He is Risen

Chapter 27 Recap

Ashamed.  Afraid.  Absent.  Mere hours after they pledged never to leave Jesus—even to die with Jesus—the Eleven were nowhere near the cross as the sun began to set.  The Roman soldiers were still there though and pierced his side to prove Jesus was very, very dead.  Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, an unlikely duo, show up at the cross.  These two members of the Sanhedrin shed their secret discipleship and took responsibility for burying Jesus’ body.  Wrapping Him in enough spices for a king, they laid him in a nearby tomb.  Remembering Jesus’ words, the Jewish authorities and Pilate secured the tomb and posted a guard there to keep the three-day resurrection story from gaining any traction.

Early Sunday morning, a small band of faithful women approached His tomb wondering who could remove the rock that sealed the entrance.  Imagine their shock as an angel announced to them that Jesus was not there, “He is risen, just as He said!”  Hearing the news, Peter and John sprinted to the tomb.  They, too, found it empty.  As Mary Magdalene remained weeping, Jesus appeared to her.  Later the same day, an unrecognized Jesus approached two downcast disciples on the road to Emmaus.  Evidently all of Jerusalem was abuzz with the events of the last three days.  The One whom they had trusted to redeem all of Israel had been crucified, and they were disappointed.  Some silly women even had an unbelievable angelic vision, and the tomb was empty.  But what’s a guy to do except head home to Emmaus?  Jesus admonished the two for their unbelief.  Then He used Moses and the Prophets to teach them about the Messiah.  Jesus dined with them that evening.  When their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, He disappeared from their sight, but they finally got it!  So they headed back to Jerusalem at full speed and full of joy to report their experience to the Eleven.  They were interrupted there by yet another Jesus appearance.  An empty tomb and two appearance reports later, the disciples still cowered and mistook Jesus for a ghost when He spoke to them.  “Touch me and see,” He said as He showed them His hands and feet. When Jesus re-explained the Old Testament in light of all that had happened, He opened their minds so they too finally understood.

Thomas was not about to believe these second-hand stories.  He wouldn’t believe it until he saw the nail marks for himself.  A week later, Jesus graciously appeared to Thomas and the others just so he could touch the scars for himself.  Thomas confessed, “My Lord and My God!”  Yes, now he believed that Jesus was the God-man and that He was risen indeed.

Sometime later, Jesus appeared to the disciples by the Sea of Galilee.  Having caught nothing all night, Jesus told these fishermen to cast their nets on the other side of the boat.  The miraculous catch was so great that they could hardly get the fish into the boat.  It prompted Peter to bail out and head to the Lord.  Over a beach breakfast, Jesus three times asked Peter if he loved Him.  Then He told Peter three times to care for His sheep.  The Eleven met Jesus on a Galilean mountain where He commissioned them to continue to carry out His mission by saying, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

As God, Jesus had all authority to now commission His disciples to carry out the building up of His new community of believers who would be identified with the Triune God.  They in turn could accomplish their mission because, as Emmanuel (Matt. 1:23), He would be with them to do so.  The Resurrection of Jesus Christ vindicated Him as the Son of God.  It is the cornerstone of the Christian faith and the climax of God’s great story of redemption.  The redemptive work was finished, but now there was more work to do to spread the good news, and this ragtag group of disciples were just the ones to do it, armed with the supernatural power headed their way.

Resurrection:  What Does it Mean to Me?

Paul himself had made the resurrection of Christ and, subsequently, the resurrection of believers of “first importance” in his teaching to the Church in Corinth.  Paul had ministered for 18 months in Corinth, probably in 51-52 A.D.  If Paul taught about the resurrection of believers in his 18 month pastoral ministry in Corinth and deemed its connection to the gospel of “first importance,” perhaps we too need to place greater importance on the doctrine.

I.       Resurrection Past (Old Testament)

A. Is the resurrection of the dead a New Testament concept alone?  Is there any evidence that any of the Old Testament believers considered the literal bodily resurrection of people to be in the future for believers?

