Friday, June 22, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-06-22 [Forty Days of Resurrection] 26.Final Instructions #2

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew28:16-18

As we saw yesterday, this is one of the occasions Jesus used to commission the disciples, we'll look at Mark, Luke, John and Acts too...

Our specific interest is the Great Commission in the light of the Resurrection: Matthew tells us that "they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted."
One has to wonder about the nature of the doubts they had. Did they doubt the resurrection? Did they doubt the future? Did they doubt themselves?

Whatever their doubt was, Jesus reassures them:
He has ALL authority:
- Because He obeyed the Father (Heb10:5)
- Because He finished the work He was sent to do (Joh17:4)
- Because He was the Lamb that was slain for us (Rev5:9)
- Because it was impossible for death to hold Him (Act 2:24)
- Because nothing can separate us from His love (Rom 8:38)

We don't go into world having to stand in our own authority. We go into the world bearing and wearing Christ. We make disciples and baptise in HIS name, we teach what HE taught and experience HIS presence.

It is the resurrected, living and present Christ who sends us into the world, asking us to "remember Him" to the world.
- We remember that He came for us - and we tell others...
- We remember that He saved us - and we tell others...
- We remember that He is alive and with us - and we tell others...

The Great Commission is given by the Risen, Victorious and Present Christ - He trusts us enough to put His name and message into our hands - we should be inspired and raring to go!

eDevs will take a break for the school hols...
Please pray for the holiday club we run at the church next week.
Here are the texts I quoted above:

- Because He obeyed the Father
HEBREWS 10:5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;

- Because He finished the work He was sent to do
JOHN 17:4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.

- Because He was the Lamb that was slain for us
REVELATION 5:9 And they sang a new song:
"You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.

- Because it was impossible for death to hold Him
ACTS 2:24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

- Because nothing can separate us from His love
ROMANS 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, June 21, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-06-21 [Forty Days of Resurrection] 25.Final Instructions #1

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew28:16-18

Most of us assume that Jesus' words at the end of Matthew are things that He said just before ascending, but the geography of the Ascension and this passage are not the same. Jesus ascended from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, but in this passage He is on a mountain in Galilee... (think Joburg and Free State) and so it seems that Jesus issued this "Great Commission" a while before He ascended into heaven.

When one thinks about it, this makes perfect sense. The Great Commission was to be the disciples' mission and vision from here on. It is impractical and improbable that Jesus waited until the very last day before He gave them their instructions. I am sure He repeatedly reinforced the task that lay ahead of them during the forty days of Resurrection Appearances.

To that end we need to look at the passages at the end of all four gospels as part of Jesus' Training Programme for the disciples and learn to appreciate that these "vision talks" came to them at various times and in various settings so that they had time to chew and digest what they were being called to do.

Today we will look at just one thought from this passage: "but some doubted."

I am disturbed and comforted by this passage: Disturbed because if people had actually witnessed the resurrected Christ and still doubted, then what hope do I have? But maybe the existence of doubt is common and expected, and that I should not fear doubt, but overcome it.

I am comforted in the way that Jesus deals with their doubt:
1. He reminds them who He is - "All authority has been given to me."
2. He still entrusts them with a mission - in spite of their doubt.
3. He promises to be with them.

More on this tomorrow...

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-06-20 [Forty Days of Resurrection] 24.Waking us up.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread...

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you..." John21:7-15

This is not the first time Peter has seen the Resurrected Christ, in fact, this is probably the fourth: Jesus appeared to Peter alone (Luke 24:34), then He appeared to the disciples in the upper room and then again a week later when Thomas was with them.

So why is Peter jumping into the water?? After a long night of fishing, I don't think he was hot! I think it is more likely that he was tired and cold.

But John recognises Jesus and Peter jumps into the water - he just _has_ to be with Jesus.

But there is a surprise at the shore. Jesus has a fire burning and there are already some fish on it. The Greek word for the coal fire is an unusual word, so unusual that it only appears in one other place in the whole NT: To describe the fire in the courtyard of the High Priest where Peter denied Jesus three times.

What follows is the walk where Jesus asks Peter three times "Do you love me?" and Peter is able to respond - basically undoing his three denials with three affirmations of love.

It seems to me that Peter was still asleep.
He'd seen the resurrected Jesus, but he hadn't yet allowed himself to love Jesus again - the resurrection was a fact, but not a relational reality to Peter. But now, here at Galilee where it all started, Jesus wakes Peter up. As Peter recognises Jesus on the shore it _dawns_ on him that he longs for Jesus more than anything.

With a splash Peter begins to wake up!
His guilt is forgiven and he can affirm his love for Jesus.

Are you awake???
Footnote: Jesus uses the word "agape" for love - it implies Godlike unlimited love - Peter isn't ready for that yet, he uses "fileo" which is brotherly love, but Jesus knew that Peter's love would grow to the point that he would die a martyr's death. And Peter was ultimately crucified upside-down at his own request because he felt unworthy of dying like His Lord. His love had grown...

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-06-19 [Forty Days of Resurrection] 23.Re-visioning

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5 He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"
"No," they answered.
6 He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. John21:4-6

This is the second time that the fishermen have had their nets filled by a Carpenter. Fishing in Galilee was most successful at night - if the sun rose and your nets were empty, your fishing had failed.

When Jesus initially called Peter and some of his friends, He had also filled their nets against all expectations. At that time Jesus called Peter to follow Him and become a "Fisher of Men."

Now, after the resurrection, Peter goes back to fishing and we don't know whether he meant it as a permanent thing or just a "timeout." It doesn't really matter either way... what _is_ significant is that Jesus is there.

Their own efforts have been unsuccessful and so Jesus fills their nets again. By doing this He is reminding them:

1. They hadn't succeeded in their own efforts.
2. The age of miracles wasn't over
3. If they followed His lead they could experience great blessing.

But there is one more interesting perspective... If you read on to verse 11, you will see that they caught 153 fish. The church father, Jerome, observed that the scholars of the ancient world had counted the various species of fish and come up with the number of 153!

This could mean that this catch was saying "Disciples, you've (symbolically) caught all the fish you're ever going to catch - now follow me and fish for men! It could also mean that the gospel would go to all nations.

This intimate encounter on the beach was a sermon in action, a parable in events, it was meant to re-kindle the disciples' faith and re-vision them for the great commission.

Sometimes Jesus finds us in familiar places: a favourite hymn, a passage of Scripture we know well, a place where we have prayed significant prayers, or even in a place of familiar failure and He reminds us that we need Him, that He can miraculously bless us and that there is work to do.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, June 15, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-06-15 [Forty Days of Resurrection] 22.Business as usual?

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias.
It happened this way: ...
[Seven of the disciples were together.]
"I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. John21:1-3

In the previous chapter Jesus commissioned the disciples go out into the world in the same way as the Father had sent Him.
But they've travelled back to their home area and back to their homes and familiar surroundings.

Why did they go fishing??? Here's a multiple choice:

A) We mustn't read in too much: they needed to feed themselves.
B) They went back to "business as usual" - "fishing for men" was too scary
C) They were wanting to re-enact, re-create or re-live the experiences (sights, smells, etc) back when Jesus first called them.
D) Some of the above.
E) None of the above.

I don't think there is a definitive answer to the question. I think there is an ambiguity in the text that mirrors the life challenges you and I face as we contemplate the resurrection.

You and I encounter the Risen Christ in church or in our daily Quiet Time, but we have to get into our work day of reports, emails, chores and duties. There are various reasons why:
1. it pays the bills and meets the needs
2. it is a retreat and escape from God's call on our lives
3. we are hoping that we will see God at work in our lives.

The first is practical, the second is not so healthy, the third is a better approach - the truth is that it is often a mixture of all three.

The comforting thing is that Jesus appears on the beach.

If we will open our eyes, we will see the Risen Christ standing in our "Business as Usual" places, ready to do amazing things.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-06-13 [Forty Days of Resurrection] 21.Counter-Intuitive

Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. Mark16:14

This is one of those verses that I wish wasn't in the Bible. I wish Jesus didn't have to rebuke the disciples. I wish they'd believed completely from the word go.

But the truth is that they didn't.
The women didn't get it. Mary mistook Jesus for the gardener. Peter went off by himself wondering what had happened. The two on the road to Emmaus spent a whole day without recognising Him and Thomas demanded tactile proof.

It seems discouraging that the early church battled to get it right. If they battled, what chance do we have? Why were they so "lacking in faith" and filled with "stubborn refusal" to believe?

Firstly, we must recognise that resurrection is counter-intuitive.
It counters all our earthly experience. We see everything winding down. Plants die, pets die, people die. This is the way of the world. This is what we know. It is very hard for us to believe otherwise.

Secondly, we must realise that we are marred by our sin. We carry guilt for the past and brokenness into the present and the future. There is a sense in us that this brokenness _must_ die. It must not and cannot live forever. And so we resign ourselves to death. (We forget that Jesus makes us a "new creation" (2Cor5:17))

Thirdly, this same sinfulness dulls the edge of faith and makes it difficult to believe. Our guilt and personal darkness inhibits our "faith muscles."

Jesus has patiently appeared to them on more than one occasion. He has reassured them, eaten with them, and even invited them to touch His wounds. Now He also rebukes them. Not cruelly or harshly, but to waken them.

Because the resurrection MATTERS!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-06-12 [Forty Days of Resurrection] 20.Banishing Fear

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. John20:19-20

Throughout his gospel John talks about "the Jews." He does not mean the Jewish people as a whole, but a group I like to call the "Religious Mafia" - a group of ruthless and influential characters who benefited from being in control of the religious experience of the masses.

The disciples were hidden behind locked doors.
They'd experienced betrayal by one of their own, they'd seen the desperate jealousy of "the Jews" and they'd witnessed the callous disinterest of Rome in the actions of Pontius Pilate. They'd seen the cruelty of the Roman Soldiers and the finality of the cross. They'd come very close to being arrested themselves...

And then cruel, harsh Death had blindsided them and stolen their Teacher and vanquished their hope.

Now, gathered together, because all they had was each other, each of them was wondering: "When will they come for us?"

So the door was locked and they were afraid.

But Jesus appears behind these locked doors.
His body is resurrected, and, although He bears the scars of His suffering, His new body is able to appear and disappear over great distances. He is no longer limited by space and time.

And He offers them peace: A calm within the storm. Not merely the absence of trouble, but peace that transcends circumstances. It fills the disciples with great joy. (John uses the same word that the describes the Magi's joy when the star settles over Bethlehem.)

These once-frightened disciples go from their locked-doors to proclaim the gospel all over the world, fearlessly facing the same Religious Mafia and even death.
They are no longer afraid - Christ is Risen!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, June 8, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-06-08 [Forty Days of Resurrection] 19.Part of who He is!

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John11:25

Lazarus has died.
Jesus predicted that he would die and that he would be raised.
On His "late" arrival Martha meets Him and she's angry, confused and disappointed.

Jesus tells her that her brother will rise again.
Martha, thinking that He is speaking of resurrection someday, one day, mumbles back "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

But she doesn't get it.

So Jesus makes it more clear.
Resurrection has never been about merely living forever.
Resurrection has never been about merely cheating death.
Resurrection has never been about merely mitigating grief.

Resurrection is wrapped up in WHO JESUS IS!
Resurrection is part of Jesus' ontology (i.e. at the heart of His identity and being)

Jesus is LIFE.
He is the WORD and the agent of Creation.
Colossians 1:16-17 puts it like this: "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

LIFE in huge capital flashing letters _pulsates_ from Christ.
Resurrection to glorious eternal life is simply an extension of who He is.
If we think of who He is, it is unthinkable that life should have to end and that there is not rich, abundant, eternal and glorious life available to those who cling to Him.

He IS the Resurrection and the Life.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, June 7, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-06-07 [Forty Days of Resurrection] 18.Resurrection Power

17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms... Ephesians1:17-20

In typical complex and compound sentences, Paul is praying for the Ephesian Church. The bottom line of his prayer is:
"That you will know God better."

But Paul expands on that: There are some core truths that we need to know deep inside - he wants the "eyes of our hearts enlightened" so that we will know:

1. The HOPE God has called us to. No matter how tough things may seem, we have hope - God is still in control and that hope can be our calm in the storm.

2. The glorious INHERITANCE we have in the saints. This is not only the hope of heaven, but the fact that we are part of the family of God right now.

3. The incomparable POWER at work in us who believe. We are not left to struggle on our own. The power that raised Jesus from the dead - the power of God's Holy Spirit - is at work in you and me. This power is able to help us overcome temptation, to carry us through tough trials and to help us make an impact in our world.

So why don't we see this power at work?
* Because many of us are too proud or stubborn to ask
* Because we have let sin and laziness sideline us
* Because we misunderstand the nature of God's power.

God's power is not like Asterix and Obelix's magic potion, it's not impersonal - it flows from our relationship with God. Look at Paul's prayer: Knowing God better and experiencing His power are interconnected: two sides of one coin.

Are the eyes of your heart open?

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-06-06 [Forty Days of Resurrection] 17.Power in the present, Hope in the future

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

In the previous few verses Paul has dumped all of his past achievements in the garbage bin: His status as Jew from a well-placed family, his qualifications from Rabbi school, his impeccable track record of zealous piety, and his spotless reputation. Why???
For the privilege of knowing Christ.

For Paul, knowing Christ outshines everything else. More specifically, Paul has his eyes firmly on the awesome power of the resurrection.

For Paul the resurrection has two dimensions: Present and Future.

In the PRESENT the resurrection of Christ unleashes awesome persevering power. For Paul experiencing the power of Christ's resurrection enabled him to share in Christ's suffering and he was even willing to face a martyr's death.

For Paul, knowing Christ and the power the resurrection means that we can overcome pain and suffering. It means that we can be brave and courageous. The power of the resurrection enables us to be purposeful and empowers us to walk in Christ's footsteps even when they go through dark and lonely valleys.

In the FUTURE the resurrection of Christ becomes our resurrection. When Paul uses the word "somehow", he is not casting doubt on the fact of the resurrection, but expressing his inability to grasp the method. In other words, he is saying: "I'm not quite sure how God will put together our old bodies after they have been buried, burnt or lion-eaten, but I know that because Christ was raised, we will be raised."

Have you thought about the idea of the Resurrection working in you and giving you power to get through today??
Paul thought about it a lot!

(Tomorrow we'll see Paul explaining the nature of the resurrection power even more.)

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-06-05 [Forty Days of Resurrection] 16.This is my story and my song!

Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead."

It is significant that in the book of Acts, the the early church's preaching was characterised by an emphasis on the Resurrection:
The preaching of Peter and John and the Jerusalem church (ch.4) emphasised resurrection, Paul stressed the resurrection on the Aeropagus in Greece (ch.17) even though people disdained him for it, and here in Acts 23 Paul proclaims the resurrection even though it makes the Saducees angry.

The Resurrection is a key part of our faith: Some consider it controversial and others consider it optional. The early church believed it, lived it and preached it.

Here are some of the important reasons why:

* It completed their picture of Christ who was both fully God and fully man. He died as a man for our sins and rose from the dead because death could never hold one as Holy as He.

* The resurrection was their hope that the sacrifice of Christ was complete and sufficient. There is nothing more to be done. Christ opens the way for all who trust in Him.

* Their faith was not a historical faith that could only look back to what Christ _had_ done. They were in living and vibrant relationship with the living Christ, who guided them, heard their prayers, and, as in the case of Stephen, welcomed them into glory.

* The early church faced intimidating circumstances. They were persecuted and even martyred for their faith. Their absolute conviction in the resurrection helped them to hold this life loosely.

They dared to believe that Christ was risen and they changed the world. Will we?

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, June 1, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-06-01 [Forty Days of Resurrection] 15.Decay's Destruction

because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay. Acts2:27

We are still looking at Peter's first sermon on the day of Pentecost... Here Peter is quoting from Psalm 16 which is a Messianic Psalm - a psalm which anticipated the coming of the Messiah and predicted what He would be like.

David was bumping his head against the Grave and against Decay and so do we. Decay is all around us. Decay in the environment, in morals, in hope, in health. Death is also about Decay. Death is where Decay becomes irreversible and final. And even after we have died our bodies decay.

Paul talks about Decay in Romans 8. He describes it like this:
"20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God."

Are you frustrated by the chaos you see on the news and in the world around you? The "bondage to decay" is a despair-creating reality all around us that sucks us dry and threatens to extinguish hope.

In this Resurrection Sermon Peter is quoting a 1000 year old prophecy that makes it clear - It has ALWAYS been the plan that Jesus would rise from the dead. It has ALWAYS been the plan that He would break the power of the cycle of decay. He died but He did not decay. He died and now decay will never have a hold on Him.

And if we put our trust in Him, we too can break the shackles of decay!


Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at