WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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HE HAS RISEN!
(The evidence of the Resurrection)
Unlike the other three Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke’s Gospel account of the life and Resurrection of CHRIST JESUS is related to us in the light of Old Testament teachings about the MESSIAH, and, in JESUS’ own view of HIS 33-year mission here on earth. Also unique to Luke’s Gospel, is the fact that he ends it, not with the Resurrection, but rather, with the ascension of CHRIST JESUS back into Heaven.
People often think of JESUS and Christianity merely as something or someone to be studied, and in a large sense, that is true, and necessary. However, in a greater sense, JESUS and Christianity are not only someone and something to be studied, but also must be met and experienced in everyday life. JESUS is not just a character in a book, albeit the book, which is “the Bible”, is the greatest book ever written. JESUS CHRIST, WHO is the origin of Christianity, is also a living, eternal presence in the world.
The Jews observe Saturday as the Sabbath because it is the last day of the week, and Scripture tells us that the seventh day is the day that GOD rested from all HIS labor of creating the Heavens and the earth (Genesis 1). Church-age Christians, however, observe Sunday, because it is the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), and the day that Scripture says that it was discovered that JESUS had been raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1-2).
It is at the very heart of Christianity that we find the Resurrection of CHRIST JESUS. If you remove this concept from it, Christianity becomes literally null and void. The fact of the Resurrection of CHRIST, affirms to all Christians that HE is truly the SON of the LIVING GOD. It also proves that JESUS’ vicarious sacrifice on the cross at Golgotha was accepted by GOD the FATHER on behalf of all people who believe on HIM, past, present, and future, as payment for our sins.
We as Christians must continue to preach about the Resurrection of CHRIST, because, as humans with sin nature, we continue to voluntarily and involuntarily suppress the truth about a Holy GOD in Heaven, and HIS Word. We must often be prompted to “remember” (Vs.1-8), “trust” (Vs.36-40), “understand” (Vs.44-46), and then, we must “follow through” (Vs.47-53) on what we say we now believe. And that is exactly the message that is being conveyed here by Luke in the final chapter of his Gospel account.
Taking up at verse 1 we see that, early one Sunday morning, a group of women that had been following and rendering aid to JESUS and HIS disciples during their travels of preaching the Gospel, healing the sick, and casting out demons throughout Palestine, return to the tomb where they had seen JESUS’ body interned three days earlier. However, when they arrived they found that the stone, that had once covered the entrance to HIS tomb, had been rolled away, leaving it open.
Puzzled by what they saw, the women then entered the tomb, and much to their surprise, the body of JESUS was no longer there. Suddenly two men (angels) appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were somewhat frightened by the figures, and they fell down and bowed low before them. The men then asked, “Why are you looking in the tomb for someone who is alive? HE isn’t here! HE has risen from the dead!”
After being reminded of what JESUS had told them about being betrayed into the hands of sinful men, and then, being crucified, HE would rise from the dead on the third day, they ran into the city and told the apostles what had happened. At first, the apostles all thought it sounded like nonsense, but then Peter ran to the tomb to see for himself. After reaching the tomb Peter looked inside and saw only linen wrappings. Not knowing what to think (he apparently hadn’t taken to heart what JESUS had told them concerning HIS resurrection), he walked slowly back to the city, pondering about what he had just seen.
When GOD gave people wills that are free, HE undoubtedly gave us the greatest, and, perhaps, the most perilous gift, the world has ever known. With freewill, a person can choose to either invite CHRIST into his or her life, or, they can choose to allow Christ to pass them by.
In Luke chapter 24, verses 13-34, he writes of the seven-mile walk, of two of JESUS’ followers, from Jerusalem to Emmaus, just hours after JESUS’ Resurrection victory over death and satan had been realized. Here, Luke gives his unique and, now famous account, of the story of Cleopus and an unnamed follower of JESUS, who were walking along the road to Emmaus, a town just west of Jerusalem. As they walked along, they were discussing all of the events surrounding JESUS’ arrest, trials, Crucifixion, death, and now, reported Resurrection, that had all occurred over that historic weekend in Jerusalem.
Suddenly, JESUS appeared and began walking along with them. Here Luke tells us that GOD kept the men from recognizing who JESUS was. Knowing that the two were discussing HIM, JESUS asks the men, “What are you so concerned about?” They looked at JESUS with sadness in their face, and one of them, Cleopus replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem, who has not heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days”.
When JESUS replied, “What things?”, the men went on to tell HIM about all the events that had taken place in the previous three days. JESUS then says to them, “You are such foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the Prophets wrote in Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted by the Prophets that the MESSIAH would have to suffer all these things before entering HIS time of glory?” JESUS then began to quote Scriptures explaining those writings of Moses and all the Prophets, that where pertaining directly to HIMSELF.
As they neared the end of their journey, the men begged JESUS to stay and have a meal with them, and perhaps, stay the night, because it was almost dark and too late to travel back to Jerusalem. JESUS accepted their invitation, and as they sat down to eat, HE took a small loaf of bread, asked GOD’s blessing on it, broke it, and then gave it to the two men.
Suddenly, their eyes were opened (spiritually), and GOD allowed them to recognize who JESUS was, and, at that same moment, JESUS disappeared. Within the hour, the men were on their way back to Jerusalem, despite the fact that it was now dark.
The word “Emmaus”, means “despised people”, and Jerusalem means, “possessor of peace”. These two men, even though they were followers of JESUS, didn’t really know JESUS until that day, during their walk along the Emmaus road. Once their spiritual eyes were open to JESUS, HE allowed them to see their way through the darkness back to Jerusalem. In fact, that very night they went from the place of “despised people” (believers in CHRIST), to being “possessors of peace” (true followers of CHRIST), if you get my drift.
By the time JESUS was killed, HE had become a “despised person” in Jerusalem. He was despised by the Jewish leaders, and most of the Jewish populace. After HIS “passion week” (suffering in Jerusalem), HE once again fulfilled HIS role as the “possessor of peace”, as HE prepared to ascend back into HIS glorious place of eminence in Heaven.
JESUS always knew that HIS only way back to glory was through the “cross”, and so it is with those of us, who follow HIM. With “open eyes”, JESUS accepted the circumstances of the cross, so that whosoever believes in HIM, would not perish, but rather, would be able to possess the peace of “Eternal Life” in the presence of the almighty “GOD the FATHER” in Heaven.
In verse 25, as expressed in the original Greek, the word Luke uses for “fools” is “anoetos” (an-o-ay-tos). It is used only six times in New Testament Scripture. Five of those times it is used in reference to those who are believers, not unbelievers. Unlike the use of the word “fool” in the Old Testament, which is used to describe a person whose problems are moral, this word describes an individual who sees things from a distorted perspective. It describes “one who has “not fully adopted” the “Divine Viewpoint” of CHRIST.
It is imperative that, we as Christians, not only be believers in JESUS, but also, get to know JESUS on a personal level. In doing so, we can develop a “Divine Viewpoint”, through that personal, experiential relationship. It is not enough, just to have correct information, but we must also be able to discern and use that information correctly. And when we are able to discern it correctly, it is our Christian duty to then, share it with others. In other words we must first begin to share the mind of CHRIST (the Divine Viewpoint), and then, share that idealism with others. And always remember, the Christian message is never fully ours, until we have shared it with someone else.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander