HOW THE LAMB OF GOD WAS SACRIFICED: PART TEN
Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, spent forty days on earth. During this time, Jesus appeared visible in a different form to more than five hundred believers. Paul was the very last who heard the voice of Jesus, but he did not see Him. Jesus was no longer visible to the human eyes! Nevertheless, Jesus was present in the Spirit. Luke, a Gentile, had a profound understanding how Jesus, the Son of God, was disclosing Himself and continued His work among his converts. While Peter slept, he had a similar vision because he had to be ordered to go to Cornelius. Paul, himself, confessed that he did not know the human Christ (II Corinthians 5:16). Paul is important to our faith because the Gospels were yet to be compiled. It is doubtful that the Gospels were available before Paul and Peter were martyred. That makes Luke and John very valuable. Unfortunately, even Luke was not able to finish Acts and he also may have died with Paul.
Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preach to you the gospel, which you received in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast — unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed (I Corinthians 15:1-11).
But Saul (Paul), still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any and he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank (Acts 9:1-9).
The next day, as they (Peter and company) were on their journey and coming near the city (Caesaria), Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. And he became hungry and desired something to eat; but while there were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heaven opened, and something descending, like a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and wild birds. And there came a voice to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “No, Lord; for I have never anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God had cleansed, you must not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven (Acts 10:9-16).
JESUS MADE HIMSELF VISIBLE AND SPENT FORTY DAYS WITH HIS DISCIPLES.
Before Jesus died, He promised his disciple that He would not leave them desolate or orphans (John 14:18). The body Jesus used during the forty days was no longer impaired by physical objects like doors or a human body. The Spirit does not have a body. Being God, He could and He still can make his followers see what is beneficial for them (John 20:19-29). To Luke, Jesus revealed Himself in detail, as their feeble mind could endure and grasp. Before Jesus was taken up, He gave his disciples the final instructions in Acts. Unfortunately, we are no different from the disciples. We too crave for physical evidence:
As they (Emmaus men to disciples) were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit (ghost). And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have. And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.
Then he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them. And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God (Luke 24:36-53).
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:1-5).
IN GALILEE JESUS DID MORE THAN SHOW HIMSELF
The young man in white, the ladies had met at the empty tomb, told the women to tell Peter that Jesus would meet them in Galilee (Mark 16:5-8). It was in Galilee where Jesus showed Peter how to fish. And Jesus promised Peter to make him “a fisher of men” (Luke 5:1-11). The Risen Jesus gave Peter another lesson on fishing. Jesus had a meal with seven disciples, and He installed Peter as the shepherd of the tiny flock:
After this Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing.
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the discipled did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torm. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. His was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to SImon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to Him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this, he said to him, “Follow me” (John 20:1-19).
JESUS’ FINAL INSTRUCTIONS TO HIS DISCIPLES
The Gospels were compiled under duress and under violent persecutions. It is not surprising that the Gospel of Mark was left unfinished and someone else added a valuable conclusion:
Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue; neither believed they them.
Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
So therefore the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen (Mark 16:9-20; KJV).
The Gospel of Matthew concludes with the Risen Lord commissioning the eleven disciples to preach the Gospel to the world. There is no mention of an “Ascension of Christ.” The Gospel of John does not conclude with instructions to the disciples or with “Christ’s Ascension,” but it does make reference that Jesus would ascend and that the Holy Spirit would continue His work on earth. The Gospel of Luke has no instructions to the disciples, but has Jesus ascend. However, Luke makes up for it in Acts and has the Holy Spirit direct “Christ’s Redemptive Mission” on earth:
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:16-20).
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away; and when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James.
All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers (Acts 1:6-14).
The Son of God left His Spirit behind to keep God in touch with man. Next week, we shall join the Spirit for a journey.