|JUNE 2004||DEVOTIONAL MESSAGE||
Lord knows us better than we know ourselves. Real knowledge commence when we realize our ignorance. This is the greatest divine knowledge that God is expecting that we should have. First Peter denied Jesus, next he thought he knows and eventually he confessed that he does not know. Restoration of the commision of Peter is a great scene of Christian reconciliation.
Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, happened in secret. It was a very private event. Nobody in the world had seen resurrection of Jesus, with human eyes. Roman soldiers were guarding the tomb of Jesus. But there was something marvelous happened at the dawn of the day of resurrection. A severe earthquake had occurred, an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. The keepers shivered at this sight and fell down as if dead. Some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. It was really amazing and they could not describe it. The high Priests and elders came to know that something went really wrong. They bribed and told the informers, ‘You should tell the authorities that His disciples came by night and stole Him away while you were asleep’, so that nobody should believe this resurrection story. The Gospel writer witness that this story was widely spread among the Jews till that day. They perturbed the truth as they did not really know whether somebody had carried away the body and their admonition was absolutely meaningless.
Ministry of Jesus was public, his crucifixion was open, but his resurrection was divine, privileged and mysterious. The open sepulcher of Jesus was the greatest proof that He had risen. Easter is the greatest of all Christian festivals. This is the benchmark of Christianity. With out Easter there is no Christianity, there is no faith, and there is no Gospel. The foundation of Christian faith and Christian family is that Jesus had risen.
As Peter described in his epistle, after Jesus’ death but before His first appearance, as resurrected, to the disciples, apparently He went to Hades - the abode of the dead - and preached Gospel to the spirits bounded there. In the Holy Scripture it is written: ‘By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;’ (1 Peter 3:19). People at the time of Noah were disobedient and rebellious, as the Scripture connotes it; ‘their sin was aggravated from the patience and long suffering of God’ [around 120 years], while Noah was preparing the ark. Noah was preaching and giving them a forewarning of what was coming upon them. The young people of that time, teased at Noah, as there was no sign of any rain. They all were drowned, and their spirits cast into hell, which was called a prison; but Noah and his family were saved in the ark. Jesus had set them free and then they started praising Lord and that is the great hope.
Resurrection is a new day for us. The three-fold elements of the New Testament are faith, hope and love [Charity]. As we profess that Jesus is the son of God, we are in the hope of resurrection and of a new life and thereby we love each other. Christ gave us a new commandment, not the old one and that is, we should love one another. By doing so, the world will know that we are the disciples of Lord and not otherwise. There is mutuality in love - Give and take. The source of love is not in you or me. The great foundation of love is God. He initiates in the course of time, to tie our hearts together in love. Love and light emanate only from the heaven. Love flows to us and we share same each other. There is reciprocity for love too.
Till the resurrection, all the disciples were frightened. When Jesus came amidst them, the doors and windows of the room were shut for fear of the Jews. He appeared to them and told ‘Peace be with you.’ That day he ordained them and gave them authority and instructions. "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained." (John 20:23) That day, He united the heaven and earth as one unit.
The Church may be worldly as the Church is in the world; sometime the world comes to the Church. The eminent poet William Wordsworth began his most famous sonnet, “The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.” Apparently world is too much in the Church, but Church cannot afford to be worldly. We are in the world, but we cannot afford to be too much worldly. World is not in need of worldly ministers, preachers or teachers. But Jesus had shown us the way how to be unworldly which is eternally desirable. He had highlighted us ‘Follow me’. This is the greatest command He is giving to us, that is to imitate and follow him.
While Jesus appeared to the disciples first, Thomas was not with them. When the other disciples told Thomas that they had seen the risen Lord, he told them that unless he sees the imprint of the nails on His hands, put his finger into the wounds of the nails and put his hand into His sides where the spear was pierced, he will not believe. But our risen Lord confirmed the faith of Thomas during His second appearance. It is a very significant fact that after resurrection Jesus was not seen by all people, but He exposed himself only to the people who loved him. During His consecutive appearances, He confirmed all in their faith. Judas betrayed Jesus, hanged himself and lost his share in the ministry and could not witness the resurrection. Peter denied Jesus at the palace court of the high priest. He was very sorrowful about it, went out and wept bitterly. Once Peter denied Jesus, he was also on the verge of loosing his share in the ministry, but Jesus reinstated him to his original position and inculcated him to follow Him. The young man clothed in white garment and sat inside the sepulcher, instructed the women very specifically to inform His disciples plus Peter that Jesus of Nazareth is risen.
There was a gorgeous task involved when Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. When Simon Peter, Thomas Didymus, Nathanael, James, John and two other of his disciples were together, Peter initiated to go back for fishing and others joined with him. After they labored all the night in vein, when the day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach. In spite of that they had seen the risen Jesus twice earlier; disciples did not know that it was Jesus. This retraction of the disciples were like an act of young people of the world and to this effect Jesus addressed them as Children - young ones - even though they were not that young. When they worked as per the instruction of Jesus they had a big catch. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved at heart was the first to identify Jesus. John had a lot of very affectionate memories of Jesus in his mind. He had the special privilege of leaning on Jesus’s bosom during the last supper, and hence he felt the heartbeat of Lord.
After a wonderful breakfast, Jesus called Simon Peter aside and asked him, Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me more than these. Simon replied him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." Jesus asked Peter the second time, Simon son of Jonas, do you love me more than these. Once again Simon replied the same words. Jesus asked Peter the third time the same question. Peter was grieved at this time, he started weeping and tears fell down his cheeks. However, he never spoke any single word about his denial. At this, he told something wonderful and unforgettable. Simon said to Lord, "Lord, You know everything.” Lord knows us better than we know ourselves. Real knowledge commence when we realize our ignorance. This was the greatest knowledge that Jesus was expecting that he should have. Here, Peter represents the young ones of this world. Peter humbly accepts himself that he represents the young people of the world. The adversary of the world is fond of to pronounce the favorite words that I am the master of this world and I always decide to do good only for me. Jesus’ commitment to Peter was that he will make them fishers of men.
Peter had made a confession of human life. First he denied Jesus, next he thought he knows and eventually he confessed that he does not know. To restore him to his apostleship, he repented of his abjuration of it and got renewed his commission. On the assent of Peter that Lord know everything, he was welcomed back to the Grace. This is a great scene of Christian reconciliation. This is a great scene of God’s love to share. Why Jesus came to this earth and became a human? It is to reconcile between God and man who is His creation. When we commit sin, our Lord is suffering. This is a very personal human feeling that we should nurture in our heart. Jesus is pointing his question to the soft part of our heart, “Do you love me?”. This question persistently remains with us and pointing towards our heart of heart. Peter tells this to all the young ones of this world.
|[Speech delivered at Melbourne : Reported by E.S. John Australia.]|
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LIGHT OF LIFE
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