He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3 ESV)
Having been part of university life for nearly half of my life there are certain aspects of collegiate culture that are almost second nature to me. Cramming is something that I hear about all the time, it’s not usually called that anymore, it’s usually referred to as an “all-nighter” these days, but they mean the same. Both are when someone stays up all night before a big test to spend time studying.
Jesus allowed his disciples one final cram session. It was a 40 day all-nighter. One last shot for them to learn and latch on to the principles and passion that would be needed to steer the burgeoning Christian movement.
The resurrection changed things for them. It invited revelation and understanding surrounding the three previous years the eleven had spent in community with Jesus. It have context for all that Jesus had talked about. And it pushed them out the door toward their final lifelong test.
Jesus had one more season to train, teach, and mentor. He took a little over a month to do it. They learned from the master himself. The test was coming!
Read: Luke 24:44-50
You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:48 ESV)
Jesus appeared to the eleven on Mount Olivet. During his final instruction before he left he recounted the purpose for which he had came. He reiterated the part of the disciples to come. And finally, he stressed to them the uniqueness of their calling.
Many people experienced Jesus during the numerous public appearances of his ministry. An unknown number were the recipients of miracles at his hands. But only a handful of men were chosen to be called witnesses.
They watched, saw, and partook in Christ’s ministry in ways that were unique to their experience. They received personal instruction and encouragement from Jesus. And when the torch was passed they were responsible for all that they had witnessed.
What have you witnessed?
Read: Matthew 28:16-20, 1 Corinthians 15:6
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18 ESV)
Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:6 ESV)
Jesus appears to the eleven apostles and five hundred believers on Mount Tabor. He charged them to share his message. He gave them guardianship of the Gospel. And he encouraged them to rely on their representative authority based on his own complete authority.
Jesus is the ultimate authority. Many passages outlined by the Old Testament prophets speak about the ruling servant king, the Messiah. John the Apostle’s oft studied Revelations describes the story of the One and Only Jesus returning for his Bride, the Church, and initiating his eternal reign of authority.
On a practical level, we can live, love, and laugh just a little bit freer today knowing that any authority we possess is a gift from our greater authority. Jesus holds the key to the Kingdom of God. He holds the power of the Creator. He holds All Authority.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:21 ESV)
The resurrected Jesus stood in the midst of the disciples as they hid out in the Upper Room. They were afraid of the other Jews, and for a good reason too. The Jews had just held a sham trial and then executed Jesus right in front of everyone.
Jesus appeared to them, and then charged them with the mission of reaching the very people they were fearful of. The journey of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was to begin in Jerusalem and then make its way around the world.
Jesus sent his apostles out to the nations. They carried the message all over their world. What message is Jesus charging you to carry? Where is he sending you?
See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:39 ESV)
Some pretty incredible events transpired in a room that has came to be known as the Upper Room. First, the Last Supper was held there and it is where Jesus instituted Communion. Also, Jesus appeared to ten of his disciples there following his death and resurrection.
Seeing Jesus was almost more than they could bare. Their minds couldn’t take it. It was inconceivable, even to those who had seen Jesus do the impossible time and time again. Some thought he was merely a spirit, and not actually the resurrected Christ. Jesus put that thought to rest by challenging them to see his scars and to touch his skin. He challenged them to experience his resurrected body.
He is still challenging us to experience the resurrection. He beckons us to him to find hope, healing, and forgiveness. Not to just a spirit; but to the resurrected Son of God.
Read: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: 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. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5 ESV)
I can’t help it. When I consider death I think of the finality of it. It just sounds like an ending. And, in spite of my belief about the afterlife, anytime someone I am close to dies it feels like a forced goodbye.
I think Peter must have felt much the same way about Jesus. The resurrection wasn’t something to they were counting on. No one had done it before. And even though Jesus told them exactly what would happen! it seems like they largely missed the point.
So when Jesus began to appear to his disciples I can’t imagine how they must have felt. It would have been like seeing something you believed to be impossible happen right before your eyes. Like seeing a fallen leaf fall up or a man flying under his own power.
Death feels certain. And life after death unknown. We believe, and we hope we know, but we don’t know for certain. Peter had his conviction steeled the day the risen Son of God appeared to him. The man he loved demonstrate the reality of his deity by returning to life. Everything changed for him he day that Peter saw Jesus.
Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. (John 20:4 ESV)
Peter and John heard that the tomb of Jesus was empty, but they had to see it for themselves. So they ran all way there. John outran Peter, but Peter went in first.
They saw the empty tomb. Jesus was not there. They believed him to be alive, but they didn’t yet understand the significance of the event. It was unprecedented.
Today, it is still unprecedented. People don’t just come out of tombs. When we run to Jesus we aren’t running to the grave. We’re running to the grave robber. We’re running to life.