Newsletter June, 2003

JUNE, 2003

He Is Risen

(Reading: Luke 24:1-8, 13-17, 25-31,36-40, 46-49) 
Some people asked me about rabbits and eggs as the Easter approaches, for they saw them everywhere in the markets and drugstores. I told them that the Easter bunny does not lay eggs! In fact, the Easter has nothing to do with rabbits or eggs. The world tries to confuse us from the real thing, just like Santa Claus was put into Christmas so we would not see Christ. Easter is about a new life that overcomes death, and gives us power for living and hope for tomorrow. Therefore, the resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of our faith. By the power of resurrection He proves His divine Son-ship, and shows us that all He has promised will be fulfilled. Because He lives, we can also live. One day He will come back to take us to where He is.

Sadly, the disciples of that day did not know and many people today do not know. Therefore, the Bible tells us that He was risen on the first day of the week. However, He did not go to the Father right way. He put off His full glorification for forty days on earth because the disciples did not know He was risen. Therefore, those forty days are very important in the ministry of Jesus. From His first arrival at nativity through His second coming, the ministry of Jesus could be represented by seven inseparable golden rings: His birth, the thirty hidden years, the crucifixion, the resurrection, the forty days, the ascension and His return. We often study His life on earth, or examine the teaching of Paul regarding the work of Christ. But we rarely look closely at those forty days after His resurrection, when He did some very important work. Let us briefly review it this morning.

We may observe that He worked in three aspects: First, He came to seek the disciples. The most outstanding recording by Luke in Chapter 24 is the trip of the two disciples going down from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a little village about seven miles westward. On that downhill journey, the Bible said that they looked sad. After Jesus was crucified, the disciples lost hope and their spiritual condition can be best illustrated by that downhill journey to Emmaus. Judas had betrayed the Lord. Peter had denied the Master three times. As they gathered, they argued who among them would be the greatest. While the Lord was hung on the cross, they dispersed and disappeared. "We were hoping that it is He to redeem Israel." But that hope has now been lost, because they knew He was in the tomb. That was why the women brought spices to anoint Him. Thomas had followed Jesus for years, now he would not even meet with other disciples. Aren't they going down hill? John 21 recorded that they returned to the fishing business again! Brothers and sisters, how long have you been a Christian? And what is your spiritual condition today? Are you going upward or downward? Is the economic pressure too great for you to bear and you have lost hope? Does the family lack harmony and you do not find meaning for living? May be you are getting old and physically feeling weak, that you do not suppose you can last much longer? Or, spiritually you have lost your appetite for Bible reading, or prayer or attending meetings? May we be reminded this morning that Jesus was risen, and He is alive! As the two went down to Emmaus, He came to seek them. In the garden He came to meet the women. At night He appeared to those hidden in the house because of fear. Everywhere He came to seek them out one by one. Therefore, you should not lose hope, because He is seeking out for you. He said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me," (Rev. 3:20). Look not at the people or the things around us, but fix our eyes upon Jesus, the risen One!

How did He seek the disciples? He appeared to them. Acts 1:3 says that He appeared to them for forty days and spoke the things about the kingdom of God. The record of His appearances has one special characteristics, namely, the disciples initially did not recognize Him until a little afterwards. The Bible said that the two disciples were prevented from recognizing Him, and their hearts were slow to believe (Luke 24:16, 25). Until they arrived at the village and invited the Lord to stay with them, their eyes were open when the Lord broke the bread with them! Their sadness was turned to a burning in the heart. Early in the morning, Mary came to the empty tomb, thinking that Jesus' body was taken. When Jesus appeared to her, she thought Him to be the gardener, and said, "Sir, if you have taken Him away, please tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." Jesus simply called out her name, "Mary!" and immediately she recognized Him and cried out "Rabboni", meaning teacher. Brothers and sisters, He came to seek for everyone who was on the downhill journey. He died for them, and then lived. He would not give up on you. I pray that you meet Jesus here this morning, through the children's songs and the scripture we read, knowing that Jesus is knocking on your heart. May the lost find way home, and those down Emmaus find way back to Jerusalem.

Second, Jesus sought and confirmed the disciples. O, how He was full of tenderness and patience! On the shore of Galilee, He appeared to the seven, who went back to fishing. Having left the trade for three and half years, their skill must have become rusty, and they caught nothing that night. With disappointment and despair, they did not recognize Jesus. He asked them if they had anything to eat, then instructed them to cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat. Immediately, they had a catch so large that they could not haul it in. John was the more alert one, who remembered at once the event of Luke 5 and said, "It is the Lord." The Bible said the net was full of large fish, 153 of them. Jesus taught them that by themselves they could catch nothing all night. By obeying Him, Jesus gives us abundance because He is alive. We can depend on Him, pray to Him, and trust Him to meet our needs. They came to join the Lord for breakfast. Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me more than these?" We are familiar with the story. The Lord asked him three times, perhaps because Peter did deny the Lord thrice. Peter failed and went out wept bitterly. He thought he was strong, but he could not stand the scrutiny of a little maiden. He realized that he had nowhere to turn and was hopeless. The Lord Jesus picked him up and said, "Feed my sheep." He is saying, "You just need to learn to love Me. Though denying Me in the past, I remember your tears and will love you, lead you and use you, if you love Me." Praise God that Peter stood up, because the love of Jesus sought him and brought him back. Romans 8:35, "Who can separate us from the love of Christ?" Let us lift our eyes upon this Jesus: The Jews tried to capture Him. The Romans tried to bound Him. People wanted to crucify Him. The stone was to keep Him in the grave. The power of death was to contain Him in the darkness of the Hades. But, He entered into death and came out alive. Because of His resurrection we can turn to Him. Because of His love we can trust in Him. With the appearance of His resurrection glory He came to confirm each disciple.

Third, the disciples could continue on because the Lord Jesus satisfied them from within. Having met this Jesus who died and now lives, they experienced the power of resurrection. The two sad ones became fired up. After a day's long journey, they could have rested up for the night. But, they arose that very hour and returned to Jerusalem. The path was narrow and the road was hard at night, but that would not prevent them from returning to the midst of other disciples, to whom they reported the good news. Mary wept no more, and other women rejoiced in meeting Him and bowed down to worship Him. The doubting Thomas now proclaimed, "My Lord, My God!" Peter had denied the Lord. The disciples were afraid in the house. Now they were all changed. The Bible said that the Lord satisfied them, then sent them out. He told the women to "go and take word to my brothers to leave for Galilee, and there they shall see Me." Mary turned to tell Peter and John. Thomas went on to Arab and India. Peter later on went to Rome, where he eventually was martyred by being crucified upside down. What brought about their changes, that they were no longer afraid of the hardship, suffering or death? It was because they had met the risen Lord. So, are you lonely and feeling helpless? Are you giving up life because of the people around you? Do you feel hopeless with some people in the church? Or perhaps you are just fallen back because of your weakness! We need to see Jesus; He is risen! He changed the disciples then, and He can and will do the same to us and send us out. I saw a young man in the mall. He wore a T-shirt with the sign, "Destination – Failure". Our destination can never be failure, but the heavenly home. Jesus said, "In My Father's house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you so. I went to prepare a place for you. And I will come back to take you to be with Me where I am," (John 14: 2-3).

This morning several brothers and sisters were baptized to begin this heaven-bound journey. Because we are all going to the heavenly home, we should not lose heart or go downward or stop. Perhaps you have slid back for sometime. Do not allow the spirit of failure to capture you. Jesus is alive. Even death cannot defeat Him. We therefore declare that we have the hope and defense. We thank God that Jesus did not forsake the disciples. He will not forsake us. Let us thank Him and worship Him.