1. Victory Through The Resurrection
"To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:" Acts 1:3
After Christ's death and resurrection, He appeared to the disciples and many others. Paul told the Corinthian church, "And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins... But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept." (I Corinthians 15:17 & 20) Jesus was the first, then there were others who rose up out of the graves and appeared to people. We read in Matthew 27:52-53, "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." Can you imagine meeting your great-grandmother on the street who may have died years ago? This gives us victory so that we may say, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; ... But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Corinthians 15:55-57) The resurrection of Christ gives us victory.
2. Easter Sunday
"And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you." Matthew 28:5-7
The Easter story, the resurrection of our Lord, is the basis of my Christian beliefs. I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. I believe the stories in the Old Testament really happened. There really was a flood, Daniel survived a den of lions, and Jonah was swallowed by a whale. I also believe that Christ, the Son of God, was born as a human and lived a sinless life to become my sacrifice. He paid for my sins on the cross and He arose the third day. The reason I believe in Jesus as my Savior is that one day, while my grandfather was preaching, I too, sought Jesus. I bowed humbly and asked His forgiveness. And just as He promised his disciples, the Comforter, the Holy Ghost came to live in my heart. There are times that I feel His presence so real, and His love so strong, I just praise His name. We need to tell others that He is risen from the dead. We see many crosses which signify His death for us, but we need to look beyond the cross, to His resurrection. Jesus has risen, and we too shall see Him.
3. Jesus Appeared To Mary Magdalene
"Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master." John 20:15-16
The first verse of this chapter tells us this is Mary Magdalene and she went to the sepulcher before daylight. The stone was rolled away and she went and brought back Peter and John who went into the sepulcher and saw the linen grave clothes and the napkin which had been about His head. "Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher,... And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus." (John 20:10, 11, & 14) Mary thought Jesus was the gardener. But when Jesus said, "Mary" she knew it was Him. When we hear the phone ring, we don't know who is calling. But if it is a dear friend, we know who it is when they say our name. We may be feeling lonely, or stressed, and it cheers us up when a good friend calls. Mary was weeping, but when she heard Jesus say her name, that made all the difference. Verse 18 tells us she went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord. It is wonderful to know that Jesus knows my name. I can go to Him in prayer, and know that He knows me and cares for me. In Luke 10:20 Jesus tells us to "...rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." Are you a friend of Christ? Is your name in the Book of Life? He is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)
4. Jesus Appeared In The Midst
"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, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you." John 20:19
Aren't you glad that no matter where you are, even behind closed doors like these disciples, Jesus can be in your midst? He gives peace to our troubled souls and brings gladness and comfort to our hearts. The next verse tells us He showed them His hands and His side and "Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord." He told them, "Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you" and He breathed on them and they received the Holy Ghost. This is a wonderful picture of how Jesus can be in our midst. But Thomas was not there and he didn't believe. Eight days later Jesus appeared again and this time Thomas was with them. Jesus showed Thomas His hands and His side. "And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John 20:28-29) Be faithful to your church worship services. You may not be there when the Holy Ghost comes down and blesses His people. Then, go, as Jesus sent the disciples out to tell others about His salvation. And most important of all, believe. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." (Acts 16:31)
5. On The Road To Emmaus
"And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" Luke 24:30-32
Two disciples were on the road to Emmaus, traveling in sadness of the events that had just taken place in Jerusalem. Jesus started walking and talking with them, but verse 16 says, "their eyes were holden that they should not know him." He asked why there were so sad, and Cleopas told Him of the prophet, Jesus, who had been crucified. Then he told of the empty tomb. Jesus said, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24:25-27) The disciples begged Him to stay with them because it was late in the day. When He sat down to eat with them, and broke bread, and blessed it, they knew Him. They had been walking and talking with Christ their Lord and did not know it, but they could feel it in their hearts. Have you tried talking to your Savior as you travel down the road? Try turning off the radio sometime and just talk to God. There are days when the time I spend in the car is the only quiet time I find, away from all the noise of the world. Then He blessed the bread and they knew Him. Do you remember to ask God's blessing on your food? Don't be ashamed to ask the blessing when you sit down to eat. Then we read in verse 33 that they got up and went back to Jerusalem the same hour to tell the disciples, "The Lord is risen indeed... And they told what things were done in the way..." Tell others what Jesus has done for you.
6. Fellowship With The Lord At The Table
"And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them." Luke 24:41-43
Verse 37 tells us that the disciples thought Jesus was a spirit, or ghost and they were afraid. He even showed them His hands and His feet and they still did not believe. Then He ate of the fish and honey and they believed. The book of Revelation talks about the marriage supper of the Lamb. I think we will eat in heaven. Christ ate before them in His glorified body. I think we will be able to eat in heaven in our glorified bodies. Won't heaven be a wonderful place? Won't it be glorious to live forever with our God and our Savior? Meals are times of fellowship. The fellowship we have with our Christian loved ones will last forever.
7. Jesus Is Coming Again
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:8-11
"Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?" This is the question the angels asked. I am sure if we had just seen Jesus go up into the clouds, we also would have stood gazing up into heaven. Let's look at two things about this scripture. First, we may think, what were they waiting on? Jesus had given them the great commission to go and to be witnesses, beginning at home, and going to all the earth. But He had told them to wait until they were filled with the Holy Ghost. We can learn from this. Yes, Jesus wants us to be witnesses for Him, but we need to be filled with the Holy Ghost to be a good witness. Let the Holy Spirit lead you and guide you in what to say. Next, maybe they were staring up into the heavens in disbelief. So the angels told them plainly, "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Jesus is coming back. We need to be ready.
8. The Lord Appeared To Saul
"And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." Acts 9:4-6
Saul was present at the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:59) and made havoc of the church. (Acts 8:3) But when he was on the road near Damascus, he met the Lord. It is wonderful that God can save lost sinners. He can save those that are deep in sin and He can save those that are brought up in Christian homes. All need the Savior and are saved the same way, by the blood of our precious Lord. Once Saul knew it was Jesus he asked, "What wilt thou have me to do?" We need to live each day in prayer that God will lead us and guide us in His will and show us what He wants us to do. Saul's name was changed to Paul and he became a great preacher and missionary. We are still able to learn from his inspired words of wisdom in the many books he wrote of the New Testament. Have you been saved into God's family? Are you doing what God wants you to do? Do you go where God wants you to go? Jesus has not appeared before us as He did in our scriptures, but we should let His light shine through us and look for His soon appearing.