Blessed… Lo I Am With You

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. 18 Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20  teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age” (Matthew 28:16-20, Common English Bible).

We finally come to the last five verses of Matthew. We began this study back on January 17 and with this post, I will have posted 218 posts on Matthew’s Gospel. I would never have thought there would be so many when I started.

A number of years ago I ran across a story. I even used it in a sermon. These days I can’t find it. I even spent way too much time searching the internet for the story. I wanted to give proper credit to the author. If you recognize the story I would appreciate it if you left the author’s name in the comments.

Missionaries went to China (I think) to try to convert some who lived there. They had some success and among the converts was a teenaged boy named Lo.

When Lo because a Christian he was all in and became a voracious reader of the Bible. He would stop his reading when he didn’t understand and would track down one of the missionaries and ask them to explain.

One day while reading the last chapter of Matthew he suddenly stopped. He ran to find one of the missionaries. Excited, almost to the point of being incoherent, young Lo began pointing at the verse from our lesson that says, “Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” Only young Lo wasn’t reading from the Common English Bible. It had not yet been translated and written down. Lo was reading from the old Revised Standard Version when he came across that verse, reading it as, “and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

When Lo, read the word lo, not being a native English speaker, he didn’t know what it meant and assumed it was a message for him personally. It was Jesus saying, “Lo, yes, you young man, Lo, I will walk with you.”

What Lo grew to understand is really a message for all of us. We could fill in our name in where Lo found his name. And Jesus, calls our names and telling us God would be with us always.

That is a blessing. That is grace. It is a gift. It is also good news. And perhaps at that news, we should all get as excited as Lo.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

FYI, this brings an end to our Matthew study. I am going to take a few days off and will be back next Sunday, October 1 when we will begin a new series on the book of Jonah. The title will be “Big Fish, Big Attitude.

Peace,
jkb

Blessed… Truth For Sale

 

11 Now as the women were on their way, some of the guards came into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 They met with the elders and decided to give a large sum of money to the soldiers. 13 They told them, “Say that Jesus’ disciples came at night and stole his body while you were sleeping. 14 And if the governor hears about this, we will take care of it with him so you will have nothing to worry about.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were told. And this report has spread throughout all Judea to this very day (Matthew 28:11-15, Common English Bible).

At some point, the money changing hands would have started bothering me a great deal. If I was the Jews, I am not sure if that point would have come when we paid Judas to lie in order that we might arrest Jesus. Or, perhaps, it would have come with the scene that is today’s lesson. If we are so sure that Jesus was lying, why would it be necessary to buy the story we wanted to be told. Why would we need to give a large sum of money to guards so they would lie for us?

If I am one of the guards in today’s lesson it would, I feel certain, start to weigh on me that I had sold my integrity so easily. By taking the leader’s money I was lying but equally important, I would also be guilty of not doing my job. I would be saying I was derelict in my duties. Further, from this point moving forward, I would be dependent on not only the Jews but also my fellow soldiers to maintain the lie. What if they had second thoughts and went back and told the governor the truth? That could play out badly for me. I doubt seriously the results would have met with my dreams for my life.

I can’t help but think I would be looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life. I would be like mob man who was caught a few years ago, living with his wife in plain sight in San Francisco. He had lived that way for years and yet never felt totally comfortable. He was attempting to hide from both the mob whom some said he had done wrong and from Federal authorities. Even hiding in plain sight, can be stressful and difficult.

Over time, some of the guards had to start sharing their experience. How else could  Matthew have known the story? If he didn’t have this part of the story, how could he share it with us?

The ones who had the real truth, Jesus’ disciples never wavered in their story. For the rest of their lives, they kept saying that Jesus had risen from the dead. They passed the story on to others and generation after generation shared the story and people in every age came to believe.

As for the eleven, they faced many trials. They were persecuted throughout their days. Still, these men continued to tell the story, and it was a story they would die for.

Here is a question I will leave you with today. Would the disciples have stuck to their story through persecution and torture and death if that story had been a lie? I can’t answer for you, but for me, I sincerely doubt it. Why would they die for a lie? Would you?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Blessed… Without the Resurrection It Wouldn’t Really Matter

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the tomb. Look, there was a great earthquake, for an angel from the Lord came down from heaven. Coming to the stone, he rolled it away and sat on it. Now his face was like lightning and his clothes as white as snow. The guards were so terrified of him that they shook with fear and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He isn’t here because he’s been raised from the dead, just as he said. Come, see the place where they laid him. Now hurry, go and tell his disciples, ‘He’s been raised from the dead. He’s going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ I’ve given the message to you.”

With great fear and excitement, they hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. But Jesus met them and greeted them. They came and grabbed his feet and worshipped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that I am going into Galilee. They will see me there” (Matthew 28:1-10, Common English Bible).

“Why does the resurrection even matter?” It is not an uncommon question. I have heard it numerous times. Paul actually gives an answer to the Corinthians when he says, “13 If there’s no resurrection of the dead, then Christ hasn’t been raised either. 14 If Christ hasn’t been raised, then our preaching is useless and your faith is useless” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14, Common English Bible).

I know for the last few days I have talked about this lesson and looked at other things. Please do not take it that I think the real point of this story is something besides the resurrection. I do not.

Since January we have looked at Matthew’s gospel. We have been looking at it for nine months and this is what it really comes down to, the resurrection of Jesus.

Without the resurrection, Jesus’ story is of little value. Without the resurrection, none of Jesus’ story would really matter. Many of the things Christians like to talk about would really matter.

Without the resurrection, would we even bother to discuss the virgin birth? What difference would it make?

Without the resurrection, there might have been miracles. But, remember, there had been miracles before Jesus’ birth and there were miracles after Jesus’ death.

Without the resurrection, the disciples might have still been followers of Jesus. But, they would only have been following a dead hero, a dead friend.

Without the resurrection, the religious authority of the Pharisees and Sadducees would most likely not been called into question. It might well be that we who are people of faith might be Jews or be waiting alongside the Jews for the coming of the Messiah.

Without the resurrection, there would be no Christian faith.  In order for Christianity to grow as a faith, there must first be a Christ, there must be a death of that Christ and then a resurrection of that Christ. If any of those elements are missing there really is no Christian faith.

In the end, without the resurrection, we have no life, we have no peace and we have no joy.

I have told many of my friends Christmas Eve Candlelight service (particularly 11:00 PM Christmas Eve) is my favorite service of the year. I love it because of the atmosphere existing on that special night.

This does not mean I believe Christmas Eve Candlelight to be the most important service of the year. The most important service happens on Easter Sunday morning. It is critical. Everything else in the Christian faith is held in the balance of the events that stand behind Easter Sunday morning worship.

I have told people many times over, “You can’t have Easter without Good Friday.” Well, equally true, you can’t have the Christian faith without a resurrected Christ.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Trivial Pursuits

 

21 Because for me, living serves Christ and dying is even better. 22 If I continue to live in this world, I get results from my work. 23 But I don’t know what I prefer. I’m torn between the two because I want to leave this life and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 However, it’s more important for me to stay in this world for your sake. 25 I’m sure of this: I will stay alive and remain with all of you to help your progress and the joy of your faith, 26 and to increase your pride in Christ Jesus through my presence when I visit you again.

27 Most important, live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel. Do this, whether I come and see you or I’m absent and hear about you. Do this so that you stand firm, united in one spirit and mind as you struggle together to remain faithful to the gospel. 28 That way, you won’t be afraid of anything your enemies do. Your faithfulness and courage are a sign of their coming destruction and your salvation, which is from God.29 God has generously granted you the privilege, not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for Christ’s sake. 30 You are having the same struggle that you saw me face and now hear that I’m still facing (Philippians 1:21-30, Common English Bible).

 

One day, while I was working for the FDIC, my boss stepped into my office and requested that I join her in the server room. Unlike today, when a computer server can fit just about anywhere, we had a special room that housed all the servers for our location. It was highly secure. Only employees in my department were allowed access to the room, including my boss’ supervisors.