B. Job alludes to such an idea.  Job is one of the most ancient books in the Bible.  He was likely a contemporary of Abraham. He said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.  How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27)

C. Daniel was told by the angel in his vision about a future hope for Daniel’s people.  Remember that Daniel was among those nobles taken in the first siege against Jerusalem in 605 B.C. and lived in exile in Babylon for the entire 70 year period.  He was very concerned about the condition that Israel found herself in.  Was there any hope?  The angel assured Daniel, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake:  some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.  Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever,” (Dan. 12:2-3).  Here we learn a further detail about the future resurrection—it won’t be just believers.  “ALL will awake, some to life” refers to those who will enjoy the fullness of life in the presence of Christ.  Others will spend eternity in a resurrected body in shame and contempt.  While Daniel and his people were in humbling circumstances in this life, God assured Daniel that a future life in a literal resurrection of bodies awaited the faithful.  This is God’s Upper Story plan!  While our Lower Story circumstances may be bitter and painful, God’s Upper Story points to a future life even beyond the present heaven.  Daniel’s hope—and ours—is in the resurrection life. Sadly, others will be resurrected only to shame and destruction.

D. Isaiah prophesied that the Suffering Servant Messiah would both die and then live again. “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand,” (Isa. 53:10).

E. The religious leaders of Israel at the time of Christ (who only had Old Testament understanding at the time) argued over the resurrection of the dead.  The Sadducees said there was no resurrection but the Pharisees affirmed it.  This confirms that resurrection was not a foreign concept, based on the Old Testament Scriptures.  This also reveals that when the Sadducees questioned Jesus about whose wife a woman would be in the resurrection who had been married to seven brothers in this life, they were asking a bogus question.  They did not believe in a resurrection.  (Matt. 22:24-32).  Nevertheless, Jesus confirmed the resurrection of the dead by noting Moses’ burning bush conversation with YHWH who was the God of Abe, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the living and not the God of the dead (Matt. 22:32).  When Jesus arrived at the home of distraught Mary and Martha, Martha knew that Lazarus “will rise again in the resurrection on the last day,” (Jn. 11:24).  Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter were not resurrected in the same way that all believers will be resurrected in the future.  They died again.  Perhaps it is better to say that they were resuscitated then than resurrected.  Nevertheless, Jesus point in resuscitating them was to prove He has the power over death and therefore prove the resurrection hope to be true.

F. David the Psalmist wrote, “For You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay,” (Ps. 16:10).  Peter later referred to this passage in his powerful Pentecost sermon.  Although David wrote it, Peter argued that David looked prophetically ahead to Christ’s resurrection (Acts 2:25-32, especially verse 31).  Peter reasoned that David’s tomb was still with them and he had indeed undergone decay.  Christ, however, had not been left in His tomb.

II.       Resurrection Present (Jesus)

A. In spite of all the warnings that Jesus gave His followers to prepare them for His death and resurrection, they still did not get it.  They were surprised by the empty tomb and they were astonished by His appearances.

B. In John’s vision of Jesus in Revelation, John describes Him as the “firstborn of the dead,” (Rev. 1:5).  He describes Jesus as “a Lamb standing, as if slain” (Rev. 5:6).  Why do you suppose that Jesus in heaven looks like a Lamb slain?  Perhaps because His resurrected human body—which He will spend eternity in—still bears the marks of the cross.  What else do we learn about Jesus’ resurrected body from this chapter in The Story?

  1. He eats and drinks.

  2. He can appear and disappear at will, with no need for doors.

  3. He still speaks and communicates with people who do not seem to sense Him as anything other than fully human, like on the road to Emmaus and on the beach.

  4. He still has flesh and blood.  He made sure the disciples did not think he was a ghost by having them touch His hands and feet (Lu. 24:36-40).  His body was not a ghostly spirit.  It was fully materially real.

  5. He still bears scars.

III.       Resurrection Future (Believers)

A. Nearly every Easter season, magazines, newspapers and various television specials analyze the Christian assertion that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.  Reporters look for other explanations for the empty tomb.  Why?  Perhaps it is because resurrection is such an outlandish idea that some other more plausible explanation must account for the empty tomb.  More likely, though, is the millennia-old attempt to undermine the deity of Jesus and the authority of Scripture.  The resurrection of Christ is, after all, a must-have for the gospel.  Without it, the gospel crumbles into just another hyped up tale of a guy who claimed to be a god.

B. The resurrection is more than the cornerstone of the gospel.  It is the inheritance of every believer.  Many Christians look toward the present heaven as a future blessing, and indeed it is.  When we die, we will be absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).  But God has something even better for us—our own resurrection when our disembodied soul will be reunited with our resurrected, imperishable bodies.  While heaven is good, the resurrection is better!   The Church in Corinth had been planted and nurtured by the great apostles.  Peter, Apollos and Paul had all spent time there teaching.  But the Corinthians began to question the truthfulness of the resurrection of the dead (1 Cor. 15:12).

  1. The denial of the resurrection is a denial of the gospel.  Paul reiterated the main points of the gospel to the Corinthians.  ( 1 Cor. 15:3-4)
    1. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3)
    2. He was buried (1 Cor. 15:4)
    3. He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:4).  What Scriptures?  Probably the ones we looked at earlier—Ps. 16:10, Isa. 53.
    4. He appeared to so many.  Paul’s argument is this:  Yes, Jesus appeared to the disciples, but He appeared to more than just them.  While a small group of super-loyal followers could conceivably perpetuate a fraud, He appeared to over 500 people at one time and most of them are still living.  Paul basically challenged the Corinthian doubters to ask any one of them if they did not believe him. He appeared to James and to Paul, neither of whom were followers of Jesus until He appeared to them.
  2. Consequences:  If Christ was not resurrected then your faith is worthless and you and I are still dead in our sins (1 Cor. 15:17).
  3. The resurrection of Christ confirms the resurrection of all the dead (1 Cor. 15:12-13).
  4. Order of resurrections:
    1. Christ the first fruits (1 Cor. 15:20)
    2. Those who are asleep in Christ (1 Thess. 4:14—16) will come with Him at His return.  The disembodied spirits of believers will be reunited with their resurrected, imperishable, immortal bodies (1 Cor. 15:52-53).
    3. Those alive when Christ comes will be caught up to meet Him in the clouds (1 Thess. 4:17) and their bodies will be changed instantly and immediately into imperishable, immortal bodies (1 Cor. 15:51-52).
    4. This is known as the first resurrection.  “Blessed and holy is the one who has part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years,” (Rev. 20:6).  Believers will enjoy eternity not in the present heaven, but in the New Heaven and New Earth in new resurrected bodies.  The joy of the New Heaven and New Earth is that there is no longer any death (Rev. 21:4).  Why?  Because death is a result of sin (Gen. 2:17;  Rom. 6:23) and it is an enemy of Christ (1 Cor. 15:26).  Death was in the power of Satan (Heb. 2:14) and enslaved people through fear (Heb. 2:15).  But Jesus’ death and resurrection now makes Satan powerless (Heb. 2:14).
    5. By contrast, the wicked dead, the unbelievers are also raised to life in resurrected bodies, and will be then given a final judgment and second death (Jn. 5:25-29; Rev. 20:11-15, 21:8).  Jesus taught this to the wicked Jewish leaders who persecuted Him.
  5. The Corinthians had lots of questions about our future resurrected bodies.  Many believers today have similar questions.  Though we do not have too many details, we can put a few Scriptures together to draw conclusions.
    1. “But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, but the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body,” Phil. 3:20-21.  Jesus’ resurrected body is our best model for understanding our own future resurrected bodies.
    2. The resurrected body will be infinitely more glorious and better than our present body, yet organically connected.  It is new but not altogether new.  Paul compares it to the difference between a seed sown and the plant it becomes (1 Cor. 15:37).
    3. The body now is perishable, but raised imperishable (1 Cor. 15:42).
    4. The body now is dishonorable, but raised in glory (1 Cor. 15:43).
    5. The body now is weak, but it is raised in power (1 Cor. 15:43).
    6. The body now is natural, but it is raised spiritual (1 Cor. 15:44, 49).  This does not mean that it is not material, but like Christ’s who had Thomas touch His scars (Jn. 20:20, 27).

IV.       Applications and Implications

A. He is risen!  I worship a risen, living Savior.  The leaders of all other major religions are still in their graves.

B. The great numbers of eyewitnesses strengthen my faith in the validity of the resurrection story.

C. After writing a whole chapter on the resurrection, Paul concludes that in light of our future resurrection, we should “stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,” (1 Cor. 15:58).

D. The future hope of resurrection should deepen our faith and our resolve in the present.  It should motivate us to persevere in the work of the Lord.

E. A better understanding of death and resurrection should help us cope with the grief of passing loved ones, and to prepare for our own death.

F. A better understanding of death and resurrection should help us minister more effectively and sensitively to others who are experiencing grief (1 Thess. 4:13).

G. Because sin changes everything, my body is subject to decay and death.  All the aches and pains that I experience are the result of living in a fallen world and sin.  God’s plan of redemption reverses that.

H. Although when I am absent from the body I will be present with the Lord, I look forward to the full redemption of my salvation that includes the redemption of my body (Rom. 8:23).

I. While my outward change is yet future, my inward transformation is in the present.  I should purify myself in anticipation of Christ’s return (1 Jn. 3:3).

J. Paul concisely emphasized the main points of the gospel.  I too can make them “of first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3).

K. Knowing that unbelievers will experience a resurrection that leads to eternal judgment and “second death,” I should be more motivated to share the good news of the gospel.

L. While I may have “scars” because of choices I have made, Jesus kept His scars as a reminder to me of the choice He made.

Mary Magdalene: Released                                             Luke 8:1-3, Matthew 27:55-56

Now is the time in our lesson today to take your Bibles out and explore the Word of God. We will be taking a look at Mary Magdalene, as Christ made a big impact on her.

Mary Magdalene became one of Jesus’ disciples as his popularity reached its peak.  During his last year of ministry, she and the other women who followed Jesus witnessed the opposition against him grow to a deadly force.  Chapter 27 of THE STORY relates what very well could have been Mary’s testimony of what occurred three days after Jesus was unjustly crucified.  Mary knew from personal experience that Jesus had the power to release one from cruel bondage; surely she also knew how Jesus had released Lazarus from the bonds of death.  As she remained at Jesus’ side throughout his ordeal she might have been waiting to see if he could also release himself from those bonds of death.  Jesus did not disappoint her (Luke 7:37-39).

I.  The Women Disciples of Jesus.  Luke 8:1-3, Matthew 27:55-56

The New Testament writers openly discuss women who had a part in Jesus’ life and in the life of the early church. Most represent excellent examples of Christian living.  Mary was never mentioned in a negative light in Scripture. It is only a supposition that she is the un-named “Sinful Woman” who anointed Jesus (Luke 7:37-39).

1.  From the above passages in Luke and Matthew, list each woman who is mentioned as a follower of Jesus and how she is described.

2.  What was their service to Jesus and what does this service imply about their resources?

3.  Fill in the blanks. In Luke 8:2, Mary is described as one ‘from whom seven demons had

____________   ______.’

The Greek for ‘went’ is exerchomai.  Another understanding of this wording is: to flow out from, to come forth, to cast out.

The Greek for ‘demons’ is diamonian.  It is also translated as ‘devil’ or ‘god’ and refers to a spiritual being that is inferior to God, or ministers of the devil.

