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In Just Three Days

What a difference three days can make. Two men who had been eye-witnesses to the crucifixion of Jesus were now heading home when they were joined by this one who out of nowhere started walking with them. “So what have you two gentlemen been talking about?” Stopped in their tracks by his question, Cleopas turns his downcast face in his direction and replies “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Luke 18:24

“What things?” the stranger asks.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morningbut didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
Luke 24:19-24

Scripture does tell us that after Jesus was dead Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took His body down from the cross and bound it in linen cloths with spices and laid it in a tomb. And now three days later this once dead Jesus appears to Cleopas and his friend on the Road to Emmaus—but they didn’t recognize Him.

Here are these two men who were amongst the believers following Jesus to the cross. They saw the crown of thorns, the blood streaming down His face. They saw Him being beaten and viciously nailed on the cross to die a cruel death. They had also heard rumors that He was alive again.

It was late in the day and when they came to a fork in the road, they invited this man to stay with them that night. They urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. Luke 24:29 While they were gathered around the kitchen table, Jesus broke open a loaf of bread and gave thanks to God, and their eyes were opened; they recognized him! But then He instantly disappeared from their sight.

In the next few days Jesus made several similar appearances, many of them recorded in the 24th chapter of Luke. He appeared to His disciples. They were startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost. “Peace be with you.” “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself, don’t be afraid.” “Touch me; it is I.”  Look at my hands and my feet. Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Luke 24:39

Jesus appeared to them in His resurrected body– the same body that was nailed to the cross and died and was placed into the tomb. That is why Mary Magdalene never found a body in the tomb.

He rose in the same body that He died in. The difference now is that the physical blood had been drained out of it on the cross. The lamb of God has paid the supreme price.  It is finished; the scriptures have been fulfilled and my father in heaven is now glorified. “If I had done it to glorify myself, my glory would have meant nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. John 8:54

Do you see the magnificence shift? He had done the work His Father had given Him to do. And now I am appearing to you in my physical body that you might accept what I have done for my Father, that you may have life in me. Look to the Scriptures. Rejoice together with the Apostle Paul and celebrate together with him over what had happened in these few days. The 15th  chapter of 1 Corinthians is one long testimony to the hope of our resurrection into a spiritual life.  

It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15:44

The problem with us is that we are so at home in these temporary “tents” as Paul calls our physical bodies. He plainly tells us that these physical bodies will do nothing for us because they are not going to last. We foolishly think that through these physical bodies with our own blood flowing through them, we will find our purposes and meanings. How foolish we are. 

What we end up doing is hiding in them, claiming them as our private possessions. It is a dangerous habit that permeates so much of our thinking in this 21st century. Individual rights, the right to our own bodies, our own sexual preferences, our own right to think of these bodies in any fashion we so desire. We can live with whomever we want, think whatever we want. Just leave us to do as people do.  

The truth is we have inherited physical bodies that betray us. And it took one of us [Judas] to betray Jesus that we might be set free from bodies that betray us. In our minds–encased in these bodies–everything is personalized. Remember the days on the calendar you hate to face–when you are scheduled for surgery or like eight years ago when your wife, husband or child died.  Then there is the day on the calendar when your husband or father was killed in action. How about 9/11 or Pearl Harbor?

Through Christ’s death and resurrection all of our days belong to God because He has bought them. Yet, the persistent problem in us is that the day after tomorrow [manana] belongs to us. That is the sin in us that continually deceives us. We plan, we work towards, we put everything on a schedule which is a very wise thing to do.  While we are caught up in this, God is fashioning new Spiritual lives in us. And what God has wrought will far surpass our noblest plans. I treasure the word “wrought” because it refers to something that has been fashioned into something. Because of God’s everlasting love for us, He is fashioning us with hearts, souls, minds and strength that will love Him above all else.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength[and mind.] Deuteronomy 6:5

Our minds, hearts, souls and spirits which can become so quickly troubled are now under God’s solid control. How do we, in our frail minds, come to know this, limited as we are to these physical bodies?  We look to Easter and to Christ’s resurrection. Christ who took on the form of our frail bodies–through His resurrection–has now been given the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, [He] will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Philippians 3:21  

Paul wrote the above words in the context of His encouraging the church at Philippi to keep pressing on, forgetting what is behind and pressing on to the higher calling in Jesus. When we have faith in what the Word of God tells us, we become possessors of eternal life.  While still living in this physical world in our grievously sinful physical bodies, we are possessors of a spiritual life we will be living in new physical bodies.  That is why Jesus made all those appearances in His physical body–to let us know what we will appear transformed into the likeness of his glorious body.   

Jesus just had to come back and show us through His physical body what He has made possible for us.  And as He personally appeared to Paul, He appears to us in His Word that we might also, in our physical bodies, press on to the calling Christ has called us to. While still on earth Paul had to live in his physical body, still as a sinner. So do we and the calling to which we are called to is not achieved through works. That is something that is so difficult for some of us to accept. We must keep straining forward towards the life God’s grace holds out to us through Jesus Christ. While still sinners here on earth, we will never reach perfection.  That will come to us in heaven’s glory. But as one person has written, “Nevertheless, our Christian lives of growing in Christ and living for him ought to be a constant striving for perfection, with the goal and prize of eternal life always kept before our eyes of faith.”  

In an age when the Christian church feels pressured to speak to God from every human situation and perspective, the risen Lord Jesus Christ speaks to the people of God from God’s perspective.  This is the God who is both immanent and transcendent. He is present within His creation while remaining distinct from it. Yet He can walk through closed doors because His sovereign control extends everywhere.

Yet God transcends everything. He can rise above, surpass and succeed. That is because He is the only true transcendent Being. 

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Truth and Life

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