We’ve come to Sunday. The day that ushers in the grand celebration and realization that Jesus did what He said He would do– He conquered death and the grave and gives us all the VICTORY!
If that’s all I were to write for you today it would be sufficient. Period. But as I read the resurrection account in Matthew I felt there was a message for us for the days AFTER Easter and especially in the days of quarantine and global pandemic.
These instructions come from Jesus Himself when talking to the first people to see Him in His resurrected form. I know we like to focus on His last words before returning to Heaven. They are obviously important instructions as well, but these “first words” shouldn’t be skipped or skimmed over.
Here’s the interaction:
Matthew 27: 9-10 (The Passion Translation) “Along the way, Jesus suddenly appeared in front of them (Mary Magdalene and the other Mary) and said, ‘Rejoice!’ They were so overwhelmed by seeing Him that they bowed down and grasped His feet in adoring worship. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Throw off all your fears. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee. They will find me there.”
I’m a word nerd. Sometimes I look up definitions for commonly used words just so I don’t miss any deeper beauty. Rejoice is defined as to feel or show great joy or delight.
In the Greek, rejoice was used as a common greeting but it’s also a blessing. Imagine if the very first words out of your mouth when interacting with someone was a blessing to say, “My desire is that our conversation brings you JOY!”
Or in Holly terms, that our hope is that we leave people better than we found them. I could go on in great length in the amount of conversations that have left me hurt, discouraged and angry. Instead, I’d like to turn the question to myself. How many people I haven’t left better?
If you read the Gospels you’ll notice the vast majority of people who encountered Jesus left feeling lighter– many of them having their lives radically transformed. Just like Mary Magdalene, in fact.
There were some people who left Jesus saddened. Why? He told them something they didn’t want to hear.
I’ve had both experiences. I know you may be shocked to hear that sometimes I do dumb stuff and Jesus needs to lovingly correct me. It happens. But oh man, those joyous moments where I’m lost in His delight and affection have revived me and comforted me time and time again.
THROW OFF ALL YOUR FEARS
Unfortunately, fear isn’t quarantined to this Cornavirus crisis. For some, it may rise up when they see a certain name pop up on the caller ID, see a negative balance in their checking account or get the news of a diagnosis.
Fear has come at me in all those ways and more. I’m sure you’ve got your own to share, too. It sounds like Jesus is showing our options when faced with fear. We can hold on to it and allow it to consume us OR (as He suggests) throw those suckers off.
What does that mean? How can I practically apply that to my life? As soon as the fear and anxiety comes your way to not entertain them. Often I find myself conversing with my fear giving it more time and space than it’s due.
I’ve worked with kids for a long time and when a child is struggling with fear (like homesickness at camp) you redirect them. You ask them questions about their pets. You tell them about fun things you’ll be doing with them that day. You tell them a joke.
When fearful thoughts come our way (I KNOW this is easier said than done)– redirect them. Respond to them with faith and God’s word. In doing so, you’re redirecting yourself to the heart and voice of God and giving attention to what He says.
GO & TELL
When you’ve encountered Jesus in a supernatural and powerful way He wants us to tell others about it because He knows others need to hear it. They need to know that God does what He promises and that you’ve seen it with your own eyes! It’s not just something in an old book, but it’s something you’ve experienced.
What are some things God has promised you that you’ve seen come to pass? Tell someone! They need to know that God is still working and moving and speaking TODAY.
If we skip to Mark 16:11 we find out that Mary does exactly what she’s told. Let’s check it out:
Mark 16:11 (TPT) “Excitedly, Mary told them, ‘He’s alive and I’ve seen Him!’ But even after hearing this, they didn’t believe her.”
Even when God Himself gives you a message to share there will be people who doubt it.
How many times have I shared something in a sermon or a blog post and wondered if I said the right thing because of how people responded? The Truth is Jesus only requires me to do (and say) what He says. I don’t get to determine how people will interpret it or respond to it.
In fact, as one friend encouraged me today, you will be opposed in the areas you have been effective.
What’s that mean for me? Imma keep writing.
What’s that mean for you? Keep doing what God has called YOU to do.
In conclusion, Happy Easter. 🙂 Though your Easter may look wildly different this year, I pray it’s one where you encounter Jesus in a powerful way!