Why Questions Don’t Threaten Jesus On Easter

God is not threatened by our questions, doubts, and critical spirit. From the moment Jesus said, “Repent and believe for the kingdom of God is at hand,” people placed his life under the microscope of suspicion. The miracle of the resurrection proved no exception to this rule.

Is the Resurrection Real?

No one in the ancient world thought Jesus would conquer the grave. Though we should commend the women who first arrived at the tomb for their expression of faith that first Easter morning, we should still note they arrived expecting to find a bloodied and decaying body. Luke 24:1 reported that the women walked to the tomb with “the spices they had prepared.” When they went and told the fearful disciples that Jesus was alive after encountering angels and the risen Jesus, the eleven friends of Jesus said the women’s account was “an idle tale (Lk 24:11). Though Jesus had spent much of his public ministry discussing his upcoming death and resurrection, no one believed God’s Word. Rather, they believed because they saw the empty tomb and the Jesus’s “hands and his feet.” The facts of the first Easter were historically verified Because they disciples doubted the possibility of the resurrection. The old preacher J.C. Ryle hit the easter egg on the head when he wrote,

The unbelief of the apostles is one of the strongest evidences that Jesus rose from the dead. If the disciples were at first so backward to believe our Lord’s resurrection and were at last so thoroughly persuaded of its truth that they preached it everywhere, Christ must have been risen from the dead.

If God can overcome the doubts of the apostles, he will not feel threatened by your doubts and concerns. I invite you to bring them to the tomb. Wrestle with the narratives found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Search for Jesus’s body. Look at the historical evidence in favor of the resurrection. Test and see if a man bloodied by a flogging, crucifixion, and a spear wound could remove a massive tombstone and overpower a Roman guard. Examine whether 500 people could hallucinate. See if the disciples had the weapons and skills necessary to steal the body. Come investigate the resurrection.

A Miracle Worth Believing

But do not stop there. Do not nominally agree with the miracle and then go on attempting to overcome the shame in your heart and that nagging fear of death that blinks in the back corner of your soul like a smoke detector with a low battery. You may smoother it with the pillow of good works and you may close the doors of religion behind you seeking acceptance, but death’s warning still beeps.

Instead, join the disciples and the women of the first Easter morning and believe in Jesus. Jesus explains the purpose of Easter in Luke 24:46-47 when he says,

Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

We fear death for we know we are not perfect. Though we make peace with our faults, we know in our heart of hearts that God does not. And we cannot rest peacefully at night not because of what our parents told us but because our hearts condemn us. Though we may have done many things right, we have all told a white lie, sent an angry text, or posted something on social media that we later had to remove. We have all messed up our lives, our world, and offend our neighbors.

God must deal with us. A God who sweeps sin under the rug like a parent who refuses to recognize the crimes of their drug addicted kid, pretending they have done nothing wrong, cannot be a good God. God must deal with our sin if he is good and loving.That dealing with sin results in our death.

But on the cross, Jesus dies. His gives blood, his life source, for our souls so that we might live. Jesus who was both fully God and fully man and who spent his life sharing truth, healing the sick, loving the oppressed, opposing demons, and feeding the hungry died upon the cross for our sins. This is the good news of the gospel. This is the news that should warm our hearts this Easter morning. Jesus who said he could deliver us from sin and death made good on his promise. The tomb is empty Jesus. All who believe on Jesus though they die, they too will be resurrected to eternal life. Jesus paid it all.

Conclusion

If you have questions about Easter, Jesus, and the Bible, I encourage you to bring them with to the tomb located in the gospels. Jesus is not threatened or put off by your doubts any more than he was stunted by the worries and unbelief of his followers that first Easter morning. He can withstand your questions. But I will warn you in advance, that your investigation may not go as planned. As the angels told the women that first Easter morning, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but he is risen!”

Christ the Lord is Risen Today!

Happy Easter!

Yes, That’s Your President!

While the pundits speculate about how the presidents-elect’s agenda will unfold during the first 100 days of his or her presidency, a good number of American will sulk about, muttering “That’s not my president.” Those who sob through their candidate’s concession speech often struggle to come to terms with the election results. To comfort their souls and to stick to the system that betrayed them on election night, the members of the losing party will spend the next four years telling anyone who will listen, “That’s not my President.”

Admittedly, the phrase does not always represent a denial of reality. At times, defeated voters on both sides of the political spectrum toss out the phrase to remind their listeners that they disagree with the President. When asked why President Bush, Obama, Reagan, or Kennedy did this or that, those who did not vote for these men can conveniently and rightfully distance themselves from the discussion, reminding the room that those men were not their presidential candidate of choice. That’s not my president, agenda, or goal for America.

But often the phrase contains a more sinister meaning. The speaker uses the expression to imply a level of disrespect and defiance. Instead of honoring, supporting, and praying for the man or woman who has been elected to the Presidential office, the defeated voter seeks to create a safe space from which she can attack, insult, and belittle the President, using whatever means are necessary: conspiracy theories, lies, insults, and riots. That’s not my President often equals “I am free to rebel and to destroy.” Such thinking proves detrimental to society. It also proves to be antithetical to the Scriptures.

Election Theology

Christians should avoid the rebellious use of the phrase “That’s not my President” and confess, “That’s my President.” The statement is not inherently political. Nor is it about party affiliations or about one’s understanding of policy. Rather, that phrase is a theological confession of God’s loving sovereignty.

In Daniel 2:21 God reminds us that, “he removes kings and sets up kings.” Or as Paul says in Romans 13:1 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” When Christians refuse to honor and respect the President, they act as if God does not reign. They imply that someone snuck into the White House while God was caring for orphans in Africa. But that is not the God of the Bible. He reigns over all human affairs and every American election cycle. His power knows no limits and cannot be out maneuvered, cheated, or overwhelmed. God’s purpose always come to be. Though we may not like the November outcome, we can be confident that the outcome of the last election was God intended outcome. “The Lord of Hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand (Isa 14:24).” John Neuahas rightly noted,

Jesus Christ is Lord. That is the first and final assertion Christians make about all of reality, including politics.

Moreover, we should be confident that the outcome of the last election is consistent with God’s goodness. Psalm 136:1 reminds us to “Give thank to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” God’s faithful love was not on the last ballot. All events represent God’s exercise of his sovereign power for the good of his people. Romans 8:28 famously states “all things work together for good” for those who love God. That includes all things political. Even the political realities that get under our skin still further God’s good plans for his church and for you. Consequently as Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes clear:

Christians should never get excited about the state. They should never get excited about politics. They are to be interested; they are to vote; they must be intelligent and informed; but they should never get excited about one political party or the other…to they extent that they do, the come under the condemnation of the Scriptures.

What is God Doing?

In the cosmic sense, I do not know why candidate A prevails over that candidate B. I cannot detail what God is doing; no one can. Even historical investigation faces limits when seeking to discern the purposes of the heavenly Father. God has declared, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD (Is 55:8).” Be suspicious of those who proclaim that candidate A is a symbol of divine blessing and that candidate B is a symbol of judgement. God’s world is far more complex than that. Philistia, Babylon, and Assyria all had good runs at Israel’s political expense. But God was not with the pagan countries. Today’s win or loss is not the end of the story.

Closing Thoughts

Though we do not know what God is doing in the short term, we do know who is. He is the good and sovereign Lord of the universe who works all things together for our good. We can say, “That’s my President” giving respect to whom respect is do and praying for good to come from the administration currently in possession of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (1 Tim 2:2). The failure to do reveals that we have betrayed our Lord and equated the kingdom of God with a political party.

Of course, we can disagree with any President’s agenda. The presence in office does not prove the righteousness of their causes or policies. Might does not make right. We have the freedom in Christ to vote for candidates that will overturn the current administration’s policy wins and the next.

Lastly, the church must advocate for truth and justice, sharing the gospel with rulers as Paul did and rebuking kings who openly defy the direct commands of Scripture as John the Baptist did.

But even in those moments of evangelism and rebuke, the Christian must still confess, “That’s my President.” God’s goodness cannot be thwarted by crooked senators or deceptive Presidents. Even when its not ok; it is ok. God reigns.

All Christians should be able to say, “That’s My President.” What say you?

Don’t Skip Thanksgiving

The world wants to skip from Halloween to Christmas bouncing from horror themed self-indulgence to tinsel tossed materialism. The church can empathize with the sentiment. The social unrest, contentious elections, and COVID19 pandemic have cast a long, misty shadow of anxiety over most every part of the globe. The idea of stopping at grandma’s for Thanksgiving turkey seems to be an ironic exercise in American cultural futility. Why give thanks for such a world?

Though the world despairs, the people of God have every reason to give thanks in such a world. They understand the sovereign love of God. The church knows that all of today’s troubles are bound together by a golden thread of grace that culminates in the book of life. For the Christian, spiritual reality remains far more real than presidential elections, infection numbers, and GDP growth. What do those who see beyond the empirical world know?

Why Christians Give Thanks

They know that God will rescue his people and that Jesus will come again. To borrow the words of Micah 7:8b and 9b Christians are confident that, “when I fall, I shall rise…[and] in that day the boundary shall be far extended.” Though the believer may watch his political candidate go down in flames, get a pink slip, or receive a terminal diagnosis, he knows God will not let him be crushed. God will vindicate his people. Admittedly, God may not vindicate his people’s political candidates, business plans, or medical strategies. Our causes may flounder, but our faith will remain unmoved. We will prove to be more than conquers because God has pleaded our cause and has executed “justice (Micah 7:10).” Jesus died that we might be freed from the curse. Death, sin, and sorrow have no right to dominate our soul for Jesus has swaddled us in his righteous love. Even if our day is filled with adversity, mistakes, and sinful failures, we know the darkness will not last because “the Lord will be a light to me (Micah 7:9.).” Even on the worst day, the believer can confidently boast, “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:38-39).” Those whose names have been written in the book of life have every reason to be thankful. God will rescue from today’s trial.

God also promises to come again. The Christian’s future hope is not tied to suburban homes and white fences, large family gatherings, or exotic vacations. All these things can come and go and utterly disappoint our souls. Homes can flood, gatherings can descend into feuds, and vacations can prove to be a waste of time. The Christian hopes in something yet unseen but something far more secure, the new heavens and the new earth. When Christ returns the boundary of his kingdom shall be extended to cover all of humanity. All sin, disease, sorrow, anxiety, hurt, and injustices will be forced outside the walls of God’s kingdom and crushed. Inside the walls, Jesus will shepherd his people placing them under the shade of his blessed comfort and filling their hearts with the abundance of his riches. Because the believer knows her destination is secure, she has every reason to be thankful today. The new heavens and the new earth are coming.

Give Thanks!

Though the world maybe ready to skip from Halloween to Christmas, the church should embrace the cultural moment and give thanks. God promises to see us through today and to come again. The two things that fuel our anxiety, today’s problems and tomorrow’s possibilities, have been solved by Jesus on the cross. The baby born in Bethlehem on Christmas morn has conquered this world of goblins and vampires. Nothing can separate us from him. Give Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving!