Daily Bible Reading Reflections

Not “If,” But “When”

Today’s Bible reading is 2 Chronicles 23 and Mark 9.

As you read the Gospels, it’s remarkable how straightforwardly Jesus talks about his coming resurrection from the dead. Long before it happens, he repeatedly and very matter-of-factly talks about what is going to happen.

In Mark 9, for instance, after his transfiguration, on the way down the mountain with Peter, James, and John, “he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead” (Mark 9:9).

No ifs, ands, or buts. He spoke of it so plainly. “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen on this high mountain until I have risen from the dead.” Now, it would obviously be one thing to talk about what was going to happen and what others should do when it happens … and then … for nothing to happen. But it did. Jesus did rise from the dead, just as he so boldly foretold.

Here’s something worth thinking about throughout the day: Jesus not only straightforwardly talked about his own resurrection from the dead, he repeatedly and very matter-of-factly talked about your resurrection.

“Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)

No ifs, ands, or buts. He spoke of it so plainly. Long before it happens, he repeatedly and very matter-of-factly talked about what is going to happen.

In light of his own empty tomb, are we listening?

One more thought to chew on from Mark 9. “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power” (Mark 9:1). There’s much we can learn from that statement, but for the moment, just reflect on those two words: taste death.

Death isn’t the end. After death, we don’t cease to exist. Each one of us will have to “taste” it–and it is a bitter, stinging taste–but death does not have the final word. Just as Jesus told his apostles what to do after he had risen from the dead, he has told us what will happen after we have tasted death … and what to do now in order to be prepared.

In Christ, we don’t have to wish upon a star. We’ve not been left to hinge everything on an “if.” Jesus straightforwardly spoke in terms of “when.” “When the Son of Man has risen from the dead…” And he did. The same Jesus so very matter-of-factly spoke of “when” all who are in the tombs will come out… And we will.

Because he lives, we can face tomorrow. Because he lives, all fear is gone. He holds the future, and us, in the palm of his hand. It’s not a matter of “if,” it’s simply a matter of “when.”

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