Resurrection Life


We just celebrated Resurrection Sunday a few days ago. I guess I am still standing at the empty tomb. Am I standing at the tomb where Jesus was buried or at the tomb where my old nature was buried? Don’t think for a minute that I am comparing myself to Jesus! However, I think we can make some interesting comparisons.

Let’s begin by remembering four things that happened after Jesus was nailed to the cross.
1) Jesus died on the cross
2) Jesus’ dead body was buried
3) The tomb was empty
4) Jesus’ body was resurrected

Now let’s make four corresponding statements that apply to us as believers who have accepted Jesus as our personal Savior.
1) our human nature died on the cross
2) our human nature was buried
3) our tomb is empty
4) we live a resurrected lifestyle

Galatians 2:20 proclaims, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Notice it says, we were crucified with Christ, not just that Christ was crucified for us. This becomes very personal. I realize that as Jesus hung on the cross, my sinful nature was hanging on the cross with Him. When Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus’ body in the tomb, he also buried my sinful nature. (Matthew 27:57-59) My old nature is just as dead as Jesus was.

However, when the women went to the tomb after the sabbath, the tomb was empty. (Matthew 28:1-7) Not only was Jesus’ dead body missing, but also my dead sinful nature is missing. Mary soon found out that Jesus was resurrected. That means, I am also resurrected with a new nature.

II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!We have more to celebrate than the resurrection of Jesus. We can celebrate the resurrection of the new creation we have become in Christ. Jesus did not stay dead. Neither are we to stay dead in our old sinful nature.

Being alive in Christ creates a whole new lifestyle for us! We are to walk in this freedom. We no longer wear grave cloths. John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.Hallelujah! This is worth celebrating!

Romans 6:3-11 gives a good summary of how we identify with Christ’s death and resurrection. Read the following excerpts. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, . . . For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Yes, we are dead to the old, but we are alive to the new. Let us focus upon who you are becoming in Christ. We live our resurrected life in the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:11-13 says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

We now have new life because we are new creations in Christ. Galatians 5:24 says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.We are set free from our old nature and selfish lifestyle. Let us remember that when Christ died, we died. Because Christ rose from the dead, we can rise above the dead snful life.

Don’t look back on what you have done. Look ahead to what God has planned for you. Jeremiah 29:11 is always a favorite of mine. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Do not allow Christ’s death to have been vain. Celebrate Christ’s resurrection by honoring Him with the new life you now live. Proclaim with Paul in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ!

*Many of my thoughts in this post were influenced by online comments by Graham Cooke.

 

 

A Golden Gift for Our King

Gold, frankincense and myrrh. These precious prophetic gifts were presented by the Magi to Jesus as a young lad. They were not gifts for Jesus to play with. They were gifts foretelling roles He would fulfill.

Today we give our attention to gold.

The Magi had been following a star for approximately two years trying to find the newborn king of the Jews. Throughout their journey, they carried these costly gifts. Joseph may have later sold the gold to pay for their trip to Egypt.

Gold represented Jesus as king. The gift of gold was symbolic of Jesus’ divinity. He was God in the flesh. Son of God and son of man.

Gold was a valuable commodity. It was a precious metal. Gold represented riches and royalty. However, Jesus’ royalty differed from what people expected.

Let’s see how and when Jesus was considered a king.

Throughout their journey, the Magi were looking for a king. They asked in Matthew 2:2, Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” I doubt that they expected to find their king in a little home in Bethlehem. The house certainly was not a royal palace.

This past Sunday we observed Palm Sunday – the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. John 12:12-15 says, “The next day the great crowd that had come to the Feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!’ Jesus, found a young donkey, sat on it, as it is written, ‘Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.’The people referred to Jesus as king. But, did they really understand His kingly role?

Pilate asked Jesus if He was a king. Their conversation included the following words from John 19:36-37. “Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ ‘You are a king then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.’” Although both Jesus and Herod talked about a king, they had different understandings of the word. Jesus was a messianic king while Herod was referring to a political king.

John 19:2-3 says, “The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’” Jesus was not crowned with a kingly crown. He was mocked as a king while He walked the road to Golgotha.

Jesus hung on the cross. John 19:19 says, “Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.Jesus did not fit the Jews’ ideas of their coming king. They rejected Him.

Fast forward to our present day. We are now waiting for Jesus’ return. Selections from Revelation 19:11-13,16 describe Jesus as our coming king. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, . . . on His head are many diadems; . . . He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” When Jesus comes again, He will be riding a horse, not a donkey. He will be wearing a royal diadem, not a crown of thorns. His robe will declare Him to be King of kings and Lord of lords rather than a hand written note saying King of the Jews.

