"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
the proving of things not seen.
For therein the elders had witness borne to them.
BY FAITH WE UNDERSTAND
THAT THE WORLDS HAVE BEEN FRAMED
BY THE WORD OF GOD,
SO THAT WHAT IS SEEN
HATH NOT BEEN MADE
OUT OF THINGS WHICH DO APPEAR."
Today we celebrate
So where does this passage come in? Every piece of Scripture is like a puzzle piece that fits in. The last blog spoke of Silent Saturday when our Lord lay silent in the tomb, while faith's anticipation built. But here in verse three, a hint of the mystery of the Resurrection is revealed. From Genesis to the Resurrection to the here and now, we have a little lesson that what we take hold of here on earth was made out of nothing. At the Creation, God spoke and it appeared out of nowhere. When Jesus lay dead in the tomb, God spoke and He arose. Though perhaps it was not heard by human ears like when Jesus commanded Lazarus to "Come forth!" But nevertheless, the earth quaked when God spoke. The guards fell as dead men. A giant stone sealing the grave was rolled away with a flick of His finger. Jesus walked out of the tomb with a different kind of body.
Andrew Murray says,
"This visible world is to man his great temptation to forget God...
Faith sees...on every part of His handiwork,
sees it all pervaded by the living God;
surrounded by the things that perish and pass away,
it yet stands in the midst of eternity,
it knows itself allied to the unchangeable One."
This is a picture of what happened in that garden when Jesus rose again.
He at first was not recognized because
"by the word of God, so that what is seen
was not made out of things which are visible."
JESUS WAS NO LONGER BOUND BY THE RULES AND BOUNDARIES
OF THE FINITE, NOT EVEN DEATH.
GOD SPOKE AND HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN
WALKED OUT OF THE TOMB.
Perhaps Mary Magdalene thought He was the gardener as she could only look through the sheen of tears in her eyes but could smell the aroma of the burial spices as that which grew out of the earth. (This is a little like when a sanctuary is overwhelmed with the fragrance of Easter lilies.)When she heard Him call her by name, she then wanted to cling to Him. But we dare not cling to what is finite when what is there is not made with things which are visible. It is almost a mirror image of Creation, something out of nothing. Now once again, nothing--the fleeting kiss of death--became something, the resurrected body. How? By God's word when God called Him to come forth.
It is a reminder to not rely on any other arm of flesh. It will fail you. We dare not lean too hard on the things of this world because they will turn to dust or become burned up and turned to ashes. Remember Lot's wife? But by faith, we can rely on what is eternal, just like the men of old.
My dad brought home a token from Italy during World War II when he was stationed there. It was an alabaster Tower of Pizza. After climbing the Tower of Pisa and--though forbidden to do so--ringing the bells, the Italian guards raced up the stairs to catch them. He and his buddy held the door shut so that when they let go, the guards burst in and fell to the floor. This allowed him and his buddy enough time to race down the stairs ahead of them and get away. But his souvenir was made of alabaster. Though it survived World War II, it did not survive a little girl who took it to show and tell in second grade. I dropped it and found how easily alabaster crumbles. Today, I have another alabaster Tower of Pizza, a second hand souvenir I found in a thrift store.
Perhaps it is also a reminder that nothing in this world is sure except what is eternal. An alabaster box had been broken, perhaps symbolic-prophetic of the breaking forth of the tomb. Mary Magdalene gave everything she had, held in an alabaster box, all her riches in this life, to anoint with perfume her Lord she loved. He still leaves the lingering fragrance of eternal life to beckon us to follow Him from this finite world to the eternal.
Lest we forget, a woman was the first to see the risen Lord.
Then after she told the disciples, it was a footrace
by Peter and John to go see the unbelievable,
"so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible."