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Sunday, September 2, 2018

Stuck in the 3 days

We're currently in the "valley of death." But we'll all come out.
A small example can help us see the big picture.

Jesus was alive and kicking ... kicking the intellectual crap out of the hypocritical religious leaders of His day. His followers saw His multiple powerful miracles, and knew for sure that He would soon deliver the kingdom to Israel, and the Jews would be on top of the world. The Romans would be done for, because the Messiah was in town, and He don't mess around. He gets work done.

Then ... the Romans and hypocritical religious leaders kicked the crap out of Jesus and mercilessly killed Him.

"Hmm," thought His followers, "didn't see that coming!" His band of believers were confused, sad, angry, probably hysterical: "What the unseen-underworld just happened? We were just about to see all of our hopes and dreams become reality! How could God let this happen? What are we supposed to do now? Crap, now we have to go back to our real jobs on Monday!"

Jesus was laid in the tomb. Day 1 ... nothing but continued despair, sadness, anger and fear. Day 2 ... more of the same, except it hurts a little bit more today as the shock wears off and reality digs in like a tick on a dog. Day 3 ... life goes on, you can't stop it.

Then ...

"He's alive!"
"No, we saw Him die. He's dead. Leave us alone!"
"Well I just saw Him and talked with Him. He's alive!"
"We'll just see about that."

And see they did.

He's now at His Father's right hand.

From the lowest of lows to the highest of highs. An excruciating ride with an (almost) unbelievable end. But it's in the books, or, rather the Book.

But the highs are meaningless without the contrast of the lows. Experiencing the lows prepares us to properly appreciate the highs. God made it this way, and He knows what He's doing.

"Enough with the lows already, God! We're ready for the highs!"

 He knows when we're ready.

"And this has to do with us how?"

Jesus' life, death, burial and resurrection is a condensed version of God's big-picture plan for all of us. The problem for us is this: we are currently stuck in the 3 days—the time that corresponds to His 3 days in the tomb. This is the time when the confusion, despair, sadness, anger and fear dominated His followers' lives. And these can dominate our lives also. This is their (and our) what-the-hell-just-happened? stage. His was 3 days. Ours will last as long as God has determined.

But His story, and our story, doesn't end in despair in the tomb. Death has no victory in the end (despite what you hear in most churches). 1 Corinthians 15, Concordant Literal New Testament,
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality. 54 Now, whenever this corruptible should be putting on incorruption and this mortal should be putting on immortality, then shall come to pass the word which is written, Swallowed up was Death by Victory. 55 Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting? 56 Now the sting of Death is sin, yet the power of sin is the law. 57 Now thanks be to God, Who is giving us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Just as Jesus exited death, so too will all of humanity. Your loved one who died unexpectedly. Your loved one who died after a fight to the death with cancer and lost. Your loved one who never experienced life outside the womb. ALL OF OUR LOVED ONES, AND EVEN ONES WE DON'T KNOW AND LOVE!

"I can't wait for _____________ !" 

Usually when we start a sentence with these words we don't have any choice but to wait for the thing we can't wait for. "I can't wait for McDonald's to offer the McRib sandwich again!" But you must wait for the saucy deliciousness of pressed dead pig meat because McDonald's doesn't run by our schedule.

And God doesn't run by our schedule.

It would really be nice to only have to wait 3 days to receive our dead loved ones alive and well ... no ... alive and immortal. But we have no choice except to wait for God to give life and immortality to the dead. He will do it. He promised to do it. Our "3 days" will eventually come to a glorious end that will blow our minds, just as Jesus' followers' minds were no doubt blown when they hung out with Him after their 3 days.

Here's the end of the big-picture story from 1 Corinthians 15 from the Concordant Literal New Testament. Read it. Re-read it. Soak it in. Dream about it. Know it will happen!
(Yet now Christ has been roused from among the dead, the Firstfruit of those who are reposing. 21 For since, in fact, through a man came death, through a Man, also, comes the resurrection of the dead. 22 For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified. 23 Yet each in his own class: the Firstfruit, Christ; thereupon those who are Christ's in His presence; 24 thereafter the consummation, whenever He may be giving up the kingdom to His God and Father, whenever He should be nullifying all sovereignty and all authority and power. 25 For He must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy is being abolished: death. 27 For He subjects all under His feet. Now whenever He may be saying that all is subject, it is evident that it is outside of Him Who subjects all to Him. 28 Now, whenever all may be subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also shall be subjected to Him Who subjects all to Him, that God may be All in all.)
Imagine holding your loved ones in that day, never again in fear of death, which Jesus will render totally inoperative (v.26). NO MORE DEATH! LIFE FOR ALL! The glorious end to an excruciating ride.

"How long Lord?"

This is a recurring question in the Scriptures. It never hurts to ask. Maybe God will answer you. But don't hold your breath waiting for an answer from heaven. Just know that God has a plan and the ability to make it real (read 1 Corinthians 15 again). 

Jesus does indeed get work done. The problem for us is that we don't always know what His current work is. His followers thought it was God's time for them to rule the world under King Jesus. Instead, God sacrificed His only Son for the entire world (which is far better for all in the long run). God refuses to email me concerning His present operations. This is where faith comes in. Faith in His love, mercy, power and purpose.

Jesus came out of His 3 days, and so will we. 

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