Sunday, April 08, 2007

"Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

John 20:1-9, KJV:

The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.

So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.

Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,

And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

As one of my friends showed me, the part about the napkin is particularly important: it means Jesus did not merely resurrect as a spirit, but actually came back to life in the flesh and set aside the burial clothes. This is important because Mary's encounter with the risen Christ in verses 14 through 18 was with a living being with a physical body, not a spirit. Jesus later demonstrated this to a further degree with Thomas, who doubted. Note that Jesus had previously told Mary Magdalene, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father," and then dared Thomas, in a way, to examine his wounds. Jesus knew, of course, that Thomas would only reply, "My LORD and my God."

"Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

There we see the plain key to salvation by faith. Crucifixes, rosaries, putting statues of whatever saint in your home, a priest shaking incense, even regular taking of the Eucharist -- none of these have power to save. For too many, these have become poisonous rituals that breed dependence on religion while destroying faith. It is faith alone in Jesus Christ, who gave up his life of his own accord to redeem people from their sins, and resurrected on the third day to reign forever and conquer death for us.


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