Last week was a memorable week for many people from various nations of the world.
21 April was Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day.
This date was set by the Parliament of Israel in 1951 for the nation and is now commemorated throughout the world.
24 April is a day of remembrance by the people of Armenia. The atrocity of what is known as the Armenian Genocide is recognised by many nations and remembered today.
Both nations are well represented in almost every part of the world.
We in Australia will remember 25 April as ANZAC Day, a solemn reminder of bravery, dedication and sacrifice.
My wife and I fondly recollect this day well as we embarked on another phase of rural practice on the Monday after ANZAC Day, 1997, in the coastal town of Wallaroo, South Australia.
These important dates in the calendar are reminders for us that we live in a fallen world. The effects of sin on humans have no boundary.
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23).
The disciples and the early church were no different as they continued and pressed on as 'another race' during oppressive regimes and rulers. The good news of the gospel brought hope, peace and joy to the believers and it is worthy of note that during uncertainty, fear and gloom, the word 'gladly' is found several times in the New Testament.
1. Gladly heard
David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly (Mark 12:37).
Jesus was in the temple, with the scribes, Pharisees, the priests and ruling class. But there were the common people or 'many others' who were there and probably, the Gentiles and women in the outer court. These were the ones who heard Him gladly with an unspeakable and indescribable pleasure as the word implies. They listened intently and gladly to the voice of God. The blessings would follow.
2. Gladly received Him
Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him. And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him (Luke 8:38-40).
This is the account of the demon possessed man who received healing from the Lord Jesus. He had the deep desire to be with Jesus and to follow Him. But he was given the command to declare the good news to his family and community. The news of this gladness was spread, and, on His return, Jesus would be welcomed gladly by the ones who were waiting for Him.
Now it is our privilege as disciples to preach Christ crucified to the rest of the world, so that they might receive Him.
3. Gladly received His Word
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41).
This is exactly what Peter did on the day of Pentecost; at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the word of God was declared with boldness and clarity. This was gladly received and, in this instance, by three thousand souls (Acts 2: 42-43).
In all its oppression, suffering and even martyrdom, the early church continued steadfastly and gladly. The reason was the living Christ who is the giver of new life and joy. He can do this even today!
4. Gladly received fellow believers
…There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge. And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry (Acts 21: 15-19).
Serving the Lord with gladness and receiving the fellow believers and leaders was a most admirable vocation. There would have been no words to describe this agape love for the people of God. This was done gladly and specially to recognise and welcome the Gentiles as fellow believers: one with Christ.
5. Gladly glory!
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10).
The apostle Paul would rather ' boast' 'have joy' in his sickness and pain so that the power of Christ may be manifest above the woeful situation he was in. He was totally dependent on the grace of Christ which was sufficient.
He would gladly glory so that the power of Christ would rest upon him. And as he confesses 'for when I am weak, then am I strong'. What a superb testimony of what the Lord can do in Paul, and certainly in us.
Before we can experience this......as we gladly hear, may we also receive this same Christ in true repentance as we turn away from our old way and walk fearlessly in the new, receiving His word and living in obedience to His word, in this world of pain, suffering, inequality, hatred, war, holocaust, genocide ...death!
Only then can we as God's people continue to show the world that we can do, all things most gladly, for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ who loved us and gave himself for us.