42215.E Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?

Endnotes

  1. Wilbur M. Smith, A Great Certainty in This Hour of World Crises (Wheaton, ILL: Van Kampen Press, 1951), 10, 11
  2. The word Jesus uttered, “fulfilled” is tetelestai in Greek which is an accounting term meaning “debt paid in full.” It refers to the debt of our sins.
  3. Historian Will Durant reported, “About the middle of this first century a pagan named Thallus … argued that the abnormal darkness alleged to have accompanied the death of Christ was a purely natural phenomenon and coincidence; the argument took the existence of Christ for granted. The denial of that existence never seems to have occurred even to the bitterest gentile or Jewish opponents of nascent Christianity.” Will Durant, “Caesar and Christ,” vol. 3 of The Story of Civilization (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972), 555.
  4. Peter Steinfels, “Jesus Died – And Then What Happened?” New York Times, April 3, 1988, E9.
  5. Lucian, Peregrinus Proteus. Michael J. Wilkins and J. P. Moreland, eds, Jesus Under Fire (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), 2.
  6. Josephus, Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, 18. 63, 64. [Although portions of Josephus’ comments about Jesus have been disputed, this reference to Pilate condemning him to the cross is deemed authentic by most scholars.]
  7. Tacitus, Annals, 15, 44. In Great Books of the Western World, ed. By Robert Maynard Hutchins, Vol. 15, The Annals and The Histories by Cornelius Tacitus (Chicago: William Benton, 1952). “What Is a Skeptic?” editorial in Skeptic, vol 11, no. 2), 5.
  8. Frank Morison, Who Moved the Stone? (Grand Rapids, MI: Lamplighter, 1958), “What Happened Friday Afternoon.”
  9. Josh McDowell, The Resurrection Factor Part 3, Josh McDowell Ministries, 2009, http://www.bethinking.org/bible-jesus/intermediate/the-resurrection-factor-part-3.htm.
  10. Quoted in Josh McDowell, The Resurrection Factor (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life, 1981), 66.
  11. Gary Collins quoted in Gary Habermas, “Explaining Away the Resurrection,” http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/crj_explainingaway/crj_explainingaway.htm.
  12. Thomas James Thorburn, The Resurrection Narratives and Modern Criticism (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1910.), 158, 159.
  13. Sherwin-White, Roman Society, 190.
  14. Even skeptical scholars agree that the creed in 1 Corinthians 15 is not an interpolation but was a creed formulated and taught at a very early date after Jesus’ death. Gerd Lüdemann, a skeptic scholar, maintains that “the elements in the tradition are to be dated to the first two years after the crucifixion of Jesus… not later than three years…”[17] Michael Goulder, another skeptic scholar, states that it “goes back at least to what Paul was taught when he was converted, a couple of years after the crucifixion”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1_Corinthians_15
  15. Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2004), 85.
  16. Habermas and Licona, 87
  17. Acts 10:39-41.
  18. Morison, 104.
  19. J. N. D. Anderson, “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Christianity Today,12. April, 1968.
  20. Morison, 115.
  21. Quoted in Bernard Ramm, Protestant Christian Evidences (Chicago: Moody Press, 1957), 163.
  22. Quoted in Bill Bright, Believing God for the Impossible (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life, 1979), 177-8.
  23. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy (New York: Pocket, 1961), 428.
  24. Simon Greenleaf, The Testimony of the Evangelists Examined by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice (1874; reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1995), back cover.
  25. C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000 ), 159.

42215.T Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?

Video Transcript

According to eyewitnesses, a man named Jesus Christ demonstrated his power over death. They tell us that after he died on a cross and was buried, Jesus suddenly appeared to them alive on the third day. Then he was seen by other followers, including 500 people on a single occasion.

Soon word spread everywhere that Jesus had risen from the dead. But could Jesus’ resurrection simply be a 2000-year-old legend? Or is it based upon verifiable historical evidence?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then the foundation for the Christian Faith would forever be destroyed.

Jesus Predicts His Own Death and Resurrection

Seven hundred years before Christ, the prophet Isaiah had written about a future Messiah, who would suffer and die for our sins, but later be restored to life.

Echoing the prophecy in Isaiah 53, Jesus claimed that he was the Messiah who would be betrayed, arrested, condemned, spit upon, scourged, and killed. But then three days later he would come back to life. (See Mark 10:33).

Everything Jesus taught and claimed depended on his resurrection from the dead. If Jesus didn’t rise as he promised, his message of forgiveness and hope for eternal life would be meaningless. Jesus was putting his words to the ultimate test of truth.

Bible scholar Wilbur Smith explains, “When he said He would rise again from the dead, the third day after He was crucified, He said something that only a fool would dare say if He expected the devotion of any disciples—unless He was sure He was going to rise.”[1]

So what happened?

A Horrific Death And Then . . . ?

Exactly as Jesus predicted, eyewitnesses report he was betrayed by one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot. Then in a mock trial under the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, he was condemned, scourged, kicked, spat upon, brutally whipped, and finally crucified on a wooden cross.

Jesus suffered on the cross for approximately six hours. Then, at 3:00 in the afternoon Jesus cried out, “It is finished” and died.[2] Suddenly the sky went dark and an earthquake shook the land.[3]  

Pilate wanted to verify that Jesus was dead before allowing his crucified body to be buried. So a Roman guard thrust a spear into Jesus’ side. The mixture of blood and water that flowed out, according to eyewitnesses, was a clear indication that Jesus was dead. Once his death was certified, Jesus’ body was taken down from the cross, tightly wrapped in linen and buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb. Roman guards then sealed the tomb with a large stone and were under strict orders to watch the tomb 24 hours a day.

