Apr 2011

7752 - Ascension

The apostles of Jesus witnessed a great deal during their walk with Jesus, but the real measure of their obedience came after He departed.

This message brings us to the end of our study of the gospel of Luke. We pray you have been blessed as you have traveled through this record of the life of Christ with us.

Today let’s initially look at Luke 24:50-53, although we will look at other verses also.

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 worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

When Jesus had completed the prompting and preparation of the disciples he led them out of Jerusalem, across the Kidron valley, to the vicinity of the village of Bethany. Bethany is only a couple of miles up on the slope of the Mount of Olives.

Within the disciples there was certainly some joy over the new era in which they were involved. Likely there was a degree of uncertainty about what would happen next.

Jesus stopped, faced the group, lifted his hands and blessed them. Lo and behold, he began to rise into the air as he continued to bless them. He was taken up into heaven; and Acts tells us, as they were watching him a cloud hid him from their sight. They surely were startled and impressed by such a display.

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7751 - Opened Their Minds

Before the resurrection of Jesus, the apostles may have had trouble putting all of the parts together, but everything because clear after a resurrected Jesus explained it all.

Our last study brought us to the end of the day of resurrection. Jesus had already appeared on five separate occasions to people who knew him before his death.

Dr. Luke in the book of Acts (1:3) tells us: “After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive over a period of forty days.” A search of Scripture reveals that after the end of resurrection Sunday there were five additional appearances during the next forty days.

Certainly the sum of these appearances should be ample proof that Jesus was alive and well, and that he was sending this small group to bear witness to what they had seen and heard.

Let’s summarize the five additional appearances during this time.

A week after Jesus appeared to the ten apostles and assorted others on resurrection Sunday, he again appeared to these apostles, with Thomas being present. On this occasion Thomas became convinced that Jesus was indeed alive. He readily acknowledged Jesus as he said: “My Lord and my God.”

Jesus had sent word to the disciples that he would meet them in Galilee. Seven of the disciples had journeyed to Galilee and all had joined Peter in a fishing trip.

At morning time, after fishing all night and catching nothing, a figure on the beach spoke to them. After hearing they had caught no fish he told them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. They obeyed and their nets were filled so full they were unable to pull it in.

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7750 - Is This a Ghost

After his resurrection, Jesus was not just brought back to life in spirit, but in body as well.

I have great appreciation for the sacrificial love which the Lord Jesus Christ evidenced as he persevered through unjust treatment and death. I identify with those friends around Jesus as they went through great confusion and uncertainty, even fear during those days.

Then when Jesus was resurrected and the tomb was empty, their uncertainty must have been increased rather than being relieved. Where was Jesus? What’s going on?

Then as the day passed, with each hour or so bringing new information into their lives, the adrenaline must have flowed.

Early in the morning Mary Magdalene was near the tomb when Jesus appeared to her. Of course, she reported all this to the disciples.

Then Jesus appeared to the other women who had ministered with him in Galilee.

Also, two of the disciples on the way to the village of Emmaus were joined by Jesus without being recognized. Later he was revealed to them and they hastened back to Jerusalem to give their report.

In addition we do know that Jesus appeared to Simon Peter during the day.

At the end of day, as the disciples were gathered behind closed doors Jesus appeared in their midst.

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7749 - Excited Men

What an exciting and amazing thing it must have been to have Jesus personally teaching you the scriptures.

In our last few studies we have reviewed some of those appearances, which Jesus made with people who had loved him and who were committed to him. Its true that reality was not what they had anticipated, but in the following weeks and months it was exhilarating and fulfilling to be in on those early days of the church age.

Today we want to take another glimpse at Cleopas and the other disciple who were privileged to be with Jesus for an extended time on the afternoon of the resurrection. These were the two fellows who were walking along the road on the way to Emmaus when a third party joined them. This third figure was Jesus although they were kept from recognizing him most of the trip. They talked a lot about what was happening in the area. Eventually they arrived at Emmaus and persuaded Jesus to stay with them for the night, so he entered where they were staying.

Listen to what happened there in the house, from Luke 24:30-35:

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.

As they prepared to eat together, Jesus took the bread, offered thanks, then broke the bread and passed it to them.

At that moment their eyes were opened to understand who he was. Just as this happened Jesus disappeared. Now that would be hard to figure out.

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7748 - Appearances

Everyone who met Jesus personally after his resurrection had no doubts about his identity.

After Jesus was resurrected from the dead, some were perplexed by the happenings of the past week. Was Jesus really alive? If so, where is he? Was he really who he said he was? The religious leaders say that the apostles carried off his body, is that true?

Some wondered why Jesus had to die. Many had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel and get rid of the Romans.

God used a very effective means to turn doubt into living faith by the appearances of Jesus.

Romans 1:4 declares: “[Jesus Christ our Lord,] through the Spirit of Holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead...”

You see, if Jesus was really resurrected, and alive, then all his actions and teachings would be authenticated.

Jesus had said he would be raised on the third day. That would be supernatural. That would require the awesome power of God. If indeed he was resurrected then all the other claims he made were verified and authenticated. He really was the Son of God.

The mystery of an invisible, unseen God who loved his creatures would be forever linked to his Son, Jesus Christ, who had become flesh for the purpose of serving as the redeeming sacrifice. Jesus was a figure who had walked among us, lived with us, and demonstrated to us the eternal, perfect nature of his invisible Father in viewable terms. Mere man could begin to comprehend on a new level the infinite, all knowing, all powerful, God of heaven and earth; because Jesus had made him known (John 1:18).

