Praying til Pentecost Day 4
"Jesus said, 'Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.' Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, 'You are to say, 'His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep." Matthew 28:10-13
Fear and false rumors have always been obstacles to a great movement of God. Satan is a liar, and those who spread falsehoods and undermine the truth in any form or fashion are under the influence of the evil one.
Recently a malignant reminder of the relentlessness of false rumor has surfaced in our community. Tracing down the source of a lie is more difficult than staying on mission with the truth. The fact of the matter is you just can't keep throwing rocks at every barking dog and still get to town. To cut to the chase, Satan lies, and he has influence on enough people to keep his lies alive. His purpose in lying is to discredit, disprove, discourage or at least delay the people who are on mission for God.
It interests me that the two women were on their way to deliver the truth to the disciples and Satan immediately started lying. He can do nothing else. It is who he is. Matthew's account reads, "Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city..." (Matt. 28:11)
Ron Dunn was often quoted as saying, "Good and evil travel down parallel tracks and usually arrive at the same time." That is exactly what happened when the truth about the Risen Christ was being delivered to the disciples. Satan placed it in the hearts of the elders of the Sanhedrin to conspire against the truth by concocting a story that simultaneously maligned the guards for dereliction of duty and accused the disciples of grave robbing. Stooping to the use of a bribe to seal the deal, the elders of Israel promised to protect their co-conspirators if the governor ever found out the truth. The Scripture records, "This story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day." (Matthew 28:15)
What was the response of the women? They delivered the truth in spite of the lies that were being spread about their message. What was the response of the disciples when they heard the truth? "The eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee to the mountain which Jesus had designated." (Matthew 28:16)
In other words, they took the high ground. They did not call on the elders to retract their story. They did not have a news conference to alert the city that rumors were being circulated about them. They did not take their offense to the governor. They had seen first hand how much justice Rome was capable of handing out. They obeyed their orders, went to the mountain, and waited for the Risen Christ to show up.
The women did not delay in delivering their message, and the eleven did not hesitate to meet up with Jesus. This is huge. The devil loves to intimidate by false reports and false accusations. His purpose is to put the messenger on the defensive and delay the delivery of the message. He knows the truth better than anyone, and he knows he has no defense against the power of it. His only alternative is to get Christ followers so wrapped up in setting the record straight that they forget their message and their mission.
Thank God the early disciples did not spend all their time chasing down false rumors. They got over their fear, and faithfully delivered the great news about the Risen Christ. They put themselves in the right place at the right time to have an encounter with Jesus. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, but by Me." (John 14:6) Thank God these two women and the eleven did not put their time into stopping the rumors, but put their trust in the Truth.
The message of the Risen Christ that we share today is a direct result of faithfulness of those who chose to stay on mission and deliver the message. May we be found faithful to do the same in the face of opposition from the "father of lies."