Tuesday, April 28, 2015

AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED (after the resurrection)?

When my daughters were young, I often read to them. At the end of many books, one of my daughters often asked "and then what happened?" It was not enough that the prince and the maiden lived happily ever after. She wanted to know what happened next.

Most evangelical churches make a big deal about Easter Sunday, or as I like to call it Resurrection Sunday. We sing songs about the empty tomb and hear sermons about the resurrection and what it means to our lives. 

Then we go back to our regularly scheduled programming. But, if my daughter were involved, she would ask "and then what happened?".  

After The Resurrection

After Jesus rose, he appeared to many people. First, he appeared to Mary Magdalene. (Mark 16:9). Mark did not reveal what Jesus told her, but John did. (John 20:15-18) Mary ran and told his disciples that he was alive and she had seen him. Sadly, they did not believe her. But Peter and John evidently did, for they ran to the tomb. (John 20:1-10) Also with Mary at the tomb were Joanna and Mary the mother of James and some other women. Jesus appeared to all of them. (Luke 24) 

Jesus then appeared to two of the disciples who were walking from Jeruslaem to Emmaus. He explained the Bible to them. (Luke 24:13-35). He ate with them.

Later that day, Jesus appeared to the disciples as they hid in a locked room. (John 20:19-23) He showed them his wounds to prove it was him and that he had risen bodily. 

Eight days later, Jesus appeared to the disciples again. Thomas was not with them previously, and did not believe. But Jesus showed him his wounds and he believed. (John 20:24-29) 

Later still, Jesus appeared to several disciples who were fishing with Peter. He directed them to where they caught many fish. Jesus ate breakfast with them. (John 21) He also met with Peter and commissioned him to feed his sheep. 

Jesus then appeared to more than 500 people, many of whom were still alive as witnesses when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians. I imagine Luke interviewed many of them. Then Jesus appeared to James, likely James his brother who became the first leader of the Jerusalem church (1 Corinthians 15:7) Eventually he appeared to all the apostles. He evidently spent 40 days on earth after the resurrection. (Acts 1:3) 

Jesus' final act was to take the disciples to Bethany. He lifted up his hands and blessed them. Then he ascended to heaven. (Luke 24:50). Before ascending, he directed them to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit and commissioned them to take the gospel over all the earth. (Acts 1:8) Then he rose up until a cloud blocked their view of him. (Acts 1:9) And, finally, he was exalted to the right hand of the Father. (Acts 2:33) 

And that is what happened.

Of course, the story really does not end there, either. There is more to come. In fact, I have saved the best for last 

Jesus will reign there until he has put all his enemies under his feet. (1 Corinthians 15:25) Then he will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the sound of the trumpet of God. He will raise the dead in Christ, then those who are alive in Christ, all to meet him in the air and be with him forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) 

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