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Joy of Reunion XII

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The simple joy of being there is the joy of our testimony. That Resurrection morning they may have witnessed the joy of the reunion and we may now have the joy of recognition, but above all else, had we been there that morning, the greatest joy of all that we can have is simply —being there.

Simply being there can be called Mary’s joy if you wish, for when she sat and listened at the Lord’s feet whilst Martha busied herself, this disciple showed us something so simple that in our busyness we forget to enjoy just being there in the Presence of the Lord, listening to Him and watching Him speak, move and do whatever He does so perfectly.

The joy of being there is the joy of being the witness, for a witness is no more than one who heard, saw and experienced what happened from a first person’s point of view. And that is the simple secret of abiding in Him and having Him abide in you, for abiding is simply —being there. We missed out on Resurrection morning, but we have the opportunity of being there when He arrives and there are many vantage points that you may choose to take; from the balconies of Heaven or the dungeons of Hell, or being in the clouds as part of the elect who died but are now resurrected, or being there on the Mount of Olives. Being there to be an eye witness to see what happens as His feet touch planet Earth again, indeed, to paraphrase a famous 1960’s phrase —it would be one small step for God, but one giant leap for mankind.

In the words of I, Wisdom, it is, “I was there…”[1] These three words must now form the basis of our testimonies for we received power from the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses,[2] and witnesses do not preach, but rather they testify with their testimonies.

Our testimony, your personal testimony, holds more than half of all that you will need in the days to come, for it is written: “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony;”[3] and that testimony is judged according to its quality as to whether it is for Jesus or not for Jesus. Those who return are those who were beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.[4] Not all testimony is for Jesus, for many may testify that they too were there, but like the two false witnesses who were at the Lord’s trial, they were there to testify against Jesus. Most of those now who testify against Jesus were never there. As you watch their fanciful documentaries and their commentaries about their observations, hypothesis and theories, remember, they were not there nor were they able to draw up first hand accounts from witnesses who were there.

Your journey from believers to knowers now takes you to the place of being witnesses who are not just expert witnesses, but joyful witnesses. The joy of being there to watch the Father and Son reunite was never ours. Mary alone had such a joy, for she was not frightened when she recognised the Lord’s voice as the others were when they were in the locked room. The two disciples at Emmaus lost sight of Jesus as soon as they recognised Him. But Mary alone had the joy of not only recognising Him and reuniting with Him, but the joy of being there.

Did Mary run back to tell the others in a panic or in a sad and depressed state, or as one who had to do something that she was uncomfortable about? Compare Mary’s testimony when she said, “I have seen the Lord!”[5] It does not take a genius to realise she did not say that like a shy church mouse like one out of whom the words had to be dragged, or as one who delivers a well rehearsed sermon so that the tonal emphasis is all in the right places as the message is delivered in the most appropriate voice. Her sermon was simple and direct, “I have seen the Lord!” meaning, “I was there!”

No apostle, no disciple, can boast that they were there that Resurrection morning at the Mount of Transfiguration in Galilee. No one could say in Jerusalem, “I was there!” or, “We were there!” except Mary Magdalene, the same Mary who anointed the Lord’s body to prepare His body for His burial, so that what she had done would be made mention of wherever the Gospel of Jesus is preached.

Why didn’t Jesus appear to John and Peter, but chose to appear to Mary first? Simply because of this: neither John nor Peter remembered to say this – “We were there on the top of the mountain when He was transfigured before our eyes and He told us not to tell you until now!” Mary listened enough to realise she had to prepare the body of Christ for His burial, and that attention and action of hers gave her the joy of being there to see the risen Christ alive —first.

When Peter first shared his, “I was there” comment, he did so in Acts 2:22, and as he sermonised, he made mention of this in verse 32 when he said, “God has raised this Jesus to life and we are all witnesses of the fact.” Compare this statement with Mary’s, “I have seen the Lord!” Don’t you realise there is something missing in the tone of Peter’s words? That is because one message was delivered by one who agaped Jesus and the other by one who phileod Jesus. And at Jesus’ first encounter with Peter, what was Peter’s reaction? For we know that Jesus appeared to Simon Peter before He came to the locked room, but not before He appeared to Mary.

Why is it that it was left to the disciples to tell us, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon,”[6] instead of a record of Peter exclaiming, “I too have seen the Lord!” The difference is that which comes from one who has listened and from one who has not listened. The difference is that of one who remembered what was said and one who does not remember what they were told.[7] Likewise, you will find the difference in the testimony of those who remember what they are told and those who do not remember what they are told in these days.

The joy of being there is not just being there, but being there because you remembered what you were told. That is, you are witness to the truth of Jesus’ words, words you remembered, not words you have forgotten as the situation unfolded.

Peter had the privilege of witnessing some of the scourging of Jesus as he accompanied Him into the courtyard of the high priest. And as he was challenged about being a disciple of Christ, he forgot that Jesus had already warned him that before the cock crows, Peter would deny him three times. Did he remember after the first denial? Did he remember after the second denial? Was there any joy for Peter when he became the personal witness of the truth of Jesus’ words? No, it is written he went out and wept bitterly. Peter was there on the Mount of Transfiguration,[8] but even though the Lord appeared to Simon, there was no joyous exclamation recorded for us as is recorded of Mary. Everything is recorded or excluded by the Holy Spirit for a specific purpose. I hope by now, you have also learned this.

In the days to come, likewise the church will be split into two types of witnesses of the words of Jesus. Both types of witnesses will be there, for how else are you going to be a witness? For many, they will be witnesses of the days of distress as we will be, except they will be witnesses like Peter who forgot what they heard until it was too late, that is, they missed the opportunity. Jesus does not want all His words to be proved true, indeed, there are words of God, which He spoke, that He would love to have proved false, that is, that He was wrong, not right. Those are the words of warnings that God gives us, which are given to us so that what He warned would never be fulfilled, that is, what He said never has a witness to its truth.

Right from the beginning when He warned Adam not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil or else they would die, do you really think that God wanted these words witnessed to be true? No, there are words of God that God Himself would prefer were never proved true, but just left unwitnessed. Likewise, when Jesus warned Peter of his three denials, did Jesus really want that to be proved true? Of course not; for no good father wants to say to their children, “I told you so,” then how much less the perfect Father or Brother and Friend? Not that God can ever be proved a liar, but there are instances where God would prefer that there is no witness to the truth of His word.

But the words of Jesus to Martha about Mary, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her,”[9] now that is something that the Lord wanted to be witnessed to be true —so we see Mary, the first to behold the risen Christ! Compare that with Peter, the first to publicly deny the Christ just when Jesus needed him the most.

What has this to do with us? Much; for you have had restored to you the word of God to the disciples of Jesus Christ, which is: “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”[10] Now, which ones of you will be like Peter and which ones will be like Mary will depend on whether you remember what you have heard, and if you forget, whether you remember to ask the One who is still here to remind you. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be, and where your heart is, is where your thoughts are. So what do you treasure the most about being a witness of Jesus, about being there when the words of God are manifested for all to see?

Do you treasure being heard, being seen, being the first to say, “No, Lord, this shall never be,” and “Lord, if that be You, call me and I will come”? Always the first to speak out something to fill the silence and yet forget what was really being said to you. Or do you treasure just being there, ever hearing but never speaking, ever seeing yet always seeking for more, treasuring what you have heard, bringing it forth, understanding that even with the words of Jesus, there are some you do want to be the witness of firsthand, and others you do not want to be the witness of?

Whether we like it or not, we will all be witnesses of the days of distress, unequalled since the world began.[11] But if you are like Mary, and you remember what you have been told and are prepared for what you have been warned, you will experience the joy of being there even through these days of distress. The joy of being there, multiplying the food, raising the dead, doing miracles that others have not even read about, for it was not written down,[12] and finally, to receive the joy that more than compensates for not being there on the morning of the resurrection. The joy of being there when His feet first touch the Mount of Olives in fulfilment of all prophecies of His return —now that is the resurrection of the joy of the reunion, and being a resurrection, it can never be taken away, nor can it ever die. For, even if we had been there on the Mount of Transfiguration that morning, we would have marred the joy.

But what follows the day of His arrival are 1000 years of freedom from all persecution, all sorrow, tears or distress to mar that joy. Indeed, even when the ingratiates march on our camp at the end of that day, most of us would be celebrating, for their arrival at our camp heralds the next phase of God’s joy —the joy of the wedding feast of the Lamb, to which we are already invited as honoured guests. That is, those of us who either lost our heads for Jesus or remained alive until He arrived.

Then there will be the testimony of the other witnesses, the ones who did not remember what they have been told and did not prepare. They too will be witnesses, for they too will be there through the distress; but not for them the joy of being there but the sorrow. Just like the five foolish virgins who had the sorrow of being there to witness the Groom say to them, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.”[13]

So do not lose heart, for if you do you will lose your treasure and your thoughts. Take captive your thoughts and set them on things above and not below us, as Paul encouraged us to.[14] And for the joy set before you, carry the cross as your Saviour did till we meet with Him on that mountain outside of Jerusalem.

Now, to you who have listened to Jesus enough to know what is coming, yours is the privilege to anoint His body as Mary did, to prepare it for burial and for glory again. And that which you do will also be made mention of wherever the testimony of Christ is remembered. Amen


 

[1] Proverbs 8:27

[2] Acts 1:8

[3] Revelation 12:11

[4] Revelation 20:4

[5] John 20:18

[6] Luke 24:34

[7] Matthew 17:9; Mark 9:9

[8] Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:28

[9] Luke 10:42

[10] Matthew 17:5

[11] Mark 13:19

[12] John 21:25

[13] Matthew 25:12

[14] 2 Corinthians 10:5; Colossians 3:1

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