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Chaplain's Corner: GOA and UTL

“763, Llano. The subject is GOA. I’ll be in the area looking.” “763, Llano. Show me UTL.”

Welcome back to the Chaplain’s Corner. As my dear old Grandpa used to say: pull up a chair and sit down beside it. I’m glad it’s April again. Spring Break is history one more time, and the bluebonnets are starting to bloom here and there. I’m glad to see it greening up, and I hope we get some meaningful rain soon to keep things green.

For those drawing a blank: GOA – Gone On Arrival – and UTL – Unable To Locate; two common acronyms in law enforcement. I use them frequently when I get sent out to highways and byways looking for cattle that have gone for a walk on the wrong side of the fence. Not always, but a lot of times they simply go back in where they came out. Sometimes a hitch-hiker will get picked up before I get there (GOA) and I’ll be UTL.

What do GOA and UTL have to do with April? I’m glad you asked. What they have to do with is Easter, and Easter is the last Sunday in April this year.

Let me quickly review the events of Good Friday. Jesus had been severely beaten with a whip and then nailed to a rough wooden cross which was hoisted up and dropped into a hole. He then spent agonizing effort after agonizing effort trying to breathe, and when he stopped breathing He was stabbed in the side and through the heart. He was dead. Any medical examiner would have signed that death certificate. After that He was tightly wrapped in linen cloth, placed in a solid rock tomb, and a huge stone rolled over the entrance.

Gone On Arrival. Well, let’s start with a quick look at some Scriptures, shall we? Luke 24:1-3 says: But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. (NASB, emphasis mine) He was “GOA.” In John Chapter 20, the Apostle John records that after the initial report that Jesus’ body was not in the tomb, he and Peter ran to the tomb and found the grave clothes, but Jesus was not there.

Mark records this in his Gospel: (an angel speaking to the women) “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold here is the place where they laid Him.” (Mark 16:6 NASB)

Unable to Locate. Backing up a verse in John (20:2): And so she [Mary Magdalene] ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” (NASB emphasis mine)

Okay, so what’s the significance? Jesus had told anyone who would listen that He would die, but that He would then rise from the dead and live again. It seems that most folks didn’t understand what He was saying – including His own disciples who were the closest to Him. They went to the tomb and were amazed that He was not there. The Scriptures say that it was sometime later that they remembered His words that He would rise from the dead. (John 20:9)

The Gospel of Matthew records that it was the Jewish religious leaders who remembered that Jesus said He would rise again. The fact that Jesus did rise from the dead proved that He was Who He claimed to be. John 19:7, the Jewish leaders speaking: “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”

No one was able to produce a dead Jesus. Not that day, not the day after, nor anytime since. The Jewish leaders had every reason to produce a body. They couldn’t do it. They were simply UTL. If His followers had simply gone to the wrong tomb as some suggest, I would think it would have been simple for someone to have gone to the right tomb and produced the body.

Allow me to flash back to my disappearing livestock for a moment. Here a month or so back there was a big red bull that kept getting out of its pasture. I had helped get it back in twice in one week. Well, the following Sunday, it was reported to be out again. I went looking and couldn’t find it anywhere. Since its last known location was near the Cowboy Church, I was close to the church when the crowd started coming in. I parked across the street from the church for sort of a security patrol. I’d been there, oh, four or five minutes when I looked in the side mirror. There was that bull standing in the middle of the street just behind my car! I hadn’t seen it or heard it. It was just suddenly there, “big as life.”

If we go back to the account in John 20, we find the same thing happened to Mary Magdalene. Starting in the 13th verse, Mary and the angels conversing: And they said to her, “Woman why are you weeping? She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid Him.” When she had said this, she turned around, and beheld Jesus standing there…

No one could produce a dead Jesus (and He certainly was dead when they took Him down from the cross). But Jesus Himself produced a live Jesus. The Scriptures record that over the following days He appeared to more people than just His disciples and offered convincing proofs that He was very much alive.

His death and resurrection proved Who He was and made forgiveness possible for anyone who wants it. All you have to do is ask.

I’ve run out of time again. Drop me an email and we can talk more about it.

Until then: Blessings to you and yours.

Chaplain Bill

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