Praying til Pentecost Day 3
" 'He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where he was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you in to Galilee, there you will see Him, behold I have told you.' And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshipped Him. Then Jesus said to them, " 'Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.' " Matthew 28:6-10
The early disciples were receiving a crash course in faith. Paul would later write, "So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17) It is this gathering of the faithful that was going to change the world. They would be called the church or the "called out" ones. They would be known for their responsiveness to the Word of God. A recent study of groups and gatherings reminded me that a collection of geese is called a gaggle, a group of sheep is called a flock, cattle are referred to as a herd, and a gathering of buzzards is called a committee. I won't go there right now, but that last reference is pretty disturbing.
One author has suggested that a gathering of Christians should be called a "crash." This is what a group of rhinos is called. Rhinos cannot see very well, but their hearing is superb. Once they hear, they are prone to move with great speed and unstoppable power. Nothing can stand in their way, especially when they move as a group or a "crash."
It is an interesting perspective to say the least. Perhaps that is why one of the first things the disciples were told to do was to "go quickly." They were reminded of what Jesus had said, and then given a mission to perform.
The ladies were to trust the fact that Jesus was already waiting for them to arrive at the destination they had been assigned. They had to trust the angel's promise and start out on their journey. The next thing they experienced was the personal presence of Jesus meeting them along the way. This is another great picture of the Risen Christ. He honored their faith in His word by offering them the privilege of His fellowship. Jesus is not looking for any special ability from His disciples. He is watching and waiting for them to be available to Him.
One of the world's greatest misconceptions is contained in the statement, "Seeing is believing!" In the Kingdom of God, "Believing is seeing!" One of the most repeated words in angelic vocabulary in the word, "Behold!" It is rooted in a verb that means "to see, perceive, attend to." When the angels use it they are attempting to get the eyes of their listeners off of them and onto the Word of God. The appearance of an angel always generated fear in the hearts of the people receiving their message. They would often have to repeat the word "behold" and make sure people did not miss the message by being overwhelmed by the messenger. The word carries a more contemporary meaning of "Look! Look here! See here! Pay attention! Get this! Get it? Got it? Good!" The angels were held responsible for not only delivering the message, but making sure that the message was received. The angels reminded the two women that they were just repeating what Jesus had said to them before He died. (see italics)
There are at least 155 verses of Scripture that refer to the 40 days Jesus ministered to His disciples from Resurrection Day to Ascension Day. After His ascension the disciples waited an additional 10 days in Jerusalem, waiting for The Promise of the Father.
These Scriptures contain powerful images of the Kingdom of God, and they unveil the truth of Christ's teaching in the context of 50 unprecedented days. For 40 days the disciples received instruction about the Kingdom of God, and for 10 days they waited and prayed.
The Church was birthed in the labor room of prayer. The Holy Spirit was the answer to the prayers of the people of faith. They could not possibly have known what God had in mind when they gathered for prayer. Still, they were obedient to wait and pray. They were available and God was able. It is through our availability to God and God's ability to transform that the nonsensical becomes the believable.
Take a look at the story of the 50 days through the eyes of the early disciples. It can be found in
- Matthew 28:1-20
- Mark 16:1-10
- John 20:1-21:25
- Acts 1:1-11
Easter Sunday marked the beginning of a new step of faith in the lives of the disciples. Intimidation by immediate circumstances had overwhelmed them with doubts and fears. The absence of Jesus had left them with the bitter after-taste of the dregs of defeat and the death of a vision. God had taken them to the end of themselves to bring them to the beginning of all that He had in store for them. Little did they realize that God was at work bringing about His very best when Satan was doing His very worst.