If you go to the stores these days you’re in for sticker shock as the price of everything heads to the ceiling, but there is one item that is going down in price. In fact, it’s so cheap that quite often it’s simply free for the taking. It is so abundantly available that the supply far outstrips any level of demand. What is that item? It is available every time you open the mailbox, a newspaper, turn on the radio, TV, or read on the internet. What is that item? Discouragement.
I know you’ll believe me when I say that there is plenty of discouragement to go around in our land today. The author F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “[t]rouble has no necessary connection with discouragement. Discouragement has a germ of its own, as different from trouble as arthritis is different from a stiff joint.” I believe he is right. Discouragement is a choice we make in light of events that occur in our path on this heavenly pilgrimage.
Now we have a solution given to us by our Lord and Savior in His Word. Turn to Luke 23:55. We need to recall that the events of the Holy Week all culminated in the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior. His death on the cross, which purchased our salvation, was discouraging in the extreme for His disciples. When resurrection Sunday dawned, they were dejected and fearful.
After the death of our Lord and Savior, the custom was for family and friends to separate themselves and mourn for seven days. Custom dictated for a body to be placed in a burial cave, left to decompose. Then this initial mourning period was followed by a less intense 30-day period of mourning, called shloshim. However, the entire mourning period was not fully over until the flesh of the deceased had decomposed leaving only the bones, usually about a year later.
The Bible accounts of funerary arrangements which reveal that the Jews took great care in preparing the corpse for interment. Family and friends washed the body of the deceased, rubbed it with spices and fine oil, and wrapped it in cloths. (John 19:39, 40; Acts 9:36-41). Neighbors and others could come to express their grief and console the family. (Mark 5:38, 39). But in the death of Jesus, the Sabbath rest required by the Law of Moses prevented the Jews from carrying out all the funeral arrangements on that day. Since Jesus died about three hours before the start of the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea and others buried him hurriedly without having completely prepared his body for burial. (Luke 23:50-56).
For that reason, some of Jesus’friends went to his tomb after the Sabbath, hoping to complete the process. (Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1).“And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”(Luke 24:2-7).
Jesus’ friends told what they had seen. Peter was intrigued and went to check out their story. Why not the others? Why just Peter? I believe it was due to fear and discouragement.Those fears were rational. Jesus had just been executed and there was no doubt about the fact that the political /religious leaders of that day intended to completely stamp out the movement Jesus had began. The discouragement was also rational. With Jesus dead and gone they concluded everything was lost. Indeed it would have been had He not risen from the dead.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ changes our discouragement into hope. Hope is the message which God the Father communicates to us here today by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He desires us to be His children so much that He sent His only begotten Son into the world. He desires us to be His children so much that He caused His perfect Son to take upon His body the terrible penalty of the sins of the world. On that awful Friday, Christ suffered and died for us that we might be saved, that we might be adopted into the family of God. Will you accept Him and make Him Lord of your life?
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