In Jesus’ Words: “Good Morning!” (Matthew 28:1-10)

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his robe was as white as snow. “Don’t be afraid,” the angel told Mary, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here! For He has been resurrected, just as He said.”

Just then Jesus met the women and said, “Good morning! Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see Me there.”

Good Morning! Do not be afraid.

These are two of the best phrases we can remember from Jesus.  He will joyfully greet us in the morning at the beginning of our day, and He starts by telling us “Do not be afraid.”  Even the angel of the Lord began his greeting in the same way, from the announcement of Jesus’ birth to the announcement of His resurrection, “Don’t be afraid!”  This phrase is mentioned 365 times throughout the Bible, once for each day of the year.  It goes well with Jesus’ greeting of Good Morning!  Jesus knows our fears, He knows what we face in this world, and He knows what is to come.  So if we are to believe what Jesus says, then these are greetings we should really take to heart every day.  Jesus’ words of comfort are not just some empty, nice-sounding cliché telling us to “try harder” or “be more positive”.  No, Jesus simply greets us with what we need to hear most in this world, “Do not be afraid.”

When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of our life, He promises to be with us from morning till night, in the dark and light, the good and the bad, fighting our spiritual battles for us, and we are mercifully forgiven. What else do have we to fear?

So remember this every morning, and wake up with these two phrases in mind.  They are the first words Jesus spoke after His resurrection and victory over death.

“Good Morning!  Do not be afraid.” – Jesus

In Jesus’ Words: A place called Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46)

Have you ever had your life change in an instant?  One minute you’re having a nice dinner, making plans and talking about the future, and the next.. it all changes, and quickly.  It’s that moment of epiphany when we suddenly realize we’re not in control of everything after all.  Sometimes it leads to confusion, and you’re tired, and you just can’t believe what is happening, but it is.  There is an event recorded in all four gospels that is like this.

Gethsemane was a garden in the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem.  It was known for its olive trees and there are still many olive trees there today.  It is also where Jesus often went to pray, but on this one particular night Jesus was visibly upset.  His disciples didn’t know what to think when they saw him overcome with grief and emotion.  Usually Jesus is comforting them, and now Jesus is asking them to pray.  Did they know this would be the last night they would spend with Jesus before he was crucified?  They had just finished a nice meal in the Upper Room.

Jesus’ extreme emotion in the Garden was not one of weakness, but of humanity and humility.  The result of his coming into this world thirty-three years earlier has now culminated.  He would be leaving his disciples alone, knowing what they would face in the coming days and years.  Jesus knew what he was about to face as well.  It was not just a physical pain and death, but the weight of the world’s sin bearing down on Him.

Yet, after a time of intense prayer and agony in the Garden, Jesus seems to emerge even stronger and in a take-charge way.  He tells his disciples, “Are you still sleeping?  Get up, let’s go!”

Even in our deepest agonizing times, Jesus tells us the same.  He went through it, and He is also saying to us, “Get up, let’s go!”

~ Prayer in the Garden  Matthew 26:36-46 ~

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow —to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.” Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with Me one hour? Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open.

After leaving them, He went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 

Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the time is near. The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up; let’s go! See, My betrayer is near.”

In Jesus’ Words: The Rock and the Denier (Matthew 26: 31-35)

I would bet that each of us have been like Peter at least once in our lives.  Before Peter became the Rock, which was the name Jesus promised him earlier, he was the Denier.  It was probably the lowest point in Peter’s life.  He was in agony over what he had done.  He denied his friend and Lord when Jesus needed him most.  In his mind, he had failed.  Thankfully for all of us, Peter didn’t stay that way.  And neither should we.

As I read this story where Jesus predicts that Peter will deny Him, a few thoughts crossed my mind.

Jesus never stopped loving Peter even as He told Peter what he was about to do, even in His greatest hour of need.  How many times have we failed someone when they needed us?  Jesus understands our human nature and He still loves us.  He can still use us.

Interestingly, after Jesus tells the disciples that they will fall away, He tells them, “after he is resurrected, He will meet them in Galilee.”  Did they not catch that part?  Jesus is telling them He will be resurrected and plans to see them again, but they’re so obsessed over telling Jesus they will never run away from Him that they don’t see the future.  How often are we preoccupied over something we did and miss Jesus’ most important words – words of hope and the future?

