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What does it take?  What happens in us who are the disciples of Jesus, that after spending three years with the Master in Person, hearing Him teach, watching Him live and perform unheard of miracles before our eyes that we will still not believe?  The eleven spent three years with Him, watched the water turn to good wine, saw the storms calmed, the dead raised, the blind restored and the deaf hearing, and found themselves doing similar things every time they were sent out.  Three of them saw Him speak with Moses and Elijah about the days to come, and heard the Father’s voice command them to listen to Him.  And as they continued their walk with Him, they came to experience and witness things happening as He said, they went to Jerusalem and He was captured, tortured, crucified and killed… exactly the way He said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law.  They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles, who will mock Him and spit on Him, flog Him and kill Him.” 

Everything Jesus said to them happened exactly in every detail as He said it, and they were witnesses of it.  So when He is dead and buried, and three days later they heard the women come in with some story of the tomb being empty and angels telling them to tell the disciples to go to Galilee because Jesus has risen and He has gone ahead to Galilee… and they said, There you will see Him, just as He told you.”  Perhaps, maybe, just maybe, the last six words of Mark 10.34 might just suddenly take on a whole new importance…  “Three days later He will rise.”  So alright, Peter had learnt his lesson… and instead of running off to Galilee like he did stepping out of the boat, and instead of saying anything too rashly like he did about not denying Jesus… he ran off to the tomb to check it out for himself and John followed.  God only knows where James was.

And you are Peter, you see the tomb empty, you see the linen… and you go away, wondering to yourself what had happened.  John went also and saw and believed… and then the disciples went back to their homes.

What just happened?  Three years you have been with this Man who stops storms, walks on water and whose word is always kept.  Three years you heard Him speak and you watched things happen exactly the way He said.  By now surely you are used to having unexplainable things happen whenever He is around and that things tend to happen exactly the way He said.  When He said, “Lazarus, come out!” did not Lazarus… stinking dead Lazarus, come out?  So when He said, “Three days later He will rise,” and now three days later you are staring at an empty tomb with folded linen (as if someone had got up from a bed) and women with a message, saying, “He is risen and He has gone to Galilee.”  What happened?  Can’t we/you/Peter remember what He said as we were coming down off the Mount of Transfiguration? 

When they saw and heard what they saw and heard, and Jesus telling them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead,” what was there to think about?  What are you going to your homes for?  For a conference and a prayer meeting as to whether you should go to Galilee?  Ok… so you need to go home to pack for the journey and seek counsel and have a prayer meeting first.  Then those women came back, but this time… it is not some angel who is giving them the message… they are saying they have seen the Lord… even the mother is saying it, that Jesus Himself said, “Go and tell My brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see Me.”  What were they thinking then at that second message?  Tell My brothers?  Ok, everybody go find James, Joses, Simon and Jude… the sons of Mary, the ‘brothers’, and send them to Galilee, or did they forget that He said… His brothers are those who hear God’s word and obey them?  What were God’s words?  “Listen to Him!” 

Come on… after three years of watching Jesus, your Teacher and Rabbi, walk on water, feed the thousands, heal the sick, calm the storm, raise the dead and so on and so on, surely one thing you have learnt is that as it is with God so it is with Jesus… nothing is impossible for Him either.  An empty tomb, folded linen, two messages… one even from Jesus, can only mean one thing… He is risen; Galilee here we come!  But where in Galilee you ask… who cares, the shore, the mountain… He will know where to meet us.  You see, when Jesus says, “Go somewhere…” do not worry about how you get there or where exactly, just go and He will know where to meet you.  Now, if men who have been with Jesus and saw and heard all that is written for us to read that we may believe, still can fail to do what they were told, what hope is there for us?

Much, much more hope than any of them, for Jesus said, “…blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” and “…the last will be first…”  The first to hear of the message to go to Galilee did not go, but now, if we who have not seen but yet believed would want to go, then we who are the last shall be the first to see what God intended to show the eleven at Galilee on resurrection morning.  And indeed, if we get to see what the first eleven did not see, we will be able to make sure we are the last before Jesus Himself arrives… so the last shall be the first.  First to know the secret and the secrets of the Kingdom of God… not just of its power, but its joy, peace and righteousness in the Holy Spirit.

However, before we assume that we would not fail as the eleven did, be assured that the eleven’s weaknesses are in all of us.  We are just as ignorant, unbelieving, not listening or understanding as they were, and much worse, and our propensity and ability to assume, presume, ignore and outright disobey is far greater, and as such, we have nothing to boast about, but rather, by the grace of God… we are blessed because we have never seen but have yet believed, and as we begin to see, we will know.

