Updated: Apr 24, 2020
From Fallen to Forgiven Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020 Who couldn’t use some good news right now amidst the covid-19 crisis? Today is Easter Sunday and the Good News of triumph, hope, joy, peace, love, second chances, forgiveness and renewal through Jesus Christ’s resurrection can be ours. We read of this Good News in Mark chapter 16, the first 8 verses: When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid (ESV). The forgiving love of Jesus Christ is seen on a personal, individual level and on a larger, cosmic level.
Jesus Christ forgives by patiently strengthening the weak in faith.
What are these women going to do? They are going to anoint a dead body – despite all that Jesus taught them about rising again on the third day. The women exhibit no glimmer of hope or expectancy of any kind. They purchase spices to anoint a dead body, wonder who will roll away the stone, they’re confused by the angel’s announcement and they leave shocked and scared. Everything about their reaction to Jesus’ death betrays their unbelief. Yet, the angel does not fault them as Jesus had to do with his others on other occasions. Being the Great Teacher He is, Jesus used this opportunity to encourage the weak in faith. This young man – that is, this angel, delivered the message entrusted to him by God. The Savior recognizes and understands their confusion, assures them Jesus rose from the dead, provides proof to give them understanding and to encourage their slow hearts, and instructs them on what to do next.
Jesus Christ is patient with these women whose faith is weak and deals tenderly with His children who wrestle between doubt & belief. He gives us His Spirit to enable us to understand the Scriptures when we seek diligently for him. He places us in communities of believers with whom we can search Scripture together. He instructs us to have mercy on those who doubt (Jude 22).
The pandemic can raise many questions in our minds and perhaps challenge our faith. The way Jesus assists the women struggling to believe should encourage us to seek Christ through his word and other believers.
Jesus Christ forgives by restoring those who have fallen in their faith.
"But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you” (verse 7). Jesus forgives and pursues his followers who denied him and fell in sin. Notice how he addresses them through his messenger and what he announces to them. Jesus addresses the men as ‘his disciples’ even though they denied and abandoned him.
In addition, the angel instructs the women to “tell His disciples and Peter.” Peter was the one who professed his allegiance the loudest and denied him the greatest – even doing so with curses. But in His care for His crest-fallen, guilt-ridden, fearful followers Jesus sends word to “tell my disciples and Peter.”
Yes, the Lord at times must send a person like the Old Testament prophet Nathan to confront a man entrenched in his sin like King David. At times the Lord’s messengers are affliction. But the bottom line is the Lord holds them–as his children – albeit erring children – and He seeks to restore those fallen in sin. But there is more! We see the Lord’s forgiving love in the way He addresses his erring followers – but his forgiving love is especially seen in what he announces to them: “tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you” (verse 7). Not only does the Lord send word to those who denied Him and address them as disciples, He tells them that he still wants to meet with them, will show himself to them to strength their faith in him and his faithfulness to his promises, but he will also restore their relationship with Christ and to service in his kingdom.
Jesus sent word to the men who had fallen in their faith that they hadn’t fallen from grace. He loved, forgave, and restored them!
If someone we trusted ‘hangs us out to dry’ or deserts us, our disappointment and hurt
may cause us to withdraw and not pursue them because it would be too painful to do so or we may lash out in anger. Our limitations however only demonstrate the excellencies of Christ’s forgiving love. Scripture describes the Lord as the One who: redeems all those whom the Father has given him and no one will snatch from his hand; leaves the 99 sheep to pursue the one wandering sheep; assures us that He will complete the good work He began in us; and has made us more than conquerors through his love for us!
Our Lord exhibits his forgiving love in His approach, address, and announcement to His disciples and greatly induces all who may have stumbled that he pursues, forgives, and restores to service. Occasions exist where a fallen person may not be restored to a position of service or leadership, but anyone’s relationship with the Lord can be restored as they turn from their sin and seek Christ. Jesus’ personal interaction of patience with those weak in their faith and pursuit of those who have fallen in their faith are examples of his larger mission to the world.
Christ forgives by purchasing the salvation of those given Him by the Father
The young man’s statement in verse 6 “He has risen; he is not here” - is not just an explanation to the women of where Jesus is – this is a grand declaration of God’s saving purposes in the world! On the cross, Jesus cried out “It is finished” declaring that He had paid in full the debt owed to God by his people’s sin. The resurrection is God’s resounding declaration “I accept the payment!
Therefore, Jesus offers the forgiveness he granted his friends to all who admit that they have sinned against him and depend solely on his life, death and resurrection for their forgiveness and reconciliation with God. In gratitude, a person who accepts the Lord’s forgiving love commits to love the Lord by obeying his commands with the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord promises that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:9–10, ESV)
Christ Reconciles by Empowering the Church to Set the World Right Side Up!
Humanity’s fall into sin affected every aspect of life: our relationship with God, ourselves, others, and with all of creation. The effects of sin are not only personal but are also social, cultural, economic, political, etc. This is why there is so much violence, poverty, disease and injustice. Christ’s redeeming work addresses every area effected by sin.
God’s purpose for the world is not merely the rebirth of human souls but the rebirth of all fallen creation. In Col 1:20 Paul writes, “for God was pleased…through (Christ) to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” God restores his peace to everything that was lost in the entire cosmos when humanity fell into sin through King Jesus .
Jesus commissions his people to extend his loving, sovereign rule over all things. In every sphere of life, we must live to God’s glory by the wisdom and power of God. This happens in the book of Acts after the resurrected Christ ascended to heaven and poured out God’s Spirit on his people: individuals saved, the sick healed, corrupt institutions called to righteousness, physical needs met, widows cared for, error exposed, racism opposed, prisoners freed, etc. So great was the impact of the Gospel on all spheres of life, we read in Acts 17 that the religious leaders incited a riot against the Christ-followers and dragged some of them before the civil authorities and charged them with turning the world upside down! Likewise, we go into every sphere of our lives with the reconciling love and power of Christ to set this world right side up!
Comment below how the Good News of Jesus' resurrection gives you hope!
To read the other blog posts in this series click on the links below: