Spring is here. Flowers are blooming everywhere and the air smells fresh, clean, and fragrant. The earth has come alive after a long winter, as if resurrected! What a perfect time of year to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today, I want to share with you something I learned about resurrection by studying with a group of young ones.
I have been studying the gospel of Matthew with a group of women this year. We Just finished studying Matthew 26 and 27, the passion of our Lord: His betrayal, His trials, and His crucifixion. This past week I had the pleasure of helping out with the school-age children and the subject of conversation centered upon Jesus betrayal by Judas and His denial by Peter. As we had read the Scriptures, it seemed to all of us that both Judas and Peter had repented (Matthew 26:69-75 and 27:3-10). But then as we examined the Scriptures more carefully, it became clear that what seemed to be repentance by Judas was nothing more than remorse. He was sorry for what he had done, he was sad about it, felt guilty and had regrets, but there was no true repentance. Biblical repentance is to be going one way (your own way) and then to make a 180 degree turn and deliberately go the other way (God's way). Judas never turned. He never went back to Jesus. He committed suicide instead. Peter, on the other hand, who had failed so miserably in denying Jesus three times, was changed in his heart. He wept bitterly, he returned to be with Christ’s apostles, and he ran to the tomb when Mary Magdalene brought news that the stone had been rolled away. Later, at the Sea of Tiberius, Peter jumped from the fishing boat and swam to greet the resurrected Jesus on the seashore. He submitted to Jesus’ questioning him three times about his love for Him. Peter demonstrated his repentance by turning from his sin and going back to Jesus in humility and with the desire to follow Him and obediently shepherd His sheep (John 21:15-22).
Do you see what a difference repentance makes? Judas' remorse led to a life ended in despair. Peter's life was resurrected when he repented and went back to Jesus. The Book of Acts and 1 and 2 Peter testify to Peter's life of commitment to Jesus and the gospel message. Jesus' resurrection was meaningless to Judas who died in his sin, but Jesus' resurrection was life-changing for Peter.
So here is the question. As you celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sin? Have you confessed to God that you are a sinner and have you made that 180 degree turn from walking in your own selfish ways? Have you turned to follow Christ and serve Him? Salvation calls for repentance and not just remorse. Salvation calls for a faith that follows Christ instead of your own human desires and impulses (Romans 12:1-2). True repentance is not easy. But it is necessary.
As you celebrate Christ’s resurrection this year, I pray that you have turned to Christ with a repentant heart that can rejoice from the very depths in His resurrection from the dead.
He is alive!
It has been the rainy season in Hawaii. Almost every morning in the past few weeks I have awakened to raindrops outside my window and gray clouds framing the fresh green leaves of my avocado tree. I love the rain and the wind it brings to rouse the friend given wind chime on my front porch. The mingled sounds of rain, rustling leaves, and the wind chime are as beautiful as any symphony I have ever heard. They are my Hawaiian spring orchestra.
Rain or shine, the first order of the day at my house is walking the dog. He doesn’t seem to mind the rain blowing in his face. In fact, he holds his head higher as he walks up the hill into the wind and rain. I, of course, opt for an umbrella. But often the sun will peek out from behind the clouds at some point during our walk and a glorious Hawaiian rainbow will appear in the sky. My first thought when I see the rainbow is always, “God remembers us.”
Do you recall the first rainbow ever? It was after Noah and his family had spent forty rainy days and nights inside the ark, floating who knows how high above the earth.
Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind pass over the earth, and the waters subsided (Genesis 8:1-3). Soon after this, God spoke to Noah and said, The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth (Genesis 9:15-17). Wow! His everlasting covenant is with every living creature! That includes me. It includes you!
God remembers! He remembered Abraham and spared his nephew Lot (Genesis 19:28-30). God remembered Rachel and opened her womb (Genesis 30:22). He remembered Hannah and she conceived and bore a son and called his name Samuel (1 Samuel 1:18-20). God heard the cry of the children of Israel in bondage in Egypt and remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 2:23-25). God remembers the cry of the humble (Psalm 9:11-13). God remembers that we are but flesh (Psalm 78:38-40). He remembered us in our lowly state, for His mercy endures forever (Psalm 136:22-24).
And the list goes on. If you look up the word “remember” in a concordance and write down everything that God remembers, it will bless your heart. But as you do this exercise, you will find that there is one thing God does not remember. And praise be to Him for His mercy and grace in sending His Son to pay the price for our sins and blot out our transgressions. Because of this He says to those who are His, I will not remember your sins (Isaiah 43:13-15). For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more (Jeremiah 31:33-35). For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more (Hebrews 8:12-13).
So the next time you see a rainbow -- or even if you don’t see many heavenly rainbows where you live, look for rainbows all around you, in the faces of people passing by, in the clothing they wear, in the myriad of flavors at the ice cream shop, the soap bubbles in your kitchen sink, in oily puddles on the street, and the spring flowers -- just look for rainbows. And when you observe God’s rainbow world, recall that He is the God who remembers His people. He remembers those who love and cling to Him through His Son Jesus Christ. But He is also the God who does not remember your sin. How much more blessed can anyone be than that?
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.