April 01, 2021 – Thursday
1 Thessalonians 2:13 NIV
13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.
Everyone who hears the word of God has a choice. Each person has the choice to believe what they have heard or not to believe what they have heard. When you accept what is heard not as human word, but the word of God, then you become a believer and are saved.
It is interesting to note Paul did not think it was his powerful and articulate preaching that led people to believe. Instead, at the end, it was the word of God that led people to believe. What was the word of God Paul was bringing to the people in Thessalonica? Beyond Jesus’ teachings and miracles, it was two events, two events that changed the world.
The two events were His crucifixion and tree days later His resurrection. Crucifixion was nothing new as the Roman use of crucifixion was well known. But for someone to choose crucifixion to pay the ransom for the sins of all humanity, that was new and unheard of. Animals might be sacrificed for sin and sacrificed for sins of a group of people for a specified period of time. But not humans, human sacrifice was forbidden by God. Still, some kings, Ahaz and Manasseh, pursued a number of idolatrous practices including child sacrifice to Molech in rebelling against God.
Still, the idea of Jesus dying as a sacrifice for all mankind’s sins was unheard of prior to His crucifixion. The idea would have carried little weight or significance without His resurrection three days later. No one survived Roman crucifixion. No one. Jesus did not. They made sure He was dead when they speared His side. Yet, on the morning of the third day He rose. When He rose, He was not injured barely able to get around. He joined two disciples walking (!) on the road to Emmaus and engaged them in conversation.
Finally, He showed Himself to His disciples and others except for Thomas. And Thomas had better sense than to believe a crucified man could be up and about even eating. A week later Jesus showed up (appeared even though the doors were locked) when Thomas was with the other disciples. Thomas was shocked. Then Jesus said (John 20:27), Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe. Thomas’ world had just been turned upside down, the reality of the impossible had just entered his life. His only utterance was (v28), My Lord and My God.
Jesus then added a statement that I’m sure Paul loved to share, Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. The second half of that sentence would have a powerful impact on people who, like Thomas, would have trouble believing. The fact that so many had seen the resurrected Christ could not be denied. The fact Jesus had appeared after His ascension to Paul could not be denied.
The word of God speaking of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross when coupled with His resurrection on the third day promised not only forgiveness, but the defeat of death – eternal life! Jesus had to die on the cross, publicly with witnesses aplenty so that His resurrection would cause an eruption of belief. As eloquent as Paul may have been, it was Jesus’ message of love, His literal ugly sacrifice on the cross for our sins followed by His resurrection that was so powerful it would lead those who had not seen to believe.
Prayer: Father God, help me to always view Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection with great wonder at what He and You have done for me and all who believe. Let me never take it for granted, but always be amazed at Your love and mercy. You have blessed us all mightily. Thank You for Your word. – In Jesus Name. Amen.