Sunday, March 31, 2024

Bible Study with M.T. Clark - Scenes of Resurrection - 03/31/2024

 Today's Bible Study, Authored by M.T. Clark  03/31/2024

Listen to our Bible Study Discussion at: Scenes of Resurrection Podcast

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Scenes of Resurrection

Growing up with the strange pageantry of chocolate Easter Bunnies and colored hard-boiled eggs in plastic green grass-filled baskets juxtaposed with a liturgical church tradition that was heavy on ceremony and the pantomime of reverence but light on the injunction to know, read, and study the Bible did nothing to assure me of the truth of the gospel or my having a part in it. My church tradition and personal experience did convince me that I was a sinner, but it didn’t convince me that I was a Christian, and although one could graciously and truthfully say that God had his hand on me from the time I was knitted in my mother’s womb and through all the days of my life, I don’t think my faith in Jesus Christ was legit until I heard a gospel radio message that made me understand that salvation wasn’t something I had to earn but was a free gift from God and caused me to surrender to God’s plan for my life and to make Jesus the Lord and Savior of my life in March of 2010. 

Before coming to Christ, the weird bunny-egg stuff, my angst, ignorance, confusion, doubt, and sin caused me to hate Easter. It seemed to be the phoniest holiday ever created.  He is risen indeed? Was He? Was He really? Then why do these people gather in His Name seem so strange or hypocritical? Where are the miracles? Where is the genuine faith? Why do these people not live righteous lives? Where is the holiness? Where is the love? Why hasn’t my faith changed me? And why if there is a God that is good, holy, and powerful do we celebrate the event that changes world history and brings heaven to earth in such a bizarre and childish fashion?  

You got me, brother.  But We won’t blame God though… all of this bunny and egg stuff – whether it's due to the compromise of the early church to welcome pagans into the fold or it is “harmless” symbolic (idolatry) worship run amok – we will lay not confuse the way man’s worship is acted out with who God is.  And we will choose to take the high road today and obey our Lord, Savior, and Teacher and we will:

Luke 23:34 (NKJV)
34  …forgive them, for they do not know what they do."

I guess strange child-like faith is better than no faith and so I will choose to forgive the masses of “Christians” who participate and perpetuate the egg-bunny stuff on Resurrection Sunday.  As we are all called to do, I will follow.

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV) that encourages me to
32  … be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.

So I choose to forgive you, my Easter Bunny loving – Egg Coloring, Hiding, and Chomping brothers and sisters, for your ignorance, shallow faith, hypocrisy, and weird forms of Easter worship – because it made me doubt the Christian faith and made me feel confused, angry, and unloving.  I choose to forgive you all. In Jesus name, Amen.  

Okay, instead of focusing on the things that will invariably annoy and disturb me about today’s holiday – which truly should be the biggest Christian celebration of the year – we would instead like to share passages from the Bible that document the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus.

We pick up the Resurrection narrative in Mark – after Mary Magdalen, Mary the mother of James, and Salome – discovered the empty tomb, Jesus’s body gone, and a young man dressed in white (an angel – according to Matt 28:1-5)) who told them that Christ is risen and that they would see Him in Gailee.

Mark 16:9-11 (NKJV)
9  Now when He (JESUS) rose early on the first day of the week (SUNDAY), He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.

Matthew 28:9-10 (NKJV) tells us
9  … as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.
10  Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."

But Mark 16:10-11 (NKJV) tells us
10  She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept.
11  And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.   

But John & Luke’s gospel tell us that Peter and John believed as they ran to the tomb to confirm what they said.

Luke 24:12 (NKJV)
12  But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.

John 20:3-9 (NKJV)
3  Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb.
4  So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.
5  And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in.
6  Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,
7  and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.
8  Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.
9  For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.

But He was risen indeed – and shortly after this race to the tomb – John’s gospel indicates Mary Magdelene’s seeing of the angel (s) happened after the apostles left the empty tomb.

John 20:11-17 (NKJV)
11  But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.
12  And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13  Then they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."
14  Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.
15  Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, "Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away."
16  Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher).
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, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.' "

So although these accounts give different perspectives of the same first encounter of the resurrection, Jesus did rise from the dead and told his disciples through Mary Magdelaine that He was alive and He would see them again, which is documented in.

John 20:19-23 (NKJV)
19  Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."
20  When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
21  So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."
22  And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
23  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

Jesus just suddenly appeared in their midst in a locked room and proclaimed peace to them and “breathed the Holy Spirit on them! – Sounds fantastic! 

And the scriptures tell us that even a fellow apostle – Thomas_ had difficulty in believing it. 

John 20:24-29 (NKJV)
24  Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.
25  The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
26  And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!"
27  Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."
28  And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
29  Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."     

That’s you and me – we are blessed because we have not seen and touched Jesus, like Thomas did, and yet we believe and I know if you have had experiences like I have, we can’t claim having a moment like Thomas did, but we would deny that we haven’t seen or been touched by Jesus in our lives.  

Matthew 28:17-20 (NKJV) tells us Jesus had more to say… 
17  When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
18  And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

Mark 16:14-18 (NKJV) tells us more about this encounter
14  Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart (Thomas…) , because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.
15  And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
16  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
17  And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;
18  they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

John 20:30-31 (NKJV) tells us
30  And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;
31  but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

Our encounters with Jesus aren’t written about in scripture but they have happened, and we believe.  Jesus reveals Himself through His word as He did in the early days of His resurrection to other disciples:

Mark 16:12 (NKJV)
12  After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country.

These two disciples’ account of the risen Christ is told in.

Luke 24:13-25 (NKJV) which tells us:
13  Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.
14  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15  So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16  But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
17  And He said to them, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?"
18  Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, "Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?"
19  And He said to them, "What things?" So they said to Him, "The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20  and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.
21  But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22  Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23  When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24  And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see."

Luke 24:25-32 (NKJV)
25  Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26  Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?"
27  And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
28  Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29  But they constrained Him, saying, "Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent." And He went in to stay with them.
30  Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
31  Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.
32  And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?"

Their story seems to roll into the encounters already described as the rest of Luke’s Gospel tell us.

Luke 24:33-43 (NKJV)
33  So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,
34  saying, "The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!"
35  And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
36  Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you." 37  But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.
38  And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39  Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."
40  When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.
41  But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, "Have you any food here?" 42  So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.
43  And He took it and ate in their presence.

Luke 24:44-53 (NKJV)
44  Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."
45  And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
46  Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,
47  and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48  And you are witnesses of these things.
49  Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high."
50  And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them.
51  Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.
52  And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
53  and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.

Luke retells of this last resurrection encounter with Jesus, the ascension, in

Acts 1:4-11 (NKJV)
4  And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me;
5  for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
6  Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"
7  And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.
8  But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
9  Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
10  And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,
11  who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."

Jesus Christ literally rose from the earth and into the heavens and is promised to return to us in:  

Revelation 1:7 (NKJV) that tells us…
7  Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

There were other encounters with the resurrected Christ that are mentioned in Scripture.  The book of Acts tells of Paul’s conversion experience on the Road to Damascus in Acts 9:1-20 and he speaks of his  and others’ encounter with Jesus in  

1 Corinthians 15:6-8 (NKJV) that tells us the resurrected Jesus
6  …was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, ……by James, then by all the apostles. 8  Then last of all He was seen by me (Paul) also, as by one born out of due time.

But the scene of the Resurrection that sticks with me the most is the one with Peter spoken of in:

John 21:15-22 (NKJV)
15  So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs."
16  He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep."
17  He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep. 18  Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish."
19  This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me."
20  Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays You?" 21  Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, "But Lord, what about this man?"
22  Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me."

Jesus’ conversation with Peter is a conversation that we are all have with God, where we must answer the Lord’s question “Do you love me?”    And if our answer is yes, we must be prepared to feed and lead the Lord’s sheep – our brother and sisters in Christ and regardless of our uncertainty of purpose or direction for this life be fully prepared to answer Jesus’ command to “Follow Me.” – wherever it may lead us.  

It's Resurrection Sunday, – Easter – if you must…, and as Christians, disciples – students and followers of Jesus, let’s not let the strange pageantry, darkness, and ignorance that surrounds this most blessed of holidays, cause us to lose the peace and the joy that the Lord gives us when we encounter and choose to follow the– the King of Kings, the Lord of Lord, the Prince of Peace, Our brother, Our Friend, Our Teacher, Our Lord, and Savior and Wonderful Counselor, and Our God - Jesus Christ.

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