Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” (NIV)
Why the third day? He is the Lord, is He not? He can do what He wants, when He wants. No one and nothing can stand up against Him. Ok, so part of the plan was for Him to be the sacrifice for our sins. Sure, I get that. And then to prove that He was victorious over sin, death, and Hell, He will rise from the dead and show Himself to many witnesses, and I say Praise God! But why the third day? Why not be raised back to life, an hour later, maybe two hours later? He could lie dead long enough that no one could say that He was just sleeping and then come back from the dead. Right? Ok, maybe some would need for it to be a bit longer, so then why not the second day? But no, He waits until the third day?
It is interesting to think about. One thing we know for sure is that it was on purpose. It is not as if the Lord was imprisoned in Hell and was struggling to break loose like MacGyver pulling some chewing gum and a paperclip picking Hell’s lock and it took three days to get it done. No, never was there a force strong enough to force Him into death or out of it. He did not die. He gave up His spirit. And there is no devil, nor demon that can push Him around. It was on purpose. He foretold that He would rise on the third day from the Jonah experience saying as Jonah was in the belly of the fish so the Son of man would be in the depths of the Earth and then, on the third day, rise again.
So, if it was on purpose, what was the purpose?
By referring to His resurrection day, the third day, then there is obviously a second and first day. In Scripture, we hear about the first day when referring to the first day of the week, but until the resurrection, there was not a real significance to the first day of the week. I began to think about any other first days and I began to ask myself if the Lord was attempting to teach us something through the First Day of Creation. On the first day of Creation, found in Genesis 1, everything was dark. Then God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light. But then God did something very interesting. The Light created did not dissipate the darkness. Instead, God only separated the light from the darkness. Both were now present. There was a mark of distinction between light and darkness. The first day of the crucifixion, it was in the middle of the day, then suddenly the sky grew black and the sun stopped shining. On one side of Christ was light, “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom,” the one criminal said. On the other side was darkness as another criminal hurled insults at Christ. John and Mary stood in the light at the foot of the cross faithful to the Lord. But darkness was close as Peter denied and Judas betrayed. Day 1 was a day of distinction. Light and Darkness made visible and separated for all to see.
When the Day 1’s of this life come, they are dark days. They are characterized by the horrible torture and death of Christ. We go through these times more than we want to remember, but we are attacked by people, by circumstances, by spirits and the Lord allows these to have victory over us for a time and we wonder why does God allow Day 1 in our life? But the purpose of these dark and painful Day 1’s are to give us insight and the ability to discern light from dark, righteousness from unrighteousness. Not only this, but we are able to discern that in the middle of whatever it is we are going through if we our spirit is more aligned with the darkness or the light. Could this be why the Lord has allowed such tragedy that we might see the depths of our soul and know where we stand. Without Day 1, our faith is not challenged, our spiritual maturity is not on display. It takes no effort or spiritual strength to live for Christ when everything is blissful. The only way for us to truly know the reality of our walk in Christ is on Day 1 when all Hell has broken loose and the Devil is winning, beating us to a pulp with unforeseen and agonizing events. Divorce, death of loved ones, terminal illness, layoffs work quite well as nails pinning us to our cross.
We loathe Day 1. I suppose Christ was not too fond of it either as He prayed for the Father to let this cup pass from Him. But those words must ring in our spirit when our Day 1 comes, “not mine, but thy will be done.” These are easy to say, but when Day 1 arrives, will it be our prayer? Day 1 is the Day of distinction. The Lord has brought it about to let us see who we are. He also allows us to see the hearts of those around us. I am sure that Job thought he had some really great friends until his Day 1 came. Without Day 1, I might walk blindly and with contentment in the darkness and never know it. I need Day 1 to see. On Day 1, I verify that I am what I thought or that I am not. Without this Day of distinction, how could I make the adjustments necessary? How can I move into the light unless I see that I stand in the darkness.
The Good News is that when Day 1 arrives, we know there is a purpose of allowing us to see who we are that we might praise Him though He slay us or that we might repent of our lack of faith. And when Day 1 arrives, we can trust that it will not remain because the purpose of Day 1 is to bring us into Day 3, living by the power of the resurrection. Day 3 of creation is the first time we see life. When we understand and respond to Day 1 as purposed by the Lord, life-abundant life-comes on Day 3. (More to come about Day 2 and Day 3…)
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