The Hope of Spring

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

On the way to our subdivision, trees line the road and, in many places, form an arch over you—lush and green in the summer. But in winter, the dark, bare limbs reach out with eerie arms against cloudy skies. It seems all life is gone out of them.

We bear the cold winds and the dismal colors, believing full well that Spring will come. We’ve seen it over and over every year, so we have confident hope it will come again.

Sure enough, the weather gets warmer, the first daffodils bloom, and we know that Spring is coming. Soon, the forsythia waves its yellow arms at us.

Then, just as the daffodils begin to fade, the dainty weeping cherry bushes sprout their pink blooms. Suddenly pear trees and cherry trees join the pink and white display along with new lime-green  growth on trees and bushes.

Slowly leafy growth moves up the taller trees, then the red bud trees dress in their purplely-pink accents. It is glorious! The hope of life has come. Likewise…

Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior! Waiting the coming day, Jesus, my Lord!

Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus, my Savior! Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus, my Lord!

Death cannot keep his prey, Jesus, my Savior! He tore the bars away, Jesus, my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose, With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;

He arose a victor from the dark domain, And He lives forever with His saints to reign.

He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

How wonderful that we had a late Easter this year—just in time to put us right in the most beautiful Spring ever.

For the beauty of the earth, For the glory of the skies,

For the love which from our birth Over and around us lies:

Lord of all, to Thee we raise This our hymn of grateful praise.

A blessed Easter Resurrection Day to you all.

~ Joyce ~

 

 

Easter – Heart Warming Joy!

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

What? Are we still on Easter? I thought that was last Sunday. No, friends, the reality of the resurrection stays with us—always.

I could choose from many resurrection scenes: Mary Magdalene hearing Jesus call her name, the women at the tomb, Peter and John running to find the tomb empty, or Jesus’ appearance to the disciples in the upper room.

But my favorite scene is Jesus’ hidden appearance to the two on the road to Emmaus. So, we will leave Matthew’s point of view and turn to “the two.”

Cleopas and his traveling companion (maybe a wife or other relative) were on their way home from Jerusalem where they had been with the disciples and other followers of Jesus. These believers were frustrated, fearful for their own lives, disappointed, sorrowful, guilty—anything but joyful.

In this mood, the two began their seven-mile walk back to their home. Part way, they were joined by a stranger who didn’t seem to know what had been going on in Jerusalem, so they explained. Little did they realize that they were speaking with the resurrected Lord!

When Jesus heard them say,

“…we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” Luke 24:21

Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” Luke 24:25

Jesus began a five-mile, Old Testament  teaching session to help them put everything together so they could see how fulfillment had indeed come through Him.

When they arrived at their home, they urged Him to stay with them. Their eyes were opened when Jesus began to break and bless the bread. Was it the way He did it? Did they see the scars from the nails? Was there something about His eyes or His tone that suddenly made Him recognizable? We don’t know. We are just told that they recognized Him and then he simply disappeared.

May I add what I imagine they said next?

“Did you see what I saw?”

“Yes, can you believe it was the Lord Himself?”

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

They were too excited to wait until morning to share this great news. They headed right back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples.

My question to you is, when has the Lord opened your eyes with His Scripture and revealed Himself in such a powerful way that you could say, “Didn’t my heart burn within me?”

Did your heart burn within you this past resurrection morning while you listened to the music or sang His praises or took in the message or contemplated once again the redemptive work of the cross and the power of His resurrection which paves the way for your own resurrection into His divine presence?

Next week, I will share personal experiences when “my heart burned within me.”

~ Joyce ~ 

Easter – I Have Seen the Lord!

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

After the confusion of the trial, the persecution, the cross, and fearing for their own lives, I picture the disciples huddled together in the upper room with the doors locked.

But the women were faithful to stay with Jesus, perhaps feeling less threatened. As one compares the four accounts, a slew of “Mary’s” beside Mary the mother of Jesus plus other women followers stood or knelt at the cross or nearby.

What gets a bit complicated are the comings and goings of these women according to the four Gospel accounts. The best I can sort it out:

Joseph [of Arimathea] took down Jesus’ body and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone across the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, saw where he was laid. Mark 15:46-47

Since they know where Jesus is buried, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome go to the tomb early the next morning with their prepared spices. They discuss how they are going to be able to move that huge stone. 

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side and they were alarmed. Mark 16:4-6

Alarmed? That’s putting it mildly. It’s scary enough just going into a tomb, much less seeing a being whose clothes “gleamed like lightning.” (Luke 24:4) I envision these women gasping, grabbing each other, and falling down on their knees with their chins tucked into their chests. The angel tells them not to be afraid.

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here: he has risen! Remember how he told you: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Luke 24:5-7

Ah, there it is again. Remember how we have commented about the fact that Jesus told them this several times and it just didn’t seem to sink in? BUT:

Then they remembered his words. Luke 24:8

At last, they finally remember. We have to admit, however, that sometimes WE read a warning or a promise or an encouragement from Scripture, then turn around and completely forget it or ignore it. 

Well, nervous and excited, they run back to tell the disciples the good news. 

But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Luke 24:11

Bummer! However, Peter and John do go to the tomb to check it out. Peter goes into the empty tomb, sees the linen strips, but goes away “wondering what has happened.” (Luke 24:12) Thankfully, at least John went inside. He saw and believed. (John 20:8) But they still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead. (John 20:9)

Evidently, Mary Magdalene trailed along behind them and lingered at the tomb after Peter and John left. She asks a question through tearful eyes to someone who is there near the tomb. When the stranger speaks her name, she realizes it is the risen Jesus. I picture her walking back with dignity and speaking with assurance as she jubilantly tells the disciples.

“I have seen the Lord!” John 20:18  

A blessed Resurrection Day to you all.

~ Joyce ~

 

On the Road to Emmaus

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Before we leave the cross and the resurrection, let’s take a look at two followers who had been in Jerusalem, experienced the crucifixion, and heard from the women that, not only was Jesus’ tomb empty, but also they saw angels who reported that Jesus was alive.

Now these two followers are discussing these things as they walk to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. Usually we refer to them as two men. We’re told that one was named, Cleopas, a man’s name I assume. I maintain the other could have been been a woman, maybe his wife, not that it matters, but I’m just sayin’.

As they walk along, a stranger begins to walk with them.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” Luke 24:17

 They are amazed that this man doesn’t know about all that has gone on in Jerusalem. Somehow they don’t realize that he is Jesus. So they proceed to tell him about Jesus.

19 He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. Luke 24:19-21

Can you hear the disappointment in their words? They expected that maybe this was the one, the Messiah, who would free them from Roman bondage. But now he is dead, just dead. Jesus might have found his secret masquerade amusing if their ignorance and lack of understanding and belief weren’t so pitiful. So he says to them:

25 How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? Luke 24:25-26

By now, Jesus has maybe six more walking miles in which to give a long Jewish history lesson. Starting with Moses and making his way through the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, and other prophets, he explains all the Scriptures that pertain to him and his mission. It is such a powerful teaching session that, when they arrive at the house, the two invite Jesus in because they want to hear more.

Jesus goes in with them and they sit at the table to eat.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized himLuke 24:30-31

What was it that opened their eyes? The way he broke the bread? Was it because they were now facing him instead of walking beside him? Or was this the first time they saw his hands and wrists? Just as he showed his nail-pierced hands to Thomas, was the sight of those scars the clue that they were sitting in the presence of the prophesied Messiah Himself?

Scripture tells us that at this point Jesus disappears from their sight. No, no. Not at the high point of this dramatic scene! However, instead of being miffed or stunned, they are reflecting, stirred by all they have just experienced during their afternoon walk. Their eye-opening event is a great climax, but their heart-opening remembrance is what they talk about. It is the verse that hangs with me as well.

32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked to us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

Of course they have to tell someone that they have seen Jesus alive, so they hurry back the seven miles to share the good news with the disciples.

Verse 32 is another of my all time favorite verses, because I have lived it. Next week I will share with you the experience and process of God calling me to write.

 

~ Joyce ~

 

 

Peter, He Is Risen Indeed!

After the arrest of Jesus, most of the disciples fled the scene. Perhaps they returned to the upper room where they last spent time with Jesus. I picture them sitting in anguished silence around the room. Perhaps a few women are there and other close followers. Judas has hung himself. Peter sits slumped in a corner mourning his denials. John is stunned by all he has experienced at the cross while he tries to comfort and take care of Mary as Jesus instructed him to do.

Perhaps the group was finally able to talk to each other, share their feelings, reminisce about things they did with Jesus, things he said. Maybe they even remember his words, “…turned over, flogged, and killed.” Somehow, they don’t seem to remember, “will rise again.” Perhaps by the next day, they eat a bit of bread and drink, but even that reminds them of those last hours with their master.

The women have been anxious to take spices to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body, but they cannot do such work on the Sabbath, so on Sunday they hurry to the tomb in the early morning. When they get there, they see that the stone has been rolled away and the tomb is empty. Suddenly they see an angel and fall to their knees.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he is risen just as he said. Matthew 27:5-6

Luke adds that the angel also said:

6 Remember how he told you while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered in the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again.’ Then they remembered his words. Luke 24:6-8

At last, someone remembers what Jesus had told them. When they return to the disciples, they are breathless with the news: stone rolled away, empty tomb, angel appearance, risen.

11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed like nonsense. Luke 24:11

Oh my. What does it take to get through to these men? At least it is enough to bring a spark back into Peter. He and John run to the tomb. Sure enough it is empty just as the women said. Imagine that!

12 …Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away wondering to himself what had happened. Luke 24:12

Peter is till confused? Wait. There’s more news. Mary Magdelene comes in later and declares, “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18) That evening two followers come in to report that they have seen the Lord as well.

And then it happens. While these two are still talking, Jesus himself appears to them. Luke tells us that they were “startled and frightened thinking they saw a ghost..” (Luke 24:37) Jesus shows them his nail-pierced hands and feet, invites them to touch him, eats in front of them, anything to show them that he is real, not a ghost.

He reminds them that everything must be fulfilled that is written in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. (Luke 24:44)

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, This is what is written: ‘The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations…’ ” Luke 24:45-47

At long last, their minds are opened. Reality has set in. As John said,

20 They were overjoyed when they saw him. John 20:20

They believe he is real and has risen indeed!

May we all rejoice this Resurrection Sunday as we celebrate his triumph over the grave—hope for our own resurrection!

~ Joyce ~