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For accessing rich treasures in His Word and for edification
 
 
MESSAGE FOR THE FORTNIGHT
 





OF EASTER AND “IDENTITY CRISIS”-PART I



Let me begin with a Tarzan story! Well, this is as real as it is surreal. Johnny Weissmuller, the Champion Olympic swimmer who donned the role of Tarzan the ape man in the Silver screen with as much aplomb in 1930s & 40s’ as he dominated the Olympic swimming lanes in 1920s’, had a “close encounter of a different kind” with the Pro-Fidel Castro’s soldiers in late 1950s’. When the Cuban uprising was reaching its peak, he and his golf mates (on a recreational tour to Cuba) on Havana’s suburbs were surrounded by gun-toting Cuban revolutionaries, who on mistaking them for Pro-regime supporters were intent on kidnapping them. When all his pleadings to convince them that he was the harmless movie Tarzan on a normal tour (with no political links) failed to convince them, he came-up with a spectacular ‘Tarzan act’ immaculately. Thumping his chest in a typical Tarzan style, he gave out a blood curdling yell “KREEGAH TARZAN BUNDALO”, so much so that the highly impressed Pro-Castro’s men immediately curtsied with the words “Welcome Tarzan, welcome to Cuba" and escorted him and his friends to a safer area. Let me cut this story short here but doesn’t this story in a small way mirror the anguish of our own Lord in identifying Himself to his disciples post-resurrection?

Mary of Magdalene failed to recognize him at the first instance (John 20:14-15), ditto it with his followers on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13), throw in the confused disciples and the other followers who mistook him for a ghost on his sensational appearance (Luke 24:37) and the picture of ‘identity crisis’ of a special kind would be complete. No wonder there is a record of He rebuking them for unbelief (Mark 16:14)!

This Easter, continuing with the ‘Identification theme’ in this 2-Parts series, Yours Truly intends to focus on the following sub-topics,

1. Identifying the Resurrection prophecies and their significance thereof

2. Identifying the Messiah’s Cause

3. Identifying ourselves with the Messiah’s Cause

4. Identifying ourselves with the Resurrection power

5. Identifying the Completion of Salvation work

6. Identifying the “Blessed hope” borne of “Resurrection” in believers by Unbelievers…

7. Identifying the times, we are living in

Firstly,

Identifying the Resurrection prophecies and their significance thereof…



When so many events relating to Jesus’ life had been prophesied such as…

a) his virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14)

b) triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey (celebrated as Palm Sunday in Christendom – Zechariah 9:9)

c) betrayal by an acquaintance (Psalm 41:9, Zechariah 11:12)

d) sufferings on the cross (Psalm 22:15)

to name a few, it follows that an event as paramount as Resurrection would also be foretold in the Scriptures. Well, it was in Psalm 16:10/ Psalm 49:15 in oh-so-clear terms that its fulfillment should not have come as a surprise to His ardent followers but it sadly did, so much so that the good Lord had to remind some of them of the same painstakingly (Luke 24:27) on the Easter evening.

Why so many Prophecies, even without a single prophecy our good Lord could have come to Planet Earth , finished the redemption plan and gone back. You see there is no shortage of rationalists in this World who demand a proof for everything before accepting any Divine act as Divinely inspired. On one solitary life of the Saviour, hinged the entire salvation of Mankind! Lest the Jews and then Gentiles (Gospel was preached in this order- Rom 1:16)’ attribute the virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14), place of his birth (Micah 5:2), atoning death on the cross (Psalm 22:16/ Isaiah 53), resurrection (Psalm 16:10-11, Acts 2:28) and his victorious ascension (Psalm 68:18/ Eph 4:18) to a sheer accident or coincidence, the Heavenly Father who is a great facilitator (Gen 24:7) in His infinite wisdom had everything written down in “black and white”, several centuries before those landmark events even occurred in order the entire Gospel-preaching/Soul-winning process is “facilitated smoothly”, as it were.

