Easter, Holidays (Other), Second Coming

He’s Coming Back

Originally published March 25, 2016

They’re words cooed by a mother to dry the tears of her frightened child.

Words murmured bedside by a nurse calming her anxious patient.

They’re comforting words, imparted by someone in charge, someone taking care of us, someone we’re depending on. Words that God has spoken to His people from the beginning.

I’m coming back.

From walking with God Himself in the cool of the day to banishment from the Garden.

The anguish of giving birth.

The toil of tilling the ground.

The sting of physical death.

Could anything compare to man’s ache of losing tangible communion with God? And, yet, even in the curse of the Fall, His bold declaration rang out:

I’m coming back.

In base splendor.

In humble glory.

Emmanuel – God with us – came back.

He tabernacled for a time among us, but all too quickly, the days of His visitation drew to an end.

Time and again, though they would not yet understand,

Though the cross was unfathomable,

And the empty tomb, unimaginable,

He gathered His disciples close and taught, with unassailable authority:

I’m coming back.

They saw the stone rolled away. The nail prints. His riven side. They ate with Him, walked with Him, talked with Him. They followed Him out to a hillside and watched as He was taken up into the clouds.

And with them, we wait. We set our gaze upon the heavens. We long for His blessed return. And we hear the same words they heard…

Words which should drive terror-stricken sinners to their knees in repentance and faith…

Words which warm the hearts of believers with glorious hope, comfort, and joy…

Words which, one dazzling and magnificent day, will never need be heard again…

HE’S COMING BACK.

Easter, Holidays (Other)

The Daily Wonder of Easter

Originally published April 1, 2014

“What should I preach about on Easter Sunday? Help me out, here.”

That’s the gist of a tweet I saw recently from a pastor. It caught me quite off guard, and it must have had the same effect on many others who punctuated their excellent advice –“preach the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for our sins”- with lots of “duh’s” and other indications that this should be a no-brainer for a Christian pastor.

Traditionally, the prevailing line of thought about Easter (and Christmas) services has always been, “This is one of the two times a year that a lot of lost people go to church. It might be our only chance to reach some of them. Let’s make sure we give them the gospel.” Maybe after so many years of that, some pastors feel that their church members have heard it all before and they need to move on to something else in order to keep people’s attention. Sometimes, as a pastor, it’s tough to know just what to do to best reach people for Christ.

But, see, the thing is, Christians never move past our need for hearing the gospel again and again. Young or old. Newly saved or seasoned saint.

We need the gospel.

Christians never move past our need for hearing the gospel again and again. Young or old. Newly saved or seasoned saint. We need the gospel.

We need it because we forget. We forget that we are great sinners in need of a great Savior. We forget to slow down and pour out our gratitude and worship for the sacrifice of our beautiful Savior. We forget to bask in our wonder, our amazement, at His glorious and triumphant resurrection.

As Christians, every day our sin sick souls need to bow at the cross and be washed afresh in the precious, atoning blood of Christ. What can wash away my sin? Nothing –nothing– but the blood of Jesus.

Every day our sin sick souls need to bow at the cross and be washed afresh in the precious, atoning blood of Christ. What can wash away my sin? Nothing -nothing- but the blood of Jesus.

Daily, we must approach the tomb, see the massive stone rolled away and shout with joy over its emptiness. Hallelujah! Death has lost its victory and the grave has been denied! The very reason we worship on Sunday instead of Saturday is the celebration of an empty tomb. Every Sunday is Easter Sunday.

Remember, and rejoice!


Originally published at Satisfaction Through Christ.

Easter, Holidays (Other), Top 10

Top 10 Best Easter Songs

Originally published April 3, 2015

There are so many great Easter hymns and worship songs out there. After all, how can a songwriter go wrong proclaiming the glorious truth of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection? It was hard to narrow it down to my ten favorites, but I gave it a shot.

I’ve created a YouTube playlist with these songs called Resurrection Day. Got a favorite song about Jesus’ resurrection? Suggest it, and maybe I’ll add it to the playlist!

(Please note- I am not familiar with all of these musicians. Their presence here is not an endorsement of any unbiblical theology any of them may hold to. Please thoroughly vet the doctrine of any Christian musician you choose to follow and make sure it matches up with Scripture.)

1.
Jesus Paid it All

Nominated by my 11 year old son, who said in the car on the way home from church, “They need to do ‘Jesus Paid it All’ next week, because it is a very appropriate Easter song.”

2.
Arise My Love

The grave could not hold the King!

3.
Low in the Grave He Lay

You’re not really a Southern Baptist unless your church does this one every Easter.

4.
The Old Rugged Cross

What a precious song this is and what a beautiful job this family does on it. (Us Louisianans know how to sang!)

5.
Sunday’s On the Way

The resurrection is not an allegory for your personal problems coming to an end. Other than that, this is pure 80’s “in your face, Devil!” CCM awesomeness.

6.
The Wonderful Cross

Who ever thought something so horrific could be so beautiful? But it is.

7.
Man of Sorrows, What a Name

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

8.
He’s Alive

The resurrection through the eyes of Peter. Oh how sweet it must have been for him to see Jesus alive again.

9.
I’ve Just Seen Jesus

I love singing this one with my husband.

10.
Christ the Lord is Risen Today

He is not dead. He is alive. We have this hope in Jesus Christ! This arrangement is such a nice blend of the traditional and the contemporary.

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Happy Easter everyone!

Faith, Salvation

Throwback Thursday ~ Making a U-turn on the Road to Emmaus

Originally published September 2, 2016

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That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Luke 24:13-35

It had been a long, confusing, emotional couple of days. Eventful? The word could hardly capture all that had taken place. As they made their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus, Cleopas and his friend rehearsed the trials, the scourging, the crucifixion, and the reports of the empty tomb, trying to make sense of it all.

How could this have happened? It just didn’t add up. Everything their beloved Jesus had done, taught, and said fairly screamed, “This is it! This is the Messiah!” Jesus was the one they had been waiting for. The one who would throw off the iron-heeled boot of Roman oppression, take the throne of His father, David, and reestablish Israel as a sovereign nation, restoring her former glory.

But…a crucifixion? His body missing? It didn’t fit the narrative they’d been weaned on. Maybe Jesus wasn’t the Messiah after all. Their hopes for the future, so recently a roaring flame, waned at the cross and dwindled to an ember at the tomb.

Try to put yourself in the sandals of Cleopas and his companion. Every day of your life has been lived shivering in the shadow of the evil Roman empire. Unclean Gentiles, pagans, haters of God and His people, who ruled with impunity and maintained pax romana by any means necessary. Crosses laden with the corpses of criminals and insurrectionists lined the road leading into town, lest there be any question as to the fate of those who dared rebel. There was no real right of redress. No true due process. And since Rome ruled the known world, virtually no way of escape.

“Someday,” Jewish boys and girls learned for hundreds of years at their mother’s knee, “Someday God’s promised Messiah will come and deliver us. This will all be over. We’ll be free.”

This was the Christ – the Messiah, or “anointed one” – most of God’s people hoped in. A Christ who would save them from earthly suffering. A Christ who would set things right and make their temporal circumstances better. No thought to their need for atonement. No concerns about eternity. Never mind the Bread of Life, just give us bread.

And Cleopas and his fellow disciple had found him. Maybe they were afraid to believe it at first. Could Jesus really be the one? But as they followed him for days, or months, or years, they began to believe. Finally, He was here. Finally, things would turn around for them. Everything was going great.

Until.

And just like that, in a matter of a few days, all hope was lost.

They stood still, looking sad.

Was it because Jesus had, in reality, failed to fulfill His mission? No. It was because they had poured every drop of their faith into a false Christ. A christ of their own imagination and design. An unbiblical christ who had been passed down to them over the years by false or misinformed teachers.

And, to this day, people are still placing their faith in that same false christ of their own imagination, promulgated by false or misinformed teachers. A christ who will solve all their earthly problems. A christ who will heal their diseases, fix their broken relationships, grant them power, imbue them with influence, and shower them with wealth.

Sure, their hope in this christ will burn brightly for a while, but just like that, in a matter of a few moments, hours, or days, that hope can be extinguished forever. A car accident. A house fire. An affair. A child gone prodigal. Wasn’t Christ supposed to make my life better?

But – thanks be to God – that’s not the end of the story. There’s a true Christ. The true Christ of Scripture. The Christ that Jesus showed the two disciples from Moses and the Prophets on the road to Emmaus. The Christ that God reveals to us today in the New Testament. The Christ that all of Scripture points to – not as a life enhancement genie – but as the spotless Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world.

This is the Christ in whom we find the hope of sin forgiven. The peace of being made right with God. The joy of knowing He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Are you foolish and slow of heart to believe all that the Bible says about Christ, or does your heart burn within you as the true Christ of Scripture reveals Himself to you in God’s word?

A false christ promises hope, but brings only despair and discouragement when hard times come and his promises go unfulfilled. But all the promises of God find their fulfillment in the Christ of Scripture. He will never fail you nor disappoint you.

The road to Emmaus is a two-way street. Cleopas and his friend started their journey going the wrong direction, but they repented of their unbelief, turned around, and walked the other way. If you’ve been following a false christ, you can repent and trust the true Christ of Scripture today. He’s only a you-turn away.

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Mark Bible Study

Mark: Lesson 24

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

Mark 16

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

[Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9–20.]

[[Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

12 After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country.13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.]]


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider

1. Jesus was crucified and buried on a Friday afternoon. What day did the women go to the tomb to anoint His body? (2) Why did they wait until Sunday instead of going on Friday evening or Saturday? (1) How does verse 1 say the women obtained the spices? Would they have been able to purchase them or do the work of anointing Jesus’ body on the Sabbath? What was the purpose of anointing a dead body with spices?

2. Read verses 1-5, focusing on the women’s actions and conversation. Do their words and behavior indicate that they expected Jesus to be dead or alive? Why would they not have expected His resurrection since He prophesied it multiple times?

3. Why was there a stone sealing the entrance to Jesus’ tomb? (3-4) Compare what Pilate and the chief priests believed about Jesus’ resurrection, and their subsequent actions, with what the women believed about Jesus’ resurrection, and their subsequent actions. How did the unbelief of the two groups differ?

4. Even though Jesus had prophesied his resurrection many times, the women didn’t have much of a frame of reference for someone rising from the dead. How does God sending the angel to explain things to them (5-7) instead of scolding them for their failure to grasp the situation demonstrate His mercy and understanding of their human frailty? What was their emotional reaction (8) to all these events? In light of the recent events of the crucifixion, and the actions of people such as Pilate and the Jewish leaders, explain why the women might have reacted (8) the way they did.

5. Imagine the book of Mark ends with verse 8. Who and what is the focus of the last chapter of Mark’s gospel? Why is Jesus’ resurrection crucial to the Christian faith, and to you personally as a Christian?

6. What does the notation between verses 8 and 9 mean? Read the following note on verses 9-20 from the MacArthur Study Bible¹

What evidence does Dr. MacArthur cite that Mark may not have written verses 9-20 and that it may have been added later? Does this in any way mean that the Bible is unreliable or inerrant? What are some precautions Dr. MacArthur suggests we should take with 9-20, and how should we handle this text comparatively?

7. Compare verses 9-20 with Matthew 28, Luke 24, and John 20, and any cross references (on 9-20) your Bible lists. Is there anything in verses 9-20 that isn’t mentioned elsewhere in Scripture? Is it “safe” to believe everything in 9-20 that matches up with other Scripture?

8. What has been the most important thing you’ve learned from our study of the book of Mark?


¹John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, English Standard Version, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), p.1464-1465

Homework

Read the following resources on the ending of Mark:

The Fitting Ending to Mark’s Gospel by John MacArthur

The Ending of Mark by Robert Stein

Should Mark 16:9-20 be in the Bible? at Got Questions?


Suggested Memory Verse

And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.
Mark 16:6