The final chapter of the Gospel of Matthew shows us the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the event that changes everything.
You are the Source of all life and the Creator of all things. And we understand that you gave your Son to suffer death in our place so that our sins would be forgiven.
We thank you for Jesus, who died, but was always planning to rise from the dead. He is now risen, just as he said.
He has conquered the grave and the gates of hell cannot prevail against his church.
Though we may feel sinful, dirty and lost, we trust that our sins are forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ.
Though we may feel forgotten and alone, we understand that he is Immanuel, God with us, and he has promised to be with us always.
Help us to constantly keep that in mind as we wait for his soon return.
Thank you in Christ’s name,
The resurrection turns the ultimate defeat into the ultimate victory. Sin, death and Satan have now been dealt with forever because the Son of God has risen from the grave. The consequences of humanity’s fall into sin are reversed, never to take control of us again.
Just before issuing his Great Commission to the disciples, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” That means the sin, death and Satan combined have approximately zero authority.
Since this deals once and for all with our biggest problem, lesser problems also come into a proper perspective. All of the hurts, problems and defeats that I have experienced or that I have caused are reduced to times that my team and I have fallen behind in a winning game. It may look bad for the moment but our final victory is ultimately assured.
There is never a reason big enough to give up hope. Christ is risen and someday we too will be resurrected into a completely new life in him.
Coming down from the Mount of Transfiguration, this was the scene for Jesus and his disciples (from the ESV).
14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, 15 said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Let’s admit right from the start that rebuking a demon and getting immediate, happy results is no small thing, unless you are Jesus. He did this kind of thing all the time. Most of us, let’s also admit, probably fall into the category of the disciples. They failed.
Sometimes failure just happens. Maybe what we tried was a bad idea. Maybe it wasn’t God’s will. Maybe the failure was in our approach, so we need to go back and try again with a lesson learned. Sometimes we fail due to lack of faith. That was the case here.
Jesus doesn’t attribute all problems to demons nor all failure to too little faith, so neither should we. Sometimes, however, the battle is purely spiritual. The gates of hell are busy in their futile efforts to prevail against the church. Their failure is assured in the long run. Jesus will see to that. In the short run, we have to take a little responsibility.
Let’s willingly engage in the work of spiritual warfare, remembering that we serve a big God who promises victory. And let’s not be hindered by our all-too-usual lack of faith. The strength of the church, the souls of the lost and the advancement of God’s will in the world are dependent, to some extent, on our faithful engagement.
When the Lord brought the Israelites over the Jordan and into the Promised Land, He instructed them to set up a memorial. They were to take twelve stones, one for each tribe, from the midst of the Jordan and set them up as a reminder on the side to which they were crossing.
And those twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal. Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” – Joshua 4:20-24 (NKJV)
With slavery to sin and some major struggles behind us, we are free to enter the new life of faith. New battles await us. New victories need to be won. We need not, in fact we dare not, go back to Egypt or to wandering in the wilderness.
The Israelites arrived in the land only by God’s power. But it would take just as much faith in Him to stay there. In the same way, the Lord brings us by faith into a victorious Christian life of faith. We dare not return to fight the battles of the past.