Minus the Resurrection prophecy (Psalm 16:10), could Spirit-filled Peter have preached with such conviction and authority on the Day of Pentecost (the Birthday of the Church- Acts 2:22-36)) so as to receive a response of remorse and repentance from (can you believe it) 3000 devotees (Acts 2:37)!!! Mind you these Jews were not "social sinners" in the category of murderers or thieves or adulterers' but I reiterate “sincere devotees” who in observance of the Law had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Annual festival of Pentecost (Deu 16:16-17). Yet courtesy Scripture-backed (Psalm 16:10), Spirit empowered preaching of Peter ensured that a contrite spirit was birthed in them. Oh how true is the fact that in God’s scheme of things both God’s Word and God’s Spirit (Isa 59:21) operate like 2 blades of scissor (they never work in isolation but in unison) to “cut the heart” (read bring about conviction) for the better of those exposed to the Gospel.

Now coming to the purpose of having Prophecies in the Scriptures for convicting the rationalists! Let me further illustrate…

Some years ago (during Christmas time), the womenfolk of our Church went to a reasonably distant Departmental store to buy gifts for the widows/orphans/Sunday school children of our Church. When, they came back it dawned on one Sister (in faith) that she had forgotten her purse containing many valuables in the parking lot of a huge, busy commercial complex. Praying profusely, the entire “Purchase committee” rushed back to that hustling, bustling area after full one hour (traffic snarls you see) where a unguarded purse has as much chance of remaining unpicked as an ice-cube would have of not melting in a fiery furnace. Hallelujah, they found it safe and secure! Now if I were to share this thrilling account with a rationalist giving all glory to the prayer-answering God, (you guessed it right), he would attribute this “miraculous recovery” to sheer “coincidence or luck”. But ponder for a moment, if this entire account had been foretold and documented in a book, say 20 years ago, would he still attribute this true story to a mere coincidence. He would have no other option but to accept it as an Divine act! Ditto the same, with several of the Messianic prophecies, including the one about His resurrection.

Yet another significance of fulfilled Prophecies...if the promise keeping God has faithfully fulfilled all His prophecies time and again (Joshua 21:45), it only goes to reinforce the fact that He is bound to bring to fruition the other unfulfilled prophecies in the Scripture…that of His Son’s II Coming (Matt 24:30-31) and beyond!!! Oh how true that prophesies’ are nothing but history written in advance. Does the prospect of our Lord’s II Coming in mid-air excite us? It should…if we are ready for it.

Identifying the Messiah’s purpose…



Post resurrection, not only were Jesus’ disciples and his followers guilty of failing to identify their blessed resurrected Lord, they were also guilty of still not identifying their Master’s purpose for coming into this world, which was to shine as a beacon light to the entire world and not only to the Jews (Luke 2:32). Despite being with him all these years and listening countless times to His sermons proclaiming himself to be the Saviour of the whole world, his disciples were still trying to come to terms with Jesus original purpose behind His I Coming, so much so, we see them posing a witless question in Acts 1:6 “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” Oh how much it must have pained the Saviour that they were yet to fully comprehend His agenda behind His I Coming, which had nothing to with anything political but had everything to with all things spiritual. More than occupying any earthly throne, Jesus’ had always been keen on occupying the thrones in the hearts of men. Come Lord Jesus to reign in our hearts!

Identifying ourselves with the Messiah’s cause…



It is one thing to identify the Messiah’s cause and quite another to identify oneself with the same. Just as disciples to whom his cause was revealed were called to identify themselves with their Master’s cause by being his witnesses in “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:9), His followers through the ages to whom His cause has been revealed have also been called to don the same role. Witnessing for Jesus stripped of all its fanciful trappings is as simple as telling everyone what Jesus has done in one’s life much in the same way a terminally ill cancer patient operated upon and healed by a Doctor would tell others’ of his/her Doctor’s wondrous surgical skills. Then again, just as a patient who had a brush with death would do this passionately, starting with his family members and then relay this news all on his own in ever-widening circles, we too who have tasted His redemptive love and have been saved from far worse ‘eternal death’ are called to testify in a centrifugal manner about our ‘experience’ beginning with our family members, first. Note Jesus in the above-captioned scripture portion in italics put Jerusalem first signifying that his disciples were to start the work of relaying the Good news of Jesus’ saving power right at the place of their stay and then proceed onto other places…yes …'even to the ends of the world'. That we are reading this piece, most probably in a place faraway from Jerusalem is proof enough of the fact that Jesus’ disciples-their many weaknesses’ aside- did a commendable job, when it came identifying themselves with their Master’s cause! How are we faring on this front?

More on Easter-related subjects, in the next part of this Series…



Yours in His service,


(Suresh Manoharan)





OF EASTER AND “IDENTITY CRISIS”-PART 2