OH WHAT A NIGHT!
Please turn in your Bibles to Mark chapter 16, as we continue our study in the Gospel of Mark and we are moving towards the end of this book. Now keep in mind the time frame here, it is Sunday, resurrection day. So far the Roman soldiers fled the tomb area they were to be guarding, and went to tell the Jewish religious leaders, who told them to say that the disciples came and stole the body away, which they did say.
We saw Mary Magdalene, who had seven demons cast from her by Jesus see the empty tomb, go and tell Peter and John, and then return to the tomb to see the risen Lord. There was Peter and John who ran to see the empty tomb, plus the other women who also saw the empty tomb. But for some, they did not fully understand what had happened, it had not completely sunk in yet.
Also, Jesus encountered two disciples on the road to Emmaus, leaving Jerusalem defeated by what they saw, the crucifixion of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And as they were heading home, the Lord appeared to them and gave them a Bible study, starting in Genesis and going through the Old Testament, showing how the Scriptures pointed to Jesus. And as Jesus went home with them, and broke bread, they recognized Him as the Lord.
And now it is evening, Sunday evening, and even though many came to share that they have seen the risen Lord, there still was much unbelief. That is where we will pick-up our study in Mark chapter 16, looking at verse 14, and lets see what the Lord has for us this evening.
1. Again, this is Sunday evening and we are told that He appeared to the eleven. Now understand that only ten were there at this point, Thomas wasnt there and Judas already committed suicide. Then why in the world does Mark speak of the eleven? That phrase or term was a general term speaking of the apostles.
2. Now Mark only gives us one verse of this event, and thus, we are going to look at Luke chapter 24 and John chapter 20 to get some more details of this event. First, turn to Luke chapter 24 and lets pick-up our study in verse 32, as the two men who encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus, returned to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples they have seen the risen Lord!
1. Now one of the names of these two disciples of Jesus is Cleopas, as Luke 24:18 tells us, and it is possible that the other name of the disciples that Jesus meet on the road to Emmaus is Simon, as verse 34 says. Now some say this is Peter, and it could be, but we are not told of the Lord appearing to Peter, at this point, on resurrection day, only that he saw the empty tomb. So I tend to see that Cleopas and Simon were the two men that Jesus encountered on the road to Emmaus.
2. Now in this room there may have been 120 people hearing from Mary Magdalen and the other women that Jesus is alive. Peter and John saw the empty tomb. And now these two men telling these other disciples that Jesus taught them on the road to Emmaus and that He ate with them. But the problem here is the majority of the people did not believe, some 90% of these 120 or so people. They doubted that Jesus was alive and thus, Jesus is going to rectify that problem.
1. Here we see Jesus appear in the flesh and the first thing He says to them is "Peace to you!" Why does He say that? Well, we dont have to guess, for in John 20:19 tells us very clearly, we read "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, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, Peace be with you." Because they feared that the Jews would be coming after them next, these 120 or so disciples gathered together behind closed and locked doors. Thus, they needed to hear those words of peace to dispel the fear that had developed in them over these circumstances.
1. At this point they are still terrified, they think they have seen a ghost, and they are not sure if it is a friendly ghost! An some try to tell us that Jesus was like a ghost, that He was not flesh, but hovered over the ground. That is foolish and that is ridiculous. You see, Jesus makes a couple of points to show them He is flesh and blood, and not a ghost!
2. First He tells them to look at His hands and feet, they are real. You cant see through Him! Also, touch Him, and you will see your hand wont go through His body. And in verse 43 Jesus is going to eat with them and as He does you dont see the food travel down into His stomach because He is flesh and blood!
3. Now we talked about this before but in the resurrection body of Jesus we see that He still bears the marks of the crucifixion. Why? Maybe to show us how much He loves us and so we would not take the salvation we have in Christ lightly. In Revelation chapter 5 we are told "And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth...saying with a loud voice: Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" Revelation 5:6, 12. Also, in Zechariah 13:6 we see the Jews turn to their Savior, to Jesus, at the end of the tribulation period, and we read "And one will say to him, What are these wounds between your arms? Then he will answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." You see, Jesus is still bearing the marks of the crucifixion even at the end of the tribulation period, and the beginning of the millennial reign.
1. Now after all that they are still unsure and so Jesus is going to eat with them, and I like that. The Lord likes to eat and so do I. Now you also need to see that unbelief left them without joy. But in John 20:20 we are told "Now when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord." Why did their joy return to them? Because they saw the marks of the crucifixion and they recognized that this was the Lord and because of that their joy returned to their lives because true joy is found in the Lord! We see John speak of this in I John chapter 1 where he says "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full." I John 1:1-4.
John is writing this epistle for one of a few reasons, and the one we are looking at is that our joy may be full! How is that done? By being in fellowship with God and that is done through Jesus Christ! These disciples who were fearful and sad have now been transformed by Christ and thus, they are at peace and full of joy in the Lord and so will we if we come to Him!
1. What a Bible study the Lord must have gave, as He taught them from Genesis onward, expounding on the Scriptures and how they all testify of Him. And Im sure the two men who were taught these things on the road to Emmaus by Jesus were saying, "Listen to this, you wont believe it, how could we have missed it!" Now it does say that Jesus opened up their understanding to these things. How did that happen? I believe that John 20:22 tells us. We read "And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit." At this point they are not Old Testament saints any more but New Testament Christians because the Holy Spirit has come inside them as Jesus gave to them the new life, the new birth.
Thus, these disciples, like us, are taught by the Holy Spirit, our eyes are opened by God. Paul put it this way in I Corinthians 2:11-14, as he says "For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
In saying that, you cant make people see what you see, only the Holy Spirit can. Thus, dont get frustrated but pray for them that God would open their eyes to the truths found in the Word of God that they may be drawn to God and have that peace and joy that is only found in the Lord!
1. Jesus was the fulfillment of what the Scriptures said, and now the Lord was entrusting them with the responsibility of being witnesses of Him. At this point they had the tools but not the power to run those tools. That would come on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit will come UPON them and empower them to be witnesses of Christ. It is as Acts 1:8 tells us, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
2. Now there is a verse that has been poorly translated by some today, especially the Catholic Church. In John 20:23 Jesus said "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." The way the Catholic Church interprets this verse is that men who are descending from the Apostolic succession can hear the confessions of others and then they and only they can offer them the forgiveness of their sins. That is totally wrong!
3. There is a story of a women who was dying and a priest came in to visit her. And knowing she was going to die soon, he asked if he could give her absolution of her sins. She looked at him and asked to see his hands. Kind of bewildered by what she said, he did show her his hands and she said to him, "The only one who can forgive my sins has nail prints in His hands!"
4. Then what in the world does this verse mean? We dont have the power to forgive sins, only God does. Even the religious leaders of Jesus day knew this. Remember when the paralytic man was brought to Jesus by his friends and Jesus told this man that his sins were forgiven. The response by the religious leaders is as follows, "Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Mark 2:7. Thus, we cant forgive sins but what we do have is the Gospel message which if received we can tell a person their sins are forgiven and if rejected we can tell them that their sins remain, it is as simple as that. Paul put it this way in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." You see, before there can be remission of sins there must be repentance!
5. You see, that is our call, to be witnesses of Christ. The great commission seems to be the great omission of the church today. In Matthew 28:19-20 the Lord spoke to us these words, "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. Amen." You see, that commission is still applicable to us today. And notice the progression of the work. First they get saved, you make disciples by sharing the Word of God with them. Then, after they are saved, they can be baptized as a outward sign of what has taken place on the inside. And you are not to then just leave them on their own, but you are to teach them the things of God, to have them follow the things of God, encouraging them to forge ahead for the Lord!
6. But understand that without the power of the Holy Spirit you cant do this! And for these disciples, they had 7 weeks to wait, till the day of Pentecost would come. They had their marching orders, but now they are waiting for the power. If you dont have that power, just ask God to fill you, to empower you with His Spirit for service that you can be a witness of Christ.
7. Now before we conclude this chapter, we are going to look at a man who doubted what the apostles saw, and his name is Thomas. And the Lord will appear to Thomas and the other disciples 8 days from now, and we will see that next time.