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Devotional: April 18, 2022

They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?” Then they remembered Jesus’ words.

Luke 24: 4-8 The Message

The women who came to the tomb were puzzled. They wondered what was going on. Where was Jesus’ body? Why wasn’t He in the tomb? And who had pushed away that enormous rock?

Suddenly, there were two men, presumably angels, who responded to the women. They had not been there when the women approached the tomb, so the women were most likely startled. Then they proceed to ask a question:

“Why are you looking for the living among the dead?

Most likely their first reaction was, “Well, we ARE in a cemetery.” However, the explanation given by the angels most likely awakened the women out of their state of grief. The explanation was amazing: Jesus had been raised from the dead. Raised from death to life!

To drive home their point, and connect it to Jesus’ ministry, the two angels ask a follow up question:

Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?”

Suddenly, the women remembered. The memory flooded back suddenly, like a lightning bolt. They remembered what Jesus had said. When they did so, they understood, and believed.

The power of memory to inform us, to enlighten us, and to engage us, can disarm us, catching us off-guard.

The current President of Princeton Theological Seminary, Dr. Craig Barnes, grew up in a Christian household. His father was what he called a fundamentalist preacher. He drilled Craig and his brother to memorize many scripture verses. His mom was their first Sunday school teacher. Eventually his parent’s marriage disintegrated after years of abuse, leaving Craig and his brother on their own. At one point, they were driving a marginal car to visit their mother, who now lived hundreds of miles away. The car broke down. Worse, it was during a terrible snow storm, with the temperatures dropping. Like the women at Jesus’s tomb, they too felt abandoned.

To pass the time, and take their mind off their dire situation, the two brothers began to share scripture verses they had learned. It was just a friendly competition to take their mind of the cold. As young boys, they had not always enjoyed such lessons. Suddenly, as they voiced some of those verses, Craig no longer felt abandoned. Perhaps he remembered the verse where Jesus says, “I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” Or a line from Psalm 23: “Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me.”

Q-What memory from scripture, church, or a Christian camp is especially meaningful for you?

This is an important question. Why? sometimes, we only understand the present, and are given courage and direction for the future, by remembering what God has revealed to us in the past…

Prayer

God of all hope,

As I strive to make sense of the miraculous, life-changing story of Jesus’ resurrection, activate my Christian memory. Help me to remember times in my life when You were present, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. Forgive me when I ignore You knocking at the door of my heart. Allow me to remember, reflecting upon the stories You have been teaching me throughout my life. Continue to teach me new insights about Your love, Your grace, and Your forgiveness. Instruct me always in the ways which lead to life. I pray this prayer in the name of Your son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.


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