Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Easter Sunday Special, Kyomtho

Volume 5 No. 278 April 4, 2015

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Ressurection-Jesus has risen!
He Has Risen! Indeed, He Has Risen!!!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Foreword

Easter is the most important day for Christians. It is because the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, from the dead is the most important event in the history of this world and the entire universe.

This is why all of the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, reach their climax with the empty tomb. "He is not here, for he has risen, as he said" (Mt 28:6, see also Mk 16:6); "Why do you seek the living among the dead? Remember how he told you ... that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise" (Luke 24:6); "Go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God" (Jn 20:17).

There is no question that without a resurrected God, there is no Christianity. ...

Easter Sunday in Church

2. Bible Readings for Easter Sunday (April 5)

3. Sermons for Easter Sunday (April 5)

Sermons for Easter Sunday
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-for-Passion-week_Easter.htm

4. Malankara World Passion Week/Easter Supplement

Malankara World has a supplement that provides detailed information about Passion Week and Easter including articles, prayers, sermons, etc. You will find it here:

Passion Week Supplement in Malankara World
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lent/Passion/Default.htm

Malankara World has developed a daily plan of bible readings, meditations, reflections, and prayers for Passion Week and Easter. You will find it here:

Today in Passion Week
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lent/Passion/Passion_Today_archives.htm

Easter Sunday Features

5. The Easter Triumph

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead on Easter morning is something completely different, transcendent and mysterious. While the Resurrection is a historical event that took place thousands of years away in a city thousands of miles away, its meaning touches each and every one of us today, for it is through the Resurrection that our lives "are swept up by Christ into the heart of divine life." We are swept up beyond the things of this world, swept up into His grace and glory, and swept up into the promise of everlasting joy of life with our triune God. ...

6. Empty Tomb, Expectant Heart

It is clearly evident that Christ's resurrection is the greatest Event in the history of salvation, and indeed, we can say in the history of humanity, since it gives definitive meaning to the world. The whole world revolves around the Cross, but only in the resurrection does the Cross reach its full significance of a salvific Event. The Cross and Resurrection constitute the one paschal mystery in which the history of the world is centered. ...

7. Peace Through a Resurrected Saviour

Peace was our Savior's yesterday Word, and "Peace" is His salutation today. He qualified what He meant by this word peace in John 14:26-27: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." We learn that we can have perfect peace under all circumstances, and this peace is for all eternity. ..

8. From Fear to Faith in Four Steps: A Meditation on the Johannine Easter Gospel

St. John leaves this scene a believer. His faith may not be the fully perfected faith it will become, but he does believe. John has gone from fear to faith, from reaction to reflection, from panic to peace. This is his journey, and prayerfully, our too. ...

9. If Christ Has Not Been Raised

Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. ...

10. Experience the Power of the Resurrection Every Day

The resurrection is more than just an event that happened once in history. It's the source of the power you can experience in your own life, every day. The same power that resurrected Jesus from death to life is available to you, and if you tap into it, you'll see amazing transformation in your own life, too. Here's how you can experience resurrection power every day: ...

11. Resurrection Power

Today, get your hopes up. Get your expectancy up. Remember, He is risen, and He is alive. There's a shift coming, and He is faithful to His Word. Let His resurrection power flow in every area of your life!  ...

12. About Malankara World

Foreword
This had been a very busy week for Malankara Week Journal editors and our readers. We had issued 7 special editions of the Journal to honor the Passion Week. It was hectic. This is the last one in the series. The journey has ended with the completion of Jesus' mission.

Let us take a brief look at this week.

First, we looked at the temptation of Jesus indicating the traditional end to the 40 day lent and the beginning of the special days for the Passion week. Jesus was tempted by Satan and Jesus won. Jesus could have easily destroyed Satan, but he didn't. He didn't have to use any celestial armies to protect him. He learned to be patient and, as the son of God, he cannot be tempted.

Then we come to the second edition where we saw the Raising of Lazarus. This was a rare occasion where both the divinity and humanity of Jesus was on display. The question of whether Jesus was God while he was in the earth had created a major rift among theologians after the ascension of Jesus. How can God die? was their question. When Jesus cried, "My God, My God, Why did you forsaken me?" in the cross, the theologians said, it is the proof that Jesus was only human when he was on earth. But our fathers of the Syriac orthodox Church has correctly taught us that Jesus was fully human and fully divine at the same time, both natures blending into one while he was in the earth. This can be seen at its peak at the Lazarus' raising. First Jesus cried. He was overtaken by the sight of the emotions of the grief. This was a human emotion and it clearly showed the human nature of Jesus. Then Jesus goes forward and raises Lazarus from the dead. Only God can raise people who are dead. ("I am the Resurrection and Life.") No humans can. So, here Jesus clearly showed his divine nature. So, within a matter of minutes we could see and taste both natures of Jesus. Raising of Lazarus was the final straw for the temple chiefs. They decided that Jesus has to die. Jesus knew that too. It was part of the plan.

Then we come to the Hosanna Sunday, the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem as a King riding a donkey. People were excited and spread clothes and tree branches and palm leaves on the ground to welcome the king. There was widespread excitement in the air. What does Jesus do? He went into the temple and kicked out all the commercial people, like money changers, bird sellers etc. from the temple. Jesus said that the Temple is desecrated by these people. Of course, the temple chiefs are now really mad. If Jesus is allowed to continue, unabated, they will be out of business.

Then we come to Maundy Thursday or Pes'ho. This is an important day. This is the day when Jesus established the Eucharist (during the Last Supper) and the Priesthood. His command to "take and eat" reverses the serpent's temptation of Eve to take and eat (the apple). Prior to the Last Supper, Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment: That they love each other as He has loved them, that they show it, as Jesus did by washing their feet. Jesus told us that He came to serve and not be served and whoever wanted to be a leader must be willing to be a servant. It is the servant leadership Malankara World has discussed many times in the past issues.

The events of Maundy Thursday forever united truth and love. Despite what our culture says, we can, and must, embrace both.

Jesus and the disciples then go the Mount of Olives to pray. Judas had gone to the Chief Priests to betray Jesus. The agony of Jesus and his human nature is clearly evident in his prayer at Gethsemane. It was an example of perfect submission. "Father, if you can, take this cup away from me. But I will submit to your decision, whatever it is. It is your will" Jesus knew very well that his reason to come to the earth was for this occasion, to redeem the mankind by his sacrificial death at the cross.

We see Judas coming and betraying Jesus with a kiss. This behavior of Judas is indeed very perplexing. What would make a man follow Jesus so closely for so long and then betray him at the end? Later he realized what he had done and commits suicide by hanging. Peter denied Jesus three times that day as Jesus predicted. When he realize what he did (when Jesus looked at him when the rooster crowed three times), Peter was heartbroken in remorse. He could not face Jesus anymore. He repented and went into hiding, perhaps he was fasting and praying on all those days till Jesus sent for him after his resurrection. Jesus forgave him and restored his position to be the bearer of the keys to the kingdom. Judas lost his apostleship. What a turn of events!

The special issue of Malankara World Journal covered the full passion till the burial. Then we come to the Gospel Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter, when everyone rested as it was Sabbath. But Jesus goes to Hades to announce the gospel to the departed waiting there for the Judgement day.

Now we come the Easter, Kyomtho day - the day Jesus rose from the dead winning over the death. Easter is the most important day for Christians. It is because the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, from the dead is the most important event in the history of this world and the entire universe.

This is why all of the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, reach their climax with the empty tomb. "He is not here, for he has risen, as he said" (Mt 28:6, see also Mk 16:6); "Why do you seek the living among the dead? Remember how he told you ... that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise" (Luke 24:6); "Go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God" (Jn 20:17).

There is no question that without a resurrected God, there is no Christianity. St. Paul makes that clear in 1 Cor 15:1-20. To summarize what Paul said,

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.

For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Jesus' mission is accomplished. He died on the cross, he was buried and on the third day he rose again according to scriptures, says our Nicene Creed. And we believe it. He is Risen. Indeed He is Risen.

I would like to conclude the foreword to this series of special issues with a story of Three Trees.

Three Trees

Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods.

They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, "Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty."

Then the second tree said, "Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull."

Finally the third tree said, "I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me."

After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees.

When one came to the first tree he said, "This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter," and he began cutting it down.

The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.

At the second tree the woodsman said, "This looks like a strong tree, should be able to sell it to the shipyard." The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.

When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, "I don't need anything special from my tree, so I'll take this one", and he cut it down.

When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for.

The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end.

The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark.

The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams. Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree.

The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.

Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and He stood and said "Peace," and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.

Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill.

When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.

The moral of this story is that when things don't seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, He will give you great gifts.

Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined.

We don't always know what God's plans are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.

We wish you all a happy Easter.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

Easter Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for Easter Sunday (April 5)
 
Sermons for Easter Sunday (April 5)

Malankara World Passion Week/Easter Supplement

Malankara World has a supplement that provides detailed information about Passion Week including articles, prayers, sermons, etc. You will find it here:

Passion Week Supplement in Malankara World

Malankara World has developed a daily plan of bible readings, meditations, reflections, and prayers for Passion Week and Easter. Please click on the link below for the day to read the reflection for that day.

Gospel Saturday

Easter

Malankara World Journal Specials on Easter:

MW Journal Issue 214 - Easter Special (April 2014)

MW Journal Issue 135 - Passion Week Special 5 - Easter - He has arisen!

MW Journal Issue 70 - Holy Week Special - 4 (Easter)

Easter Sunday Features

The Easter Triumph

by Fr. Robert Wagner

In this life, it is very easy to overlook spiritual realities because our senses are tuned to the material world that surrounds us. For this reason, it is important for each of us to free ourselves from sensory overload and quiet our minds to hear the voice of the Lord, who often comes to us in a "light, silent sound" (1 Kings 19:12).

However, our heavenly Father, the creator of all things, visible and invisible, can also use the material world to emphasize the spiritual. Such an event occurred on Golgotha, where St. Matthew tells us of the chaos that surrounded the death of Jesus on the cross: The earth shook, rocks were split open, and the tombs of the dead were opened (cf. Mt 27:51-52). Standing by Jesus and witnessing these frightening natural signs, a centurion and his companions could not help exclaiming, "Truly, this was the Son of God." (cf. Mt 27:54). The death of Our Savior on the cross was a spiritual triumph over sin, and God exclaimed this victory to the world using tumult of the physical world.

However, after the commotion, silence fell over the land, reflecting the immeasurable sorrow of the death of Our Lord. Solemnly, the body of Jesus was taken from the cross and laid in a tomb, and a large stone was rolled across the entrance. St. Matthew tells us that when the preparations were complete, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Joseph, remained sitting across from the tomb, staring at the spot where their teacher was laid to rest. No further details are offered, and we are left to wonder just how long these two women sat there side by side, looking at the tomb, heartbroken and confused at their incredible loss.

These same two women, still drawn to the tomb, appear again in St. Matthew's Easter morning narrative. Dawn is just beginning to break as they make their way to anoint the body of Jesus (Mk 16:1). Everything around them is silent and still, when suddenly, an earthquake jolts them awake. As the earthquake on Good Friday announced Christ's victory over sin, this earthquake proclaimed that death was vanquished as well. "Do not be afraid," an angel tells the women. "He is not here, for He has been raised just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay" (Mt 28:5-6).

While the women were undoubtedly confused and unable to grasp the message of the angel, we know through faith and the message of salvation this was an event that changed the world. We can forgive Mary Magdalene and her companion for their bewilderment, for nothing like the Resurrection had ever happened before, or even been dreamed of in the mind of man. Certainly the Gospels offer us occasions when a dead person is brought back to life through the intercession and power of Jesus. However, as God, Jesus alone has the power to raise Himself from the dead (Jn 10:18). Not only that, Lazarus and those whom Jesus raised to life all eventually died again. However, the Resurrection of Jesus is eternal. He has put an end to death and opened the door to everlasting life in heaven.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead on Easter morning is something completely different, transcendent and mysterious. While the Resurrection is a historical event that took place thousands of years away in a city thousands of miles away, its meaning touches each and every one of us today, for it is through the Resurrection that our lives "are swept up by Christ into the heart of divine life". We are swept up beyond the things of this world, swept up into His grace and glory, and swept up into the promise of everlasting joy of life with our triune God.

It is easy to miss the significance of the Easter triumph, even on the day we celebrate it. The Easter holiday, like so many other days, is full of activities that distract us from the spiritual life. God-willing, we will be spared an earthquake to jolt us to the tremendous truth of the Resurrection. Let us be swept up into its truth, beauty and joy this Easter, that we may be awakened and transformed as followers of the risen Jesus.

Source: Arlington Catholic Herald. Fr. Wagner is Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde's secretary.

Empty Tomb, Expectant Heart

by Father Robert Presutti, LC

Gospel: John 20:1-9

On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran off to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and told them, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him." So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter, and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down to look in and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not lying with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he had to rise from the dead.
- John 20:1-9

Introductory Prayer:

Lord, you are the source of all life because you are life itself. Your resurrection gives me the hope of being raised from the dead to rejoice with you forever in heaven. Thank you for your presence in my life. I love you, and I want to follow after you with all my heart. Be with me now, and inspire my prayer.

Petition:

Lord Jesus, grant me the joy of seeing my hopes constantly kindled by your power over sin and death. May the strength of your resurrection overcome the weaknesses of my human nature.

1. Confusing Signs:

Without faith, realities that should inspire hope and expectation only cause confusion. Jesus' empty tomb is the sign of the most complete victory, the most extreme love and the most powerful presence. Mary Magdalene, Peter and John all see the empty tomb. But their limited faith needs time to grow and completely accept the great gift that is offered to them. In approaching the mystery of God, I must stoke up my faith. Otherwise, what should cause hope and courage will only wind up becoming a stumbling block for me. Only a sincere and generous faith in Christ enables me to take the circumstances of life in hope, confidence and security.

2. Running to the Experience of Faith:

Running is an integral part of this Gospel. Mary Magdalene runs. Peter runs, and John outruns Peter. Love for the Lord creates a sense of urgency. What they saw at the tomb could have been seen without running at all. But promptness is a sign of love for the Lord. If I wish to experience Christ and the power of his resurrection, I need to have a sense of urgency in my relationship with the Lord. I must strive to meet him and give myself to him in my here and now. I can't wait for the "ideal" moment. If I don't give myself to Christ now, under the present conditions, there is no reason to think I ever will.

3. Faith Begins with the Experience of the Senses, but Does Not End There:

John, Peter and Mary Magdalene will eventually have an unshakeable conviction in the Resurrection, and become messengers of the Resurrection. But they first need to see the empty tomb and pick up the wrappings. They would also need to see and touch the risen Christ. All this would cause wonderment, reflection, and eventually a growing realization that would induce faith. God works in the same way in my life. First there are the lived experiences of my life: people I meet, circumstances I face, events that occur… Then my wonderment and reflection on what it all means; Then the slow dawning of faith.

"It is clearly evident that Christ's resurrection is the greatest Event in the history of salvation, and indeed, we can say in the history of humanity, since it gives definitive meaning to the world. The whole world revolves around the Cross, but only in the resurrection does the Cross reach its full significance of a salvific Event. The Cross and Resurrection constitute the one paschal mystery in which the history of the world is centered. Therefore Easter is the Church's greatest Solemnity. Every year she celebrates and renews this Event, fraught with all the prophecies of the Old Testament, beginning with the "Protoevangelium" of the Redemption, and of all the eschatological hopes and expectations projected towards the "fullness of time", which was realized when the Kingdom of God definitively entered human history and the universal order of salvation" (John Paul II, General Audience, March 1, 1989).

Conversation with Christ:

Lord Jesus, you know how to prepare your disciples to experience your presence deeply and know you intimately. I ask today for a deepening in my faith in your resurrection. Let all the events of my life point me to the truth that you are alive.

Resolution:

I will be prompt in meeting the duties and responsibilities of today, in the truth of the risen Christ.

Source: Regnum Christi

Peace Through a Resurrected Saviour

by Ralph Bouma

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, 'Peace be unto you' (John 20:19).

None but a resurrected Saviour can speak peace to any. "Peace be to you" was the blessed greeting of the Prince of Life to His disciples after His victory over death, hell and the grave.

This blessed peace purchased by the Prince of Peace by the price of His own life's blood was the glad tidings of the angelic carol in the night of our Lord's nativity. We read this in Luke 2:13-14: "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." We fallen men can have peace despite trials. This peace was purchased at the price of Christ's blood.

Peace between man and God was broken in the Garden of Eden. Peace in the heart and peace between man and man was lost. The first man born on the face of the earth was a murderer. Jealousy, a vindictive spirit, hatred, malice against God and our neighbor resulted from the fall. Outside of the restraining grace of God, living on earth would be a living hell.

The disciples were burdened with shame and guilt. Peter had denied his Lord, and the others had forsaken Him. They were living in fear for their own lives, but when the resurrected Jesus revealed Himself He did not upbraid them for their desertion.

So also it shall be when we come to meet Him face to face - with all our miserable failures and shortcomings - all our bitter attitudes and unjust sins of omission and commission. All our miserable divisions and variances will be put behind His back in that sea of everlasting forgetfulness. But how do we know this? Look at Hebrews 13:8-9: "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein." We cannot allow ourselves to have a dialogue with Satan and have doubts and fears trouble us. We need to look away from ourselves and our shortcomings and then we will find peace in a risen Lord, who has gained victory over sin, death and the grave.

Just yesterday, that is, in effect, the last thing Jesus told His disciples before He was crucified was what we read in John 16:32- 33: "Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

Peace was our Savior's yesterday Word, and "Peace" is His salutation today. He qualified what He meant by this word peace in John 14:26-27: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." We learn that we can have perfect peace under all circumstances, and this peace is for all eternity.

The first words of our risen Saviour were: "Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?" (John 20:15).

Our risen Saviour was still going about His Father's business. We read in Isaiah 61:1-3: "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified." He still comforts those who mourn. He still speaks peace in the hearts of those who are tried and harassed by Satan.

The question, "why weepest thou?" shall be answered for all the household of faith when we receive faith to recognize our risen Lord. This is what is lacking if we do not have peace. Look at Isaiah 25:8: "He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it."

Our Saviour's second question was even more searching. "Whom seekest thou?" or who is this that you are seeking among the dead? You cannot serve the things of this life, the things of death, and find Jesus in the things of this life. She was looking into a tomb to find the living Christ. Had she forgotten His words to Martha just before He raised Lazarus from the dead? We read in John 11:21- 28: "Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee."

Notice how Mary was so absorbed in her love for Jesus that she supposed everyone would know who it was that she sought. Three times in answering Jesus' question "Whom seekest thou?, she spoke of "Him" without mentioning His Name. We read in John 20:15: "Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away."

Mary, like the Shulamite crying out to the watchmen supposed everyone would know who it was that her very soul loved. We read in Song of Solomon 3:3: "The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?"

It is just in such times of our utmost extremity that our Saviour appears to speak peace. As Mary had reached the extremity of her anxiety her resurrected Lord and Saviour revealed Himself to her as the King of Peace while she was pleading, "Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away." Did she realize that it would be beyond her ability to take Him away? Yet, strength is made perfect in weakness.

It is important we notice this was her Lord's second utterance to Mary. First calling her "woman," He spoke to her as God unto His creature, but in calling her by name He spoke to her as her Saviour and Redeemer!

When our Lord calls us by name He reveals the family relationship into which He has entered with us. Look at Hebrews 2:11-12: "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." The Lord calls us by His name by giving us His Spirit so others can see Christ formed in us.

See how this intimate relationship is implied when Moses pleaded with the Lord in Exodus 33:12b: "Thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight." This means that we are brothers with Christ and part of the family of God. When He calls us by name this means we have found grace in His sight.

Our Saviour's own words support that intimate family relationship Christ has with those He calls by name. We read in John 10:3-4: "To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice."

It seals our redemption when our Lord calls us by name as we see from Isaiah 43:1: "But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine."

Along with this blessed seal of the Spirit goes our assurance that we have but to follow our blessed Shepherd as He goes before us. Look at Isaiah 43:2-3: "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee." See the personal relationship the risen Saviour has with those who follow Him.

See how immediately Mary went from the anxiety of seeking the Living among the dead to a mind of perfect peace in subjection to a risen Christ as we see in John 20:16: "Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master." One word from her Master was enough to transform an anxious weeping Mary into a worshipper who had found perfect peace.

Immediately following His revelation to Mary, on the same day the Lord Jesus came speaking peace to His disciples as their hearts were burning with anxiety.

Their first reaction was not the same as Mary. They were afraid. We read in Luke 24:36-37: "And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit."

Our blessed Lord has various ways of revealing Himself. See how He set his disciples at peace so patiently reasoning with their logic. Look at verses 38-40: "And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet."

Our blessed Lord has His own way of revealing that family relationship He has with His own sheep. The disciples may have thought they had been forsaken, but see how our Lord revealed that they were called by name. How do we know that the Lord is calling us by name? We experience it in different ways. Isaiah 49:14-16 says: "But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples by showing them that their names were written in His palms. That is how He showed them He could speak peace.

The Gospel of John reveals Jesus in a different dimension than Luke. He reveals Christ as the Son of God, and his view was shown in John 20:19b-20: "Jesus stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord." The Gospel of John does not record the failures of the flesh like Luke does. Luke teaches us the Son of Man. He shows the weakness of the flesh in the disciples, but John omitted that. John did not say that sometimes joy comes after a delay.

This word so indicates there was a close connection between this act of Christ and His spoken Word. The act of showing the wounds of His hand is connected to Him speaking peace to them. The marks in His hands and side not only established His identity, not only were His trophies of His victory over death and the grave, but they taught them as they teach you and me that the price of the peace He has made for us with a Holy and Righteous God was His death on the cross.

In saying "Peace be unto you," He said that all the enmity between fallen sinners and His holy Father had been removed by His atonement, or, that is, the reconciliation He purchased. We read in Ephesians 2:15-19: "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God."

When He speaks peace in our hearts He takes away all fear of the consequences of sin.

"Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord." Their fears were all gone, their hopes fulfilled, their hearts satisfied. Now indeed their Lord and Master had made good that He had promised.

John 16:20-22 says: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you."

There is a joy in believing that Satan and the world cannot take away.

From Fear to Faith in Four Steps: A Meditation on the Johannine Easter Gospel

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

One option for the Gospel for Easter Sunday morning is from John 20:1-8. And like most of the resurrection Gospels it paints a portrait of a journey some of the early disciples have to make out of fear and into faith. It shows the need to experience the resurrection and then come to understand it more deeply.

Let us focus especially on the journey that St. John makes from fear to faith. While the Gospel begins with Mary Magdalene, the focus quickly shifts to St. John. Lets study his journey.

I. REACTION MODE

The text begins by describing every one is a mere reaction mode, quite literally running about in a panic! – The text says, On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him."

Notice that the text describes the opening moments as "still dark." And it is likely that John is doing more than giving us the time of day. The deeper point is that there is still a darkness that envelopes everyone's mind. The darkness makes it difficult for us to see and our fears and our sorrows can blind us.

Therefore also notice that she looks right at the evidence of the Resurrection but she presumes and concludes the worst: grave robbers have surely come and snatched the body of the Lord! It doesn't even occur to her to remember that Jesus had said that he would rise on the third day and that this was that very third day. No she goes immediately into reaction mode, instead of reflection mode. Her mind jumps to the negative and worst conclusion and she, by reacting and failing to reflect looks right at the blessing and sees a curse.

And often we do this too. We look at our life and see only the burdens instead of the blessings. And thus:

I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings, instead of thinking, "Thank you, Lord, that I can hear. There are many who are deaf. Thank that I have the strength to rise, there are many who do not."

Even though the first hour of a day may be hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned and tempers are short, the children are so loud! Instead of thinking, "Thank you Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely.

Yes, we can even be thankful for the taxes we pay, because it means we're employed; the clothes that fit a little too snugly, because it means we have enough to eat; our heating bill, because it means we are warm; and weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day, because it means we have been productive.

Yes, every day ten million things go right and a half a dozen things go wrong. What will you focus on?

Will we look right at the signs of our blessings and call them burdens, or will we bless the Lord?

Do we live lives that are merely reactive and negative, or do we live reflectively, remembering what the Lord says, that even our burdens are gifts in strange packages. Romans 8 says, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28)

Do we know this, or are we like the disciples on that early morning, when it is still dark, looking right at the blessings but drawing only negative conclusions, reacting and failing to reflect?

II. RECOVERY MODE

The Text goes on to describe a certain move from reaction to reflection in a subtle way. The text says, So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.

We start in reaction mode. Notice how Mary Magdalene's anxiety is contagious? She comes running to the apostles, all out of breath, and says that "they" (whoever they are) have taken the Lord (she speak of him still as a corpse) and "we" (she and the other women who had gone out) don't know where they put him (again she speaks of him as an inanimate corpse). And Mary's panic and reactive mode, triggers that same reaction in the Apostles. They're all running now! The mad dash to the tomb has begun.

But notice they are running to verify grave-robbery, not the resurrection. Had they but taken time to reflect, perhaps they would have thought to remember that the Lord had said he would rise on the third day, and this was the third day. Never mind all that, panic and running have spread and they rush forth to confirm their worst fears.

But note a subtlety. John begins to pick up speed as he runs. And his speed, I would argue, signals reflection and hope. Some scholars say it indicates merely that he was the younger man. Unlikely. The Holy Spirit speaking through John is not likely interested in passing things like youth. Some of the Father's of the Church see a greater truth at work in the love and mystical tradition that John the Apostle symbolizes. He was the Disciple whom Jesus loved, the disciple who knew and experienced that love of God. And love often sees what knowledge and authority can only appreciate and affirm later. Love gets there first.

There is also a Bible verse that I would argue decodes John's increasing strength as he runs:

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
(Is 40:31).

Perhaps as John ran faster as he began to move from reaction to reflection and remembrance. When you run fast, even with others, you can't talk a lot. So you get alone with your thoughts. There is something about love that enlightens and recalls what the beloved has said. Perhaps John begins to think, to reflect and recall:

Didn't Jesus say he'd rise three days later?!
Isn't this that day?
Perhaps he considered too:
Didn't my Lord deliver Daniel?
Didn't he deliver Noah from the flood?
Joseph from the hands of his brothers, and from the deep dungeon
Didn't he deliver Moses and the people from Egypt
David from Goliath and Saul
Jonah from the whale
Queen Esther and the people from wicked men
Susanna from her false accusers
Judith from Holofernes
And didn't Jesus raise the dead?!
And Didn't he promise to rise.
Didn't God promise to deliver the just from all their trial?
Ah! As for me I know that my redeemer liveth!

And something started to happen in John. And I have it on the best of authority that he began to sing in his heart as he ran:

I don't feel no ways tired.
Come too far from where I started from.
Nobody told me that the road would be easy
but I don't believe he brought me this far to leave me.

Yes, John is in recovery now. He's moved from reaction to reflection and he is starting to regain his faith.

The text says he looked in and saw the grave clothes, but awaited Peter. Mystics and lovers may get there first, but the Church has a Magisterium that must be respected too. John waits, but as we shall see he has made his transition from reaction to reflection, from fear to faith.

III. REASSESSMENT MODE

In life, our initial reactions must often be reassessed as further evidence comes in. And now, Peter and John must take a fresh look at the evidence from their own perspective. The text says, When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths [lying] there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.

Mary Magdalene's assessment had been, in effect, grave robbers. But the evidence for that seems odd. Usually grave robbers were after the fine linens that the dead were buried in. But here are the linens and gone is the body! Strange.

And there is something even stranger about the linens. If it had been grave robbers they wouldn't have taken time to unwrap the body of valuable grave linens. The Greek text uses the word describes the clothes as ?e?µe?a (keimena) – lying stretched out in place, lying in order. It is almost as if the clothes simply "deflated" in place when the body they covered disappeared!

Not only that, but the most valuable cloth of all, the s??d????? (soudarion) is carefully folded. Grave robbers would not leave the most valuable things behind. And surely, even if for some strange reason they wanted the body, they would not have bothered to carefully unwrap and fold things, and leaven them all stretched out in an orderly way. Robbers work quickly, they grab and snatch and leave disorder behind them.

And life is like this. You can't simply accept the first interpretation of things. Every reporter knows that "in the fog of war, the first reports are always wrong." And thus we too have to be careful not to jump to all sorts of negative conclusions just because someone else is worried. Sometimes we need to take a fresh look at the evidence and interpret it as men and women of hope and faith, as men and women who know that God will not utterly forsake us, even if he tests us.

John is now looking at the same evidence as did Mary Magdalene, but his faith and hope give him a different vision. His capacity to move beyond fearful reaction to faithful reflection is changing the picture.

We know little of the reaction of Peter or Mary Magdalene at this point. The focus is on John. And the focus is on you. What do you see in life? Do you see grave robbers? Or are you willing to reconsider and move from knee-jerk fear to reflective faith?

Does your resurrection faith make you ready to reassess even the bad news you receive and look for a blessing even in crosses?

IV. RESURRECTION MODE

And now, though somewhat cryptically we focus on the reaction and mindset of St. John. The text says, Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

At one level the text says, plainly that St. John saw and believed. Does the text mean only that he believed Mary Magdalene's story that the body was gone? Well, as is almost always the case with John's Gospel, there is both a plain meaning and a deeper meaning. The context here seems clearly to be that John has moved to a deeper level. The text says he ?p?ste?se? (episteusen) "believed." The verb here is in the aorist tense, a verb form that generally portrays a situation as simple or undivided, that is, as having perfective (or completed) aspect. In other words, something has come to fruition in him.

And yet, what the text gives, it also seems to qualify, saying, they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. It is as if to say, "John came to believe that Jesus had risen, though he had not yet come to fully understand all the scriptural connections and how this had to be. He only knew in his heart by love and through this evidence that Jesus was risen. Deeper understanding would have to come later.

But for our purposes, let us observe that St. John has gone from fear to faith. He has not yet seen Jesus alive, but he believes based on the evidence, and what his own heart and mind tell him.

And now, at this moment John is like us. He has not seen, but believes. Neither have we seen, but we believe. John would seem him alive soon enough and so will we!

We may not have an advanced degree in Scripture but through love we too can know he lives. Why and how? Because of the same evidence:

The grave clothes of my old life are strewn before me.
I am rising to new life.
I am experiencing greater victory over sin.
Old sins and my old Adam are being put to death
And the life of the new Adam, Christ is coming alive.
I'm being set free and have hope and confidence, new life and new gifts.
I have increasing gratitude, courage and a deep peace that says: Everything is alright.
Yes, the grave clothes of my old way of life lie stretched out before me and I now wear a new robe of righteousness.
I'm not what I want to be but I'm no what I used to be.

So we like John, see. We see not the risen Lord, not yet anyway. But we see the evidence and we believe.

St. John leaves this scene a believer. His faith may not be the fully perfected faith it will become, but he does believe. John has gone from fear to faith, from reaction to reflection, from panic to peace. This is his journey, and prayerfully, our too.

If Christ Has Not Been Raised

by Mark Shea

Here's a little piece I did a few years back on why I think it obvious the Resurrection really happened. Exalted Felicitations of the Day!

I'm told the latest trend among professional atheists, who read each other but not actual New Testament scholarship except from the hothouse of court prophets for atheism like Bob Price and Bart Ehrman, is that Jesus is a "composite". It's unclear what this means, but I take it that they think the authors of the New Testament dug through the Old Testament for random verses and then invented incidents in the life of Jesus in order make him fit the Old Testament prophecies. How they know this is anybody's guess. Myself, I would say that what is gratuitously asserted can be gratuitously denied.

Just the other day, somebody was here offering his expert opinions on the trial of Jesus and the alleged "fact" that the Romans only crucified people in large batches, so that it's impossible Jesus was only crucified with two thieves. How on earth he is supposed to know this and know that all the eyewitnesses are wrong, I have no knowledge, but it read like one of those agreed upon "facts" that one picks up from one's peer group and gets repeated in order to reinforce group cohesion.

Here's the deal: if you want to really understand the gospels realize two things:

First, they are (as one German scripture scholar aptly put it) "passion narratives with long introductions". The focus of all the gospels - the thing they each spend a quarter of their ink on - is a 72 hour period in the life of their hero. All the other stuff in the gospels is leading up to that and it's all focused on that like the spokes on a wheel focus on the hub. If you don't get that white hot focus on the events of that weekend and the fact that this is what the community exists to remember, you have no idea what you are talking about in discussing the gospels. This means that confident declarations that the community is radically misremembering these events have a lot to overcome and that casual declarations that "It couldn't have happened that way" require more than gratuitous assertions as evidence. Particularly since…

Second, as Richard Bauckham has amply demonstrated in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, the gospels read, quite obviously, as multiply-attested eyewitness testimony, not as ingenious fabrications of a "literary composite" who never existed. "Jesus never existed" rubbish is the 9/11 Trutherism of biblical studies. Atheists who embrace it only demonstrate that their contempt for their subject has the inevitable effect of doing what all sin does: making you stupid. The gospels are written as accounts by, or drawn from, eyewitnesses to the events of Jesus' life. They obey all the literary conventions, not of myth, but of ancient historiography. And their entire point and the only reason the eyewitnesses think it worth telling that story - in four accounts that closely corroborate each other - is that this particular life ends with a death and resurrection that they themselves saw (and went on to die for).

It's not just the big things like the corroborations of the four evangelists who obviously believe the story they are telling. It's also the little things. The gospels, for instance, periodically name characters in the story who are of no particular importance to the overall tale, such as Bartimaeus the blind beggar, or Malchus, or Jairus, or Simon of Cyrene (father of Alexander and Rufus), or (as we heard at the Easter Vigil) "Mary, the mother of James".

Why do they do this? Because ancient word processors have no footnote function, so the convention in ancient historiography is to name the person who is the source of the tradition in the text. In other words, Simon of Cyrene (and his sons) become members of the Christian community and they are the source of that story about the carrying of the cross - and they are known to the Church at Rome to whom Mark is writing (you can see Paul saying "howdy" to Rufus at the end of Romans).

Likewise, "Mary, the mother of James" (that would be "James, the first bishop of Jerusalem, aka the "brother" (really cousin) of the Lord" is also named as "Mary, the wife of Clopas" (aka "Cleopas", the disciple who meets the Risen Jesus on the Emmaus Road). In short, James of Jerusalem's mother was an eyewitness of the Crucifixion, was present at the tomb on Easter morning, and his father Clopas had gotten the report from her before heading off to Emmaus and his own strange encounters. These are figures who play no central role in the rest of the gospel accounts, but here they are giving us their testimony through Luke. The whole thing reads exactly like eyewitness interviews, not like myth (though, of course, the story of Christ fulfills the deepest mythic yearnings of our race, as you would expect a real God to do.

Anyway, all that is to say, the Good News about the Good News is that it is News, not fiction.

Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast - unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.

For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
- 1 Cor 15:1-20

Experience the Power of the Resurrection Every Day

by Whitney Hopler

The resurrection is more than just an event that happened once in history. It's the source of the power you can experience in your own life, every day. The same power that resurrected Jesus from death to life is available to you, and if you tap into it, you'll see amazing transformation in your own life, too.

Here's how you can experience resurrection power every day:

Use the power now, not just in heaven.

Your hope of the resurrection isn't just for the future when you physically die and go to heaven; it's also for now, while you're living on earth and struggling with sin. Make use of that God-given power to help you overcome sin right now, and every day you're alive. Regularly confess your sins, repent of them, and embrace the forgiveness and grace God offers you to keep growing.

Trade religion for relationship.

Instead of pursuing hope through performing religious rituals, believing right doctrines, or doing good deeds, realize that those things are valuable yet can't produce hope. Place your hope in a dynamic relationship with Jesus. As you live for Him, relying on His resurrection power at work in your life, you'll experience the fulfillment of all God's good purposes for you. Instead of focusing on what you can do for God, focus on what God can do through you.

Set eternal priorities.

Ask God to help you see your life from His perspective. Look beyond the world's values (which are only temporary) to what has eternal value. Base your decisions -- for all aspects of your life -- on what matters most in eternity. Make the most of your time here on earth, keeping in mind that it will soon be over and you'll be accountable to God for how you used your time here.

Die to self.

Remember that death must always precede resurrection. Be willing to sacrifice whatever selfish desires and agendas you have that conflict with God's purposes for your life. Decide to crucify your selfish attitudes and behaviors, so God will raise you to new life by transforming your attitudes and behaviors into healthy ones that will help you grow to be more like Jesus. Understand that, physically, you're born and live until you die, progressing toward physical death. But spiritually, you're dead until you're made alive through a relationship with Jesus, progressing toward eternal life.

Expect the impossible.

Just as the resurrection itself was impossible for anyone but God, the power behind the resurrection will take you into situations that are impossible for you to deal successfully with on your own. Expect God to challenge your faith when you ask for His resurrection power in your life, but know that if you trust Him, you'll experience greater adventures than you can imagine.

Experience resurrection peace.

You don't have to live with guilt and shame because of the resurrection's power to forgive your sins. Ask God to flood your soul with the peace of knowing that you're in a right relationship with Him. Recognize that if you're deliberately sinning against God, you can't be in a right relationship with Him, so deal with your sin so it doesn't block the peace God wants you to experience. If you want to experience the peace Jesus offers, you must come to Him on His terms, being willing to live the way He leads you to live -- the way that's best for you. Every day, repent of your sins, so you can enjoy true peace.

Experience resurrection joy.

The freedom from sin and hope in Jesus that the resurrection produced brings great joy into your life. If you allow your constantly changing circumstances to control your life, you can easily lose your happiness. But if you allow the Holy Spirit to lead you, you'll experience joy, which will remain constant despite your circumstances. Unlike happiness, joy is more than an emotion -- it's the ability to see beyond your circumstances to the God who has ultimate control over them, and always acts according to what's best for you.

Use your resurrection authority.

Make full use the authority you have as a Christian to lead other people to eternal life. The greatest power on earth is to see a person become born again. So, as valuable as it is to minister to people's physical needs, don't stop there. Share the Gospel message with other people as often as you can. By doing so, you'll be helping to release God's resurrection power into their lives. Stay closely connected to God so your life as a Christian will reflect the kind of character and obedience it should. Do your best to live faithfully to represent Jesus well. As other people see God at work in your life, they'll be attracted to Him. Every day, continue to pursue God passionately, and your passion for Him will spark the interest of others around you who can pursue Him themselves.

Experience resurrection confidence.

Since God is on your side, you can be absolutely confident in His love and you don't need to be afraid of what the future holds. Whenever you encounter trouble in this fallen world, trust God to lead you through it and accomplish a good purpose in the process. Don't place your trust in anything lesser than God -- like your family, your health, your job, your talents, or your money. Give your allegiance wholeheartedly to God, and you'll experience confidence that can't be shaken by changing circumstances.

Experience resurrection hope.

Your salvation means that you don't need to fear death. Expect God to fulfill all the promises He makes in the Bible, and trust those promises in your own life. Don't little life's petty annoyances weigh you down; realize that they're irrelevant compared to your eternal reward in heaven. Live with heaven in mind -- pursuing eternal values -- and rejoice in the hope you can experience every day.

Adapted from 'Experiencing the Resurrection: The Everyday Encounter that Changes Your Life', copyright 2007 by Henry T. Blackaby and Melvin D. Blackaby. Published by Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc., Colorado Springs, Co.

About The Authors:

Henry Blackaby, Ph. D., president emeritus of Blackaby Ministries, is the author of more than a dozen books, including the best-selling classic 'Experiencing God.'
Mel Blackaby, Ph.D., coauthored with his father, Henry Blackaby, the Gold Medallion winner Experiencing God Together. He travels extensively as a conference speaker.

Source: Christianity.com Daily Update

Resurrection Power

by Joel Osteen

…He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen... Matthew 28:6, NLT.

We have a reason to celebrate life every single day because the God we serve is alive. His resurrection power didn't end on the cross 2000 years ago; His power is still at work today. Not only did He resurrect Jesus from the dead, but He wants to extend His resurrection power into every single area of your life, too.

Maybe you have a dream to get out of debt, pay off your house or be free from a burden of lack, but it looks impossible. Business is slow. The economy is down. You've gone as far as your education allows. But God is saying, "I'm not limited by those things. I've got resurrection power. I can give you one break that will thrust you to a new level. I can open up doors that no man can shut. I can bring talent out of you that you didn't know you had. I can cause people to go out of their way to want to be good to you for no reason."

Today, get your hopes up. Get your expectancy up. Remember, He is risen, and He is alive. There's a shift coming, and He is faithful to His Word. Let His resurrection power flow in every area of your life!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for Your resurrection power at work in my life. Today, I give You my broken dreams, disappointments, failures and setbacks, and I trust that You will breathe Your life into me. I trust that You have a good plan for my future, and You are leading me into total victory in Jesus' name. Amen.  

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