August 25, 2019

Whom do you seek?

Whom do you seek?

Mary Magdalene went to the tomb where Jesus was placed after His crucifixion. After realizing that His body was not there, she ran and told the other disciples. After they came to the tomb and saw that Jesus’ body was not there, they returned to their homes. John’s gospel account relates what happened next – “But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, ‘Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him, ‘Rabboni!'(which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.” (John 20: 11-18) For forty days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, He appeared to His followers on ten different occasions, the first appearance being to Mary Magdalene. She had been one of His followers after He cast seven demons out of her.

On the day of His resurrection, He also appeared to two disciples who were on their way to a village called Emmaus. At first they did not realize that it was Jesus who was walking with them. Jesus asked them – “’What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?’” (Luke 24: 17). They then told Jesus what had happened in Jerusalem, how ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ a ‘Prophet’ mighty in deed and word before God had been delivered by the chief priests and rulers and been condemned to death and crucified. They said that they were hoping that it was this Jesus of Nazareth that was going to redeem Israel. They told Jesus about how the women had found Jesus’ tomb empty, and had been told by angels that He was alive.

Jesus then met them with a gentle rebuke – “’O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’” (Luke 24: 25-26) Luke’s gospel account further tells us what Jesus did next – “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24: 27) Jesus brought together the ‘missing pieces’ for them. Up until that time, they had not made the connection of how Jesus was fulfilling what had been prophesied about in the Old Testament. After Jesus taught them, blessed and broke bread with them, they returned to Jerusalem. They joined with the other apostles and disciples and told them what had happened. Jesus then appeared to all of them and said to them – “’Peace to you…why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.’” (Luke 24: 36-39) He then told them – “’These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” (Luke 24: 44-45)

Jesus Christ brings together and unifies the Old Testament and the New Testament. He is the truth that was prophesied about throughout the Old Testament, and His birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection revealed in the New Testament is a fulfillment of what was prophesied in the Old Testament.

Often false prophets take people back to the Old Testament and try to put people under various parts of Moses’ law, which were fulfilled in Christ. Rather than focus on Jesus and His grace, they claim to have found some new way to salvation; often combining grace with works. Throughout the New Testament there are warnings about this. Consider Paul’s strong rebuke to the Galatians who had fallen into this error – “O Foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3: 1-2) False prophets also distort the truth about Jesus Christ Himself. This is the error that Paul dealt with with the Colossians. This error later developed into the heresy called Gnosticism. It taught that Jesus was subordinate to the Godhead and it undervalued His redemptive work. It made Jesus a ‘lesser’ being than God; although the New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus was fully man and fully God. This is the error that is found in Mormonism today. Jehovah’s Witnesses also deny Jesus’ divinity, and teach that Jesus was the Son of God, but not fully God. To the error of the Colossians, Paul responded with the following clarification about Jesus – “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell. And by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” (Colossians 1: 15-20)

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