What is revival?

From Steven Lawson’s commentary on Psalm 85:

On July 8, 1734, Jonathan Edwards stepped into the pulpit to preach his now famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Edwards had actually preached from the same text several times previously, as recently as one month earlier to his own congregation in Northampton, Massachusetts. But while the guest preacher in Enfield, Connecticut, he preached this sermon yet again; and the people in that New England church were deeply affected. Eleazer Wheelock, one of the leading preachers in the Great Awakening, said the people were “bowed down with an awful conviction of the sin and danger.” One man under deep conviction sprang up and cried, “Mr. Edwards, have mercy!” Others caught hold of the backs of the pews lest they should slip into the pit of hell. Many thought that the day of judgment had suddenly dawned on them. Still others were alarmed that God, while blessing others, should in anger pass them by.

Revival had come to New England, restoring God’s work among his people in colonial America, empowering them to do his will. What is revival? Literally, the word itself means a restoring back to fullness of life that which has become stagnant or dormant. It is a rekindling of spiritual life in individual believers and churches which have fallen into sluggish times. True revival always returns God’s people to a fresh and vivid emphasis on the holiness and righteousness of God, his judgment on sin, true repentance, and the overflowing effect of personal conversions to Christ. This sudden awareness of the overwhelming presence of God is the hallmark of any revival. It is a supernatural work of God in which he visits his people, restoring spiritual life to their hearts, as well as ushering salvation into many souls. Such a revival is always a sovereign work of God, in response to the prayers of his people, and it leaves a lasting mark on his work forever.

Historically speaking, revivals have always been marked by the same spiritual characteristics, and it would do believers well to reacquaint themselves with these benchmarks. Whether it be during the days of Ezra and Nehemiah in Old Testament times or the Reformation, Puritan age, and Great Awakening in church history, revivals have always demonstrated the same qualities. They are as follows:

  1. A proclamation of Scripture. Any period of revival has always been preceded by a dramatic return to the Word of God. Certainly, this was true in the revival at the Watergate under Ezra and Nehemiah (Neh. 8:8). The centrality of the Scripture in any revival is undisputed. “Preserve my life according to your word” (Ps. 119:37). And this clearly was the dynamic of the early church in Jerusalem which exploded on the scene as “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42). The same was true in the days of Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield. There was a return to the divine revelation of Scripture being read, studied, taught, and preached.
  1. An intercession with God. A genuine spiritual awakening is further marked as a time in which God’s people humble themselves and seek the Lord in unceasing prayer. It is a new season of petitioning God, seeking his face, and asking him to revive his people and restore his work. While all revivals are sent by the sovereign initiative of God, nevertheless, prayer is always the forerunner of his people. It was this way in the early church as they regularly met together to pray (Acts 1:13–14; 2:42; 3:1).
  1. A confession of sin. True revival ushers in a deep conviction of personal sin, a confessing of sin, and a turning away from sin. This means that sin made known must go. Iniquities are revealed by the Word, and hearts are broken with deep contrition. Sin is put away. This is precisely what happened in Ezra’s day as the people confessed their sin to God, while openly grieving that they had departed from God’s standard (Neh. 9:1–37). In fact, they put on sackcloth, threw dust on their heads (v. 1), and acknowledged their sin (v. 3), bringing it out into the open before God (v. 37).
  1. A devotion to holiness. Old paths of obedience, previously forsaken, are once more pursued. The Word is not only taught and heard anew, but it is also received and kept. Suddenly, there is an overwhelming desire to apply the Scripture to one’s own life, putting it into practice with a new resolve. Revival always brings about this effect. It is a time of renewed commitment to return to the Scripture in order to obey it.

The Directness or Kindness Dilemma

Proverbs 26:4–5

4 Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.

Reading these two Proverbs back-to-back can feel a little contradictory. Either one, by itself, makes perfect sense. If we answer a fool according to his folly, if we go along with the fool in his ways, we end up acting like a fool. That is not good. But if we refuse to answer a fool, the fool will think he is wise. That is not good either.

