The Third Day

Dennis OHare

"And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself upon the earth and the evening and the morning were the third day." (Gen 1:11, 13).

On the third day of creation, God revealed His desire for the work of His hands to bear fruit. We could be excused for thinking that fertility only has the reproduction of the species in view but a little thought will show us that while this aspect of fruit-bearing is vital, nevertheless, it is only one aspect.

The reader will no doubt think of many other objects of fertility but we would like to consider three which have no bearing on reproduction. Then we wish to add that in the life of the Lord Jesus, four times we read of the third day. On each of these occasions, we see Him bringing forth precious fruit of which we are the beneficiaries. But to return to other aspects of fruit-bearing we would mention the following:

USEFULNESS

Take for example, the fruit of the olive tree. Judges 9:9 tells us how much it is appreciated by God and man. In a former day, for the inhabitants of the countries bordering the Mediterranean, the oil extracted from the olive represented a vital element of their lives. It was used for light in their dwellings, medicine, and in the cooking of food. They might well give thanks to God for the benefits of the fruit of the olive tree.

Now when God saved your soul, the grace that reached you and saved you taught you of your utter unworthiness and was, and is, a source of constant thanksgiving to God. But have you considered that God had something more in view than simply saving your soul from hell? So often we hear a selfish reaction to a persons becoming saved: "God has blessed me, God has given me true happiness." Now the olive tree produced a fruit of great use to men. Since your conversion, have you become useful to God and to men? Notice that the olive tree is not "pleasant to the eyes," the trunk is usually deformed and twisted and totally unsuitable as a building material, requiring long straight beams and planks. But it is as though the olive tree is saying to us: "Dont bother about me, Im not fine-looking and my wood is very rarely useful but take full advantage of my fruit!"

PLEASURE

"As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons and his fruit was sweet to my taste" (Song of Songs 2:3). When we think of fruit, we think of something palatable. Peaches, apricots, grapes, figs, apples, and many others call to mind that which is sweet to the taste.

In speaking of the liberality of the Philippians, Paul speaks of fruit "a sacrifice, acceptable, well-pleasing to God" (Phil 4:15-18). In your Christian life, holiness, righteousness, and light represent different forms of spiritual fruit bringing pleasure to God. In John 15, the Lord underscores the importance of the branches of the vine bearing fruit. Thus a fruitful Christian life is one that is delightful to God.

IDENTITY

"The tree is known by his fruit" (Matt 12:33). Several passages in the New Testament teach us that our identity as believers is based not so much on our words as on our works. Its not what we say that counts, it is what we are. The Saviors warnings in Matthew 7:22-23 and the words of James chapter 3 teach us not to rely on simple verbal affirmation. We are to look for genuine Spirit- produced fruit that is meet for those that profess the name of Christ. The ungodly man will say, "Lord, Lord" but has no intention of submitting to the Lordship of Christ in his life.

THE "THIRD DAY" IN THE LIFE OF THE LORD JESUS

I. His Perception in Nazareth

"And it came to pass that after three days, they found Him in the temple sitting in the midst of the doctors ... And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought Me? Wist ye not that I must be about My Fathers business?" (Luke 2:46, 49).

Luke is the evangelist that gives us the first spoken words of Christ in the New Testament. What joy these words spoken by this Child would have given to His heavenly Father. >From then on, we know nothing of His life until the age of thirty, except for the short statement in verse 52 of the same chapter: "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."

As the trees bore fruit the third day of creation, so the Son of God bore the exquisite fruit of obedience, perception, and intelligence this "third day" in Jerusalem. Are we "about the Fathers business?" Or are we so taken up with the things of the world that we have no time for the things of God. Those few words spoken by the Savior reveal the distinction between His family ties and those linking Him with Heaven. This did not mean that He broke all ties with them, for the text tells us that He remained "subject to them." But henceforth they would understand that His chief preoccupation would be that of doing the Fathers will. Eighteen years later, this is confirmed at the marriage of Cana: "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come."

II. His Power at Cana

"And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee this beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory" (John 2:1, 11).

The "ordinary" character of this first miracle comes as a surprise, for we would have expected something more striking, such as a healing, a resurrection, or the delivering of a demon-possessed person. To the contrary, the Son of God is pleased to demonstrate His power at the wedding feast of Cana in a quite unexpected manner. This miracle met no essential need, it relieved no pain, and crushed no evil power.

To understand the meaning of this miracle, we should take note of certain details. First, the Lord waits until all resources are exhausted. He is not going to compete to simply produce a better wine than that which was already there, but He only acted when, in the words of Mary, "They have no wine." Secondly, what the Lord did was a work of the hand of the Creator, for what He did was totally impossible for any mortal to accomplish. When a doctor speaks of a miracle, normally he is referring to a case where a person gets better despite the fact that any hope of amelioration seemed impossible. He is not necessarily implying that the sick person was the object of divine, miraculous intervention, but he is honestly acknowledging his ignorance as to how the person recovered.

We must not fail to take note of the third detail. Who saw the miracle? Not the disciples, but the servants who drew the water. Did these servants believe on the Lord? Nothing indicates this idea. But the disciples, who had seen nothing, believed on Him. This miracle introduces the principle of faith, and nothing but faith. Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is an act of faith: "by grace are ye saved through faith." In the desert, Satan desired that the Lord accomplish two miracles of a highly spectacular nature, but the Lord refused.

Notice too, that under the Law, Moses changed water into blood, but under grace, Jesus changes water into wine.

III. His Perseverance in the Way

"Behold I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected" (Luke 13:32).

The only place where this verb, "to be made perfect" is found, as applied to the Lord Jesus Christ, is in the epistle to the Hebrews (2:10, 5:9, 7:28). No mere earthly potentate, such as Herod, could decide on the death of Christ. His death and resurrection were according to the "determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." This passage refers to the moment of the complete fulfillment of the work of redemption in all its dignity and fullness. Nothing could deter the Savior from the pathway He was pursuing, whether it be the threats of "that fox" Herod or the effort of His own disciple (Matt 16:22). This holy determination speaks to us. Do we show the same purpose of heart in the pursuit of our testimony for Christ in this scene? Do we display God-honoring consistency or are we constantly changing our minds and altering our courses of action?

IV. His Proclamation of victory in the World

"Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations" (Luke 24:46-47).

In writing to the Corinthians, Paul declares: "and if Christ be not risen, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (I Cor 15:17). Our salvation rests on the victory of the Savior over sin and death. In raising Him from the dead, God declares His satisfaction and pleasure in the work of His Son. The empty tomb fills the heart of the believer with joy. This event was so important that it was none less than an angel who announced to the women, "He is not here; for He is risen as He said." The Man of sorrows, once crowned with thorns, is now crowned with glory and honor.

We would close this meditation on the three days in the life of the Savior in quoting what He said just a few days before His death and resurrection. "The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12:23-34).

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