At the beginning of the twentieth chapter of the gospel of John we find Mary Magdalene in shock. It's Sunday morning; she has seen Jesus crucified; and now she finds the stone rolled away from his tomb. She runs to find Peter and John. They race each other to the tomb. Then they look inside and confirm that the body of Jesus is missing. Incredulously they return home, leaving Mary Magdalene alone, or so she thinks.
Now, picking up at John 20:11,But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, " Woman, why are you weeping?'' She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.'' When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, " Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?'' Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.'' Jesus said to her, "Mary!'' She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, " Rabboni!'' (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, "I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'' (NASB)
I want to camp out at verse seventeen and let it fill my soul. Is this not a precious verse? Here is Jesus the Son of God. He has known God the Father for all eternity. Yet he is pleased to say, "I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God." Among the many glorious things for which we can rejoice, in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have this: "My Father and your Father, and My God and your God." Jesus made this possible.
Not only that but Jesus said, "go to My brethren." Could it be true that the Lamb of God would be pleased to call us his brothers and sisters? This is the second person of the Trinity, the Lord of my life. Is he pleased, also, to be called my brother?
Some of us came from great families, and some of us came from terrible families. But if you are a Christian you have God as your father and Jesus as your brother.
The intimacy of this relationship is further described in Romans 8:15,For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption of sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" (NASB)
Abba would be our word for Papa.
Then our relationship with Jesus is further described in Romans 8:29,For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. (NASB)
Here it is: Christ, the firstborn of many brothers and us his brothers and sisters. What a wonderful thing to be part of the family of God. How dear and precious was the suffering endured by our brave and faithful older brother, suffering to make us part of his family.
In just a few days, on Wednesday August 8th, it will be six months since Stephen left this earth. And while my emotions may run wild, in the midst of this it is great comfort to look towards heaven and to know that he is under the protection of my father and your father.
All of us will face God some day. When Steve crashed it was a loud warning to all of us to be ready to face God at any time. Many were shaken and many were touched. But how many truly repented? How many turned to Jesus Christ?
Can you point towards heaven and say, "My Father and your Father?" Is Jesus your Lord and Savior?
Or is this your situation, that for you God is not the ever-present experience of "Abba Father" or "My Father and your Father." Instead you will face God as your judge. Your experience of God will be as the executor of your worst nightmare. And as you continue to ride the trails of this life without your helmet, that is, without the "helmet of salvation," you daily risk falling into the hands of an angry God.
Some speak of standing before God during judgment. I'm not sure you will be standing. Perhaps, but it's likely that you'll be flat on your face. And as you lie there you will hear that word, that terrible word that will resonate in your mind and heart for all eternity: "Guilty!"
Of course this will be hidden from the rest of us. In fact you'll look pretty peaceful there in your casket. Maybe you will have on a new suit or your favorite dress. But those of us who know you, who love you, and who have pleaded for you with tears before the throne of God will realize this. We will realize that if we could truly see you, it would be a spectacle so horrible that we would be terrified.
It doesn't have to end this way. This could be your day. This could be the day that you say, "All to Jesus I surrender. All to Him I freely give."
This could be the moment that you stop being your own boss.
Today could be the hour when you cry out to God for forgiveness.
This could be the day when you come to Jesus as your Lord and as the protector of your soul.
How I long for this day. How I long to be able to grab you by the hand and with my arm raised towards heaven truthfully proclaim, "My Father and your Father; my God and your God."
Let us pray.Oh Father in Heaven, would you be pleased to grant such a day as this. You took Stephen. Take me too if you want. One warning was ignored. Perhaps they will heed another. Please, Father, do whatever it takes. Have mercy on these our children. Give them no rest until they find their rest in you.
They're young; they're free; they're full of life.
We love them everyone..
But oh what woe awaits each child.
Who dies without the Son.
We pray oh Lord; we intercede,.
Our faces stained by tears..
That we might not lose one of them,.
These kids we hold so dear.
Oh Lord you made the blind to see..
You made the deaf to hear..
Please Lord, that you might touch their minds.
And teach their hearts to fear.