Devotional—Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Matthew 28:1-10 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
I didn’t write any devotionals last week to help me spend more time with my family. I don’t know if any of you are like this, but just because I’m physically with someone doesn’t mean I’m really spending quality time with them. Which I’m sure is a lesson we can all take to heart—especially in this day of smart phones, computers, and ubiquitous TVs.
Today I want to look at the day of the resurrection to understand a little more about God’s purpose being worked out and how we acknowledge that. Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, which became the basis for Christian worship to happen on that day. We have New Testament evidence of this happening.
For instance, in Acts 20:7 Dr. Luke writes, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.” And in 1 Cor. 16:1-2 Paul instructs the church in Corinth, “Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.” In both instances, not only does scripture point out that the earliest Christians had met that one time on the first day of the week, it also seems to assume that this was a regular occurrence. Of course, you could argue that there isn’t a specific command in scripture to change the day of worship, but you would be arguing against a long history of Christian understanding of God’s purpose and how we recognize it.
In our practice of worshipping on Sunday we acknowledge that God’s great purpose in sending Jesus to be our Savior was accomplished. We recognize that God had planned redemption from the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-4, Rev. 13:7-8) and he brought it about through Jesus, his own Son. This very thing is anticipated in the Old Testament as much as the New Covenant is anticipated in the Old Covenant.
God had created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, making it holy and making it a sign for all generations. That was the first week of time itself. And then God made a covenant with Abraham. It was a covenant of partial fulfillment and promise (the already and not-yet). Abraham lived in the “already” experience of God’s blessing realized in his presence, his protection, and even blessing. He dwelt, albeit nomadically (it must be a word since spell-check didn’t ding it!), in the land God promised to him. It wasn’t yet fulfilled because nomadic living isn’t permanent, Abraham’s receiving of the Promised Land would wait for his descendants. In that little picture we see something of Abraham’s promises, and his experience of the already but not-yet.
God gave Abraham a sign of the covenant—circumcision. And it was to be administered on the eighth day of a baby boy’s life. This eighth in a liturgical sense, a ritual sense, marked the new week and pointed forward to the New Covenant and the new day of worship—the Lord’s Day! Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, and Esau along with countless others received this sign of God’s faithfulness and now on our weekly worship on Sunday we celebrate its further fulfillment. But we’re not there yet, right! Our “already” is greater than Isaac’s, but we’re still not quite there yet. We’re celebrating God’s faithfulness, not ours, and by doing so our hope is expressed and built because we can be absolutely sure that “he who has called us faithful, he will surely do it”—JESUS WILL COME AGAIN!
Our “already” is growing and becoming more glorious according to God’s plan and timing, day by day! And we get closer to seeing the fulness of the “not-yet” Jesus has in store for his people. Let us live to acknowledge God’s great purpose and in that way we glorify him for what he has done, and what he has promised to do too. Amen!