Friday, April 28, 2017

Wandering Immortals

There are several myths and legends that center around Christ's passion week. They imagine that a person who mistreated Jesus in some way (the Roman soldier who pierced Christ's side, a supposed Jewish merchant who struck Him on His way to the cross, etc...) are cursed with physical immortality. Some point to this passage as justification.

"From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, 'Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.' But he turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.' Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.' " - Matthew 16:21-28 ESV

'...Some will not taste death...'

However, This concept doesn't line up with God's character and a careful reading of the scripture reveals that Christ came into His kingdom at the ascension. It isn't a scripturally supported idea. But we do see a temporary immortality that the disciples enjoyed during Jesus' 3 1/2 years of ministry.

"And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled." - John 17:11-12 ESV

"So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, 'Whom do you seek?' They answered him, 'Jesus of Nazareth.' Jesus said to them, 'I am he.' Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, 'I am he,' they drew back and fell to the ground. So he asked them again, 'Whom do you seek?' And they said, 'Jesus of Nazareth.' Jesus answered, 'I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.' This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: 'Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.' " - John 18:3-9 ESV

The only disciple recorded to have died was Lazarus and Jesus came and raised him up. But if we follow this line of thinking other passages begin to stand out. Here is part of Martha's (Lazarus' sister) conversation with Christ.

"So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.' Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' Martha said to him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.' Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?' She said to him, 'Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.' " - John 11:20-27 ESV

There was this sense of invincibility around Jesus. Jesus was keeping people safe.

There is no record, other than the Lazarus account, of any disciples dying or even or getting hurt during Jesus' ministry. That is amazing.

Jesus was going to lead the way into death but what He tells Martha has great meaning to us doesn't it. People aren't just safe in close proximity to Him. He IS the resurrection and the life. He plunged into death but came out again on the other side alive forever more.

If you believe in Jesus you will have eternal life. There is no fear of death because you can't die until God allows it to happen.

All believers are 'wandering immortals'. We aren't cursed with it. We are blessed with it. Our life has no beginning (because Christ has no beginning) and no end (because our destiny is forever intertwined with the everliving One). If death has no power over us fear also has no power.

Let's be bold. Why be timid if this is our heritage. They called James and John 'sons of thunder' (see Mark 3:17) because of their lives of wild abandon James was the first Apostle to die and John was the last. We have the freedom to live that way also. Let's plan like we have a long future but live like we have eternal life.

"Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."" - Luke 10:20 ESV


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