John 20:1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.2 So she came running to Simon, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
We know Lent is leading us, first to the Tomb, then to the Cross and finally to examine our heart.It seems like the empty tomb has come too soon in my readings.I’m still in preparation mode. “The stone” is the thing that has repeatedly caught my attention. In all four Gospel versions the story is about the empty and open tomb with specific mention of the stone and how it was moved.
My Cliff Notes:
– God chose “stone” to write His most important Words on
– Living stones
– Stone: a hard substance that comes from the ground, used for building of carving, used for a particular purpose.
It’s not too big a stretch of faith to associate these two verses and the mystery of that heavy “stone” having been moved.God’s firstchoice of material to write the 10 most important things He wanted His people to know was stone.Jesus is described as the Cornerstone,a and you are described as living stones.That’s in the Bible too. The wonder of the stone being moved is that once again God used a “Stone” to reveal exactly what He wanted His people to know. We know, thanks be to God, that it was His Breath of Life that moved Jesus from the tomb to His place in us. “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. ” [ESV]
Have you ever wondered about “unity of mind?” Today that’s foremost on my mind. There are issues of faith, culture and politics that can, and do, divide us. Unity is defined as likeness but is unity the same as likeness? Each of us exist in the flesh at the will of the same Creator but every person is a unique creation. That uniqueness is evident in our own bodies. Every cell within each person is unlike any other but they they still unite and manage to form one unique body. Each person is formed with their own body, DNA, mind and personality. Each of us is one-of-a-kind, unlike any other.
We have been purposefully created in God’s own image, by His own design, to be mismatched from one another in our own physical body and mind. God has created His unique body, the Church, from mismatched minds and bodies learning to depend on His likeness and be united by His mind as they struggle to find the balance between personal uniqueness and Spiritual “unity of mind.”
1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. NIV
Be alert and watchful, of sober mind and spirit.The devil is not an adversary content with luring you into sin but one who is intent on your complete destruction.All my children are united in this struggle at this time of suffering…but I am the God of all grace who has called you beyond death to eternal glory with me.I’ve given you faith to make you strong beyond your own ability to stand firm and resist. I myself will support and strengthen you and make it happen. Stay in toucha.
We have plenty of evidence of moral and physical decay around us now.That seems very contemporary but actually it began much further back.God has spent generations patiently waiting for His creation to understand “the end of all things is at hand” began as the natural consequence sin set in motion way back in that First Garden.The blame game began there with the corruption of everything perfect God created.It’s too late now for questioning “why didn’t God…?”God did!Jesus is our beginning that overcomes “the end of all things” and validates our life and prayers through His Spirit in us. BC[before Christ] you were already “dead.”
I Peter 4:6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. 7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
I Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered [died] once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which [the Spirit, in whom] he went and proclaimed [preached] to the spirits in prison, 20 because [when] they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. ESV
Truthfully, I sometimes ignore footnotes when I read Scripture but this short passage of two verses with four [footnotes] caught my attention.The footnotes have emphasized the intensity of their meaning and my curiousity.
We know “Christ [died]! We know Christ died as “the righteous for the unrighteous” We know Christ died for a purpose, “that he might bring us to God” We know Christ was “made alive in the spirit” We know THAT is [the Spirit, in whom] Christ [preached] to the spirits in prison, [when] they formerly did not obey
Now here’s where it gets interesting to think about. Whose “spirits”? What “prison”?Who me?
I knowJohn 6:44 No one is able to come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me attracts and draws him and gives him the desire to come to Me, and [then] I will raise him up [from the dead] at the last day.[AMPC] I knowJohn 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. ESV I knowJohn 16:8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: ESV I knowRomans 8:9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. [NASB]
That Spirit of Christ spoke conviction and truth to my spirit when I was imprisoned by self imposed ignorance, sufficiency and disobedience.
Yes, thank God it was me. Was it you too?
1 Peter 3:8-10 ESV, NIV, AMPC • 8 Finally, all of you… ESV-have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
NIV-be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
AMPC-should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble). • 9 Do not… ESV-repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. NIV-repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
AMPC-return evil for evil or insult for insult (scolding, tongue-lashing, berating), but on the contrary blessing [praying for their welfare, happiness, and
protection, and truly pitying and loving them]. For know that to this you have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing [from God—that you may obtain a blessing as heirs, bringing welfare and happiness and protection]. • 10 For…
ESV-“Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;
NIV-“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.
AMPC-him who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not] keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from guile (treachery, deceit).
I read through these three versions of I Peter 3:8-10.Then I starting looking for similar words, phrases and ideas in each version with the assumption that the repetition agreed upon by so many different translators at different times gives them meaningful emphasis. Finally all of you…Agree to focus your minds as one heavenly household on sympathy, compassion, love, and recognizing one another with tender hearts. Do not…miss your inheritance of blessing because of misinterpreting revenge and rebuttal as your right to justice For…only you can restrain your tongue and lips from convincing deceit that can keep yourself, and others, from being able to love, and enjoy life and see good days.
I Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. [ESV]
I’ve Been Healed – by Shirle Bedient circa late 1980s
It’s lonely Lord, with people all around when no one knows what’s really deep inside.Give me the courage not to hide my hollow life from you for by your wounds my lonely heart is healed. I’ve been healed, I’ve been healed, praise the Lord for by His wounds I have been healed.
The guilt I bear is heavy on my heart.I want to hide my sin and shame from you.Lord, I’m not worthy but forgive me, show me once again that by your wounds my sins have all been healed. I’ve been healed, I’ve been healed, praise the Lord for by His wounds I have been healed.
My spirit Lord is sometimes very low, for I forget just where my strength comes from.Remind my heart to sing your praises all of my days, for by your wounds my spirit has been healed. I’ve been healed, I’ve been healed, praise the Lord for by His wounds I have been healed.
Earlier this Spring a little-known Gospel trio, The Followers, had their 40-ish reminiscence reunion and we recorded this song, from the “old” days. I hope you ‘ll listen to the audio file all the way to the end because it’s the very end that inspired the object lesson of this post. Many years have passed since I wrote this song but the lyrics still reflect truth; hiding, guilt and anxiety are realities of everyday life but “praise the Lord, for by His wounds” we can be healed. Jesus has given us access to an optional ending.“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” [and this is key] to guarantee every day our life could be “returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your soul…that we might die to sin…” That is the daily process the Lord has provided to teach us how to”live to righteousness.” That’s the reality that makes healing and laughter the “optional” ending to a life of hiding, guilt and anxiety.
I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. [ESV]
I learned the meaning of the Greek word “eleos,” translated “mercy” in reading my commentary resources for this post.Eleos also means pity and compassion so the Scripture could be read “but now you are God’s people; once you had not received pity and compassion but now you have received pity and compassion.”
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles:” remember why you’ve been chosen! You’ve been chosen to be a visible and undeniable display of God’s eleos, virtue and perfection.The powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God of the universe looked at your separation from Himself and rather than exercise His power to punish you, chose to trust the power of His pity and compassion to change you. You are chosen to be witnesses of that change: “Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles, so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may BY witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock].” AMPC v12.
I Peter 2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.ESV
At one point in time I took daily devotional walks and would pick up a stone [mostly unremarkable] everyday to put in a jar at home as a reminder to me of the purpose of the walk.I’ve collected stones for many years now and they have become a visible part of my living room decor.Most are just plain stones I’ve either found or been given but there are some I’ve purchased because they’re polished and show the beauty of what is underneath their natural exterior.Both have meaning to me.And therein lies the reality that makes this Word live for me.
A stone is not like a book that’s known by it’s cover.The significance of a “living stone” is this: “in the sight of God,” He saw the beauty beneath your natural exterior and gathered you up from the rubble pile of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and all slander, to be a “living stone” in His “spiritual house.” You were purchased and polished by Him and His Word to be a very visible part of “a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” …in plain sight.
I Peter 1:17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you… 21awho through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. [ [I Peter 1:17-21 ESV]
“Call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile…”My vague understanding of “exile” and it’s connection to fear has become more real as the days of coronavirus have turned into weeks and now months.Days have been filled with images and circumstances that must not be wasted.These days of isolation have not been meant as punishment but as protection to provide physical distance from the reality of death our eyes and ears have experienced.Distance doesn’t help much with emotional relief.Emotional relief requires more than man alone can accomplish.
“19 But he [God] paid for [ransomed] you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him for this purpose [emotional relief] long before the world began, but only recently was he brought into public view, in these last days, as a blessing to you.21aBecause of this, your trust can be in God who raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. Now your faith and hope can rest in him alone.” [I Peter 1:19-21 TLB]