Once in the room, there was a table set up with eight chairs around the table. Over the next few minutes, several of my co-workers, as well as a few who were subordinate to me, came into the room. Everyone came in and sat down at the table. My boss then sat down. Everyone, it would seem, but me knew what was going on. She looked me square in the eye and said, “From time to time, I designate a fun day for employees of the department who have completed an important project or done something else of note.” I had just finished my first programming package since I came on board. She continued, “On these fun days, we play Trivial Pursuit. My boss knows we do this, but if we want it to continue, it must remain top secret.” Sherry had a flair for the dramatic, but she was quite serious. If I wanted to be included, I had to agree to keep the game a secret. I did. We spent an entire workday, with the exception of lunch, you couldn’t have food or drink in the server room, playing Trivial Pursuit. She even treated us to lunch that day.

Once I was in on the department secret, I quickly learned that the “Boss’ Fun Day” was what motivated some of my co-workers. I had one co-worker who would come into work early or stay late just so she could finish a project early and be invited to play Trivial Pursuit. She was quite possibly the most cut-throat game player I have ever known and for me to say that is really something because I can be pretty competitive when playing most any game.

Trivial Pursuit, according to the online user provided encyclopedia, Wikipedia, “… is a board game in which winning is determined by a player’s ability to answer general knowledge and popular culture questions… Dozens of question sets have been released for the game. The question cards are organized into themes; for instance, in the standard Genus question set, questions in green deal with science and nature. Some question sets have been designed for younger players and others for a specific time period [including full games on the 1960s, 70s, and 80s] or as promotional tie-ins (such as Star WarsSaturday Night Live, and The Lord of the Rings movies).

In the end, however, other than occupying a large block of time, some games last six hours or more, in pursuit of entertainment, Trivial Pursuit does little of real value. Sure, you might learn something of some level of importance but in the end, does it really matter who knows that HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language or that a group of rhinoceros is called a crash

It got me to thinking about what other trivial pursuits we might have. As I was considering this, I got to thinking the biggest way we pursue the trivial is in the ways we waste time. And, if we are honest with ourselves and each other, just about all of us waste some amount of time. I think one way can be with the amount of time we spend on the internet, so where did I go for my research for this message, the internet. According to the Huffington Post, the thirteen most common ways we Americans waste time is:

  1. By learning something useless (What? I might need to know that the next time I play Trivial Pursuit).
  2. Spend countless hours on YouTube (Ouch, I that during the evacuation).
  3. Never turn the television off (Yes, there are people who literally NEVER turn off the TV, even if they aren’t home).
  4. Reading all the junk emails in your inbox (how do they all get my email address anyway?).
  5. Getting lost. (Huffington suggests getting a GPS but that didn’t work for me recently).
  6. Standing and waiting in line (Who hasn’t done this one).
  7. Excessively posting on social media (oops, Preacher done quit preaching and went to meddling).
  8. Go to the gym and do nothing (wait, what?).
  9. Take a good long nap (Well, I guess it’s my turn again, ouch).
  10. Lose something and then waste hours trying to find it (the remote control springs to mind).
  11. Watch the news incessantly (they just repeat themselves over and over again).
  12. Talk to Telemarketers (Don’t they have anything better to do? Don’t you?).
  13. By thinking of ways you can waste time (quite possibly the ultimate trivial pursuit).

I, like most people, have wasted more than my fair share of time in pursuit of the trivial. So, imagine, if you can, the thoughts that went through my head when I was preparing for ordination and I learned the questions I would be asked by the bishop as I stood in front of the annual conference before I would be ordained. These are historic questions asked of every United Methodist preacher throughout history as he or she stood for ordination. I won’t bore you with the whole list. Others might prove valuable at some other point but for today I will mention only two, number 17 and number 19. They say:

Are you determined to employ all your time in the work of God?

Will you observe the following directions? a) Be diligent. Never be unemployed. Never be triflingly employed. Never trifle away time; neither spend any more time at any one place than is strictly necessary. b) Be punctual. Do everything exactly at the time. And do not mend our rules, but keep them; not for wrath, but for conscience’ sake.

Well, it seems pretty obvious to me that I am in trouble with Mr. Wesley. This is some pretty tough stuff. It can be difficult to follow and yet Wesley worked hard to live his life that way. He wasn’t going to waste a lot of time sleeping in. In fact, it is said, he got up every morning at 4:00 AM and prayed for two hours before beginning his day. If he were going to have a particularly busy day he would pray for three hours.

Wesley lived out these rules most all of his adult life. I wouldn’t be surprised, since studying his mother, if he didn’t get these habits from her. It is just the kind of thing Susannah Wesley would have taught her children. Wesley is asking of us, really both clergy and laity, to live and work and do the same. When we are living and working for the Kingdom, in no way are we pursuing the trivial.

Paul is asking the same of us in this morning’s lesson. I love the last part of the passage for this morning. Let me share it with you again, this time from the Keith paraphrased version… The most important thing is for you live together in a way that reflects your relationship with Christ and the Gospel. You should do this regardless of whether I am with you or not. Stand together. Stand firm. Be united as one both in spirit and in action. If you can do that, you will come to know nothing your enemies do will really matter and that there is no reason to fear them. Your faithfulness and your belief show in your actions and your actions a tangible demonstration of your salvation. God has given to us generously. May we also be about God’s work, using that which God has given us to carry out that work. Your faith is alive and working for Christ’s sake.

On August 26th an event we neither asked for nor wanted occurred when Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport. Much of the time when hurricanes happen, as most all of us know, wind and storm surge are the big fears. Sure, flooding can happen. I don’t think it is possible to live on the Gulf Coast and not know that flooding during a hurricane is a real possibility. That being said, we have also seen things happen, here and elsewhere, that demonstrates my point. Hurricane Katrina was devastating to New Orleans. The hurricane, however, was not the real problem. When levies started to breach, water started to rise throughout the city a bad problem was made much worse for all involved.

For us, Hurricane Harvey became a problem because it refused to go away. Most hurricanes blow in, they do their damage and they leave. Not Harvey. Harvey was that friend or relative who comes for a visit and they won’t leave no matter how much you hint or otherwise try to persuade. The result was, like Katrina, rising water, lots of rising water.

Many of our neighbors from here to Beaumont and beyond might easily feel that every drop of that rain fell on them. There is a lot of devastation around us. As I have traveled around our communities, I have told Cindy, when I would speak to her at night, so many of these communities looked like war zones, not neighborhoods where people lived and children played.

That is the bad news. The good news started coming a few days later when Sherri called me while I was in Lufkin. “Keith, we want to open the Family Life Center and distribute cleaning supplies and other things needed by people impacted by the storm. Do you think that might be possible?”

I never hesitated. “Do it I said. Make it happen. If there is anything I can do to help, let me know.” Even though I couldn’t be here, Sherri took me up on that offer. A day or two later she called me, “We need flood buckets, lots and lots of flood buckets.” I started making calls and flood buckets started coming in. We had to go get some because such is the demand all around us, but Sherri and Jerry, Cajun Bob and Darlene, and so many others made things happen for the Sweeny community. From virtually nothing to what is in the Family Life Center today is pretty amazing. But, it is even more amazing to ponder is the amount of supplies that have gone out during all this. At one point we estimated that somewhere between 1500-1800 flood buckets came in and went out. And, we still have more. That also doesn’t count the other supplies that have come and gone. Who knows how many gallons of bleach, peroxide, and vinegar have gone through our doors over the past month.

All of that happened because of your faithfulness. For so many of us, Harvey was little more than an inconvenience. It would have been easy to say, “Nope, it didn’t affect me,” and then move on with our lives. But, you didn’t do that. You rolled up your sleeves and went to work. You went to work for the sake of your neighbors and you went to work for the sake of the Gospel.

In some ways, when all this started, I was feeling a lot like Paul in our lesson. He says, “Do this, whether I come and see you or I’m absent and hear about you.” When I have talked to our district superintendent, I have told him, I had nothing to do with all that is happening. This was you. I wasn’t even here.

During these last few weeks, you have stood together. You have been of one spirit and one mind. You have worked together for the sake of the Gospel and the sake of your neighbors. Such is what Paul says in our lesson. Such is what Jesus said was the most important commandment.

