Has God ever offended you? (Or it seems to feel like it.)

Jesus started His public ministry with a miracle at a wedding. He performed His last one in the gospel of John at a funeral.

His friend Lazarus had just died. Lazarus’ sisters called on Jesus to come for he was a day’s travel away from Bethany.

But when Jesus heard that Lazarus had died, Jesus stayed 2 days longer (John 11:6). Now THAT didn’t make sense. You heard your very close friend was severely sick, and you stayed where you were for 2 days? Was He busy? Well, it didn’t seem that physical distance was a barrier when he healed the centurion’s servant healing for if He wasn’t there.

Have you ever felt that God didn’t make sense?
Why did He allow my baby to die?
Why did my husband lose his job?
Why did God let my mom and dad split up?

But Jesus already established the purpose in verse 4 – “This is for the glory of God!” Question, are you okay with that? If God chooses your situation to display His glory, are you okay with it?

But He didn’t just do it to bring glory to God. He also did it to strengthen the faith of His disciples. Verse 15 tells us, “And for your sake, I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.” Jesus was glad that Lazarus died? Now, THAT surely is offensive!

Jesus was doing a work in the hearts of the disciples. They were about to embark on a difficult journey filled with persecution and hardships. They needed to have a strong foundation. Jesus was building that foundation through this.

The sign was not just to REVEAL God’s power but also to REINFORCE the disciples’ faith.

Jesus let Lazarus die. He missed his funeral by 4 days. He didn’t just miss the opportunity to pray for him. He missed the memorial services altogether! When he came, Martha met him but Mary stayed in the house. Mary was always excited to meet Jesus and would sit at His feet and be in His presence. But this time was different. She was offended at Him for He didn’t show up when they needed Him.

She later tells Jesus, “If only you had been here.” (John 11:42)

You and I have had those “if only statements”.

If only you gave us a baby, we won’t be separated now.
If only you stopped my brother from starting that business, we won’t be in debt today.
If only you didn’t allow me to be molested and abused by my uncle, I won’t be as messed up today.
IF ONLY…

But Jesus moves past the ash heap of disappointment and tells them a profound truth – “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”
Because HE IS, then WE CAN.

Lazarus was raised from the dead.

Because HE IS, WE CAN.

If you have something that seems dead today, Jesus’ resurrection power can bring that thing back to life.

Dead relationships.
Dead business concept.
Dead dream.
Dead marriage.

Whatever is lifeless today, He can breathe life into it.

Remember, He breathed life in Genesis. He created something out of nothing. As humans, we can only create something out of another thing. But only He can create something out of nothing.

Out of something lifeless, He can breathe life into it.

Have a great week ahead!

We often talk about what happened on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. But in between those 2 days, what was happening behind the scenes?

Matthew tells us in his gospel account in Matthew 27:62-66:

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 
63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 
64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 
66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

SCENE

The Day of Preparation was what they would refer to as the day before the Sabbath. Mark 15:42 makes that clear – “And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath…”

Now, the chief priests and Pharisees spoke to Pilate for they remembered what Jesus said in John 2:19-21, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body.”

They were afraid that Jesus’ followers might come and take his body so that they can say that he rose from the dead.

SITUATION

As a result, Pilate told them to have soldiers guard the tomb and try to make it as secure as they could. It didn’t seem to bother him as much as it did the Pharisees and chief priests.

SIGNIFICANCE

God was setting up the scene for the greatest event in human history. What man tried to stop, God wasn’t going to allow. He has ordained the days and His plan of redemption was already in motion.

1. However we try to stop it, God’s purpose will always prevail.

The Pharisees made sure that there were guards to secure the tomb. God had other means to get Jesus out of there.

2. What seemed unbelievable became undeniable for nothing is impossible with God.

Securing the tomb wasn’t difficult. The stone was heavy. The Roman seal on the tomb couldn’t be broken or else severe penalty was certain. And guards watched over the place with their own lives. But what seemed unbelievable in due time became undeniable. Jesus indeed was risen.

3. God’s power is at work even when we don’t see it.

From the outside, it was quiet in the tomb. However, a miracle was about to unfold. Many times, we may not see the miracle of God as it is being prepared, but it is on its way for sure.

Blog Banners.001Christmas is the most celebrated time of the year. I can understand why. 

But what Christmas started, Easter actually completed.
The climax of Jesus’ mission on earth wasn’t His birth but His resurrection.

Theologian and apologist Henry Morris had this to say,

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the crowning proof of Christianity. If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth.

What then is the reality, reason and relevance of the resurrection for the 21st century Christ follower?

1. REALITY

Jesus was crucified, died, buried and rose from the dead. Paul writing 20 years after Jesus died says in 1 Corinthians 15:6, “Then He (Jesus) appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of who are still alive.”

This is a critical statement of proof for the resurrection for there were 3 major theories to dispute the bodily rising of Jesus from the grave.

HALLUCINATION THEORY: The disciples were deluded thinking that Jesus rose from the dead.
Now if this were true, it’s hard to have 500 people hallucinate at the same time. And after they’ve finished tripping, you would think at least one would recant after being faced with a death sentence.

HOAX: Jesus’ body didn’t rise from the dead but was just stolen to make people think He rose.
This too is a hard one to pull off. It’s very hard to find someone willing to die for a lie.

SWOON THEORY: Jesus just fainted and didn’t completely die.
The Romans were experts at torture and execution. They couldn’t let this happen. And even if this theory was true, a half dead, wounded, mangled messiah wouldn’t be able to inspire followers to change the word – a fearful group to suddenly become extremely bold.

There’s only one explanation: He DID rise from the dead.

2. REASON

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17)

Paul tells us that Jesus defeated death, hell and the grave by rising from the dead. But if Jesus didn’t rise, then we would still be in our sins. And if this is so, we are to be pitied among all men for we are believing a lie.

“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”― Timothy Keller

3. RELEVANCE

Because He rose from the dead, we too have the hope of victory over death. That’s why Paul could trash talk death to its face and say,

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Corinthians 15:55, 57)

Because of this, we can live life fearlessly.
Because of this, we can be steadfast and immovable.
Because of this we can continue to abound in the work of the Lord because our labor in Him is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Easter is not just a symbol but a powerful event that is a game changer!

  • Restful week and lots of family time.  THAT is always good.
  • Reconnected with old friends.
  • Plenty of swimming time with the kids.
  • Ate lots this past week.  THAT is not that good.
  • Easter egg hunt with the kids.  Had to explain the history of the egg hunt and that resurrection day had nothing to do with bunnies and eggs.  Nothing against Easter egg hunts but we just need to make sure we don’t miss out on the real celebration of Easter Sunday.  THAT won’t be good.
  • Glenn Quizon’s zip line in his farm was phenomenal!  You have to ask him about that one time.
  • Ate lots of ice cream and candies.  THAT wasn’t very good.
  • Road the bike with Ryan around U.P.  Got some daddy time with him.  Then haircut.  Them sweet japanese corn along katipunan’s really good.
  • Preached at the 5 and 7 pm services with a splitting headache.  I made a mistake of walking to Market Market  under the sweltering heat from the frigid Every Nation Building and back.  My head started to throb in no time.  Thanks to Mr. Alfred Albarracin for some head ache busters.
  • We saw scores of people come to Christ this weekend.  What an Easter weekend!  THAT is always very good.  And THAT never grows old.

    I was having merienda with my friend Edwin one afternoon at the Javier-Royola Clubhouse. He made a comment that made me thinking.

    “My perspective has changed since I met Christ. I grew up somber and sad every holy week.  But understanding what Jesus accomplished on the cross, things have taken a new light.”

    No disrespect to those observing the Holy Week with a somber disposition.  People can go overboard by not even thinking about why we observe Holy Week.

    But Holy Week without Sunday is virtually incomplete.

    It’s not just about the suffering of Jesus.  The suffering led to what happened on Sunday – His victory over death and the grave.

    Paul the apostle makes a declaration in his letter to the church in Colossae.

    “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Col. 3:13-17)

    What did Jesus accomplish that Sunday morning?

    1. God made us alive with Christ.

    We are not just alive in Christ.  We were made alive with Christ.

    Through Him, death no longer has a hold on us.

    2. God forgave us from our sins.

    Sin separates us from God.  Sin causes death.  Death is two pronged – cessation of life and separation from God.

    By His sacrifice at the cross, we no longer have to suffer the penalty.  It should have been us nailed there.

    3. God disarmed the powers and authority.

    Hebrews 2:14 tells us that “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil…”

    The devil has been disarmed with what Jesus did that Easter morning.  He has won over death and the grave.

    Because of that, we know that victory can be achieved in this life as much as in the life after.


    “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15:55-57)

    This would be another claim people make.  Dissing this truth would be to ‘dis’ the divinity of Jesus.  And when one convinces himself of that, then there’s really no need to submit to Him as Lord, similar to what happens when we dispel the truth that Jesus did die.(previous post here)

    William Lane Craig, one of the leading apologists for the resurrection of Jesus lists down evidences of His resurrection.

    1.  His tomb was empty.

    Some claim that His body was stolen.  Others claim that He escaped.

    A few problems with that.  There was a huge stone that covered the entrance.  At His mangled, beaten up condition, that wouldn’t have been possible.

    Also, the stone was too big that several men was needed to roll it.

    In addition, there were guards that were posted at the entrance to ensure that no one would steal His body or that He wouldn’t be able to escape.  Roman law that time decrees that losing the body would merit death of the soldiers.

    To ensure the security, the government seal was place on the entrance.

    But with all these, to this day, we know that the tomb is still empty.

    2. He was seen by many.

    Evidence shows us that not just the women who were going to visit the tomb saw the empty tomb.  The disciples saw Jesus.  Thomas who doubted that He was really alive wanted dispel his doubts by touching Jesus’ nail scarred hands.

    Not only did the apostles saw Jesus, more than 500 saw Him too.

    Paul says in 1 Cor. 15:17,19, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins… we are to be pitied more than all men.”

    But thanks be to God, Jesus has trumped death.  And because of that, we have the hope of eternal life if we believe, receive and trust in what He did for us.


    “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15:55-57)