The absolute mystery that we must first recognize and solve is how anyone who has seen, heard and witnessed the Lord could still miss the greatest event of all… His resurrection, His rising from the dead.  How any disciple confronted with evidence and a compelling message that suggests yet another one of His statements has come to pass will not go and enquire and inspect… but instead, when the women came with the second message… Mark recorded:  When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen Him, they did not believe it.  How?  What?  Why?  What is it that makes a disciple not believe?  Did they go?  No.

No wonder when Jesus stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  They were filled with joy and excitement that evening, as Luke recorded.  Imagine how much more joy and excitement they would have been filled with had they gone to Galilee.  No one, not one, is recorded as having been to Galilee that morning.  So what is the safeguard from this ever repeating itself again?  Apart from believing and obeying, it takes a fellowship of disciples who are one corporately, but who are also individuals, each following Jesus no matter what the others are doing or not doing.  As Jesus said to Peter, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?  You must follow Me.”

It might have been ‘herd’ mentality that stopped one of them from going to Galilee on his own.  John may have stayed with Peter, and the women may have restrained Mary Magdalene, for after all the eleven were not going.  It is this catering to the majority and pleasing the congregation that has led to many of the major blunders we are familiar with… like the appointment of Nicholas of Antioch because the Greek widows complained, the general opinion of the council of Acts 15 in sending the ‘collective’ letter, and the group persuasion by the elders and James in Acts 21 of Paul to join in with the purification rites.  Paul learnt to stand on his own in Galatians 2, opposing Peter to his face and citing Barnabas for being led astray, but even he could not resist the persuasion of James and the elders to appease those believers who were zealous for the law… instead of taking a stand and letting them know how ridiculous it is for a person who has eaten the flesh of Jesus and drunk His blood to be zealous for the law.  If even Paul could not stand the persuasion of the group then, it should not come as a surprise that many of us will not stand either. 

So what is the solution?  Not that we come to a common, collective, negotiated ground based on compromise and give and take… but rather, out of love, in love and because of love for the Lord and each other… always encourage each other and remind each other to follow the Lord first and only.  And if the following of the Lord leads us on different paths… so be it, and if following the Lord leads us on a common path… so be it, but following the Lord comes first.  Yet, the truth is this, if you yourself are really following the Lord, then you will be able to see all those who are following the Lord also.  It is only when you yourself are not following the Lord that you would not know if someone is not following the Lord, for the Lord is the Light and His words are a light unto your feet.  When you are following the Lord, you will see who is following the Lord… and when you are in the Lord, you will see those who are also in the Lord.  Simple.

It is because of our dogged following of the Lord in His word and the practice of His word even when it seems ridiculous and impossible… that has led us on the path from the tomb to Galilee and not the well worn path from the tomb to a locked room.  It is because you have listened, practised and believed His every word to be the S/spirit, the life and the truth that you see a set of footprints with the unmistakable imprint of a nail hole in each imprint leading away from the tomb towards Galilee.  You see, the footsteps of Jesus are invisible to those who are not following His every step, but are just jostling along in the crowd to be near Him… to hear Him teach and watch Him work, but will leave to go home whenever it suits them.  If Jesus is just your means to a blessing, a career, a ministry, a place in Heaven, or even a place in the Kingdom of God… you will never see His footsteps.  It is when you want to not only follow Him, but to walk the way He walked and where He walked that you may be more like Him, that those nail scarred footprints of Jesus are revealed to you even when He is walking over rocks.

So now, you are standing outside the tomb… where Mary said she saw the Lord.  There is no one around now… no angels, no Peter or John, no Mary… just you.  Can you see those footprints… the pair that bears the mark of the nails?  Will you look for them?  Will you search for them?  For if Mary held onto Jesus, then those nail marked footprints will be there, for Jesus will always give you a sign to follow.  Can you see them?  And if you do, what does it mean?  Now that you know that the eleven never went to Galilee… what does it really mean?

It means the entire book of Acts and the epistles are records of what happened when the disciples did not go according to God’s original plan, just as the books of Deuteronomy, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Chronicles, Kings and so on are records of what happened to Israel when they did not stick to God’s original plan, and the books of Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus are a record of what happened when Adam did not stick to God’s original plan.

It means most of what God said and did in the Bible is not a record of God acting and speaking when His plans are carried out to the letter, but a record of God acting and speaking when His plans are not carried out.

