By his death and resurrection, Jesus not only purchased our pardon; he also earned our trust. He is the Rock of our Salvation, totally faithful. Every promise made by him and every promise God made about him, all “find their Yes” in him. Every single thing he calls us to do, we can do with this confidence: he is faithful, and every one of his promises we still await will be fulfilled.
The disciples learned this little by little, starting with a simple promise about meeting him back where they had started – in Galilee.
. . .
On Saturday, their Rabbi was dead. Many had fled. Some had stayed Friday, watching his death from a distance. For three hours in the middle of the day, the sky had gone dark. For them, the darkness still hadn’t lifted the following the day. But this was what Jesus had promised – well, half of the promise.
So many times, Jesus had told them. So often he had taught them – sometimes with mysterious words, but other times plainly. Yet, they couldn’t call to mind the second half of the promise, the part they needed most when he was gone.
- Part 1: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him….
- Part 2: …and on the third day he will be raised to life (Matthew 17:23).
But it wasn’t the third day yet, and how could it, then, be obvious that this murder was a gift to them?
God had promised this event, long before it happened. Isaiah foretold how the Messiah would bring our salvation:
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken ….
He was pierced for our transgressions … crushed for our iniquities;
Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
And with his wounds, we are healed….
We have turned away – every one – to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Out of the anguish of his soul … shall the righteous one, my servant
Make many to be accounted righteous,
And he shall bear their iniquities.
– Isaiah 53:4-6
It was too much to expect those who had just witnessed this brutality to remember what Isaiah had said. Jesus knew it would be much easier for them to remember a simple promise he made just the night before, moments before he’d been taken away.
This promise was a smaller, easier one. Maybe he made it – and then fulfilled it – so they’d have one to hang onto and something to do right away, until his other promises’ fulfillment slowly dawned on them. Small as it was, the keeping of this promise would change the world forever and bring the gospel all the way to us.
On Sunday, bewildered before an empty tomb, maybe the disciples couldn’t yet fathom a resurrection. But a young man in white at the tomb reminded them. Jesus had said, “After I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee” (Mark 14:27-28). The one in white now told them, “He has risen …. See …. Go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you” (Mark 16:7).
He was dead, but if they were going to see him, he must be alive again! They felt a sudden moment of great joy …
But there are 126 kilometers between Jerusalem and Galilee. It took faith to drag their bodies – exhausted after witnessing a murder and mourning the loss – all that distance, down the hill from Jerusalem, across plains, through a valley, and into Galilee. It was likely more than a 30-hour walk. It must have been hard to wait to see him there. How would they bear the uncertainty? Could their hope carry them that far?
The promise that he would meet them in Galilee, and that they would see him, proved true. Seven of them ate a surprise breakfast with him on the Galilee seashore, and 11 of them stood at the commissioning, when he told them he would be with them always as they went out to make disciples from all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
Promise after fulfilled promise followed. About 30 messianic prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus between his betrayal and his burial. This doesn’t include the promises Jesus made specifically to his disciples, many of which were also kept. (Some are still to come.)
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory – 2 Corinthians 1:20.
Here are just some of the things Jesus promised. Read them, and see which you know to be true and those for which you’re still waiting.
Returning to Galilee
When the disciples met Jesus in Galilee, it was like old times. Jesus told them to put their nets in the water, and a huge load of fish appeared, just like when he first called them. Galilee was home base, the place where they left everything to follow him, the place where the crowds came to hear him teach. Now Galilee was the place where he kept his first post-resurrection promise.
Now, after Jesus had opened their minds to understand (Luke 24:45), in Galilee
, they could come to terms with what it meant to trust someone who was radically faithful, even to death. Their deep sorrow was, maybe slowly, replaced by the joy of the salvation they could now experience. They would spend the rest of their lives telling people about it.
. . .
Perhaps you are tired or discouraged this Easter. Maybe you’re living in a perpetual Saturday, and it feels like Jesus is gone. Maybe you’re bothered by your own sinfulness because you committed to follow him with your whole heart and haven’t kept up your end of the deal. Maybe it will help to consider this question:
Where is your Galilee? Where did you start to follow Jesus, first thrill in the idea that he might really be the Savior, your Savior? When did you first decide you would follow him? Can you go back, at least by prayer, and meet him there?
Dear Jesus, take me back to [____________], to the time when I felt so close and committed to you. Meet me there. Restore the joy of my salvation, and send me out – again – to do your will. Thank you, Jesus, for giving your life to me. And thank you, Father, for raising Jesus to life. Thank you for Easter. Let the rest of my life be lived sharing the joy of what you’ve done for me.