follow where the head leads, Christ is continuing to act in the world today. Let’s be Jesus today.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 1.

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He Is Not Here, But Has Risen

Today’s reading is Luke 24.

“While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.'”

What else do we need to say?

He is risen. He is risen indeed!

Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 24.

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What’s Up with Barabbas?

Today’s reading is Luke 23.

What on earth is this about a guy named Barabbas? Okay, okay, you may have read the other gospel accounts about this guy and understand what is going on. But imagine for a moment that this was your first exposure to the gospel story. Luke doesn’t give us many details. All we have is some rebellious, murdering insurrectionist who gets to go free because the people ask that he be set free while innocent Jesus gets executed essentially for the same kinds of crimes Barabbas actually committed. And in this trade off, we see a powerful picture of what is actually happening as Jesus dies on the cross. A man, whose name literally means “son of the Father” by the way, guilty of insurrection and murder should go to the cross. He should be executed for his crimes. However, he doesn’t. On the other hand, a man, whose name means “God is salvation” by the way, completely innocent should never see a cross. But He does. Barabbas is us. We are the children of the Father who are guilty. We deserve the death. However, we are released. Jesus endures the death in our place. The one contrast between us and Barabbas is he was freed because the word of the people prevailed, we are freed because the Word of God prevailed. I often wonder how Barabbas behaved after witnessing Jesus condemned for his crimes and sins. How should he have behaved? How should he have thought of and related to Jesus from that day forward? That leads me to wonder about me. How should I behave? How should I relate to Jesus? What about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 23.

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Looking for Signs

Today’s reading is Luke 23.

When my oldest daughter was a toddler, Marita and I had to learn an important lesson. We would teach her how to sing a little song or recite a memory verse or she would say something really cute, then we would put her on display as if she were a little puppy trained to perform tricks. At first, she played along. But at some point, even as a little child, she realized something wasn’t quite right about this. Then it was like pulling teeth from a chicken to get her to perform on command. At first, we would get upset and treat these infractions like a matter of respect, obedience, and submission. However, we came to realize God didn’t bless us with children to entertain us, impress you, or perform tricks on command. She was our child, not our pet. This is a lesson we need to learn about Jesus. Since the very beginning, some have treated Jesus like a trained pet who is supposed to perform tricks on command. This was Herod’s approach. He had heard about the signs Jesus had performed. Rather than wanting to meet Jesus in order to worship Him, learn from Him, or submit to Him, he wanted to meet Jesus in order to get Jesus to perform for him. Jesus wasn’t playing along because He is neither pet nor court jester. He is King. He has demonstrated plenty of signs. We can either accept them or reject them. We can believe the testimony or disbelieve. What we cannot do, however, is demand He perform on command as the condition for our submission. After all, demanding He perform for us is the exact opposite of us submitting, and it is the exact opposite of faith. If He did act that way, it wouldn’t lead us to the proper relationship with Him anyway. If you don’t want to believe the testimonies recorded of the numerous signs Jesus performed, that is your business. But, please, don’t make the egregious mistake that Jesus is not exactly what and who the Bible says He is simply because He won’t act like your trained pet. Because, if He did, then He wouldn’t be exactly what and who the Bible says He is, would He?

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 23.

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Not Guilty!

Today’s reading is Luke 23.

“I find no guilt in this man.” That’s what Pilate said. He also said, “I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him.” Herod didn’t find any guilt in Him either. “Nothing deserving of death has been done by him.” “I have found in him no guilt deserving death.” The second thief on the cross even says, “This man has done nothing wrong.” The centurion at the foot of the cross, once Jesus has died, says, “Certainly this man was innocent!” Do you think Luke is trying to make a point? Is there something he wants to make sure we know about this whole sordid mess? Absolutely. This is an incredible miscarriage of justice. The guilty person isn’t being punished. Jesus is innocent. That is important because that point makes this death something more than merely a criminal execution. That makes this death a sacrifice. A lamb who silently faced His slaughter, Jesus faced the cross. He didn’t deserve it. I do. Yet because He endured it, I won’t. Thank You, Lord!

Today’s reading is Luke 23.

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And So It Begins

Today’s reading is Luke 22.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read the story or heard the story proclaimed. I know the victory with which the story will end. But there is always a part of me when we get to this part of Jesus’s story that wants it to take a different turn. Surely, this time all the people involved will realize how things ought to be. Judas will have learned his lesson and decide not to betray Jesus. Peter will have learned his lesson and decide not to deny Jesus. The Pharisees, scribes, chief Priests, and rulers of the Jews will have learned their lesson and decide not to crucify the Son of Man. Sometimes, I even want Jesus to teach them all a lesson, show them all who’s boss, and drop the bomb on them all. Yet, here I am reading for the thousandth time, and every one of these make the same mistakes over and over again. Well, Jesus wasn’t making a mistake. And, of course, that is the key. In this whole sordid mess, Jesus was the only one who knew what He was doing. And He was doing it for me. Because, as painful as it is for me to watch for the thousandth time, I am just like Judas, Peter, the Jewish leaders. You would think I had learned my lesson. But I have made the same mistakes over and over again. As a friend of mine reminds me, let’s not soften the blow. They weren’t mistakes, they were sins. I am a sinner, and I need what Jesus is giving. As much as I find it hard to read what Jesus is going to go through, it is the only thing that can save me. I need Him to keep making that choice. And so it begins. Judas is betraying Him. Peter is denying Him. The apostles are fleeing Him. The Jews are condemning Him. And it is all because I rebelled against Him, but He loves me anyway. Praise the Lord!

Monday’s reading is Luke 23.

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