Wondering What Had Happened (Luke 24:12, NIV) by Carley Evans


12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
Peter stood over the empty tomb where Jesus’ body was laid out just as Lazarus’ was once wrapped in linen strips and laid in a different grave. Peter examined the strips of linen, and even with the words of the women in his mind, wondered to himself what had happened.
How extraordinary that after all he saw and heard from Jesus, Peter didn’t know what the empty tomb meant.
Perhaps in shock, he forgot that Jesus foretold His death and missed that Jesus also foretold His return to the living. Jesus even rebuked Peter as “Satan” when Peter suggested that Jesus must not die. “You are thinking like men, not like God,” Jesus warned. Perhaps Peter pushed this confrontation from the forefront of his mind, still ashamed that he denied Jesus three times before the crow of the morning cock.
So now, Peter wondered what the empty tomb meant. A completely logical conclusion may have occurred to him — the body of the Lord Jesus must be stolen!
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” an angel asked Mary, the mother of James, Joanna, and Mary Magdalene who came to the tomb earlier with spices for the Lord’s body. The angel opened the women’s eyes and hearts to the truth, even asking if they remembered Jesus’ own words regarding the prophesies of the older covenant with God.
When the women returned to the Eleven to tell the truth of the Resurrection, no one believed them. The women’s words seemed like nonsense. But Peter ran to the tomb to see for himself.
Like Peter, each one of us must see the empty tomb, wonder and remember what it means.

How Many Times? (2 Peter 3:18, ESV) by Carley Evans


“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” 2 Peter 3:18, ESV.

In this single verse, the apostle Peter tells us everything we need to know about the good news of Jesus Christ.

Jesus suffered only once.

He suffered and died for sinners, for persons who did not and do not deserve His sacrifice.

Jesus suffered and died to bring sinners to God ( not God to sinners, by the way ).

And how did Jesus accomplish this miracle?

Jesus brought sinners to God by “being put to death” — in other words, by execution which implies a courtroom, a judge and a sentence of death for guilt. Whose guilt? Not His own for He was and is without sin. The guilt that Jesus was sentenced to death for is mine and yours.

So stop pointing your finger at others.

We all alike condemned Jesus to the Cross.

And stop trying to crucify others.

Jesus needed to die only once.

Instead, rejoice! I say it again, Rejoice!

“Making Jesus Palatable” ( Isaiah 53:3-4, KJV ) by Carley Evans


He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

Jesus, lounging at the table with His disciples and His traitor, shows them a cup and says that they must drink of it – of His blood – if they wish to be in Him and have Him be in them. Then He shows them a hunk of bread and tells them they must eat of it – of His flesh – if they are to be in Him and have Him be in them. The man who sits with them is not a pretty man. His skin though richly dark and olive, is not smooth. And, His eyes are set incorrectly – one slightly higher than the other; one perhaps “lazy.” His black hair is long and unkempt. He has a rough look about Him; as if He’s seen too much of life’s sufferings and injustices. When He stands to walk, His movements are awkward as if a load too big for any man is on His shoulders.

When He asks His friends to eat and drink Him, they obey. Only one leaves because Jesus asks him to go on and do what he must do. For His disciples, Jesus is palatable. They’ve come to know, trust, and love Him as best they can. For Judas, Jesus is utterly unpalatable.

Recently, I caught a headline that a young Christian girl found the Jesus in the film, SON OF GOD “too pretty.” I’m sure the filmmakers were attempting to make Jesus palatable to the un-churched un-believers.

Those of us who are known by Jesus realize Jesus can not be made palatable. His beauty is not of the external. Through the years since His death and resurrection, western artists – for the most part – have painted Him as blue-eyed, blonde, and fair-skinned and handsome, tall, healthy.

I have a strong feeling the Jesus we meet sitting at the right hand of God the Father will look more like the people of the Middle East than we care to believe; and that He will have a ‘wonky’ eye as depicted in some early Christian icons.

Let’s stop trying to make Jesus a physical beauty and remember who He is – the Son of God.

“God Loves Doom?” ( Psalm 33:4-5 WYC ) by Carley Evans


In one of his many songs, David proclaims – at least in the Wycliffe translation of the Word – that God “loveth mercy and doom.” In parenthesis, the translator adds an alternative version: “[God] loveth righteousness and justice.”

On one hand, “mercy”; on the other “righteousness.” On one hand, “doom”; on the other hand “justice.” Even in the final phrase, on one hand, “mercy”; on the other “love.”

For the word of the Lord is rightful (For the word of the Lord is true); and all his works be (done) in faithfulness. He loveth mercy and doom; the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord. (He loveth righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the love of the Lord.)

Imagine God loving “doom.”

If you look around at the state of the world at large, God loving doom is not hard to imagine. Listen to the evening news and doom is all around you – earthquakes, erupting volcanos, tsunamis, rising sea levels, erratic weather patterns, droughts, fires. And this doom does not yet include what people do to you ( or what you do to people… )!

So, where’s the evidence that God loves mercy?

The evidence for God’s mercy is less compelling, you might say. But, I would argue the evidence of God’s mercy is the doom inflicted and endured by Him on the Cross. “All [God’s] works be done in faithfulness.”

 

“On His Shoulders, Our Guilt” ( Isaias 53:5-6, KNOX ) by Carley Evans


Who does this to Jesus? Is it the Romans? Is it Herod? Is it Pilate? Is it the Jews? (we hear this one, don’t we?) Is it me? Or you? Is it Satan? Is it God the Father?

“and all the while it was for our sins he was wounded, it was guilt of ours crushed him down; on him the punishment fell that brought us peace, by his bruises we were healed. Strayed sheep all of us, each following his own path; and God laid on his shoulders our guilt, the guilt of us all.”

Our sins put Jesus on the cross; that’s certain. But God the Father puts the guilt of our sins on His Son. Otherwise, we carry our guilt to the grave and beyond. Jesus’ bruises – the punishment He bears – free us from the same. Rather than anxiety, we gain peace.

Who does this? God the Father.

Do you suppose the Great Physician then decides to let us fall back into guilt? Wallow around it in like pigs? Shame on us if we even attempt to return to our squalor. For we are washed in His Son’s very blood.

“Left Out Of All Human Reckoning” ( Isaias 53:3-4, KNOX ) by Carley Evans


Jesus receives a lot of human attention while He heals in valleys and preaches from hilltops; but when He is carried away and nailed to the cross, only a few remain at His feet – most of these are women and of little account themselves.

“Nay, here is one despised, left out of all human reckoning; bowed with misery, and no stranger to weakness; how should we recognize that face? How should we take any account of him, a man so despised? Our weakness, and it was he who carried the weight of it, our miseries, and it was he who bore them. A leper, so we thought of him, a man God had smitten and brought low;”

At this point, Jesus is completely despised and feared by most. He has disappointed many who expected Him to take over the world, literally. Instead, He hangs on a cross and dies a criminal’s death – a death of immense cruelty.

He must be “a leper;” “a man God has smitten and brought low.” He must be of no account, after all. Oh, too bad. How awful. I guess I was a fool to follow him. I’ve got to find a good place to hide. I don’t want to wind up hanging next to him!

“Confirmed in the Belief” ( Colossians 2: 6 – 9, KNOX ) by Carley Evans


Paul worries about the Colossians – they do not know him personally. He is with them in spirit, but not face to face. He is concerned they are deceived by high-sounding, religious jabber that may call them away from our Head, that is, Jesus Christ who is the full embodiment of “the Godhead.” Paul seeks to encourage them to avoid the principles which appear spiritual on the outside and follow after the One who nailed those principles to a Cross. He writes:

“as ye have taken Jesus Christ our Lord, walk ye in him,

and be ye rooted and builded above in him [rooted and built above in Christ], and confirmed in the belief, as ye have learned, abounding in him in doing of thankings.

See ye that no man deceive you by philosophy and vain fallacy, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ.

For in him dwelleth body-like all the fullness of the Godhead.”

Paul calls the Colossians to “abound in Him in doing of thankings” and in so doing, confirm themselves as “in the belief.” They are not to worry over whether they’ve eaten the right thing or celebrated the correct day; rather they are to abound in love, in unity, and in thanksgiving. As Paul writes elsewhere:

“8 The time will come when we shall outgrow prophecy, when speaking with tongues will come to an end, when knowledge will be swept away; we shall never have finished with charity. Our knowledge, our prophecy, are only glimpses of the truth; 10 and these glimpses will be swept away when the time of fulfilment comes. 11 (Just so, when I was a child, I talked like a child, I had the intelligence, the thoughts of a child; since I became a man, I have outgrown childish ways.) 12 At present, we are looking at a confused reflection in a mirror; then, we shall see face to face; now, I have only glimpses of knowledge; then, I shall recognize God as he has recognized me. 13 Meanwhile, faith, hope and charity persist, all three; but the greatest of them all is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13: 8-13, KNOX)