HOPE THROUGH RESURRECTION – HE IS HERE!
The bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the Centre of the Christian Faith. We saw last week the frustration the disciples were in before the resurrection and the hope and joy that appeared in them when they saw the risen Lord. We said that “the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the resurrection of man, and the resurrection of man is the assurance of eternal life.”
Why did Jesus rise and spend forty days on earth before ascending to heaven?
Billy Graham, one of the well-known evangelist was once asked this question. He responded by giving two reasons why he thought Jesus stayed on earth for forty days before ascension.
- He said that Jesus wanted to demonstrate to His followers and disciples that He was alive, and death had no power over Him anymore
- He said that Jesus stayed so that He could teach His disciples and prepare them for the big task ahead, of preaching about Him and convincing people to follow and believe in Him.
Paul in His letter written to the Corinth church; 1 Corinthians 15:3b-7 reminds us that ‘Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time…Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles and last of all He appeared to Paul.
JESUS IS RISEN!
Today we shall look at the account of John. After the encounter we saw last Sunday of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Mary Magdalene and Jesus. Today, Jesus appears to His disciples
John 20:19-31 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After He said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.”22 And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Jesus Appears to Thomas 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later His disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”27 Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” The Purpose of John’s Gospel 30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.
What can we learn from these visitations?
- Jesus stayed to STRENGTHEN: His disciples, array any fears they had and give them courage.
After the crucifixion of Jesus, the disciples were living in fear of the Jewish leaders’ When Jesus stood before his disciples and spoke peace, they were overjoyed.
Jesus speaks peace to us today. He takes away our fears and quenches every threat against us.
- Jesus stayed to EMPOWER: Jesus knew the greater work was ahead, and the start of the ministry work was now. He gave the authority and power that the Father had given to Him to His disciples so that they could weather every resistance of the enemy to the gospel. “He breathed on them and said receive the Holy Spirit”
Today we are empowered to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though we encounter resistance from the devil and his agents, we are filled with the Holy Spirit who gives us knowledge, understanding and wisdom in the word of God. So that we can witness of the saving grace of our Lord.
- Jesus stayed to take away our DOUBT: Thomas doubted that the Lord had risen. Jesus came to search for Him so that he may believe. Today it does not matter how much doubt you have in your heart, you may have been in the faith and you walked away doubting if Jesus is able to stand with you in your situation. He is willing to come and look for you alone and restore your joy. Stop doubting, blessed are those who have not seen and yet they believe.
- Jesus stayed to ESTABLISH His church. He spent time with His disciples, preaching, healing people and setting them free from evil oppression. He did this to lay a foundation for the disciples; it is this foundation that the church stands today.
We are standing on a strong foundation, Jesus has given us the power to preach, to baptize and to pronounce forgiveness. The authority of the Father through Jesus Christ has been given to all who believe. Jesus performed many miracles in the presence of His disciples so that they may believe that He was the lord over all situations.
- Jesus stayed to ASSURE us of eternal life: Jesus did many miracles with His disciples and among communities so that many may believe and receive the assurance of eternal life. He was full of authority; the Sanhedrin had called Him a blasphemer; He returned with His glory and power. Today if we believe in Him we shall inherit eternal life.
Jesus stayed because He knew that the hearts of His disciples were weak and fearful. He had seen it all during the crucifixion; many stayed away, Peter denied Him, they were not there to bury Him but His love for them could not keep Him away. This same love comes after us; before people needed to travel and go to Jesus whenever He was preaching. After the resurrection, He simply appeared before them even in locked houses. He is here today, He is in your home, He is ever with you, respond to His call and believe; blessed are you if you believe though you have not seen.
God bless you!