April 2020

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TruthTalks: What Happened After the Resurrection?

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There is an elaborate forty-day liturgical build-up to Easter, but very few people ask themselves:

Who did Jesus choose to talk to in the forty days after His resurrection  – and why did He choose them?
In this TruthTalks podcast, based THIS post, Dr Christopher Peppler takes us through the accounts of Jesus’ appearances during the few precious days before he returned to be with his Father in heaven. Could some have been to ordinary folk like you and me?

Listen to this TruthTalk by clicking on the play button below and please like, subscribe, and pass this on to anyone who you think may need to hear this uplifting message.

Best wishes, Admin (Karen)

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What Happened After the Resurrection

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Every year Christians pay a lot of attention to what happened before Easter Sunday, but what happened after the Resurrection?

Before Easter, many folks from some of the older denominations observe Lent. Starting from Ash Wednesday they observe a forty-day season incorporating The Annunciation, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. However, what is not generally observed is the forty-day period after his resurrection when Jesus appeared to select people. In this article, I want to focus on what he said to some of these people and how he acted towards them. I will be concentrating, not on the doctrinal aspects of this, but on the motives and emotions displayed.

Mary Magdalene

Mary was the first person to interact with Jesus after his resurrection. She was distraught, not only because just days before she had witnessed Jesus dying on the cross, but because the tomb where they had laid his body was now empty. She became aware of someone standing behind her, but she thought he was the gardener. He asked her why she was crying and who she was looking for. She asked him where he had taken the body of her Lord and he replied with just one word,“Mary.”

Perhaps it was because he knew her name that enabled her to recognise him through her tears, or perhaps it was the tender tone in which he said it. I suspect that it was the later.

Jesus then told her to go and tell the disciples that he was only going to be present for a short while and would then have to return to his Father. (John 20:10-18) What is particularly significant is that Jesus chose to reveal himself for the first time in his resurrected form to Mary before even to John or Peter. By doing this he indicated the special love he had for her and also her status among his disciples. In those days, women were regarded as inferior to men and not to be taken seriously, but Jesus thought otherwise.

Simon Peter

In the evening of Resurrection Sunday, Jesus appeared to his disciples, but 1 Corinthians 15:5 records that at some time between dawn and dusk of that day Jesus first met with Peter. We don’t know what he said to Peter because nothing is recorded in the Gospels concerning this. It must have been a private meeting, just between the two of them. How would Peter have been feeling at the time? Well, he had betrayed the Lord and fled and as a result had not been there for Jesus when he died on the cross. Peter must have been feeling devastated – ashamed, desperately sad, and worthless. But Jesus chose to appear to him before meeting with the other disciples. What comfort this must have been for Simon Peter.

The two on the road to Emmaus

Sometime during the course of Resurrection Sunday, Jesus met with two disciples who were journeying from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They were not part of the group of twelve and the scriptures do not even give us their names. Yet Jesus chose to walk with them and to give them a bible study unlike any ever received from Jesus. ‘He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself’ (Luke 24:27) What a privilege! What made them special? Probably nothing, but Jesus chose to favour them; two ordinary unknown men.

The disciples

That evening, while the two from the encounter on the road were telling the disciples what had happened, Jesus suddenly appeared in the room with them (Luke 24:36). John 20:19-24 adds the detail that the disciples were in a locked room in fear of being arrested; no wonder that they were startled when they saw him. But I want to skip to the next time that Jesus met with his disciples because on that Sunday night James was missing from the group. John 20:26-28 records for us how Jesus returned a week later to appear again to his band of disciples that this time included Thomas. Why did Jesus do this? The only answer obvious from the Gospel account is because Thomas doubted that Jesus had truly risen from the dead and had appeared to the others. Jesus did not scold him or criticise him, but instead provided him with solid physical evidence. For me, Thomas stands in scripture not so much as ‘doubting Thomas’, but as ‘Blessed Thomas’, a man who received abundant grace and compassion from the Saviour.

The Galilee appearances

John 21, Matthew 28 and 1 Corinthians 15 record or mention two other appearances by the risen Lord of Life. He met with his disciples at the sea of Galilee, ate with them and reestablished Peter as the leader of his church. Then at another time, he met with James and also appeared to a group of about 500 people.

The Ascension

Jesus’ last appearance to his disciples was on mount Olivet where he blessed them and then ascended into Heaven. Luke gives the detail that this occurred on the Bethany side of the mount of Olives (Luke 24:50-53) probably at or very near to the spot where he had stood and grieved over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37). But why did Jesus choose this particular spot?

We know that the town of Bethany was where the home of his dear friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus was located and that it was Jesus’ home base in the days leading up to the crucifixion. Since leaving Nazareth to start his public ministry, this must have been the nearest thing to a home that Jesus had on Earth. Upon the hill overlooking this home was the place Jesus chose to return to his eternal home in heaven, his Father’s home.

What we can draw from this

I am writing this article in extraordinary times. The Corona Virus Pandemic is sweeping the world and I, like millions of others are under lockdown. Things are growing desperate as food runs out for so many of the poor, untold scores of people from all parts of society have lost their jobs. Most people are anxious and even afraid and many are lonely. So at times like this, it is comforting to consider how Jesus treated ordinary people like us.

He comforted and affirmed his friend Mary, restored Peter’s dignity and purpose, and poured out his grace and knowledge upon two unknown disciples. He assured Thomas, blessed his followers, and the last thing he probably saw as he ascending back to heaven was the home of his friends.
Would he not reach out to each of us, equally ordinary people, in our confusion and disquiet? Yes he would; yes he does.

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TruthTalks: A Psalm Today

Top ImageIf you are struggling to stay upbeat in the strange landscape that is the World and COVID-19, and if you even sometimes feel a little hopeless, then do yourself and favor and listen to this TruthTalks episode. It  gives us not only hope but also direction on how to keep your spirits up.

How are YOU dealing with it?

How do you think God wants us to deal with it?

The original post is HERE, otherwise, take a listen to Dr Christopher Peppler talking on this subject by clicking on the play button below.

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A Psalm Today Keeps the Blues Away

Top ImageWhile the adage ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is unproven, the adaptation ‘a psalm today keeps the blues away’ is true. We in South Africa are deep into a 21 day COVID-19 lock-down and, despite our best intentions, it is hard not to feel a little down and ‘blue’. It is at times like this that some of the Psalms of the bible take on fresh meaning for us, especially Psalms like 23, 91 and 27.

Psalm 23

There can’t be many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, who have never heard all or parts of Psalm 23. It is probably the most popular scripture reading at funerals and it’s also sung in many forms and at many times.

In the context of our current time of crisis, read again what King David wrote all those years ago: ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…’
This is not necessarily a promise of immunity, but it is a strong statement of confidence in God. I will not fear – why? – for God is with me.

Psalm 91

Psalm 91 is perhaps less quoted than Psalm 23, but what an uplifting composition, usually attributed to Moses. Its opening verse is just glorious:

‘He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of El Shaddai.’
The basic meaning of ‘El-Shaddai’ is ‘God Almighty’, but over the years bible scholars have attributed several shades of meaning to it, such as: ‘the all-sufficient one’, the one who is strong while we are weak and whose grace is sufficient for us. Remember that when Paul asked God to remove his affliction from him, the Lord replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

In ‘younger’ days as a Christian, I used to love singing the song made famous by Amy Grant. Why don’t you listen to it now by clicking HERE – let its words speak deeply to your soul.

But Psalm 91 doesn’t end at verse one. The very next verse is a powerful affirmation which if we believe and speak will surely dispel fear and melancholy:

‘I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.

Verses 9-11 and 14 then set out a conditional promise:

If you make the Most High your dwelling — even the LORD, who is my refuge —  then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways… “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name”.

At another time I would write about the problems associated with when and to what extent we can personally appropriate promises like this. However, in this time of world, national, and personal crisis it is more important to simply ask the Holy Spirit to speak from this Psalm deeply into our hearts.

Psalm 27

A great way to conclude a short article such as this is to direct you to some of the words in Psalm 27.

Verse 1:  The LORD is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life —  of whom shall I be afraid?

Verse 5: For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

Verses 13-14: I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

May the Lord bless us and keep us.

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.