He Has Risen!

Authored by Lou Geense
Read: Luke 24:1-12.
Vs. 5-6 – “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!

Can you imagine being one of the disciples that came to the tomb prepared to place perfumes on the body of Jesus only to find he was not in the tomb. I have to admit that my pragmatic side would begin to look for logical conclusions. Furthermore, as much as I want to be a person of faith, I would most likely have been standing with Thomas John 20:26-28.
It is clear from the record of resurrection morning that confusion ruled the hearts and minds of the disciples. Mary believed the body had been stolen, the other disciples still had not understood that Jesus must rise from the dead. It is Jesus and the angels that bring clarity, calm and peace to the disciple’s hearts. The angels caused the women to draw on their memory and remember Jesus’ words that he would be crucified and on the third day rise again (vs. 7-8). In John’s account Jesus calls Mary by name and in her distraught state she recognizes Jesus (Jn. 20:16).
In the midst of confusion and chaos Jesus reigns with truth and certainty, even today. In the midst of our present chaos and confusion Jesus is still the one to whom we should run for clarity, certainty and hope.
The resurrection of Jesus is the most awe-inspiring event in the history of the world. It’s not just that Jesus came back from the dead; Elisha had raised a dead boy to life, and Jesus himself had raised several people. The unique thing about Jesus’ resurrection is that it is permanent—Jesus is still alive! Jesus overcame death forever! That means he reigns forever!
Because of Jesus, death no ­longer has the finality it once had. Jesus demonstrated his power over death so that we can have real hope that he will conquer our death as well. Like Jesus, many of his followers will die. But, because of Jesus, all who follow him will one day be raised back to life. Resurrection Sunday will one day be resurrection day for all who believe! Amen!
Lord Jesus thank you for your truth, your clarity and your sure and very real hope. We praise you for your sacrifice on our behalf. Father thank you for your plan of salvation. Thank you for the truth & promise of your resurrection. Halleluiah and Amen!


Authored by Mary Lucas
Read:  Matthew 28: 1-7
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.  The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’”

In 1963 a young girl by the name of Addie Mae Collins was killed when the church she was in was bombed in a terrorist attack.   In 1998, the Collins family requested that Addie Mae’s body be exhumed and moved to another cemetery. But her body was not in the spot where it was presumed to be – the body was missing. There were lots of suggestions about what happened to the body of Addie Mae but no one suggested she had been resurrected to walk the earth again. Why? Because by itself, an empty grave does not a resurrection make.
The empty tomb by itself is not evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.  The question is if, after he died, did he appear to anyone?  Dead people normally don’t do that! Jesus appeared to many people after his death.
I heard that if all the individuals whom Jesus appeared to after he died were cross examined for 15 minutes each it would take from breakfast Monday until dinner on Friday to get through them all. After listening to 129 straight hours of eyewitness testimony I think no one could walk away unconvinced of the resurrection!  Some of these individuals were the disciples who were hiding in fear one day and then boldly proclaiming Jesus as risen.  Eleven of the twelve disciples were eventually martyred for their faith.  No one would be willing to die for a lie!  They had truly seen Jesus alive and knew for certain that he was the Son of God!
But why is the resurrection so important?  This became real to me several years ago.  Patti H. was a good family friend and very special to me because she looked after my twin sons in the hospital after they were born.  She was a lovely Christian woman, married to Sandy (another wonderful person) and they had four children. She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at a young age.  I prayed that God would heal her and I believed He would.  I couldn’t understand why He would take such a wonderful person early in her life.  In 2015 Patti died just before Christmas.  I remember being angry with God.  “Why didn’t You heal her?” I asked.  “Why?”  It was then that I heard God’s voice say to me “I did heal her”.  I then realized that He had answered my prayer.  She was fully healed.  Because of the resurrection!
As Christians, we no longer have to fear death, because we have an incredible hope – the hope that one day we will be with God forever. It’s not a “hope so” hope, it’s a “know so” hope.  If Jesus was raised, Pattie will be raised.  And I will be someday too.  Then I will see them both. 
In John 11: 25-26 Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.”

A Real Kind Of Hero 

Authored by Lou Geense
Read: Mark 15:1-20.
Vs.  –  19 – 20 – Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

As Jesus stands before the religious leaders and the Roman governor, the authority and power of God himself is on trial. And at the end of this trial God in Jesus Christ stands condemned of being useless as the kind of hero that the world wants him to be. The world wants tangible, personalised benefits and freedoms.
The world laughs at Jesus. The Romans think Jesus is the one who needs a hero to save him. The world thinks the “weapons” of Jesus—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness—are a joke with no lasting value for a life that’s here today, gone tomorrow.
But here’s something that the world has missed.  Pilate, the Sanhedrin, and the Roman soldiers all missed it: Jesus’ power might not always seem as grand and glorious as the ­powers of this world, but the joke is on them. Pilate felt sorry for Jesus, thinking he was no real threat to the Roman Empire. But Jesus felt the same way about him. Jesus didn’t threaten the Roman Empire because it was no real threat to Jesus. Nor were the religious leaders. Nor was the crowd. Nor was the cross. Nor is cancer. Nor are your ­finances. Nor are broken relationships. Nor are any of the pains and troubles we face in this world, not even the Corona Virus 19. If Jesus doesn’t seem to get as anxious as we do about our problems, it’s only because he knows they don’t win in the end.
The crucifixion and the resurrection are the ultimate power for all mankind, and it is the free gift of Jesus to us at the ultimate cost of sacrifice. This Hero sacrificed himself in order to save humanity.
Dear Jesus, you’re not the one the world wants. But you are the one we need. Thank you for going through all that suffering and mockery to save us—to save me. Amen.

But I Have Prayed For You 

Authored by Martha Dodd
Read:   Luke 22:32, Hebrews 7:24-25
“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. 

The Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu is built on a hillside on the eastern slope of Mount Zion in Jerusalem.  This Church commemorates Peter’s denial of Jesus.  According to tradition, the church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu (Latin for “cock crow”), is built over the ruins of the house of Caiaphas, the high priest in Jerusalem at the time.  We are told in Scripture that it was at the house of the high priest where Jesus was condemned to death by the chief priests and elders, before being handed over to Pilate in the early hours of that Friday morning. 

Beside the Church, excavations have brought to light a stepped street which in ancient times would have led from Mount Zion down to the Kidron Valley.  It is possible that these stone steps were in use at the time of Christ, and if so, on the evening of his arrest, Jesus may have been led up this way, bound and under heavy guard, to the house of the High Priest where the Sanhedrin would assemble for a trial.

As I stood at the base of these steps several years ago, I wondered what would have been going through Peter’s mind that night as he climbed the steps, his heart pounding through his chest, following at a distance right up into the courtyard of the high priest where he warmed himself by a fire.  When he was questioned about his relationship with Jesus, Peter distanced himself even further, and denied three times knowing him.   At that moment, a rooster began to crow.  “Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:61-62) 
As he broke down and wept over his own failure, could Peter remember something else Jesus had said to him in the upper room just hours earlier?…before the mention of denial and a rooster crowing?  “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32) 
Peter may have thought it was all over, but where was Jesus?  The One, who is over all creation, was heading for the cross where he would suffer and experience the agony of being forsaken by God as he took upon himself the sin of us all.  For God made Jesus who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)  
Jesus told Peter that he was praying for him, that his faith would not fail. Three decades after this night, the lowest point in Peter’s life, he wrote: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10) The only reason Peter could write this was because he had experienced the truth of it in his own life.  His faith may have been bruised for a time, but empowered in the Holy Spirit, he turned back, strengthened others in the faith and encouraged them to follow “in Jesus’ steps.” (1 Peter 2:21) 
There may have been times in our lives when because of failure or denial or following Jesus at distance, we have felt defeated or disqualified…as if it’s all over.   But thank God that “Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”  Jesus is praying for you, that your faith may not fail and He will make you strong, firm, and steadfast.  
And the Lord who loves me, reminds me in Romans 8:33-34
“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” 
Spend some time in prayer, offering gratitude to the God of all grace for demonstrating His unfailing love to us in that while we were still sinners, Christ Jesus died for us, and that He always lives to intercede for us. 
Ask the Lord to bring to mind someone you know who needs strengthening in their faith today?  Pray for them. 

Wounded Hearts 

Authored by Lou Geense

Read: Is. 53:1-6; John 20:19-20. 
Is.53:5 – But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 

There is a story behind every scar that we have. I have quite a few: several knee surgeries, a couple of shoulder surgeries, lots of stitch marks from cuts and of course recently a heart surgery and a pacemaker; all have helped to bring an enjoyable, healthy life. Perhaps a scar reminds you of an accident, and you’re thankful for the recovery you have experienced. Some scars are emotional and psychological, often much more devastating than the physical ones, reminding us of deep hurts inflicted by others.

Real community allows us to share the stories of our scars, when it is appropriate.  As we do that, we can show our gratitude, humility, and our need for community. A drawback to popular social media platforms today is that people often portray their life as a bed of roses. It’s easy to share news about vacations, happy family gatherings, and celebrations. But true fellowship allows our bonds to grow deep and that often happens when our scars are exposed in sharing our personal stories with others.
Today we see Jesus in one of his post-resurrection visits to his disciples. And when “he showed them his hands and side,” his followers were overjoyed as they recognized the Lord.

What a story his wounds tell! He was not like a superhero we see on TV, who easily accomplished great feats. Rather, as we see in Isaiah 53, Christ’s victory came through deep personal sacrifice. We are also reminded of our sins and our transgressions. When we embrace these two realities—Jesus’ wounds and our need—we find healing. Indeed, “by his wounds we are healed”!

Lord thank you bringing healing to all our scars. Allow us to forgive those who have hurt us so they also may know the power and freedom of forgiveness and ultimately your healing touch. Amen.