Monday, April 25

The Resurrection of Jesus

Jesus of Nazareth was put to death under the Romans by way of crucifixion ca.30/33 AD just outside of Jerusalem in Israel, at the place called Golgotha (the place of the skull). Having been beaten, flogged mercilessly, endured severe emotional stress to the point of experiencing a rare medical condition in the Garden of Gethsemane called hematohidrosis. At Gethsemane, as noted, they crucified Him. After the Romans thought Him dead, one speared Jesus through the side just to be sure, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water, indicating that His heart ruptured. Jesus was surely dead. *Note: Material comes from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, and 1st Corinthians 15. 

But did He stay dead? April 30/33 AD, a garden outside of Jerusalem. Jesus has been buried since Friday, and because Saturday was the Sabbath, the women could not embalm the body until Sunday. At dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome prepared spices to go to the garden tomb. While they were on their way, an angel came from Heaven, causing a violent earthquake, and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat upon it - the guards fainted.

Afterward, the women arrived at the tomb to find the stone rolled away, and the tomb empty. Mary Magdalene had left to go tell the disciples, but the other women remained, not wanting to say anything. They entered the tomb and met two angels, who told the remaining women, "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you."

The remaining women left, and after a short time, went to report this news to the disciples. While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had transpired. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they bribed the soldiers not to say anything and said to them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So the soldiers agreed, taking the money and following instruction. This false account has been spread, even to this day.

On their way to the disciples, suddenly Jesus met the women, but not Mary Magdalene, for she had already gone ahead of them. He was not dead, but alive - He had been resurrected, and had shown Himself to be the Creator God. They clasped His feet and worshiped Him. "Greetings, do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. But the disciples did not believe the women, so Peter and John got up and ran to the tomb themselves.

Both were running, but the John outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked into the tomb at the strips of linen which were lying there, but John did not go in. Then Peter came up behind John and went into the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves and went away, wondering to himself what had happened, for the cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally John went inside, and, taking in this scene, he saw and believed, but still did not understand.

Mary Magdalene returned to the tomb, and stood outside crying. She, unlike the other women, had not seen the risen Christ. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb, and saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been. The angels asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?" She replied, "They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have put him." At saying this, Mary turned around saw and Jesus standing there, but did not yet realize it was Him. He was likely facing the garden.

"Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" He asked. Mary, thinking He was the gardener because she had not yet seen His face said, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him." Jesus said, "Mary." Turning to Him, having realized it was Jesus she was speaking with, she cried "Teacher!" Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went to the Disciples and told them all she had seen.

Later that day, Jesus appeared to Simon Peter. Now that same day, two disciples, one named Cleopas, were traveling on the road to Emmaus, which is about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were walking and talking with each other about what had taken place over the past few days. As they talked and discussed these things with one another, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them, but they were kept from recognizing Him as Jesus. He asked, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?"

Cleopas responded, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?" Jesus replied, "What things?" "About Jesus of Nazareth. He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him; but we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all of this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn't find His body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said He was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see."

Jesus said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all taht the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to the two disciples what the Scriptures said about Himself. Having finally asked Jesus to stay with them for the evening, He agreed, and while He was at the table with them, Jesus took bread, and giving thanks, broke it and gave it to them. Their eyes were then opened and they recognized Him as Jesus - and He disappeared from their sight.

The two disciples got up and returned to Jerusalem, where they found the Eleven (Judas had killed himself), who were assembled together. They proceeded to convey to the disciples all that they had seen and heard. While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost. "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."

Jesus showed them His hands and feet, and He asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate it in their presence. After hearing the disciples speak of having seen Jesus alive, Thomas told them, "Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand in His side, I will not believe." A week later, the disciples were gathered in the same house, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, yet Jesus, in bodily form, stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Turning to Thomas He said, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Afterward Jesus appeared again to His disciples by the Sea of Galilee. Simon, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Peter decided to go fishing, and they said, "We'll go with you." They went out into the boat, but that night, caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not recognize Him. "Friends," He called out to them, "haven't you any fish?" "No," they replied. Jesus said to them, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did this, they were unable to haul in the net because there were so many fish.

John turned to Peter and said, "It is the Lord!" As soon as John had said this, Peter wrapped his outer garment around him and swam ashore. The other disciples, towing the fish, followed by boat, they were only about a hundred yards from shore. Jesus had set up a fire of burning coals with some fish on it, and some bread. "Bring some of the fish you have just caught," Jesus said. There were 153 fish in all. None of the disciples dared ask Him who He was, for they already knew it was Christ. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to His disciples.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" "Yes Lord," Peter said, "you know that I love you." Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He answered, "yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." A third time Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus had asked him this a third time. "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus had asked this to echo the denial of Peter concerning Christ, which thrice transpired.

Jesus, facing Peter, said, "Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God: refusing to be killed the same way as Jesus, Peter was crucified - upside down. Then Jesus said, "Follow me!" Peter turned and saw John, who was following. "Lord, what about him?"

Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." Jesus did not say that John would live forever, He merely said, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?" A while after this, Jesus appeared to more than five hundred Christians on a Galilean hillside at once, teaching them. He also appeared to His half-brother, James, a former skeptic. Finally, Jesus commissioned His disciples.

He said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to many over a period of forty days. After the forty days, Jesus led His disciples out to the vicinity of Bethany, lifting up His hands and blessing them. The disciples asked Him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?"

Jesus replied, "It is not for you to know the time or the dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." After He said this, and while He was blessing them, Jesus was taken up before their very eyes, ascending into Heaven, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. The disciples were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when two angels appeared beside them. "Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven."

And so it was. A week later, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, and Peter began the church, which has continued to spread even to this day. Jesus on many occasions promised to return, and so He shall. He is not dead, He is risen. He will come back. As He promised John ca.90 AD, "I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."

Amen. He is risen.

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