You have helped people load up their cars and trucks. You have unloaded truckloads of supplies. You have packaged everything from cotton balls to flood buckets to facemasks and so much more. You have made trips to get supplies. You have mucked out homes, ripped out sheetrock, sprayed for mold on studs and carried out lots of stuff that was good stuff six weeks ago and nothing more than garbage now. You have listened to people who came for supplies but really needed most to have someone listen to their stories. You have worked some pretty long hours. You have worked hard. And, you have made a difference. Even if you have been unable to be up here or out working in the community, many of you have bought and donated supplies or given cash contributions. You too have made a difference.

At least to me, the big difference between trivial pursuits and living the Gospel is what makes a difference for God and for the people around us. With what you have done, you have made a difference for both. As your pastor, I just want to say thank you. What you have done is not trivial. What you have done is real. It is tangible. It has touched people’s hearts and lives. People have received God’s blessing.

I am preparing for Charge Conference that is coming October 11. I have been thinking a great deal about what we have done over the past year and there has been a lot of work done for the Gospel. Harvey, for obvious reasons, has been the biggest but by no means has it been the only thing. None of what we have done has been trivial. What we have done has made a difference in the lives of people in our community and in the lives of people in the world. It has been a tangible demonstration of love and that is never trivial.

Trivial Pursuit is a game. And, like most games, there really isn’t much there of any real consequence. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. What we do in Harvey recovery and in other ministries lives out our love of God and love of neighbor. What we do demonstrates for the world how we are of one mind and one spirit as we live out the Gospel and share the Gospel with the world. And those things, my friends, are never trivial pursuits.

 

Blessed… Fear

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the tomb. Look, there was a great earthquake, for an angel from the Lord came down from heaven. Coming to the stone, he rolled it away and sat on it. Now his face was like lightning and his clothes as white as snow. The guards were so terrified of him that they shook with fear and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He isn’t here because he’s been raised from the dead, just as he said. Come, see the place where they laid him. Now hurry, go and tell his disciples, ‘He’s been raised from the dead. He’s going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ I’ve given the message to you.”

With great fear and excitement, they hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. But Jesus met them and greeted them. They came and grabbed his feet and worshipped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that I am going into Galilee. They will see me there” (Matthew 28:1-10, Common English Bible).

Fear is something very real. Many, perhaps it would be better to say most of us, and it might really be accurate to say ALL of us have our fears, something that insights terror within us. We may be someone who is able to overcome what we fear, we may be able to move beyond it, but we have our fears.

It would seem that everyone at Jesus’ tomb that day was full of fear. The guards are the first people Matthew talks about shaking in their boots (as it were). They were really afraid. Since they were responsible for the security of the tomb, and because people died for less in those days, who can blame them for being afraid.

As for the women on their way to the tomb, it had been an emotional few days. They saw a man they personally knew executed because of the fear of others. They came to the tomb and experienced an earthquake, the stone was rolled away and this guy whose face shined like lightning and his clothes were as white as snow who was telling them not to be afraid. It is probably safe to say, it was a little late.

The only one on the scene that doesn’t seem to be afraid is the angel. Why would the angel be afraid? The angel is the only one present who knows the whole story.

There, at least to me, is the key. The angel knew the who story and therefore was not afraid. When we know how things are going to work out, there is no reason for us to fear. Our fear is in our ignorance.

The guards feared because they didn’t know where Jesus was and that they would be responsible. Fear was in the unknown. The women didn’t know who the angel was or what had happened to Jesus’ body. The fear was in the unknown.

Today, we who believe, have the real knowledge. We have the answer to life’s most important question, we overcome death through faith in Jesus Christ. That says to me, we of all people, have no reason to fear.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Blessed… The Evidence

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the tomb. Look, there was a great earthquake, for an angel from the Lord came down from heaven. Coming to the stone, he rolled it away and sat on it. Now his face was like lightning and his clothes as white as snow. The guards were so terrified of him that they shook with fear and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He isn’t here because he’s been raised from the dead, just as he said. Come, see the place where they laid him. Now hurry, go and tell his disciples, ‘He’s been raised from the dead. He’s going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ I’ve given the message to you.”

With great fear and excitement, they hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. But Jesus met them and greeted them. They came and grabbed his feet and worshipped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that I am going into Galilee. They will see me there” (Matthew 28:1-10, Common English Bible).