Jesus’ disciples were so utterly devastated by his death on the cross that they fled for their lives, fearing they too would be captured and killed. But then something happened . . .

According to a New York Times article,

“Shortly after Jesus was executed, his followers were suddenly galvanized from a baffled and cowering group into people whose message about a living Jesus and a coming kingdom, preached at the risk of their lives, eventually changed an empire. Something happened … But exactly what?”[4]

A Skeptic Examines the Evidence

English journalist Frank Morison believed Jesus’ resurrection was mythical and began research for a book proving his case. Morison wanted to know what actually happened that changed Jesus’ followers and started a movement that has made such a profound impact on our world.

He realized there were five possible explanations: 

  1. Jesus didn’t really die on the cross.
  2. Jesus’ body was stolen.
  3. The disciples were hallucinating.
  4. The account is legendary. Or,
  5. It really happened.

Morison began examining the facts patiently and impartially to see where they would lead him.

1. Was Jesus Dead?

Morison first wanted verification that Jesus was really dead when placed in the tomb. He learned that Jesus’ death was considered factual for nearly 1800 years. Then about 200 years ago, a few skeptics postulated that Jesus didn’t die on the cross, but merely lost consciousness, and was revived by the cool, damp air of the tomb. This became known as the “swoon theory.”

Morison wondered if Jesus could have survived the cross. He researched both Jewish and Roman contemporary history and discovered the following facts supporting Jesus’ death:

  • All the accounts affirm he died.
  • Pilate verified he died.
  • During the lifetime of the eyewitnesses no one disputes his death.
  • Secular and contemporary historians, Lucian,[5] Josephus,[6] and Tacitus[7] cite his death as factual.

Morison became convinced that Jesus was truly dead, a fact almost universally accepted as true by trusted scholars and historians.

Morison concludes, “That Jesus Christ died on the cross, in the full physical sense of the term…seems to me to be one of the certainties of history.”[8]

But maybe Jesus’ body was stolen?

2. Was Jesus’ body stolen?

Morison wondered if the disciples faked the resurrection story by stealing Jesus’ body, and then claiming he was alive. That might be plausible if the tomb was in an obscure area where no one would see them.

However, the tomb belonged to a well-known member of the Sanhedrin Council, Joseph of Arimathea. Since Joseph’s tomb was at a well-known location and easily identifiable, any thoughts of Jesus being “lost in the graveyard” would need to be dismissed.

Not only was the location well known, but the Romans had assigned guards to watch the tomb 24 hours a day. This was a trained guard unit comprised of four to 16 soldiers.

Former atheist and skeptic Josh McDowell spent more than seven hundred hours researching the evidence for the resurrection. McDowell notes, “The Roman Guard unit was committed to discipline and they feared failure in any way.”[9] It would have been impossible for anyone to have slipped by the guards unnoticed and then move the stone. Yet the stone was rolled away, making it possible for eyewitnesses to enter the tomb. And when they did, the body of Jesus was missing.  

If Jesus’ body was anywhere to be found, his enemies would have quickly exposed the resurrection as a fraud. Tom Anderson, former president of the California Trial Lawyers Association, summarizes the strength of this argument:

“With an event so well publicized, don’t you think that it’s reasonable that one historian, one eye witness, one antagonist would record for all time that he had seen Christ’s body? … The silence of history is deafening when it comes to the testimony against the resurrection.”[10]

So, with no body of evidence, and with a known tomb clearly empty, Morison accepted that Jesus’ body had somehow disappeared from the tomb.

Perhaps the disciples were just hallucinating and only thought they saw Jesus?

3. Were the Disciples Hallucinating?

Morison wondered if the disciples might have been so emotionally distraught that they hallucinated and imagined Jesus’ resurrection.

Psychologist Gary Collins, former president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, explains that, “Hallucinations are individual occurrences. By their very nature, only one person can see a given hallucination at a time. They certainly aren’t something which can be seen by a group of people.”[11]

Hallucination is not even a remote possibility, according to psychologist Thomas J. Thorburn. “It is absolutely inconceivable that … five hundred persons, of average soundness of mind … should experience all kinds of sensuous impressions—visual, auditory, tactual—and that all these … experiences should rest entirely upon … hallucination.”[12]

The hallucination theory, then, appears to be another dead end. What else could explain away the resurrection?

4. Is it just a Legend?

Some unconvinced skeptics attribute the resurrection story to a legend that began with one or more persons lying or thinking they saw the resurrected Jesus. Over time, the legend would have grown and been embellished as it was passed on. ?But there are three major problems with that theory.

  1. Legends simply don’t develop while multiple eyewitnesses are alive to refute them. One historian of ancient Rome and Greece, A. N. Sherwin-White, argued that the resurrection news spread too soon and too quickly for it to have been a legend.[13] Even skeptical scholars admit that Christian hymns and creeds were recited in early churches within two to three years of Jesus’ crucifixion.[14]
  2. Legends develop by oral tradition and are not supported with contemporary historical documents. Yet the Gospels were written within three decades of the resurrection.[15]
  3. The legend theory doesn’t adequately explain either the empty tomb or the fervent conviction of the apostles that Jesus was alive.[16]

Morison’s original assumption that the resurrection account was mythical or legendary didn’t coincide with the facts.  

So what really happened?

5. Did the resurrection really happen?

Having eliminated the main arguments against Jesus’ resurrection due to their inconsistency with the facts, Morison began asking himself, “did it really happen?” Instead of looking for evidence against Jesus’ resurrection, he wondered how strong the case was for its actual occurrence. Several facts stood out.

Women First

Each eyewitness account reports that Jesus suddenly appeared bodily to his followers, the women first. Morison wondered why conspirators would make women central to the plot. In the first century, women had virtually no rights, personhood, or status. Morison reasoned that conspirators would have portrayed men, not women, as the first to see Jesus alive. And yet we read that women touched him, spoke with him, and were the first to find the empty tomb.  

Multiple Eyewitnesses

The disciples claim they saw Jesus on more than ten separate occasions. They say he showed them his hands and feet and told them to touch him. He ate with them and later, on one occasion, appeared alive to more than 500 followers.

In Caesarea, Peter told a crowd why he and the other disciples were so convinced Jesus was alive.

“We apostles are witnesses of all he did throughout Israel and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by crucifying him, but God raised him to life three days later … We were those who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”[17]

Morison realized that these early sightings of a risen Jesus by so many of his followers would have been virtually impossible to fake.   

Then what else could have happened?

Consistent to the End

As Morison continued his investigation, he began to examine the motives of Jesus’ followers. He reasoned that something extraordinary must have happened, because the followers of Jesus ceased mourning, ceased hiding, and began fearlessly proclaiming that they had seen Jesus alive.

As if the eyewitness reports were not enough to challenge Morison’s skepticism, he was also baffled by the disciples’ behavior. These eleven former cowards were suddenly willing to suffer humiliation, torture, and death. All but one of Jesus’ disciples were slain as martyrs. If they had taken the body, would they have sacrificed so much for a lie? Something happened that changed everything for these men and women.

It was this significant fact that persuaded Morison the resurrection must have really happened. He acknowledged, “Whoever comes to this problem has sooner or later to confront a fact that cannot be explained away … This fact is that … a profound conviction came to the little group of people – a change that attests to the fact that Jesus had risen from the grave.”[18]

Professor J. N. D. Anderson and author of “Evidence for the Resurrection” concurs, “Think of the psychological absurdity of picturing a little band of defeated cowards cowering in an upper room one day and a few days later transformed into a company that no persecution could silence – and then attempting to attribute this dramatic change to nothing more convincing than a miserable fabrication … That simply wouldn’t make sense.”[19]

Why Did It Win?

Finally, Morison was bewildered by the fact that “a tiny insignificant movement was able to prevail over the cunning grip of the Jewish establishment, as well as the might of Rome. He explains,

“Within twenty years, the claim of these Galilean peasants had disrupted the Jewish church… In less than fifty years it had begun to threaten the peace of the Roman Empire. When we have said everything that can be said… we stand confronted with the greatest mystery of all. Why did it win?”[20]

By all rights, if there were no resurrection, Christianity should have died out at the cross when the disciples fled for their lives. But the apostles went on to establish a growing Christian movement.

Whatever one believes about the validity of Jesus’ resurrection, clearly “something happened” after his death that has made a lasting impact on our world. When world historian H. G. Wells was asked who has left the greatest legacy on history, the non-Christian scholar replied, “By this test Jesus stands first.”[21]

What is that legacy? Let’s look at just some of Jesus’ impact:

  • Time is marked by his birth, B.C.– before Christ; A.D. – in the year of our Lord.
  • More books have been written about Jesus than about any other person.
  • About 100 great universities were established to spread his teaching — including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Columbia, and Oxford.[22]
  • Jesus’ teaching that all people are created equal laid the bedrock for human rights and democracy in more than 100 countries.[23]
  • The high value Jesus placed on each person regardless of sex or race led his followers to promote the rights of women as well as abolish slavery.
  • Humanitarian works such as the Red Cross, World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, Mercy Ships, and the Salvation Army were founded by his followers.

A Surprise Conclusion

In a reversal of his skepticism, Morison changed the title of his book to, Who Moved the Stone, which documents the evidence that persuaded him the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a true historical event.

Another scholar who wrote about evidence for Jesus’ resurrection was Dr. Simon Greenleaf, founder of the Harvard Law School. Greenleaf wrote the rules of evidence still used in our legal system today. Applying those rules to the events surrounding Jesus’ death, Greenleaf concluded that any honest jury would render a verdict that Jesus’ resurrection really happened. As with Morison, it was the sudden change in the disciples’ behavior that persuaded him. He writes,

“It would have been impossible for the disciples to persist with their conviction that Jesus had risen if they hadn’t actually seen the risen Christ.”[24]

Jesus’ resurrection convinced his disciples that he was the Messiah who had died for our sins. He was “the only way to God,” and “the resurrection and the life.”

They now knew Jesus alone had the power over life and death, and they gave their lives proclaiming him as the risen Lord.

Although he was originally a skeptic, Oxford scholar C. S. Lewis explains how Jesus’ resurrection was unique among all events in human history.

“Something perfectly new in the history of the Universe had happened. Christ had defeated death. The door which had always been locked had for the first time been forced open.”[25]

So, what does Jesus’ resurrection mean to you and me today?

The apostle Paul, who had also initially been a skeptic of Jesus’ resurrection, explains its impact on our lives.

“For Christ has completely abolished death, and has now, through the Gospel, opened to us men the shining possibilities of the life that is eternal.” (2 Timothy 1:10, Phillips)

In other words, Jesus’ death and resurrection opened the door for us to have eternal life with Christ. But, there is an obstacle preventing us from going to heaven. The apostle Paul explains.

“You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.” (Colossians 1:21, NLT)

The obstacle to us having eternal life with Christ is that we have sinned and rebelled against a holy God. Although God loves us beyond our understanding, his perfect justice requires payment for our sins. The penalty is death.

Many wonder why an all-powerful, loving God can’t just forgive us without punishing us for our sins. Why does he demand justice?

Imagine entering a courtroom and you are guilty of murder. As you approach the bench, you realize that the judge is your father. Knowing that he loves you, you immediately begin to plead, “Dad, just let me go!”

With tears in his eyes he responds, “I love you, son, but I’m a judge. I can’t simply let you go.”

Presenting the evidence against you, he bangs the gavel down and declares you guilty. Justice cannot be compromised, at least not by a judge. But because he loves you, he steps down from the bench, takes off the robe, and offers to pay the penalty for you. And in fact, he takes your place in the electric chair.

This is the picture painted by the New Testament. God stepped down into human history, in the person of Jesus Christ, and was crucified on the cross for us. Jesus is not a third-party whipping boy being punished for our sins, but rather he is God himself. Stated more bluntly, God had two choices: to punish us for our sin, or to receive the punishment himself. In Christ, he decided to pay the penalty for us.

In other words, God’s perfect justice is completely satisfied by the death of his Son, Jesus Christ. All of our sins—no matter how bad they are or have been—are completely paid for by the blood of Christ. Paul writes,

“Yet now he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” (Colossians 1:22, NLT)

But wait a minute, you say, “Don’t I have to do good deeds to get into heaven?”

“Don’t I have to do good deeds to get into heaven?”

Since eternal life is a gift from God, you and I can’t do anything to earn our way into heaven. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, explains God’s amazing grace.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV)

For a gift to be ours, we need to actually receive it. Like any gift, you can choose to accept or reject Jesus Christ’s pardon for the penalty for your sins. This was made clear by the apostle John.

“This is what God told us: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life, but whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12, NCV)

To become a Christian you must place your faith in Jesus’ death for your sins on the cross, and trust in His resurrection for your eternal life. It is a choice that you alone must make. No one else can do it for you.

You must honestly admit you have sinned and want the forgiveness Jesus Christ offers you. The apostle John tells us that,

“If we freely admit that we have sinned, we find God utterly reliable . . . he forgives our sins and makes us thoroughly clean from all that is evil.” (1 John 1:9, Phillips)

John tells us that whoever receives Jesus Christ becomes his child.

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12, NIV)

You can receive Jesus right now by asking him to come into your life and forgive your sins.

If you haven’t ever invited Jesus into your life, simply pray the following words. But remember, it’s not the words you say but the attitude of your heart that is important.

“Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for all my sins—past, present, and future. Thank you for giving me eternal life. I receive you as my Savior by faith, and desire you to be Lord of my life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.”

If you have made this commitment to Jesus Christ, he actually entered your life. He will help you to become the brand new person he created you to be. He is freeing you to experience a life of meaning, purpose, and power.

What is your response?

No, I did not invite Jesus into my life.

Yes, I prayed and invited Jesus into my life.

Yes, I prayed and rededicated my life to Jesus.

You can also send us your reaction to this presentation in the comment box below.

42216.T Jesus’ Resurrection and You

Video Transcript

According to eyewitnesses, a man named Jesus Christ demonstrated his power over death. They tell us that after he died on a cross and was buried, Jesus suddenly appeared to them alive on the third day. Then he was seen by other followers, including 500 people on a single occasion. Soon word spread everywhere that Jesus had risen from the dead.

But could Jesus’ resurrection simply be a 2000-year-old legend? Or is it based upon verifiable historical evidence?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then the foundation for the Christian Faith would forever be destroyed.

Is the Resurrection of Jesus a Myth?

One person who wanted to know what happened was an English journalist and skeptic, Frank Morison, who began research for a book to prove that Jesus’ resurrection was a myth. However, as he examined the evidence, Morison’s views changed as well as the theme of his book. What was it that changed Morison’s mind as well as his book?

Morison discovered Jesus’ death was verified by both Jewish and Roman historians.

Morison then wondered if the disciples had conspired a plot to make it appear Jesus had risen. However, there are three main problems with that theory:

First, the tomb was secured by a large stone and a 24-hour trained Roman guard. It would have been impossible for the disciples to roll the stone away and remove Jesus’ body without notice.

Second, the resurrection plot would have died out as soon as someone discovered Jesus’ body, yet that never happened.

Third, the disciples changed from being cowards into men who were willing to be tortured and martyred for proclaiming the risen Jesus.

It was the dramatic transformation in the disciples’ behavior that convinced Morison the resurrection really happened.

What Would a Jury Decide?

Another scholar who wrote about evidence for Jesus’ resurrection was Dr. Simon Greenleaf, founder of the Harvard Law School. Greenleaf wrote the rules of evidence still used in our legal system today. Applying those rules to the events surrounding Jesus’ death, Greenleaf concluded that any honest jury would render a verdict that Jesus’ resurrection really happened. As with Morison, it was the sudden change in the disciples’ behavior that persuaded him. He writes,

“It would have been impossible for the disciples to persist with their conviction that Jesus had risen if they hadn’t actually seen the risen Christ.”

Jesus’ resurrection convinced his disciples that he was the Messiah who had died for our sins. He was “the only way to God,” and “the resurrection and the life.”

They now knew Jesus alone had the power over life and death, and they gave their lives proclaiming him as the risen Lord.

So, what does Jesus’ resurrection mean to you and me today?

The apostle Paul, who had also initially been a skeptic of Jesus’ resurrection, explains its impact on our lives.

“For Christ has completely abolished death, and has now, through the Gospel, opened to us men the shining possibilities of the life that is eternal.” (2 Timothy 1:10, Phillips)

In other words, Jesus’ death and resurrection opened the door for us to have eternal life with Christ. But, there is an obstacle preventing us from going to heaven. The apostle Paul explains.

“You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.” (Colossians 1:21, NLT)

The obstacle to us having eternal life with Christ is that we have sinned and rebelled against a holy God. Although God loves us beyond our understanding, his perfect justice requires payment for our sins. The penalty is death.

