I think one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves as believers is, Do we believe. Do we believe that God is on the throne, that He is in control and sovereign? Do we believe that He is working out all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes? (Romans 8:28). Do we even believe that He can take our world, filled with dry bones, and make them alive again? In Ezekiel chapter 37, God shows His prophet the power behind His Word and how He can bring true restoration to even a valley of dry bones.
“The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:1-3)
God’s first question to us is: Do we believe that He can bring life to these dry bones? And that is a very good question. Do we believe God’s Word is powerful enough to transform our apathy for the lost, into a passion that can never be quenched? Do we believe that God can transform the lives of all and use us in this ministry of reconciliation of the world? This is our starting point. Belief is where we begin.
“Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:4-6).
Next we must listen intently to God’s instruction. God has a plan, and He has been preparing you for that plan, a plan that is a section, a piece, of a much larger plan. You’re not the only one in this. There are others around you, fighting with you, fighting for you.
After listening to His plan, we must trust His plan. God is sovereign, God is all powerful, and all knowing. We must trust His way. We must trust our part in it. We must be all in, not holding back.
“So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them” (Ezekiel 37:7-8).
After believing in God’s restoration power, listening intently to His plan, and trusting in His ways, we are encouraged to act. We are pushed to take all these steps of believing, listening, trusting, and put them into action. We must get out there in the world and share the gospel, risking our reputations and everything, so that people’s eyes would be opened to their sins and need for a savior.
“Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.”” (Ezekiel 37:9).
Lastly, we must remember, our actions do not always produce the results we would like to see. Many times we will share the gospel and get rejected and put down and thrown out. We expect this because Jesus said that “they will hate you because they hated Me” (Matthew 10:22). We can expect to be persecuted, as we try to show the world, that they are the dry bones, and that they need the Word of the Lord, to bring them to life, true life, in Jesus Christ.
But there will be times that we will get to share and rejoice in the creation of a new believer. We will get to take part, either here on earth, or in heaven, of one of those dry bones, receiving new flesh and tendons and the breath of the Lord, standing up and living, becoming a part of the army of God.
“So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army” (Ezekiel 37:10).
Oh the joys of being a part of God’s plan. We are blessed to be given a role in all of this. It would be a shame for us to waste this opportunity. Let’s get started. There’s a big valley out there with lots and lots of dry bones, that need the Word of the Lord breathed into them! But it starts with us. We are the valley of dry bones and we need the Word of the Lord breathed back into us first.
“In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews” (John 20:19a)
After a period of sin, I feel like these disciples do. I am ashamed. I am afraid. Many of us feel like when we have done something wrong, that we must hide. Adam and Eve must have thought the same thing when they ate of the forbidden fruit of the tree of good and evil. They knew they had sinned, so they hid. We hide and we fear, both man and God. We expect that God is coming for us, to punish us. I certainly do. And God is just, but He is also love. We don’t expect Him to forgive and forget but He does. This next thing blew me away.
“Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” (John 20:19b)
First off, I just have to have to say, this blows me away. Jesus, beaten, mocked, spit upon, crucified, God’s complete wrath poured out on His Son. And then we have the disciples. Jesus closest friends and followers, and in the time that Jesus needed them most, gone. They were scattered, hiding, denying Him. If I was Jesus (and I’m not claiming that I am), I would be angry beyond all measure. I would have given the disciples a chewing out that would have been felt throughout the whole earth. “You imbiciles” I would have proclaimed. “I just died for your sins, and took all of My Father’s wrath upon me, and you run like scared little girls!! Good thing I’m not Jesus. This is probably how the disciples expected Jesus to respond, but this is not how Jesus responded.
Jesus did not respond with anger, sarcasm, sadness. He did not role off a littany of speeches demeaning the disciples and their worthlessness. He poured His peace out over them. He poured His compassion out over their weak and scared spirits. He went even further in verse 20.
“Having said this, He showed them His hands and His side” (John 20:20a).
Jesus did not just tell his disciples “peace.” He showed them peace. He showed them the finished product of His resurrection. He showed them everything. So how did the disciples respond to all this?
“So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20b).
The disciples saw the Lord, the resurrected Jesus Christ. They felt His hands, they examined his side that had been speared. They had seen Him dead on the cross and now He was there, standing before them, alive, in all His glory. And the disciples rejoiced. Their once hopeless, defeated spirits, were alive once more. This time in a way that would never be quenched. A way in which they would die, torturous, painful deaths, because of what they had seen that day. They were no longer observers, they were witnesses. And they would go to the ends of the world, to the ends of their lives to share the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Maybe this is where you are at today. You are hiding in your sin, ashamed of what you have become. Maybe you’re a former pastor or leader in the faith, and you messed up. You lead your congregation or followers down wrong roads. You hurt people. Maybe you are seriously on the verge of ending your life, because you find no meaning or purpose in it, anymore.
I think God has message for you, all you out there, who feel hopeless. You see, Easter is a fun time. Its filled with candy, bunnies, and good food. But sometimes we miss out on the most important thing, that by death of Jesus Christ and His resurrection, we have peace with the Father.
Romans 5:1-2 says, “Therefore since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Also, through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
This peace that we used to be unable to have (Romans 8:6-8) we now can have. Jesus was proclaiming that to the disciples. That even though they had abandoned Him, rejected Him, and denied Him, He had not. He had done all this despite what others did with it. Jesus knew up on that cross that there would be those that would reject and despise His message of grace and peace. But He didn’t die for those people. He died for those, hopeless, afraid, hiding within locked doors, that would accept His free gift of salvation. He died so that we may have peace.
And what do we do with that peace?
“Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).
Jesus not only gives us peace, like He did to the disciples. By proclaiming His peace over us, He enables us to proclaim His peace over others. With this peace He has given us, we do not keep to ourselves, we share it with everyone.
And that’s what the disciples did, filled with the Holy Spirit, they were the hands and feet of Jesus, healing, setting free those in bondage, loving others, sharing the truth of Christ.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we have one task: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18).
We are to be reconcilers of Christ. We are to share with people with the truth of Jesus Christ and allow Him to reconcile them to Himself. We are to proclaim the peace that has been proclaimed over us.
Jesus had proclaimed to His followers, just a chapter before, that they would be scattered:
The pain and agony that Jesus Christ went through for our sins was immense. He was beaten, spit upon, mocked. Roman soldiers drew lots over his clothing. He was given a crown of thorns. He had stakes nailed through his hands, he was half dead even before he made it to the cross. He was given vinegar to quench His thirst. Here is a video of what took place when someone was whipped with a cat of nine-tails. (Matthew 27).
Not only was he under physical pain but he was affected emotionally, because he was a man. He felt all our human emotions up on the cross. He was not only subjected to physical pain, but the emotional pain of His followers abandoning Him and denying Him, and being crucified by His own people, must have been extremely difficult. (John 19). Even His Father turned His face away from His son, as all the sin of the world was upon Him. (Matthew 27:46).
After all this pain and agony that the Lord Jesus Christ experienced, what good could have come from this? His death was not in vain. His death is not the end of the story, but the beginning. It is the beginning of a story of redemption, the redemption of us and our sins. It is the fulfillment of all the prophecies brought by the prophets of the Old Testament. We are freed by His death. His death was for us.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
Remember the death that Jesus Christ died for us. The good, the bad, the ugly of His death.
Defining moments come throughout our lifetime in many forms. Sometimes these forms are good such as: graduating from school, marriage, and the birth of a child. But a lot of times, moments that define people come in the form of hard things such as: loss of loved one, loss of a job, struggles from your past wreaking havoc on your present life.
These moments though shape who we are as people. They allow us to look at ourselves objectively and see the man and woman that God sees. Sometimes these defining moments truly show what character that lies beneath the surface. As I recently heard a pastor say, “Storms reveal the quality of our foundation.”
These defining moments, whether good or bad, were pre-ordained by God. Yes, that means God not only allowed them, but He orchestrated them. He is sovereign. Who are we to question His plan and method and carrying out and bringing us to further redemption. God not only knows they will happen and has known, but He planned them.
So we can either lie down in defeat, or rise in victory. The choice in ours. The Lord has given us the strength to rise up. Even though we may feel like lying down and giving up, we can’t. We can have comfort and peace in our suffering, in our anguish, and in our cries.