The Greatest Reward

With all the problems the airlines are facing (high fuel costs, and competition from other airlines), they still have those frequent flyer deals, whereby you can obtain free flights, or half-cost flights, after earning so many points. Of course this “loyalty” scheme is nothing new. Newspapers over the years have offered tokens in their daily editions - after collecting so many, you were able to exchange them for a book or tickets to a film etc.

And now you have the petrol vouchers. Buy over $30 of groceries at the supermarket, and you can get 4c off per litre at certain petrol stations. There’s nothing special about you or I getting these privileges, except that when you're loyal to this airline, supermarket or daily paper, they give you certain kinds of reward. Businesses want to train us to think one simple thought, customer loyalty pays off!

Long before there were airlines, or supermarkets or newspapers, some Jewish women discovered that as they followed Jesus, loyalty was rewarded. In Matthew 27, beginning with verse 55, we have the scene of the crucifixion of Jesus, where most of those who had been with Jesus had fled. The Bible says, "Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for His needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses." They had followed Jesus loyally through all those journeys, all those miracles, all those life-changing lessons, and the glory of Palm Sunday only five days earlier. And now, when it looks as if all is lost and there is no reason to hang on, they are at the cross.

ALL OVER - OR IS IT?

Jesus has died. It’s ALL over. But still, as Jesus is buried in a borrowed tomb the Bible says, "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb." Still loyal, when all hope seems to be gone. Then, of course, on that incredible Resurrection Day, "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb." Because of their tenacious loyalty to Jesus, these women - notice: not any of Jesus' twelve disciples - but these women, are the first to see the empty tomb.

And then the greatest joy of all, "The women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell His disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them." What may be the greatest thrill, the greatest privilege in all of human history was theirs, to be the first ones to ever see Jesus alive! Those who have been His loyal followers through it all! They get that privilege. Much better than a passenger loyal to one airline, they enjoy benefits that only the loyal will experience.

THE REWARD - EVEN WHEN THE WAY IS DARK

Because they have stuck with Jesus when there seemed to be no reason to, they get to see Him as no others have seen Him, and they experience the unspeakable joy that is reserved for those who were faithful when it is totally dark. That is still the experience of those who will stay with Jesus through the valley, the victories, the pain, the unanswered questions, the as-yet-unanswered prayers, illness, depression, weaknesses, failures and disappointments. When you do, you get to see Jesus in all His power and all His glory.

But maybe for you, the resurrection day isn't a reality these days. Only the darkness of the crucifixion -  the time and place where there seems to be no hope and no meaning to it all. You are frozen in the time zone of Saturday, and are not prepared to  come through into the light and liberty of Resurrection Sunday. You may be suffering from faithfulness fatigue. You've hung on, but it's getting harder to keep hanging on. And the Lord knows how hard it is right now.

So He has sent you this reminder that the greatest benefits go to those who stay with Jesus, no matter what. He has some wonderful blessings, some unspeakable joy, some tremendous rewards for you if you'll stay faithful, even through the very dark times. In the words of Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." The best rewards Jesus has to give are for those who remain faithfully with Him through it all. Grace and peace......

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