The only place where we really have a record of God speaking and acting when His exact plans are being carried out is in the ministry of Jesus Christ, as He said, “…I do exactly what My Father has commanded Me.”  No wonder He is the well pleasing, beloved Son.

What it means is this, if they had gone to Galilee that morning… there would be no encounter on the road to Emmaus, no appearance of Jesus in the locked room, no eating of fish in that room, no presence on the beach, no ascension of Jesus from the Mount of Olives, no selection of Matthias, no baptism with tongues of fire in the upper room in Acts 2, no sermon by Peter and no conversion of 3000 in Acts 2… just as a start.  And if these things never happened… then you can be assured most of Acts and the epistles would not have recorded what they record now, and even the seven letters to the seven churches would not have been written.

What would have been written?  God knows.  What would have happened if Adam obeyed?  What would have happened if Israel obeyed?  What would have happened if the disciples obeyed?  And how will we find out?  Simple.  By going to Galilee in the Holy Spirit… so that we can be shown things not lawful for men to speak of in Paul’s days, but certainly not for those who have permission to shout from the top of roofs what they heard whispered to them by the Holy Spirit.  By going to Galilee in the Spirit, with the Spirit, we will be witnesses to what should have been and what would have been.

You see… the original plan was the launch of the church… the vanguard of the Kingdom of God from the Mount of Transfiguration in such power that the Roman empire would engage the Kingdom of God in open warfare, and with the outbreak of that persecution, the disciples would be scattered by the Holy Spirit, and like Jeremiah traveled to all the kings of the Earth with the cup of God’s wrath in his day, so the disciples would take the Gospel, the cup of the New Covenant, to all the kings and nations of the Earth.  The manifestation of the Kingdom of God would provoke war to increase, bringing famine and pestilence, as the crops are devastated and the people are hit by the plagues, just as Egypt was devastated when the kingdom of Israel was being birthed, and the earthquakes that accompany the restoration of the Earth to its former size would add to more pestilence and famine.  Those early disciples would have been, as Paul wrote, …the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.

The Scriptures on His return would have been fulfilled in ways we never thought possible, just as Christ came as their Messiah in ways Israel never thought possible.

Even the words of Daniel, “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.  Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days,” can be fulfilled in a manner not imagined by us before.  The 1,335 days could have been 1,335 days after His ascension… not 1,335 days after the beast declares himself as God in the temple.  Far fetched?  Yes… and impossible to a group of religious people trying to set up a new religion.  But for a small group filled with the same power as Jesus was… doing all the things He had been doing and even the greater things…  no problems at all.

You see, the 1900 year history of the Christian churches is what happens when things are done men’s way without miraculous power… it is not the history of what can be done God’s way with miraculous power.  So what will happen if the Holy Spirit through His elect decides to show the world exactly what God had in mind… if the book of Acts had this as its first paragraph?  “And at the end of the 40 days, the disciples watched as Jesus ascended to His Father’s right hand from the Mount of Transfiguration, and when they could see Him no more, for a cloud hid Him from their view, the disciples came down the mountain to the crowds who had gathered to watch the consuming fire that had rested on the top.  And as Moses’ face was radiant, so the faces of the eleven shone just like the sun, and the Gospel of the Kingdom of God was preached to Israel and then to the rest of the nations, for as it was said by Jesus, “…for salvation is from the Jews.”

What do you think?  Heresy?  Blasphemy?  No, heresy is not believing what God said in the first place, and blasphemy is speaking against what God said.  God said, “Listen to Him,” and Jesus said, “Go and tell My brothers to go to Galilee…”  It is those who do not listen to Jesus who are guilty of heresy, and those who prevent the brothers of Jesus from going to Galilee who are guilty of blasphemy.  And who did Jesus tell the women to go to Galilee?  His disciples?  No.  His friends?  No.  His church?  No.  His brothers…  those who do the will of His Father in Heaven, who do God’s will, and who hear God’s word and put it into practice.  Sorry… only family members allowed from here on.

So, what was lost will be found, and what is hidden will be made known.  Those days of distress will reveal what would happened if the eleven had obeyed, as the millennium will reveal what would have happened if Israel obeyed, as New Earth will reveal what would have happened if Adam obeyed, and the New Heavens above New Jerusalem will reveal what would have happened if the sons of God obeyed their Father.  Except nothing will be restored, everything will be resurrected.  Amen.

So that which should have happened from resurrection morning is not being restored, it is being resurrected, and it will never be lost again.  As the millennium is the resurrection of the kingdom of Israel and the New Earth is the resurrection of the Earth of Adam, truly… He is the Resurrection and the Life.  Amen.

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