Category Archives: Redemption

The Web of Faith, Love, and Hope . . . And Doubt

In my church we sing the songs Lord, Reign In Me and I Surrender All. But to actually totally surrender ourselves to the Lord and let him reign in and over every part of our life… Well, that’s difficult to do.*

I tried doing this once. I prayed to God that he would have his complete way with me, transforming me into the likeness of Christ so that he could use me for service in his kingdom however he saw fit. Then my son died.

At the time, I wondered how Kenny’s death might be part of this process. As time went on and I began to see how God was using the tragedy of our son’s death to shape me, I became afraid to pray that prayer of surrender because I was afraid of what else it might cost me.

In some ways, I still am afraid of that prayer. But I know that I’m not alone.

What I’m speaking of is the struggle to trust God. And I know that there are many Christians who struggle with this. It’s not that we don’t have faith in God or that we don’t believe in Jesus. It’s a different struggle . . . a different sort of doubt. Imagine being hit by a car as you cross a street and then being asked to cross the street again. And so it is with life!

They Got Hit!

I imagine this is part of the struggle the Thessalonians were encountering. They put their faith in Christ and were taught to live a new life in Christ, renouncing their ungodly living, with the expectation of the immanent return of Christ. But when some fellow believers passed from this life before Christ returned, they got hit! Doubt set in and questions of trust gripped the consciousness of their faith.

After giving a report on some of his ministry happenings and exhorting the Thessalonians in godly living, the apostle Paul addresses the coming of Christ (1 Thess 4:13-18). This is Paul’s way of reassuring these Christians that they have not believed in vain. Paul continues on, saying in 1 Thess 5:8-10:

“But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on the faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.”

Paul actually uses the action language of “putting on” faith, love, and hope because of the promise of life — salvation through Jesus Christ.

Keep Putting On…

As mentioned earlier, there are times when I’m still afraid to completely trust God and perhaps there always will be. Yet I do try and as I do, I am consciously aware of my own sinfulness and the need keep allowing God to transform me into the likeness of Christ. I’m also aware of how much the sting of death still haunts me, casting doubts through unanswered questions. It would be easier just to say “no” in not so many words and keep God at an arms distance away. But that isn’t faith, nor is it love and hope.

Perhaps this resonates with you, even if in different ways. My word of encouragement is Paul’s word of encouragement: keep putting on faith, love, and hope, knowing that we have received a promise of salvation that God will fulfill in its entirety when Christ returns. It’s the promise of the life that we will have together with God.

And Gathered With My Church…

As a final thought, let me say a word about the church in relation to our struggles of faith. In the larger world of Christian blogging there’s been a lot of conversation about the church lately and whether we need the church? Putting aside the theological issues with such a question, I believe that the church does matter and that we do need the church because it’s the church that helps us put on faith, love, and hope.

It’s the church that has passed on the gospel tradition we belong too and the scriptures that teach about this tradition. It is also in gathering with the church for worship, fellowship, and ministry that we remind ourselves of the truth and in doing so, assembling as a church becomes a way of putting on our faith, love, and hope. When I gather with my church, the Columbia Church of Christ, I am reminded of God’s grace and truth . . . of God’s promise in Christ. And gathered with my church, the Holy Spirit strengthens me to carry on with this web of faith, love, and hope that is sometimes mixed with doubts.

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* A similar version of this article was originally published in Connecting 29 (February 20, 2014), a biweekly publication of the Columbia Church of Christ.

“I’m A Sinner! Can I be Forgiven?”

“I’m a sinner! Can I be forgiven?”

That was the question I was asked a few weeks ago and it was asked by a Christian. The truth is, I know a lot of Christians, including myself, who have been confronted with this reality once again and have wondered about this question. This can be a difficult burden to bear.

Too Troubled to Speak…

I wonder if that is part of the problem the writer of Psalm 77 is facing as he cries out to God for help (v. 1). The Psalm never reveals what the actual issue is that has caused such anguish but whatever it is, the Psalmist says “I was too troubled to speak” (v. 4). That’s actually one of my favorite lines in the collection of 150 Psalms because I have experienced moments in my life when I was too troubled to speak… because of sin, death, doubt, etc… I’m sure others have too. What the actual issue is, it has troubled the Psalmist enough that he wonders if the Lord will forever reject him forever, no longer showing love, mercy, and compassion (vv. 7-9).

That’s a horrible feeling to live with. I’ve been there in my own life before and I’ve sat across the table with others in this same state of emotions. But the Psalm does not end here. The Psalmist basically states that he will remember the mighty deeds of the Lord done in the past and then he recalls these acts (vv. 10-20). Here is the key to the question of whether we can be forgiven: Remember and Recall the mighty acts of God!

But What the Lord Has Done…

What has the Lord done? Did he not lead the children of Israel, unworthy of his mercy, out of slavery and into the promise land? Did he not forgive King David, who had an affair with Bathsheba and then had Bathsheba’s husband Uriah murdered? Did he not promise to love and show mercy to the adulteress children Israel by sending a prophet named Hosea who was married to a prostitute as an illustration? Did God not show his love and willingness to forgive by sending us his one and only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins? Did this Son not show grace and mercy to a sinful woman in Luke 7 who could only wipe the feet of Jesus with her tears of shame? Did the Son not show mercy to Peter and the other apostles who, as his followers, abandoned him when he was arrested and sentenced to death by crucifixion? Did the Son not offer grace to Saul (who later became the Apostle Paul) who was a murderer and persecutor of Christ and his church?

And those are just some of the mighty acts of grace and mercy that I often recall.

Grace and Mercy!

When we are confronted with our sin, I find that there are two responses we try first. One is to wallow in despair, believing that God will not forgive us. I hope what I’ve discussed above reminds us that there is not any need for such despair, for the Lord does indeed does forgive.

The other response is to try and offer penance for our sin. Penance, as I am using the term, is the attempt to make ourselves worthy of God’s forgiveness by doing something to show how sorrowful we are of our sin. This is different from repentance in which we acknowledge that what we are doing is wrong and change so that we are not doing what is wrong anymore. In my experience, I’ve ministered with a lot of people who at one time were taught a legalistic approach to the Christian faith where we get right with God because of what we do rather than what God has done. For such people, including myself, it is always tempting to try and offer some expression of penance but that will never work.

God’s grace and mercy is just that. God forgives not because he is compelled to do so by anything. Rather, God forgives because he chooses to do so! God forgives because he is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love” (Ps 103:8, NRSV). This is why God does forgive us! And of course, it is this grace of God that should move us to turn away from sin and as the righteous people of God he has made us in Christ.

So remember the might acts of grace and mercy that God has done in the past. And that includes the people around you at church who all can only stand in the presence of God because of his grace and mercy!

And when you find yourself in that place where you are saying, “I’m a sinner! Can I be forgiven?” Remember that the answer is, “Yes, you are!”

Loving Ourselves As God Loves Us

And just like that, 2014 is well underway.* For some people, the new year is always a time to make resolutions which usually last for about a week.  I won’t complain because that’s how it always was for me. But I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions anymore. I’ve learned that when it comes to making changes in my life, it takes much resolve than just an annual holiday to do so.

However, with every day I want to be a better Christian than I was before and I’m sure you do as well. We want to be a followers of Jesus who loves God and neighbor, who loves our spouses and children, who loves our brothers and sisters in Christ… Of course, we don’t always do that as we should. After all, we are mere mortals.

But Can We Love Ourselves?

Here’s a suggestion: let’s learn to love ourselves as God loves us. I’m not talking about some self-serving love where we put ourselves above others. Far from it, I am suggesting that we learn to accept ourselves as God accepts us — which we don’t always do well.

I love the prayer of David in Psalm 51. This prayer is David’s response after becoming convicted of his sin involving the affair he had with Bathsheba and his involvement in the murder of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband (cf. 2 Sam 11). From our human perspective, it’s hard to do more evil than that. Yet David turned to God in prayer and confession.

The most well known portion of this prayer is perhaps vv. 10-12, the three verses we sometimes sing as a hymn,

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

I used to read this Psalm as though David is bartering for absolution of his sin. It is as though if David will just offer a sincere enough confession and apology then God might just forgive him and restore his salvation. Such is the influence of a legalistic Christianity where God’s merit is earned by what we do. As it is, this makes us believe that penance is necessary when it comes to sin. If we will just pray a sincere enough prayer, confess appropriately, and so on, then maybe God just might…

I don’t want to minimize or negate the place of prayer and confession, as both are essential disciplines in the process of spiritual transformation. But neither prayer nor confession earns favor with God! David begins his prayer saying in v. 1, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions” (NRSV). Think about that! David is coming to God in prayer and confession knowing that the Lord already loves him with such a great mercy and that nothing will ever change this. David knows what we must know, that God still accepts him, that God will forgive him and restore him to the divine image bearing person he has been created to be.

