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The Christadelphian | January 2009

In the magazine this month:

  • Editorial Fellowship in the Gospel: 5 – The ecclesia in the wilderness
  • Letters to the Editor
  • Sunday morning “The encounter between God and man” | Malcolm Shilvock
  • In the image of God 11 – An apostolic condition | Michael Edgecombe, Rebecca Lines, Russell Taylor
  • The preaching of the cross | Tom McCarthy
  • The Letter to the Philippians 1 – Introduction | Mark Allfree
  • What’s remarkable about that? | Barry Lambsdown
  • Jephthah’s daughter | Peter Forbes
  • Acts of the Apostles 23 – Acts 21:8-29 | Paul Cresswell
  • Righteous Lot | Dudley Fifield
  • Two men in white | Geoff Henstock
  • Signs of the times Mumbai and anti-Semitism
  • Israel and their land A return to Galilee?
  • The brotherhood near and far

A sample article from this edition:

Two men in white

FOR over three years a growing confidence that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” had helped the Lord’s disciples endure the trials they experienced. This man who had called them embodied all their hopes and expectations – and not only their hopes, but those of the entire nation.

The Lord had sought to warn them about what was ahead but they did not appreciate the reality until that fateful Passover in Jerusalem when their Master was arrested, tried and crucified. Only a few days earlier the Lord’s apparently triumphal entry into Jerusalem amidst the adulation of the people had raised their hopes to fever pitch, only to see them dashed by the vicious scheming of the religious rulers in concert with the Romans. The disciples rode an emotional roller-coaster that week and as the next week dawned it found them drained, discouraged, fearful and despairing.

Resurrection and ascension

On the first morning of that new week faithful women went to the tomb where the body of Jesus had been laid. They expected to find a lifeless corpse which they intended to anoint. Imagine their horror when they found that the tomb had been disturbed and the body was missing (Luke 24:2,3). Their perplexity was soon to turn to joy, however, when two men in shining garments, who they recognised as angels, announced that Jesus had risen from the dead (verse 5). The women took this astonishing news back to the disciples who were gathered together, almost certainly in the upper room where they had so recently enjoyed sweet fellowship with their Master on the night he was betrayed. Confused and despondent, they were reluctant to believe this angelic testimony (verse 11). It would take the appearance of the Lord himself to convince them that he had indeed been resurrected. The one in whom they had placed all their hope had been restored to them – this time immortal, unable to be thwarted again by the unbelief of the rulers.

The next forty days must have been exceptionally precious to the disciples. Some of the time was spent in Galilee and some in the region of Jerusalem. It is no surprise that Luke records that a focus of their discussions with the Lord at this time was the kingdom of God. Having witnessed the apparent shattering of their hopes in this regard they were now all the more anxious to see the promises fulfilled. The Lord explained, however, that the kingdom was not to be established at that time; there was a work of preaching to be performed first (Acts 1:3,6,8).

Those precious forty days came to an end. As they stared into the sky as Jesus ascended into heaven they were joined by two men in white (verse 10). The only other man spoken of in the New Testament as being clothed in white was the Lord Jesus himself at the transfiguration, and Luke records that his raiment was “white and glistering” (Luke 9:29). It seems likely that the two men were the same two angels that had appeared at the garden tomb forty days before. And as on that occasion, they reassured the disciples that their hopes had not been dashed, for although their Master had been taken from them for a period, he would return to fulfil those things for which they yearned. These two men in white raiment frame the forty days of our Lord’s earthly ministry between the resurrection and the ascension. On this occasion there is no hint of doubt in the response of the disciples. Fortified by the recollection of what had happened forty days before, the disciples accepted this reassurance. They returned to the upper room calm and hopeful. They were ready to meet the challenges that lay ahead, confident that their Master would always be with them in the work he had commissioned them to undertake in his absence.

Geoff Henstock

 

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