““Teach new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.””
When Jesus was taken back up to Heaven, the disciples could have been disappointed once more, that their Messiah was again not with them. The first time He left they thought He was dead. And now, before their eyes, ‘He was taken up into a cloud… and they could no longer see Him.’ Yet instead of moping around in shock, disbelief and fear, they met together and prayed and within a few days church growth exploded coupled with the Holy Spirit’s baptism.
Jesus’ last words or ‘the Great Commission’ as it is better known, was not just a commission for a select few, but for all believers then and now. The commission hasn’t changed. We too are commanded to make disciples of Christ, spreading His Good News in love to all. And just as the disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit’s anointing, so can we. We have a choice to make though. Do we continue looking to the clouds gazing hopelessly at Jesus’ ascension, or do we trust that just as He said, ‘Jesus is with us always, even to the end of the age.’ If Jesus is with us, and if we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, then let us not wait to share His Good News, but spread it with haste and purpose. Just as He promised, He is with us always.
“So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.”
Today’s verse tells us of the moment that the disciple Judas, betrayed Jesus with a kiss. One can only imagine what was going through Judas’ mind at that time. Of course scripture tells us that this was not a spontaneous idea but a premeditated action, previously arranged with the leading priests in exchange for thirty pieces of silver. We also know according to scripture, that Judas probably didn’t just act on his own, but allowed satan to influence his thoughts, and enter his mind. Yet the ‘not so talked about’ part of Judas’ life is the regret and remorse he had knowing that he had just betrayed an innocent man with the kiss of death. His remorse was so deep, that not only did he try to return the ‘blood’ money, but he also eventually hanged himself.
Friends, as we reflect on our lives, on the things that we have done wrong, even the actions we have done that may even blatantly deny Christ, know that there is still forgiveness for you. You don’t need to die in condemnation, because you can live in freedom from guilt and shame. Don’t let you actions lead you to hate yourself so much that you can’t live with what you have done. Jesus’ forgiveness was for all mankind, and His love reaches even the darkest places in our lives. Turn to Him. Repent of your sins and accept the renewing and restoring work of the blood of Christ, freely shed to wash you clean.
““Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at My hands. Look at My feet. You can see that it’s really Me. Touch Me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.””
If Jesus didn’t physically rise again in bodily form, why would we worship Him? It would be the biggest farce and cover up of all time. The Pharisees even tried to cover up Jesus’ physical resurrection, claiming that the disciples had somehow robbed the tomb in the middle of the night. Even to this day, there are many who do not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus. However if Jesus didn’t rise again in the flesh, then His death on the cross would have been celebrated as a Martyr’s death and Jesus would be remembered as just a good leader.
Furthermore, His work would not be finished. He hung on the cross taking all our sins, and died in our place. But it is in His resurrection that we find forgiveness and freedom from our sins. Jesus demonstrated that the ultimate price of sin, death, was not only paid for, but defeated when He rose again. Jesus proved that sin, death (the result and punishment for sin), was overcome in His resurrected body. Death now is no longer the end but the beginning of a new life. Choose the Author of life. Have no fear. He is resurrected.
“…..“Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what He told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that He would rise again on the third day.”
Can you imagine what the woman must have felt when they went to the tomb and instead of seeing a stone covering the place where Jesus was buried, they found the stone rolled back and two angels telling them Jesus wasn’t there; He was no longer dead but alive, just as He had said. Of course as the Luke tells us, the women were full of fear but also full of excitement and anticipation, as shown by the decision to rush back and tell the other disciples this great news.
Sometimes we too can get caught up searching for Jesus among the dead. We search for Him through religious works, we search for Him through pilgrimages, and even through segregating ourselves in solitude. Yet as this story shows us that Jesus is longer dead but is right here with us. He is all around us. He is not dead but is alive. We don’t need to do anything special or go anywhere far to find Him. He is all around us, in every moment and available to our hungry cries.
Jesus was and is who He said He was. He rose again like He promised, left the Spirit here like He promised and will never leave us or forsake us, like He promised. He is Emmanuel, God with us! He is no longer dead but ALIVE!
“He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the scripture said. He was seen by Peter and then by the twelve. After that, He was seen by more than 500 of His followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then He was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw Him.”
1 Corinthians 15:4-8
Why do so many people doubt Jesus’ resurrection? This is one of the most clearest scriptures in the whole of the Bible regarding Jesus’ appearances after His resurrection, which clearly states that Jesus is alive and was seen by many. How can we deny these facts? This living proof, a letter written by a real person, in a real context, in a real world, by a real eye witness, points clearly to the fact that Jesus did indeed rise again. This is historical ‘primary’ evidence; First hand accounts of people who had seen Jesus after His resurrection. The grave was broken, the result of sin nullified and death rendered ‘defeated‘. We are included in the full finished work of the cross.
The hope of our salvation is that Jesus DID rise from the dead and now lives in complete victory over sin and the enemy. In addition, we also live in Christ’s resurrection power and His victory. We are forgiven because of Jesus’ resurrection. We are made alive because Jesus is alive! Rejoice, He is ALIVE!
“But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead…..!”
“..He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honour and gave Him the Name above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Because Jesus completed every work He set out to do, when He rose again on the 3rd day, we too can now live in His resurrection power and exercise the authority given to us in His name. Because He broke the seal on the tomb, walked out as a resurrected human, we too, in His name can break the power of death and sin. We are bearers of the mighty power of Jesus’ Name. As Paul tells us, in the name of Jesus, every knee, every authority and every power, must bow. This means that when we face spiritual opposition, when we want to see breakthrough, when we want to see healing, for His glory and in Jesus’ name, we can declare Jesus’ victory over all.
“And if Christ has not been raised then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless….and if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins……BUT in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead!”
1 Corinthians 15:14, 17, 20a
The question of today’s devotional title may seem quite odd. We know Jesus did rise from the dead so why even ask ‘what if’ questions? Yet by asking the ‘what if’ questions, we further cement our belief at just how important the resurrection was.
If Jesus didn’t rise again, as Paul writes, then are faith is completely useless. We will just have put our hope in another random religious teacher, who died and that was the end of their religion. By believing in His resurrection, we put our hope and faith, not in a dead god but in a risen King. His resurrection proved that He was who He said He was. Not just another religious fanatic. Moreover, His resurrection proved that sin and death had and have no power over Him. He showed that He conquered sin and death and it is for this reason we are forgiven, and know that even in our death, we can live on eternally with Him.
If Jesus did not rise again and all the above was not true, what would be the point of our lives? Where would our hope come from? Yet it is true. Jesus did rise from the dead and that is our glorious hope and that is why we can trust Him with our own death and sins. He is the resurrected King. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead!