Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!
Today is the fourth Sunday of Easter, the third after Easter Sunday. But, our text of the Gospel according to Saint John is part of his account of Holy Week, a brief part of Jesus' farewell address to His disciples on Holy Thursday. This long speech is only found in the Gospel of John. The other evangelists speak of the institution of the sacrament, but in John we read several chapters of a talk in which Jesus prepared them for what must happen.
"A little more, and you will not see me; and again a little, and you will see me; because I am going to the Father. Then some of his disciples said among themselves: What is this that he says to us: A little, and you will not see me and again, a little, and you will see me, and why, I am going to the Father? So they said: What is this he says: A little? We do not understand what he is talking about. "
The disciples did not understand, but we do. Jesus spoke of His death and crucifixion. For three days they did not see him, but on the third day Jesus rose again and appeared first to Mary Magdalene and afterward to the apostles. And He walked with His disciples for 40 days. So the authorities were unable to explain the empty tomb and the testimony of many people that Jesus lived again. But they only saw Jesus for 40 days before He went up to the Father.
The number 40 occurrs many times in the Scriptures. Forty days, forty years often means a trial period. Moses on top of Mount Sinai for 40 days, the Israelites' pilgrimage in the desert for 40 years, Jesus tempted in the desert for 40 days. Also, do you know that the word quarantine means 40 days? In the 14th century, ships were sequestered for 40 days to test whether their crews were infected with the Black Death.
However, the 40 days between resurrection and ascension were more a time of preparation. Because Jesus had to go to the Father to be seated at His right hand to rule the universe. But the promise to us is Christ will return in the clouds as He disappeared in the clouds. And when He returns in glory to judge the living and the dead, the whole world will see His coming. And Paul says in his letter to the Thessalonians, the faithful will rise to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). This will be the true rapture. Not before a thousand years of an earthly kingdom of Christ, as some sects say, but on the day of final judgment.
Therefore, let us live in the time between the ascension and the second coming of Jesus Christ. Now Jesus is not present only in one place for a while, but He is everywhere. We don't have to go to Barinas to talk to Jesus, or go to Caracas to see Jesus before He leaves for Bogotá. We can pray to Jesus in our home. "Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you." Jesus promised us. We can meet with other believers anywhere to receive His gifts, the Word and His body and blood in the Holy Supper that the Lord instituted on Holy Thursday itself, and also to publicly confess our faith. Because at the sacrament we are not only in the presence of the Lord now, but we bear witness that Christ is coming again. We remember the Lord's death until His coming and we anticipate that day when all of us are gathered around the throne with the angels and the redeemed singing holy, holy, holy is the Lord.
Until that day we live in this world of bad things. We are not set apart from the pains and afflictions of this world. Therefore, Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, and the world will rejoice; but although you are sad, your sadness will become joy. The woman when she gives birth, she has pain because her hour has come, but after she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for the joy that a man has been born in the world. "
For the woman, the pain of childbirth was worth it for the child in her arms. For us, as for the pregnant woman, our time here is not a game, it is not a continuous party. Now, we cry when a loved one leaves this life before us, we cry with the sick, we cry for the state of our country and the world. However, on that day, we will recognize all our sufferings are stages in our journey to the Lord and eternal life will be worth it.
We do not suffer only the common illnesses and problems of this world, we also suffer the mockery and persecution of non-believers, as Saint Peter says in the epistle (1 Peter 2: 11-20), “keeping your honest way of living among the Gentiles; so that, in what they gossip about you as evildoers, when they see your good works, they glorify God on the day of the visitation. ” Hopefully for our testimony, those who mock will come to believe before the final judgment. But still, we can live amid panic, anguish and uncertainty. In this we have the peace which passes all understanding. Amen.
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