The Whole Truth

“While they were still talking about this,
Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, 
‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and frightened,
thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, 
‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 
Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself!
Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones,
as you see I have.’  When he had said this,
he showed them his hands and feet. 
And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement,
he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ 
They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 
and he took it and ate it in their presence.”
Luke 24:36-43 (NIV)

We know that the disciples had been with Jesus when He raised some from the dead. For example, in John 11, they witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus. So to see Jesus alive from the dead was not a category of event they had not previously known. Hence the surprising reaction by the disciples at the sight of the resurrected Master.

We read words such as, “startled…frightened…ghost…troubled…did not believe…” and realize the disciples were decidedly not expecting Jesus to rise from the dead. Why was this? Well, they did not expect Jesus to rise because they did not expect Him to die! Prior to the cross they had thought their Master was about to establish His eternal kingdom any day. They were full of thoughts of glory and their special places within it. They could not conceive of a brutal death for the Messiah.

Again, we are confronted with the profound honesty of the Gospel writers. Their utter lack of comprehension of Jesus’ teaching about the cross, teaching that started a year before Golgotha, is a remarkable confession. Then, saying they did not believe their eyes when Jesus appeared in their midst, is further proof of their integrity. So, if the authors disclosed their deep failure, why would they invent a story about Jesus’ resurrection had it not happened?

The record of Jesus being alive has irrefutable evidence. We have the whole truth regarding the Easter story! As one song puts it, “I serve a risen Saviour, He’s in the world today”.

No wonder the infant church had a weekly gathering on the first day of the week. (The day of the week Jesus rose from the dead) They wanted regular, weekly commemoration of this colossal event. Today Jesus’ followers would do well to sing so called “Easter hymns” at various times during the year to honour the central event of the Christian message. Sunday is full of profound truth that we sing about with our hymns. Perhaps we might do more to emphasize our Saviour is alive by singing more resurrection hymns and having more references in our sermons to this great event in history.

For people to be saved they must confess Jesus as Lord and believe He rose from the dead (Romans 10:9). Thus, we need to include in all communications of the Gospel the fact of the resurrection of our Lord if we are to be accurate witnesses.

Paul summed up his preaching in the following words,

“…this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence:
‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead
that I am on trial before you today.’”
Acts 24:21 (NIV)

Today, recognize that we have the whole truth and because “He lives we can face tomorrow”.

The Meek And Lowly Jesus

“They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem.
There they found the Eleven and those with them,
assembled together and saying, ‘It is true!
The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ 
Then the two told what had happened on the way,
and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.”
Luke 24:33-35 (NIV)

“and that he appeared to Cephas,”
1 Corinthians 15:5 (NIV)

All of the resurrection appearances recorded in the New Testament give some detail on the event except the one regarding Peter. The appearance to Peter is stated but why no detail? One thing is sure. Peter had boasted to Jesus that he would follow the Master to the death. But, when the arresting mob appeared in Gethsemane to take Jesus prisoner, Peter fled along with the others. Later that same night Peter denied his beloved Master three times. Peter more than the others had reason to want to avoid the resurrected Saviour because of how embarrassed he was.

In order to help Peter “save face” Jesus appeared to him alone. Such a kind action by the Master speaks volumes about how He deals with all of us when we falter and, like Peter, do not live up to our promises to Him. We take refuge in the descriptions of our Good Shepherd and the knowledge that He is the same “yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). So, the loving, gentle, thoughtful, Teacher who had a very private session with Peter will treat you exactly the same when it is needed.

How can any of us hesitate returning to this wonderful Master after we have stumbled? When we return from wandering off the straight and narrow way we are assured of a “Peter treatment” by our beloved Redeemer. He has loved us with an everlasting love and nothing we could do will ever change that amazing reality. He wants reconciliation more than we do.

Perhaps you don’t know of some special need presently. How wonderful to know you have such a Shepherd to rely on when the need does arise. So, if in crisis or having a close relationship free of sin come to Him anyway and rejoice in His redeeming love. So come and come now.

There is a name I love to hear
I love to speak its worth
It sounds like music in my ear
The sweetest name on earth

O, how I love the Saviour’s name
O, how I love the Saviour’s name
O, how I love the Saviour’s name
The sweetest name on earth

It tells me of a Saviour’s love
Who died to set me free
It tells me of His precious blood
The sinner’s perfect plea

It tells of One whose loving heart
Can feel my deepest woe
Who in my sorrow bears a part
That none can bear below

It bids my trembling heart rejoice
It dries each rising tear
It tells me in a still, small voice
To trust and never fear

Jesus, the name I love so well
The name I love to hear!
No saint on earth its worth can tell
No heart conceive how dear!

-Frederick Whitfield

A Hard Sell

“They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem.
There they found the Eleven and those with them,
assembled together and saying, ‘It is true!
The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ 
Then the two told what had happened on the way,
and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. 
While they were still talking about this,
Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, 
‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and frightened,
thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, 
‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 
Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself!
Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones,
as you see I have.’ When he had said this,
he showed them his hands and feet. 
And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement,
he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 
They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 
and he took it and ate it in their presence. He said to them, 
‘This is what I told you while I was still with you:
Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me
in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.
Luke 24:33-44 (NIV)

There is an art to selling anything from a material product to a concept. From a car to an idea. As we read the accounts of the resurrection appearances of Jesus it appears that the reports of Him rising from the dead were not easily believed by the disciples. Doubting Thomas was not the only one who had trouble with the reports of Jesus coming back from the dead. Indeed, from our Scripture today, it seems the Eleven had trouble believing even when Jesus appeared alive to them. Words like, “startled, frightened, ghost, troubled, doubts” describe their confused state of mind. For the disciples it was a hard sell to get them to believe Jesus was alive from the dead. Finally, Jesus asked for some food to eat and then they were convinced He was indeed alive.

When I was studying in university some professors taught the class that the Gospel writers invented the resurrection stories to try and persuade the readers that Jesus should be followed. They never dealt with the matter that the narratives described how hard it was for the disciples to accept the doctrine of Jesus’ resurrection. They were a hard sell as they only believed after proof positive was given. It took a lot for the early Christians to be persuaded of the truth that our Lord was indeed risen.

Does your faith in the accuracy of the various accounts of the resurrection appearances not strengthen due to seeing how hard it was for the Eleven to accept this truth? The writers go into detail concerning how resistant they were to being sold on the teaching that the Lord was indeed risen.

Rejoice today believer in the persuasive witness to Jesus coming back from the grave. He rose to prove the debt for sin had been fully paid. All of your sins were completely dealt with from your first sin in Eden to the last you will commit in your dying hour. Fully paid, completely absolved, nothing left for you to answer for!! Jesus indeed paid it all. Be glad today you will not have to atone for even one sin. What a complete Saviour we have.

Come to Him today and be fully persuaded He is all you need today and forever.

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small,
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots,
And melt the heart of stone.

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim—
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

And when, before the throne,
I stand in Him complete,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
My lips shall still repeat.

-Elvina Hall

Seeing Jesus

“Now that same day two of them were going to a village
called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 
They were talking with each other about everything
that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things
with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 
but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, 
‘What are you discussing together as you walk along?’
They stood still, their faces downcast. 
One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, ‘Are you the only one
visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things
that have happened there in these days?’ 
‘What things?’ he asked.”
Luke 24:13-19 (NIV)

A custom among travellers in Jesus time was to come alongside others travelling in the same direction and chat with them en route to the destination. So, when we read of Jesus joining two people heading for Emmaus, nothing is unusual. He would be expected to join the conversation.

When Jesus asked what they were discussing they stopped and asked Him how He could be coming from Jerusalem and not know the big news that everyone was talking about. Jesus, of course, knew exactly what the hot topic was, but politely asked them to explain and they did.

We see here that the Lord desires us to approach Him with any issue we might be facing in life. He obviously knows our pain but still asks us to tell Him all about our suffering. There seems to be something therapeutic about telling someone about our pain. Being an attentive listener goes a long way in helping a person understand their own problem and getting strength to deal with it.

Jesus let them explain exactly what was obviously troubling them. Only after they finished talking did He begin to teach them. We should never think our problems are either too small or too great for us to bring them to the Good Shepherd in prayer. In our verses today we have a clear indication of Jesus’ sincere interest in our personal struggles.

As He came alongside the two people on the road to Emmaus He willingly seeks you out and asks you to tell Him all about what troubles you. Come to this caring and gentle person who desires to help and sustain you through any and all issues you face in life. What He said long ago still applies today.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, 
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit
O what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer

Are we weak and heavy laden
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge
Take it to the Lord in prayer
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he’ll take and shield thee
Thou wilt find a solace there
-Joseph Scriven

Ladies First

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn,
they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 
And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 
While they were perplexed about this, behold, 
two men suddenly stood near them in gleaming clothing; 
and as the women were terrified
and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them,
‘Why are you seeking the living One among the dead? 
He is not here, but He has risen.
Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, 
saying that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinful men,
and be crucified, and on the third day rise from the dead.’  
And they remembered His words…” 
Luke 24:1-8 (NIV)

When the four Gospels all record the fact that women were the first to witness the empty tomb, we may miss a very remarkable point. In biblical times the testimony of women was inadmissible in a court of law. They were not allowed to give testimony since Jewish society was chauvinistic in this regard. Because the first two resurrection appearances by Jesus were to women, we see God breaking man made rules and honouring women by allowing them to be first twice in seeing Jesus alive after the cross (John 20:11-18; Matthew 28:9-10).

Then it was women, not men, who first testified to the most central doctrine of Christianity (John 20:18). Then we read in Mark 16:11 that the disciples, true to Jewish custom did not believe the women’s testimony.

Why do some skeptics, who deny the resurrection, insist that the whole resurrection teaching was an attempt to enhance the narrative concerning Jesus? Had the biblical writers fabricated the resurrection stories they never would have written that women were first to both see Jesus in the resurrection and first to testify to the story—especially to men!! Such teaching about women first shows how honest the writers were because they knew that some would dismiss the accounts due to the fact of how it honoured women above men.

Indeed, we have honest people, who were initially doubters to the resurrection, coming to the empty tomb to verify what they had first heard from the women. Such evidence tells us clearly that the resurrection story is true. He indeed is risen as He had predicted (Matthew 16:21)!

Believer, does it matter to you that you serve a risen Saviour? Do you reflect on this doctrine regularly? Do you delight to read the accounts and find yourself drawn to your Good Shepherd again and again because He not only died for your sins but also rose again from the dead?

In order to be a child of God you must believe in your heart that the One Who laid down His life for the sheep not only died on their behalf but rose again from the dead for their sake (Romans 10:9).

Crown him the Lord of life,
Who triumphed over the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife
For those he came to save.
His glories now we sing,
Who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring,
And lives that death may die.

-Matthew Bridges