A Place To Begin Again
A PLACE TO BEGIN AGAIN (KJV)
By James l. Thornton
After Calvary Jesus regrouped His disciples, and after convincing them of His resurrection, He commissioned them to their life’s work.
Luke 24:47 ”And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
The Gospel was to be preached throughout the world. The whole earth was to be lit with His Glory. And the disciples were to set this plan going, beginning at Jerusalem. But why Jerusalem?
It was a strategic place, of course – the religious center of Palestine. There Jesus had died and risen again. From the point of view of religion it has become a whispering-gallery, where words spoken with dying lips from a cross have reverberated throughout earth.
For the disciples, however, it had another meaning. It was the place where they had failed. It was the scene of their greatest breakdown. It was a place of tragic associations. It could not have been easy for them to go back to Jerusalem.
Could Simon Peter ever walk its streets without shameful memories crowing his mind? The very stones would cry out against him. At any moment around some corner he might come face to face with one of those servant maids, and have to meet her mocking smile.
Besides, would not their lives be in danger? The authorities hated them and their message. There might be persecutions, prison, and death awaiting them.
And it would not be easy to keep their own spirits right. Just think how the people in Jerusalem had treated their Master. What resentment and bitterness they would have to overcome. They would have to act forgivingly to people who had slain their Lord.
Would it not be better to begin in some new place where none of these old entanglements would hinder a new start? Why not Antioch, Alexandria, Athens, Rome, or some other large city where there would be less hatred towards them and fewer memories of the past? Why not some other country where Jewish influence was not so great?
But No! They were sent back to Jerusalem to make their fresh beginning in the place where life and things had brought defeat. This is always what God asks of us when some fresh vision of Christ has come to us, or we have come to realize some secret of deeper victory. He bids us make witness and take our stand for Him, right in the place where we have failed. IT IS NOT EASY.
Think of confessing failings and making a new beginning at home, among people who knew us intimately and with whom perhaps for that reason we have not always troubled to be our best.
Or He sends us back to the place where sorrow has thrown its dark shadow over everything, where perhaps everything we look at has the power to make the heart bleed. It is not easy to take up some burden that once was shared with a loved one.
Or we have to go back to the place where temptation has been strong and where the whole set of things has been against us, and begin again there.
WHY NOT SOMEWHERE ELSE?
It is far easier to dream of making the heathen world Christian than to make our own ordinary relationships Christian.
There are problems at work, problems at home, problems in the neighborhood, everyone is irritable, falling out with one another, and we can hardly stand another day in this environment.
We take a vacation to get away from it all. The days we spent in the mountains, or by the sea, gave us a breathing space in the region of the soul. We were released from pressure, from worry and fretfulness and the strain that got us down.
But now we are back to familiar surroundings again, after the holidays. We are back in it all again. Do our hearts sink at the prospect? If only we could get some permanent relief from the burden, a new start somewhere else with things a bit lighter. So we tell ourselves.
But God sends us back to the place where we have failed. For that is the place where He must have the victory in our life. It is from just that place His light can radiate.
Victory there is the strategic thing in the plan of God for our lives and for the world. It is just where life has often beaten us, and our moral problem faces us most keenly, that Jesus is seeking to come into our lives with power. It is there He is able to most directly to break into the world through us.
The greatest comfort is that He is able to send us into our old place with a new Spirit. The Disciples who went back into Jerusalem were changed men. Something had happened to them through their fellowship with the risen Christ that had made everything different.
They were filled with the Holy Spirit shortly after returning to Jerusalem. They were ready now to face the place of their defeat, however humbling, for they possessed the secret of victory.
They were not ashamed even to meet the people who knew them before. They could tell them of the triumphant power of Jesus Christ. They had an experience to which they could witness. They had been lifted above the fear of men and what they could do to them.
They had a new attitude towards the people of Jerusalem, even to those who crucified Jesus. There was no resentment or bitterness or hate, only a great love that longed for their salvation.
THEY HAD A NEW POINT OF VIEW:
The result was that it was not the old world they were going back to. For it had a new look. They had a new attitude to everything – a new point of view.
They saw it now as a place of opportunity, a strategic place for winning a victory for Jesus Christ. It was the sphere of a divine purpose which God was waiting to work out through them.
The result was, revival broke out in Jerusalem and it was not long before the whole city was filled with the doctrine of Jesus Christ. And from Jerusalem it moved into the surrounding towns and villages and throughout the known world. We are still being blessed by that group of men Jesus sent back to Jerusalem to begin again.
Would it not make all the difference if we could see our world like that? Would it not bring a new zeal into monotonous living?
It can all happen to us as it happened to the disciples, if we let Jesus have his way in our lives and are ready to receive His Spirit. The place of defeat and failure can become the place of God’s opportunity if we go back to it with him. Amen.
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By, James L. Thornton