Imagine, if you will, your alarm doesn’t go off. Or, if it does you keep hitting snooze. Now you are running late. You run into the bathroom to grab a quick shower. You get out of the shower, dry and dress and run to the kitchen to grab something to eat in the car on the way. You start making your way walking to the door. As your hand grabs the handle you remember, you forgot to make the bed. If you go on out the door, you might make it to work on time, maybe. If you go back to the bedroom and make the bed you will be late. What do you do?

I will admit, I am not the right person to ask this question. 90 percent of the time I don’t make the bed regardless of whether or not I am late for work. It is a cross Cindy must bear. The last time my bed was consistently made by me was when I was in the Navy. These days, pulling the cover back up to the pillows is about as good as it gets.

So what is the point of all this? A few days ago I talked about Joseph of Arimathea wrapping Jesus’ body in a new sheet and placing it in a new tomb. The new part I already talked about. Why was it so important for Matthew to tell us Joseph wrapped Jesus’ body in a cloth, regardless of whether it was new or old?

People in a hurry don’t go back and make up the bed. At least most of us wouldn’t. My wife is one of the exceptions. Cindy will always make the bed unless I am still in it. But most of us, regardless of whether we would make the bed under ordinary circumstances, if we are in a real hurry, we will leave that bed unmade. People in a hurry don’t take the time to tidy up!

In truth, Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not say anything about the cloth being neatly folded, but John does. Following him, Simon Peter entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. He also saw the face cloth that had been on Jesus’ head. It wasn’t with the other clothes but was folded up in its own place” (John 20:6-7). John takes the time to tell us a seemingly trivial detail.

It isn’t trivial. These clothes prove Jesus’ body was not stolen. While someone who has just robbed someone might not run to better blend in and be less conspicuous. But, they probably are not going to take the time to wash the dishes for the person they are robbing either. People in a hurry are not going to take the time to clean!

It sure makes me glad Jesus wanted things to be neat. “Lord, I need to be better about that.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Blessed… A Rolling Stone

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the tomb. Look, there was a great earthquake, for an angel from the Lord came down from heaven. Coming to the stone, he rolled it away and sat on it. Now his face was like lightning and his clothes as white as snow. The guards were so terrified of him that they shook with fear and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He isn’t here, because he’s been raised from the dead, just as he said. Come, see the place where they laid him. Now hurry, go and tell his disciples, ‘He’s been raised from the dead. He’s going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ I’ve given the message to you.”

With great fear and excitement, they hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. But Jesus met them and greeted them. They came and grabbed his feet and worshipped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that I am going into Galilee. They will see me there” (Matthew 28:1-10, Common English Bible).

The “how” doesn’t make as much difference as the what. What happened early in the morning of the first day of the week is the most amazing story ever told. Over the next few days, we are going to look at a few of the elements of this great story.

Two women, an angel, an earthquake, and a very large rolling stone are all present at the same time. And, that isn’t the amazing part of the story.

Two women in mourning couldn’t have moved this stone. I don’t know how many men it took to roll the stone into place over the opening of Jesus’ tomb but we know from other Gospel accounts the women knew they would be unable to move the stone themselves. “They were saying to each other, ‘Who’s going to roll the stone away from the entrance for us’” (Mark 16:3, Common English Bible)? If we are going to accept tradition, the stone was large and heavy. It would have taken several men to move it. Yet it was moved.

According to Matthew, the angel brought on an earthquake that apparently moved the stone. While I have never experienced an earthquake myself, seeing the damage that occurs from the earth moving, I have no trouble believing that the earthquake caused the stone to move from the entrance of the tomb.

Likewise, I have no real knowledge of angels. I don’t know if they have a need for rest. But, because God rested and instructs us on the importance of rest, I am going to go out on what I think is a pretty strong limb and say, after getting that stone moved, this angel took a well-deserved rest, right there on the object of his triumph.

I love the title to one of Max Lucado’s older books, He Still Moves Stones. And, Lucado is correct. As Matthew tells the story, God would use two women, God would use a big rock, God would use an angel and God would use an earthquake to bring the Divine will into reality.

To what limits might God go to make the Divine will real in your life.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved