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Holy Ground

April 2, 2018

“From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! . . . We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:1-3, The Message.

The Scripture texts for next Sunday[1] are so rich and powerful in meaning, poetry, and truth that it is hard to know where to begin. John’s compelling eyewitness testimony to the Risen Christ is a good place to start. It reminds me of a quote from Tozer’s The Crucified Life: “Yes, we walk by faith. But occasionally there are some glorious moments in which God reveals himself to us. I tell you, this is holy ground. This is an area of sacredness incomparable to anything else this side of glory.”[2]

The disciples walked on holy ground with the resurrected Christ. They began to understand the significance of their time with Jesus, when he appeared to them in their locked rooms on the first Sunday after the crucifixion. They were quaking in fear of what the Jewish authorities might do to them when they were found, so they locked themselves in: “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side . . . A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out  your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’” (John 20: 19-20; 26-27).

Jesus revealed himself to many others in the 40 days between the Resurrection and his ascension to heaven. Many people walked on holy ground with Jesus during that time. The disciples wrote about their experiences so that centuries later, we might also know the truth of what happened, and trust in the revelation of the Word through the person of Jesus Christ: From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us. We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:1-3, The Message.

John explained that the reason that they were writing about it is so that others could experience the communion with Jesus that they experienced first hand. He wanted to ensure that the followers of Jesus in the ensuing years could also walk with Jesus on holy ground.

The revelation to the disciples of Jesus’ divinity was a great honor and blessing, but with that blessing came responsibility. Luke confirmed that the disciples, now apostles, took up the mantle to spread the good news that Jesus was the Messiah: “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4: 33). One of the clearest and poetic communicators of the group, John, states the gospel message in a nutshell: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1: 5-7).

God is pure light. There are no shadows around him—ever. Sin is more than eons away from God. There is no darkness in him. It is that fact that permits us to trust him completely. God is completely and purely love and justice, which are not mutually exclusive. As John tells us “But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2: 1-2).

When we sin, Jesus is our pitch hitter. He will go to bat for us—he went to bat for us when he died for our sins on the cross. He took our place. When Jesus takes our place he hits a home run for us every time. He brings us home. He will advocate for us when we are weakened by our own sin. And we never need to change advocates. He will never be traded or retire. He never gives up on us, no matter what we have done. He is our forever advocate.

God reveals himself to each of us in Scripture. There we can read and soak in the truth and power of the gospel message. When we meditate on the words of Scripture, we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives to comfort and guide us.  While we cannot physically walk with Jesus in our daily lives as the disciples did before his crucifixion and after his resurrection, we can experience the presence of God in our daily lives.  Brother Lawrence was a 17th century Carmelite monk in Paris who worked in the monastery kitchen. Yet, he practiced a form of constant communication (also known as prayer) with God, and regularly found himself in the presence of God. Brother Lawrence lived his life on holy ground. Those who knew him recorded their conversations with him and published them so that others could benefit from this ordinary man, and his extraordinary walk with God on holy ground.

The entry to walking on holy ground with God is in learning to praise him. The psalms provide many examples of praise, including next Sunday’s Psalm 148:

“Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above, Praise him, all his angels , praise him all his heavenly hosts . . . “ (Psalm 148: 1-2). This week, praise God for who he is—the almighty, everlasting, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, loving creator. Dedicate each task you begin to him. Then pray that his will, not yours, be done in your life.   Pray as Jesus prayed just before he was crucified, “Not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42). Invite him into every aspect of your life, asking him to guide you according to his will, and experience the power, comfort, and blessings of living in the presence of the living God. [3]

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the Second Sunday of Easter are Acts 4: 32-35; Psalm 148; 1 John 1: 1-22; John 20:19-31.

[2] A.W. Tozer, compiled and edited by James L. Snyder, The Crucified Life (2011) Bethany House, p. 208.

[3] See these blogs also on the subject of living in the presence of God: https://dianereagan.com/2016/07/20/yes-virginia-god-answers-prayer/

https://dianereagan.com/2016/07/14/close-encounters/

 

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