Jesus arose from the dead and came forth out of the tomb—the greatest event in history. His death and resurrection made it possible for you and me not only to be forgiven our sins, but also to be cleansed from the guilt and delivered from the dominion of sin in our lives. The Blood of Jesus truly cleanses us from all sin!
The disciples on that first Easter could not have possibly fully comprehended the meaning of the Resurrection. Now, some 2000 years later we still cannot comprehend the full extent of the implications of the Resurrection. Theologians have come up with different Theories of the Atonement, each of which is probably true as far as it goes, but each still leaves us believing there is more. There is the Ransom Theory –which claims that Jesus paid the Ransom so that we could be freed from slavery to sin. There is the Satisfaction Theory which says Jesus became sin and was punished as sin so that we could be forgiven. There is the Moral Influence Theory which says that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection inspires humanity by giving us a positive moral change influence. And there are other theories that try to explain what actually resulted in this Provision of Salvation. And each theory has a nugget of truth. But when we consider every theory and put them all together, I’m sure there is still more that occurred that we do not yet comprehend. I just know that because He took my sins upon Himself and died in my place and rose again, I, by believing on Him, am forgiven and my name is recorded in the Book of Life and beyond this life there is eternal life awaiting me!
And I know that the Resurrection was the beginning, not the end, of what Jesus wants in our lives. So, today, let’s look beyond Easter and the Empty Tomb and consider what else Jesus intended.
I. JESUS APPEARED TO AND TAUGHT HIS DISCIPLES.
a. Paul’s description of the message he preached—and the message that was preached by the Apostles and Preachers in the early church—is called the Kerygma. The basic outline is simple: Jesus died, was buried, and then rose again on the 3rd day. This passage in 1 Corinthians 15 1-7 is the clearest summary of this message that we have in the New Testament. And it is the best summary we have of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus before His Ascension in to Heaven.
b. It is extremely significant that Jesus appeared to and taught His disciples. Had he not appeared to them, they would never have been able to believe anything but that His body had been stolen from the tomb. His appearance verified that He was indeed alive.
c. But we are told in Acts 1:3 that he did more than just appear to them. We read, “…He appeared to them over a period or forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” Now, I’m sure Jesus had talked to them about the Kingdom of God before He was crucified. The Gospels indicate that was the primary Message that Jesus preached and taught during his public ministry. In Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 13, Jesus has a series of Parables explaining what the Kingdom of God is like. But the disciples had been somewhat blinded by the common belief that the Messiah was to be a political leader, a King, who would overthrow their enemies and restore Israel to its former glory. And though Jesus had time and again taught them about the Kingdom they just did not grasp what he was saying—at least, not to the extent that they needed to grasp it in order to lead the church after He left them. But His Death and Resurrection lifted the blinders from the eyes of their understanding. And then, in His Post-Resurrection Appearance, they were able to hear without the prejudices of their faulty assumptions. As he had told Pilate, His kingdom is not of this world, but, rather is in our hearts.
d. And just as Jesus appeared and taught those early disciples, He is still seeking us out and revealing Himself to us and teaching us about how to live as citizens of the kingdom of God. He does it through His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who teaches us of things to come. He does it through the Bible, His Special Revelation, that contains the account of God’s provision for our salvation and instructions of life. He does it through the witness of His followers, and through the teaching and preaching of God’s teachers and ministers. He does it through the trials and tests of life as we continue to seek after Him. And through His Spirit He teaches us in a myriad of different ways as He enables to grow and mature as His followers.
e. I can tell you that He kept on teaching His followers even after He ascended into Heaven. In John 16:12- 13 Jesus said, “I have much to tell you, but you cannot yet bear to hear it. 13However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come.” Read the Book of Acts and the writings of Paul and John and Peter and the other writers of the New Testament. So much in these writings reveal an understanding that had matured over a generation after the Resurrection. And I can tell you that no matter how long you have served the Lord, there is still more to learn about Kingdom Living and the Kingdom of Heaven and about the King of Glory. I was saved in 1968, and now, some 49 years later after earning college degrees and studying and searching the scriptures and preaching and teaching some 44 years, I can tell you there is so much more to learn. And Jesus is faithful to keep teaching me—and He is wanting each of us to continue learning more and more. God is infinite—there is no end to His mysteries!So Jesus Appeared to and taught His followers!
II. JESUS ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN.
a. Paul lists many of the appearances of Jesus to individuals and groups of people and even the encounter he had with Jesus on the Damascus Road after Jesus had ascended into heaven. But in the Book of Acts we see how while He was meeting with a group of his disciples something miraculous happened. In Acts 1: 9 says, “After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.” The next verse begins by saying, “They were looking intently up into the sky…” I believe that means they were starring up with their mouths gapped open and a look of shock and bewilderment on their faces.
b. In John 14:12 Jesus had said to His disciples, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” And the Good News was that because He was going to the Father He would give them the Holy Spirit. In John 14:15-18 Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
c. His Ascension did not mean that He was through with us. But it did mean that He was assuming another Role. We are told in several places that after Jesus ascended to the Father, He took His place at the Right Hand of the Father where He is ever interceding on our behalf (see Romans 8:34).
d. To me that means that right this minute, Jesus, the Lord of Glory, has His eyes on each of us, and is pleading our cause to the Father. When I stumble or fall, Jesus pleads for mercy and compassion and sends Help through His Spirit so that I can get back up and keep on living a victorious Christian Life. Remember: Jesus is for us, not against us. He is not looking for ways to keep us out of heaven—He is doing all He can to see that we make it into His heaven!
III. JESUS IS COMING BACK AGAIN!
a. While Jesus was ascending into heaven we read in Acts 1:10-11, “They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘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.’”
b. In the Old Testament the prophets on several occasions mention the approaching “Day of the Lord.” By this they were referring to a day in the future when God steps on the scene and the earth as we know suddenly reaches a climax, faces a Judgment, and a new Age begins. The New Testament adds to our understanding that this “Day of the Lord” will begin with the Return of Jesus to claim His Bride, the Church. 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17 describes it this way:
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
Peter adds to this description in 2 Peter 3: 10-14—
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives
12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.[b] That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”
c. When the disciples asked Jesus when these things would happen, Jesus told them in Acts 1: 7, “…It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” So we do not know when He is coming again, but we know that He is coming again. And since we know He is coming but do not know when He is coming, we should live every day on alert because this could be the day!
Jesus was crucified and died on the Cross—the Atoning Sacrifice for our sins. He was buried in a tomb, but on the 3rd Day He rose again, defeating Death, Hell and the Grave. He appeared to and taught His followers about the Kingdom of God—and through His Spirit He still confronts us and teachings us His Truth. He Ascended into Heaven where He sits at the Right Hand of God the Father, interceding on our behalf.
And He is coming again to claim His followers and to usher in the Day of Judgment as this Age ends and Eternity begins.
And right now it is up to each one of us to be prepared—to surrender to Him, Confessing and forsaking our sins, and to be ready for His return. ARE YOU PREPARED?