Mark part 17 covers chapter 16 and is all about the Resurrection. Once again we review all four gospel accounts of what is arguably the most important event in all of human history.
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Well, in this session we’re going to be continuing our format that we’ve used the last few times, and we’re dealing tonight with the resurrection.
Two meetings ago we spent the night looking at the four Gospel accounts of the trial—the trials that Jesus endured on the night of His arrest.
The last time we met, we looked at the crucifixion from the four different accounts, and tonight we’ll look at the resurrection in the same way. The reason we’re doing this is because each of the Gospel writers took a little bit of a different slant on the event than the others, and so we normally find some detail in one account that we wouldn’t find in another. And by reading all four accounts, we get the whole picture.
You know, I’ve said before that the four Gospels are there because each of them is directed at a different audience, and each one of them had a little different way for us to look at things and gave us a little different insight on the events that took place.
And so, when you have four accounts it’s best to read the four at the same time and then you get the whole story all at once. And so, the same is true here with the story of the resurrection, and so let’s go first to Matthew’s account which is in Matthew 28, and we’ll look at each of the Gospel accounts of the resurrection.
Now this is going to be a lot more fun than some of our other ones because the resurrection is a very exciting thing for us. It is the most important event in history because it brings us the evidence, or the completion, of the goal that Jesus came to accomplish, and it shows us what His assignment was, and it shows us that His assignment was completed in full and was accepted by God. And those are the things we learned.
Now you know from Romans 10:9—let’s go look at that just to give us the introduction to this.
Romans 10:9. Paul gave us the two clearest conditions, if you will, for salvation.
What do you need to be saved? That’s a big question on a lot of people’s minds and they start drawing up lists of things that you have to do and all this stuff, but Paul took care of that for us. And he said in Romans 10:9, he said:
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Okay, so there’s a lot between the lines in this, but the issue is here, confess. The Greek word for confess means to agree, or to acknowledge, or to give assent to an idea. So that means you agree that Jesus is Lord.
Okay now, in Philippians 2 we know that at the end of the age everyone, from those who are in Heaven to those who are on Earth, and to those who are under the earth, they will all agree. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.
But does that mean everybody gets saved? Hello? [laughs] No, it doesn’t! It doesn’t mean that everybody gets saved. There will be a lot of people who are confessing, agreeing that Jesus is Lord on their way to hell. Because by then, you see, the evidence will be in, won’t it? He will have conquered the world, He will have returned in glory, He will have done everything He said He would do. And He will now be standing on Earth again as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and everyone will have to agree that that is the case because they will have seen with their own eyes that He has accomplished what He set out to accomplish and that He has the right to be called Lord.
But that won’t save them, because they didn’t call Him one other thing; they didn’t call Him their savior. You see, you can call somebody Lord, and you can agree that he is the ruler. It’s kind of like in today’s society we agree that a certain person is our leader. Whether we voted for him or not, we agree that he is our leader, okay?
And that’s kind of the way it is, only with much more serious consequences in this case because there’s a spiritual situation going on here, a spiritual condition to all this. A lot of people; everyone, the Bible says—Philippians 2:9-11 this is, but we’re going to stay in Romans because you can just take my word for the Philippians thing and you can look it up later [laughing] to check me out, because I don’t want to give you problems with your hands already so early tonight finding your way around the Bible!
But anyway, the idea here is that in Philippians 2:9-11 it says, “Because Jesus made Himself obedient to God’s every command, God made Him the name above all names so that everyone,” and Paul even invented new words for this. In Philippians 2:9 it says, “everyone from the Heavens, to the Earth, to below the Earth.”
The word that Paul used for “Heavens” is actually a word that’s never used anywhere else in the Bible. The Greek word for “Heaven” is “Ouranos.” It’s where we get the name for the planet. But Paul used the word Epouranios which means above the Heavens, if there could be such a place.
Everyone from above the Heavens, to beneath the Earth is what he is saying, and that encompasses just about everybody there is, folks. And he says everyone will have to bow, and every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord.
Okay so that’s one. You confess that Jesus is Lord. Now in the sense of salvation, what that means is we confess Him as our Lord, which means that we believe that He came to Earth and He died for our sins. That’s part of it.
Now the second part of it is, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. Now in many parts of the Church today, belief in the resurrection seems to be optional. But in the Bible that’s not the case. Those who don’t accept a literal, physical resurrection come up with all kinds of other things that they say substitute for that, but that’s not what the Bible says.
The Bible says that you have to believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. That’s the second condition for salvation. And why is that? Because when Jesus went to the cross He took upon Himself all the sins of humanity, correct? He took upon Himself all of our sins.
And so, in 2 Corinthians 5:21 it says, literally, Jesus became sin for us. Became sin. He became the physical embodiment of sin for us, and at that moment God had to turn away from Him.
That’s why it went dark on noon of the crucifixion day. The sun (we read this last time) the sun refused to shine at that time and it went dark at noon. And the reason it is, is because God had to turn away from His son, because Habakkuk 1:13 says that God’s eyes are too pure they cannot look upon sin.
And so, when Jesus became sin for us, God had to turn away. And that’s the only time where Jesus felt something He could not tolerate. Through all the beatings He took, through all the pain and suffering, the torture, the humiliation, He never said a word.
Remember Isaiah 53 says:
Like a sheep before its shearer is dumb, so he spoke not a word.
Through all of that. He could take all of that, He was prepared for all of that. He bore all of that in silence. But when it got to the point where God had to turn away from Him, He couldn’t take it. And He said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
He couldn’t bear that one, because He never before you see had been disconnected from His Father.
We don’t know what it’s like to be connected to the Father; He didn’t know what it was like to be disconnected from, and it was a pain so great He couldn’t bear it. God turned away and it went dark, and Jesus died alone. All the sin of mankind on His shoulders.
Now remember I said God’s eyes are too pure to look upon sin—what if any of our sins had been left unforgiven by the Lord’s death? What if He still bore even one of mankind’s sin? What if even one sin remained unpaid for by His death? Could He have come out of the grave and gone to Heaven? No, no He could not have.
And so if you don’t believe that all of your sins were dealt with at the cross, then you can’t believe that God raised Him from the dead, and therefore you can’t be saved. Because you’re admitting that you still have some unpaid for sins and you cannot pay for them, your life is not worth enough to pay for those sins.
And so unless you believe that God put all of your sins on the Lord’s shoulders and unless you believe that when Jesus died for them He did the complete job of paying for them, you cannot believe that Jesus rose again from the dead and therefore you cannot believe that you will. It’s just that simple. So do you understand that? Okay.
And so this resurrection is the critical event in history as far as mankind is concerned, because it was the proof that the death that the Lord paid on the cross was sufficient in God’s eyes to forgive you. And the fact that Jesus came out of the tomb is proof that you will as well, okay? It’s just that important.
I mean there’s nothing else we can say about it, it is the single most important fact in your life, and so if any of you have problems believing in the resurrection then I advise you to get that fixed as soon as you can, because that is the proof that your sins are forgiven.
Now we won’t get into all the other theology that goes around that if you can just, if you’re okay with that, then we can move on. But it is a—there is no issue in Scripture bigger than this. None, at all bigger than this. And so if you got that issue handled then you got the big one done, and everything else you can fall into line with. That one, that’s what they call a deal breaker, isn’t it? I mean, if you don’t have that one it doesn’t matter what else you have.
All right, so the resurrection is a big deal, and tonight that’s what we’re going to study, the resurrection. The biggest event in the history of mankind.
Let’s go back to Matthew 28. I’ve given you the big thing right at the beginning so if you fall asleep or have to leave early you didn’t miss anything, you see? [laughing]
All right, Matthew 28:1:
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week,
Now you know enough about the Jewish calendar to know what day we’re talking about. What is the first day of the week in the Jewish calendar? That’s right, Sunday! Sunday is the first day of the week.
So we’re talking about dawn on Sunday morning, and from several sessions ago you remember that we went through the days and nights and days and nights and you know that in the Hebrew calendar, the night precedes the day. So Sunday actually started at what we would call sundown on Saturday. And so at sundown on Saturday on our calendar, the third night began. So He had been in the grave three days and now three nights because He went into the grave on Thursday.
So at dawn on the Sabbath the third night was ended. Now it’s time for Him to come out of the tomb.
at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
You remember as we finished up our last meeting, they were there watching when Joseph and Nicodemus put Him in the tomb. Then there were the two Sabbaths, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the regular weekly Sabbath, and now it’s Sunday morning. It’s finally okay for them to come to the tomb, and what they thought was going to happen is they were going to go into the tomb and prepare the body for burial because it hadn’t been done completely.
It’s interesting that they went to do this, even though they had been told over and over and over and over again that He would be in the grave for three days and then He would come back again. So nobody really expected that to happen, did they? I mean, everybody was just shocked beyond belief; many people could not believe, even after seeing it many people could not believe.
Mary Magdalene was the most in tune with all this of any. She was more knowledgeable or aware, had a greater perspective of all these things than all of the disciples. She was the one who, of all of the followers of Jesus, understood the most clearly. And yet even she is going to the grave on Sunday morning to prepare His body for the final burial.
Now verse 2 is—I’ll just read it first:
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
It sounds like from the way we read it that this is happening just as they get there. But that’s not really the case. The original language implies that it had happened before she got there. So sometime just before they got there there had been a violent earthquake and an angel had come down and rolled away the stone so that the tomb would be open when they got there.
You see, the purpose of rolling away the stone and stuff was not to let the Lord out. No, He didn’t need any help getting out, did He? It was to let them in so that they could see He was no longer there, and so they needed help. They needed somebody to roll away the stone and so the Lord said, “Okay.” and He picked an angel and He sent him down there and the angel rolled away the stone so that when they got there it would be open and they could look in there. And that’s just exactly what happened.
Verse 3, talking about this angel now:
His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
They passed out, fainted.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
All right, now we take care of a couple of issues here, and as we read the other accounts here, Matthew is abbreviating the story just a little bit. Each of them, you know, is going to emphasize a few different points, and Matthew’s abbreviating his account because he’s just trying to make it meaningful to the Jewish audience he’s writing to.
While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’
Now it would have to have been a large sum of money, because sleeping on watch brought the death penalty to a soldier. I think it’s still one of the most serious things you can do if you’re in the armed services. Sleeping on watch was a very, very serious crime and it was punishable by death.
In verse 14 they told them:
If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”
So they’re saying, “Take the money, we’ll make sure he doesn’t kill you.”
So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
So that explains that little part, and that’s the Jewish perspective there.
Then verse 16:
Then the eleven disciples
You remember, Judas is gone.
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
So Matthew’s account ends with the resurrection. And as we went through the four Gospel accounts at the very beginning of the study, we indicated that that’s one of the things that makes Matthew’s account mostly directed toward the Jewish audience because it ends with the resurrection.
The resurrection was the big deal for the Jewish people; that’s a huge issue. And even though there are many of the more liberal Jewish denominations that don’t accept a physical resurrection, just like many liberal Christian denominations don’t accept that, they still believe that they live on. And the way they live on is they live on in the memory of the people they leave behind because of all the good works they have done. You’ll find many Jewish philanthropists for example will endow huge sums of money to hospitals, universities, and other things to have their name put on a building and things like that, so that their memory will linger after they’ve left.
And this is how they feel they have eternal life, they feel that that gives them eternal life because whenever anybody one-hundred years or two-hundred years later looks at the building with their name on it, they read the name, and in some way they remember that, and therefore the person is living on in the memory of others. And that’s how some of the liberal Jewish denominations view the resurrection. And so it’s an important issue for them; that’s why Matthew ended his Gospel there.
Let’s go now to Mark’s Gospel and look at chapter 16.
Now you remember Mark, he wrote to the Romans and he demonstrated, or introduced, Jesus to us, or described Him really, as the obedient servant of Jehovah; He was God’s servant. So everything about Mark’s Gospel is meant to portray His obedience to the Father.
All right so 16:1:
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.
Now the Sabbath was over the previous night, remember it became Sunday at sundown and that ended the Sabbath and so Saturday night (what we would call Saturday night) the stores would be open. They are over there today, they close for the Sabbath, they close at Friday night, they don’t open again until sundown Saturday, then Saturday night all the stores are open, the restaurants are open, everybody goes out and has a big meal and they celebrate the fact that the Sabbath is over. Mary and these other women went out and bought spices so that they could go in the morning and anoint the body.
Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
Of course, the Lord heard that question and He had already taken care of it. And it says in verse
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
Now let me clarify here, help you to picture something. This tomb, like many, was in a cave. Sometimes it would have been dug out into a hillside, especially to serve the purpose of a tomb. And to make a covering, a door, for the tomb they would carve into the rock a little trench, maybe four, five, six inches deep, that would be on an incline.
And then they would fashion a big round stone, maybe as tall as I am, and as big around, well bigger around than I am! [laughing] So a big round stone. Let’s say with a diameter of six-feet or so, and they would place that at the upper end of that trench and put a block, a stone block under it so it couldn’t roll in.
After they put the body into the tomb, they would remove that block and the stone would roll down the incline until it came in front of the opening and there it would stop, and now the tomb was sealed. So it was easy to put the stone in front of the tomb. But almost impossible to get it away.
And that was the rationale behind it, they didn’t want people opening up these tombs and going into them. And so this is what had happened. I don’t know how many of you have been to Jerusalem and visited the Garden Tomb which is the place where many people feel Jesus was buried. If you have, you could see the trench there in front of the tomb. The stone is gone, but you can see how the stone would have been rolled down in front of the opening and then it would have been sealed.
So this is what the women are worried about; they’re just these three or four women, you know, how are they going to roll that great big stone out of the way? They’re on their way to do the work that they think they have to do, but it dawns on them that they probably aren’t going to be able to get in there.
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
All right, now we’re going to deal with something a little bit controversial here. And since we’re right here, we might as well just do it while we’re here.
Most, as a matter of fact, all of the early manuscripts of Mark’s Gospel stop right there. It wasn’t until about 150 years later that the rest of Mark suddenly began appearing in these, you know the written accounts of the Gospel.
And so if you’ve got a good study Bible it will have a note there to that effect saying the most reliable early manuscripts don’t have anything beyond Mark 16:8. And then from history, especially from the history of the early Church, we know that about 150 or so years later verses 9 to the end verse 20 began appearing.
And so some have made the claim that these verses don’t belong to the Gospel of Mark. And it’s a valid claim, because like I say they appear much later than the rest of the version. They’re also a little different in the way they’re written, and they say some things that are not consistent with the rest of Mark’s Gospel.
It’s not that they’re not Biblically accurate, it’s just that they are different from the rest of Mark’s Gospel, and so scholars who look at these things say that this was added later.
Now “added later” means that it was compiled from other parts of Scripture. There is no one that I’ve ever heard of that says it doesn’t belong in the Bible. So these words are not thought to be words that were illegally or improperly added to the Bible, but some do believe that these verses were added to the Gospel of Mark to give it a proper ending.
Because they thought that either the original ending had been lost, or else for some reason Mark just stopped it there. Nobody knows this. But all they do know is that it was a while before these verses started to appear.
Now, I want you to take note of this as we read this because all these verses sound just like verses that we’ll read at the end of the other Gospels. And so the thought is, by some, is that they took pieces out of the end of Matthew, Luke, and John and pieced them together and put them at the end of Mark here to make a proper ending for Mark.
And this could easily have happened. And as we’ll see as we read it, and then as you listen to the ends of the other Gospels, you’ll be reminded, “Well gee, John’s got something like that his his.” or, “Luke’s got something like that in his.” and on we go.
We’ve only read Matthew’s at this point. You’ll see something that sounds like it’s from Matthew as we go through this, but I want you to keep in mind that this might be what has happened.
And so, please remember, nobody says they don’t belong in the Bible. Some people say they weren’t originally part of Mark. So that’s the extent of the controversy.
There is this fellow who has done a remarkable amount of work in tracking the supernatural aspects of the Gospels. He did this about one-hundred years or so ago. His name is Ivan Panin, I don’t know if any of you have heard that name, but he hand wrote 40,000 pages of calculations to demonstrate the supernatural authorship of the Gospels. And he did this by showing the repetitive uses—primarily, there’s lots of other things he did too—but one of his key witnesses, if you will, was the incredible use of the number seven in the construction of the Gospels.
In fact, by the time you get finished reading his work on this—I didn’t read all 40,000 pages, but I’ve read the book that he wrote as a result of all these calculations—you can literally prove that any one of the four Gospels had to precede all of the others.
Now we know Mark’s was probably the first one written, but by the way these Gospels contain formulas and sets of words and letters and numbers, you could make the case for any one of them being first. And the reason for that is that they were all written by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit put the words into all these men’s minds and they wrote them down.
But the supernatural qualities, the supernatural underpinning foundation, if you will, of the Gospels is absolutely beyond coincidence and it’s beyond our understanding.
And so, if you want to get into a study of that you can get Ivan’s book, it’s about one-hundred years old. I had to send away for it, the library where I lived at the time wasn’t big enough to have one and so they got into the National Library system, they got a copy of the book and they had it mailed to my local library and I got to borrow it and they almost had to send somebody with the book while I read it to make sure they got it back! But it’s an incredible book.
But anyway, let me show you just an example here and I’m going to use these last few verses of Mark to show you that while it may be true that they weren’t originally part of Mark, they still are part of inspired Scripture.
Okay, for example from verse 9 through 20, there are 175 words in the Greek and we’re going to—remember all these calculations revolve around the number seven? You can divide seven into 175 and it comes out 25 times. So 175 is 25 times seven.
Of the 175 words there are some repeats and so there are only 98 different words. You divide seven by 98 and you get fourteen. So 98 is also divisible by seven. If you total up all the letters in the language in those verses, you can divide that number by seven. If you total up all the vowels, the vowels are all divisible by seven. If you total up all the consonants they’re also divisible by seven.
And this just goes on and on and on and on through all four Gospels to the point where like I said, he came up with 40,000 pages of calculations that show the prominence of the number seven running through these four Gospels.
No way on Earth could anyone have done this. Even if the four of them had gotten together and sat down and tried to do it, they couldn’t have done it. This demonstrates, to those who are willing to see the supernatural aspect of the Gospel, it demonstrates that beyond any question of any doubt. And so it’s obvious that these last verses belong in the Bible, even if they have been borrowed from other Gospels to create a proper ending, which is what many scholars think happened. It’s obvious that they belong, they are the inspired words of the Holy Spirit, all right?
Now with that, let’s go on and read the rest of this and then you’ll have an answer the next time somebody asks you about this.
Verse 9 sounds like a summary of what’s gone before.
When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.
When we get to John’s Gospel, you’ll see that’s exactly what happened. She went in, saw the empty tomb, she was the first one to meet with the Lord, she ran back to tell the disciples and they didn’t believe her, and then Peter and John came running out to see for themselves. We’ll see that when we get to John’s Gospel. So that part we’ll see repeated in John.
Now verse 12:
Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.
This is right out of Luke’s Gospel, the road to Emmaus. And we’ll read that again when we get to Luke.
Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
This again is part of John’s Gospel, and we’ll see this that night when Jesus appeared to the disciples and He said, “I’m not a ghost, touch Me. I’m a person, here, touch Me and see.”
And so then you get to verse 15:
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
We just read that in Matthew 28: “Go into all the world and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
The “whoever believes is saved, but whoever does not believe is condemned” is out of John 3:14 right after where it says, “God sent His son into the world not to condemn the world but through Him the world might be saved, and that all who believe in Him could have eternal life.” And if you read that passage you’ll see that whoever believes is saved to eternal life, but whoever not believes is already condemned, and so that’s out of John.
And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons;
Which is true.
they will speak in new tongues;
Which is true.
they will pick up snakes with their hands;
This is apparently a reference to something that happened to Paul in Acts 28. He was out gathering firewood, he reached into a pile of wood and came away with a snake, a poisonous snake hanging on his finger, on his thumb. And the other people who were with him—you know this is after they’re shipwreck, and they were washed up on shore. And the people that were with him say, “We thought he was a good guy, but he must be a murderer after all because he escaped justice in Israel, but God has now seen that he gets justice by having him bit by this poisonous snake.”
Problem is, Paul didn’t suffer any effects of the snake bite. And they stood there and watched him, and they waited. They waited for days to see the effects of this snake bite and there were no effects, and then they went to the other extreme and started worshiping Paul as a god. And so that’s where that one is.
Then it says in verse 18:
and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all;
That’s the only one we can’t verify in the rest of the Gospels, so don’t go home and do that tonight. It probably would be true because it’s in here, but I personally would not do that tonight.
they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
And of course we know that’s true. So all of these except for that one deadly poison are covered in other areas of the New Testament, most of it in the other three Gospels.
After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
Okay, that’s the end of Mark’s account. Now Mark was the obedient servant, He came to die for the sins of the people, that was His role that was His job He came here to do. He was sent by God to do this and He was obedient to the task and He did it.
So the task is finished, so He goes back home. And that’s why Mark ends with the ascension, because the servant’s job was finished and He was now permitted to go back home, having accomplished what He was sent to do.
All right so that’s Mark.
Now we’ll go to Luke.
And in Luke 24. Now you might think we’re going pretty fast here but don’t get your hopes up! [laughing] Luke and John have much more detailed accounts than Matthew and Mark had, so don’t start packing up yet!
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?
That’s a good question.
He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.
These angels are quoting Matthew 17:22 because that’s one of the places where Jesus said exactly that, He said, “We’re going into Jerusalem where the Son of Man will be turned over, delivered into the hands of sinful men. He’ll be crucified and on the third day He’ll be raised again.”
So as early as Matthew 17 He was telling His disciples that.
Verse 8 says:
Then they remembered his words.
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.
Today we’d say, “Oh that’s just women talk.” no, we wouldn’t say that at all!
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.
Some skeptics say, “Why do Matthew and Mark have one angel at the tomb, and Luke has two?”
Well, it turns out to be not a problem at all because one of the angels spoke to them, according to Matthew’s account and according to Mark’s account, one of the angels spoke. It doesn’t mean there wasn’t another one there, it just means they heard one speaking. And so don’t let that throw you.
Okay now we’re down to verse 13:
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.
In other words, they were blinded, prevented from knowing who this was. As we’ll see in I think John’s account, it’s easy to understand why they didn’t recognize Him, but we’ll wait until we get there to talk about that.
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 the only one visiting Jerusalem who does 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.”
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
That’s a really diplomatic answer, doesn’t you think?
Did not the Christ 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.
That must have been a long walk! [laughing] But I’ll bet they didn’t notice the passage of time, what do you think?
This is a good verse to have because this tells us that the idea of Jesus dying for the sins of people is not a New Testament idea. This had been prophesied since the beginning; Moses you know he wrote the first five books of the Bible, and then He goes through all the prophets.
And Jesus showed them all the places where it says exactly what He has just experienced. It prophesied that He would be crucified, that He would die for the sins of the people, and on the third day He would rise again and then He would enter His glory.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted 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?”
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.
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Shalom aleichem.”
“Peace be with you.”
This is the evening of Resurrection Morning, okay? So we’re still in the same day, that Sunday.
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?
See this is where Mark said He was rebuking them for not believing what the other people had told them.
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.
Every time you see Him in a post-resurrection appearance He’s hungry, He’s asking for food. So it looks like we’re going to have food in Heaven! Won’t that be nice?
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.”
And so here He validates the Book of Psalms as a prophetic book. And so you’ll find prophecies about Jesus in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms.
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ 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.”
This is the promise of the Holy Spirit. In John 13-17 where He has this discussion with His disciples in the upper room on the night we call the Last Supper, this is when He promised them the Holy Spirit would come and He would come to help them remember everything that had happened.
So, it doesn’t say this, but so they could write it down later, it will tell them that He will help them convict the world of their sins, and He will help them preach the Gospel. And so all these things will be done by these disciples, but not in their own strength, it will be done in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Now verse 50:
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.
So Luke’s Gospel was written to the Greeks, and the Greeks had a fascination with the supernatural. Remember when Paul went into Athens and there was a statue of a different god on every street corner? And they even had a statue to an unknown god, in case they had missed one. And so they had this preoccupation with the supernatural, and so the promise of the Holy Spirit would have been especially meaningful to a Greek audience because that’s kind of the way their minds went with things like this. And so He’s telling them to stay in the city basically, until Pentecost when the Holy Spirit comes.
And so that is Luke’s version.
Okay, now for John’s account of all this we go over to John 20. And there are a lot of special things in John’s account here because John was writing to the Church. And so these are things that have been put in here especially for you and me. And I’ll warn you as we’re getting into this, they take you quickly from the natural to the supernatural. And there is stuff in here that scholars have been pondering over ever since it was written. But we’ll clarify all of it for you tonight! [laughs]
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
All right so this tells us that Mary wasn’t alone, she had the other women with her just like the other Gospels say. They’re just featuring Mary here because she’s the one that came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple.
Now in John’s Gospel he never names himself, he always calls himself “the disciple that Jesus loved” and so that’s his way of identifying himself there without putting his own name into the thing. He was especially close to the Lord and so he saw himself there as the one that Jesus loved.
And so Mary says:
“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
Meaning she and the other women who were there with her.
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
I don’t know if this was a race and he was saying, “I won! I won!” But the idea is he got there first.
He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.
Now there’s a good reason for this. If he went into that tomb he would become ceremonially unclean, and he would have to go through this whole cleansing process and be outside. He would be quarantined, if you will, outside the city for seven days. So he didn’t go in, he just looked in. He was very much aware of the Jewish law and he’s being obedient here to the law.
So he looked in. What this word means that he is beheld, or observed this. You’re going to see different uses of the Greek word that means to look or to see here as we go through and I’ll try to point them out to you.
Then Simon Peter who was behind him arrived and went into the tomb.
Peter’s got no such problem, you know. Peter would go in where angels feared to tread you know, he’s the guy who went, “Ready, fire, aim!” He’s always the guy who spoke before he thought you know. And so he didn’t even slow down probably, he just shot right into the tomb.
He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still folded up by itself, separate from the linen.
Now that word “saw” is different. It means he saw and understood. He saw the linen, he saw the cloth, and he calculated, if you will, that the Lord was gone. So John observed, Peter went and he saw and gained knowledge from what he saw.
Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.
So there’s the third level. It goes from observe, to acquire knowledge, to acquire belief. Three levels of seeing, if you will. A lot of people say seeing is believing, but that’s not necessarily true. A lot of people see but don’t believe. Other people see but gain an intellectual understanding of something. And still others see and gain the emotional commitment to the idea. And these are the three degrees of seeing that is taking place here.
But verse 9 says:
(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
This was still, and I’ll show you in a few verses how this could be, how they could not get this, but I’ll show you. And remember none of them got it, none of them expected this to happen.
Okay verse 10. You really have to sympathize with them, because this had never happened before, you see. We grew up, from the very beginning of our earliest education, we learned something about the Bible and we learned something about Jesus, and we learned something about the resurrection. And every springtime when we have a holiday there we remember the resurrection. So we’ve grown up with all this, but no such thing happened in their lives.
None of this had ever happened before as far as they were concerned. People had been raised from the dead, but they all had died again. In the Old Testament the people who were raised from the dead, they died, again. And all the people that Jesus healed and brought back from the dead, they all died again.
Nobody had ever been resurrected, and that means nobody had ever gained from death an eternal life. Other people had gained an addition to their life, which resulted in their subsequent death, again. But no one had ever gained an eternal life.
And this is what Jesus had been talking about, but it was an idea that no one had ever experienced. And remember they had one other little deficiency, they had not yet been invested with the Holy Spirit, which is something that happens to us at the moment of belief.
And so we can’t take credit for a better understanding than they had, because we have a supernatural assistance that they had not yet received.
So they’re doing all this in the strength of their own human minds, and we look at them sometimes and we say, “How could they miss this all? How could they be so stupid?” But you got to remember the situation they were in is way different from the situation we’re in. Nothing like this had ever, ever happened on Earth.
All right verse 10:
Then the disciples went back to their homes.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
All right now before we go on there we’ll back up here a little bit.
Of all the people, you’d expect Mary to recognize the Lord. I mean, you can make a pretty good case that she was in love with Him. If you ever saw that old musical Jesus Christ Superstar, that’s probably the one thing about that whole musical that’s theologically correct. You remember when Mary sang that song, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”? Has anybody ever seen this before, ever heard of it? That song is probably the only thing about the whole musical that is theologically correct!
And the way it is sung is always just touched my heart because there she was, a human fallen woman in love with God Himself. I mean, in love with Him—we all love God; she was in love with Him. And so if anybody was going to recognize Him, you’d think it would be her. But until He spoke her name she didn’t know it was Him.
To find out why that could be, or how it could be, let’s turn back to Isaiah 50 and we’re going to look at verse 6. The whole thing starting in verse 4 and going on through is all a Messianic prophecy about the Lord, about the Messiah.
But we’re going to look at verse 6 where it says:
I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.
That’s 6 and 7. And so the thing I want you to see is, this is obviously Isaiah speaking through the Spirit the words of the Lord during the time of His punishment and humiliation before the crucifixion where He said:
I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
Now on all the different occasions when I’ve taught this, I’ve always had the thought in mind that what I should do before I come into the meeting where I’m going to teach this, is shave off my beard. Because I’ll bet a lot of you wouldn’t, at first you wouldn’t recognize me.
Because when you’re used to seeing somebody with a beard and then suddenly they’ve shaved, they look so different. In fact, this is one of the things that people do to disuse themselves if they’re hiding from the law or something like that. If they’re clean shaven they’ll immediately grow a beard, and if they’re bearded they’ll immediately shave, because they look so different. And so He didn’t shave His beard off, they yanked it out of His face.
Now while we’re here look at Isaiah 52:14. It says:
Just as there were many who were appalled at him—
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man
and his form marred beyond human likeness—
When they got done beating Him He didn’t even look human anymore. Now obviously He’s back from the dead, He has a resurrection body, but something about His appearance was so different that He was not recognizable to people.
Until He spoke her name, she didn’t know who He was.
Now you can understand a little more about how that could be, the other thing is of course she wasn’t expecting Him. You know sometimes you can look right at somebody and if you’re not expecting them you don’t know who they are, you know. It’s just because your mind is not focused on that, so sometimes that can happen as well.
And she obviously, the way she’s carrying on here, she’s in a very distraught situation. Thinks He’s the gardener, thinks the gardener’s taken the body, and she’s going to go get Him and carry Him back and put Him back. You know this is a woman who is highly emotional and very distraught, and so you can understand why these things can happen.
Okay down to verse 17:
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Now, twice in the Book of Hebrews it tells us that when Jesus came back the first thing He did was to go to the temple in Heaven and sprinkle His blood on the Mercy Seat there, in His final act as our high priest.
And it’s my opinion that when He is saying, “Don’t cling to me.” And here again you can understand her, she’s lost Him once you see, and how He’s there again and she’s not going to let Him go again. You can understand these feelings.
And He said, “Don’t cling to me because I’ve still got,” (this is me paraphrasing, but this is what I think) “I’ve still got one thing left to do. I’ve got to take My blood to the temple in Heaven and I’ve got to sprinkle it on the Mercy Seat.”
Because that’s the final act of the high priest in the ceremony of Yom Kippur. You know they bring two goats to the high priest and he draws lots to see which one will perform which role.
One goat will be sacrificed as a peace offering, and the other goat will be sacrificed as a sin offering. And so what they did was the priest (and this happens by the way, Yom Kippur is only ten days away) and so this is the highest and holiest of festivals. They don’t do it anymore because you have to have a temple to do it, so they can’t do it this way.
But they brought the two goats to the high priest. He drew lots, and whichever one was selected became the peace offering and the other one became the sin offering, called the scapegoat. And the high priest symbolically, he put his hands on the head of the goat, and in doing so he symbolically transferred the sins of the entire nation to the goat, the scapegoat.
Now remember I said earlier, all the sins of mankind were transferred to Jesus when He went to the cross. So you’ll see that Jesus fulfilled both the role of the scapegoat and of the peace offering. But where the scapegoat is concerned, the sins of the nation were transferred to the head of this goat.
Then a scarlet ribbon was tied from one of the doors of the temple to one of the goat’s horns. And when the high priest was finished with this ceremony, they snipped the ribbon and one of the subordinate priests led the goat out of the city. And walking only a thousand paces, because that’s as far as they could walk on the Sabbath, he then transferred it to another priest who was already stationed there.
He walked another thousand paces. Another priest took him and walked another thousand paces. And so it went until they got the goat out into the wilderness to a point where there was a deep gorge, a bluff overlooking a deep gorge. They pushed the goat over the edge and the goat fell to its death.
At the moment that happened, the ribbon on the door of the temple turned from red to white in fulfillment of Isaiah 1 that says:
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will turn them as white as snow;
And that was the sign to the nation that the sins of the people had been forgiven for another year.
You see in the Jewish faith, forgiveness is always retroactive; you can’t forgive in advance, you can only forgive what’s already happened. That’s why they had to go through it every year, because it only applied until then. So they were clean then at that point.
And that was the purpose of the Yom Kippur ceremony, was to make the people clean again. And this was the only time of the year when they could speak the name of God, and on their faces in the temple in front of the high priest they gave thanks to the Lord and spoke His name in gratitude for forgiving them. And that was this amazing ceremony.
Now the interesting thing is, after the Lord was crucified the temple was still in operation for 38 years. And so 38 more times this ceremony took place. The ribbon never turned white again because the real sacrifice had come. And He had forgiven their sins. He had made them white as snow, not just for a year but for forever, if they accepted it.
And so the scapegoat offering was no longer sufficient, you see. It was no longer acceptable to God and so the ribbon no longer turned white.
Now the last act of the high priest, this is why we got into all this, was after they released the scapegoat, after they saw that the sins of the people had been forgiven, then he took the blood of the peace offering (the other goat, they sacrificed him) he carried his blood into the Holy of Holies. The only day of the year he could go in there without dying. He took the blood into the Holy of Holies, sprinkled it on the altar there, the Mercy Seat which was the top of the Ark of the Covenant.
And the idea here was that God would look down from Heaven, upon His broken law which was in the Ark of the Covenant the Ten Commandments, He would see the blood and He would be satisfied, because there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood.
And so the innocent blood that was shed there and sprinkled on the Mercy Seat showed God that the price had been paid for the sins, and that quieted His wrath and gave the people peace with Him for another year.
And so Jesus was both the scapegoat, all the sins of mankind were put on His head, and He was the peace offering because—what does it say in Ephesians? He is our peace who has broken down every wall. He was also our peace offering.
Colossians 1:19 says:
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
And so Jesus was the scapegoat and He was the peace offering. And then, as we see here He is saying to Mary, “I’ve got to go and perform My final act as the high priest. I’ve got to go into the Holy of Holies, but not the copy which is on Earth, to the original which is in Heaven, and sprinkle My blood there.”
Let’s look and see if we can find that in Hebrews, because that’s a good thing for us to be able to read. I think it’s in 9.
In Hebrews 9:24 it says:
For Christ did not enter a man made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.
And so everything on Earth is a copy of what’s in Heaven. The temple, the tabernacle, everything. Copies of what are in Heaven.
If you’ll turn back a page to Hebrews 7:26 it says:
Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
And so that’s what I believe. Now the Scriptures don’t say that clearly and you’re welcome to say, “Oh that’s just your opinion.” but I believe that’s why He told Mary, “Let go of Me, because I got one more job to do. I’ll meet you guys in Galilee.”
Okay let’s go back now to John 20, in verse 18:
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
Okay verse 19 now we’re in. 20:19:
On the evening of that first day
We’re still on resurrection Sunday. And so:
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!”
The Hebrew there is “Shalom aleichem!” and there’s a whole song in Hebrew that you sing. That’s how I learned it, you sing that song and all the others all over again. “Shalom aleichem, Shalom aleichem.” and so it just means peace be with you.
After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said,
Now listen to this carefully.
“Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Okay, we got that okay.
And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
Now most people think the disciples receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. But no. No, they received the Holy Spirit the night of the resurrection. And this changed them forever.
Now you remember He told them not to do anything until the Holy Spirit came with power, but there are three words in the Greek used in reference to the Holy Spirit.
One of those (I’ll see if I can remember them all) one of those is para P-A-R-A, which means to be with. And in the Old Testament this is the word, the Hebrew version of this would be the word used in regard to the Holy Spirit. He was always with them. The Holy Spirit was with David. The Holy Spirit was with Saul for a while, and then He was not because the Holy Spirit could come and go in the Old Testament, right?
Old Testament believers were not sealed with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit was with them.
Then in the New Testament it says in Ephesians 1:13 and 14 that when you first believed, the Holy Spirit was sealed within you as a deposit guaranteeing your inheritance.
That word in the English is “in.” The Holy Spirit is in us, in fact He is sealed within us permanently, can’t get out. We can’t take Him out. God can’t take Him out. He is sealed as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.
Now when did that happen? When you earned it? When you were good enough? When you did all the right things? No, it happened the moment you first believed. And that’s it forever.
Before you had anything good or bad as a believer on your record, the Holy Spirit was sealed within you as a deposit who guarantees your inheritance. You hadn’t done anything good to deserve it, you hadn’t done anything bad to make the Lord regret it. This was the moment of belief; everything was neutral. At that moment the Holy Spirit was sealed within you as a deposit guaranteeing your inheritance.
Now there’s a third word that’s used and that word is epi means he comes upon us. This is what happened at Pentecost. He came upon them like tongues of fire, and they received this supernatural ability which most people misunderstand totally.
I don’t believe they had the gift of tongues at all on Pentecost; I think if the gift of tongues is available to believers because of the Holy Spirit, but it doesn’t say that they spoke in the language of the foreigners, it said they spoke their own language and the foreigners understood them. Each one heard them in his own language, Acts says.
That’s not the gift of tongues. The Pentecost Day experience is unique as far as the Holy Spirit is concerned with believers. It is not the same as being with, and it is not the same as having Him in them, because He was in them as of resurrection night, we read here from John. But ten days later on Pentecost He came upon them, in power. And that was not the same as dwelling within them.
Now many of you, well let me rephrase this. Let’s say all of you have the Holy Spirit within you. If you’re a believer this is true. Some of you have had the Holy Spirit come upon you and give you a supernatural ability. Maybe for a time, maybe it seems permanently. But that He has come upon you, and that’s where the power comes from. He’s in you all the time. You don’t need anything else to get the Holy Spirit in you, because He was invested within you at the moment of belief.
From time to time to suit His purpose He may come upon you and cause you to perform some supernatural act. I believe part of Him being in you includes the distribution of certain gifts, because in 1 Corinthians 12 it says the Holy Spirit gives these gifts to each one of us as He determines.
That means each one of us has a gift, at least one. And we get the gift that He has chosen for us that allows us to make our unique contribution to the body of Christ. That’s something you don’t need anything else to get, you have that. If you’re not using it, it’s not because you don’t have it.
Now Paul told us the way to get it, the way to use it in Romans 12:1-6. He told you exactly how you make it available to yourself. But it’s there already, you have it.
You see, the question is not how much of the Spirit do you have, it’s not how much of the Spirit is in you, it’s how much of you is in the Spirit that’s the important part.
And Paul in Romans 12:1-6 told you exactly how to activate your spiritual gift. And don’t tell me you don’t have one. Don’t tell me there aren’t any around because I know there are some around. I know there are people who manifest legitimate gifts of the Holy Spirit. And if even one person did, that would mean they’re available, right?
But the more important thing is that Paul said we all, each one of us, has been given at least one gift. And to find out how to use it, how to find out what it is and activate it, Romans 12:1-6.
He starts off by saying, “Be transformed.” That’s a commandment, be transformed. Don’t conform any longer to the patterns of this world. Stop living like a heathen, stop acting like a heathen, stop thinking like one. Become instead what you are, a child of God, and live that way. And then you’ll know what God’s will for your life is. His perfect, and pleasing will.
And then he goes on to list some spiritual gifts that you’ll have and tells you how to use them.
Romans 12:1-6. You don’t have to go through any ceremony to get this, you don’t have to be invested with it, you don’t have to have a special baptism. What you have to do is start living like a believer.
Become the person you already are and you will receive, first of all you’ll be able to discover and second of all, you’ll begin to act in this way. And as you do you’ll become first of all more fruitful, secondly you’ll become much happier and you’ll become much more fulfilled. And all of this other stuff around you will just kind of fade away. And you’ll be walking in the Spirit with the Lord.
And you’ll receive that little gift He promises us, you’ll have that peace that transcends all human understanding. Now that’s a promise to you from the Word. It’s not my opinion, you can read this all, it’s easy to read! [laughing] And it doesn’t mean you no longer sin—if you’re a sinner that just means you’re human. You can’t be a non sinner and still be human, if you could there wouldn’t have to be a crucifixion.
It means you are transformed in your attitude, in your outlook. In Ephesians 4 he said:
be made new in the attitude of your minds
Put off your old self and put on the new. Created for holiness and righteousness.
That’s Ephesians 4, about verse 20 I think. And we could get off on a great big study of this, but what I want you to know tonight is I want you to understand from this that they didn’t receive the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, they received the Holy Spirit on the day of the Lord’s resurrection. Because that’s the day that their sins were taken away forever. And that’s the day that they were given the authority to be the Church on Earth.
And what’s the very first thing that He said to them on how to use this? Verse 23 says:
If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Now that doesn’t mean we have the power to forgive or not forgive, okay? What that means is that from that point on, whenever they sat down with somebody and preached the Gospel and brought them to the point of receiving the Lord, and whenever they quote the sinner’s prayer with that person, that person’s sins were forgiven. On their authority. That’s all that means.
And if somebody didn’t do that then that means their sins were not forgiven, that’s all He is saying here.
Now there are some people who believe that this is the verse that justifies going to a priest for confession and having the priest forgive your sins. It doesn’t mean that at all.
It simply means that if you sit down with somebody and you tell them about Jesus and he says, “I want that, how can I get saved?” And you lead him through the sinner’s prayer, on your authority that person can be forgiven, because you have the Holy Spirit and you are now God’s agency on Earth for this. And that’s the only way anybody gets in the Church anymore, isn’t it? Because we do it.
And so that’s an authority you have that empowers your evangelism. You got that? And that started on the day of resurrection.
Now we still got a long way to go here.
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus),
Didymus is a word that means twin. Thomas was a twin of someone else. Who, we don’t know.
one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 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.”
And of course this is where the “Doubting Thomas” thing came from. And how many people do you know go along proudly proclaiming, “I’m a Doubting Thomas, you got to show me!”
It’s not really a role model that you want here!
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!” 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.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
And that’s all of us. This is what makes the Church so unique and so special to God, is we believe by faith.
All before us, the Old Testament, belief was by evidence. They went out, they put a lamb on the altar, a flame came down from Heaven and burned up the lamb. Evidence of God, evidence that their sacrifice was accepted.
By the way, there’s a very powerful and widely held Hebrew tradition that when the smoke went up from the altar, there could be a hurricane outside, but that smoke went straight to God. Straight in a line, straight up to God. It didn’t get blown around by the wind, it went straight up in the sky. Evidence that God was there.
We don’t have this kind of evidence today, we believe by faith. And because of this the Church is blessed above all the groups of believers in the history of man. No one before, and no one after is blessed to the extent that the Church is blessed.
When we get to Heaven, living in the New Jerusalem, and King David and Abraham come to visit they will say to each other, “You know,” David will say to Abraham, “You know Abraham? I’m not complaining here at all. What we have been given by the Lord is incredible. But these guys, look what they got.”
They’ll stand in awe of the blessings and the rewards that you will have achieved and have been given. And he’ll say, “We got something remarkable, but look at this! This beats everything.”
That’s that’s exactly what God had in mind. He said in Ephesians, “An age is yet to come, I will display the comparable riches of My grace through the Church.”
In the ages is yet to come!
And so this is what He meant when He said, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.”
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Okay, chapter 21:
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea Tiberias.
This is the Sea of Galilee.
It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee,
That would be John and James.
and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
These guys made their living fishing on that sea!
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153,
Why would He do that?
but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
All right, so 153 fish. There are several opinions about this as you might guess, and I’m going to give you all of them and you can pick the one you like the best.
The first one came from Saint Augustine back way back-back-back about in the first thousand years after the Church was born. And Saint Augustine said the 153 is a symbol, that there is a specific number of believers in the Church. In other words, by counting the number of fish in the net, according to Augustine, the Lord was saying there is a specific number of believers in the Church.
Now this has some support by the way, Paul said in Romans 11:25 that the blindness and hardening of the heart had come on the Jews in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in. And what he meant by that is the number of people who were destined to belong to the Church was fulfilled.
And so there’s some support to that, and you know I’m one that believes that the Rapture will occur on the day that the full number of Gentiles has come in. I believe that immediately when that number is reached we’ll be whisked away. Doesn’t matter what day it is, in fact that’s why you can’t know the date in advance because it isn’t any specific day. It’s whatever day it happens to be when the Church achieves its full number.
And so if you want it in simple terms the Rapture is a number specific event, not a date specific event. And so all this talking and speculating about what day is the Rapture is all for not, in my opinion because it could happen today, it could happen tomorrow, it could happen on any given day. The day that number is complete. And so that was Augustine’s view.
And then Jerome, really his name was Hieronymus, they called him Jerome from the Latin. He’s the one that first translated the Scriptures into Latin, about 300 A.D. He said there are 153 different species of fish in the Mediterranean, and therefore the Church is made up of every type of person. And so he’s saying also it’s symbolic. 153 species of fish, that means all the fish in the Mediterranean are represented, and that’s what he is saying about the Church. All the different species of man will be represented in the Church. Okay there’s that one.
Here’s another one. This view says the number twelve is the number of the Church. There were twelve disciples, twelve is a number of government in the Bible it’s a number that stands for government. And he said twelve is the number of the Church, basically.
And then he said three is the number of the Trinity, Father Son Holy Spirit, three. Now if you square twelve you get 144, and if you square three you get nine. One-hundred-forty-four plus nine equals 153. Oh! So that’s that view, that it was representative of the fact that the Church and the Holy Spirit combine together and the 153 represents that.
Here’s my favorite, you’re going to get your calculator out for this one! Seventeen is a prime number, and it’s the seventh prime number from one. Seventeen is the sum of the number seven, which is spiritual completion, and the number ten, which is ordinal completion on Earth here. And so when you put ten and seven together you get something that’s both spiritually and ordinally complete. Seventeen, okay. Seventeen is the prime number then.
The sum of the digits from one to seventeen is 153. And so, therefore the 153 stands for the fact that the Church is both spiritually complete, and ordinally complete.
Those are the four, those are your choices. Pick whatever one you want! Oh I’m sorry there’s one more!
The phrase “B’nai Ha Elohim” is Hebrew for Sons of God. In Hebrew, each letter has a numeric value. If you take the numeric value of the letters in the phrase “B’nai Ha Elohim” it adds up to 153. And that means that’s the Sons of God, and that’s us okay?
So there you go, there’s another one! You like that one, huh? Okay.
We’ve probably not done justice to the 153, I’m sure John had a much loftier reason for putting it in there. But those are the major ideas on that. All of them are good ones and so there’s probably some of the truth in each one of these explanations, and the whole truth would be the sum of all the parts.
Now 15, there’s one more biggie in here that we got to look at and then we’ll be done in here. How are we doing on time, are we okay? All right, just enough time for this one.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
Talking about the disciples, and his life with them, and they’re all fishermen, you know.
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
There’s no comparison now.
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Peter was crucified like the Lord was in Rome. He felt himself unworthy to die in the same manner that the Lord had died, so he asked to be crucified upside down (in other words feet up and head down) and they agreed, and they crucified him this way.
But what is all this? This is called the reinstatement of Peter, which it is. But what is all this? You have to read this in the Greek to understand it.
Back in verse 15:
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
The word for “love” He is using there is agapeo which means to be totally given over to the object of your love. It’s an unconditional love. And so what He is saying to Peter is, “Do you have this kind of love for me?” And when Peter answered he said, “Yes Lord you know that I love you.”
But he used a different word in the Greek, he used the word phileo which means brotherly love. And so instead of saying: “Yes, I am totally given over to you.” he is saying, “Lord, I love you like a brother.” It’s a lower level, a lower degree of love.
The second time it turns out the same. The Lord again uses the word agapeo when He asks Peter, “Do you love me?” And Peter again answers with the word phileo when he responds.
So again, the Lord is asking for this totally given over, unconditional love, and Peter is answering with a lower level of brotherly love.
The third time when the Lord says, “Do you love me?” He used the word phileo and Peter said, “Yes Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you.”
And he used the word phileo as well. And so on the third time around, the Lord met Peter where he was and He said, “That’s good enough, I’ll take that.”
And you miss all that when you’re reading it in English, don’t you? But when you read it in the Greek you see what was going on here and you see the unconditional nature of the Lord’s love, because when He is saying, “Peter I will accept the love you can give me.” He is wiping the slate clean for the denials in the past, and He is saying, “This is enough, this is sufficient. I’ll take this.”
And so the next time you feel like you’ve denied the Lord, and you feel like maybe that’s put you out of reach with Him, remember this, it can’t happen.
The Lord will take you right where you are, and He’ll work with you from there. And the rest of Peter’s life is a pretty good example of that fact.
And so, I for one wish I had heard this in the Greek a way a long time ago. It would have saved me a lot of grief and anguish. But it is an absolutely incredible testimony there of Peter’s reinstatement, and it really puts a strong foundation under the concept of eternal security. Because if anybody publicly, and in an almost rude manner, denied the Lord, it was Peter.
I mean, you go back and read the way Peter denied the Lord three times on the night of His crucifixion, he called down curses on himself and everything in the process of doing it. I mean anybody listening to that would say, “There’s a person who just walked away from any relationship with the Lord you could ever have, and that’s it for him. He’ll never get that back.”
And then you read this and you see, no, that’s not true. He does get it back. And the Lord took him back as if that had never happened, and He took him right where he was, and He worked with him in such astonishing ways throughout the rest of Peter’s life, didn’t He?
Isn’t Peter a different person in Acts 2 and 3 when he’s talking and giving his sermons there in the temple, than he had been before? Before he was this rough, loudmouth who never thought before he spoke, said all kinds of stuff he was sorry for. One minute he’s taking on the entire Roman guard, the next minute a little girl slave scares him away. I mean, the guy was just all over the place, up until this.
When the Holy Spirit got a hold of Peter, big changes took place and his life was, to say it was different is just an understatement—it was incredible.
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”)
John wants to make sure you know that was him.
When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
I can see him pointing at John.
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
In other words, “We’re talking about you here Peter. Let’s not worry about anybody else, this is between you and Me.”
Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
Now the truth is, John was the only disciple to die an actual death. And the Lord did return to him and give him the Book of Revelation before he died. And so, in a sense the whole thing was all true, but they had the view from that point on that John was immortal and that he couldn’t die.
And in fact they tried to kill him in several different ways. The last time, I think the last official time, was when they threw him alive into a pot of boiling oil and he just stood there and preached the Gospel at them, and that’s why they threw him in the oil in the first place!
And so, then they took him out of the oil and they shipped him off to Patmos, a prison colony offshore, where he couldn’t preach to anybody. And that’s when the Lord came to him and gave him the Book of Revelation, and look what he did with that!
And so he finally died of natural causes, he was about one-hundred years old at the time.
And so in verse 24 he says:
This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
All right, so John’s Gospel then ends with the promise of the Second Coming, where He says, “If I want him to remain alive until I return what is that to you?”
And so, there’s the promise of His return. And you see there’s no talk about the accession here because Jesus never left the Church. He’s been here with us all the time. And so this is the story then of the resurrection. I think you’ve seen some important theological points here in our study tonight.
And so we’ll close it at this point, and then after I turn off the recording I can take some questions for you. So let’s close this with the thought that, once again, you understand I think that this resurrection is the most important event that ever happened in the entire history of man.
This is the foundation, this is the basis for your claim to eternal life. Because you have the proof in the Lord’s own resurrection that you will also be either Raptured or resurrected on the day when the Lord determines that the time has come.