Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

He is not Here!

“But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” (Matthew 28:5-6 NKJV)

Discouragement

It must have been discouraging to come to that empty tomb on Sunday morning.  Death is a great separator.  It separates those living from those who died.  But the Lord had the last word.  He had told the disciples (and that must have included the women) that he would be crucified and would rise again the third day.  But they had seen death and not many of them had seen people rise again.  A few had seen Lazarus raised and the widow’s son raised and Jairus’ twelve-year old daughter raised from the dead.  But even they were like the old testament people who never expected the next miracle.  So the women were not really expecting to see the living Lord when they came to the tomb, but they sure wanted to see His body.  But He was not there.  What a blow!

Sorrow turned into Joy

““Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.” (John 16:20 NKJV)

The angels said, “He is not here; for He is risen.”  They could show the women where He had lain,  but joy came when He showed Himself to be alive to those who loved Him.  Mary Magdalene seems to be the first to see Him.  He also appeared to two people who were traveling to Emmaus, on the Sunday after the crucifixion.  Then He appeared to the disciples in the upper room.  And we read, “When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord (John 20:20 NKJV).”  Sorrow was turned to joy when He graced the disciples with His presence.

Sad Situation in the Church

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20 NKJV)

I wonder how many times we think the Lord is present in church gatherings when He isn’t.  We like to use Matthew 18:20, as the promise of the Lord’s presence in the local assembly.  It says, ““For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”  However, the two or three are not the whole church.  They are the ones who were dealing with the complaint between two people that had been taken to the whole church.  The passage is really saying:  “When there is a problem between two people in the church, if you do what I ask you to do the way I ask you to do it (in other words, do it in my name or authority), then I will place my stamp of approval on the decisions you make.”  But when have churches ever really carried out the procedures in this chapter?  How can we say with pride, the Lord is with us based on this passage?  

When we look at the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2 and 3, we see that two churches are not criticized.  One is Smyrna, the persecuted church.  One is Philadelphia, the church with just a little strength but with a love for the Lord.  But Laodicea is much like today where wealth has left them in need of nothing (except the Lord). Fellowship and not salvation is the issue in this dead church.  He is standing outside and not inside this church.  Yet, there are individuals who are inviting Him in and enjoying fellowship with Him.  But the church as a whole doesn’t even know that the Lord is not among them.

Joy in the presence of the Lord

King David the psalmist reminds us, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11 NKJV).”   

The women who came to the Lord’s tomb thought the Lord was gone when He wasn’t. The “so-called” Christians in Laodicea thought the Lord was present when He wasn’t.  But knowing that we have done what the Lord wants us to do the way He wants us to do it is the key to knowing the Lord’s presence.  I believe this is a principle that goes beyond just judging issues between people.  How can we be sure that the Lord is with us unless we submit to His authority both in moral and ceremonial issues?  I realize we all fail, but when we find out we have failed, we are to confess that we have failed and the Lord says His blood cleanses us from ALL sin.  But we can’t tell the Lord how to do His work, we need to let Him tell us how to do His work.  And that starts with the basic issues of salvation.  

Remember we are not saved by our doing, we are saved by faith in what the Lord has done for us.  It all begins there. 

Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of February 18, 2024

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