Perhaps Then…

That is it! We all know who we are… the good and bad, the beautiful and the ugly. But God loves us still and in his great mercy, God still accepts as we are and offers us the grace of forgiveness and restoration. So let’s learn to love ourselves as God loves us. Pray to God, confessing our sins and mistakes as necessary, but do so knowing that God already loves us with steadfast love and an abundant mercy. Perhaps then we can learn to better love others as they are, as God already loves them!

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* A similar article of the same title was originally published in Connecting 29 (January 8, 2014), a biweekly publication of the Columbia Church of Christ.

I Don’t Miss Mayberry. . . And Neither Should You!

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Mettitt

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Mettitt

I’m old enough that I can remember watching The Andy Griffith show air regularly as reruns on television. I also remember watching the shows Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons. It was good wholesome family oriented television that parents could watch with their children without having to worry about what those little ears and eyes might encounter.

Of course, The Andy Griffith Show took place in the fictional town of Mayberry. It was a small town, an all American kind of town. Neighbors knew each other, there weren’t any video games to keep children from playing outdoors, and the most serious crime was when Barney, the Deputy Sheriff would take Otis the drunkard to jail to sleep it off. That certainly seems like the ideal kind of place to live and make a life for ourselves. Heck, even though I didn’t grow up in a single parent home, it certainly would’ve been nice to have an Aunt Bee around always having a fresh-baked apple pie hot off the stove. If only we could return to way back when, right?

Wrong!

As the title suggests, I don’t miss Mayberry and what it represents and neither should you. As wholesome and pleasant as Mayberry may seem, I’m sure not a single Black person would enjoy going back to America’s Mayberry era. Not when being black meant being forced to ride at the back of the bus, not having the right to vote, and even being lynched. In fact, there’s more than a few groups of people that would not enjoy going back in time. That was a time when many still believed a woman’s place was nowhere else but in the home (not that there is anything wrong with women choosing to be homemakers) and sometimes that was a home where women were abused by their husbands while the law did little to nothing since it was a “domestic problem.” Let’s not forget the mentally ill, the mentally handicapped, and many other groups who were marginalized and mistreated.

So no, I don’t want to go way back when and I don’t know why any other Christian would either. In fact, I don’t know why Christians would long for any idyllic American culture, be it the traditional culture that Mayberry represents or the more progressive culture that America has seemingly become.

Growing up, we would sing the spiritual This World Is Not My Home during church services. Some churches still sing it. But do we really mean it? Because whether it’s the down-home traditional America or the more progressive America, many American Christians seem baptize the American ideal as the best thing since sliced bread.

Can We Recover Our Hope?

Christianity in America really needs to recover a sense of eschatological hope. That is, the church needs to learn once again what it is to live with hope. . . to be in the present what it awaits for and what it already is in the fullness of time. The Apostle Paul writes Philippians 3:20-21,

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Only when Jesus returns will everything in life, including our own bodies, become what it is meant to be. Right now we live with a promise which is hope to us in Christ because we know what our future is. So if this is what we are to eagerly await, why dream and politic for good ole’ Mayberry or it’s American antithesis? Christians belong to neither and await neither!

However, let me push this a bit farther. Within the context of Philippians 3:20-21, Paul is contrasting the Christian disposition of being set toward to the second-coming of the Lord with people who have their minds set on “earthly things (v. 19). While Paul is directly talking about people driven by hedonistic values where their own stomach becomes their god, it isn’t a stretch at all to say that Christians who for an idyllic American life also have their minds set on earthly things.

This is not to say that everything about America then and now is bad, as that would be a gross mischaracterization. There were and are many good things about America. Yet no matter how good we think America was or is, it will not be when Jesus comes again. One day when Jesus return, everything will be brought under his reign. Until then, the only way for the world to know now that Jesus is Lord is for us, the church of Jesus Christ, to live in hope of that day when every knee will bow and every tongue confesses. We can’t do that when we’re preaching sermons in the sanctuary, on Facebook, or else that says “I Miss Mayberry.”

Messy Churches: Learning to Love One Another

Growing up in the Churches of Christ, I’ve heard plenty about Christian unity. Ala… Christ only established one church, the problem with denominational divisions, etc… But that often can just be a diversion from what goes on in our own churches. You know… Divisions and conflict, most of which have nothing to do with doctrine and theology but just the typical disagreements that any community of people encounter.

Churches Are Messy…

So from where I sit, we can talk about pursuing unity among the one universal body of Christ but it seems more sensible to talk about life with our local church. This is the community we worship with, serve with, and live as witnesses of Jesus Christ with. What happens in our own churches seems far more important than whether we can attend an multi-denominational conference and affirm our common faith with each other (which is not a bad thing to do).

Or, by way of another example, when we board a flight and take our seat, we may learn that the person sitting next to us is a fellow believer. We can acknowledge their faith as a fellow Christian and give thanks to God for their faith but since we’ll likely never see each other again once we step off the plane, there’s little chance of developing the level of community requiring the hard work of loving one another. However, in our own churches where we do life together with other Christians, we have a level of community that gets difficult from time to time. And the fact is, churches are messy communities sometimes. At times we disagree with each other, other times we frustrate and even anger each other, and we all still sin which does have an effect on the entire community.

Leaning Into Our Common-Unity…

But have we read Ephesians lately? It tells us how God has reconciled Jews and Gentiles as one in Christ, the church of Jesus Christ, and what it takes to live into this new reality. Consequently, it’s so easy to read Ephesians with the question of unity among the universal church on our minds. Certainly there is merit in such a reading but it’s not the only way to read this epistle and likely not the best way when it comes to living as part of a local church.

The reality is that God has already made us one in Christ, so this unity we have is something we must receive and live into. But let’s be honest, it’s this receiving and living part that’s so difficult at times. So one of the most pragmatic instructions for receiving and living into this unity is found in Ephesians 4:31-32:

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

That is how we actually embrace our oneness in Christ, just as how God has embraced us in Christ.

The reality is that we will never fully agree with each other on every issue and circumstance that comes up. Likewise, we will do things from time to time which disrupt our community, constraining our relationship with each other. But… If we believe in the resurrection of the crucified Christ, then we must learn to love one another by showing kindness and compassion as well as continuously forgiving each other as God forgives us in Christ.

It Matters Too…

Our ability to love one another and live as a community with our local church is a reflection of how we embody the gospel as our way of life. Without this, nothing else really matters! Because it’s impossible for us to teach others the way of life in Christ if we don’t embody the way of Christ ourselves and that way means we must love one another just as Christ has loved us (cf. Jn 13:34).

So who do we need to show more kindness and compassion to? Who do we need to forgive? 

Help of the Helpless: Reflecting On Death and Hope

It’s about that time of the year again.  That is, the end of this July and beginning of this August will mark the eleventh year since the birth and death of my son Kenny.

Photo on 2011-08-01 at 20.08Although there is not a day that goes by where I don’t think of my son at some point, I really don’t dwell on the horror of his death much.  I haven’t “gotten over it” and Kenny’s death is still as sad as it ever was but after eleven years I have learned to live with it (I had no other choice if I was to keep on living).  But this past week I was sharing the story of Kenny’s death and the struggle with faith I had in the aftermath with another person, so I’ve been thinking about the idea of death and dying again.  I also made a visit to a children’s hospital a couple days ago and while there were many signs of healing and hope, it’s a humbling experience as it reminds me of how fragile life really is.

But dying and death…  It is really a most humble moment!  Naked to this earth we came and naked we return.  It can’t get more humble than that.  All of our accomplishments, education, supposed sophistication, and so on, yet at some point our body will fail.  Whether it is due to injury or illness, our body will not recover and we will die.

There’s a line in the hymn Abide With Me towards the end of the first stanza that says, “Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.”  What a prayer!  Because in death we are helpless ourselves but we cling with hope to the promise that in Christ, death is not the final word.  So the a line from the third stanza sings, “Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?  I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.”

Triumph…  That’s the last word and it’s a word of victory in Jesus Christ!

So while the death of my son still grieves me, deeply sometimes, it will not have the victory.  Neither will my own death, whenever that day comes, nor all the other deaths that sadden me.  For I know and believe that final word of eternal promise that God has spoken in Jesus Christ.

“My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.” – Psalm 119:81

The Scandal of Grace

I cam across a song the other day that I just keep wanting to listen to over and over again.  The song is I Shall Be Healed by Michael McDermott (see below).  It’s the words to his song, especially the second verse, that have my attention.  The second verse goes:

Yeah my mother and my father, yeah they always believed; yeah but me I felt different, I always felt so diseased.  I went looking uptown, went looking downtown too; I even went to the west side, I went looking for you.  So one day in South Carolina, I saw you in a cotton field.

…Say the word, just say the word, just say the word, and I shall be healed.

When I heard these words I wondered how many people are sitting in some church gathering on Sunday or how many are not because they feel so diseased, just wanting God to say the word.

Sin is a terrible thing.  It has consequences that leaves renders lost and in need of salvation.  Besides our relationship with God, it effects the relationship we have with others.  But another damaging outcome of sin it the hopeless despair it breeds.

Then there is the story of the sinful woman in Luke 7.  What do we do with it?  The woman had long hair which suggests she was a sexually immoral woman, perhaps a prostitute.  There’s probably no sin as scandalous as sexual sin and I’m sure that woman knew something about the scandal of such sin, as she heard Simon the Pharisee raise his voice.  Likely she had met plenty of Simon’s in her life.  You know, the kind of people who judged her.  The kind of people who’s smugness said with little words, if any at all, that she was unwanted, unredeemable, and beyond dignity.

But there reclining at the table in Simon’s house was Jesus.  With tears rolling down her face, this woman who had lived a sinful life met Jesus.  And lo and behold, rather than rebuking this woman or scolding her for her sins, Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven” (v. 48).

But before Jesus left this woman he had these words to say as well, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (v. 50).  Is that really possible?  Is it really that simple?  Could God’s grace really be just a matter of faith?

Jesus certainly says so to this woman.  But that seems so hard for us to believe sometimes.  Why?  Could it be so hard to believe because we tend to believe God will judge as we judge?  If so, we have more in common with Simon than we probably want to admit.

Perhaps the hardest thing to believe about God’s grace is that God does not judge us the way we judge others.  But because we assume God will judge us the way we judge others, it becomes all the more difficult to believe that the wretched sinners we know ourselves to be can be redeemed by God through Jesus Christ, our Lord (cf. Rom 8:24-25).  So we wonder, as we ponder our own sin, will God really save us.

And so we wait for God to say a word… a word so that we too shall be healed, that word that says we will be saved from the disease of hopeless despair that sin breeds.  But God has spoken that word to us and that word is “Christ!”  And God’s word here says that we are justified, that there is no condemnation in Christ because in Christ we are more than conquerors!

Can we believe that?  Can we have faith that God, who deeply loves us, offers us this word of grace?

Jesus said,, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Just Say The Word…

“Yeah my mother and my father; yeah they always believed. Yeah but me, I felt different; I always felt so diseased. …so one day in South Carolina, I saw you in a cotton field. Say the word, just say the word and I shall be healed.” – Michael McDermott

I’m guessing there’s some folks sitting in churches who feel just like that.

Practicing the Promise of Easter

Major League Baseball officially began a week ago.*  Fans are full of optimism.  Even though my team, the Cubs, ended the first week with a 2-4 record, I still am optimistic that they can at least play competitive .500 baseball this season.  Of course, a month or two from now much of the optimism will be gone for some.  By then fans will know which teams have a realistic chance of playing meaningful baseball in October during the playoffs and which do not.  After all the expectations and work which the players have put in during the off season, hat’s somewhat disappointing.

The Game that Matters

Then again, baseball is only a game.  When it comes to our own lives…  Well, that’s a different matter.  Failure and defeat are not viable options.  In a Nietzschean worldview where God is dead and life depends on the will to power, the fear of loss and defeat means we must act for our own interests.  That might seem ok if we happen to be the strong who sit atop of the food chain, so to speak.  But most of us are not!  And even the alpha-male dog eventually weakens.

According to a Nietzschean worldview, success depends on independent strength and a willingness to overcome whatever threatens our survival.  Taken to the extreme, we must kill or be killed.  It’s a philosophy ignorant of the sovereign yet benevolent God who stamps his image upon us as his creation.  Consequently, it views human life as animal life where one is either predator or prey.