Let’s see how gold applies to us.

Jesus tells us in Luke 17:20, “The coming of the kingdom of God is within you.” Can we comprehend that God’s kingdom is in us?

In II Timothy 4:8, Paul talks about a crown of righteousness that we will be given. James 1:12 tells of the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. I Peter 5:4 says we will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

These are three wonderful crowns awaiting us, but they are not golden crowns placed upon our heads. These are crowns that will not tarnish or perish. They are heavenly rewards that God promises those who are faithful.

What are we to do with our crowns? The elders give us our answer in Revelation 4:10-11, “the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.’Let us express our gratitude to the Lord and worship Him by laying at His feet any honors or possessions we acquire. It is all about Him!

Remember gold, frankincense and myrrh as you celebrate Resurrection Sunday in just a few days.

I conclude with the words of All Hail King Jesus by Jeremy Riddle. Sing with me if you know the melody.

There was a moment when the lights went out
When death had claimed its victory
The King of Love had given up His life
The darkest day in history
There on a cross they made for sinners
For every curse His blood atoned
One final breath and it was finished
But not the end we could have known

For the earth began to shake
And the veil was torn
What sacrifice was made
As the heavens roared

All hail King Jesus
All hail the Lord of Heaven and earth
All hail King Jesus
All hail the Savior of the world

There was a moment when the sky lit up
A flash of light breaking through
When all was lost He crossed eternity
The King of life was on the move

For in a dark cold tomb
Where our Lord was laid
One miraculous breath
And we’re forever changed

All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Lord of heaven and earth
All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Savior of the world
All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Lord of heaven and earth
All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Savior of the world





Mary – JESUS – Mary

Imagine a group of books being held upright by a bookend at each end.

Now make some changes to this image and create a spiritual picture.

Replace the books with the life of Jesus. (Maybe a collection of 33 books – one for each year of His life.)
Instead of bookends, imagine a woman named Mary at the beginning and another Mary
at the end of Jesus’ life. Two ladies supporting Jesus at His birth and death.

Let’s make some comparisons between the two Marys. I will refer to one as Mary Mom (the mother of Jesus) and the other as Mary Magdalene (a woman uniquely positioned in Jesus’ inner circle of followers).

  • The young Mary, chosen by God to be the mother of His Son, was from Nazareth, a small town in Galilee. (see Luke 1:26)
    Mary, known as Mary Magdalene,
    was from Magdala, a fishing town on the western shore of Lake Galilee. (denoted by her name)

  • Mary Mom was a pure virgin whose baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit. (see Luke 1:31)
    Jesus cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene – at one time she was not so pure. (see Luke 8:2)

  • Mary Mom encountered an angel (Gabriel) when told she would bear a son named Jesus. (see Luke 1:30-31)
    Mary Magdalene saw an angel (a young man wearing a white robe) at Jesus’ empty tomb. (see Mark 16:5-8.)

  • Mary Mom was fearful but was told not to be afraid. She was perplexed by Gabriel’s visitation and message. However, he told her not to be afraid because she had favor with God. (see Luke 1:26-38 esp. v30)
    Mary Magdalene was fearful but was told not to be afraid. When she saw the empty tomb, she was bewildered. Then the angel told her not to be alarmed because Jesus had risen. (see Mark 16:5-8 esp. v8)

  • Mary Mom would have been the first person to hold Jesus as a human baby. (Isn’t this the privilege of a mother?)
    Mary Magdalene had intended to be the last person to hold Jesus’ human body. (Had she fulfilled her plan of preparing His body for burial at the tomb, this would have been her privilege.)

  • Mary Mom anointed Jesus for life. I think Mary Mom may have anointed Jesus (with baby oil?) before she wrapped Him in warm blankets. (an assumption by author)
    Mary Magdalene desired to anoint Jesus after His death. Because she had spices with her, I believe Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body for burial. (see Mark 16:1)

  • Mary Mom wrapped baby Jesus in swaddling cloths before she laid Him in a manger. (see Luke 2:7)
    Although Joseph of Arimathea had already wrapped Jesus’ body in a linen cloth, I believe Mary Magdalene had intended to provide a proper burial for the crucified Christ by wrapping His body in a linen shroud. (see Mark 16:46; John 19:25)

  • Both Mary Mom and Mary Magdalene were near the cross when Jesus was crucified.  (see John 19:25)

Looking closely at the spiritual image, I see one Mary holding baby Jesus at the beginning of His life and another Mary with the intent of holding His body at the end of His life. Jesus was surrounded and held by Mary Mom and Mary Magdalene. The words of Jesus in Revelation 1:17-18 seem an accurate description of Jesus’ life,Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last. I am the Living One;  I was dead, and behold, I am alive for ever and ever!

