April 4, 2021
So, Easter is over! Now what? We often have a spiritual let down after Easter. We have expressed the greatest of worship and praise for all that Jesus accomplished during Holy Week. His death burial and resurrection – the Gospel – is now complete. Do we just go back to spiritual life as normal? What is next?
I am so glad that the Bible doesn’t end with the four gospels. I am so thankful for the Epistles. These books show us the results of the gospel. They teach us what life after the resurrections is all about. I believe that Jesus understood this possible struggle in the life of those first century believers after they came to grips with the resurrection (just my opinion).
Of course, we await the coming Pentecost, the giving of the Holy Spirit. This part of the story is critical to our lives going forward in the work of Jesus Christ. Without the Holy Spirit, our lives would be filled with failure and lack hope. We would struggle to understand the most basic of Christian thought and teaching. It is by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that the Scriptures were written and it is also by His power that we can have understanding of their significance to life and practice.
But I was reading a devotional thought that asked the question, “Why did Jesus linger for 40 days?” The easy answer is that he needed to make sure that his resurrection was well established with many witnesses. I believe this is what we can easily glean form the scriptures that speak of these 40 days. But let me share with you a small picture that the writer of the devotion shared.
Why did he linger? Jesus had endured the worst of the world. He had slept in its stables and faced its beasts. He had borne its insults and faithlessness. He had tasted its tears and vinegar. He had cringed under its whips and thorns, and agonized under its spikes and sins. He descended to the deepest place a soul can go, to a dungeon which no key had ever unlocked. So, when he had wrenched the heavy doors of death from their hinges and walked free why did he linger in the graveyard? Even the most breathtaking spring dawn has about it the pall of death compared to the fragrances and breezes of heaven.
Why did he linger when all heaven waited to welcome him? With the chance to bound from the pit of impenetrable darkness to the glory of ineffable light, from the screams of demons to the songs of the angels, from the agony of death to the ecstasy of glory, why did he linger? When all of heaven waited to welcome him home, when a new song waited to be sung, when the throne awaited its king and the crowns their sole sovereign, why would he linger to be mistaken for a gardener at the grave? Why return for Thomas’ skeptical examination? Why stroll unrecognized with the grief-stricken disciples? Why did he linger?
Upon the cross Christ had cried with his dying breath, “It is finished.” Salvation was secured. Death defeated. The Holy Spirit ready for his Pentecostal arrival. It seemed as though there were no loose ends left, no details unattended, no work undone. So why would he linger?
He lingered for love’s sake, of course, to convince his followers—more than 500 eyewitnesses—that he was indeed alive. Not just resuscitated either, but a new Adam, fashioned not from dust but the firstborn from among the dead. When he breathed on his disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he gave them their first inkling that they would no longer be what they had been. Ever since, faith in Christ vitalizes us with the breath of his life, day in and day out, now and forever. (Emphasis added)
(From Preaching Today, He Lingered, by Lee Eclov)
Jesus’ desire is that none should perish but that all should receive eternal life. He had already suffered the worst imaginable price for the sake of this call. While Jesus could have ascended to heaven immediately and experienced the fulness of its blessings, he chose to wait yet a little longer to prepare us for what was next. He loves us that much.
How often do we miss opportunities to pour out the love of Christ on others because of other things that we would prefer? I have to hurry to my appointment. My dinner is waiting. It is past my bedtime. These are simplistic excuses but you get the point. Jesus lingered because the message needed to go out and those who spread it needed to fully understand. He loves us that much. How much do we love others, especially the lost?
Receive God’s blessing as you contemplate today.
Wow! What a service we had yesterday. The Holy Spirit sure invested in guiding us throughout the morning. He is always with us, especially when we gather for worship. But sometimes the manifestation of His presence is overwhelming. That was the case yesterday.
It is such a joy to serve the Lord in a church that so many people are well connected with the Lord. I am not just speaking about salvation but also about growth in our relationship with Him. This leads to committed service to Him and the people around us as well.
I know that yesterday as we worked through 1 John 1:5-10, I was speaking to many who have already understood and adopted that teaching into their own lives. I am aware that so many in this congregation have vital and growing spiritual walks with the Lord. But I know from my own experience that it is easy to allow what we know to be true to become intellectual alone with little practice of the truth.
I believe that God in His infinite wisdom brought us all a reminder of truth yesterday. I believe that many, including myself, needed to understand just how important our intimacy with Christ truly is both to us and to Him. And He showed us that even the simplest of sin in our life that is not dealt with puts us on a path away from Him.
I count it a joy to walk this path with all of you this week. I started my day praying the very things I encouraged you to pray. I then prayed that each of us would recognize the significance of this commitment. I prayed that we would all experience a fuller and more complete walk with the Lord this week. I prayed that each of you would have an ever-deepening desire for intimacy with the Lord. I believe that He will answer these prayers.
Do something special this week. Remember the challenge to memorize 1 John 1:9. Also, be encouraged to spend that 10 minutes. But do one more thing. As you see what God is doing through this in your life, write it down. Celebrate how God is specifically working in your life by immortalizing it in the written word. Then share it with others. Encourage one another by sharing what God is doing in your life. Even share it with those who don’t know Christ. It may be just what they need to move a step closer to receiving the Lord.
I know that God is working. I want to hear the specifics about how he is working on your life.
May God richly bless you today and throughout this week.