Thursday, April 16, 2020

Eight Days, The Number Of New Beginnings

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

It is the week immediately following Easter 2020. On Easter morning, John 20 was the Resurrection Sunday passage that I chose. In verse 24, the Apostles had been gathered together as Jesus appeared to the ten Apostles, but Thomas was not with them, and of course, neither was Judas. A few verses later, eight days had passed and Thomas was with them.

What strikes me about these verses is a simple question: What was Jesus doing during those eight days? Matthew’s Gospel doesn’t mention those eight days. Mark doesn’t either, and Luke 24 does not address the question directly either. But on that first evening after Passover when Jesus appeared to the ten Apostles, Luke tells us of two Disciples traveling on the road to Emmaus on that same day. Emmaus was about six and one-half miles from Jerusalem. (Later, Emmaus would become known as Nicopolis, from 300 AD to the 600’s when it was overrun by Muslim invaders. Imwas, as it was known during modern times was destroyed in 1967 likely during that war.* The City is shown on maps, but the current ruins are in “Canada Park,” a National Park in Israel.) But I digress.

The two travelers were known to Jesus, but they did not recognized Him, in much the same way that Mary Magdalene did not recognize Him early that same morning at the tomb. One of the travelers is identified as Cleopas in Luke 24:18. Notations and cross references point to Cleopas’ identity: “Cleopas” likely a shortened form of the name Cleopatros, OR a Greek form of the name Alphaeus.

Cleophas is identified as the husband to Mary’s sister, Mary. Alphaeus (Meaning “successor”) is also identified in Matthew 10:3 as the father of James the Apostle (a.k.a. James the less, as opposed to James the great, the son of Zebedi. “James the great” and his brother John the Apostle were the sons of thunder, according to Matthew’s Gospel.

In short, this Cleopas on the road to Emmaus was not only a Disciple, but was also married to Jesus’ mother’s sister. He did not recognize Jesus, even though He was most likely Jesus’ earthly uncle!

Risen to life again, Jesus’ body had been perfected with the exception of five identifying marks: the wounds in His hands and feet, and the wound to his side from the Centurion’s sword.

Cleopas and the other traveler did not recognize Him until they had spent time walking and talking with Him, and finally when they sat down and He broke bread with them. This is when the wounds in Jesus’ hands would have been obvious and visible to them.

Then eight days later, the Disciples were again gathered together, and Thomas was there this time. The other Disciples said, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas refused to believe it. It was too incredible, too outlandish! Then Jesus is there among them. He invited Thomas to put his fingers into the nail holes, and his hand in His side (John 20:26—28.) giving Thomas the proof he said he would need to believe.

Imagine for a moment that you are Thomas. Jesus looks you in the eyes, and shows you his hands; your eyes are drawn to His hands. Jesus then invites you to “thrust your hand in my side,” and you look at the wound there.

Then your eyes raise to meet His, and you say, “My Lord and my God.”

Jesus says in verse 29, “Thomas because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Jesus says that WE are blessed because of the faith He gave us!

We still do not know what Jesus was doing in the eight days between His meetings with the Disciples, but it’s safe to say He was busy teaching, and proving He was indeed raised from the dead, in fulfillment of Psalm 16:9 & 10 –
“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my souls in the (grave); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”

WhitestoneCF Media - Web TV

WhitestoneCF Media - Web TV