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A.D. The Bible Continues

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(4/12) In 1977 Franco Zefferelli made the 6 hour miniseries movie, Jesus of Nazareth. It was, in my opinion, the best of the Jesus movies up to that time. Robert Powell played Jesus. There was a scene towards the end of the movie where the high priest goes to the tomb and says that what he has feared has happened; that is, the disciples stole the body. The soldiers said, "no way. We were guarding the tomb." The high priest enters the tomb and softly says two short lines. "Now it begins. Now it all begins."

I love that line. It is so true. What had been a rag tag band of disciples of Jesus would, in just a few short years, result in multiple thousands and then millions of Christ followers all over the world. The Church would begin. BTW, that series was also followed up with a 6 hour miniseries called, A.D. that followed the life and martyrdom of Paul and Peter. You can purchase it on-line.

Now it begins. Now it all begins. Last week we celebrated what I believe is the greatest event, of all of History; the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead. Here is a question. How important is it to you personally that Jesus rose from the dead? Do you think about it? How important is it to your everyday life?

What if He had not risen from the dead? What if the cross and the burial was the end of the story? We would be left with the example of a good man, like Gandhi, or Abraham Lincoln. We would have some good teachings to live by, like the Golden Rule. But we would have no hope beyond this life; no purpose for our preaching; no reason to trust and obey God, because our hope is confined to this life; we are liars about the future; and there is no assurance for forgiveness; we are still in our sinful condition; and you will never again see your loved ones who have died. That is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19.

Watch this Video Clip. (Thomas)

Letís stand and read John 20:19-29.

Paul will tell us in the beginning of 1 Cor. 15 that the Good news that we are to share with the world; that is, the Gospel message, is primarily just two statements, verified with evidence that would be convincing in any court. The first is, Jesus died on a cross according to the scriptures. The evidence is that He had a spear thrust into his heart and lungs, and was buried. Wrapped with 75-100 pounds of spices and wrapped in burial cloth and laid inside a tomb that was sealed shut and guards posted. And there he stayed Friday evening, Saturday, and part of Sunday. He was dead. But He didnít stay dead. He rose from the dead according to the scriptures and part of the evidence is that He was seen by well over 500 people.

Resurrection, should not have been a surprise to the 12. I mean, we donít walk around expecting our dead loved ones to sit up and get out of the caskets. But they had witnessed 3 resurrections already. Jairusí daughter, the Widow of Nainís son, and Lazarus. They had heard Jesus either allude to or outright declare that after 3 days, He would rise again, at least a half dozen times. But somehow none of it registered in their brains. That Passover week they were thinking of Kingdom come. Overthrowing the Romans, restoring Israelís glory, sitting on Davidís throne, ruling over the 12 tribes of Israel is what was on their minds.

The arrest, illegal trials, and cruel treatment and killing of Jesus had dashed their hopes, shattered their dreams, and they believed the revolution was over. Fear, anxiety, and hopelessness (v.19) had replaced their faith. Have you ever been there? Are you there now? You thought you had job security only to get a pink slip. You got that God awful phone call or knock at the door. You thought it was a routine physical but heard the C word. What are we going to do? How will we make it?

We donít know a lot about what the disciples did the night that Jesus was arrested and crucified. We know that Judas threw back the money and hung himself. We know that Peter denied the Lord 3 times and weep bitterly. We know that the women watched the crucifixion and watched the burial. We only know of John being with Jesusís mother Mary at the cross. We know that the others all ran away, in fear of the same fate that Jesus received. From Friday to Sunday morning had to be a horrible time of fear and grief. Many of them met in house, maybe the same one where they shared that last supper with Jesus. Then Jesus showed up. First in the morning when He appeared to Mary Magdalene and other women, and then to Peter, and then the two on the road to Emmaus, and then that evening, to the disciples minus 2 (Judas was dead, Thomas was?). How important is the resurrection today? Letís learn some lessons from this account.

I. The Resurrection Replaces Anxiety with Peace. (v. 19) You have to love this. Jesus appears to them and immediately scolds them. Why didnít you listen to me? I told you this was going to happen? Why did you run away? Peter, how could you? No! None of that. He said, "Shalom," may every area of your life be whole and well. Peace be unto you. Not every question was answered that evening, but their anxiety was replaced with Peace. The conflict within their souls rested. Jesus is alive. Hope is restored. A lot of our anxieties are because of what we have done or failed to do and we often think God has either forgotten us or is judging us and we fail to realize that as a Parent He is offering us peace. Inviting us to rest in Him. Look at Romans 4:22-5:1. And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." He is not looking to scold you, He wants you to rest in Him and know His Shalom-peace. Remember what Jesus said on their last evening before His death, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid," (John 14:27). "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world," (John 16:33). In the midst of turmoil and confusion, it is possible to experience His peace.

II. The Resurrection Results in Strong Relationships. Will you look back at John 20:11-17? These men and women had been more than students, more than disciples they were family to Jesus. He said so. In John 15:20, "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you." But it goes deeper. It says in Mark 3:31-33, "Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. 32 And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You." 33 But He answered them, saying, "Who is My mother, or My brothers?" 34 And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother." When you receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you are adopted into the family of God. "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." God is our Father and Jesus is our Brother and the author of Hebrews 2 says He is not ashamed to call us brethren. He was not ashamed to call these men brothers and these women sisters. John 20:17, Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ĎI am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God." (Cp. Matt. 28:10, "Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee Ö"). Jesus loved these guys and He loves you. You are family. Being reconciled and enjoying a strong family and friendly relationship is what the risen Lord Jesus wants with you. Luke tells us that when He appeared that evening these guys were terrified and our Lord said lets crack open these filet of fish sandwiches and enjoy dinner together. He broke bread with the two in Emmaus. We are family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ and with Christ. Like a big Brother, His desire is to look out for us. And may I say, He wants us to look out for each other and care for each other as He cares for us and to maintain unity in peace (Eph. 4:1-3; John 17).

III. The Resurrection Overcomes Doubt with Faith (John 20:24-29). It doesnít necessarily replace doubt, but it overcomes doubt. Where Thomas was these last 8 or 10 days, we donít know. Camping, hiding, in a nearby town maybe with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany. We donít know. Maybe like me, Thomas wanted to be alone. His hopes and dreams seemed to be gone. Like Peter, Thomas expressed his willingness to die with Jesus. Remember John 11? When Jesus was fixing to go to Bethany which was just a mile from Jerusalem, they said we donít think this is a good idea, they wanted to stone you there. But Thomas said, "Letís go and die with Him."

The only other place where Thomas speaks is in John 14:5, "Lord we donít know where you are going so how can we know the way?"

I donít like the forever handle that has been given to Thomas. I donít think He was a pessimist or a doubter. I just believe he craved what the others said they experienced. He wanted to know this reality for Himself as you saw in the clip. I canít imagine nor do I know why our Lord Jesus waited 8 days. I canít imagine the anguish Thomas felt as He heard the wonderful account of Jesus appearing to the ten and to the women, and other disciples and wondering why not me. I loved Him. I followed Him. I would have fought for Him.

And then Jesus shows up just for Thomas. Hands on hips, he says, "Thomas I canít believe You, where were you when I needed you, why didnít you believe me when I repeatedly told you what was going to happen? Satisfied now? No! He said, Here Thomas, come and touch. Itís all real. I am alive. And Thomas made His wonderful confession, "My Lord and My God."

I am personally convinced that God is willing to reveal Himself to honest doubters. Will He answer every question? No! I have a bunch of them. When I was in my late 20ís and early 30ís I thought I had an answer for everything. I took a position on everything. But now in my 60ís I realize that I know little and I am confused about a lot. More and more I find myself saying what that dad said in Mark 9; "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief." Maybe you have a lot of questions too. Thatís okay. Donít try to solve everyone before you follow Jesus. Trust in what you do know. Mark Twain is reported to have said, "Itís not the parts of the Bible that I donít understand that bother me, itís the parts that I do understand." But one thing I am not confused about is that Jesus died and then He rose from the dead. There is an empty tomb and no explanation possible except that He is alive. Like Thomas I fall to my knees and I say, "My Lord and My God."

Listen carefully, since the first century, I donít know that anyone has actually seen Jesus on this side of Heaven, but when Jesus said, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed." He is not saying that we have no evidence or that we should have blind faith in faith. His life, His death, and the empty tomb are real and irrefutable. They are facts to rest your faith in. By the way, thatís you and I that He is talking about. We are mentioned in the Bible. We are the, those. And Jesus actually is recorded praying for us in the Bible. You and me. John 17:20. "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word." Isnít that cool? We are in the Bible!

IV. The Resurrection Replaces Fear with Courage. From the garden of Gethsemane to the upper room, these disciples were a scared. They were afraid, ashamed (no one stood with Jesus), anxious, depressed, shocked, and grieving. They felt hopeless. But knowing that Jesus is alive changed everything. It became the central point of their preaching. They knew that since Jesus was alive, death had been conquered and they had nothing to fear. Physical death would mean instant reunion with their Brother and Friend, and loved ones who followed Jesus. As you read the Book of Acts, I challenge you to highlight every reference to the resurrection or mention of Jesus being raised.

ē Acts 4:1-2, "Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

ē Acts 4:33, "And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all."

ē When Paul told the Corinthian church about his faith, "7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesusí sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you. 13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you," (2 Cor. 4:7-14).

Every one of these disciples and countless more since have died as martyrs, because of their faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter and his wife were crucified upside down, Paul was beheaded, and Thomas was killed preaching the gospel in India. Only John died of old age, but tradition says they tried to kill him on several occasions. Hiding in fear one day, and going to jail, the next, being beaten, stoned, and killed, as they told people the truth about Jesus, only has one explanation. Jesus is alive. Today we need men who are willing to not only believe but courageous enough to speak the truth in love to lost people and to live righteously, regardless of the consequences. Where are the men?

V. The Resurrection Replaces Shame with Restoration (Ch. 21). Listen carefully. Say, Amen! Because Jesus is alive, we all have the chance for a do over, no, for multiple do-overs. We have the greatest story never told recorded in the Bible. Luke 24:34 and 1 Cor 15:5, tells us that Jesus had a private meeting with Peter, but it never tells us what transpired. We can only imagine. But in John 21, Jesus has a public meeting with Peter. At least 6 other men were there having fished all night and then eating breakfast with Jesus (wow). Before all 6, Jesus asked Peter 3 times if he loved Him and 3 times, told him he had a do-over. And so do you. He died and rose again so you and I could be forgiven and forgiveness to Jesus means restoration. It is an invitation, no, it is an expectation to get back in the game and represent Jesus to this world; to care for the people that He died and rose again for.

You may say, but you donít know what I have done, I had an affair, I had an abortion, I spent time in jail, I used drugs, I hurt people, I was chronic liar, and on and on. No, I donít know what you have done or not done, but I know Moses killed a man, have you? Paul, killed, tortured, and imprisoned people in hatred, have you? Peter denied with an oath that he was in anyway associated with Jesus, have you?

The Resurrection is God saying not only am I expecting a do-over, I will work in you and with you to make it happen. But, you say, I am an old man or an old woman. So was Moses, Caleb, Joshua, Abraham and Sarah. Itís time for your do-over. Itís time to live the resurrected life. Itís time to get in or back in the game. Retired? Retired means time to do your do-over. Start feeding some sheep. Start caring for the lambs. Start loving one another as Jesus loved you.

There you have it. In the life of Thomas and the other 10 and many more, the resurrection became the source of power, their purpose for living and dying; their peace. Is it yours?

The Gaitherís did a song that is a familiar favorite, called, Because He Lives.

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus; He came to love, heal and forgive;

He lived and died to buy my pardon,

An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby, And feel the pride and joy he gives;

But greater still the calm assurance:

This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

And then one day, I'll cross the river, I'll fight life's final war with pain;

And then, as death gives way to victory,

I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives!

Chorus

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, Because He lives, all fear is gone;

Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living,

Just because He lives!

Maybe this is your day to come to Jesus because you are tired, hopeless, and guilt-ridden and you need His forgiveness, rest, and peace. There are no rejects, no losers, no scoldingís, just grace and acceptance and forgiveness, I promise. You just have to come to Him and believe.

Letís pray about it.

If this life lesson has challenged, encouraged or helped you, let me know, or if you have any questions, write to me at pastorgarybuchman@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you. (p.s. I wonít put you on a mailing list or ask you for money). It would encourage me to know that you were encouraged.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman