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The Bible 101 - Part 20

The New Testament - Just as He Said He Would

Oh hey, short on time? No worries! I'd love to join you on your commute or daily walk/run, or shoot, even while you take care of that to-do list. We can't let these things get in the way of this friendship. It's just starting to get good! Click below to listen to the blogcast.

So as you may remember - we've met four men who knew Jesus personally and documented their eyewitness account of His life.

We also talked about had Jesus' life ended on a Roman cross, there would be no reason to risk their life in writing down what they saw. A man lived and died, the end.

But it wasn't the end, not even close!

Jesus rose from the grave.

He defeated death!

These four men - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - knew they couldn't keep this unwritten and untold. They had to preserve this for the generations to come. They wanted all of the future generations to know the truth of Jesus and the life and mission of Christ.

Picking up from where we left off last week, Jesus has breathed His final breath and committed His Spirit to God.

A Day We Can't Forget ...Even If We Wanted To

Today, we're going to call on our five senses to picture these scenes in our minds as we travel back in time to ancient Jerusalem.

Darkness has covered the land. The smell of the sour wine given to our Lord, so strong, the scent almost makes us sick. We've eaten nothing all day. No plans to eat tomorrow either. How would we find the strength to even just slice a loaf of bread? Grief has a way of stealing your appetite along with your joy.

Our feet are dirty from the long walk up the hill to Golgatha. Our heads hurt from all the crying. Our strength fails us.

What we've seen today - the brutal force of the Romans beating an innocent man as if He were a violent and dangerous, defiant and immoral criminal - we will never forget. These images in our minds will not be erased with time.

The sadness and pain so great, grief clouds our thoughts and the walk home and all through the next day, the Sabbath, we wonder how He could have died.

"That's it?!" we think.

With our very own eyes, we've seen Him perform miracles. We've seen Him bring the lame to walk and even call Lazarus out of the grave.

How could it end like this?

Indeed, the darkness covers the land, but even more, it covers our hearts.

The next day, fear creeps in as we rehearse the circumstances of the darkest day in the history of the world:

If they killed an innocent man today, they'll come after us - His faithful followers - next! We must lay low and hide or we'll be the next ones on the cross.

At least we have each other.

The next day is Sunday. We wake exhausted and weak, the sorrow intense in the marrow of our bones. A few women rush to the door. We check and make sure it's really them and not a Roman soldier coming for our arrest. Sure enough, it is.

They're out of breath and their eyes are wide in amazement. It's quite the contradiction to the sadness of our own, so stark, we come to attention at once.

They tell us how they went to the tomb at dawn and the most unthinkable thing has happened - the stone was rolled away and Jesus' body is gone. Justifiably enraged, they couldn't believe it. The Romans had already done so much, couldn't they just let Him rest in peace? They tell of how they immediately suspected kidnapping and worse, then they saw two angels who asked 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 over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’" - Luke 24:5-7

Then Mary of Magdalene chimes in. "Jesus, in His resurrected body, appeared to me! I didn't recognize Him at first. I thought He was the gardener, but He called me by name! And His body was not stolen. He is alive! ALIVE!"

Resurrected to New Life

In the middle of their deepest grief, they are given a gift of the most abundant joy!

Jesus could have appeared to anyone first, but He chose His friend, Mary of Magdalene, the one who had been tortured by seven demons until Jesus healed her. She was a faithful follower of Jesus. Perhaps Jesus chose Mary because He knew she, too, had experienced the demons of hell herself and knew what it was like to have her life restored.

Jesus then appears to others and to the disciples, showing them the holes in His hands where He had been nailed to the cross. He is not a ghost; His body is physical; He even eats fish! We see His abundant love and joy for His friends before He returns to heaven.

Great joy was their's and great purpose, too. They would risk their lives telling everyone about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus - how He knew God's plan, how He wanted to change the way they thought and acted, and how He redeemed their lives from the penalty of sin into eternal life with Him!

The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Before Jesus ascends to heaven, He gives them a mission. You've likely heard it sung like this, "Go and tell it on the mountain, over the hills and ________?"

Yep, everywhere!

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." - Mark 16:15

So the song covers the first part but the next verse is where eyebrows would be raised...

"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." - Mark 16:16

Whoever believes is saved. Not just Jews but ANY one can be brought into relationship and eternal life with the Father. It's ABSOLUTELY RADICAL, DUDE!

(Sorry, not sorry. I thought the moment called for a "dude." You're welcome.)

But before the disciples can go, Jesus tells them to wait until they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. So, they wait and ten days after Jesus' ascension (on the day of Pentecost), they receive their "Helper," the Holy Spirit.

Quick note - Pentecost is the Jewish Festival which happens fifty days after the Passover to represent the harvest. Again, God's timing is very intentional. In giving the Holy Spirit on this day, it is clear we, the Church, are the harvest! He is harvesting believers for eternal life with Him!

Peter immediately preaches a sermon and the people respond with a question - indisputably the greatest question we'll ever answer -

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do? Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." - Acts 2:37-39

So what? What should we do?

What do we do with the Gospel? What do we do once we have heard the Good News that Jesus is Lord and Messiah and we have forgiveness for our sins?

As Peter shared, we repent.

Repentance is a matter of the heart. It's not just an apology but it's a turning from our old ways. Then, we choose to follow Jesus and model our life after His and accept His forgiveness for our sins.

Doing this, we're promised the most beautiful thing - a Helper - the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us live in righteousness and walk in truth as Jesus modeled.

Indeed, Jesus came to show us God had a plan, to change the way we think and act (it's no longer about the law but about love) and to redeem and restore us into right relationship with God ...forever!

That's a wrap, folks! ...Well, for today anyway... Peter's message was the first sermon after Jesus' ascension but building the Church of believers is just getting started. We'll pick up here next week!

May we find strength in the Word of God. May our joy for reading scripture grow as we intentionally choose to set aside time to spend reading it each day. May our peace overflow as the Word of God reads us and changes us from the inside out. Then, we will know rest this world can't give.

Remember how we said 5 minutes a day can change your day, your life and even your eternity? Well, here's what I'll be reading this week. I really hope you'll join me!

The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.

I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!

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