Monday, March 28, 2016

Monday Morning Rewind: Easter Changes Everything!

The early church began as an offshoot of Judaism.  So it was a very big deal when they changed their primary day of worship from the "Sabbath Day" to the first day of the week.  But the early Christians made the move, and did so for one reason--the resurrection!

In that sense, Christians consider every Sunday to be "resurrection Sunday."  But yesterday was Easter--the day we set aside on the Christian calendar that demonstrates us to be truly crazy.  Yes, we believe a dead man rose from the dead 2000 years ago, is still alive, and is coming again.  When such an audacious claim is made, there can only be one of two explanations.  One is that there is some sort of mass hysteria that is causing hundreds of millions of people around the world to give into a delusional psychosis.

The other explanation is equally simple:  that it actually happened.

Don't want to believe it?  Well, you are in good company, because neither did the first disciples.  Luke 24 records their walk along the road to Emmaus when they first encountered Jesus after He had been crucified two days before, and their response gives new meaning to the word "cynical."

We've all been there.  "Fool me once," the old saying goes, "shame on you.  But fool me twice, and its shame on me."  The world is full of people who have seen more than their share of dissapointment, and aren't about to allow themselves to be victimized again.  That's pretty much the attitude assumed by Jesus' first disciples.  But the lesson they learn in their encounter with Jesus is that His resurrection changes absolutely everything!

It changes personal expectation into providential hope.  The disciples made clear to Jesus that they had unmet expectations.  The expected that He would free Israel, kick out the Roman occupiers, and maybe even install a few of them into high level offices.  So focused are they on their disappointment, that Jesus joins them on their journey, and they can't even see Him!

One of the saddest things that can be said of a person is that greatness passed by and they missed it.  Is God doing something incredible in your life, but you can't see it because you are focused instead on what you didn't get?  We are far too easily discouraged.

It changes cynicism into trust.  Here is Jesus, risen from the dead, walking among them.  How do they not see this?!?!  That's what cynicism will do to you.  The world kicks you around to the point that you have hardened yourself, and don't want to believe anything anymore.  You are afraid to accept any good news at all, because you have an inherent fear that you will discover its not true.

The resurrection can change all of that.  After finally realizing who was walking with them, the disciples say "did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road?"  Nothing gets rid of cynicism like a once dead man showing up unannounced!

It turns washed-out people toward the Word of God.  These men are done!  Complete exhaustion by trial.  What they have been through the past two days is a world away from a long line at Wal-Mart, a bad day on the golf course, or unexpected traffic that makes them late.  When Jesus died, they watched their dreams die with Him.  Everything they were living for was crushed--or at least they thought so.

But Jesus responds by taking them back to His Word--reminding them that all of this was part of God's plan to redeem for Himself--a plan He had spoken about through His prophets for thousands of years.

If times are hard, don't wash out.  Don't give up.  Instead, turn to the Word of God and read of the Israelites escaping an inescapable situation.  Read about these Emmaus-bound disciples who encounter a guy they just saw die two days ago, now walking right beside them.  And remember that God never goes back on His Word!

Years ago, an S-4 submarine was rammed by a ship just off the coast of Massachusetts.  The sub sank immediately, leaving the entire crew trapped in a prison of death.  Every effort was made to rescue the crew, but all ultimately failed.  Near the end of the ordeal, divers went down one last time to see if there was an option they had missed.  One heard tapping coming from the inside wall of the sub.  Putting his head against the hull, he recognized the Morse code coming from a sailor on the other side----"is there any hope?"

That's exactly how the disciples felt.  Its how many people feel today.  But Jesus is risen, and that changes everything!

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