Sunday, July 11, 2010



Jesus appears to His disciples in a revealing moment. 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 saw a ghost. He said to them, "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."

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, 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.

He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."

Even though they had been told what was to happen, the disciples were still in shock over it all. NOTE they fed Jesus some broiled fish. There are three things we learn about Jesus' resurrected body here: FIRST-His resurrected body has specific physical aspects. He has flesh and bones. He can eat food and has the ability to walk for miles.

SECOND-His resurrected body has some continuity with His previous body before death. The wounds in His hands, His feet and His side are still present.

THIRD-Jesus' resurrected body is not bound by the physical sphere. He appears and disappears.

Maybe our resurrected bodies will have the same dimensions.

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

NOTE that before Jesus' ascension He tells His disciples to stay in the city and wait for empowerment. Luke continues and expands upon this thought in his second book-the Acts of Jesus. Let's look at it and learn from it:

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

NOTE the disciples are still looking for some sort of political kingdom to be restored. However, Jesus let them know that there is no one who knows when the Kingdom in all its fullness will be restored.

ALSO NOTE again Luke refers to waiting in the city for the Spirit to come upon them with power. The reason for the power is that they will be witnesses of Jesus beginning in Jerusalem and to be spread throughout the world.

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 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, "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."

The lesson of the appearance before the disciples is that Jesus really did die and has really risen from the dead. And, then as Jesus ascends into the heavens, the angels make another lesson clear. The lesson is that THIS SAME JESUS WHO IS GOING UP INTO HEAVEN WILL SOMEDAY RETURN IN THE SAME WAY.

So, the book of Luke comes to an end. Jesus, the King, has introduced the Kingdom to His disciples, explaining to them that the Kingdom is already here and will someday be realized in all its fullness on earth. To me, Luke is one of the best teachers of this Kingdom as taught by Jesus. Now, after studying his writings for nearly six months, it's vital for each of us to embrace this Jesus and His Kingdom for ourselves. There is no doubt that Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Here's the bottom-line question: Is Jesus your King and your Lord?



As we come to the end of the gospel of Luke there is an intriguing story about an encounter two men have with Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?" They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?" "What things?" he asked.

"About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "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 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."

These two were disciples of Jesus, meaning that they were part of a fairly large group that were followers of Jesus and His teachings. They had heard the word that the women had initially gone to the tomb and found it empty.

He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that 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, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

I love this! Jesus rehearsed all that the Scriptures said concerning Himself. And, while He was speaking to them, they realized that their hearts were burning within them. .

NOTE they recognized this was Jesus when He gave thanks and broke the bread in order to distribute it around the table. What was there about this act that tipped them off? Think of it this way. Jesus was a guest at this dinner, yet He acted as the host of the dinner and served them. This is precisely what He did at the last supper at the Passover dinner. He was the honored guest, yet He served them.

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Isn't it interesting that these two disciples didn't recognize Him for quite some time. I've been thinking. Does this happen to us today? I think sometimes the last thing we realize is that Jesus is at work in our lives, right in front of us.

ONE MORE THING: I think something we continually miss is that Jesus is the theme of the Scriptures. He is taught throughout the pages of Scripture. Now here's the problem today. We tend to get side-tracked with detours and distractions about everything other than Jesus in our study of the Scriptures. We tend to add on so many things that are good, but not the best. It's our add-ons that have created our many differences. It's our add-ons that have produced denominations. It's our add-ons that have created division after division within our world.

You see, when you miss the primary point of Scripture, you make everything else the point. It all comes down to one basic truth. Jesus is the uniting factor of truth and life. Jesus brings sense and sensibility to our lives. Bottom-line? JESUS UNITES-EVERYTHING ELSE DIVIDES. No matter where you go in this world or whatever the topic of your discussion, this is the primary truth of life. In fact, the process of understanding the preeminence of Jesus is your road to Emmaus.



As we close out chapter 23 of Luke and begin chapter 24 we come to the burial and resurrection of Jesus. Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

NOTE Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body in order to give Him a proper burial. This Joseph was apparently a member of the Council of the Sanhedrin. He was a prominent man and a good man. He is also said to be a disciple-a follower of Jesus. So, here was a man Jesus had within the Sanhedrin who had position, but who also stood his ground and objected to their decision to go against Jesus. And, after the decision went wrong, he still had the courage to be a follower of Jesus.

NOTE something else about Joseph here: He was waiting for the kingdom of God. Now Jesus had said over and over that the kingdom is here, near and among you, yet that teaching was quickly going south with the arrest of Jesus and the sentencing of Him to be crucified. Without the King how can there be a Kingdom?

A lot of time and care is taken by the gospel writers about the burial of Jesus. Why do you think so? I believe it's important for it to be established that Jesus really was buried. He really died and He was really buried. Now watch what happens:

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Jesus really died. He was really buried. And now Jesus is really resurrected from the dead, because the grave could not hold Him there.

Can you imagine how devastating it was to the followers of Jesus to watch Him die this horrible death of crucifixion? All of their dreams and hopes were shattered. And, even though He told them that He was going to be resurrected, they were not anticipating it. They were too despondent, wallowing in the bad news of it all.

But once they were convinced of His resurrection these same disciples turned into men of passion. They were on a mission to spread the good news and the resurrection was central to this news. If Jesus is not raised from the dead, then there is no good news for victory over death. The death of Jesus was vital to the good news, but the resurrection caps it off and takes us to another level altogether.

The theme of the early followers of Jesus was the resurrection. You see it in the book of Acts and the early letters to the churches. The cross did not become a predominant symbol until the 300's A.D. If a symbol had to be produced for the resurrection, it might have been a rock, as in the rock that was supernaturally rolled away from the tomb at the resurrection.

More than anything else, the death, burial and resurrection brings the message of the possibility of starting over-again-for everybody. The disciples were so blown away on Friday when Jesus died, embodying all of their hopes. It was a day of despair. Then on Saturday the disciples must have moved from the shock of the death to a certain level of depression and disappointment, to the point of giving up. I'm sure there were lots of thoughts and discussions about giving it up and wondering what they might do next. Then, early on Sunday morning the disciples were treated to the shock of their lives. Jesus who died and was really buried, arose from the dead. He came back!

We all have Fridays and Saturdays in our lives, don't we. And wherever you find yourself-at a Friday or a Saturday, because of the resurrection of Jesus, you can count on the hope of getting through your dark times and starting over-again. The resurrection of Jesus means you can start over, no matter what. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, even though he dies, shall live." Now that fact is a wonderful thing. However the resurrection is not just a fact to know; it's a person to trust. The resurrection is Jesus. "I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. DO YOU BELIEVE THIS?"