Category Archives: miracles

Sunday Devotional: ‘Who do you say that I am?’

Matthew 16:13-20

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

“But who do you say that I am?,” Jesus asked His apostles, after the incident of the apostles seeing Him walk on the stormy Sea of Galilee, and rescuing Peter who walked toward Jesus but faltered and began sinking.

That incident was preceded in Matthew of Jesus:

  • Multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish into such abundance that a “vast crowd” of “five thousand men, not counting women and children” were fed (Matthew 14).
  • Healing a man with a withered hand, and exorcising a blind and mute man (Matthew 12).
  • Raising Jairius’ daughter from the dead; healing a paralytic, a bleeding woman, and two blind men; and exorcising a mute (Matthew 9).
  • Healing a leper, the centurion’s servant and Peter’s mother-in-law, and three exorcisms (Matthew 8).

All those miracles convinced Simon Peter, when asked by Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?,” to reply: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

But even after he had attested to his belief, Peter still faltered when Jesus was arrested and taken away by Roman soldiers, and denied three times he even knew Jesus.  Peter, who had witnessed countless miracles, including being personally saved from drowning in the stormy sea by Jesus, who was walking on water. And still, at a time when Jesus needed His friends the most, Peter denied even knowing Him — three times.

That is why, although we can come to a belief in God (St. Thomas Aquinas’ “first cause”; the intricacies and beauty of creation) and in Jesus as the Son of God (miracles, the Resurrection, the Shroud of Turin, the Apostles as percipient witnesses) through reason, reason can only take us so far.

There is a point that requires faith, where we make the leap across the gap — a gap that for some can be as deep as a cavern.

That moment, when we are touched by the gift of faith — for it is a gift — is different for each of us.

Mine came when — being reawaken after many years of being away from God and the Church in which I had been baptized when I was four — one day at Mass, while watching the faithful go up, one by one, to receive the Holy Eucharist, this thought came into my head like a streak of lightning:

“God must love you for putting up with you all these years.”

At that, every remaining doubt melted away. And I was home, at last.

What was your moment when you were given the gift of faith?

Ephesians 2:8

For by grace you are saved through faith,
and that not of yourselves,
for it is the gift of God.

Jesus, I love You with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind, and with all my strength.

May the love and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional: The call of God is irrevocable

Matthew 15:21-28

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! 
My daughter is tormented by a demon.” 
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. 
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” 
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.” 
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.” 
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith! 
Let it be done for you as you wish.” 
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

As the above passage from Matthew 15 indicates, Jesus told the Caananite woman — a Gentile — that He was sent only to Israelites, i.e., Jews, not Gentiles. But Jesus was moved and persuaded by the woman’s faith in Him, and so He granted her request and exorcised the demon from her daughter.

That is one of the great mysteries of humankind — why Jews not only rejected Jesus the Christ, despite the many foretellings of His coming in the Torah, the Hebrew Bible and Christianity’s Old Testament, their leaders actually demanded that He be put to death, although Jesus had committed no crime. Not just put to death, but executed by the cruelest method that the Romans reserved for the worst criminals — crucifixion.

All of which raises the question of why most Jews, then and now, refuse to believe that Jesus is who He said He is.

Among the reasons why they don’t, according to the article “Why Don’t Jews Believe In Jesus?,” are:

  • The Jewish Messiah must be descended on his father’s side from King David, but Jesus was not because Christians say he was the product of a virgin birth and therefore had no father. (Hmm, does that mean Jesus is not Jewish?)
  • Jews don’t believe in miracles: “Even if the individual claiming personal revelation performs miracles [as Jesus did], there is still no verification that he is a genuine prophet. Miracles do not prove anything. All they show—assuming they are genuine—is that he has certain powers. It has nothing to do with his claim of prophecy. Judaism, unique among all of the world’s major religions, does not rely on ‘claims of miracles’ as the basis for its religion. In fact, the Bible says that God sometimes grants the power of ‘miracles’ to charlatans….” (Hmm, but don’t Jews believe in the miracles of  Moses parting the Red Sea, and the manna from Heaven during the time Moses led Jews wandering in the desert?)