Why Can’t God Just Forgive Our Sin?

Many wonder why an all-powerful, loving God can’t just forgive us without punishing us for our sins. Why does he demand justice?

Imagine entering a courtroom and you are guilty of murder. As you approach the bench, you realize that the judge is your father. Knowing that he loves you, you immediately begin to plead, “Dad, just let me go!”

With tears in his eyes he responds, “I love you, son, but I’m a judge. I can’t simply let you go.”

Presenting the evidence against you, he bangs the gavel down and declares you guilty. Justice cannot be compromised, at least not by a judge. But because he loves you, he steps down from the bench, takes off the robe, and offers to pay the penalty for you. The penalty is death.

This is the picture painted by the New Testament. God stepped down into human history, in the person of Jesus Christ, and was crucified on the cross for us. Jesus is not a third-party whipping boy being punished for our sins, but rather he is God himself. Stated more bluntly, God had two choices: to punish us for our sin, or to receive the punishment himself. In Christ, he decided to pay the penalty for us.

In other words, God’s perfect justice is completely satisfied by the death of his Son, Jesus Christ. All of our sins—no matter how bad they are or have been—are completely paid for by the blood of Christ. Paul writes,

“Yet now he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” (Colossians 1:22, NLT)

But wait a minute, you say, “Don’t I have to do good deeds to get into heaven?”

The Gift of Heaven

Since eternal life is a gift from God, you and I can’t do anything to earn our way into heaven. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, explains God’s amazing grace.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV)

For a gift to be ours, we need to actually receive it. Like any gift, you can choose to accept or reject Jesus Christ’s pardon for the penalty for your sins. This was made clear by the apostle John.

“This is what God told us: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life, but whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” ( John 5:11-12, NCV)

It’s Your Choice

To become a Christian you must place your faith in Jesus’ death for your sins on the cross, and trust in his resurrection for your eternal life. It is a choice that you alone must make. No one else can do it for you.

You must honestly admit you have sinned and want the forgiveness Jesus Christ offers you. The apostle John tells us that,

“If we freely admit that we have sinned, we find God utterly reliable—he forgives our sins and makes us thoroughly clean from all that is evil.” (1 John 1:9, Phillips)

John tells us that whoever receives Jesus Christ becomes his child.

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12, NIV)

You can receive Jesus right now by asking him to come into your life and forgive your sins.

If you haven’t ever invited Jesus into your life, simply pray the following words. But remember, it’s not the words you say but the attitude of your heart that is important.

“Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for all my sins—past, present, and future. Thank you for giving me eternal life. I receive you as my Savior by faith, and desire you to be Lord of my life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.”

If you have made this commitment to Jesus Christ, he actually entered your life. He will help you to become the brand-new person he created you to be. He is freeing you to experience a life of meaning, purpose and power.

What is your response?

No, I did not invite Jesus into my life.

Yes, I prayed and invited Jesus into my life.

Yes, I prayed and rededicated my life to Jesus.

You can also send us your reaction to this presentation in the comment box below.

42217.T. The Gift of Heaven

Video Transcript

If you were to die tonight, would you go to heaven?

Jesus explained that heaven is not an automatic destination. He said: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13–14, BSB).

Jesus taught that there are only two destinations after we die. One is in heaven with God forever, and the other is in hell separated from God for eternity.

Is there really anything more important than knowing where you will spend eternity?

Jesus asked this profound question: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Mark 8:36–37, NIV).

God’s deepest desire is that people will spend eternity in Heaven someday. The apostle Paul explains that God our Savior, “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2: 4, ESV).

However, we can forfeit heaven through unbelief or ignorance when we do not accept God’s incredible offer of forgiveness.

God is very interested in the choice you will make that will decide your eternal destination. In fact, he wants you to know that you can spend eternity with him.

John, one of Jesus’ disciples, said, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13, NIV).

This means that, before you die, you can know where you will spend eternity.

The major religions of the world offer no guarantee that you will go to heaven when you die. They teach that a person must do good deeds and follow a list of rules to please a distant God and then maybe attain salvation. But there is no guarantee.

These religions are focused on what we do. “Do this” or “do that” and maybe you will get into heaven? They do not provide assurance that you will be permitted into heaven. It is only because of who God is and what Jesus has done for you, that you can be confident you will enter heaven.

Would you like to know how you can be certain you are going to heaven?

First, you must understand the barrier that prevents you from being with God when you die.

Romans 3:23 declares, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

Sin is any thought, word, or deed that violates God’s moral standards. If you’re honest, you know there have been times in your life when you’ve missed the mark. Your thoughts and actions weren’t what they should be. That is sin. And because God is infinitely holy, one sin is enough to separate you from him for eternity.

Many people try to bridge the divide between them and God through good works, or sacrificial acts. Or by being faithful members of some religion. But the Bible is clear that it is impossible to earn our entrance into heaven by anything we can do.

Jesus told his followers: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48, ESV).

But none of us are perfect. No matter how hard we try, we continue to fall short. So, what do we do? Fortunately, God has a solution.

Romans 6:23 promises, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Death, or separation from God, is the natural result of sin. But God, knowing our impossible situation, found a way to bridge that divide. Out of his deep love for us, God sent his son, Jesus.

“For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NET).

Jesus came to earth to reveal the very heart of God through his actions and his teachings. And he voluntarily sacrificed himself on the cross to pay the penalty for us.

As the infinite God-man, Jesus took upon himself the punishment we deserve because of our sin. He became the perfect sacrifice, our substitute.

“God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NLT).

Author Randy Alcorn wrote: “God … so much wants us not to go to hell that he paid a horrible price on the cross so that we wouldn’t have to.”

