God-in-a-Box–Your Inbox… for appreciating God
Get a Cosmic View of Jesus' Life in Small Bytes

Apr
18

Image  Get to know God by meditating on Jesus’ life, 250 words a day, five days a week, Easter to Easter

Apr
09
On the way to Emmaus,  their traveling companion, the “stranger,” shares prophecy after prophecy. Cleopas and his friend look at each other. They can see hope rising in the other. Their hearts are throbbing with it as Jesus talks. Could it be Jesus’ death was supposed to happen? Had been planned before creation?
They reach their home, but Jesus acts as if he will continue; he waits, not assuming he will be invited in.
They beg him to stay with them, pointing out that it will soon be dark and unsafe to travel. Though they don’t yet know him, they love his words, wanting to hear more.
He goes in with them and sits down to share their simple evening meal of bread.
As He raises his hands to bless it, suddenly their eyes clear and they recognize him–especially the wounds from the nails. “Jesus!” they cry.  And He vanishes.
Now they jump up, forgetting all about eating, and their fatigue, “Didn’t our hearts burn as he talked with us on the way?” they say to each other, and they set out for Jerusalem.
Back they go, over the same eight-mile mountain road. It’s dark now and sometimes they slip, not seeing. Once they lose their way and find it again, talking constantly in wonder. All the while, they have an unseen companion, protecting them and enjoying their joy. Their hearts leap with it. The world seems all new.
They can’t get there fast enough! Can’t wait to say we have seen Him! He is alive!
Luke 24:27-33
Apr
08

It’s late Sunday afternoon. Two followers of Jesus are walking the eight miles home to Emmaus after being in Jerusalem for Passover. They’re talking about Jesus death, and their sadness and confusion over the news of the empty tomb.

They are joined by a stranger, but don’t realize that it’s Jesus. They’re intent on their discussion and somehow are kept from recognizing him.

He wants to be unrecognized so he can teach them about his mission through the prophecies. If they know him, they will be overjoyed and feel no need of anything more. He longs to comfort them, and replace their tears with joy, but first he wants them to understand the scriptures pointing to him. So he asks, “What are you discussing that makes you so sad?”

One of them, Cleopas, says, “Are you the only person who doesn’t know what’s happened in Jerusalem?” They tell him about Jesus, a prophet who healed and taught the people wonderfully, and how they had hoped and believed he was the Messiah.

“But our priests and rulers condemned him and had him crucified. This is the third day and some have seen his empty tomb.” They see his death as the end of hope, when it’s the opposite. The priests didn’t forget his words; why did they?

“Why are you so slow to believe? And foolish when it comes to understanding scripture?” Jesus asks. Now he has their attention! And beginning with Moses he explains all the prophecies concerning himself to show that Messiah’s suffering and death precedes his glory.

Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-27

Apr
07

Later that Sunday, Jesus appears to all the women and says, “Rejoice, My ladies, look, all of you! I am alive! Go tell the disciples, and Peter, to go to Galilee and I will meet them there.”

Jesus first appears to women! They were considered less than men, usually thought property, and Jesus honors and comforts them by allowing them to be the first to see Him alive.

Take this honor even further–Mary, the former prostitute, who has had demons cast out seven times, was the first to be honored. The sweetness and kindness of God shine through his treatment of women.

And then there is Peter. He has suffered the most of the eleven since Jesus’ death. That pain-filled, forgiving, loving look of Jesus on that awful night is always in his mind. He is tortured by his failure. He has seen the empty tomb. He aches to believe and know he is forgiven.

How comforting sound the women’s words to him! “We’ve seen Him and He said, ‘Tell my disciples, and Peter, to meet me in Galilee’.”

Peter catches the assurance for him, “He really said ‘and Peter’? Really?” His heart sings! He’s alive and I’m forgiven! He chooses to believe them, and gets his own encounter.*

But most of the disciples don’t believe them. They think they are suffering from delusion, never mind how unlikely that they all have had the same one.

They could be rejoicing with all of heaven that Jesus is alive! But they won’t give up their doubt. Don’t hang on to doubt!

Matthew 28:9-10, Mark 16:7-8, Luke 24:9-11, *24:34

Apr
06

Hearing Mary say, “His tomb is open!” Peter and John jump up and run to the tomb. She follows, and John, arriving first, stops at the doorway, but Peter runs inside. They see the folded grave clothes and Peter wonders, but John, in awe, thinks, he said he would rise again.

They walk back to Jerusalem passing Mary, shaking their heads.

She runs to the tomb, this time going in, her heart breaking. Mary sees the angels, and one says, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

“Someone’s taken my Lord, and I don’t know where he is.” She turns away, distraught, not even wondering or noticing who they are, focused on finding someone who can tell her.

As she goes outside, she sees someone else through her tears who says, “Why are you crying? Whom are you looking for?”

Supposing he is the gardener, she says, “Sir if you have taken him away, (if this rich man needs his grave) tell me where you have put him and I will take him away.” (Thinking of Lazarus’ empty tomb?)

“Mary,” Jesus says.

She recognizes that tone, that voice. She raises her head, It’s Him! Wiping her eyes, excitement flooding, she falls at his feet, exclaiming, “Master!”

“I waited for you.” Jesus says, “But I must go now, I haven’t seen My Father or heard His approval. Go tell my brothers I’ll see them soon; I’m ascending to My Father and yours.”

She runs to the others, feeling like she’s flying. “He’s alive! He’s alive! I have seen Jesus! I talked with him and he sent you a message!”

John 20:3-17,  Luke 24:12

Apr
05

Very early Sunday morning women are on their way to Jesus’ tomb from different directions. They feel the earthquake and suddenly think of the huge stone doorway, unaware of what’s happening right then, a mile or so away.

Mary Magdalene reaches the grave before the others, and horrified at seeing it open, immediately sets off to tell the disciples. She forgets she’s meeting others, forgets his words about rising again; and takes off running… She obviously didn’t look inside, because angels must be there waiting as they are a few minutes later.

Meanwhile, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, and Salome arrive with embalming spices and find that the stone, they were worried about moving, has been moved! The tomb empty! They see light and notice they’re not alone.

A glowing angel, appearing as a person so he won’t frighten them, says, “Don’t be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus. He isn’t here, come and see.”

They go inside and see another angel, who says, “Remember what he said to you, that the Son of Man must be crucified and rise again the third day? Go quickly and tell his disciples and Peter.”

The women look at the folded grave clothes, too stunned to say thank you, they turn to go, saying to each other, “He is risen! He is risen!”

They are afraid to tell the disciples saying, “They won’t believe us women.” But Mary has already gotten to them and told them about the empty grave.

“Where is Jesus?” is on every mind.

Matthew 28:1, 5-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-9, John 20:1-2

Apr
04
Shocked that Jesus’ resurrection is real, the priests began fearing for their own lives. Satan goads them with fear of the people, prodding them to spread lies.
They can bribe the soldiers. They can even silence Pilate, but many had heard the resurrection story before the soldiers were gagged by the priests. And God provides other voices they can’t silence!
Certain dead people come to life with Jesus and speak to their loved ones and many others, giving credibility to his resurrection. They were those who had lost their lives for him–perhaps John the Baptist was one? No wonder Jesus didn’t rescue him! Lazarus has to stay on earth and die again, but John gets to go to heaven! Sometimes what seems unfair to us is God having a better idea.
Jesus, and those risen with him, are the wave sheaf presented the day after Passover Sabbath–the first fruits of the harvest. This Passover the real “first fruits” are a human harvest from earth. The voice that cried “It is finished!” had pierced the walls of rocks and graves near Jerusalem, and woke up his “sleepers” to be his witnesses.
But at his second coming, all those everywhere who have died in friendship with God will hear Jesus’ voice and come out to glorious everlasting life.*
To the believer, death is nothing to fear. It is a moment of silence–“sleep” as Jesus called it. Jesus gives immortality. We don’t naturally have it. As he said, “I AM the resurrection and the life.”** God is the source of life, only maintained by His presence.
Matthew 27:52-53,   *Isaiah 26:19,  1Thessalonians 4:13-18,  **John 11:25
Apr
01
Roman soldiers are a strange sight, pale-faced and still-trembling, telling hastily- gathered priests what they have just experienced. They are too afraid to invent anything or even think about consequences. “It was the Son of God who was crucified!” one says.
“We heard an angel call him ‘Son of God’!” says another. “He said ‘Your father calls you’!”
Yet another adds, “We saw him walk out! He’s alive!”
The color drains from the priests’ faces, Caiaphas’ lips move, but nothing comes out.
The soldiers turn to leave when he finds his voice, “Wait, wait! Don’t tell anyone what you’ve seen. Say his disciples came and stole the body while you were sleeping.”
“What?” The soldiers are shocked. “But sleeping–” They stammer, heads clearing, horrified at the thought of taking on this crime–sleeping at your post is punished by death! Besides, if we had slept, we wouldn’t have known what happened.  And wouldn’t you priests have been first to accuse us? It makes no sense.
The priests offer than a great deal of money to misrepresent the event, saying they will get them off with Pilate (another bribe)–assuring them he won’t want the story out any more than they do. Satan has the priests in his control, trying desperately to kill the story.
The incredible news has already reached Pilate. Horrified, he determines to see no one. But the priests prevail with him and their plan to pervert the truth. Before consenting to go along with their scheme he examines the soldiers, who are afraid to hide anything from him, and he gets the full, completely compelling, unedited account.
Matthew 28:11-15
Mar
31
It is just before dawn on Sunday morning.
At Jesus’ tomb many soldiers are keeping watch, along with many beings they can’t see.  A great many evil angels are there with Satan hoping to keep the Son of God from coming out of his grave. But Jesus’ angels, excelling in strength, are there too.
Just as there was an earthquake when Jesus died, now another earthquake shakes the earth, as the mightiest angel, who took Lucifer’s place in heaven, comes to earth to call Jesus.
Soldiers, who have never been afraid of any human, shake with terror as they watch him remove the stone as easily as a pebble. They hear him call, “Son of God come out. Your Father calls you.”
They see Jesus walk out, radiant, and hear him say, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life.” He is the very one they had mocked, made a crown of thorns, and dressed as a king; the man some of them had nailed to the cross!
The dark angels flee, overcome by the brilliance and power of Jesus’ angels lighting the darkness as they welcome him with shouts of triumph and singing.
The soldiers, overcome by the light, faint. But as soon as the other world is hidden again, they recover, and as fast as their trembling legs will allow, they head straight to Pilate, shouting to those they meet their amazing news. “He is risen!”
Unfortunately, spies take their news to Jewish authorities immediately. The soldiers are intercepted, and directed to go to the priests and tell them before going to Pilate.
Matthew 28:2-4
Mar
30
The priests have no rest that Sabbath. The events of the crucifixion keep replaying in their minds. They keep seeing Jesus, majestic and God-like, uncomplaining under abuse.
The ones on duty become as crazy men with the crowds asking for Jesus, or when men question them, asking them to explain the prophecies about Messiah’s suffering and death.
The priests at home keep remembering what Judas had told them of Jesus’ words, “He said he would be crucified and rise again on the third day.” They try to shut out these thoughts, but it is impossible.
 Finally, the council is called together, never mind that it is Passover Sabbath, or that yesterday they wouldn’t step through a Gentile doorway, they decide to go to Pilate about Jesus’ body.

“Sir,” the spokesman says, “we remember that this deceiver said ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Command that his tomb be made secure until the third day, so his disciples can’t steal his body and say he is risen from the dead. That would be worse than his claim.”

 “You have a guard,” says Pilate, growing more uneasy with every new bit of information, “Go make it as secure as you know how.”
They go and draw cords over the great stone acting as a door to Jesus tomb, fastening the ends to the solid rock with the Roman seal.  A Roman watch of one hundred soldiers is ordered.
But in God’s plan, they have simply  provided more witnesses for Jesus resurrection.
Matthew 27:62-67
Mar
29
The event that establishes the faith of Joseph and Nicodemus destroys the disciples’ hope.
The women, last to leave the cross, weep as they follow the body of him they have honored and loved. They watch as the huge stone is rolled over the doorway of his tomb. Hating to leave him, they slowly walk home, still crying. They can’t believe he is really dead.
This is a Sabbath none of them will ever forget–priests, rulers, and people.
Passover Sabbath begins with the trumpet’s signal, as it has for centuries, but this time the rites pointing toward God’s lamb are fulfilled. A strangeness seems to fill everything, especially in the temple–the gorgeous torn veil gaping open, still attached at the bottom, revealing how it was torn, and the Most Holy Place.
Not only disciples are sleepless. Many eyes spend the hours between Jesus death and resurrection searching prophecy to make sense of this trauma. Jesus is the only one resting this Sabbath–in his grave.
Never have so many people come looking for the Messiah. The temple courts fill with the disappointed hopes, cries, and tears of those coming to be healed, those bringing their loved ones for his healing touch. They come demanding to see Jesus. “Where is the Messiah who heals the sick and raises the dead?” is heard everywhere. They won’t be turned away.
Finally soldiers are stationed to control those mobbing the temple gates.
The sound of mourning for Jesus fills Jerusalem.
(continued tomorrow)