Now you see why the Talmud, the collection of the sayings and writings of rabbis regarded as superior even to the Torah, calls Jesus a “bastard,” “fool” and “charlatan,” His mother Mary a “whore,” and Christians “idolators” and less than human. (See Rev. I. B. Pranaitis, The Talmud Unmasked: The Secret Rabbinical Teachings Concerning Christians; first published in St. Petersburg in 1892.; and “Truth About the Talmud“.)

Jews really should heed this:

But the rejection by Jews turns out to be to our benefit. As St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, said in Romans 11:11-12, 15, 19-20, 23, 28-29:

But through their transgression
salvation has come to the Gentiles…

their transgression is enrichment for the world…
their rejection is the reconciliation of the world….
Indeed you will say, “Branches were broken off
so that I might be grafted in.”
That is so.
They were broken off because of unbelief,
but you are there because of faith.
So do not become haughty, but stand in awe….
And they also, if they do not remain in unbelief,
will be grafted in,
for God is able to graft them in again….
In respect to the gospel, they are enemies on your account;
but in respect to election,
they are beloved because of the patriarchs.
For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.

So if you hear His call, do not harden your heart.

May the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional: Why do you doubt?

Matthew 14:22-33

After he had fed the people,
Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves,
for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them,
“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

There is an important concept in law which is critical to the testimony and determination of truth.

That concept is “percipient witness”.

According to the Law Dictionary, a percipient witness is “A witness who testifies about things that the witness actually saw, heard or otherwise experienced.” Attorneys call the percipient witness “often the most important person on the crucial issue”.

The apostles and disciples were the percipient witnesses of Jesus the Christ. Their accounts are contained in the four canonical Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, including the above passage from Matthew 14 on Jesus walking on the stormy sea.

The Apostles, who were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ many miracles, including the most important miracle, the resurrected Christ, were willing to die for their beliefs and faith, testifying to the last the truth they’d witnessed until their last breath:

  • St. Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity, was stoned to death in Jerusalem, c. AD 34.
  • St. James, son of Zebedee and brother of St. John the Apostle, was the first Apostle to be martyred. King Herod had St. James beheaded in 44 AD.
  • St. James, son of Alpheus, was reported by the Jewish historian Josephus to have been stoned and then clubbed to death in 62 AD.
  • St. Jude Thaddaeus was crucified in Syria, c. 65 AD.
  • St. Simon the Zealot ministered in Persia and was sawn in half, c. 65 AD after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.
  • St. Peter and St. Paul were both martyred in Rome about 66 AD, during the persecution under Emperor Nero. St. Paul was beheaded. St. Peter was crucified, upside down at his request, because he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
  • St. Mark, a rope around his neck, was dragged to death in Alexandria, Egypt, in AD 68.
  • St. Thomas was pierced to death in India, 72 AD, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder.
  • St. Matthias, who was chosen to replace Judas, was burned to death in Syria, c. 80 AD.
  • St. Bartholomew (identified as Nathaniel in the Gospel of John) is believed to have been skinned alive and crucified. He ministered in India with St. Thomas, in Armenia, Ethiopia and Southern Arabia.
  • St. Philip was crucified in Hierapolis, Asia Minor, 80 AD, for converting the wife of a Roman proconsul. He also ministered in North Africa.
  • St. Andrew was crucified in Patras, Greece. He also preached in Asia Minor and modern-day Turkey. Christians in the former Soviet Union say he was the first to bring the Gospel to their land.
  • St. Matthew was beheaded in Ethiopia. He had also ministered in Persia.
  • St. John was the only Apostle who died a natural death from old age, after surviving an ordeal of being thrown into boiling oil. He was the leader of the church in Ephesus and is said to have taken care of Mary the mother of Jesus in his home. In mid-90s AD, he was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he wrote the last book of the New Testament–the Revelation.

But the testimonies of these percipient witnesses of Jesus the Christ are ignored by many.

And yet we believe 100% there was a person named Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher revered as the founder of Western political philosophy, although the time and place of his birth are unknown, and there are varying accounts of when and how he died. Even the origin of his name is unknown. As Wikipedia admits:

Due to a lack of surviving accounts, little is known about Plato’s early life and education…. The exact time and place of Plato’s birth are unknown. Based on ancient sources, most modern scholars believe that he was born in Athens…between 429 and 423 BC…. The traditional date of Plato’s birth…428 or 427 BC, is based on a dubious interpretation of Diogenes Laërtius….

[Even] the origin of this name remains mysterious…the name does not occur in Plato’s known family line….

According to Seneca, Plato died at the age of 81 on the same day he was born. The Suda indicates that he lived to 82 years, while Neanthes claims an age of 84. A variety of sources have given accounts of his death. One story, based on a mutilated manuscript, suggests Plato died in his bed…. Another tradition suggests Plato died at a wedding feast….  According to Tertullian, Plato simply died in his sleep.

Mark 9:19, 21-24

“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied,
“how long shall I stay with you?
How long shall I put up with you?….”
…[T]he boy’s father [said,]
“…But if you can do anything,
take pity on us and help us.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus.
“Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed,
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional: Miracles of loaves and fishes

Matthew 14:13-21

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.  
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already late;
dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;
give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then he said, “Bring them here to me, ”
and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over—
twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.

Did you know that there was also another miracle of loaves (sans fishes) in the Old Testament?

2 Kings 4-42-44

A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing to Elisha, the man of God,
twenty barley loaves made from the firstfruits,
and fresh grain in the ear.
Elisha said, “Give it to the people to eat.”
But his servant objected,
“How can I set this before a hundred people?”
Elisha insisted, “Give it to the people to eat.”
“For thus says the LORD,
‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.'”
And when they had eaten, there was some left over,
as the LORD had said.

And also in our time in Texas?

At 7:53 pm on April 17, 2013, disaster struck West, Texas, a small town of about 2,800, 20 miles north of Waco and 80 miles south of Dallas.

A massive explosion struck the West Fertilizer Co. off I-35, devastating and setting fire to a 4-block radius. The explosion was so huge, it registered as a 2.1 earthquake and could be heard 45 miles away in Waxahachie. There were at least 15 fatalities, including 5 firefighters, and approximately 200 people injured.

Among the people coming to the aid of West, was Mercy Chefs, a non-profit, all-volunteer, faith-based charitable organization committed to providing high-quality, professionally prepared meals to victims, first responders and volunteers during natural disasters and national emergencies.

On April 21, 2013, Mercy Chefs in West, Texas, experienced a miracle of “loaves and fishes.” As recounted by volunteer Gary LeBlanc:

Last evening as I arrived for a meeting at the Command Center, I was greeted by a man who told me an amazing story from earlier in the day.

They had put out the last of the food they had on hand and saw it go quickly. They realized they needed another 100-150 meals for the recovery crew working so hard at ground zero and law enforcement guarding the site. They stopped and prayed that the Lord would do some sort of “loaves and fishes” miracle. They needed food for these selfless heroes and they had none. Ten minutes after the prayer a Mercy Chefs truck pulled up. We had 150 extra meals from lunch and felt directed to the command site. There were tears on both sides as they saw a prayer answered in real time.

Please do pray for the people of West and the Mercy Chefs team that God will continue to use us in such an extraordinary and humbling way.

Here’s a video showing the work of Mercy Chefs in West, TX:

Below are Charity Navigator‘s scores and ratings for Mercy Chefs:

  • Accountability and transparency: 90.00 (out of 100) score; 4 (out of 4) stars.
  • Financial: 87.21; 3 stars.
  • Overall score and rating: 88.51; 3 stars

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.” ― C.S. Lewis

See also these miracles:

May the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

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A Trump Prophecy From 1983

All the way back to 1983 things like this were happening…

This was when none of us saw Donald Trump like that.

I’m thinking about this, and hope it is food for thought for all who visit Fellowship of the Minds.

~TD

Drudge Report has gone to the dark side. Check out Whatfinger News, the Internet’s conservative frontpage founded by a military veteran!

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Sunday Devotional: ‘whoever eats this bread will live forever’

John 6:51-58

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi, when we remember and celebrate the new Covenant that our Lord made with His Body and Blood, with all who believe in Him.

1 Corinthians 11:23-25

[T]he Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Three Sundays ago, the universal Church remembered our Lord Jesus Christ’s Ascension, when He left this mortal world, not to return until the End Days. In leaving, our Lord bade a last farewell to His faithful disciples and, knowing full well how bereft they would be, He made sure we are not abandoned — that although “the world will not see me anymore . . . I will not leave you as orphans” (John 14:19, 18).

Jesus made two promises to ensure we would not be left “as orphans”:

(1) The Father will send the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Triune Godhead:

“And I will ask the Father,
and He will give you another advocate
to help you and be with you forever —
the Spirit of truth.
The world cannot accept Him,
because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.
But you know Him,
for He lives with you
and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)

(2) We will have His Body and Blood:

“I will not leave you as orphans;
I will come to you.” (John 14:18)

How thoughtful and loving our Lord is!

Our Lord said: “This is my body that is for you.”

Do we doubt His words?

Have you heard of the Lanciano Eucharistic miracle?

18 years ago, knowing that her degenerative spine disease and severe osteoarthritis may someday lead to paralysis, I took FOTM‘s Joan on a pilgrimage to Italy.

Among the places we visited were the Sanctuary of St. Michael the Archangel in Mount Gargano and the Church of San Francesco in Lanciano. In the latter was a glass case containing a brownish substance.

Church of San Francesco, Lanciano, aka Shrine of the Eucharistic Miracle

As described by TheRealPresence.org, during the middle of the eighth century, a Basilian monk doubted the Real Presence in the Eucharist — that at consecration, bread and wine become Christ’s true body and true blood.

The doubting monk was celebrating Mass one day. As he intoned the words of consecration, “suddenly the monk saw bread turn into Flesh and the wine into Blood,” according to documents at the Sanctuary of the Eucharistic Miracle in Lanciano, Italy.

Today, more than 12 centuries after the Lanciano miracle, the transformed host and wine are preserved still, despite being exposed to atmospheric and biological agents:

  • The Host-Flesh is light brown and appears rose-colored when lit from the back.
  • The Blood is coagulated into five globules, irregular and differing in shape and size, of an earthy color resembling the yellow of ochre.

Scientific investigations of Lanciano were conducted since 1575, most notably in 1970-’71 and taken up again partly in 1981, by Dr. Odoardo Linoli, head of the clinical analysis laboratory and of pathological anatomy at Arezzo Hospital, and Dr. Ruggero Bertelli, professor of anatomy at the University of Siena.

Linoli and Bertelli came to the following conclusions:

  • The flesh is real human flesh, the blood is real human blood.
  • The flesh is heart tissue — of the myocardium, the endocardium, the vagus nerve and the left cardiac ventricle.
  • The flesh and blood have the blood-type AB, which is the same blood-type found on the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium or Oviedo Cloth — the piece of cloth that is believed to have covered Jesus’ head after the crucifixion.
  • In the blood were found proteins in the same normal proportions (percentage-wise) as are found in the sero-proteic make-up of fresh human blood, as well as the minerals chloride, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium.

According to “The True Presence,” in 1973, the UN World Health Organization’s board of governors appointed a scientific commission to investigate Lanciano. After 500 examinations, the scientists verified the 1971 findings and declared the tissue to be human.

There have been other Eucharistic miracles elsewhere since Lanciano. See here, here, and especially the website “The Eucharistic Miracles of the World” that was the work of a devout Italian boy named Carlo Acutis before he died from a brain tumor in 2006 at the tender age of 15.

To conclude, Christ is with us through His Body and Blood and in the Holy Spirit, which makes it all the more terrible and reprehensible that state governments, ostensibly to “contain” the COVID-19 “pandemic,” have barred Catholics and other Christians from attending church service, including the receiving of the Holy Eucharist, which is life itself.

Tell our Lord your troubles and fears.

And tell Him, often and always, that you love Him with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength.

Jesus, I love You. ❤️

May the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

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Amazing Grace on Pentecost Sunday

Luke 11: 9-10 And I tell you, ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks will find, and to the one who knocks
it will be opened
.

I know my redeemer lives. May God bless FOTM and all who fellowship on it. And may God especially bless Dr. Eowyn, the kind and generous woman who created our little blog.

~ Grif

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Curse the Covid-19 Virus

I am not kidding.
Curse the virus

‘In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.’
– Mark 11: 20-23

Jesus cursed a living tree, and it immediately began to dry up from the roots.

Mark chapter 11 is one of the sharpest challenges to our faith. Jesus had a number of reasons for the curse on the fig tree, one of which was to expand our understanding of the power of faith-filled words. He didn’t just leave us to marvel at his supernatural power, but challenged us to do the same.

  • Speak to the mountain.
  • Speak to the giant Goliath.
  • Speak to the storm.
  • Speak to a lame person.
  • Speak to a dead man.

He did wonders, but also challenged his disciples to do what He did. That’s what you call being put on the spot!

If you don’t understand faith, and don’t intend to learn more about faith, then cursing a virus will not work for you. But if you accept the challenge Jesus put out for His followers, then this is for you. Practice it like you would practice shooting a gun at a firing range. Practice until you are good at it.

Speak to the Covid-19 virus something like this:

“Covid-19 virus, in the Name of Jesus Christ, I speak to you. From this moment forward you will cease to multiply! You will wither and be flushed away.”

When you’ve done that, immediately give thanks to God in faith that you have received what you said. Speak it before you see evidence. Remain steadfast in your words, refusing to say anything contrary to the demand of faith you have issued with your words.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” – Proverbs 18:21

‘He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”’ – Mark 4:39-41

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” – John 14:12

Picture the virus withered like this dead fig tree.

~ Trail Dust

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Sunday Devotional: God raised this Jesus, of this we are all witnesses

Luke 24:13-16, 19, 22-24, 30-31, 33-35

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him….
They said to him,
“…Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.” …
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight….
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

Acts 2:14, 22-24, 32-33

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.
Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.
You who are Israelites, hear these words.
Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God
with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs,
which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God,
you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death,
because it was impossible for him to be held by it….
God raised this Jesus;
of this we are all witnesses.
Exalted at the right hand of God,
he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father
and poured him forth, as you see and hear.”

In law, there’s an important concept critical to the determination of truth.

The concept is “percipient witness”. According to Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary, a percipient witness is “A witness who testifies about things she or he actually perceived. For example, an eyewitness.”

The apostles and disciples were the percipient witnesses of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, but their testimonies are ignored by many to this day.

And yet we believe 100% there was a person named Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher revered as the founder of Western political philosophy, although the time and place of his birth are unknown, and there are varying accounts of when and how he died. Even the origin of his name is unknown. As the Wikipedia entry admits:

Due to a lack of surviving accounts, little is known about Plato’s early life and education…. The exact time and place of Plato’s birth are unknown. Based on ancient sources, most modern scholars believe that he was born in Athens…between 429 and 423 BC…. The traditional date of Plato’s birth…428 or 427 BC, is based on a dubious interpretation of Diogenes Laërtius….

Only the risen Christ could have so convinced sane, rational men such as the eleven apostles and the two disciples in Luke 24, as to completely, with assistance from the Holy Spirit, transform them into men they were not. Only by seeing the risen Christ — by speaking, walking, and eating with Him and in the case of doubting Thomas, by touching the wounds of the risen Christ — could the apostles have changed overnight from being frightened little rabbits into fearless outspoken men whom no one could silence and who went to a martyr’s death, willingly and joyfully, for their risen Lord.

This is how the Apostles — percipient witnesses of the transfigured and later resurrected Christ — died, testifying to the truth they’d witnessed until their last breath:

  • St. Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity, was stoned to death in Jerusalem, c. AD 34.
  • St. James, son of Zebedee and brother of St. John the Apostle, was the first Apostle to be martyred. King Herod had St. James beheaded in 44 AD.
  • St. James, son of Alpheus, was reported by the Jewish historian Josephus to have been stoned and then clubbed to death in 62 AD.
  • St. Jude Thaddaeus was crucified in Syria, c. 65 AD.
  • St. Simon the Zealot ministered in Persia and was sawn in half, c. 65 AD after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.
  • St. Peter and St. Paul were both martyred in Rome about 66 AD, during the persecution under Emperor Nero. St. Paul was beheaded. St. Peter was crucified, upside down at his request, because he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
  • St. Mark, a rope around his neck, was dragged to death in Alexandria, Egypt, in AD 68.
  • St. Thomas was pierced to death in India, 72 AD, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder.
  • St. Matthias, who was chosen to replace Judas, was burned to death in Syria, c. 80 AD.
  • St. Bartholomew (identified as Nathaniel in the Gospel of John) is believed to have been skinned alive and crucified. He ministered in India with St. Thomas, in Armenia, Ethiopia and Southern Arabia.
  • St. Philip was crucified in Hierapolis, Asia Minor, 80 AD, for converting the wife of a Roman proconsul. He also ministered in North Africa.
  • St. Andrew was crucified in Patras, Greece. He also preached in Asia Minor and modern-day Turkey. Christians in the former Soviet Union say he was the first to bring the Gospel to their land.
  • St. Matthew was beheaded in Ethiopia. He had also ministered in Persia.
  • St. John was the only Apostle who died a natural death from old age, after surviving an ordeal of being thrown into boiling oil. He was the leader of the church in Ephesus and is said to have taken care of Mary the mother of Jesus in his home. In mid-90s AD, he was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he wrote the last book of the New Testament–the Revelation.

1 Peter 1:20-21

He was known before the foundation of the world
but revealed in the final time for you,
who through him believe in God
who raised him from the dead and gave him glory,
so that your faith and hope are in God.

Our Lord has risen! — and through His resurrection, we are promised and we know that we, too, will live beyond this mortal life, to be with Him, our Creator, forever.

See also “Easter Sunday: The science of the miracle of the Resurrection”.

May the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional: Although you have not seen Him you love Him

John 20:24-29

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him,
“We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side,
I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas,
“Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him,
“My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him,
“Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Led by Moses, the Israelites witnessed and experienced the following miracles:

  1. The ten plagues of Egypt:
    • Water turned to blood (Exodus 7:14-25).
    • A plague of frogs (Exodus 8:2-14).
    • A plague of lice (Exodus 8:17-18).
    • A plague of flies (God sent “grievous” swarms of flies upon all the people and houses of Egypt, covering even the ground, except in the land of Goshen where the Israelites dwelled fly-free. –Exodus 8:20-24).
    • Murrain, an infectious disease, killed all of Egypt’s cattle (Exodus 9:3-6).
    • A plague of boils with blisters (Exodus 9:8-12).
    • Thunderstorm of hail (Exodus 9:13–35).
    • A plague of locusts covering all of Egypt, so that the land was darkened with them (Exodus 10:12-15).
    • A plague of of darkness “which may be felt” so that “they saw not one another” covering all of Egypt, but not the land of Goshen (Exodus 10:21).
    • Death of all first-born in a single night, which spared Israelite first-borns (Exodus 11:1-8; 12:29-30).
  2. The burning bush that was not consumed (Exodus 3:3).
  3. The cloud resting on the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 13:21-22; 33:9-10; 40:36).
  4. God appeared in the cloud (Exodus 16:10).
  5. Aaron’s rod changed into a serpent (Exodus 7:10-12).
  6. The parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21-31).
  7. The parting of the Jordan river near the city of Adam (Joshua 3:14-17).
  8. Manna (bread) from the sky (Exodus 16:14-18).
  9. Drinking water provided the Israelites:
    • Sweetening of the bitter waters of Marah (Exodus 15:23-25).
    • Water from the rock at Rephidim (Exodus 17:5-7).
    • Water from a rock in the desert (Numbers 20:7-11)
  10. Complainers consumed by fire at Taberah, which stopped in response to Moses’ prayer (Numbers 11:1-3).
  11. Enemies of Isralites consumed by fire, and swallowed by the earth (Numbers 16:35-45).
  12. Aaron’s rod “brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds” at Kadesh (Numbers 17:1-11).
  13. The walls of Jericho fell down at God’s command (Joshua 6:6-20).
  14. The sun and moon stayed motionless (longer day) to enable the Israelites to win a crucial battle (Joshua 10:12-14).
  15. A mega hailstorm destroyed the Amorite army (Joshua 10:12-14).

Despite having personally seen and experienced the countless AMAZING miracles, not only did the Israelites constantly doubt God, with tiresome repetition they periodically rebelled from God to worship false idols, that is, demons.

But God repeatedly forgave the Israelites.

Imagine, then, how much He loves us — who believe in Him although we haven’t witnessed the Israelites’ miracles nor seen or touched His wounds like doubting St. Thomas, yet we love Him with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind, and with all our strength.

1 Peter 1:8-9

Although you have not seen him you love him;
even though you do not see him now yet believe in him,
you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,
as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

So the next time you doubt or falter or despair, take heart.

He loves you very, very, very much.

So much that God Himself did this for you.

See also:

May the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you!

~Eowyn

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