As they went to the tomb early in the morning, they found an empty tomb and an angel. Who asked them a question, “Why seek the living among the dead?” What did he mean?
That is not what they expected. Did they dare to believe? Did they dare to hope?
Do you believe? Have you lost hope? The significance of this day is that we can believe in Someone Who is not dead but alive. One Who loves us passionately. So much so that He died for each one of us. And He offers complete forgiveness.
Now that is something to celebrate on this glorious Resurrection morning!
They awakened on Saturday, hoping it had just been a nightmare. But no, the reality broke in cruelly as they tried to comprehend what happened the day before.
The horror of it all. The soldiers, beating, the bloodied body, the crowds calling for His death, the crucifixion, the mocking… Jesus was dead. His body lay in the borrowed grave. Now the fear…
They were numb. Full of questions. Where had it all gone wrong?
My heart goes out to Peter. He knew that Jesus knew Peter had denied Him. When the chips were down, he failed. His best friend. I can only imagine the depth of His regret and feelings of guilt. Peter wept. How could he ever live with himself?
On Saturday they were just trying to wrap their minds around what happened. And asking,”Now what?”.
They had no idea…
Finally we are getting some true Spring weather – things are going to be gorgeous for Easter – picture perfect.
This is Holy Week. We just celebrated Palm Sunday. Jesus riding on a donkey into Jerusalem with people shouting “Hosanna!”
I wonder if, as the week progressed into the mundane, did the people forget? Did they forget the excitement they felt? Did they forget that they thought Jesus would save them as they did on Sunday? Had it sunk in or was it forgotten? Did they have any clue how the week would end? Did they care?
I think we need to ask ourselves the same question. Do we really care about the significance of Easter? Or is it just another family holiday? An excuse to buy a new outfit and go out to lunch?
What do we focus on this week? Be honest…is it planning the food? Doing some gardening? Scheduling a photographer for cute pictures of the children with a bunny rabbit? Or is it just another week at work.
I suggest to you that the majority of us fall into the last category. It’s just another week. I will admit I have been concerned about the food as I was anticipating my youngest daughter and her family coming for the weekend. Now they are not coming after all. But I already put up a chocolate pound cake, 2 pans of lasagne, huge amount of mashed potatoes and 2 loaves of garlic bread. So I am ready for a crowd that isn’t coming!
That’s what I get for trying to be prepared!
But it made me think about how quickly I get busy and forget the reason for the season. I get the same way at Christmas.
I have it all backwards. I need to take a breath, slow down, get still and mediate on the Lord’s week. He knew how the week would end…He would be betrayed by a trusted friend; He would be arrested, denied by one of his closest buddies, tried in an illegal trial where the crowds shouted for him to be executed. The authorities acquiesced taking the coward’s way out. He was turned over and beaten, humiliated, tortured and crucified. Death. Burial. Visit to hell. Resurrection. He knew that was what lay ahead. And he “set His face for Jerusalem”. If it were me, I would head in the opposite direction. I suspect you would too.
He knew it was ahead of Him. He was human so He must have dreaded it. I think that is what the garden of Gethsemane was all about – His struggle over what was ahead. He didn’t just meekly go into it; He struggled – so much so He sweated blood. He was in anguish as He wrestled with what God was asking of Him. Think of what your struggle would be.
The difference between Jesus and most of us is, He obeyed. He surrendered His will to God’s. Totally. We should too.
I doubt I will ever get there…but I truly want to be better at it. Even when it hurts.
Jesus also knew that Easter was at the end of the week! He knew He was going to triumph over death and hell – for my sake and yours. The cruelty and humiliation He suffered was because He loved you and me so much He didn’t want us perish in our sins. He wanted us to live in His grace and mercy and love from now through eternity. We can enjoy it now – not wait ’til we die!
Let us remember our Hosannas everyday this week and beyond!
Dear friends, I am sorry to have stayed away so long.
I got back from India weary but so glad I went and thrilled to meet those there as well as the ministry that took place.
I was home about 13 days before my travel took off. Since February 11th I have traveled to Alabama, California, Louisiana, Missouri and South Carolina. Each place was very special.
Windsor was with me in Alabama – she is a delight to travel with. She speaks so well- with poise -and connects with people. I am delighted God is using her in this way.
Then I went to Fresno to speak for Youth for Christ. They do such a great work. My father was their first full-time employee – so it has roots in my family tree for sure. I had a couple of days “off” then to Angola Prison in Louisiana.
I had to drive over the mountain in the snow and ice to get to a hotel near the airport so they could drive me to the airport early in the morning. The flight from Charlotte to Baton Rouge was canceled so I had to go into New Orleans. Tex, bless him drove down from Angola to fetch me. We all arrived at the same time and the joy bubbled over! This was my 3rd time and it was great to recognize faces, see big smiles and receive big hugs from the men there. And a special joy to have some of the Ruth Graham & Friends back together again.
We had a great time – serious time – but we really are friends. We had a new fellow with us: Jonathan MacReynolds. Boy! Is he talented! Look him up on the Web. I still have his tunes in my head! Warden Cain was so good to us as were “Big Lou” and “Hop Sing”. Big Lou can cook!! I mean. Great food. I had to be careful – good Southern food: greens, biscuits, fried fish, jumbalaya, corn bread, ribs… And Hop Sing can bake! He made an Italian wedding cake to die for and his cookies are addictive. And his pies…oh my! It’s a good thing I don’t like sweets. But I sure like the things he bakes!
The ministry that took place was precious. We spoke at each chapel – each camp has a chapel (each camp has about 1,100 men). I spoke on forgiveness. Afterwards the Warden told the men what an important subject it was for them. They go before the parole board and show so little remorse that they are turned down. He encouraged them to really grasp the concept of forgiveness – asking for forgiveness…
We visited Death Row as well. As we walked the corridor we sang “Amazing Grace”. Many sang along. They remembered us from last time.
Burl Cain has created a wonderful atmosphere at the prison. Oh, I know there are ugly places there and I know these men have done heinous things. But God’s grace is transforming. Burl was a high school teacher and he brings that sort of structure to the prison. He tells the men he respects them – it is theirs to loose. It works!
The last night the men presented me with a glass bowl made of broken glass shards. At the same time they gave the Warden a handmade pen to honor his 20 years as Warden. In how many prisons do prisoners give a gift to their Warden? Amazing.
A few days later I went to Missouri then to Charleston to speak at Charleston Southern University. Great school. Loved the people I met. Now I am home for a month!
I am so blessed to work with wonderful people, go to interesting places and meet great folks working for the Kingdom. I wish I could tuck you in my suitcase for you to experience some of it.
Thank you for praying.
src=”https://ruthgraham.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/carey-puplit.jpg?w=224″ alt=”In William Carey’s pulpit.” width=”224″ height=”300″ class=”size-medium wp-image-1744″ /> In William Carey’s pulpit.
[/caption]src=”https://ruthgraham.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/gus-peters.jpg?w=224″ alt=”Pastor of Carey Baptist Church, Gus Peters.” width=”224″ height=”300″ class=”size-medium wp-image-1745″ /> Pastor of Carey Baptist Church, Gus Peters.[/caption]
Thank you for praying. It was a quick, hard, wonderful trip.
All our planes were on time, the luggage arrived, we stayed healthy…God was gracious.
India is really on the other side of the world – such along trip. Twenty hours by air – changing planes in Doha, Qatar. No plane is comfortable or pleasant for that much time. But at least I didn’t have to walk or swim!
Krista and I arrived in Calcutta at about 2:30 AM. The person we thought was to meet us was not there. We waited for an hour outside the airport but finally decided we were very tired and needed to find a place to sleep. All the while men were coming up volunteering to take us to a hotel. There was one gentleman that stayed by us the whole time – like a guardian. We asked if there was a Marriott or Hilton. He said “no” but he knew a hotel nearby. I was not scared but I was concerned.
We got in his cab and drove off. The first hotel was not acceptable. I soon realized that my standard of acceptable was very different form Calcutta’s standard! I told him to take us into the city thinking surely there would be some business hotel…
He took off into the night.
I knew Calcutta was a unique city in the world but I was not prepared for the pollution, traffic, crowd, noise…the poverty is on a different level.
We got to a hotel that wasn’t much better than the first but we were too tired to argue. It was now about 4:30 AM. We got two rooms, were able to get Internet so we could notify folks where we were and went to sleep. (Every room has a fine layer of dust. The bed linens are dingy gray as is the one towel.)
We slept until about 10:30. The pastor of the Carey Baptist Church, Gus Peters, called to pick us up for lunch. (Coming out of the restaurant we saw a large dead rat – glad I saw him after lunch!) We had a great time with him. He took us to tour the city – saw Victoria’s memorial and other sites – went to the Ganges river and watched a man prepare to deposit a family member’s ashes then go through the Hindu ritual of “burial”. Others were lined up to do the same. The river is wide but so polluted. Hindu shrines seem to be on each corner. Incense and flowers…
The roads and traffic are hard to describe. They are like nothing I have ever experienced (with maybe the exception of Tokyo and Cairo back in the 60s). In Calcutta there seem to be no traffic rules – the one who gets his nose in first, has the right of way! The roads are JAMMED with taxis, busses, trucks, mopeds, pedicabs, rickshaws, some private cars (even saw a Land Rover and a Porsche dealership!!), people, animals…The sidewalks are taken with small stalls to sell any number of items so people are forced into the road. Potholes and broken roads abound. It is jarring, to say the least. Horns beep and blast all the time….
From there we went to the church and the Calcutta Bible College. What a contrast! We attended the Tuesday night Bible study there and then had dinner with the pastor and his family in their home. Such a privilege.
At that point we were about to fall into our plates. Gus took us back to our hotel to get some rest. That was our first day!
The next day we were to meet up with our friend, Kishor Pandagade, from the Sates who had missed his plane out of Jerusalem. We met him at the airport at the last minute and flew to the Assam region (the tea growing capital) and drove 3 hours up to Udalguri – close to the Bhutan border where we were guests of the Boro Baptist Convention.
More to come…plus pictures.
It’s hard to believe Christmas was just a little over 4 weeks ago!
I am writing this to ask you to pray for me as I head to India on February 1st. It will be a full trip with many opportunities to minister to those who are hurting and discouraged. I will be in the Assam region – near the Bhutan border – speaking to thousands of people. I have never been to this part of the world and I am looking forward to the experience. I arrive back in DC on February 11th – so it is a quick trip – hardly have time to adjust to the time change.
Please pray for the messages I will bring to these dear people. My message of grace does not change but I want the messages, illustrations, to be understandable and appropriate. I do not want cultural differences to be a hindrance. I do have an Indian friend who has gone over them for me.
I ask you to pray for all the travel arrangements to go smoothly, baggage to arrive, health, stamina… Pray for the translators to be accurate – and even improve my message! Mostly pray, Jesus will be lifted up and glorified as the one True God and Savior of us all. I want all we do and say to be a blessing.
My wonderful assistant, Krista, is accompanying me. She is very diplomatic and gracious – as well as lots of fun.
I am not sure I’ll have Internet while there…but when I do I will report to you! Thank you for praying.