Monday, April 17, 2017

"Joy in the Morning"

In one of his lighter moments, Benjamin Franklin penned his own epitaph. He didn't profess to be a born-again Christian, but it seems he must have been influenced by Paul's teaching of the resurrection of the body. Here's what he wrote: The Body of B. Franklin, Printer Like the Cover of an old Book Its contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Guilding, Lies here, Food for Worms, But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believ'd, Appear once more In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and amended by the Author. 

What Benjamin Franklin knew from Paul’s teaching, King David knew from the Spirit of God who spoke to his soul.  Though death may be powerful, it will not win in the end. Death is defeated by life everlasting.  This is the promise of Easter!  This week, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, let’s take a look at the words of David, who predicted the victory that we know as the empty tomb.  In Psalm 30, David writes in words that you might imagine came from Jesus Himself, post-resurrection.  In verses 1-3, he says:

I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up,And have not let my enemies rejoice over me.O Lord my God,I cried to You for help, and You healed me.O Lord, You have brought up my soul from [the netherworldl;You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit. 

In terms of his own life, David is speaking in metaphor, but Jesus is the fulfilment of these prophetic words.  This healing after death, this rescue from the grave—this is the blessing of resurrection.  And God promises this to each of us who place our trust in Jesus.  Colossians 1:18 calls Jesus the “firstborn from the dead,” offering the hope that believers may also share in this resurrection.  1 Corinthians 15 describes our perishable bodies, rising as imperishable from the grave.  1 Thessalonians 4 talks about the dead in Christ rising from their graves at the return of Christ.  

The resurrection is some of the greatest news that can ever be told.  But for David, the good news was not just something at a distant time.  He knew he could live the victory of the resurrection today.  In Psalm 30:4-5, 10-12, David exults:

Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones,
And give thanks to His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for a lifetime;
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning…
“Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me;
O Lord, be my helper.”
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,
 That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

You may be going through a time of weeping—much like the disciples experienced after Jesus’ crucifixion and burial.  You can take heart, knowing that weeping is temporary but joy is on the way. The things that are burdening you will one day be lifted.  Defeat will be defeated and the grave will be gone.  This is the promise of resurrection—this is the power of Christ!  Let’s live in that promise and power, as in the words of the poem by Annie Johnson Flint:

Some of us stay at the cross,
some of us wait at the tomb,
Quickened and raised with Christ
yet lingering still in the gloom.
Some of us 'bide at the Passover feast
with Pentecost all unknown,
The triumphs of grace in the heavenly place
that our Lord has made His own.
If the Christ who died had stopped at the cross,
His work had been incomplete.
If the Christ who was buried had stayed in the tomb,
He had only known defeat,
But the way of the cross never stops at the cross
and the way of the tomb leads on
To victorious grace in the heavenly place
where the risen Lord has gone.

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