Jesus knows knows we all fail from time-to-time.  That is why Jesus came.  We need a Savior – someone who can help us when we can’t help ourselves.  Jesus came to save (future), not condemn (past).  Stop looking back, stop focusing on what went wrong, and look at what Jesus is saying.  He wants to lead you forward, not backward.

~ Peter’s Denial Predicted  Matthew 26:31-35  ~

Then Jesus said to them, “Tonight all of you will run away because of Me, for it is written:

I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.

But after I have been resurrected, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”

Peter told Him, “Even if everyone runs away because of You, I will never run away!”

“I assure you,” Jesus said to him, “tonight, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times!”

“Even if I have to die with You,” Peter told Him, “I will never deny You!” And all the disciples said the same thing.

In Jesus’ Words: The woman’s story told around the world (Matthew 26:6-13)

 

We worry and we complain.  We get upset when we are inconvenienced.  I know how easy it is to get caught up in it, and before we know it, the moment in time has passed us by.  But one day, if we are so lucky to live long enough, we will probably see things differently.  The petty arguments, the spilled milk, even the bad grade or that terrible boss, no longer seem to matter.  They are long gone.  It is in the laughter, the beauty, the living in the present, where we begin to cherish what life is really about.  This next story about Jesus is just that.  It is one of the few stories that is mentioned in all four gospels of the Bible, except for the accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection.  One reason for the significance of this story is told in Jesus’ own words: “I assure you: Wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her.”

I believe what captures the essence of this story is the pure joy of the moment, epitomizing the true meaning of life, the ultimate show of repentance, and resting in the peaceful presence and forgiveness of Jesus.  Jesus came to restore humanity and to be a light and a path out of the darkness of this world.  This woman knew that.

~ Matthew 26:6-13  Anointing at Bethany ~

While Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had a serious skin disease, a woman approached Him with an alabaster jar of very expensive fragrant oil. She poured it on His head as He was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw it, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This might have been sold for a great deal and given to the poor.”

But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a noble thing for Me. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me. By pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she has prepared Me for burial. I assure you: Wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her.”

In Jesus’ Words: Tale of two sons (Matthew 21:28-32)

good_bad

Which one of these is right?  A person who is disagreeable and untrustworthy but eventually does the right thing, or someone who is polite and respectable but does not do what they say?

This is the question Jesus presented to the religious Pharisees in his parable of the two sons.  But once again the religious leaders were unable to trick Jesus or fully answer his questions, and it infuriated them.

~ Matthew 21:28-32  Parable of Two Sons ~

“But what do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘My son, go, work in the vineyard today.’

 “He answered, ‘I don’t want to!’ Yet later he changed his mind and went.  Then the man went to the other and said the same thing.

“‘I will, sir,’ he answered. But he didn’t go.

 “Which of the two did his father’s will?”

“The first,” they said.

Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you!  For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him. Tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him, but you, when you saw it, didn’t even change your minds then and believe him.”

In this story, both sons had the same father (God).  The first son represented the despised sinners of the day – prostitutes, adulterers and thieves.  Many of these people were attracted to Jesus.  He offered them hope and redemption, and they repented.  The second son represented the religious leaders of the day.  They loved their world and power more than their faith or finding the truth.  They spoke well, but did not back up their words with actions.

This is a recurring theme with Jesus, where he says sinners will enter the kingdom of heaven before the religious hypocrites.  Imagine… a heaven full of repentful sinners.  And for all those Pharisees and others who worked so hard for their status, where did it get them in the end?

The prophet Haggai also spoke of a similar situation to the Jewish people in 520 BC.

The Lord of Hosts says, “Consider your ways!”
You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.
Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!”
– from the book of Haggai, chapter 1

How often do we find ourselves in this situation today?  We are keeping up appearances and working hard, but it is toward the wrong things and it gets us nowhere.  Jesus is urging us instead to do God’s will, which is simply seeking the heart of God and His truth.  It’s as simple as that.  It is not being showy or working extra hard.  It is putting others first over our own selfish motives.  It is desiring the truth and being sincere in our heart.  These are things each of us can do every day, and in the end, we will be better off for it.