Catch-up Friday

Use today (and the weekend) to catch up on any readings you’ve missed.

If you’re up-to-date, here’s some more thoughts on our current passage (John 16:16-33) introducing a story told by Philip Yancey. It’s a reminder that Jesus has already won the victory. He says to his disciples at the end of his farewell speech:

John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We’re not engaged in a battle where the outcome is still undecided. Where the forces of darkness are evenly pitted against the forces of light. Jesus has won. He has paid the penalty for sin once-and-for-all. He has defeated Satan, once-and-for-all. God is in control of everything that happens. The war is over, only the mopping up remains. In this world we will still have trouble. But take heart, Jesus has overcome the world.

Philip Yancey tells the story of when he was sitting reading a book; the chapter was describing the author’s visit to a Greek Orthodox monastery during Easter. Everyone there observed the custom of giving Easter eggs & saying ‘Christ is risen’, and responding ‘he is risen indeed!’ The author was not a believer. But he writes in his book: ‘I was seized then by a moment of spiritual reality: what would it mean for our world if He had truly risen?

Just after he’d read that chapter, Yancey returned home to the news that a Bob, close friend had died in a scuba diving accident. He spoke at Bob’s funeral, and there asked this same question in the context of the grief they now experienced. He writes:

‘What would it mean for us if Bob rose again? We sat in a chapel, numbed by three days of sadness. I imagined aloud what it would be like to walk outside to the parking lot and there, to our utter amazement, find Bob. Bob! With his bounding walk, his big grin and clear grey eyes. That image gave me a hint of what Jesus’ disciples felt on Easter Sunday. They too had grieved for three days. But on Sunday they caught a glimpse of something else, a glimpse of the future….

I confess that I used to be embarrassed by talk about heaven & an afterlife. It seemed like a cop-out, a crutch. But I’ve watched people die. What kind of God would be satisfied forever with a world like this one, laden with suffering & death? If I had to stand by & watch lives like Bob’s get cut off – suddenly vanish, vaporise – with no hope of a future, I doubt I’d believe in God…

[But the apostle Paul says] “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” Along with Paul, I stake my hope on a resurrection, a time when Christ “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body”.’

– Philip Yancey, Where is God when it hurts? pp.269-70.

Jesus’ resurrection gives us a certain hope for the future, because it’s what makes our future resurrection possible.

On Easter Sunday the disciples’ world changed forever. So did history. And so did ours. The resurrection both the source of our present joy, and the basis of our future hope.

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