“The Devil, or Satan, is the chief enemy of Jesus and the establishing of the kingdom of God. In his ministry, especially in his exorcisms, Jesus engages in the first stage of the defeat of Satan in casting out his evil minions. Jesus’ complete defeat of the Devil and his demons is expected in the eschaton” (the end of history). (Green, McKnight & Marshall 163).

4.  Explain the kind of oppression you think Mary Magdalene endured, and the relief that you think she would have experienced when she was released from the oppression from seven demons.

II. The Loyal Women. 

We can learn who of Jesus’ followers were present at Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection from the four gospel accounts.  Each report differs, not because of discrepancies because the four accounts do not conflict. They are however from different points of view and shared within the context of to whom the writer is speaking and what each writer wants to bring out through his account of Jesus’ life. There are key people and events that do not change.

1.  What did the disciples do when Jesus was arrested?  (Matthew 26:56)

2.  We know that Judas had betrayed Jesus to the authorities, and Peter denied him when he waited with bystanders to see what would happen.  To see which followers stayed with Jesus, review the four accounts and note the names that are mentioned.

At the Crucifixion and Death

Matthew 27:27—55 Mark 15:16—41 Luke 23:26—49 John 19:16b—42

 

At The Burial

Matthew 27:61—28:8 Mark 15:42-47 Luke 23:50—24:1—11 John 19:30—42

 

At the Resurrection Morning

Matthew 28:1-20 Mark 16:1-9 Luke 24:1-12 John 20:1-18

 

3.  How many of the 12 disciples remained at the scene until the resurrection?

4.  To whom did Jesus appear first?                          To whom did Jesus speak first?

5.  How does Jesus demonstrate his compassion for Mary Magdalene?

6.  What does he commission her to do?

The outstanding loyalty of the women followers may have come from the natural caring nature of women.  It may have also come from the fact that most of these women had nothing to lose in being identified as a follower of Jesus.  They may have seen Jesus as a person, where the men might have seen Jesus as their leader.  However the fact is, Jesus first spoke to a woman, and the good news that JESUS IS ALIVE, was told first told by a woman.

 

III. Bondage is Our Choice. Romans 6:15-23

Freedom and slavery are used to explain the purpose of Jesus’ life and death on earth.  We can join Mary Magdalene in rejoicing in the resurrection because slavery and freedom are not just a metaphor, but the reality we live with as human beings. Deepen your understanding by examining the following passages.

1.  How does sin enslave us? Galatians 5:18-21; Romans 8:5

2. If we sin more don’t we show how much grace Jesus has? Romans 6:15

3. To what or to who are we enslaved if we are disobedient? Romans 6:16

4.  What is the end result of sin? Romans 6:16b

5.  If we voluntarily present ourselves as slaves to God, what is the pay-off for us? Romans 6:17-18, 23

6.  Since sin must be paid for by death, whose death covers the cost of our sin if we are slaves to God? Romans 6:23

IV. Release From Bondage is Our Choice

We are created to enjoy friendship with God in His world.  Our sin not only took us out of the perfect place He had created, it prevented God from enjoying His creation.  Through the following passages, discover how God’s solution gave us an even better relationship with Him.

1. What is set free from the bondage of decay through Jesus Christ? Romans 8:19-21

2.  What did Jesus have to share in to set us free?  Hebrews 2:14-15

3.  Since we are no longer slaves, what is our relationship to God?  Galatians 4:4-7

4.  What does our freedom in Christ allow us to do?  Galatians 5:13-14

“For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men” (1 Corinthians 7:22-23).  Freedom isn’t free; Jesus paid the price.  We can use our freedom to return to bondage, or we can use our freedom to remain loyal to Jesus until He returns for us.

Key Question:  How will you use your freedom in Christ?

From the following passages note what things will not set us free from sin:

Philippians 3:9

Romans 7:18, 24

Revelation 3:17

Matthew 19: 24-28

1 John 2:15-16

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