Donald Karnes - "Resurrection" - 2011

One of my companions in Morocco spoke of seeing some bird-shells and a nest under a tree.  He felt so sad, thinking some bird of prey had destroyed the nest.  Then, looking up, he saw 6 little birds sitting in a row on a branch of that same tree.  A feeling of delight came over him:  The nest had not been destroyed.  These little birds had come out of those shells:  like bodies in the grave and spirits gone above given a body, like the resurrection morn, when the spirits of the just will be given a new body, like unto His glorious body.  The resurrection....at home in our garden, we would take a pointed stick and make holes in the soil to plant seeds, like little graves. Later, little plants came forth like a resurrection.  We also saw little caterpillars spinning cocoons, like making their own coffins.  They were all winter long closed in these tiny caskets, but in springtime, beautiful winged-creatures, “butterflies” came out of those cocoons.

What a marvel, like a resurrection.  Without a resurrection there would not have been a N.T. church:  many had seen the risen Lord.  It was a conviction based on actual experience, nothing added.  The disciples saw and believed.  It was not a legend that was skillfully added afterwards.  No mental hallucination of seeing visions as actual manifestations of resurrection.  They forsook Jesus and fled only to followed Him to the trial in Pilate’s judgment hall.  Peter denied Him, using an oath to off-set his Galiliean dialect, to prove that He never knew Him.  As He suffered on the cross, only John and a few women were nearby.  Calvary was a lost world to them.  Their heaven had fallen.  In their darkness and doubt, they sulked hopelessly away.  Yet these are the very men, who a few days later, are found facing the authorities, suffering imprisonments in the same city:  explain that?

It was the resurrection that had changed these disciples.  Mark their bearing, their zeal.  There is no doubt that everything is clear before them now:  a work to do!  A world to conquer for the Lord of life.  Explain that about-face?  Not hallucinations.  Not a feverish expectancy after His crucifixion.  We read, “The first day of the week, women set out to go to the sepulcher to embalm the body of Jesus, not to meet a risen Christ.  As Jesus first appeared, they doubted.  They had heard from Mary and the others that Jesus was alive.  They believed not!”    Luke writes, "The message of the women seemed to the disciples as ‘idle tales.’"  It wasn’t imagination.  Jesus first appeared to Mary in the garden, not because she believed He was alive.  She mistook him for the gardener.  “If you have taken the body away, I’ll go and fetch it.”  Only when she turned the 2nd time and Jesus called her by name, did she then recognize his voice.  He refused the desires and impulse of her mind, as she fell to worship Him. He who offered his hands and his side to Thomas commands her, “Touch me not.”  They were not creatures of enthusiasm.  Jesus brought discipline to bear upon their new born zeal, imposing patience, telling them to wait for the promise of My Father and be endued with power from on high, power of the Holy Ghost.  After excitement and visions cease, comes a listlessness and apathy, the inevitable reaction.  If anyone thinks that was the case here, they have not read  the book of Acts.  Jesus didn’t talk about the resurrection.  He shewed himself alive, after his passion by many infallible proofs:

Not words, but life, being seen of them 40 days and nights.  All this speaks of reality.  They were (chewing at the bit) to go and preach this message of the resurrected Christ.  He told them to wait, to stay right there in Jerusalem , where he was so shamefully treated and crucified.  He told them to wait and “start” right there.  Little did they know that the Lord was gathering 5,000 souls in that city, from every known nation of that time, honest souls that would receive this glorious gospel, converted by the work and wonder of the word of life.  A resurrected Savior, with the power of the Holy Ghost.  God would use them as instruments, the first fruits of the harvest of His life and offering.  Just think what Judas missed, by selling out, instead of abiding faithfully to the end.  We see a new and transformed Peter.  In those waiting days, Peter felt it, suffered from the fact.  They were only 11 apostles now, as Judas was no longer among them.  He found scriptures to answer the thorny question.  What had happened to Judas?  He was also a disciple, chosen by Jesus to be an apostle,  his bishoprick was given to another.  Jesus didn’t choose another to fill his place.  He left that to his disciples.  Peter arose to the occasion, fulfilled the scriptures, chose with God’s approval.  One to stand in the vacancy that Judas left, who was numbered with them.  There are many powers and influences in this world which are not the power of the Holy Ghost.  With the apostles, it was more than enthusiasm or human impulses, rather “compelled by love.”  The Chief priests and elders of the Jews thought they had finished with Jesus when they condemned Him to death and saw Him die on that cruel cross.  They did not reckon with a resurrection, “Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should beholden of it.”  Only a few weeks later, the apostles were called before these same priests and elders of the Jews who had condemned Jesus to death on the cross.  Why?  Because of the resurrected Christ.  They were asked, “By what power or by what name, have ye done this?"  Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, answered, “Be it known unto ye all....that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole.”  Not only the 12, but also Paul and the others preached the resurrection of the just and the  unjust.  All must give an account of how they lived, will be responsible for their acts and deeds of this life.  Death is not the end.  Just behind death’s door are two places: One Paradise, where the righteous are resting from their works, waiting for the 1st resurrection.  Lazarus is there, carried by the angels!  The rich man is in the other place so separated, that there is no possibility to cross one place to the other.  That is settled in this life, by what you do with Jesus.  Don’t miss it.  Live that we might be worthy of it.