The Resurrection of Jesus and His ascension.
Less than a week earlier Jesus Christ, the Son of God, fulfilled His purpose for coming here, which was to die for the sins of the world. He was hated and despised by the Jewish and Roman leadership who were in control over the area where Jesus traveled. For the most part, the Jews hated Him because He called them out for their sins. John in his gospel lays this out very clearly in this interplay between Jesus and the leaders. “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you are seeking to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak of the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore, you also do the things which you heard from your father.” They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born as a result of sexual immorality; we have one Father: God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I came forth from God and am here; for I have not even come on My own, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:37-44.
Now it is the first day of the week, which we call Sunday. Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James came to the tomb to look at the place Jesus was buried. However, when they arrived, they were shocked to find the stone that covered the entrance rolled away. Confused, they walked in, finding that the body of Jesus was no longer there. And then. “While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in gleaming clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, Why are you seeking the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise from the dead.” Luke 24:4-7. When they heard this, they then remembered what Jesus had said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed and be raised on the third day.” Luke 9:22. Now, when the ladies returned from the tomb, they told all who were there, including the remaining eleven disciples (Judas having already hung himself) what they had seen at the tomb. However, they did not believe them. “But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe the women. Nevertheless, Peter got up and ran to the tomb; and when he leaned over and looked in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.” Luke 24:12.
On the same day, two of Christ’s disciples were going to the village of Emmaus, which was approximately seven miles from Jerusalem. And as they were walking, they were discussing all the things that had recently taken place. Now, as they were discussing these matters, Jesus joined them. However, they did not recognize who He was because “But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him.” Luke 24:16. Then Jesus asks them a question. “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” Luke 24:17. And looking sad, one of the disciples, Cleopas, asked Jesus, “Are You possibly the only one living near Jerusalem who does not know about the things that happened here in these days?” Luke 24:18. Then Jesus asked them what they meant, and they answered, “Those about Jesus the Nazarene, who proved to be a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. But also, some women among us left us bewildered. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. And so, some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.” Luke 24:19b-24. Then Jesus rebukes them. “And then He said to them, You foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to come into His glory?” Luke 24:25-26. Remember, these were disciples of Christ, not just two random individuals walking down the road. Then He explained to them from the Word, our Old Testament, where the prophecies of the Messiah were written. “Then beginning with Moses and with all the Prophets, He explained to them the things written about Himself in all the Scriptures.” Luke 24:27.
As they approached the village where they were going, they strongly urged Him to stay with them for it was getting late. So, He did and went and stayed with them. “And it came about, when He had reclined at the table with them, that He took the bread and blessed it, and He broke it and began giving it to them. And then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.” Luke 24:30-31. This surprised the people there. “They said to one another, Were our hearts not burning within us when He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32. They finally realized what had happened, so they immediately got up and returned to Jerusalem and found the eleven disciples. And when they arrived, they told them, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon!”
So, while they were telling these events, Jesus Himself suddenly appeared and stood in their midst, saying, “Peace be with you.” They were afraid, thinking this was some spirit that revealed itself to them. He then asked them, “Why are you frightened, and why are doubts arising in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, because a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you plainly see that I have.” Luke 24:38-39. He then showed them His hands and feet with the wounds that would have come because of crucifixion. Because they still could not believe it was Him, he asked, “Have you anything here to eat?” Luke 24:41. They gave Him some broiled fish and He ate it in front of them. After this He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all the things that are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Luke 24:44. After this, He opened their minds to understand and said to them, “So it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:46-49. This power noted in the previous verse refer to Jesus’ words as recorded in Acts chapter One. “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8. He then leads them to Bethany where He ascended up into Heaven. “And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God.” Luke 24:50-53.
Now, prior to His ascension into Heaven, Jesus gave the great commission to His disciples, and ultimately to us. “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20. He came here to pay the penalty for our sins: living a life free from any sin and thus paying for our sins through His cruel death on the cross. Since He never sinned, not even once, His death could pay for ours instead. This is the reason He came here. And now our job is to spread the good news of what Christ did for us, to a world who has never heard it or accepted it. This is the commission He has given to us who are believers. To help others be believers. And how do we do that? Matthew put it like this. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand and it gives light to all who are in the house. Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16. Let us live fully this Christian life so that our light will shine forth and help others accept Christ and shine their light as well. This is our calling from God.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.