Friday, July 01, 2005

His Seekers

“The early bird gets the worm,” says the refrain. It is a saying that is meant to teach us the value of early rising, hard word and diligence. But sometimes when we look around, we see late birds feasting on worms. Perhaps its then that we ask, “what’s the use of getting up early?” We wonder if the bird really gets the worms because he gets up early? I think it is a little more complex than that. I think that the bird gets the worm because he is searching for worms, and that he probably knows where to look to find them. This "searching and knowing where to look", is an important detail. Getting up early will not get us the worm unless we are looking for it in the right place.

All during the Sabbath, Jesus' body lay in the tomb -- resting. After the Sabbath had passed, the women decided to go to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. The book of Mark tells us the story.

Mark 16:1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary -- the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body.
Mark 16:2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise,
they were on their way to the tomb

Mark 16:3 and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from
the entrance of the tomb?"
Mark 16:4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.
Mark 16:5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
Mark 16:6 "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.
Mark 16:7 But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.' "
Mark 16:8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

The reason the women heard the news of Jesus' resurrection before others did, was not so much because they rose early. But because, as the angel said in verse 6, they were “looking for Jesus the Nazarene.” Unlike the disciples, who were hiding, fearing for their lives, the women were courageously venturing the early morning darkness to search for Jesus. Upon approaching the tomb, their love and courage were rewarded. They were the first to receive the news of Jesus resurrection, just as the shepherds in the field were the first to receive the heavenly announcement of Jesus’ birth.

Mark 16 continues, and in verse 9 we read --

Mark 16:9 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had driven seven demons.
Mark 16:10 She went and told those who had been with Him and who were
mourning and weeping.

Mark 16:11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen
Him, they did not believe it.

Mark 16:12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country.
Mark 16:13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.

Not only were the disciples afraid, but also in their fear they stopped seeking Jesus, and they disbelieved the reports of the others. Jesus rebuked them for this behavior. According to Romans 10:16 and 17, “... who hath believed our report" and …faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The 6th Volume of the SDA Bible Commentary says of these verses, that based on the original Greek, a better translation would be “Who has believed what he has heard from us?" For faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the power of Christ, through His messengers. The disciples refused to hear the message concerning Christ. Perhaps their minds and hearts were more focused on their grief and pain. However, their refusal to hear, (which is the real definition of obedience) caused their disbelief to grow stronger -- so much so, that when Christ finally appeared to them, He rebuked their (collective) attitude.

How about us, where is our attention focused? Are we seeking Jesus? Have we heard the message Jesus has for us? "Which one you say?" Well, you know, the one about His nature being bent towards Sin, but that He neither missed the mark nor transgressed the Law. Say now, what about His justifying all human beings -- have you heard that message? I'm sure you must have. But in case you didn't, its part of the one above which says with a loud cry, that Christ justified the human race through His sacrifice as the second Adam, and that therefore He did not just save believers on His cross, but the whole world!. "What?" you say, "the Second Adam -- saved the whole world...??" Well, yes, haven't you heard that as our second Adam, Christ rewrote our human history? So now, instead of our descending from Adam the first (who represents the law of sin), we descend from Christ (the second Adam, who represents the law of heaven -- self-sacrificing love)? Haven't you heard this?

My, my -- well, in other words, Christ our Sin Bearer took our Sin, and us upon Himself. And, as our Second Adam, when He died, we died, and when He was resurrected, we were resurrected and reconciled. He gave us His Righteousness for the Sin Adam bequeathed us. And naturally, all of this becomes effective individually, as we receive the gift of His righteousness (which is personal or subjective justification). So the question remains, "Are we paying attention -- are we hearing the Word? How else can we have the saving faith of Jesus if we aren't? How else can we have a 'faith that works by love, purifies the soul,'and produces works of Righteousness if we don't? Brothers and sisters, the righteousness is not ours, it is the Righteousness of Jesus. How can we learn to depend on Christ, allowing His Holy Spirit to renew our Hearts by cleansing from Sin, and giving us the gift of repentance, if we are not hearing? If anyone of us is not, then perhaps we should follow the women’s example -- and earnestly seek Him.

Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes
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