image Creator: Hubert van Eyck

How Then Shall We Live?

Part 5

For a host of reasons, during the Holidays, I took a break from posting anything on Facebook or on this blog. Previously I had been looking at the only two Epistles that were written by the Apostle Peter. He was a wanted man and wrote from Rome where he was witnessing the handiwork of Nero, as the evil emperor slaughtered Christians. Nero himself had burned Rome yet found in the fledgling church a convenient scapegoat.

Peter knew that his readers in Asia Minor would soon be experiencing the horrific persecutions that were taking place in Rome. Peter wrote to encourage them, and to give them the all-important eternal perspective they needed to make sense out of what was happening in their world.

In previous posts I talked about how Peter spoke candidly about the fact that the believers were going to go through various sufferings and experience profound grief. Immediately on the heels of this prediction he then reminded them about the depth of God’s love and the surety and security of a salvation ‘ready to be revealed in the last time.’

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing to when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you when they spoke of the things that have now been told to you by those who have preached the gospel to you, by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.” I Peter 1:10-12 NIV

A few phrases popped out as I read these verses…’searching intently’…’time and circumstances’ and ‘angels longing to look into these things.’

I remembered something about Peter’s recent history.

“Early on the first day of the week while it was still dark Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw the stone had been removed from the entrance, so she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put Him.’

(Remember—the last time Simon Peter saw Jesus was in the courtyard of the High Priest when Peter denied even knowing Jesus.)

So, Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter who was behind him arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself separate from the linen Finally, the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went inside. He saw and believed. John 20:1-8 NIV

I remember preaching on this passage numerous times over the years and I always pointed out the fact that there are three different Greek words used to describe Peter and John ‘looking in’ the tomb.

When John bent over and ‘looked in’ the word in Greek is BLEPPO. It simply refers to the fact that he physically ‘saw’ something. When Peter ‘saw the linen wrappings’ as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head…the Greek word used is THEOREO (we get our word theorize from it.)

The last time, when John went in and ‘beheld the linen wrappings’, he ‘saw’ and believed, there is yet another Greek word EIDON. which conveys the meaning of ‘understanding’ the significance of what he was seeing.

The Jews had rituals and customs regarding the preparation of bodies for burial. The women would wash the body and bring pounds of spices and linen strips to wrap the corpse…not unlike our practice of embalming. They would wash the body, then take some of the spices and wrap linen strips around each extremity then apply more spices, then more wrappings around each arm each leg and then the entire body. The last step would be to cover the face with burial cloths

When I attended seminary in the mid-late 70’s there was a book circulating titled The Passover Plot

It was pure fiction and speculated that Jesus didn’t die but was unconscious and later his disciples somehow spirited his body away and made it look like He had risen from the dead

Some commentators on the passage of Peter and John at the tomb estimated that the mixture of Myrrh and Aloes and other spices wrapped around Jesus body would have killed him. It would be the equivalent of a 70 pound weight wrapped around lungs that had been systematically destroyed by hanging for hours on a cross.

 Death by crucifixion was the acme of the torturer’s art. It was designed to slowly suffocate the victim. Remember also that a soldier had pierced Jesus side with a spear and there immediately flowed out blood and water. This is an indication of death in that the components of blood had water had already separated

Here is what Peter and John saw.

A cocoon shaped shell which had contained the body of Jesus…a goopy spice laden husk that was intact with no body in it! There was no plausible explanation for what they were looking at other than the fact that somehow Jesus rose right through it. Not only that… someone or something or some being… took the care to fold the burial cloths that covered the face of the son of God.

No mandate of man or imperial fiat could keep a ‘mask’ on the face of God. Not then. Not now. Not ever.

No one had stolen Jesus’ body; certainly not the Romans who posted guards for the express purpose that no one would tamper with the body and ‘stage’ a phony resurrection. No—what Peter and John saw then theorized about and then concluded was that Jesus rose though the grave clothes and that some beings (angels?) took care to leave the wrappings folded in such a way that there was only one plausible one explanation. He had risen!

Back to Peter’s letter… He pointed out that all the Old Testament prophets heard from God about the Messiah that would one day come and purchase our salvation and secure a place for us in heaven.

They looked intently, they wondered about the times and circumstances, and they knew that angels longed for a look into what God was going to do next. Peter confidently told people that they were going to suffer some things and that salvation was ready to be revealed at the last time.

He then tells then how they ought to approach the future.

Prepare your minds for action (Gird up the loins of your mind) The image here is of a man wearing a long robe; cinching it up tight around his waist and legs and yes, his loins, so that he can run and that he can fight.

Next, he exhorts them to be self-controlled (not carried along by narratives or appearances.)

Finally, he says ‘Set your hope’ fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed’. There is a huge difference between a thermometer and a thermostat. A thermometer goes up and down with climate. A thermostat is set to keep an even temperature no matter what the climate is doing.

How then shall we live? From where will we find hope? The Oval Office…The Congress? The good will of globalists…The Science…or from an empty tomb with curiously folded grave clothes?

It’s worth a look…in fact we would do well to look intently…the angels long to do just that.