ALMIGHTY God, who hast given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life; Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. (John 20:19-23)
It is a little baffling to understand why the people of God are shocked to know that our Lord is with them – even in mundane places. Mary was surprised with joy to see Christ right beside her, and the two men on the Road to Damascus were equally surprised that Christ had walked all the way home with them – he does for us as well.
It will prosper our love and understanding of the fear the disciples experienced following the crucifixion. Only having heard, through a veil of ignorance, the Words of Christ that after the third day He would arise, the disciples were not expecting the Words of Christ to become a literal fact. So they hid and cowered behind closed doors.
While He was yet with them, their courage never failed, but when separated from the physical presence of Christ – they were mere cowards.
You will note that Christ rose from the Tomb with a living body though different in some respects than His pre-crucifixion body. He was recognizable in appearance, but He could also pass through material barriers without any impediment.
He came to His disciples in Peace as He always comes to us. “Peace be unto you!”
His glorified body still retained the scars of His sacrifice. Did you know that when we all get to heaven, we will have perfect bodies? There shall be only One whose body is marred from suffering – the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ sends us into the World as His Father had sent Him. Let us stop to contemplate how the Father sent the Son into the World?
1) He came under humble circumstances having been born of a humble mother and laid in a wooden manger used for feeding sheep. That was appropriate for Christ is our Bread of Life and we are the Sheep of His Pasture.
2) Christ lived a normal life for His time and was a carpenter for his surrogate father, Joseph. We must, likewise, labor for our daily bread.
3) He was notable in His innocence of life. When we are notoriously wicked, the whole world notices. But when we are humble and righteous, the world makes no mention of it. We, too, must live lives that are righteous and above the contempt of men.
4) He came to set the captives free, but who are the captives? Those who are burdened with their heavy sins – all of us. He preached and taught. Our true testimony of Christ will likewise set the captives free. Before we can teach others of the means of coming to Christ to lift their burdens, we must first allow Him to lift our own unbecoming yoke and burden.
5) He showed compassion to all, but greatest of all to sinners who KNEW they were sinners. We must show compassion to ALL men and, especially, those who are hopelessly drowning in a sea of sin. A drowning man flails helplessly in the briny foam, unable to save himself. That burden of throwing out the life raft falls to us.
6) Christ proved Himself by His works. So must we. Though we cannot perform miracles, we have a Master who can, indeed.
7) He changed the requirements of obedience from that of strictly adhering to Commandments written on Stone Tables to that of the Commandment of Love written in the soft sinews of our hearts. That which we love warrants that we commit no sin against.
8) He was the only Man ever born without sin, and the only One who lived a sinless life. Thereby He was worthy to die in our stead for our sins. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the righteousness of God’ and “The wages of sin is death.” If we all have sinned, we deserved to go to the cross instead of Christ. But He went in our stead so that we may have the privileges of sonship with the Father as sons and daughters of God.
9) He bore all of our sins on the cross when, at any moment, He could have come down from the cross. He was WILLING to go all the way for us. We must be WILLING to go all the way for Him and those He loves.
10) He arose from the Tomb on the third day as He had promised. That gives us the privilege to rise from our own graves if we are in Him and He in us. He is our Ark of Salvation that shall insure our living above the floods and terrors of this world.
11) He ascended to the Father and there intercedes for us with Him. He has left us as keepers of the Vineyard to labor in His stead. The teaching of the Apostles persists today though many have waxed cold and passionless in our day. Our task is to press on to the mark set in Christ by living a pure and clean life and telling others about the hope that is in us in Christ Jesus.
Have you lived the kind of life that causes men to know you belong to Christ?