After the Cross
“After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
After Jesus’ crucifixion, his friends and followers hid, fearful, and overcome by disappointment and grief. They’d lived and worked with him during his ministry, expecting he would eventually overthrow the Roman government and become king. Then, suddenly, he was betrayed, arrested, condemned, and crucified. They couldn’t imagine he might come back to life and walk among them again.
After the cross – fear
“When the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19).
Fear is the emotion that keeps us in hiding and paralyzes us into inactivity. God knew we were going to struggle with fear because his word instructs us not to fear in over 300 verses. Boldly face life, knowing Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross connects you to the power and protection of God the Father.
After the cross – doubt
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:16-17).
When Jesus appeared to his disciples following his resurrection, Thomas was hesitant, not crowding around like the others. Was this man an imposter? Although he spoke like the friend and teacher Thomas knew, Thomas needed proof.
Doubt is our greatest obstacle in trusting God’s plan and provision for our lives. We allow doubt to wash over us like ocean waves, clouding our vision and distancing us from the safety of shore. But Jesus is our anchor in a sea of doubt.
After the Cross – recognition
Cleopas and a companion traveled on the road to Emmaus. Jesus appeared and walked with them, but they didn’t recognize him. They were overwhelmed by shock and grief, trying to process the events of preceding days. When they finally recognized Jesus, they were engaged in an everyday event—eating. As they broke bread with a man they thought was a stranger, recognition dawned.
Often we don’t recognize God walking with us during difficulty unless we spend time in intimate fellowship with him, feeding on his word and listening for his voice instead of trying to make sense of what is happening on our own.
After the cross – joy
“The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message” (Matt 28:8 NLT).
The women experience two emotions at once—fear and joy—but their joy was greater than their fear. Often we do not rush to tell others about Jesus because fear wins. Instead, focus on the joy of salvation and share the good news.
After the cross – hope
“This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
Perhaps the disciples felt abandoned when Jesus returned to his Father. But he had commissioned them to spread the gospel so they didn’t remain on the mountain awaiting his return. Although we have the promise of Jesus’ return, he invites us to join him in what he is doing on earth now, sharing the benefits of life in Christ and the hope of eternity.
All of us are different after we encounter the cross. Although we still experience the fear and doubt Jesus’ followers did after his crucifixion, we know Jesus isn’t still hanging on the cross or lying in a tomb. He is alive and living in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rejoice!
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” — John 20:29
When God entered time and became a man, He who was boundless became bound. Imprisoned in flesh. Restricted by weary-prone muscles and eyelids. For more than three decades, His once-limitless reach would be limited to the stretch of an arm, His speed checked to the pace of human feet.
Was He ever tempted to reclaim His boundlessness? In the middle of a long trip, did He ever consider transporting Himself to the next city? When the heat parched His lips, did He give thought to popping over to the Caribbean for some refreshment?
If ever He entertained such thoughts, He never gave in to them. Not once did Christ use His supernatural powers for personal comfort. With a wave of His hand, He could’ve boomeranged the spit of His accusers back into their faces. With an arch of His brow, He could’ve paralyzed the hand of the soldier as He braided the crown of thorns. But He didn’t.
Want to know the coolest thing about the coming?
Not that the One who played marbles with the stars gave it up to play marbles with marbles. Or that the One who hung the galaxies gave it up to hang doorjambs to the displeasure of a cranky client who wanted everything yesterday but couldn’t pay for anything until tomorrow.
Not that He, in an instant, went from needing nothing to needing air, food, a tub of hot water and salts for His tired feet, and, more than anything, needing somebody — anybody — who was more concerned about where he would spend eternity than where he would spend Friday’s paycheck.
Or that He resisted the urge to fry the two-bit, self-appointed hall monitors of holiness who dared suggest that He was doing the work of the devil.
Not that He kept his cool while the dozen best friends He ever had felt the heat and got out of the kitchen. Or that He gave no command to the angels who begged, “Just give the nod, Lord. One word and these demons will be deviled eggs.”
Not that He refused to defend Himself when blamed for every sin since Adam. Or that He stood silent as a million guilty verdicts echoed in the tribunal of Heaven and the giver of light was left in the chill of a sinner’s night.
Not even that after three days in a dark hole He stepped into the Easter sunrise with a smile and a swagger and a question for lowly Lucifer — “Is that your best punch?”
That was cool, incredibly cool.
But the coolest thing about the One who gave up the crown of Heaven for a crown of thorns:
He did it for you. Just for you.
Heavenly Father, I’m glad that I don’t have to understand all that Jesus did in order to believe because I really don’t understand this magnificent love. But I am so glad to believe in him, so glad he wore the crown of thorns for me. I want to live for you alone today. In Jesus’ name, amen.
“Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” – Matthew 28:5-6 NASB
While recovering from an illness, Charles Wesley started reading the Bible. The result was a life-changing encounter with God. He later described how he “found [himself ] at peace with God and rejoiced in the hope of loving Christ.”
Soon, he began writing hymns. One of the first was called “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” written for the first service in the Foundry Meeting House in London.
In this hymn, Wesley expressed the joy he felt because of Jesus’ resurrection: “Christ, the Lord, is risen today. Sons of men and angels say, raise your joys and triumphs high, sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply.” An editor later added “alleluia” to each line, which is how this hymn has been sung for more than 200 years.
Wesley wanted us to share in celebrating our risen Savior. He wrote, “Hymns of praise then let us sing, unto Christ, our heavenly King, who endured the cross and grave, sinners to redeem and save.”
Wesley had experienced peace with God and was grateful for Jesus’ finished work on the cross. Jesus had won the battle. You, too, can experience peace with God because of Jesus’ resurrection.
Today, celebrate the victory that Jesus won for you when He rose from the dead! He defeated death, the devil, sin, and every disease. As the angel said to the women at the tomb, “Do not be afraid.” Jesus has risen! Hallelujah!
Streams in the Desert – April 4
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he can see.” The Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw that the hill was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kgs 6:17)
This is the prayer we need to pray for ourselves and for one another, “Lord, open our eyes that we may see”; for the world all around us, as well as around the prophet, is full of God’s horses and chariots, waiting to carry us to places of glorious victory. And when our eyes are thus opened, we shall see in all events of life, whether great or small, whether joyful or sad, a “chariot” for our souls.
Everything that comes to us becomes a chariot the moment we treat it as such; and, on the other hand, even the smallest trial may be a Juggernaut car to crush us into misery or despair if we consider it.
It lies with each of us to choose which they shall be. It all depends, not upon what these events are, but upon how we take them. If we lie down under them, and let them roll over us and crush us, they become Juggernaut cars, but if we climb up into them, as into a car of victory, and make them carry us triumphantly onward and upward, they become the chariots of God.
—Hannah Whitall Smith
The Lord cannot do much with a crushed soul, hence the adversary’s attempt to push the Lord’s people into despair and hopelessness over the condition of themselves, or of the church. It has often been said that a dispirited army goes forth to battle with the certainty of being beaten. We heard a missionary say recently that she had been invalided home purely because her spirit had fainted, with the consequence that her body sunk also. We need to understand more of these attacks of the enemy upon our spirits and how to resist them. If the enemy can dislodge us from our position, then he seeks to “wear us out” (Daniel 7:25) by a prolonged siege, so that at last we, out of sheer weakness, let go the cry of victory.