This Sunday, we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ – the Living One. We no longer hold Jesus as a baby in our arms (as Mary Mom) and there is no need to hold His body in the grave (as Mary Magdalene).

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

(Images provided by Pixabay.)

Liquid Love

liquid-loveI recently awoke in the night repeatedly hearing the phrase Liquid Love in my mind. With the observance of Good Friday taking place in a couple of days, it seems appropriate for me to share thoughts with you about our Lord’s Liquid Love. I have chosen to elaborate upon this phrase by using various alliterations for love. I pray these thoughts will allow you to linger in our Lord’s presence. May you feel His Liquid Love being poured out for you and upon you.

Lavishing Love

According to I John 4:8 God is love. Consequently, He reveals Himself to us through His love. In I John 3:1, we are told that the Lord lavishes His love upon us. When He lavishes His love on us, He imparts His nature to us. The Lord is lavishing His love upon us because He sees us as ravishing in beauty according to His words as the Lover of the Beloved in Song of Solomon 6:10. The Lord has lavished His love upon us by shedding His blood for us. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Lamb of Love

In John 1:20, Jesus is described as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He is the Lamb of Love. He is known as a lamb because He was the final sacrificial lamb offered for the forgiveness of sin. Many lambs were constantly being offered as sacrifices in the Old Testament, but Jesus came as the Lamb of God who died once and for all for all our sins. He is the sacrificial Lamb of Love.

Liquid Love

Liquid Love is love colored red. Liquid Love is the blood of Jesus. He shed His blood because of His love for us. Our Lord’s love was manifested as liquid love as He poured out His blood for us. Romans 5:8 says, “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.:  I John 1:7 says that Jesus’ blood cleanses us of all unrighteousness, all sins, assuring us of everlasting life. We have everlasting life because of the Lord’s everlasting love. In Jeremiah 31:3 we are assured that we are loved with our Lord’s everlasting love.

Laver of Love

Within the tabernacle, the laver was the basin where the priests cleansed themselves before they offered sacrifices. Sacrificing animals was part of their function, their labor. The labor of the priests began at the laver. Connecting the Old and New Testaments, we read in Ephesians 5:26 that we are washed in the water of the Word. The Word informs us of how Jesus was the Lamb of God who poured out His life, His love, His blood for us. It was definitely a labor of love for Jesus to die upon the cross for us.

No Lack in Love

Love is lovely! In Hosea 4:6, the Lord says that His people can be destroyed from lack of knowledge, but there is no lack in the Lord’s love for us. According to I Corinthians 13, love is kind and according to Romans 2:4, the Lord’s kindness leads us to repentance. Repentance leads us the cross where Jesus shed His blood. The Lord has poured out and continues to pour out His blood as Liquid Love. There is no lack in what He offers us today!

Liquid Love Lives

According to Leviticus 17:11, there is life is the blood. There is life in Jesus’ Liquid Love. On Sunday we will celebrate that Jesus has risen from the dead. Our Lord lives! Our Lord loves! Because Jesus is alive, we too can live. Romans 8:37-39 says, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” All of this is possible because of the Lord’s Liquid Love !

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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A Doxology for Easter

praying-hands-3

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
Aas we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
[For Yours is the kingdom
and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.]

Matthew 6:9-13

lent Sunday we will celebrate Easter which is the climax of the Lenten season. This is also the conclusion of our expedition into the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer. As I have reminded us several times over the last six weeks, the Lord’s Prayer is really the template Jesus gave to His disciples when they asked Him how to pray – not simply a prayer to be prayed from memory. As we have explored these scriptural words together, I hope you have deepened your understanding of the words spoken by Jesus and gained insight into the character and nature of our Heavenly Father. I pray our expedition has taken you closer to Jesus as we walk with Him through His arrest, crucifixion and death this week. We have one final phrase to explore together which is very appropriate with our anticipation of celebrating His resurrection on Sunday.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’
Matthew 6:13b

Not all translations of the Bible include this part of Matthew 6:13. It is found in the Old and New King James Versions and the New American Standard Bible but not in the New International Version. Neither is it part of the Lord’s Prayer recorded in Luke 11. Some scholars have thought this phrase was added later because it is not found in the manuscripts of the two earliest Greek witnesses. However, this is probably false because it is found in the third earliest Greek witness and the majority of all further manuscripts.

This phrase is known as the doxology of the Lord’s Prayer. A doxology is defined as a liturgical formula of praise to God. On the final week of our exploration of prayer, let us unpack the meaning of the words of this doxology.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
When we see the word “for,” we need to see what it is there for. I believe these words are included because our Heavenly Father is worthy of this praise when we consider the guidelines Jesus has given us for how we are to pray in the previous verses.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
The kingdom belongs to God because of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:10 declaring that God’s kingdom is in heaven and we can ask for His kingdom to come on earth. His name is El Elyon, “The Most High.” This name denotes He is the sovereign ruler of the universe. (see post for 2/17)

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
The power belongs to and comes from God because He is El Shaddai, “The All-sufficient One”. (see post for 2/17) This gives us the authority to ask for daily bread, forgiveness, and guidance and deliverance as requested in Matthew 6:11-13a. (see posts for 3/2, 3/9 & 3/16)

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Glory comes from the Greek word “doxa.” In the New Testament it refers to the splendor, radiance and majesty of which God is worthy. Since we have come to know God more intimately through our study of the Lord’s Prayer, it is proper that we extend our praise to Him. It is appropriate for us to refer to this concluding phrase as a doxology because we are giving doxa or glory to our Heavenly Father.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
According to a note in the Spirit Filled Life Bible, “forever” denotes an indefinitely long period with emphasis on the characteristics of the period rather than on it duration. I like this concept when referring to the kingdom and power and glory of God now and throughout all eternity.

As a conclusion to our in-depth search of this doxology of the Lord’s Prayer, I am reminded of the Doxology hymn sung in many mainline denominational churches. The lyrics are the last verse of the hymn Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun by Thomas Ken. Because of the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:13b, we can sing the words of Thomas Ken. Finally, my heart is filled with the words of the traditional Resurrection Sunday greeting we will be proclaiming Sunday. Through the words of these doxologies, let us give God the glory, or doxa, of which He is worthy!

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
(words of Jesus)

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(words by Thomas Ken)
He is risen!”
“He is risen indeed!”
(our words)

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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The Ins and Outs

Although we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ this past Sunday, today I want to revisit the tomb where Jesus’ followers expected to find His body.

stone-at-tombAnd they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

Luke 24:2-3

While visualizing this scene in my mind, I focus my attention upon the open entrance to the tomb where Jesus had been buried. Not only was the stone rolled away from the opening, but the body of Jesus was no longer inside the tomb. The power of God would not have been hindered from raising Jesus back to life by a stone. However, a sealed tomb could have been a stumbling block for His followers and me.

I have always been intrigued by the statement that the stone was rolled away to let others in rather than to let Jesus out. Without visual proof, I would have been blinded from seeing that the tomb was no longer occupied by the body of Jesus. The rolled away stone was proof to Jesus’ followers and to me that He had risen from the grave. Jesus did not need an open door to get out but His followers needed to enter through this open door to experience the empty grave. Not only did the disciples discover that Jesus’ body was no longer there, but they also saw His grave cloths folded and left in the tomb.

stoney-heartI will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26

My imaginary journey now takes me from the entrance of the tomb to the entrance of my heart. Just as the tomb was the enclosure for Jesus’ body, my heart is the enclosure of my life. Physically, my heart pumps blood throughout my body so that I can live. Spiritually, my heart is the center of my being where my spirit dwells and where Jesus lives.

When difficulties occur in my life, I can allow my heart to become hardened to things of the Spirit. Consequently, I like the promise of scripture that God will remove my heart of stone so that His Spirit can live within me. Does the stoniness of my heart need to be removed to let me out or to let Jesus in? I am concerned if I look upon this stone removal as only an opportunity for me to be let out, I will become self-centered. I prefer that the hardness of my heart be removed to allow Jesus to live within me. I want out so Jesus can come in! We learn from Paul in Ephesians 3:17 thatChrist may dwell in your hearts through faith.” We often hear the phrase “I asked Jesus into my heart” articulated to describe what happens at the time of salvation. With this in mind, we can be assured of what scripture says in Colossians 1:27, “Christ lives in you.” It is not about me, it is about the Lord!

arrow-and-heart

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Galatians 2:20

As I near the end of my imaginary journey, I want to reiterate the comparisons I have made.

Last week we observed and celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus. Today, in a sense, I have shared how a person is crucified with Christ whenever one chooses to put to death the desires of the flesh.

Last Sunday at church we most likely heard the scriptural account about the stone rolled away from the enclosure where Jesus body had been buried. Today, I have pointed out that a stone may need to be rolled away from the enclosure of a human heart, the center of life.

Jesus arose from the grave and through scripture we have been allowed to hear first hand accounts of those who entered the empty tomb. Today, we have the option of having our lives emptied of ourselves so Jesus can come into our hearts. Jesus is able to reside in our hearts because He is no longer in the tomb. Because we believe in the resurrected Christ and the empty tomb, Jesus lives in us. The rolled away stone made it possible for anyone on the outside to go into the empty tomb. Today, the removal of the hardened stoniness of our hearts allows Jesus to come into our empty lives.

In the burial garden, it was Jesus out and us in! Today in our hearts, it is us out and Jesus in!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Song for the Week: My Reader, would you like to join me in singing the chorus of the hymn He Lives, I Serve a Risen Savior, by Alfred Ackley today? I find myself singing this song today and it seems appropriate for the message of this blog.

He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives,
Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

Tablecloths and Grave Cloths

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were
running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb
first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there
but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived
and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as
  well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The
cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally
the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went
inside. He saw and believed.
John 20:3-8

 white flower for cloths 3 mfWe celebrated Easter last Sunday at church and at home. For our Easter dinner with the family, I even got out the good tablecloth and cloth napkins. While folding the clean linens before putting them away, I thought about Jesus and His grave cloths. Although His body had been wrapped in burial cloths and a napkin placed around His head, when Jesus rose from the dead He no longer needed them. He left these items in the empty tomb. Now I wonder, is there any similarity between my tablecloth and Jesus’ strips of linen? How about my napkins and the cloth that had been around the head of Jesus? I pondered upon these ideas while I finished the laundry and then decided to search the Internet. Surprise! I am not the only one to think about the grave cloths of Jesus. I have read numerous articles and now I want to transform my thoughts into words.

 white flower for cloths 3 mfWhile online, I had a lesson regarding the Greek language. The Greek word for the burial cloth wrapped around Jesus’ head is “saudarion” and means a towel or a cloth. It is not a napkin as I think of it today. The other interesting Greek word is “entulisso” meaning to twist or entwine. This word is translated in the NIV Bible as “folded up.” Other translations use such words as wrapped up or folded together or simply lying apart from the other wrappings. So much for the similarities between my folding napkins and what Jesus did with the burial cloth for His head! Some of the words may be the same but there are definitely different definitions.

white flower for cloths 3 mfI read about a legend regarding the meaning of folded and unfolded napkins for the Hebrew people. It said that an unfolded napkin left at the table meant that the person was finished and would not be returning to the table. However, a folded napkin meant the person would return to the table at a later time. The analogy was made saying that Jesus was relaying the message that He would return to earth when He left “the folded napkin” of the burial cloth for His head. This could relate to John 14:2-3 where Jesus tells His disciples, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” However, as I read other reviews regarding this concept, I discovered that no Bible commentators give any credence to these concepts. In fact, the people during this time period used a hand washing ceremony rather than table napkins. Although there is no validity to this story, I like the thought of it. It even goes along with my original idea of comparing my table linens to Jesus’ burial linens. (Thinking back to the appearance of our table at the conclusion of our dinner on Sunday, I am quite sure no one is coming back because all I found were crumpled napkins.)

white flower for cloths 3 mfThe most valuable insight I learned from my Internet searching relates to the importance of Jesus leaving behind the grave cloths. When Peter and John found the grave cloths in the empty tomb, it proved that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead and His body had not been stolen. Empty burial cloths without a body was resurrection proof. It did not matter whether the cloths were napkins or towels or whether they were folded or twisted. The fact was that the tomb was empty even though Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had buried the body. (John 19:38-42) After Peter and John left the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene lingered outside the tomb weeping because she thought Jesus’ body had been taken away. She then not only saw two angels seated where Jesus’ body had been laid, but she personally encountered the risen Lord Himself. Jesus met Mary at the tomb but He was not dead in the tomb. (John 20:10-18)

white flower for cloths 3 mf My tablecloth and napkins are now placed in the linen closet until the next time we have special company. However, the importance of Jesus’ resurrection has not been put out of my mind. Even though there are no legitimate similarities between my table linens and the empty grave cloths of Jesus, I do not think my time of contemplating comparisons has been wasted. Anything that reminds me of the death and resurrection of Jesus has value. Paul says in Philippians 3:10-11, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Like Paul, I want to continue to grow in my knowledge of Christ and His power. Being aware of signs and symbols that remind me of Jesus helps me to attain this goal. I never want to distort what the scriptures say, but I also want to be open to resurrection reminders within my natural surroundings.

Joyfully,
 Cheryl
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