Easter Sunday – Christ is Risen!

The Empty Tomb: John 20: 1-22

1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

 3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

  “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

   Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

   She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

On this glorious Easter morning we awake to a world that is filled with hope instead of despair. A morning that is full of light instead of the darkness of Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Christ is risen and He is victorious over evil.This Easter morning we join with believers throughout the world in proclaiming: Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen indeed!

 

Holy Saturday

Today is called Holy Saturday and it is the day after Good Friday. Holy Saturday is also  called Black Saturday. It is the last day of Holy Week, in which we await the resurrection of Christ on Easter morning. On Holy Saturday we remember the day that the body of Christ lay in the tomb.

From the book of Matthew we find this event happening on Saturday, which was the Sabbath. Matthew 27:62-66: The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

John 16:20-22: I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

On this day, I am certain that the disciples were confused and scared. Jesus had been crucified and all may have seemed hopeless and lost. We know that the disciples struggled often in their walk of faith and on this dark day they probably could not begin to comprehend what was about to take place the next morning. The despair that they must have felt and the guilt of abandoning Jesus would have been a heavy burden to bear. They probably could not see or imagine – the light and the hope that would forever change the world – come tomorrow morning. Even though it may have seemed that evil had prevailed we know that evil will never prevail against God’s Kingdom. Tomorrow we can say with complete joy and confidence that – Christ is risen – Christ is risen indeed!

 

Passion Week – Friday

The Jewish and Roman trials of Jesus

Jesus’ trial took place in two stages: a Jewish trial and a Roman trial, each of which had three parts. For the Jewish trial these were: (1) the preliminary hearing before Annas, the former high priest; (2) the trial before Caiaphas, the ruling high priest, and the Sanhedrin; and (3) the final action of the council, which brought to a conclusion its all-night session.  The three episodes of the Roman trial were: (1) the trial before Pilate; (2) the trial before Herod Antipas; and (3) the trial before Pilate continued and concluded. [1]

The first trial occurred during the nighttime hours before Annas. In the second trial before the Sanhedrin, Jesus is pronounced “worthy of death.”  Matthew 26:67-68: Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?” The third trial occurred immediately at daybreak and the council condemns Jesus and leads him off to Pilate.

Matthew’s Gospel tells us that when Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, saw that Jesus had been condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself (Matthew 27:3-5).

Still early in the morning, Jesus goes before Pilate. When Pilate realizes that Jesus is a Galilean, he sends him to Herod Antipas, because Galilee was under Herod’s jurisdiction. Luke tells us that when Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. Luke writes that Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends – before this they had been enemies (Luke 23:11-12).

Pilate then examines Jesus and cannot find a basis for a charge against Jesus. Pilate wanted to release Jesus but the crowd kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Luke 23:20-21). Herod then speaks to the crowd for a third time telling them that he will have Jesus punished and then released. “But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed.” So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

Jesus is crucified (from approximately 9 AM until Noon)

Mark’s gospel gives us the following account of Jesus’ crucifixion. A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get (Mark 15:21-24).

John 19:25-27: Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Luke 23:44-49: It was now about the sixth hour (noon) and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour (3pm), for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Jesus Burial

 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Jesus’ body would have been wrapped and placed in the tomb before sunset, when the Sabbath would begin and no work could be done.

[1] Zondervan NIV Study Bible, 2002, page 1559

Passion Week – Thursday

Thursday – The Last Supper and Gethsemane

Jesus prepares himself and his disciples for his death and gives the Passover meal a new meaning.

Luke 22:7-23: The Last Supper: 7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”

9 “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.

 10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”

 13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

 14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

 17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet: John’s gospel tells us that “Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1). John tells us that the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus. After the meal, Jesus gets up and begins to wash his disciples feet. Jesus tells his disciples, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (John 13:7). Jesus tells his disciples that they should also wash one another’s feet, that they should be humble in service towards others.

The gospel of Mark tells us that when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives (Mark 14:26).

Gethsemane: Mark 14:32-42: 32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

 37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

 41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Jesus Arrested: Mark 14-43-50: 43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

 44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

   48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.

Before the Sanhedrin: Mark 14:53-56;64b-65:  53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.

They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

 This concludes the events of Thursday of Holy Week.

Passion Week – Wednesday

Wednesday – A Day of Rest and Silence

 For Jesus, Wednesday was a day of rest and he most likely remained in Bethany throughout the day and also spent the night there again. The Gospel accounts are mostly silent in regards to any activity by Jesus on Wednesday – although Luke tells us that Jesus was teaching at the temple each day of the final week of his life – Luke 21:37-38.  Jesus, knowing what was ahead probably spent time in the company of his friends only two days before he is to be crucified.

One can hardly imagine what was going through Jesus’ mind on this apparent day of rest. In two days, the “light” that came into a dark and fallen world would be crucified. Jesus would take on the sin of the world and and suffer a painful and agonizing death on the cross at Calvary. As I write this today, I am painfully reminded of how much pain and suffering Jesus endured so that my sins and your sins could be forgiven. It gives me greater strength to approach life differently, to live a life that is focused on following my Lord and Savior without hesitation. Jesus reminds us that we are to take up our cross daily and to follow him. That is a calling that we as followers of Christ should not take lightly.

There was much activity going on by those who were plotting to kill Jesus. It could have been on Wednesday that Judas went to the chief priests with an offer to betray Jesus. Matthew 26:14-16: Then one of the Twelve – the one called Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” so they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – only two days from the cross at Calvary.

 

Passion Week – Tuesday

According to the Gospel accounts, these events took place on Tuesday of Passion Week.

A day of controversy and parables: In Jerusalem, Jesus eluded the traps set by the priests. On the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem, Jesus taught in parables and warned the people against the Pharisees. He predicted the destruction of Herod’s great temple and told his disciples about future events, including his own return.

Jesus’ disciples see the withered fig tree on their return to Jerusalem from Bethany: Mark 11:20-25: In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”  “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.

“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Jesus engages in conflict with the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem: Mark 11:27-33: They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?”  Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)

So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”   Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

Jesus then began to speak to the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders and he spoke to them in parables. Jesus tells them the parable of the tenants, a parable that exposed the planned attempt on Jesus’ life, and God’s judgment on those who were planning it. After Jesus told this parable, the gospel writer Mark tells us: “Then they looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away” (Mark 12:12).

Luke 21:37-38: Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.

It appears that Jesus again spends the night in Bethany. This concludes the events of Tuesday of Passion Week.[1]

 



[1] NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing, Passion Week Chart, pages 1556-1557

 

Passion Week – Monday

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the day which Jesus made his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Mark 11:1 tells us that after Jesus entered Jerusalem he went to the temple and “looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve” (Mark 11:11).

Monday of Passion Week:  Jesus curses a fig tree: Mark 11:12-14: The next day (Monday) as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

Jesus clears the Temple: Mark 11:15-18: On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”  The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

In the evening Jesus and the Twelve leave Jerusalem and return to Bethany (Mark 11:19).

According to the gospels, these things took place on Monday of Passion Week.

Alive in Christ

Ephesians 2:4-9: (NIV) But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

While reading my Bible this morning, I was led to the book of Ephesians. God knew that I was struggling a little bit more than usual today and I believe that He wanted me to hear this word of assurance and hope. I don’t know where you are in your walk with God at this very moment, only you and God know that. But I do know that we all go through difficult times in life and we are faced with many challenges and temptations that attempt to pull us away from God. This passage reminded me of who I am in Christ and the incredible sacrifice that Christ made for all mankind. God loved us all so very much that He sent his only Son as a sacrifice for our sin. And it is only by God’s grace that we have been saved and given the assurance of a future home in heaven. There is absolutely nothing that we can do to earn God’s grace, it is freely given as a gift from a loving God.

Romans 5:20b-21(NIV): But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The Apostle Paul goes on to ask the question, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:1-2, 11). As believers who have already been “seated with Christ in the heavenly realms” we must live a life that is dead to sin and alive in Christ.

There is an old church hymn entitled, Grace Greater than Our Sin that so beautifully sums up God’s marvelous grace. Read the words of this great hymn to reminds yourself of how much your heavenly Father loves you and freely offers you His grace.

 

1.            Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,

grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!

Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,

there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

 

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

grace, grace, God’s grace,

grace that is greater than all our sin!

 

2.            Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,

threaten the soul with infinite loss;

grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,

points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

 

3.            Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.

What can avail to wash it away?

Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,

brighter than snow you may be today.

 

 

4.            Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,

freely bestowed on all who believe!

You that are longing to see his face,

will you this moment his grace receive?[1]

 

 

 



[1] http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh365.sht, Text: Julia H. Johnston, Music: Daniel B. Towner

Enduring Trials and Suffering

Colossians 1:10-14 (NIV)

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

The Letter to the Colossians is one of the four prison letters of the Apostle Paul (the others are Philemon, Ephesians, and Philippians). Paul likely wrote these letters while imprisoned in Rome awaiting trial before Caesar (Acts 28:17-31). Paul is a true example of someone who continued to serve God in the midst of difficult circumstances. Paul did not let his condition in life or his surroundings prevent him from carrying out the responsibility of spreading the Gospel message.

As I was reading Colossians this morning for a class that I am taking, I was immediately drawn to how God was speaking to me through these four verses. It’s amazing when God uses the Bible to speak to us in whatever situation we find ourselves in life. And yet, many of us fail to pick up our Bible daily and allow God to direct and guide us through another day. God is willing to reveal to us, His purpose for our lives each and every day, and the Bible is a powerful way that He has chosen to accomplish that. Our responsibility is to open up our Bible, read it, and allow God to speak to us through the Holy Spirit that lives and dwells in us as followers of Christ.

In these four verses from Colossians, you may have noticed some important aspects of our lives that God wants us to focus on. Paul writes to the believers at Colossae about how their lives should reflect the presence of the gospel message that has been preached to them. They are reminded that Paul and others are praying daily for their very lives to be transformed by the “good news” that they have heard.

Their lives should be characterized by bearing fruit, growing in the knowledge of God, having endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father who has redeemed them and forgiven them of their sins, through Jesus Christ the Son. Paul reminds them that they have been transferred from the “dominion of darkness” and brought into the “kingdom of the Son” or the “kingdom of light” because of their belief and faith in Christ.

This is a powerful reminder to us today that we should be praying daily for our lives to be transformed by meditating on the “good news” of the Gospel. I am convinced that through daily prayer and the daily reading of the Bible, God can powerfully transform our mind and our attitude so that we can bear fruit, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. As we grow in the knowledge of God, we will be “strengthened with all power,” and we will be given the endurance and patience that we need to follow Christ while living in a fallen world. And through difficult trials and dark moments in life, we must remember to joyfully give thanks to God, who redeems us and forgives us.

I encourage you to read this passage from Colossians on a daily basis to remind yourself that there is hope in the midst of darkness. God stands ready and willing to lead you out of that dark place and into the “light” of His kingdom. Don’t let despair, worry, and even difficult life circumstances bring you down. Instead, wake up each morning, open up and read your Bible, and allow God to speak to your heart through His holy word. God wants to encourage us and help us to realize the full potential of the life that He created us to live. But it is our responsibility to approach God through prayer and the reading of His word so that we can draw closer to God and allow Him to communicate with us through the Holy Spirit.

As followers of Christ, we will face difficult circumstances many times throughout our lives. Christ suffered and died for our sins, and we have the responsibility and honor to suffer also, because of the grace that God has so freely given to each of us. Look to God for renewed strength that will give you the endurance and patience that is required to finish the race. And by believing in Christ as the only way to God, you will be qualified to “share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” Thanks be unto God, for loving us, redeeming us, and forgiving us of our many sins.

As I struggle with the daily worries and difficulties of life, I am greatly encouraged and strengthened by God’s promise that my future is already assured. By believing in Jesus Christ, I am promised eternal life in heaven where there will be no more worry, pain, suffering, or death. As believers, God stands ready and willing to transform us each and every day, to make us a little more Christ like. It is our responsibility to pray and read our Bible daily and ask to God for the renewed strength and patience to endure whatever might come our way in our daily walk with God.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Luke 13:1-5: Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that the Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Tomorrow I am preaching a sermon from Luke 13 on why bad things happen to good people. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and he is teaching his disciples and the crowd that has been drawn to him along the way. Jesus has just made a comment about how the people seem to be able to predict the weather but they are unable to observe the signs of the times. They fail to realize that God’s kingdom, through Jesus the Christ, has arrived.

And then someone asks the question that we all ask ourselves from time to time, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Well the question was actually posed by Jesus because he knew what they wanted to ask. The people were telling Jesus about the killing of some Galileans while apparently in worship at the temple. Did their “sin” bring this horrible judgment upon them? Were these people more sinful than others who also worshiped at the temple on a different day? Jesus said, “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

This is a question that we ask ourselves many times throughout our lives. It could be something as minor as a flat tire, a roof leak, or some other costly repair bill. We can’t help but wonder and ask ourselves, “What did I do to deserve that?” Is God punishing me for some sin that is present in my life?

Many of us have heard others pass judgment on someone who has a serious illness or even at the death of a person. They say, “This must have happened because of God’s judgment on their sinful life.” There are many people who believe that there is a reason for human suffering and that it has to do with sinfulness in the life of that person.

In the Gospel of John, we find that the disciples asked this same question of Jesus on at least one occasion when they encountered a man born blind from birth. John 9:2-3: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” This happened so that God’s glory and power would be made known to mankind.

The question of why God allows suffering or why bad things happen to good people is a question that all believers struggle with at different times throughout our lives. There is no clear or definitive answer to this question. It is a question that theologians and scholars and ordinary followers of Christ have asked throughout the centuries.

My first response to this question would be that bad things happen to all kinds of people – both good and bad. Painful and tragic events occur because our all-loving God gave us the freedom to make choices. When bad choices and decisions are made, tragedy and pain usually occurs. Thankfully our God can take our pain and tragedy and turn them into good things that could only come from a loving and all-powerful God.

So why does bad things happen to good people, and not so good people? Jesus didn’t clearly tell us why and so obviously, neither can I. However, Jesus did tell us that we must repent of our sin and accept God’s grace if we want to share in God’s kingdom. Jesus invites us to look for ways to take the things of this world that are evil and painful and turn them into good things – God things. We can’t do it alone, but we can do it with God’s guidance and with His grace.

So the next time you face difficulty in your life, remember that in the middle of those bad things, in the very midst of the pain and suffering, that God is there with you as you walk through the desert, or the wilderness, or even the valley of the shadow of death.

And also remember, that we serve and believe in a risen Savior that has overcome and defeated death for us all. Thanks be to God who always gives us just what we need – lots and lots of grace – to endure and persevere through any situation that we face in this life.