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Archive for the 'Investigating Jesus' Category

Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 45

Jesus meets people today

As we have seen in recent studies in this series, Jesus is still living, He is alive and he meets with people today. I have met with Jesus and I am one of many who have encountered the risen and ascended Jesus Christ. I continue to meet with Jesus each day and in all circumstances of life. How does he do this? Jesus walks with us, where ever we go and particularly in the darkest periods of our life. Just as he did with the two people on the road to Emmaus, he walks with those who claim to follow Him (Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-32).

Jesus speaks whenever the Bible is faithfully preached and read from, just as He opened the eyes of those on the Emmaus road when He explained the Scriptures (Luke 24:27). Jesus meets us in the Communion or Lord’s Supper, with the bread and wine, which symbolise His flesh and blood as an act of remembrance of what He did for humanity.

But that is not the end, because Jesus has promised that He is coming again. Not as a baby next time, but as an all conquering Son of God in judgment to gather those who follow Him. Are you ready?

How can you become a Christian today, right now? If you want to turn to God right now, there is no need for delay. God is ready and willing to take you as his own right now. You only have to ask him to forgive you and to give you help on the journey ahead which he will do by giving you the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is a nurturing and personal partnership between God and yourself.
The act of deciding to change course in mid-life, is what is called conversion. You may also know it as being born again or deciding to be a Christian. When you place your faith in Jesus, becoming utterly dependent upon him, you turn to God. That means that you have changed your intentions in the way you are going to live in future.

However, once you have made that decision, you leave behind your spiritual isolation and rebellion against him. As you live each day, becoming more involved with Jesus day by day, you will discover you are changing. You will find yourself doing things that please Jesus and developing your relationship with him. Until you enter a personal relationship with God, accepting his gift of salvation for yourself, sin (all that which alienates you from God), controls your rebellion against him. This sin is seen in your attitudes and your activities. God asks you to accept his management and guidance of your life. When you do that, God’s point of view and his strength become your point of view and your source of strength. You turn your mind, will and heart to him for all you do.
If you want to become a Christian and start a new life of adventure following Jesus Christ, you need to open the gift of grace for yourself in order to receive it.
There are three simple steps to take:

  • Admit that you have done wrong against God and his ways and turn away from those attitudes.
  • Believe and trust in Jesus as your Saviour from the consequences of the anger of God towards you and your tendency to sin. Call on him, receive, trust, obey and worship him, recognizing him for who he is and what he has done.
  • Accept the Holy Spirit of God into your life as the major motivating force for what you do. Once sin has been confessed, Jesus is believed in and trusted as Saviour then God the Holy Spirit has entered your life, then you are a Christian.

All these things happen together instantly as you turn to God, being ready to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus! That is a WOW moment in your life. Welcome to the family of God. God has chosen you; Jesus has paid for you and has put his mark within you through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:1-13). Once you have made that decision, you leave behind your rebellion against him. As you live each day, becoming more involved with Jesus day by day, you will find yourself changing. You stop doing things which separated you from him and find yourself doing things that develop your relationship with him. How do you develop this relationship? Until you enter that relationship, sin, or that which alienates you from God, controls your rebellion against him in your attitudes and your activities. You develop this relationship by allowing God to take control of your life, as he asks you to accept his management and guidance of your life. God’s point of view and his strength will become your point of view and your source of strength. You turn your mind, will and heart to him for all you do.

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 44

Jesus' Ascension

1 In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. 3 During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.
4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. 5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” Acts 1:1-11 (New Living Translation)

Jesus’ resurrection was the catalyst for the mission of the early church, beginning with the disciples and throughout history. Indeed, the growth and spread of the church, is evidence of the historical fact of Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead. Having been raised from the dead, Jesus’ mission to earth is coming to an end. Shortly he will be returning to the right hand of the Father, just as he had told his disciples a few times before he went to the cross.

In the Gospel of Mark 16:14-19, the Gospel of Luke 24:50-51 and in our reading from the book of Acts 1:1-12, we read about Jesus physically ascending into the heavens. Jesus has returned to the right hand of the Father, as he said he would do before his death on the cross. During their last discussion with Jesus, the disciples were still expecting Him to lead a revolution against the Romans (Acts 1:6). Despite all Jesus had said to them, they still did not understand that Jesus had come to lead a spiritual kingdom and not a political kingdom. Now it would be easy to think that Jesus has abandoned them, but no. Jesus tells them to go back to Jerusalem, wait for the Holy Spirit and then go tell others the Good News about Him.

Jesus had told them previously that he was going away and that it was better for them if he did, because the Holy Spirit would be sent to be with them, to live in them and empower them for the work they had to do. Even after Jesus had vanished into the clouds, the disciples still gathered around looking into the sky for Him to return. What were they thinking? Could they not believe what they had just witnessed first-hand? Did they mis-hear what it was that Jesus had said quite clearly/ It was as if they still hadn’t learnt obedience to Jesus’ commands. What happened next?

Well two angels appeared and came to them, saying:
11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!’” (Acts 1:11)

The disciples then returned to Jerusalem and waited, just as they were told to do. They didn’t have to wait long, 10 days. We, of course, some 2000 years later, are the product of their obedience to Jesus. Praise God! We have one remaining podcast in this series, where we look at Jesus still meeting people to day.

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 43

Jesus' Final Words

16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[b] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these 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.” Matthew 28:16-20 (New Living Translation)

Jesus’ resurrection is the catalyst for the mission of the church, beginning with the disciples and throughout history. Jesus’ mission to earth is coming to an end and shortly he will be returning to the right hand of the Father. Before he does so though, he has some more words to say to his disciples.

Jesus’ authority

Jesus has been raised from the dead. What happened next? In Matthew 28, Jesus has ascended back to the right hand of God the Father and the Holy Spirit has come upon and in the disciples. Before he left, he issued this commandment to his disciples. What will the disciples do now that Jesus has gone? They will do as Jesus commanded – go and tell the world about this Jesus and teach them to be his disciples. One of the major themes of Matthew’s Gospel is the authority of Jesus. Matthew highlights Jesus’ authority in action and not just merely in words.

For example, Matthew records Jesus’ authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6) and Jesus imparted authority to his disciples for a short time when they went on a mission in Matthew 10. Jesus has all the authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). Jesus has authority over all things and all people. Jesus has authority over all spiritual beings, whether angels or demons, as well as over all nations, governments, rulers, and over all earthly and spiritual authorities. One of the consequences of Easter is that Jesus’ authority is passed to his disciples. The disciples could be obedient to God without fear of retribution from those who would seek to harm them, regardless of the circumstances they would find themselves in. That is why they were so bold and why the church spread quickly. That was the work of the Holy Spirit who changed them from living in fear to living out their faith boldly. They had great confidence in their God, knowing that through his death and resurrection, Jesus had conquered all enemies.

Therefore, as Christian Disciples, we can obey Him without fear of retribution from those who would seek to harm us. We can obey Him regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. It is a great comfort to know, that he is in control of everything. Through his death on the cross and his rising from the dead, Jesus has conquered all enemies. People often confuse authority with authoritarian. Authoritarian means severe, rigidity and a dictator.

None of these applies to Jesus. We have been given a free will, but as his Disciples, we should choose to exercise our free will to obey Him and live a life worthy of Him. As the Christian depends on Jesus’ authority, the Christian Disciple gains wisdom, guidance, and power. As we receive His love and grace, we are to show His love and grace to others.

If Jesus had not risen from the dead, then the Disciples would not have had a story to tell. But Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, and the early church exploded numerically as the twelve Disciples exercised Jesus’ authority and his power.

We read about the growth of the early church in the Book of Acts in the Bible. Christianity is a faith whereby all Christian Disciples – all followers of Jesus - are to tell others of the goodness of God.

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 42

Significance of Jesus' resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus Christ provided the central theme for the sermons and teaching in the early church (Acts 1:22; Acts 4:33, Acts 17:18). But what significance is there in Jesus’ resurrection?

We can easily see that the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ proved and vindicated all of Jesus’ teaching, his claims to be the suffering Servant and attested to Him being fully God and the last Judge of all mankind (Isaiah 53:10-12; Acts 2:36; Acts 3:13-15). The resurrection of Jesus Christ declared God’s approval of Jesus’ obedient service and the fulfilment of all the Old Testament promises, resulting in forgiveness of sins and salvation being only found in and through Jesus Christ, which was the prime motive for evangelism in the early church (Acts 2:32, Romans 4:24-25).

Jesus’ resurrection is additionally a sign of the bodily resurrection for all believers in Him, giving a new attitude to death and transforming hopes (1 Corinthians 15:12-58, Romans 8:10, 2 Corinthians 4:14; 1 Peter 1:3 & 21).

As the resurrected King, Jesus now intercedes for us and has perfected the redemption of all those who choose to follow Him (Romans 5:10; Hebrews 6:20, 1 Peter 1:21).
 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 41

Dealing with Doubt and Doubters

Let’s say Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. What can we say and how can we respond to that?

Firstly, would the disciples have really risked death for telling and maintaining a lie about the risen Jesus? They were beaten, confused and defeated men until they saw Jesus truly did rise from the dead. After seeing Him, they were transformed and victorious people.

Secondly, somebody stole the body. Hardly likely, and if that did occur, for what reason? How would they have got past the Roman Guard and moved the stone a great distance from the tomb? If they had stolen the body, why bother taking off the grave clothes and folding them neatly?

Thirdly, Jesus didn’t die but merely fainted and recovered consciousness in the tomb. Even the sceptics disagree with this theory, one of whom said: “It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to his sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that he was a Conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life” Strauss

Fourthly, they all went to the wrong tomb. Whilst one person may have gone to a wrong tomb, not everyone would have done. Certainly, not the owner, Joseph, who would certainly know where the tomb was.

Fifthly, some people say that Jesus resurrection was a spiritual resurrection and he arose in spirit form only, leaving his body somewhere else. This is patent nonsense, as we see that Jesus ate with people, including fish.

Lastly, Jesus didn’t die on the cross but somebody was substituted for Him. This is certainly untenable, given the rigidity and strict record keeping of Roman rule and with the eyes of the Jewish hierarchy watching.

As people have said down through history, there is one disturbing aspect regarding Jesus of Nazareth - "The disturbing aspect of the historicity of Jesus Christ, is that there isn't a body, and nobody who could have produced it, did so."
 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 40

Jesus the Risen King

 

1 Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters,[a] of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. 2 It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.
3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. 5 He was seen by Peter[c] and then by the Twelve. 6 After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers[d] at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him.
1 Corinthians 15:1-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark Luke and John, all tell us that Jesus was crucified, died and was buried in an unused tomb. What do these four Gospels say about the resurrection and Jesus’ rising from the dead? Let us first look at the sequence of events over the period after Jesus death till he ascended. Some of the sequence events have more than one Gospel reporting them, but for brevity, I will only give one reference to Scripture.

The tomb is empty

  • Two Marys watch the burial: (Matthew 27:61, Mark 15:47, Luke23:54-55)
  • Roman soldiers guard the tomb (Matthew 27:62-66)
  • Women prepare spices then rest: (Luke 23:56)
  • Women arrive at dawn with spices: (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-4, Luke 24:1-3, John 20:1)
  • An angel rolls the stone away: (Matthew 28:2-4)
  • Angels appear to women: (Matthew 28:5-7, Mark 16:5-7, Luke 24:4-8)
  • Women run back to tell the disciples that the tomb is empty: (Matthew 28:8, Mark 16:8, Luke 24:9-11, John 20:2)
  • Peter and John investigate the empty tomb: (Luke 24:12, John 20:3-9)
  • Peter and John go home: (Luke 24:12, John 20:10)
  • Mary Magdalene weeps by the tomb and sees two angels: (John 20:11-13)

Jesus’ appearances

  • Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene: (Mark 16:9, John 20:14-17)
  • Jesus appears to the other women: (Matthew 28:9-10)
  • Women report to the disciples that Jesus appeared to them: (Mark 16:10-11, John 20:18)
  • Guards testify to the priests: (Matthew 28:11-15)
  • Jesus appears to Simon Peter: (1 Corinthians 15:5, Luke 24:34)
  • 2 report to disciples in Jerusalem: Luke 24:33-35)
  • Jesus appears to the Disciples less Thomas: (Luke 24:36-43, John 20:19-24)
  • Disciples report to Thomas: (John 20:25)
  • Jesus appears to the Disciples, including Thomas: (Mark 16:14, John 20:26-29)
  • Jesus appears to seven people: (John 21:1-14)
  • Jesus questions Peter 3 times: (John 21:15-23)
  • Jesus appears to 500 people: (1 Corinthians 15:6)
  • Jesus appears to James: (1 Corinthians 15:7)

Evidences for the resurrection

These facts remain for the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Note the amazingly changed attitude of the disciples after seeing the risen Jesus. They were like new people: changed from a group of defeated, cowardly people to victorious, brave people who rejoiced.
Next, if Jesus’ body was still lying dead in the tomb, then surely the Roman or Jewish authorities would have produced his dead body in order to quench the new movement. But they didn’t. Nobody who could have produced the dead body of Jesus, did so. Their silence is as significant as the preaching of the Apostles. With that in mind, look at the multiple appearances of Jesus to various numbers of individuals and groups of people at various times of the day and in differing circumstances. Finally for today, note the survival, growth and impact of the early church and the church down through history. If there was no bodily resurrection of Jesus’ would people have risked persecution and death for a knowing lie?

Jesus Christ really did physically rise from the dead, conquering satan, sin and death and into a new body! WOW!

But what about dealing with doubts that naturally occur? We will look at that in the next podcast.

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