Thursday, 15th July 2021
Hope Beyond the Grave
Pr Mark Tan
With infection rates remaining high and death being experienced among all age groups and health statuses, we might often wonder whether there is any hope for this to end. The disciples of John the Baptist must have felt somewhat similar. They have just witnessed their teacher and Messiah’s herald, beheaded. Moreover, it was Herod who beheaded John the Baptist at his step-daughter’s request after illicitly dancing for him and his guests. What hope is there for John’s disciples? How will John himself be vindicated by what happened to him? It all just seems unfair.
As much as the passage is centred on a terrible account, it begins with a ray of vindication through Jesus. For as if to haunt Herod, his hearing about Jesus and His miracles and teachings, were as if John the Baptist had been raised from the dead! This, of course, was John’s hope all along: “He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:30) And Jesus did increase! From parables to miracles, Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was at hand and He gave a foretaste of it by healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, casting out demons and even raising people from the dead. This made Jesus not only like John the Baptist, but more, like Elijah or one of the prophets. Suffice to say, Jesus was up to something big, and Herod was afraid.
We all know the end of this story. Herod tried to kill Him, but death couldn’t have Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. Jesus rose from the dead! The empty tomb is the witness. This is where our hope lies: beyond the grave.
Going back to John the Baptist’s death, as soon as they heard, John’s disciples took their teacher’s body and placed it in a tomb. Knowing what we know now, what would we say to the disciples?
- They will be okay: It is later in Acts that we know many of John’s disciples became part of the first church, and though they lost their first master, Jesus shall be their “forever” Master and Saviour.
- God is just: While Jesus’s tomb is empty, and John the Baptist’s body is tucked safe in a tomb somewhere in the Middle East (although some say his head and hands are going places), Herod was struck dead and worms ate his body; he did not get to be buried in a tomb (Acts 12). This is significant because symbolically, it means that Herod will never be saved.
- The tomb is temporary: There will come a day when the tombs and the graves shall give up their dead, and they will be judged with the book of deeds while saved by the Book of Life, and through Jesus Christ we shall be in that Forever Place where He will wipe away every tear: there will be no more sorrow or grief.
What does this mean to us? Well similarly:
- It’s going to be okay: While life nowadays might seem more precarious and fleeting than before, Jesus remains to be our Forever Saviour and Lord. He who healed the sick so that others may draw to Him shall do that again in this day and age so that many will come to faith in Him.
- God is just: “ ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay.,’ says the Lord. Meanwhile we must not overcome evil with evil, but with good.” (Romans 12). Therefore let’s look for Jesus among the least of them: the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned (Matthew 25) in preparation for His coming again.
- Death is temporary Billy Graham said it well: ”Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” This too is our hope, as it is for anyone who faithfully depends on the merit of the work of Christ on the cross and resurrection.
Prayer: O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of Your people who call upon You. Grant that they may know and understand the things they ought to do, and also that they may have grace and power to faithfully accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
经文： 马可福音 6:14-29
尽管这段经文以一个可怕的叙述为中心，但它透过耶稣的名声证明见到一线曙光。因为这仿佛困扰着希律，他听到耶稣和他的奇迹和教义，就好像施洗约翰从死里复活了一样！当然，这是约翰一直以来的希望：“祂必 兴 旺 ， 我 必 衰 微” （约翰福音 3:30）耶稣确实兴旺了！从比喻到奇迹，耶稣宣告神的国近了，祂通过医治病人、洁净麻风病人、赶鬼，甚至使人从死里复活来预表祂。这使耶稣不仅像施洗约翰，而且像以利亚或其中一位先知。确切的说，耶稣行神迹奇事，希律很是害怕。
2.上帝是公义的：“ 伸 冤 在 我 ； 我 必 报 应 ” 主说。同时，
*你 不 可 为 恶 所 胜 ， 反 要 以 善 胜 恶 。（罗马书 12 章）。因此，让我们在最小的人中寻找耶稣：饥饿的、口渴的、无家可归的、赤身露体的、生病的和被监禁的（马太福音 25 章），为基督再来做准备。