Yet this way of life is not as foreign to as we might wish to believe.  Turn on the news, the television, etc…  Our world is a place of power where people make decisions every day that serve their own interests, placing their own needs above others, and with enough strength, ascend to the top.

The Game Changer

Fortunately, we know better.  We know because Jesus Christ was crucified and has resurrected, that he has destroyed every kingdom, authority, and power.  We know because of his death and resurrection, that we can never achieve the victorious immortality we crave through our own strength and initiative but in Christ alone.  We know that through his death and resurrection, Jesus frees us from all selfish needs and gives us the power to live as servants of each other.  We know…

Or do we know?

After spelling out the cosmic implications of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul had one practical admonition for the Corinthian Christians.  “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58, NIV).  I guess Paul understood how easy it is to spiritualize the gospel, separating it from the way Christians are called to live.

So if I may be so presumptuous, I’ll tell you what I think we know.  I think we encounter the Nietzschean worldview every day in our world making it very difficult to believe that God is bringing about his kingdom here on earth, restoring life as God created and redeemed life to be lived.  That’s why we must hear the gospel of Jesus Christ again and again so that we will stand firm in our faith, knowing that living in the way of Jesus is not in vain.  Unless we do that, the gospel is nothing but one of many religious stories to tell ourselves.  If God is making all things new in Christ, through his death and resurrection, as we confess then we must live accordingly! 

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* This post is a slightly modified version originally published as an article of the same title in Connecting 28 (April 3, 2013), a biweekly publication of the Columbia Church of Christ.

Believing In Jesus

This past Sunday was Easter Sunday and so as one would expect, I preached on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The message I preached before the Columbia Church of Christ was based on the text from Matthew 28:1-10 (here’s the link to the message: What About Us?).

One of the questions about the death and, more importantly, resurrection of Jesus is the question of belief.  Can we reasonably believe in this good news?  That is, though we can believe in whatever we want to believe in, is there any credible reason(s) for believing in the good news of Jesus Christ?  I believe there are and while I don’t want to go into a full scale discussion of Christian apologetics, I do want to share two interesting notes that support the credibility of Jesus’ resurrection.

This passage from Matthew 28:1-10 ends with the resurrected Jesus Christ appearing to the two women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.  Verses 9-10 read:

Suddenly Jesus met them.  “Greetings,” he said.  They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.  Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Implicit in those two verse are two points of interest to the credibility of Jesus’ resurrection.

First, the two people Jesus appears to first are women.  These two women become the first missionaries, preachers, evangelists, or what ever we want to call it.  They were sent to the other disciples about the news of Jesus’ resurrection.  That’s significant.  In the Mediterranean world of the first century, women were regarded with a much lower esteem than men and their word was not regarded as trustworthy (Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 698-699).  So if Matthew was simply trying to fabricate a story it would be rather self-defeating to include women in the details of the resurrection.

Second, one Jesus appears to the two women, they worshiped Jesus and they then became witnesses of Jesus.  This is significant because as far as a movement is concerned, this is where Christianity begins.  The legacy of these women has been repeated over and over as people have become believers in Jesus, they have also worshiped Jesus and become witnesses of Jesus — and sometimes while facing great persecution and opposition.  But one of the most remarkable facts for believing that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is true is the fact that within one hundred years of time, this Jesus movement became so large that Christians were beginning to be regarded as a fourth human race (N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, 359).

Neither reason proves or substantiates with absolute certainty that Jesus was in fact crucified and resurrected as the scriptures claim but I believe they do offer credible reasons.  I don’t actually believe that absolute proof or certainty can be offered for believing in the good news of Jesus Christ and if it could, there wouldn’t be any need for faith.  Sometimes though, we need to remember that faith in Jesus Christ does not require a suspension of reasonability.

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I also will mention two other article I have recently written.  The first is an article for Peter Horne’s blog titled Easter’s Promise for the Broken Heart.  Sometimes the struggle with faith stems from the grief and disappointments we suffer, which I understand.  So I’ve written in this article about the struggle with doubt and why I have chosen faith (without downplaying doubt).  The second article has been published by New Wineskins, an online Christian magazine and it is titled Living the Way of Jesus.  Those who believe in Jesus are called to follow him, to become his disciple.  In this article I explain what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ and why it is essential that Christians learn to live as disciples.

So if these two articles interest you then you have the links.  Thanks for reading!