Man instinctively runs from storms, taking cover in places of refuge and safety. Today, meteorologists depend on a new breed of adventure seekers; they call upon storm chasers. These men and women run to storms in hopes of catching remarkable film footage and recording detailed statistics on wind speed, amounts of rain and size of hail. Most of us who view the completed work take it for granted; weather forecasters applaud the efforts of storm chasers.
Jesus took complete control of storms; He calmed them and those who cowered in fear. “And behold, there arose a great storm in the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves, but He Himself was asleep. And they came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing!’ And He said to them, ‘Why are you timid, you men of little faith?’ Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and it became perfectly calm (Matthew 8:24-26 NAS).” We marvel at His power!
The Lord God frequently does what we least expect! If we try to put His activity in a box He is sure to burst it open! Resurrection morning would not be scripted by any of the disciples.
Before complete daylight a close knit group of faithful women began a mission of love, for their departed Lord and friend. They reverently approached His tomb, laden with spices to anoint His body. They likely discussed the problem of getting in to perform their task. The large stone sealing His tomb created a barrier they needed to overcome.
The sight of His open tomb caught them by surprise. This development never crossed their minds, still numb with grief. The stone lay off to the side, giving complete access to the burial place given by a wealthy Council member, yet a follower of Jesus. The kindness of Joseph of Arimathea did not go un-noticed.
The women humbly entered the opening and nearly fainted in the discovery that Jesus no longer occupied the grave! Where is He?
Suddenly in their midst they encountered two men in clothing radiant as a bolt of lightning! The natural reaction of fright gripped the women and they fell to the ground in awe. Maybe this was all a dream! The men then spoke to the women with a penetrating question, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead (Luke 24:5b NAS)?” Before they had time to answer, the message continued, “He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again (Luke 24:6-7 NAS).”
Yes, now they remembered Jesus telling them! It just did not seem possible; they saw Him die! Three days passed by and His lifeless body was sealed inside the tomb!
This was amazing! The morning skies now showed the glow of dawn and their hearts once cold moments before, now pulsed with reborn hope and joy!
Next we come face to face with culture, tradition and prejudice prevalent in the days of Jesus life and ministry. Women did not normally hold a place of authority or great influence. They lived in the shadows and did not expect many changes in their acceptance. In spite of the odds they were given the announcement of Jesus resurrection! Matthew said, “And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to his disciples (Matthew 28:8 NAS).”
Do you read between the lines of scripture? If you do, side step briefly and catch sight of these frail women, lifting their skirts, and breathlessly running to tell the men, found cowering in fear!
That is not all; next they see Jesus face to face! It is true, ladies He is alive! Now, dropping to the ground and grasping His ankles revealed pure love, worship, and a desire to never be out of His sight again! In tender compassion The Son of Man, born of woman, talked to the select group, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to my brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they shall see me (Matthew 28: 10 NAS)”
Don’t lose track of the women’s prized privileges. They were the first to see the open tomb, first to hear an announcement of His resurrection, first to behold Jesus alive, and now first appointed messengers to carry the gospel, the good news of Jesus conquering death!
Did the disciples wrap them in arms of love and share their joy? “And these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them (Luke 24: 11 NAS).” The men soon saw Him themselves through eyes of faith and rejoicing!
Jesus birth announcement came by a heavenly angelic assembly to simple shepherds, outcasts in society. The Easter story targeted women, in their lowly state. Jesus return will need no go betweens. Trumpets will sound and He will appear in the heavens! Every day is Easter! HE’S ALIVE!
The household pet quickly becomes a central part of the family in many homes, bringing pleasure to young and old. A faithful dog or cat is at your side giving unconditional love. Watching them romp and play brings laughter and joy. Those with a dash of mischief create problems mixed with interest.
Our son, Lee once owned a loyal dog named Kenwood. His Husky and German shepherd mix blended the strengths of both breeds. He was a “one man dog!” In a couple of occasions the housing arrangements made it difficult for having pets. So, we became guardians of Kenwood; but he roamed often, discovering the location of his master. He may not have been a blood hound; but he had the nose of a tracker! Kenwood loved yard sales. Well, his version was more of the variety we see in gardening season, signs posted reading, “Pick Yourself.” He went in yards and picked up anything our son might want, dragging home tools of assorted shapes and sizes, to surprise his master. Lee shares a story about once hearing a strange sound in the distance; getting closer he observed Kenwood dragging a shovel on the pavement! I guess he was a “kleptodogiac!” Another characteristic he displayed to Lee revealed his loving heart. If Lee experienced stress, Kenwood laid his head across Lee’s legs and showed he cared.
Did you know the lamb sacrificed each year at Passover, by the Israelites, often lived as the family pet? (Exodus 12:1-6). The busy family saw him grow, standing firmly on once wobbly legs. They witnessed his growing appetite and stubborn independence. The lamb depended on them for everything; his care and protection rested in their hands. When the Passover observance approached each member of the family eyed the lamb feverishly. They knew he must die; imagine their sorrow!
How could God ask for such a sacrifice? We must remember the reason for the Passover feast and worship. When God’s people were slaves in Egypt He said to Pharaoh, “Let My people go!” He refused God’s demands; and plague after plague fell upon the nation in God’s judgment. The final curse came in the form of the death of the first born in every Egyptian family, and even the first born to animals of the land. The cries of sorrow rang out across the country. God’s people were instructed to kill their lambs, taking blood from the dead carcass and to apply it to the doorframes of their homes, where the roasted lamb sacrifices would be eaten. (Exodus 12:6-9).
Why were they commanded to smear blood on their homes? “And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt,
Their sacrificed lambs took the place of their firstborn. God provided a way for their deliverance. He provides for our salvation. He sent His firstborn Son, His only begotten Son, to become the Lamb of God, (John 1:36). He laid down His life on the altar of Calvary to become God’s perfect sacrifice, “but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19 NAS).”
What does God ask in return? He desires us to live for Him, becoming living sacrifices (Romans12: 1-2). It is our reasonable response to His sacrificial love!
Have you ever skinned your knuckles when involved in a building project? It is painful and may even leave scars as a reminder of a difficult job. Nobody wants to be a sissy, but skinned knuckles are hard to ignore.
Prayer is hard work. It is easy to mouth platitudes; cries for help and guidance take time, discipline and determination. We must never give up. God in his word instructs us to ask, search, and knock. “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you (Acts 7:7 HCS).”
Sherlock Holmes asked murder suspects many questions. He searched for clues and knocked on doors of opportunity in solving unsolved crimes. His persistence matched his ability to unravel a mystery. Did he knock until he skinned his knuckles?
“Father, forgive me for whimpering when I skin my knuckles from repeatedly rapping on the door of prayer. Your will and timing is perfect. Give me perception to see a crack in the door and your hand upon the handle. It will swing wide open in the fullness of time.”
Boys of all ages have super-heroes, and make believe they can save the world from villains. We need someone we can look to for protection and safety. Today’s toddlers wearing costumes, capes and masks may one day dress in military uniforms and dedicate their lives to selfless service.
We are in a battle if we realize it or not. Cosmic capers are raging in our midst! “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of the dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:12-13a NIV).” Be prepared and ready for action; you have supernatural powers!