In a nutshell, I believe that the writer of Proverbs put these two verses together to let us know that, when dealing with a fool, there is no perfect answer. Fools make civil and productive discussion impossible. At the same time, we sometimes have to get in there and deal with objections fools raise.

What might we need to learn from thinking about these proverbs in the light of the rest of Scripture? You do not have to be nasty to tell the truth. There is no requirement to make fun of people or be intentionally provocative. You can say that someone is in sin, and you can do so with a tone of superiority, arrogance, and disdain. You can also say that somebody is in sin and do so with a tone of sorrow and love and with an offer of hope in Jesus. Don’t be nasty. Do tell the truth.

Christians must remember that one of the fruits of the Spirit is kindness (Gal. 5:22). Thus, we are not to be a people marked by sharpness, anger, and cruelty. Being nasty, getting sinful with the person you are talking with, is answering a fool according to his folly in such a way that you become like him yourself.

But not all of the faith includes being nonconfrontational. Sometimes there is a true wisdom in saying, not out of meanness but out of honesty, that the argument someone is making is foolish. Sometimes we need to look at the ridiculous in the world’s actions, standards, or behavior and speak in such a way as to show it and not let the fool remain wise in his own eyes.

John 9:26-27

26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”

In John 9, Jesus had healed a blind man. The Pharisees badgered the healed man, because they were trying to find something to hold against Jesus. Eventually, when the healed man realized that the conversation was not going anywhere, he got a little cheeky with the religious leaders. With a bit of sarcasm, he asked them if they were asking so many questions because they wanted to become Jesus’ disciples. I do not think he was sinfully mean here. But the formerly blind man showed the ridiculousness of what was going on.

In the Old Testament, when Elijah openly challenged the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel, the prophet ridiculed the evil prophets. Those prophets had spent the day dancing around, shouting, cutting themselves, and being foolish.

1 Kings 18:26-27

26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. 27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”

Elijah mocked the evil practices of the evil prophets. And he was not wrong.

What then? Are we to be polite or mocking? There is a wisdom required here. Examine your own personality and your own purposes. Be an honest person before God, especially about your motivation. Are you someone who is already given to meanness with your words? If so, you probably need to be pulled back and reminded of the kindness of Christ. You probably need to remember that you do not gain anything by scoring points WITH cutting remarks. Are you given to fear, to compromise, to words that barely point out the truth? You may need a little more of Elijah or the formerly blind man in your personality. You should not be afraid to speak the truth, even hard truth, to a lost world. You should not fear to say of evil that it is evil and of folly that it is foolish.

Do not neglect the body of Christ here. The local church should be made up of people who are different than you in temperament. Be honest enough to listen if fellow believers challenge you to be more direct. Take it seriously if fellow believers call on you to show more kindness. And be grateful that God has given us folks in the church who are wired quite differently. Be concerned if nobody in your life is wired differently than you in this area.

Honestly ask the Spirit of God to lead you. Ask God to reveal to you if you, when you want to say something sharp, are feeding your ego. Ask if you are putting yourself forward and finding joy in causing pain. Ask if you are trying to make yourself look big by putting somebody down in a conversation in person or on-line. If so, you are in sin.

But also ask the Spirit of God to help you to see if you are a coward. Ask the Spirit to help you see if you are given to compromise. Ask God to let you know when you need to be bold and call out evil with strong, even sharp words. You do not honor God if you allow people around you to think that they are smart, sophisticated, and beyond the reproof of the Bible.

We need a little of both sides in our lives and in the church. We need kindness and sweetness. We need strength and clarity. The same Jesus who had dinner with tax collectors and sinners called them sinners and told them they needed to repent. The same Jesus who wept over Jerusalem called the Pharisees a brood of vipers, a batch of little snake babies, and asked how in the world they could ever escape hell.

We need the wisdom of God in our speech both inside and outside the church setting to answer and to not answer fools according to their folly.

We Need memory

Mark 8:4

And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?”

In Mark 8, Jesus is again presented with a large crowd that has no food. The Savior, out of compassion, asks his disciples to take a hand in feeding them. But the disciples are, as we see above, daunted by the task.

The reason that this passage stands out to me is the fact that disciples seem here to be forgetting their own recent history. It is not that long ago that Jesus, using 5 loaves and 2 fish, fed a crowd of 5,000 men not counting women and children. Here the disciples are in a very similar situation, seeing a very similar crowd, and they wonder how in the world that crowd might be fed.

Does this not tell us something of our nature and our need? We are a forgetful people. When our minds are not focused strongly on what we know to be true, we forget it to our own hurt. The disciples knew that they were standing right next to the one who calms stormy seas, raises the dead, and feeds massive crowds with miraculous bread. Yet they ask how this might be done today. Are we not similar? Do we not forget the truths we know too?

Our need is memory, faithful and biblical memory. We need to be reminded of the God we serve. We need to be reminded of his love, his power, and his glory. We need to rehearse the times of God’s faithful provision that we have experienced. Even more, we need to set our minds on the glorious claims of Holy Scripture that remind us that our God spoke the universe into existence, parted the Red Sea, and did the work to save our very souls. Let us not forget but let us remember and trust the Lord.

Why Are Christians So Hung Up on Sex

Mark 6:22 – For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.”

Many of the major disagreements between Christians and non-Christians relating to morality in our culture are deeply personal. Many of our differences have to do with morality as it relates to sex, sexuality, gender, and such things. Perhaps you have even heard a person ask why it is that Christians seem to be so hung up on the sexual morals of society.

There are, of course, many answers to this question. The fact is, God has every right to command us in every area of life, including our sexuality. God has the sole right to define for humanity the purpose of human sexuality and the point of things like marriage, gender, family, and all the rest. God has the right to tell us what will be acceptable and what will not.

But add to the simple fact of God’s lordship here that God made us. God knows how we work best. God knows what will ultimately help us and what will ultimately harm us.

Consider what we see in the above passage. King Herod threw himself a birthday party and was enamored of the dance of his wife’s daughter. Understand that this dance, according to many scholars, was not merely a polite little ballet. Instead, this was likely a sensual performance that fired the blood of the king. In fact, the king was driven to a place where he made a rash vow to the girl in front of the people at the party. He swore he would give her anything she asked for. And the girl, after consultation with her mother, asked the king to behead John the Baptist. The king, though unwillingly, gave in to her request.

John the Baptist was in Herod’s prison. John had preached openly of the sin that Herod committed when he stole away his brother’s wife, the girl’s mother. Thus, when the girl knew she had a boon from the king, and when she asked her mom what to ask the king for, the mom, feeding her desire to continue in sin without reproof led her daughter to demand the murder of the prophet.

Without overdoing anything here, see what happened. The king had his blood stirred by a sensual, sexualized performance. In that heat, he made a promise he did not afterward wish to fulfill. And all the machinations of this twisted scene of a man stirred up with lust for his wife’s daughter led to the murder of a man of God who simply told the truth.

What we must grasp is that our drives are very strong. If we are not careful to keep our desires in the right place, we will be led to places that can utterly destroy us and destroy our society. We cannot give humanity free reign to express our sexuality in whatever way we want, as doing so leads to destruction. And God, who knows us and knows how he made us, knows that better than even we know it ourselves.

I have said to people before that fire is lovely in a fireplace but terrible when the whole house is aflame. Fire is lovely at a campsite but terrible when spread through the whole forest. And our drives, even our sexuality, can be beautiful, wonderful, and lovely. Yet, when our drives are removed from the place God intended them to be, they are deadly. God has told us what he requires and what is best for us. Our sexuality is to be reserved for marriage, the covenant union of one man and one woman for life. may we not compromise that standard lest we dishonor God and do ourselves and our society great harm.

Stay and Tell

Mark 5:18-20

18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

In Mark 5, Jesus did something utterly stunning. Jesus drove a legion of demons out of a possessed man. Jesus, solely by his might, the might of Almighty God, overpowered demonic forces, made them tremble, and sent them away. Jesus, in glorious kindness, healed a man many thought unreachable.

After this was all over, the man was grateful. That is understandable. And the man asked Jesus to allow him to travel with him and his disciples.

In the Savior’s response to the man, we can learn something for ourselves. Jesus told the man not to come with him on his travels. Instead, the Savior called on the man to go back home, live a normal life, and tell people about how much the Lord had done for him. And this is what the man did. People were amazed, people praised God, because of the man’s account of what the Savior had done.

Here we stand looking back on this event over nearly two millennia of history. There is something for us to see. A man had his entire life and world changed by Jesus. He wanted, originally, to leave his home and go follow Jesus to other lands. The Savior said that what this man should do is take the truth of Jesus back into his own hometown.

What about you? Has Jesus done a miracle for you? Are you saved? If you are saved, then Jesus has given you life and forgiveness in God. Jesus has changed you. You have a story to tell. It is the story of one who was dead and whom God made alive. Tell it. Do not think you have to go on a mission trip to another country to tell it. Tell it at home. Tell it where you work. Tell it where you shop. Tell it to your friends. Tell it to your family. Just tell people what the Lord has done for you and ask them if they want to know him too.

Of course it is glorious when we get to go on missions to other cities and even other countries. But Jesus shows us right here that it is also wonderful when people whose lives have been changed tell their neighbors. You do not need seminary training to tell somebody that you have hope and joy in life because of Jesus, that you have forgiveness of sin because of Jesus, that you have been changed by Jesus. It does not take a missionary calling to say to someone that, if they would like to know about the Jesus you love, you would be happy to read through a book of the Bible with them or bring them with you to church so they can hear about him too. It is not a scholarly endeavor to tell people that God is holy, we are rebels, Jesus died as the only way we can be made right with God, and we gain new life by God’s grace when we repent and believe in the living Jesus. Dear friends, may we tell the story of what Jesus has done for us. It is great to go and tell. It is also great to stay and tell.

Seeing the Miraculous with Fresh Eyes

Mark 5:15 – And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.

Mark 5:33 – But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.

Mark 5:42b – …and they were immediately overcome with amazement.

There is an old proverb that says that familiarity breeds contempt. Sometimes when you are too familiar with a thing, you stop being amazed by it; you stop loving it.

How close do we come to this as we read through the works of Jesus. If you red your Bible regularly—as you should—you might become very familiar with the scenes of the supernatural. Is it possible that these are no longer jaw-dropping for you? Friends, If you saw them in person, they certainly would be.

In Mark 5, we see three miracles that will blow us away if we will see them with fresh eyes. First, Jesus meets a demon-possessed man. The man is so far gone that he is a danger to himself and others. He is so full of evil and supernatural power that he breaks chains that are intended to bind him for his own safety and that of others.

What happens when this man meets Jesus? The Savior drives out the legion of demons. And when the people see the man, he is, for the first time, clothed and in his right mind. Jesus defeated the powers of the devil. Jesus fixed a man who had been broken for years. Jesus overpowered a man who could overpower large groups of men. Jesus showed great love and great power.

Later, Jesus is met by a woman who had been suffering with a medical ailment for more than a decade. The woman, in faith, touched Jesus’ garment, and her socially damaging and physically crippling disorder was healed.

You know how frustrating medical care is today in a world of antibiotics, surgeries, and technology. How stunning is it to see a long-term illness removed in an instant? How loving? How wonderful?

Then, Jesus stands in a room with a dead twelve-year-old girl and her family. The Savior looks at the body—no breath, no life, no blood flow. The family is weeping. Jesus sends most people away, speaks a word to the girl, and she gets up. The parents, who believed they had lost their dear little one, have her back again. This should blow our minds.

