Lippi, Fra Filippo, Nativity,1467-69
“24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
29 Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.”
To be honest…I have had a challenging time delving into this last week’s series of meditations on Christ’s incarnation.
I’m thinking about the tragedy in Connecticut. I’m thinking of the little children I wish could be resurrected right now for grieving parents. I’m thinking of the parents who are still reeling from the shock that they will not see their precious child’s face again in this life. All of this during such a time as this…Christmas.
So I’m hoping that today’s scripture will give me a sense of hope in the darkness…as well as anyone who reads this.
I’m not sure how often I’ve thought about how Christ’s resurrection is part of His incarnation. If He wouldn’t have come in the flesh or died in the flesh, He wouldn’t have need for a resurrection…or a resurrection body. So the resurrection is most definitely part of the incarnation. In fact…it is part of the importance and rewards of the incarnation.
God becoming flesh and being raised up means there were witnesses…witnesses to the resurrected body. It also means that we too can hope in new life now and new life after death.
David foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that His flesh would not see corruption. He wasn’t a witness, but He trusted. He hoped because he looked forward to the resurrection. As I prepared to write on this passage, I looked at Psalm 16 in its entirety (the passage quoted in Acts is a portion of Psalm 16). The study notes in my ESV bible say this about Psalm 16, “When the faithful sing Psalm 16, they entrust themselves to the Lord and foster their confidence and contentment in His care. The psalm uses imagery to express contentment in this life, and goes on to look forward to everlasting life in God’s presence.
We have the witnesses of Christ’s resurrection body. An unbelievable advancement from when David penned the 16th Psalm. Will you…will I…will the faithful…sing it today in one of our country’s darkest hours? Will we continue to entrust ourselves to the Lord, foster our confidence and contentment in His care, and look forward to everlasting life in God’s presence?
If we are in Christ, God will raise us up, loosing the pangs of death. Because it is not possible for us to be in Him and to be held by death.
But how do we allow confidence in His care at such a time as this? How do we know that He is good if this tragedy happened?
Ross Douthit wrote yesterday in an article called The Loss of the Innocents in the New York Times, “But the Christmas story isn’t just the manger and the shepherds and the baby Jesus, meek and mild.
The rage of Herod is there as well, and the slaughtered innocents of Bethlehem, and the myrrh that prepares bodies for the grave. The cross looms behind the stable — the shadow of violence, agony and death.
In the leafless hills of western Connecticut, this is the only Christmas spirit that could possibly matter now.”
And you know…somehow this simple statement is right on. It impresses upon me what I must hold onto. That I have a God who does not invent evil but came to save us from it. He didn’t just stay far off but entered into violence, agony and death in order to accomplish His mission of saving us from this corrupt world.
WATCH…there will be parents with testimonies of their faith who will encourage all of us who are fainting right now. Parents who lost their children in this tragedy but who are entrusting themselves to the Lord. Their light is going to shine in the darkness to give us hope once again.
Just as there were witnesses to Jesus’s resurrection, we will be witnesses to God’s spirit in His people over the next weeks.
Just as Satan had hoped to crush Jesus’ mission to save the world and Jesus crushed Him instead. He had hoped to crush confidence in God through this tragedy, but instead it will turn people towards Him as they witness Him working in His people.
Because that is what God does. When evil rains down, He showers us with grace.
To do right now: Meditate on the above scripture. Write a prayer or journal your thoughts in the space provided below. Listen to the song: I Will Rise . I can’t help but think of the precious souls from Connecticut singing this song.
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