Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe. John 20:27
As a mom of six planning for all the fun Easter egg hunts and activities surrounding the most significant day we set aside to celebrate victory in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ I found myself engaging in a little hunt of my own. A hunt through His Word. Hunting for all the times throughout the four gospels Jesus issues the call to a specific person or people group to “Come”, to come up along side Him and walk it out together, phrases like “come follow, come see, or let’s go, come back…” are sprinkled all throughout! I counted 7 times in Matthew, 7 times in Mark, 3 times in Luke and 9 times in John. The entire ministry of Jesus was a call to know Him but I counted 26 recorded times He issued that call directly in those words.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. WHOEVER believes in Jesus! You see the call is for everyone! To know Him as our personal Lord and Savior, the One who died in our place because in our sinfulness we owed a debt we couldn’t pay so He paid the price He didn’t owe in order that we might receive forgiveness and be brought into a love relationship with Him. To those who respond to the call we have the living hope of an eternal Kingdom in which there will be no death, tears, hate or any other kind of immorality! Do you crave that call to know Him to walk with Him in a love relationship all the way to that Kingdom?!
But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 Seeking with all my heart gives the impression of a craving, something I just can’t live without or resist (like homemade pumpkin cake). Do I seek Him and long for His Kingdom moment by moment with a craving of my whole heart?! I can pray for that!
Jesus stir up a craving within my soul in which You ignite a passionate flame that would make anything in this world, anything, pale in comparison to the romance between Your Holy Spirit and I. Enrapture my heart until I’m held breathless with all the fullness of joy to be found in You Jesus.
John 6:67 Jesus asks His disciples, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” He had just issued some hard truths and many no longer followed Him. His Word says in Mark 9:49 Everyone will be salted with fire. I would dare say sometimes life can make you feel more like you’re kindling, SOAKED in gasoline for use in a bonfire! But I can choose to let it kill me or I can stupefy the enemy by allowing it to refine me. Let’s agree not to let the enemy gloat over us. Nothing would make him happier than to see us forfeit our own free gift of salvation, so let’s let the fire of the trial be used to purify us, for God is like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap (Malachi 3:2) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:7
Same goes with doubts… the fact you may have doubts is the evidence there is faith. I recently learned that the Hebrew word for wrestle is abaq and the Hebrew word for embrace is habaq. Just one letter makes a world a difference. Might we be willing to wrestle all the way through the fire to the embrace. Don’t give up, you may be so close! His Word says we will not understand it all this side of heaven. 1 Cor. 13:12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. Hang on dear one, one day we will see – the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matt. 24:13
Before we travel to the foot of the cross lets stop and read John 11:38-44. Talk about a trial, the loss of a loved one. Jesus asks for the stone to be rolled away and the sisters of the late brother protest that doing that will only let the stink out, all hope is gone anyway. Do you think sometimes we need to have our perspectives rolled away from the hopeless gray stone and onto His living Truths in order to blow the stink off our attitudes in certain grave situations? I do. I also know His Word will call me out of my cave and grave clothes just like Jesus did to Lazarus (verses 43-44). His Word will remind me that if I believe I will see the glory of God (verse 40). Sometime however that glory won’t be seen until He’s completely brought me through the fire. Moses asked to see the glory of God and God had to cover him with His hand as His glory passed by so I would think it wasn’t until He had passed all the way by that Moses saw some light (Ex. 33:21-23). Maybe some of the darkness in a trial is the protective covering of His loving hands around you working out everything for good and His glory (Romans 8:28). His Word however, is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)
Jesus sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” Mark 8:12 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” John 4:48 As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. Luke 11:29-30 Read Luke 16:19-31. An unbelieving man is sent to the place of torment and he begs for someone to be sent to warn his five living brothers to believe so that they don’t end up like him but the response is they have Moses and the Prophets let then listen to them. But the man responds, no you must send someone back from the dead to warn them! – verse 31 tells the doomed man, if they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead. Luke 13:34 states, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.
Who knows but God Himself what would cause one of us to fall away from the faith or what would cause another to awaken to the faith! At the foot of the cross we see some say they will not believe unless Jesus get’s Himself off (Mark 15:31-32) and yet some came to belief because He stayed on!! And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “surely this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:39 I think this indicates we just need to cry out for God to persuade us to greater faith every single day! We can pray He work out Ezekiel 36:26 in us moment by moment. …I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Jesus give me eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart of flesh pliable in Your hand allowing You to mold it to Your will. Because You have said in John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Do you?
One statement Jesus made that has always amazed me was in Matt. 26:46- Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer! This is at the point they are coming to arrest Him for His crucifixion in the garden. I would have said, “Rise lets RUN!!!!” Not Jesus, He keeps His game face on and says, “Rise, lets go!” He is not running from the trial He is walking head on in, prayed up and like, bring it on!
Micah 7:8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. Proverbs 24:16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.
He showed us Who is stronger than our enemy when He walked out of that tomb! He showed us how to walk unafraid in and through a fiery trial and that brave One lives in us!!! 1 John 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by your selves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 Do you hear that call in the clamor of life, do you crave it?! “Come with me…” As a mom of six I know finding a quiet place alone can be near impossible… might I suggest the laundry room?! Every mom knows the bathroom is a no go, littles have no qualms about attempting to break in and have conversations with you in that room but the laundry room… if they break in there they may be put to work so typically it’s a safety zone for a quiet moment (just make sure you have a snack stash in there too).
After Jesus rises He meets with His disciples (John 20:19-22) and brings peace to their fears and shows them His scars and they were overjoyed. We too can be overjoyed because His scars trump ours!! But Jesus makes a second visit (John 20:24-30) because Thomas was not there for His first visit and EVERY ONE matters to Him. He comes straight through locked doors for Thomas (verse 26) and He does the same for us but when He says like He does to Thomas, Stop doubting and believe.- it’s up to us if we respond with a heart of flesh or stone.
Thomas responds, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:28 He rises because Jesus is alive and so can we! Rise, rise, and rise again each time we fall! We can fight like Benaiah who was a valiant fighter who preformed great exploits. He struck down two of Moab’s best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptians hand and killed him with his own spear. 2 Samuel 23:20-21 (Good golly did you take a moment to picture that in your minds eye!!??!) Do we live like we are on the victorious end of the cross?!! We are not fighting FOR victory but FROM it! We can be valiant fighters who preform great exploits this side of heaven for His glory too if we’ll answer His call… because our Lord, our God is ALIVE!! Praise the mighty name of Jesus!
Independent Read: Isaiah 60:1, Ephesians 5:14, Isaiah 26:19, Ezra 10:4, Psalm 139:2, Acts 26:16, Deuteronomy 28:7, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Matt. 28:19-20