Notice the three responses to the miracles that Jesus performed. Above, we list verses that show that fear and amazement are the responses from everybody. Why? The things Jesus did do not happen in the real world. But they happened in the real world. They happened in the world you walk into every day. They happened in the air you breathe. Jesus beat demons, disease, and death, and he did not break a sweat. Jesus is mighty, mightier than you think. Jesus is gracious, more gracious than you think. Jesus is loving, far more loving than you have ever imagined. You want to know this Jesus. You want to love this Jesus. You want to, as did the crowds, properly fear and be amazed by Jesus. Do not let your familiarity with these accounts breed contempt in your heart. See them afresh, imagine yourself there, and let it stun you with the glory of Jesus.

Jesus Preached the Word

Mark 2:2b

And he was preaching the word to them.

This sentence applies to Jesus. He, the Lord Jesus, was preaching the word to the crowd. Praise god for this little reminder. Jesus preached the word!

When you think of Jesus, do you remember his preaching? We love the miracles. We love the healings. We watch the confrontations. We smile at the kindnesses. But do we think of the fact that Jesus preached the word?

Jesus preached. Our Savior found value in the proclamation of truth. He did not seem to think that his proclamation should be replaced with dramas, with showiness, with mere conversation. Something about the authoritative proclamation of the word was central to the ministry of the Savior.

Jesus preached the word. What is the word? Jesus preached Scripture. Jesus did not stray from it. Jesus did not replace it. Jesus did not run to worldly philosophy. Jesus, God the Son, God in flesh, chose to preach to the people the already written word of God. Yes, during his ministry, Jesus brought new words. This was, after all, a time of an open canon of authoritative revelation. But right here, Mark emphasizes for us that it is the word Jesus preached.

Should this not impact what we think we should be about? In your church, is the preaching of the word central? Jesus preached. Is preaching central? Jesus preached the word. Is the word final and authoritative? If we want to be like Jesus in our churches, we must be devoted to preaching the word.

What does the Touch of Jesus Do?

Mark 1:40-42

40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

In the Old Testament law, to touch someone sick with leprosy was to make yourself ceremonially unclean. The picture, of course, is that, since God is so totally holy, we, if we want to be near him, must not be contaminated with anything. Touching unclean animals, dead things, or even an unclean person could render you unable to participate in community life.

Without unpacking all of the typology in the law system, without talking about how the laws of ceremonial cleanness helped the Israelite community, I want to simply point to one glorious truth in the passage above. Jesus touched a leper. Jesus made him clean.

The story is simple. The leper asks for healing. Jesus touches him and heals him. In that, we see the great power of Jesus as God to push back the darkness of the fall and bring healing to a body in a miraculous way. WE see the kindness of Jesus, touching one that had been untouchable.

But the thing that grabs my attention is this. In any other instance, the uncleanness of the person would be transmitted to the one who touched the unclean person. But not with Jesus. When Jesus touched the leper, Jesus’ cleanness was transferred to the leper.

I once heard a person say that, if you garden with white gloves, you are not likely to end up with glovey mud. No, you get muddy gloves. That is how the normal world works. Something would have to be spectacularly strange for the gloves to remain clean and the mud to be changed. But, dear friends, this is what happens when Jesus touches us.

Jesus is incorruptible. He is the holy God in flesh. Nothing, not a single thing, could touch Jesus and make him unclean. Instead, if something touches Jesus, the thing that touches Jesus is changed. It must either be made clean or consumed. But the thing touching Jesus cannot change him, as he is the unchanging and unchangeable God.

Praise Jesus for being so much greater than we are. He can reach right into our dirty lives and make us clean. He has no fear of our needs, as he is not able to be made unclean. But, rightly fear Jesus, because his holiness is also deadly to sin.

What will the touch of Jesus do to you? It depends. Are you under his grace? All people will stand in his presence. Those who are not under his grace will be consumed like a piece of tissue paper on the face of the fiery sun. Those who have believed in him and come to him for mercy will be transformed, made holy and clean by the sweet and merciful Savior.

The Gospel Jesus Preached

Mark 1:14-15

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

If we wish to have the gospel, the good news of God, correct, it would be wise for us to know that we are preaching the same gospel Jesus preached. Here in the beginning of mark’s telling of the gospel, we see it. I would argue that this is simple, lovely, and not necessarily what you hear in every church out there.

When Jesus began to preach, he began by telling people that the time was fulfilled. That is not a throw-away line. The time that God had set from eternity past for his fulfillment of his promise to bring about the salvation of his people was finally at hand. That the time could be fulfilled tells us the time had been set. That the time had been set tells us that the plan had been made long beforehand. The gospel is the outworking of God’s eternal plan that has been and still is being perfectly fulfilled.

Jesus tells the people that God’s kingdom is at hand. This too is glorious. God reigns as king over the universe. God holds all authority over the earth. And God is building a kingdom, bringing his king, accomplishing his will. If you know your Old Testament, you know that God has promised and promised and promised a savior who will be a king. Everything about Adam in the garden indicated a man who was to reign over the world as a regent under God. The Lord promised Abraham that kings would spring from his line. God promised David that a king from his line will rule the world forever. So the idea of the kingdom of God being at hand tells us that what Jesus is about to do, what is contained in the gospel, includes God bringing about the rule he has been promising since the beginning. There is no way to have this part of the message of Jesus right while unhitching from the Old Testament.

Then Jesus tells the people to repent and believe the gospel. This is a bit more familiar, though many fail to call people to repent. Repenting involves a change in your thinking, your emotion, and your action. For a person who is outside of God’s family, repenting means realizing that you are lost and need God’s forgiveness. It means realizing that you cannot be lord of your own life and have God as your king. It means letting go of your supposed right to be in charge of yourself, yielding yourself to God, and bowing to him as Lord, Master, King. Repenting means turning from a willful embrace of sin, letting go of that which God forbids and embracing that which God commands. There is no salvation without repentance.

The call to believe is the flip side of the repentance coin. If I cannot rule myself, trust myself, own myself, or save myself, I must rely on someone else. Believing includes a mental acceptance that Jesus is who he claims to be. Jesus is God’s son and our only hope for salvation. Jesus lived the perfect obedience God requires and fulfilled all the requirements of God’s holy standard. Jesus died as the only sacrifice that can actually take away our sins. Jesus rose from the dead, proving he is exactly what he claimed to be. Jesus ascended into heaven where he offered his blood in the heavenly holy of holies once for all who will be saved. And Jesus receives to himself all who will repent and entrust themselves to his care.

Do you preach the gospel Jesus preached? Is it tied to the eternal decree of God? Does it involve the kingdom of God? Do you include a call to repent? Is belief, faith alone in Christ alone, central? I hope so, as the gospel Jesus preached is the only gospel that saves.

No Guard Could Stop Jesus

Matthew 27:65-66

65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

After Jesus was crucified, the chief priests and the Pharisees approached the governor with a concern. They realized that, during his ministry, Jesus predicted his resurrection. Not believing that Jesus is God, the Pharisees assumed his resurrection to be an impossibility. But they asked the governor to help them by securing the tomb so that the disciples could not come and steal away the body and falsely claim a resurrection. And this move by unbelievers is a tremendous encouragement to all who know Jesus.

Pilate allowed the Jews to use soldiers to officially seal the tomb and make it secure. And the Bible tells us that they did their very best. And this encourages all of us who know Jesus.

Why is this encouraging. The guard made it impossible for the disciples to come and steal the body of Jesus out of the tomb. But they could not seal the tomb against the power of the Son of God. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus, God in flesh, walked out of the tomb. There was no power on earth that could have prevented him from standing again on the earth, under the sky, fully alive once more.

Mankind has tried to control God ever since the garden. And ever since the garden, mankind has been unable to thwart God’s plan at any single step. No guard could hold Jesus in a tomb. Death could not hold Jesus in a tomb. God’s eternal plan included him accomplishing his people’s redemption through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. How glorious is it for us to see that, even though the strongest army on earth tried to keep Jesus in the grave, they did not stand a chance? Praise be to our living Savior.