[Acts 1: 3
He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days (remember 40 days is very significant to the stories)
and speaking about the kingdom of God.
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.
10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes,
11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?
This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”]
Wow I read this and I am amazed, that for forty days after he died and resurrected, he appeared to them sharing many things with them.
THEN He was lifted up… right before their eyes. Can you even imagine? Can you even think of how awesome that would have been?
I remember when I have watched a balloon or a kite leave the hands that were holding it, and I watched as it drifted up higher and higher till it can no longer be seen.
Wouldn’t that be both amazing and confusing to see a cloud drift him up higher?
This is JESUS who they were just talking to.
Then two men appeared? Could they have been angels? we aren’t told.
He rose from the dead and left alive, as he moved higher and higher into a space they could no longer see.
How amazing and wonderful this whole story of love is for us.
I cannot imagine this whole scene unfolding.
[Acts 1: 3
[18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—
and that he had said these things to her.
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”]
Not too different from the time the angel stood with Mary and said, “don’t be afraid.”
CAN YOU IMAGINE? HE STOOD AMONG THEM.
[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 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”]
He knew He was leaving and also knew the power for them to share with others, would come from the Holy Spirit.
I find it fascinating that he BREATHED on them.
Reminding me of a song we sing in church that says, “It’s your breath in our lungs as we pour out our praise.”
The story continues.
[24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.
25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”]
I don’t really blame Thomas for questioning. Anyone who were there would have had the same reaction.
[26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them.
Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”]
Wow he did the same thing two times. Joining them in the room with the doors shut and locked.
Yet, he appeared and stood among them. Not only did he do that, but he addressed Thomas in the very matters of the heart way that only he would know how to do.
Our Lord and our God… knows what we need even if we never say it to him.
A wonderful love, and caring Father.
When Jesus called her name, she was both surprised and confused since she saw him pass away and watched as they laid him down in the tomb.
I can’t imagine any of us would be not feeling the same feelings.
It would be a mixture of emotions and feelings.
She knew and remembered how he would say her name.
He probably said it to her, many times in the years they knew each other.
It is an intimate approach for him, towards her in the most ‘precious’ way.
We are like that with special loved ones or friends.
We welcome the sound of their voice.
He knew by using her name in the special way he would say it, he would get her attention.
Can you even imagine… her excitement and hope?
Then he said for her to go tell the ‘others’ about what she had seen and experienced.
She would be a credible witness and others would hear and believe her story.
What I find fascinating is her ability to not recognize him until the timing was right.
He didn’t allow her to see him for who he was until she heard his voice.
She was the one who had demons cast out of her so she knew his voice and she knew his power.
Our voices are very recognizable to those who know us.
[11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb
12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.*** (important)
15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!”
And she told them that he had said these things to her.]
She ran and told them what she had seen.
When we think of the days surrounding the Easter story we have to think about and include those who were most involved in the process.
[20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb.
4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.
6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there,
7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;
9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.]
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
[11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb.
12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”
14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she 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 in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.]
[And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” (FOR THEY DIDN’T UNDERSTAND)
36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.”
37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.
38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.]
They were watching from a distance crying and weeping.
They loved him, they were unsure of this moment. They were in sadness and shock
[42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath,
43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. 45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 46 And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.
47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.]
[When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.
5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.
7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.]
[26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him.]
Those who loved him saw what was happening, it had to have been scary and sad and disturbing and awful.
Not understanding or knowing the real reason HE came in the first place.
If you have ever witnessed anything traumatic you recall how sick it made you feel?
[32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.
33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”
36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”]
[44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,
45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.] (VERY IMPORTANT!)
[46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”
And having said this he breathed his last.
47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.]
Do you ever wonder how dark the darkness was? Do you ever wonder what it felt like to have no hope?
I often sing the song ‘were you there when they crucified my Lord?’
Sometimes it causes me to tremble… the magnitude of the moments.
Have you ever seen a really dark and gloomy day? We have them in Oregon a lot.
This day was way worse than those, the movies always show us rainy cloudy horrible conditions.
We really don’t know what the weather was, what we do know it was a dark day because hope was gone.
The trial took place after the guards took Jesus out of the garden.
Can you imagine the thoughts he might have had at that moment in time?
He had the power to stop it. But we know he didn’t because it was all in the plan.
[53 “When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me.
But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” Luke 22:53]
[63 Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. 64 They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” 65 And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.] Can you even imagine?
It continues as he is harassed and treated poorly.
[66 When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes.
And they led him away to their council, and they said,
67 “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe,
68 and if I ask you, you will not answer.
69 But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”
70 So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.”
71 Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”]
[3 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.”
4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.”]
13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14
and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people.
And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him.
16 I will therefore punish and release him.”]
[18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”—
19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder.
20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus,
21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!”
22 A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death.
I will therefore punish and release him.” 23
But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed.
24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.]
Jesus knew the cross and it’s horrible way of killing the person crucified on it.
In the garden he was restless (as any of us would be) and he was praying.
The word says he prayed so intensely that his sweat was like droplets of blood.
[And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.]
Asking the Father to remove this ‘cup’… let this NOT be the way it has to take place.
Any of us would pray the same prayer.
Let it be easier God, don’t let me suffer.
Then he knew he had to move on to the last part of his journey here.
While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them.
He approached Jesus to kiss him,
48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
The disciples were beginning to lose their intensity towards him and even some denied the three years they spent with him.
Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance.
55 And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them.
56 A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”
57 But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.
58 A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”
“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.
59 About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed.
Jesus had told Peter when the rooster crows three times you will deny me.
How horrible of an event for Peter. Have you ever felt so disappointed in yourself?
So sad of the choices you made against someone you once loved?
The cross has a story for all of us.
Redeeming, Restoring, Rescuing. But it had to take place.
A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Matthew 21:8-11
12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.
13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
Palm Sunday as we know it was the beginning of the finality of the story.
Death would come as we will read about later.
Jesus would be placed into the most horrendous mixture of emotions and reactions.
This day the people were exalting his name and praising with palm branches and song.
Days later they would be the same people who would exchange him for the thief who should never have gotten freedom.
The story is all about the plan for US as to have the gift of salvation.
The story is about love. The Father gave HIS son from heaven for a season till he would return.
The story of life and teachings and life and forgiveness and life and hope.
The circle of life had to take place, the birth of a baby and then death.
Death had to take place so life could once more be the reason for hope.
Who is this man they ask? It is Mary’s Jesus, the baby born in a manger.
May we always remember the story of God’s amazing grace to us.
As we move closer to the time we know as Easter we must pause to remember a few things.
The whole purpose of why God created a Savior was because He knew from the beginning of time… death was not the final moment, the resurrected Jesus would bring us hope.
It’s hard to imagine that the day of resurrection could not happen without the day of his birth which we now call Christmas.
The preparation that would make it all happen was long thought out and long planned.
Every detail had to be a prophecy fulfilled down to the finest detail.
It was the beginning when time changed. A Savior would be born.
As we move back into the story, where MARY met the angel.
In the first book of Matthew we read the line of ancestors of Jesus.
There had to be a certain lineage traced back to David and Abraham, who he was a descendant of, for the purpose of history as it was presented.
The multitude of generations were necessary so that Jesus could fulfill scripture.
Isn’t it interesting that Mary was the only woman mentioned in the lineage of generations?
This is really important to remember as we move into the story.
Remember the Power of the Holy Spirit fell upon her and she was pregnant.
It was all done in order for the fulfillment of the message to the prophet: (in the Old Testament)
[“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel* which means ‘God is with us.’]
It was planned from the very beginning.
The angel had told her in the book of Luke, “don’t be afraid you have found favor with God.”
As the series of events unfolded in the story we find Mary confused, then trusting, then worshipful and then waiting.
Observing all that surrounded the message given to her about the birth of her little baby boy.
Most new mom’s as they carry their tiny baby, dream of their child and his or her future.
I would imagine Mary was not that different.
Luke 2:18 it says, [“Mary kept these things in her heart and thought about them often.”]
[34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother:
“This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against,
35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”]
This is very important to remember!
A prophetic word spoken to her about the trauma and pain and intense heartache and loss.
How would any of us feel if someone told us our baby was very special but we would soon know, pain like our heart being pierced with a sword.
Deep grief was going to be a part of the story. HIS birth was the revealing of HIS death.
[As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. (AND at that point in time) a sword will pierce your own soul.]
I would imagine as the days were leading up to the Easter finality she was deeply tormented by the sorrow.
The words spoken over and about her son.
Wrestling in sleep that wouldn’t come for her as she replayed the moments of his beginning days.
Anna said in the temple:
[38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.
40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.]
Then remember in Luke 3:40-52 we find Mary and Joseph losing sight of where Jesus was after looking for him for three days.
They finally found him in the temple teaching.] (can you even imagine?)
We don’t know how old he was but we do know he amazed all those who were listening.
[vs 48 “His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your Father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”
vs 49 He said “why did you need to search for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I would be in my Fathers house?”]
vs 50 [But they didn’t understand what he meant. Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.]
There is so much we want to remember about all this as we move deeper into the story.