Devotional Reading: I Corinthians 15:1-8
Lesson Scripture: Luke 24:36-53
Lesson Aims: To appreciate the inspiration that seeing Jesus brings; understand that knowing scripture (not memorization) brings peace and strengthens our faith; and recognize that the promises of God are sure.
Background: All four of the Gospels recorded John preparing the way for Jesus. After the baptism of Jesus, He was immediately tempted by Satan. The ministry of Jesus began in Galilee following that triumph. The first four of the disciples (Peter, Andrew, James and John) were chosen by the time He gave His inaugural Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5-7). Throughout His three year ministry, Christ taught the ethical standards of God and discounted Jewish legalism.
He also stressed His identity, His rejection, death and Resurrection. To refresh your memory, you have to go back to the Old Testament. His betrayal was in Psalms 41:9; 55:12-14. Isaiah 53:3-12 foretold His rejection and crucifixion with sinners. Just like the Paschal Lamb in Exodus, none of Jesus’ bones were broken either (see Exodus 12:46 and Numbers 9:12). Christ taught that all of those prophecies would be fulfilled. On the first day of the week after the Sabbath, the women knew they had to complete their task. The tomb was empty!
The women reported to the disciples, but they didn’t believe. The men investigated and sure enough the tomb was empty. Their return to the upper room increased their fear and doubt. When the two disciples from Emmaus reported that they saw Christ, the atmosphere in the room didn’t change a thing. A good study Bible will list all of His appearances and where they can be found.
Lesson: David C. Cook’s “Echoes Sunday School” commentary divides the lesson this way: Christ’s Resurrection – the physical evidence, the scriptural evidence and Christ’s Ascension – His return to Glory. When the women and Mary Magdalene found that the tomb was empty, the first question that pops into your head is, “Where is the body?” To remove any suspicions about the body being stolen or hidden, Jesus visits His people to reassure them that the Resurrection is literal. He understands their emotional and spiritual state of mind.
His appearances will comfort, encourage and commission them. When He appears, first they are able to touch Him. They are directed to look at His hands and feet for a positive identification. On one occasion, Thomas is invited to put his hand in Christ’s side (John 20:26-31). To convince them that He isn’t a ghost, He eats fish in their presence. Their range of emotions had to soar from fear to peace, doubt to amazement, uncertainty to joyfulness! Now to address their spiritual needs, the Messiah points them to scripture to fill the void. He reminds them how the Law, the prophets, and the Psalms testify to His identity and commissions them to spread the Word by the power of the Holy Spirit! Leading them to an area near Bethany, He blesses them and is taken up into the Heavens where there will be no rejection, no suffering, and no death. His glory will last forever!
Application: Every now and then, Jesus shows up in our lives, individually and collectively to encourage, to calm and to refocus our lives. Life will have its ups and downs that will scare us, make us doubt, and, in extreme cases, move up to give up. Our encounters with Him address what we need.
Yes, He resides in Heaven, but when we need Him, He comes! Studying Scripture makes us aware of His promises and His faithfulness! That is a blessing because we witness his presence for others and are assured that He will do the same for us. When we recognize His visit, are our hearts not full because of that? He continues to help us along this journey. Are you glad about it? I know I am.