“You look just like your dad,” one person met the speaker in the parking lot. Thanks a lot! was his reaction—“white hair and pink face.” He burns easily and groused from the platform that as a kid his mom dressed him in long sleeve shirts on blazing hot days to stop that from happening. He doesn’t tan. He burns. His dad didn’t tan. He burned. His granddad didn’t tan. He burned. But his son tans nicely, he being the product of a mom who tans nicely, and the speaker muttered about that.
(photo by Jen Theodore @ upsplash.com)
He also got all pumped up over John 8:44, the verse that calls Satan a murderer, a liar, and in fact, the father of the lie who when he lies speaks ‘according to his own disposition.’ I thought of that bro who used to give that super long talk on Jesus’ trial and execution. Supposedly, he was asked to cool it because he got so worked up people began to fear for his health. Apocryphal? Could be. There was such a bro and talk, though.
Anyone who died—it was as though the speaker took it personally. His grandma at 97, and she’d been in the same rural congregation all her life—he took it personal, as you would if any murderer took your relation, in this case Satan being the murderer, as a consequence of his first lie.
It was a quirky talk. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. It was—but it was quirky. He is the 3rd generation Witness of a stalwart family. I met his daughter, who if I ever saw her before it was as an infant. My wife worked with her in cart work a few days later. When the fellow’s dad, now deceased, gave the public talk some years ago and I said I liked it, he responded with ‘What did you like about it?’ Yikes! It’s a good thing mine was a genuine comment and not just some boiler-plate pablum. I was able to tell him what I liked about it—that it was presented so clearly and simply that I could reconstruct it all in my head without having taken notes. ‘Yeah, it’s just the way he was,’ the son recalled. ‘It could come across as though he was full of himself, but he just wanted feedback so he could improve.’
Oh, okay—it just comes to me now the significance of what the present speaker said. Though he took it real hard when his grandma died, he did not cry at all when his childhood friend died at 16. It was because his pal’s death was “foolish and preventable,” not the result of murder from the first lie: “You will not die. For God knows that in the day of your eating it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.” A lie. They did die. God had said they would. “And so death spread to all mankind,” Romans 5:12 says, in the same way that epigenetics decrees you can pass along an acquired trait.
He’s sad in both instances, you understand, his grandma and his 16 year old friend, but the sadness with his grandma was heightened with rage because God had not said, ‘Be fruitful and become many, fill the earth and subdue it—and then die.’ No, their life would have been unending had they not fallen for the big lie. That’s why grandma’s death moved him more than that of his pal, though offhand you would think it to be the reverse: the kid died young and grandma had a long life. But Satan didn’t kill his chum. His own recklessness did, a tragedy to be sure, but less so than that of a murder victim.
The talk was on the resurrection hope. He hit all the familiar scriptures but personalized most of them. If he didn’t do that, he’d put some unique twist on them. He said how the eleventh chapter of John was his favorite scriptural passage, which pleased me because it is also mine. It’s not necessarily my favorite scripture—I don’t know if I have one of those—but it is my favorite scriptural passage. You can explain so much without hopping around in the Bible from one place to another. It’s all there in one chapter: Jesus’ friend dies. He likens it to ‘sleep’ and goes to wake him up. Although the fellow had been dead four days (and ought to smell by now, his sister said) he brought him back. The guy didn’t get all grouchy because he’d been yanked down from heaven onto earth again (Why would you do that to a friend? the speaker said). Neither did he go hunting around for a bucket of water in which to cool his scorched behind because he had just escaped purgatory. You can do a lot with that passage of John 11.
The resurrection hope is part of the baseline of what it means to be Christian. It’s not an add-on, but it’s part of the basic passage, the ‘foundation.’ The speaker pointed to Hebrews 6:1-2:
“Therefore, now that we have moved beyond the primary doctrine about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying a foundation again, namely, repentance from dead works and faith in God, the teaching on baptisms and the laying on of the hands, the resurrection of the dead and everlasting judgment.”
The resurrection—and he explained just how that works, how Jesus paid the ransom price to undo the effects of Satan’s lie, like-for-like, and so forth—is what undoes the sad present state that “you are a mist, appearing for a while and then disappearing.” (James 4:14)
It also—he laid stress on this—makes people immune to manipulation. It frees people “who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:15) People have done horrible things for fear of being put to death themselves. Perhaps this explains why the resurrection teaching is especially opposed by critics; they don’t want to lose their hold over people. But they have lost it with those who fear God and embrace the resurrection hope. No Witness of Jehovah wants to die. It is inconvenient and it makes people feel bad. But death itself holds no terror for them. They know what it is. They are fortified all the more so because the Bible likens it to sleep from which one can awake.
…..No further meeting notes this week. An account from the midweek meeting from 1 Samuel 1-2 inspired a post of its own (which hasn’t posted yet), so I’ll let that suffice.
****** The bookstore