Afraid Yet Filled With Joy
From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
The Psalm For Easter Sunday - Psalm 118:5-8, 14, 24,26
The writer of the Psalms is King David...the blood ancestor of our Savior, Jesus Christ:
"In my anguish, I cried out to the Lord and He answered me by setting me free...the Lord is with me, I will not be afraid..what can man do to me? The Lord is with me...He is my helper...I will look in triumph on my enemies...It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. The Lord is my strength and my song..He has become my salvation. ...this is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it..."
2 Samuel 7: 9,16 reveals the great plan of God given freely to all who take faith...to redeem us...to give us assurance we need...to know that our lives are not in vain. Presently we are in the midst of a great corona virus pandemic. In the midst of our deep concerns, we will not only proceed confidently and safely, but we will have a glorious legacy granted like that of King David. God in this remarkable Scripture promises King David,
"I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great like the names of the greatest men of the earth." (2 Samuel 7:9).
Imagine, after all these centuries, we still think about David, we study his life, and we ponder the details of his struggles and triumphs. The point is...the Lord has a very special destiny planned for us, and not just King David. Christian people in our lives, long dead to this world, are still very much alive because of their goodness and faith is lived out in our lives. David was not perfect, and yet, the Lord called David a man after His own heart. The secret of this whole business of being resurrected is basically...no perfect people are going to heaven, because there aren't any perfect people...only imperfect people like David. The basic fact of David's life was that he was a man of firm faith in the Lord. not himself. His focus as an imperfect man of faith was to please the Lord by trusting in Him on matter what.
So now we get it..."resurrection" --- it's not so much something that we believe in...it is something we know because we have experienced it ourselves...you and I die to our self...we die to selfishness...we die to vain pursuits and pleasures...in order to serve Christ...So Saint Paul writes in Romans 6:4: "We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the Father's glory, we too may live a new life."
Do you have "new life"? Do you desire "new life". How about it? Welcome to the real and authentic celebration of Easter...Resurrection Day for me and you...as well as Jesus. Today, Lord, once again, we submit ourselves to your Lordship over our lives. The whole and complete story of Easter is not just the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, but the resurrection of the deadness in our spiritual life. Do you desire the "living water"? Do you want "new life"?
The way I see it...you and I don't really "believe" in Resurrection and Eternal Life...rather...WE KNOW IT because we have experienced it in the power of the Holy Spirit. We have sensed "new life" totally consuming what we were. We have received the truth of the Lord Jesus for ourselves. We must be "born again". We must accept the invitation.
Acts 10:39-41 As Peter preaches he reveals this to his hearers, "We are witnesses of everything He did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed Him by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised Him from the dead on the third day and caused Him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen--by us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead."
This, of course, is the testimony we need to have Saint Peter acknowledge about what happened then. Colossians 3:1-4 Paul communicates the insight of persons who know Jesus... "...you have been raised with Christ, SET YOUR HEARTS on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. SET YOUR MINDS on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will appear with Him in glory."
Saint Paul in addition to this sense of what true Christian faith is writes in Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me...I do not set aside the grace of God...for if righteousness could be gained through the Law (Moses), CHRIST DIED FOR NOTHING!"
No, Lord, we do not accept...we do not want to believe...that the Lord Jesus Christ died in vain. No, Lord. Matthew 28:5 ff. ... The angel said to the women (Mary Magdalene and the other Mary), "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified...He is not here---He is Risen!---just as He said."
The part in the text that I like best--after this amazing fact--that death could not hold Jesus down...was the part that had to do with the interpersonal aspect of the narrative. The women are experiencing both fear and joy at the same time. [Hmm, complex feelings, I've been there.] It's resolved by the personal touch of Jesus. The text says, "Suddenly Jesus met them. Shalom a'wa lae'kum! ...Peace be with you! (Greetings!) They came to Him, clasped his feet and worshiped Him...then Jesus said to them, Don't be afraid..."
Lord, we know that we are here with you - only joy will remain.
The message we can receive from Jesus as we come to Him today...and tomorrow...as we experience many of the things that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were experiencing on that first Easter Sunday. Just think about it for a while. Some of us have seen innocent people cruelly destroyed by the greed or envy of others. Some of us have been deeply disappointed in life. Some of us have been crushed by the situations we have faced in life --- or are facing now. Just yesterday I received a joyful telephone call from a gentleman who, just months ago, was going to commit suicide. In his words of personal triumph he was now STRONG in the Lord and ready to serve Jesus for the rest of his life. It was the best Easter story I could have ever imagined.
It is Easter Sunday - Resurrection Sunday of 2020. What wondrous love the Savior has demonstrated for each of us in this time of crisis and pandemic. We rest secure in the midst of it all. What wondrous love, O my soul! Lord Jesus, we will remain faithful.
We know there is no failure or regret in You. We will place ourselves at your disposal and discover new life and new hope, because you are good and your mercy lasts forever. Accept our prayer. Hear our call. Grant the assurance we seek in a time of great trouble. Amen.
Blessed, Happy Easter Everybody! Thank you, Lord, for the Blessing of Fellowship in Your Name! Pastor Tom