Monday, 13 April 2009

The things that make God smile

Yes, I know there is an old joke along these lines which says if you want to make God smile tell him your plans, but what really makes God smile?

Piecing together the resurrection appearances is not easy but it seems that Mary was the first to witness his life after death and that the angel's messages sent a small group of women scampering back to find the apostles. Their journey was interrupted by a meeting with the risen Christ; And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” Matt 28:9 NKJV. I have a theory that you can't really tell someone to rejoice without smiling.

The lives of these early disciples had been turned upside down. Their hopes and aspirations lay in ruins, and now, to top it all, someone had stolen the body... or so it had appeared. The angel told them that Christ was risen but we can imagine the mixture of their excitement and fear as they ran to tell the others. How simply the gospel tells this story... Jesus met them, saying "Rejoice". No doubt they were shaken at the meeting, wondering what it could all mean. He smiled... I am sure he smiled... a smile of reassurance and a single word of greeting; "Rejoice".

"Rejoice", why? Because he had survived death? Certainly, but much more. He had not merely survived, he had triumphed over death. He had turned the tables on death and 'by death, had rendered powerless him who had the power of death, that is the devil'. His appearance, alive and well, was the sure proof that his sacrifice had been accepted and that death could not hold him. He had died under the weight of a world's sin but the sin could not hold him either.

That poignant psalm, Psalm 22, focuses on the sin-bearing and the forsakenness for the first half but then abruptly changes the mood; ...You have answered Me. I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. Psa 22:21-22 NKJV From then on the psalm is a rapture of victory and hope. ending with the words...'he has done it!' "It is finished". The sin-bearing was over and would never need to be repeated. Every impediment to God's perfect will for the human race had been dealt with. A new day had dawned and God was smiling.

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