So heaven is not something we earn, but an incredible gift we are offered. It is not based on our deeds, but on our personal relationship with Jesus.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9, NIV).

On the cross, Jesus exclaimed, “It is finished” (John 19:30, NIV). The Greek word translated “it is finished” was normally written across certificates of debt when they were canceled. It means “paid in full.” When Jesus died, he paid in full our debt of sin.

And Jesus’ story doesn’t end with the grave.

Three days after his crucifixion, Jesus Christ rose from the dead, just as he said he would. He conquered death, opening the way to heaven for all who trust in him.

Jesus proclaimed, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25–26, NIV).

So how do we experience this eternal life?

According to the Bible, there is only one way to heaven. Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NLT).

The Bible promises “But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children” (John 1:12, NET.

The apostle Paul explains, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9, NIV).

Believing in Jesus means placing your total and complete trust in him for your salvation. But you need to choose to receive Christ and follow him.

A criminal can be offered a pardon for his crimes by the governor, but if he rejects it, that pardon has no effect. In the same way, Jesus offers us a complete pardon for all our sins and the gift of eternal life, but it does not go into effect unless we accept it.

Are you ready to receive this free gift now?

God has given every person the freedom to choose their own destiny. He didn’t have to do that. He could have created us to be robotic people programmed to love and obey him, but then our compulsory love would be meaningless. God wants us to love him freely, so he gave us the right to choose.

Will you choose to accept God’s amazing offer of forgiveness and eternal life? Or will you decide to reject it? Choose wisely because you are determining your eternal future. Don’t put off this crucial decision.

The Bible explains, “Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony … God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:10–12, NIV).

God knows your thoughts and motives, and he wants you to come to him because he dearly loves you and wants you to spend eternity with him.

To receive God’s forgiveness and start a new life with him, you must believe that Jesus is God, that he died for your sins and rose again, and that he wants to come into your life.

If you have never invited Jesus into your life, you can simply pray the following words. However, it’s not the exact words you say, but the attitude of your heart that is important.

“Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for all my sins—past, present, and future. Thank you for giving me eternal life, which you made possible by your death and resurrection. I receive you as my Savior by faith, and desire you to be Lord of my life. I give you the right to make me into the kind of person you want me to be.”

Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? If so, pray it now or pray something similar using your own words.

If you have made this commitment to Jesus Christ, your life with him here on earth has started and will continue with him in heaven!

He will help you to become the brand-new person he created you to be. He is freeing you to experience a life of meaning, purpose, and power.

What is your response?

No, I did not invite Jesus into my life.

Yes, I prayed and invited Jesus into my life.

Yes, I prayed and rededicated my life to Jesus.

You can also send us your reaction to this presentation in the comment box below.

22300.040 Arise! Shine!

Day 40

Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people. But the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1–2) 

“Arise, shine; for your light has come!” Arise in the light of our Father’s adoring gaze. Shine with the knowledge that you are His beloved—treasured, valued, precious, and adored. 

“The glory of the LORD has risen upon you”—not as you hope to be someday, but as you are right now. Our Father shares His glory—His nature of lovingkindness—with you. He created you to be like His Son. 

“Darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people.” That darkness will seek to gain a foothold in your soul. Satan is consumed with hatred of all things good—especially the “very good” of you. He will seek to smother God’s glory by twisting your thoughts and destroying your life and witness on earth. As believers, we are in a monumental battle. 

But light shines best in total darkness. Through it all the promise remains. “The LORD will arise over you and His glory will be seen upon you.” 

And so, in the confusion and hatred of the world—in famines, pandemics, and wars—we cling to God’s Word. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:35, 37). We cling to God’s promises and know that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. We bring our thoughts into agreement with what God says: 

“His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him” (2 Peter 1:3). We will be “filled to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). “When He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). “As He [Jesus] is so also are we in this world” (1 John 3:17). “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). 

We are more than conquers by believing God and living out all that He has promised for us. We triumph by bringing light into the darkness of our trials and exalting Him above the mountain of our afflictions. In the face of all Satan throws at us, in the darkest circumstances of our lives, we win by laying down our wants and choosing God’s will (God’s way of love) above our own. “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8). 81 

Jesus did this. And we shall do the same. 

Creation longs that we rise and shine in the likeness of God’s Son. “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:18–19). 

I want to encourage you. You are here, now, in this hour of history to live as the beloved son/ daughter of God you were created to be. You are here to resonate with Jesus and radiate His life—His glory—to the world. 

I wish I could sit with you and hear your story. I wish I could watch through the words of this devotional and see you overcome the enemy’s lies, arise in bold assurance and shine with the goodness of God. 

Life on this planet is your opportunity to live out God’s will—to bring God’s will to earth. God’s glory is upon you as you go about your everyday “ordinary” life in the extra ordinary life of God. You are light in the darkness. You are a spirit-soul-body channel of God’s love. Our Father manifests His love to the world through His Son, and He manifests His love today, in the chaos and evil of this world, through you. 

Ponder for a Moment 

“Arise, shine for your light has come!” 

How are you personally challenged and encouraged by these words? 

May the Holy Spirit strengthen you in the tears and triumphs of the days ahead. May your eyes be opened and your soul restored so that you see our Father as He really is. May Jesus’ love fill your heart and pour from you so that all people everywhere are encouraged to come and see that “God is love.” 

Onward precious beloved. Amen. Amen. And Amen.

22300.039 Come to Me

Day 39

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30) 

So how do we apply all that we have learned to our lives? What are we to do? How do we come to better express God’s love? How do we become the people He has promised we shall be? 

Trying to make life work apart from Christ is a heavy burden we were never meant to carry. Over and over again we simply come with our loads and learn to rest in Him. We come to the One who is kind and approachable—gentle and lowly. We come to the One, who as a humble man acknowledged his absolute dependence on His Father. We come to the One who cannot be deterred in wanting to be with us and give Himself to us. 

And so we continue in eternal life as we began—by coming to Jesus. Receiving what He gives is both the initial gateway into and the continuing pathway for life in Christ. Coming to Jesus, learning from Him and taking His yoke is the way forward into the glorious mysteries, “for eye has not seen, nor ear heard the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). 

Jesus finds pleasure when you receive what He paid the price to give. He never tires of your coming. It saddens Him to see you alone and trying to fend for yourself. No matter who the world says you are or what you have done, He wants you. Jesus isn’t put off by your sins, troubles, or partial belief. He doesn’t get frustrated with you after a while and wish you would stop pestering Him. You can’t shut down His passion for your wholeness. 

Just as cancer doesn’t put off a surgeon, sin doesn’t put off God. The surgeon is pleased when people come for life-saving operations. The patient’s coming actually allows the doctor to do what he wants to do. 

Jesus is so pleased when you come to Him; it lets Him do His healing, transforming work. When you bring yourself to Him, it satisfies His longing for your wholeness. His joy and ours rise together as He gives and we receive. 

And so we come to the One who restores our souls and frees us to be the people He created us to be. We come and trust we will hear His voice. Then we come and ask that we will live in obedience to what we have just heard. We say, “I surrender all” and we mean it. And later we pray it again, but this time “all” somehow means more than it did before. We give our life to Him and He takes that life, works Himself into us and gives it back to us to live in oneness with Him. God grows us, not by making us self-sufficient, but by bringing us to know His sufficiency. Religion and the world are forever suggesting that we need to do something to improve ourselves—to contribute to our growth—to better please God. But it is our coming to God that pleases Him. Think of the father’s joy upon the prodigal’s return. 

We are right with God, not when we get our act together, but when we come in honest acknowledgement that we were never meant to make it on our own—that we need continual care, courage, guidance … love. 

We were made for relationship with our Creator. We were made to live in the stream of God’s grace —by letting Him lead in the dance of life. Over and over again, we come to Jesus and accept his invitation to partner with Him in life. 

Nothing pleases Jesus more than that you come and receive what He freely gives because in coming and receiving you become your true self—the person He created you to be. He takes your stresses, anxieties, and worries and asks you to learn of His gentle and humble ways. He gives rest for your soul as you take His yoke and join in His life. 

Ponder for a Moment 

Come to Jesus. 

Repeat and repeat and repeat ….

22300.038 One in Glory; One in Love

Day 38

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them that they may be one just as We are one. I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20–23) 

Just before going to the cross, Jesus prays this prayer for us. It is His heartfelt desire for His people—for those 2,000 years ago and for you and me today. Jesus pleads to the Father on our behalf, that we be one with Him—that we join Him in the oneness He shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Our union with Him drives His prayer. 

Four times in this part of His prayer, Jesus asks that we “may be one,” just as He is one with the Father. Hours later Jesus paid the price to guarantee fulfillment of this request. Our atonement (at-one-ment) was accomplished on the cross. 

Jesus took our sins and our sin nature upon Himself; He made Himself one with us so that when He died, we died. And when He rose, we rose. We share in His resurrection life; we share His divine nature. Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man, is both one with His Father and one with His people. He is the bridge that unites us. 

The life of God flows to us in union with Jesus. In Christ, we become the people God created us to be—“made perfect in one.” Jesus shares Himself with us so intimately, so completely, that His nature becomes ours. His glory becomes ours; the glory the Father gave Jesus, is the same glory Jesus gives us. His love becomes ours; the love of the Father for His Son is the same love the Father has for us. 

In union with Jesus, the life of God flows to you so your life resonates with His and you become your true self—the son or daughter of God He created you to be. And in union with Jesus, the life of God flows through you. The life you share with Jesus is what creation longs to experience. That is your witness—“that the world may believe that you sent Me.” 

God’s plan for saving the world is not so much about church programs or ministries. It is about His Son on display through His people. It is that simple and that profound. The glory of God—the love of God—bursting out through you, is God’s plan for redeeming the world. 

But how do we express Christ who lives in us? How do we let God pour out through us for the world to see? How do we manifest God’s lovingkindness to others?

We don’t know what the person in front of us really needs. We don’t know how they are thinking or the traumas and hurts they have suffered. Do they need food? Shelter? What words would help? If Jesus were here, what would He do to heal the wounds of their spirit, soul and body? 

We don’t know what they need to feel valued, treasured and loved, but the Spirit knows. He will guide you. Being at one with Jesus means following the Holy Spirit’s guidance. He will lead you in caring for others the way Jesus would. At one with Jesus, you can fling wide the windows of your soul and let out His healing goodness. 

You in your frail humanity—ordinary, limited you—at one with all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God, is your witness. Creation longs to see Christ on display through you. God shares His glory with you. And so, at one with Jesus, you radiate His nature to others—and the world comes to know and believe that the Father loves us even as He loves His Son. 

Ponder for a Moment 

Read today’s Scripture again. In your own words, what is Jesus’ heartfelt desire for you? 

In your own words, what is Jesus’ heartfelt desire for the world? 

22300.037 Love Perfected among Us … in This World

Day 37

We have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is so also are we in this world. (1 John 4:16–17) 

Amazing! Incredible! Can we really believe John’s words to us? 

“We have known and believed the love that God has for us.” God is love and He loves us. But unless we know that truth—unless we believe it—God’s great goodness can’t come to us and change us from the inside out. God’s promises spring from His lovingkindness. Knowing and believing He loves us extravagantly allows us to embrace the extravagance of the life Jesus purchased for us on the cross. 

The fall in the Garden of Eden gave God opportunity to show us the full extent of His love. Would God leave disobedient, sinful Adam and Eve to fend for themselves? Or would He welcome the human race in its blindness? Would He stay with us as we scorned, rejected and despised Him? 

Apart from the fall, God would have had no stage upon which to display the depth of His passion for humanity. On the cross, Jesus showed us the full extent of God’s love—poured out on sinners like ourselves. 

John was there. With his own ears, he heard Jesus’ agonizing prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. With his own eyes, he witnessed the betrayal of Judas’ kiss, the mocking, spitting crowds, Jesus’ flesh torn open by the whipping. Imagine watching with John as the Son of Man staggered up the hill to Golgotha. Let your ears ring with the pounding of the nails that bound our Savior willingly to the cross. Hear the words from Jesus’ parched lips, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). 

Know and believe the love that God has for you. Our knowing and believing doesn’t change God; He is overflowing with love for us. But our knowing and believing changes us—so that we come into agreement with God, so His life can have expression in and through us. What we know by faith comes alive in flesh and blood—in physical expression—through our lives. 

Over and over again, Scripture encourages us to know and believe. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Truth in itself doesn’t make you free; knowing the truth does. He said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). Believing in Jesus allows rivers of living water—the life of God—to pour from your heart.

“Love has been perfected among us.…” What? How can that be? Isn’t God’s love already perfect? Yes! God’s love, as expressed to us in the giving of His Son, is perfect. 

But the word “perfect” implies living out the ongoing goal set for us by God. And the goal of love is that all would come to know and share life in Christ. We get the privilege of perfecting Jesus’ perfect love by bring it to hands-on, relational fulfillment on earth. 

Dear friend, our Father planned that you would be like His Son. The promise is not to be delayed for heaven; it is for your life here and now on earth. You were made to feel and express Jesus’ emotions: intense anger with the temple money-lenders, exuberant joy at the success of His disciples, heart-wrenching grief in the Garden of Gethsemane. You were created to think like Jesus who saw every human being as precious and valuable regardless of worldly labels. You were made to know and believe the Father’s love for you, to love others with that same love and be like Jesus in this world. 

Holy Spirit, give us revelation. Help us in our partial belief. Help us to more fully know the love that God has for us. Perfect Your love in us, through us and among us. 

Ponder for a Moment 

Read today’s verses again. What is God saying to you through these words?

22300.036 Marked by Love

Day 36

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35) 

It isn’t our correct theology about God, having Christian morals or how much time we spend praying that sets us apart. Love for others is our defining mark. “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jesus’ love in us, overflowing to others, marks us as His disciples. 

Consider the contrast between being religious and being a disciple of Jesus. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day—scribes and Pharisees—didn’t care about people. They didn’t treat the poor, the widowed, or the oppressed with compassion. Rather they heaped guilt and shame upon people by shunning them or pointing out their sins. They burdened people with laws they couldn’t obey. They tore down others to elevate themselves. 

Jesus did the exact opposite. People mattered to Him. He valued and cherished each unique one. By treating men, women, and children—tax collectors, prostitutes, and invalids—with care and compassion, He revealed to each their worth as struggling, yet beautiful human beings created in the image of God. 

God doesn’t love us grudgingly. He doesn’t love us because He is good and that is the right thing to do. He is not disgusted with us in some way, but polite enough to hide His displeasure. Jesus sees right and wrong, but He doesn’t judge. His love for you is wholehearted, spontaneous, complete. He loves you because you are His treasure. He delights in you. 

To be loved like that is what every soul desires. We were created to know it. Deep in the core of each of us, we long to be treated with kindness—to be delighted in—to be valued for who we are. 

Love is what we need and love defines us as Jesus’ disciples. In the amazing plan of God, when we come to know Jesus’ unconditional love for us, we begin to express that same love to others. Knowing Jesus’ love allows us to put all judgment aside and simply love. In fact, our love for others is our defining mark; it is evidence we have been with Jesus. 

And, in the amazing plan of God, our love for others attracts them to Jesus—the source of love. 

Jesus calls us to be His witnesses to the world. He said, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). We fish with His love. Love attracts people to Him because it fulfills the deepest need of every hurting, longing heart.

Jesus’ last miracle recorded in Scripture had to do with fishing in this way. John, Peter, and several of the other disciples had been fishing all night without a single catch. Jesus appeared on the shore and called out, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat” (John 21:6). They did … and netted a huge catch. 

Later, after breakfast on the shore, Jesus took Peter aside. Three times He asked the disciple, “Do you love Me?” And, after Peter responded, “Yes, Lord,” Jesus said, “Feed My lambs.” “Tend My sheep.” “Feed My sheep” (John 21:15–17). 

Three times Peter had denied Jesus and three times Jesus restored the man by reinforcing that he still had a part in God’s plan in being a fisher of men—by caring for others. 

Do you see it? Jesus is speaking to us. “Fishers of men—disciples of Mine—cast your net on the right side. Fish in a different way. Feed My lambs (physically, emotionally, and spiritually). Care for My people (physically, emotionally, and spiritually). Lift them up and encourage them with the truth of who they are and who I am. Treasure them as I do. Let them know how much I love them. Let My love, expressed through you, draw people to Me that they might become whole.” 

My dear brother, my dear sister, love is evidence that you follow the One who is the source of the love we all so desperately need. Radiating God’s love is your witness to the world. Your love for one another marks you as a fisher of men—a true disciple of Jesus. 

Ponder for a Moment 

In what ways might your opinion or judgement of a person have prevented you from loving them? 

Who can you celebrate today? Who can you delight in today? Who can you love today?