For this post, I chose to feature a Bible study found at this link. Most of us have times when life seems hopeless–failure to find a mate, a job, losing a family member, or even a divorce. Jesus Resurrection is a message of new life and hope. He can bring peace from despair if we will call upon him.
Today’s Bible reading: Matthew 28:11-15; Luke 24:13-43; John 20:19-31; Matthew 28:16-20; John 21:1-25; Luke 24:44-53; Mark 16:9-20
New Life and Peace is not for Everyone
When God raised Jesus from the dead, a violent earthquake shook the ground, and an angel, as white as light, descended from heaven and rolled the stone away from the entrance of the tomb. Fear paralyzed the guards at the burial place. In today’s Bible reading, they recover and run to the chief priests and elders to report what happened. They are in despair, but they do not seek New Life by looking for Christ.
The priests confer together and then pay the soldiers a large sum of money to say someone stole the body (Matthew 28:2-4, 11-15). Fear is guiding their decision. They are living by their wits; however, there is no peace for the wicked.
Jesus Brings New Life and Perspective
Death is disillusioning. Many times it comes unexpectedly, and people lose their faith. Jesus’ disciples are no different. In such circumstances, what brings believers peace? Sometimes in grief and disillusionment, comfort and peace come from a new understanding of God’s higher purposes, a new perspective. Jesus’ appearance to two disciples on the road to Emmaus illustrates this.
Jesus’ disciples are on the road to Emmaus when he joins them. Grief fills their minds so much that they do not recognize him. They are in despair. Strange reports of some women and two of the Lord’s apostles, Simon Peter and John, leave them confused. They claim Jesus’ tomb is empty, and they have seen a vision of angels saying Jesus is alive. The two disciples wonder what it all means.
After they tell the strange companion their confusion over recent events, he rebukes them for their unbelief. Then Jesus explains to them the plan and purposes of God. He traces the Scriptures chronologically from Moses’s times to the present, showing them the need for the Messiah to suffer and rise from the dead. They don’t recognize Jesus, however, until the Lord has supper with them. As he breaks open the bread and says a prayer of thanksgiving, their eyes widen in recognition— there are scars from the nail prints in his hands (or wrists)!
Immediately after Jesus leaves, they race and tell the other disciples, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon” (Luke 24:34, NIV). The disciples receive a wake-up call, which brings them new hope and new life, from despair to peace. But not for long.
Reducing our Fears
Most of Jesus’ disciples were not sure of the truthfulness of the reports about his resurrection. They are hiding in fear of possible persecution from the Jews or arrest from Roman soldiers. Jesus knows they need to see him to give them peace and courage—they are going to be the first witnesses to his resurrection.
As we live in today’s society, there will be other tests of faith. It is always strange to me that peace loving Christians should be attacked of all people. Seriously? It must be because we are followers of Christ and the devil doesn’t like that. Increasingly, we are facing persecution. Will we hide or stay strong? Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
Do we need peace and courage? Let us draw near to God and ask him for strength and a new sense of his presence in our lives.
What Gives Us Confidence and Peace?
Thomas (“Doubting Thomas,” as people call him), is not with the rest of the disciples when Jesus appears to them. He says he will not believe the Lord is alive again unless he sees and touches him. There are many people like that. Jesus helps bolster Thomas’s faith by appearing to him, but he says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:29, NIV). We do not need to see Jesus in the flesh—we just need to believe the testimony of the Scriptures written about him and the evidence in lives that are changed by him. We also who believe have the presence of God within us as a testimony and comfort (John 16; Romans 5:5).
Modern Americans have never seen our first president, George Washington, and yet, we believe in him because historians have written about him. How is that any different than reading eyewitness accounts recorded in the Bible? Jesus was seen on several occasions and by over 500 people during the next forty days after his resurrection.
There are many martyrs for Christ, and people do not typically give up their lives for a lie. Their words and actions testify to the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. Knowing Jesus has been attendant in the circumstances of so many Christians for almost 2,000 years gives us confidence that he will be present in our times. His presence gives us confidence and peace.
Happy Resurrection Day!
P.S. If you want to learn more about Jesus’ life and times, start here
If you want a chronological order of the Passion Week, here is the link
Used with permission from Rodney Harrier.