Matthew 28:1-4 ESV
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – left his throne in heaven, came to earth, was born in the likeness of humans, and took on the form of a servant. Then, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death on a cross (Phil. 2:5-11).
But, he didn’t remain dead, for he rose from the dead on the third day as he had said that he would. For, in his death he put sin to death, on our behalf, and in his resurrection he conquered the power of sin, Satan, death and hell.
Because he died for us on that cross, we are able to die to our sin. And, because he was resurrected from the dead, we are able to be resurrected with him to new lives in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
Matthew 28:5-10 ESV
But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
What these women witnessed in person we accept by faith. We believe in Jesus Christ, and in his death and resurrection. We believe that he conquered the power of sin and death on our behalf so that we could be delivered out of our bondage to sin, and so that we could now follow our Lord in obedience to his commands, in his power at work within our lives.
So, by faith in him we surrender our lives to him, and we make him Lord of our lives. We choose to leave our lives of sin behind us and to now walk (in lifestyle) according to his will, his ways, and his truth, and by his grace. And, we worship him by giving our lives over to him as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. And, so we are no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but now we are being transformed in heart and mind away from fleshly ways to now live to please God with our lives (Rom. 12:1-2).
And, because of what Jesus Christ did for us on that cross, and because of the transformation of heart and mind that he has accomplished in our lives, we want to tell others about his love and grace. We want to share our joy with others so that they can also be delivered out of their slavery to sin, and so that they can be in relationship with Jesus Christ and can also walk in his ways and in his truth. For, then they will have eternal life with God, too.
But, this isn’t easy. For, not everyone is going to be overjoyed with our good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not everyone is going to believe us, either, or accept that message coming from us. Many have their own religions or their own ideas about who Jesus was and is. Many have formed their own gospels, too, to fit with their own lifestyle choices, and so they won’t want to hear anything to the contrary. And, so we may be tempted to be afraid to share the gospel, for fear of being persecuted and rejected.
Matthew 28:11-15 ESV
While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.
Not all persecution is physical. Yes, there are people being severely persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ and for his gospel, and in physical ways, too. And, we ought to empathize with them and pray for them.
But, a lot of persecution is subtle, deceptive, manipulative and mental/emotional, and not physical at all. And, because of that, a lot of it is hard to prove, too, because it is hidden from sight, and it is done in sneaky and underhanded ways behind closed doors. A lot of it is also done through mind games and trickery, and through spreading false information about people in order to attempt to destroy their lives.
But, we are not to be afraid of what other people might do to us or say about us. We are not to fear their threats or their gossip and slander. We are not to be afraid of being accused falsely of what we have not done, or of having our reputations destroyed by false rumors. And, we are not to fear being rejected, mocked, hated, and persecuted for our faith and for sharing the good news of the gospel of our salvation, either.
Matthew 28:16-20 ESV
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
But, we are to go wherever the Lord sends us, and we are to say whatever it is he gives us to say to whomever he says to tell his gospel message of salvation from sin. For, our Lord is with us wherever we go if we go according to his will, and if in our going we are obeying him each step of the way in doing what he says, and in saying whatever he gives us to say.
And, what he wants for us is that we share with them the whole gospel message, not just the parts that sound good or that are acceptable to worldly listeners. He doesn’t want us to just teach the fundamental truths, either, but he wants us to share with others how they can walk by faith in righteousness and holiness, and how they can grow spiritually, and how they can live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God.
Yet, when we teach those “hard truths,” as Jesus taught, we will be hated, persecuted, rejected, falsely accused, mocked and ridiculed for our faith by some people. And, even some within the gatherings of the church may be the ones to lead the way in our rejection, too. But, we have to tell people the truth, for only the truth will set them free. Only through genuine faith in Jesus Christ will they be delivered from sin and have eternal life with God.
So, we need to keep on teaching what is true, even if it gets us rejected. And, we need to keep leading people to the cross of Christ, to humbling themselves before God in repentance and in obedience to Christ and to his Word. For, only in repentance and in obedience to Christ will they find true hope, true peace and eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Tit. 2:11-14; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Pet. 2:24).
All Through the Night
An Original Work / December 7, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures
Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.
When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.
Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.
Thursday, September 5, 2019