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7747 - Road to Emmaus

After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to many people, each bearing witness that Jesus was no longer dead.

In our study through the book of Luke we are now in the last chapter. Jesus has been crucified, but he has risen. No one has yet seen him, but angels have told the women that he has risen.

Peter and John have visited the empty tomb, and came to believe that Jesus was resurrected. His body was not stolen although this rumor was launched by the religious leaders.

The gospels tell us that on this Sunday of the resurrection Jesus appeared on five separate occasions to people who knew him before his death.

Today let’s look in on one of these scenes, which occurred as two disciples were on the road to Emmaus, a village about seven miles north-west of Jerusalem. Luke gives good insight into the troubled souls of those who surrounded Jesus in life, in the midst of all the reports and rumors.

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7746 - In Disbelief

Each of us must decide for ourselves if we are going to believe that Jesus has risen from the dead.

Our past studies in the book of Luke have been a blessing. Now we are in the last chapter. We have walked through the rejection of Jesus by the religious leaders. Then came his agony in Gethsemane, his arrest, then his seven examinations before being sentenced to death. His death was a time of darkness, but this was the very purpose of Jesus coming to earth, taking on human flesh, living a sinless life –– all for the purpose of paying the penalty for the sin of mankind by dying in our place, giving his blood to wash away our sin.

But that was not the end of the story. Death could not hold Jesus. The tomb became empty when Jesus was resurrected.

Today we look at the joyful bewilderment of the friends of Jesus, after the angel appeared to the women and explained that Jesus was risen. He is alive!

Listen to Luke 24:9-12. We’ll also consider some of John’s record.

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.

The women who had come from Galilee with Jesus & the disciples, had walked through this perplexing experience with one another after his burial. They had prepared spices & perfume with which to anoint the body of Jesus when the Sabbath was past; but when they arrive at the tomb it was open and the body of Jesus was not there.

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7745 - His Resurrection

What an amazing experience it must have been to visit the tomb of Jesus to honor him after his death, only to find it empty.

In our last study together we examined the events occurring in the burial of Jesus.

The events of our study today took place three days later, surrounding the resurrection of Jesus.

Let me read Luke 24:1-8:

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? 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 into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'"

Then they remembered his words.

Matthew tells us that there was a great earthquake in the morning as an angel came and rolled away the stone.

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7744 - Burial

Through the gift and obedience of one man, the body of Jesus had an honorable resting place, but only for a few days.

Jesus was dead. Who was going to care for the body?

Listen to Luke 23:50-56 which answers this question.

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 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.

Two men who had not been in the crowd who followed Jesus stepped forth. One of them was a man called Joseph from Arimathea. Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin. He was a good and upright man who had not agreed to the actions and decision of the council majority. This assures us that the death sentence for Jesus had not been a unanimous decision.

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7743 - His Death

We have now come to study about the death of Jesus on the cross.

Listen to Luke 23:44-49:

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.

Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man."

When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.

But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

According to Mark’s gospel (Mk. 15:25), Jesus was placed on the cross about 9:00 a.m.

For three hours many taunted Jesus and belittled him, until about twelve noon. At that time the elements of creation gave their witness to what was taking place for an additional three-hour period. The sun stopped shining and darkness enveloped the earth. Matthew tells us there was a heavy earthquake in which rocks were broken apart.

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7742 - Today With Me

Our study in the book of Luke has brought us to Luke 23:33-43. These words tell of events just prior to the death of Jesus.


Listen:

When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals; one on his right, the other on his left.

Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."

There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."

Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

Jesus was often criticized by the Jews for associating with people they considered unclean — the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. Even in death those were the type of people around him. Two convicted criminals were led out with Jesus to be executed by crucifixion. The cross of Jesus was placed between those of the two criminals.

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7741 - On the Road

After Pilate’s act of yieldedness to the demand of the mob who called for the crucifixion of Jesus, he surrendered Jesus to the soldiers. The trip to Golgotha began with Jesus bearing his own cross; but Jesus had been beaten and abused so badly throughout his sleepless night, that he staggered and could not carry his own cross any farther. But let me read Luke 23:26-32 which, describes what happened on the road to Golgotha.

As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.

Jesus turned and said to them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, `Blessed are the barren women and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!' Then "`they will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!" “For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?"

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.



Simon of Cyrene, a foreigner, was conscripted by the soldiers to take up the cross, which Jesus didn’t have the strength to carry, and to follow behind Jesus in the procession.

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7740 - The Mob Rules

Today we study the last of the seven examinations of Jesus. This final trial was before Pilate, the Roman governor over Judea.

I’ll read Luke 23:13-25, but we will also look at other passages.

Pilate called together the chief priests, rulers and the people, and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him. "

With one voice they cried out, "Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!" (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)

Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"

For the third time he spoke to them: "Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him."

But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed.

So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

When the crowd returned to Pilate from Herod’s place, Pilate called the Jewish leaders and the other people together and addressed them: “You brought this man to me as a disturber of the peace. I examined him and found there was no basis for your charge. Herod also found no offense in him, for he sent him back here with no outstanding charge. It’s clear he has done nothing wrong, and certainly nothing deserving death. Now, I’m going to warn him and set him free.

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