In the hymn “Christ Arose”, Robert Lowry expresses the hope conveyed during this Easter season in the rousing chorus as it explodes with joy:
Up from the grave He arose, With a mighty triumph o’er His foes; He arose a Victor from the dark domain, And He lives forever with His saints to reign, He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
Our Lord Jesus left the confines of this earth and stepped into the heavenly realm on Resurrection Sunday, three days after dying on a wooden cross for humanity’s sins on Mount Calvary. This is what Christians celebrate during the Easter Season. But what significance does this event hold for you and me today? We know Jesus appeared to many people after His resurrection. A look at scripture can better frame our thoughts about it.
In the gospel of John, Chapter 11, Jesus is speaking with Martha. They have been talking about her brother Lazarus, who died four days earlier. Jesus is preparing her for the miracle He is about to do concerning her brother. Martha conveyed to Him that if He has only been there sooner, Lazarus might not have died. She then states that she indeed believes that he will be raised in the last day. But Jesus will reveal to her His deity. He states in verse 25, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
John Chapter 20 records Jesus’ resurrection on the first day of the week, that being Sunday. Mary Magdalene had come to the tomb early, while it was still dark. She saw that the stone in front of the tomb had been removed. Upon hearing her report, Peter and John ran to the tomb and discovered “the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.” (vs. 7) After they departed, Mary stood outside weeping, peering inside the tomb. She conversed with two angels and explained that someone had taken away the body [of her Lord] and turning, she saw a man she perceived to be the gardener. Jesus lovingly and compassionately spoke to her, “Mary!” He assured her that He was “ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.”
In Luke 24:13-32, we have the account of Christ appearing on the road to Emmaus. Two followers of Jesus were traveling and conversing about all of the events of the past few days concerning Jesus of Nazareth. Unbeknownst to them, Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. They told Him all of the hopes and dreams of many in Jerusalem who thought the prophet would accomplish in order to redeem Israel. They even mentioned it had been three days since it happened, and that certain women had discovered His tomb empty. Then in verses 25-26 Jesus said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”
Then in Luke 24:33-48, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of His disciples as they gathered in Jerusalem to pray saying, “Peace to you.” He showed them that He is flesh, not spirit, and proceeds to instruct them about His fulfilling what was written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Himself. Even those who doubted His appearing finally proclaimed who He was. Thomas said, “My Lord and my God!”
Matthew 28:18-20 tells us that Jesus came to the disciples in Galilee, to the mountain which He had appointed for them, and said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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, 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.” In Luke 24:49-52 Jesus said, “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.” Jesus lifted up His hands and blessed His disciples, departed from them, and was carried up into heaven.
In John chapter 21 Jesus appears to seven of the disciples after a long night of fishing. They caught nothing. But in the morning, Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” After an answer of “No”, He then said, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” The disciples dragged the net, full of large fish to the shore, and after eating breakfast they knew it was Him, though they were afraid to question Him. Then in chapter 21:15-23 we witness the personal conversation between Jesus and Peter. Jesus is tenderly restoring Peter to Himself by asking Peter three times if he loved Him. Jesus tells him, “Feed My lambs”, “Tend My sheep”, and “Feed My sheep”. Jesus is preparing Peter for the work ahead as leader of the church after He has departed. Then He tells Peter to set his sight on Him and “Follow Me.” Peter asks about the other disciple, and Jesus tells him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”
So what do we glean from the Lord’s visitations to His followers after He was raised? How do we apply those same lessons and revelations to our lives? We discover that we experience the very same things.
Jesus is still: