Risen: Who are you looking for?

by | Mar 31, 2024

It’s Easter Sunday and John’s story, told in the first person by the Living Bible, is the appropriate text for ending our study of Revelation. Together with the Lord’s description of the New Jerusalem found in Isaiah, we’re ready to move on. That is, move back to the Gospel of Matthew for our new series starting next Sunday.

The writer of John’s Gospel says he believed Jesus had risen after seeing the empty tomb. But Mary didn’t go into the tomb. She wasn’t yet convinced. Two angels asked her why she was crying and we learn she believed the practical. Someone stole the body.

Practical is usually the best strategy. Just not in this case. The same goes for our other natural reactions, like judgment and retaliation. And Revelation punctuates the impracticality and improbability of the gospel.

The more popular interpretations of Revelation rely on a practical strategy. From a practical approach, when Revelation reuses the description of the New Jerusalem found in Isaiah, it portrays this city as God’s plan for heaven. Otherwise, why move the U.S. embassy from the capital of Israel to the Holy City?

In a Washington Post article written in 2018 in response to the U.S. Embassy’s move to Jerusalem, political journalist Philip Bump wrote about the reasons conservative Christians supported this decision. Eighty percent of respondents believed that the creation of Israel in 1948 was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy that would bring about Christ’s return, according to a poll conducted by LifeWay.

The bottom line for many Christians is U.S. policy and support of Israel speeds up the return of Christ and the end times prophecies found in Revelation. The ultimate victory for the church, in their opinion, ends with violence.

What’s interesting, and worrisome, is an insistence that salvation depends on the actions of others. This conclusion seems counter to the notion that each of us is saved by faith alone. Which means salvation is personal and not tied to the merit of our actions. And certainly isn’t tied to the freedom for others to make choices for themselves.

We don’t earn salvation through our actions. And this includes political actions.

Setting aside the idea that God needs our help to bring Jesus back, Revelation seems to presume the victory is already won. Easter reminds us Jesus paid the price for salvation on our behalf. And the Kingdom of Heaven is already here. There aren’t any political actions needed on our part.

Perhaps it’s a good political strategy to support Israel as an ally in the Middle East. We’ve got plenty of enemies in that region of the world. But political support for defense reasons differs from claiming God needs the U.S. supporting Israel to bring Jesus back.

According to World Bank, people living in the Gaza Strip import nearly two-thirds of food consumption. However, since the invasion of Israel began food imports trickle in, creating a human made famine. These circumstances are clearly inconsistent with God’s will.

There is no reason for the public to stay in the dark about the misery created by violence. The violence in the Middle East is between groups fighting for power. Meanwhile, ordinary people suffer. Suffering is never God’s will.

“Why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Whom are you looking for?”
John 20:15

Mary didn’t stay in the dark on that first Easter morning. And neither should we. Once Mary heard Jesus say her name, she recognized Him as her Lord and Savior.

Revelation lays out a poetic and prophetic summation of God’s plan through Jesus Christ. Salvation is for all who hear Jesus calling their name. All are welcome. Jesus is calling people from all nations and races.

Jeremy Duncan writes, “There is no pursuit of scapegoats or religious violence—no need to drive anyone away to justify ourselves ever again. Christ has dismantled our desire to see a scapegoat excluded in order to know we are loved.”

You can join us each Sunday in person or online by clicking the button on our website’s homepage – Click here to watch. This button takes you to our YouTube channel. You can find more information about us on our website at FlintAsburyChurch.org.

A reminder that we publish this newsletter that we call the Circuit Rider each week. You can request this publication by email. Send a request to connect@FlintAsbury.org or let us know when you send a message through our website. We post an archive of past editions on our website under the tab, Connect – choose Newsletters.

Pastor Tommy


Parts of our series was inspired by Jeremy Duncan. Upside-Down Apocalypse:grounding revelation in the gospel of peace. Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press, 2022.

Philip Bump. “Half of evangelicals support Israel because they believe it is important for fulfilling end-times prophecy.” © Washington Post, May 14, 2018. Retrieved from: link

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