Easter Egg Hunts

Before you form a preconceived opinion from my title–this is not about my condemnation of family traditions; the ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s of the Easter season.

After reading a full-page in my local newspaper the other day, I couldn’t help notice our local area churches’ upcoming Easter activities advertised, and it made me question…

“Why does the Easter bunny and egg hunts seem to be more exciting than news about Christ’s death and resurrection?”  So here we are.110424-the-resurrection-of-jesus-widescreen-1-728

I simply believe we haven’t grasped the significance of the DEATH & RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ.  Oh, most of us know the ‘story,’ of what happened over 2,000 years ago, but it didn’t stop at the Cross.

POST’S Scripture Focus:  1 Corinthians 15:1 – 15:25

Manuel Gonzales was the first rescue worker to reach 33 miners trapped or 69 days in a Chilean mine explosion in 2010.  At great risk to his own life, he voluntarily went underground more than 2000 feet, to bring the trapped men back to the surface.  We all watched in amazement as one by one, each miner was rescued and transported to freedom [See Footnote [i] ].

We need to come to a conclusion today that the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ is…

–more than a fairytale,

–more than a legend,

–and more than some religious symbol.

It is a historical fact that is indisputable.

Billy Graham once said,  “There is more evidence that Jesus rose from the dead then there is that Julius Caesar ever lived or that Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-three.”  [See Footnote [ii] ].

How can Billy Graham make such a statement?  Is there evidence that makes believing in the Resurrection more than a leap of ‘blind faith’?

“For the RESURRECTION to have any significance, JESUS had to be dead first”  (Dr. Norman Geisler – When Skeptics Ask;  p. 120.)

Some have said that Jesus just passed out and was revived later in his tomb.  HELLO!!  Christ suffered horribly and eventually died with the beginning at the Garden of Gethsemane, where “His sweat was like drops of blood” (Luke 22:44).

His suffering continued throughout His interrogations by Annas and Caiaphas, hitting him in the face, spit upon and beaten, and continued when taken to Pilate, flogged, given a crown of thorns, spit upon and struck repeatedly on the head.  The flogging alone was so brutal that it was amazing He lasted until His crucifixion.

And then there was the CRUCIFIXION itself!

Hanegraaff writes,

“The Roman system of crucifixion had been fine tuned to produce maximum pain. In fact, the word excruciating (literally “out of the cross”) had to be invented to fully codify its horror.”

They used 5 to 7 inch spikes to hammer him to the wooden beams of the cross.

$_1

And there is more!

John 19:31-37 gives the account of the guards breaking the legs of the thieves to hasten their death by asphyxiation.  But when they came to JESUS, He was already dead and they speared His side instead.

If he wasn’t DEAD…he would be dead now!

– EMPTY TOMB

Matthew 27:51-61 gives an account of Jesus’ BURIAL.

Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the religious right, the Sanhedrin, placed Jesus’ body in his tomb.  This account also says that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting opposite the tomb, so they knew where it was.

The next day, the Sanhedrin came up with a plan…just in case the disciples might have plans in stealing Jesus’ body, faking a resurrection–getting Pilate’s order to post a guard and seal the tomb.  [Read Matthew 27:62-66]

The tomb was discovered EMPTY because it was EMPTY!

Nobody got the tombs mixed up.

Nobody stole the body.

It was, EMPTY, period!

– APPEARANCES

One of the greatest PROOFS of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was His post-resurrection appearances.

1 Corinthians 15:5b-6 ~ NIV bible

[5b]…He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  [6] After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

More than 500 people!

500 saw Jesus

There were surely many people who could testify to the trustworthiness of this statement. Several hundred.  Paul’s statement had plenty of eyewitness testimony to back it up or disprove it if false.

– TRANSFORMATION REALITY

The reality is that a TRANSFORMATION of Jesus’ followers took place.

This is evidence of the reality of the RESURRECTION–

This small group of disciples went from hiding to preaching in a very short time.  And, they were willing to go through pain, suffering and even death.

“Nobody willingly dies for something that they know is false”  (Lee Strobel, “Case for Easter”.)

They knew Jesus had died, knew there was an empty tomb, and they had seen Him.

And the REALITY of the Resurrection’s transforming POWER didn’t stop with the eyewitnesses, but within weeks of the Resurrection, not just one, but an entire community of at least ten thousand Jews were willing to give up the very sociological and theological TRADITIONS that had given them their national identity.  [The Case for the Resurrection! – He is risen! –He is risen…www.chiptape.com]

The Relevance of the Resurrection –

Christ’s Resurrection proves He was God, and not an imposter.  In John 2, Jesus chased out the money changers in the Temple because they’d turned God’s Temple into a marketing venture.

The Jews asked Him,  “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”  This is what Jesus told them:

“Destroy the temple, and I will raise it again in three days”  (John 2:19 NIV).

They thought he was referring to the Temple building they were in.  But verse 21 tells that He was referring to His body.  He delivered on the miraculous sign, proving who He was.

The Resurrection proves Jesus to be the Son of God; brings us face to face with the FACT that He is who He claimed to be.  God in the flesh!

The founders of every other religion DIED and stayed DEAD!

JESUS ROSE AGAIN!

This is important to all pf mankind.  It forces people to make a decision in life.  Since Christ Jesus IS who He claimed to be, how will the world respond to Him?

The Resurrection makes your Salvation possible –

Without the Resurrection of Jesus, every person is still DEAD in their sins  (Romans 4:25).

If Jesus died and was never raised, then His death did nothing to accomplish JUSTIFICATION.

God raising him from the dead showed acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice.  If God left Jesus in the grave, then the SACRIFICE was not accepted and no one has received cleansing from sin.  The condemnation for sin is death (Rom. 6:23).  To still be under condemnation means that ALL people will be given the ultimate penalty for their sins.”  [Life Application Bible Commentary]

Paul writes “And if Christ has not risen, then our preaching is in vain  [it amounts to nothing]  and your faith is devoid of truth and is fruitless  (without effect, empty, imaginary, and unfounded)…And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is mere delusion, and you are still in your sins [under the control and penalty of sin].  And further, those who have died in [spiritual fellowship and union with] Christ have perished (are lost)!”  [1 Corinthians 15:14, 17-18 AMP).

If JESUS didn’t rise then you are still dead in your sins and your Christian faith is worthless, and anyone you’ve known who died a believer is just as damned as an unbeliever.

– The RESURRECTION makes YOUR Resurrection possible

You and I are spirit and body.  Unlike the beliefs of the great Greek philosophers, who thought the body was evil and something we should want to be released from.

God made our bodies as part of who we are and they complete us.

Right now our bodies are affected by SIN and the body dies, BUT…God has a plan to RESURRECT our bodies to perfection.

These resurrected bodies, our current bodies will be TRANSFORMED (When I look in the mirror in the mornings, I say Hallelujah!) and will be bodies completely perfect and dominated by the Spirit rather than the sinful nature.

I especially like what the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8 (NIV):

[23] Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  [24] For in this hope we were saved.  But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what he already has?

Our spirits have been SAVED, BUT…we are awaiting the day for our bodies that are made completely new that frees us from the ugliness of SIN and totally be dominated by the Holy Spirit.

Resurrection is our HOPE, our GUARANTEE!  

And, 2 Corinthians 5:5 says…

Now He Who has fashioned us [preparing and making us fit] for this very thing is God,  Who also has given us the [Holy] Spirit as a guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise]. (Amplified Bible)

Our resurrection is only made possible by the resurrection of Christ Jesus.  Christ’s RESURRECTION guarantees our own bodily resurrection.

The Bible refers to Him as being the ‘firstfruits,’ guaranteeing the whole harvest of which you and I are a part…IF…we are in Christ.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes through man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own turn; Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him  (1 Corinthians 15:20-23 NIV).

“Is it EASTER yet?”

LIVING IN THE “EGG KINGDOM” –

Humpty Dumpty, A NURSERY RHYME of old, most of us know by heart.  I find that there is an analogy to be found in this classic tale that lines up with this Blog-post.

Google Images
Google Images

I remember that egg-shaped character sitting on a wall and fell and all the king’s horses and the king’s men couldn’t put him back again.

You and I are broken because of SIN.

There is nothing anyone can do to fix us.  We are utterly helpless and hopeless to stand in judgment before God in our sin.

The Story of “PHILIP’S EGG”  [See Footnote [iii] ] –

Little Philip, born with Down’s syndrome, attended a third-grade Sunday School class with several eight-year-old boys and girls.  Typical of that age, children didn’t readily accept Philip with his differences.  But because of a creative teacher, they began to care about Philip and accept him as part of the group, though not fully.

The Sunday after Easter, the teacher brought Leggs pantyhose containers, the kind that look like large EGGS.

Each receiving one, the children were told to go outside on that spring day, find some symbol of new life, and put it in the egg-like container.

Back in the classroom, they shared their new-life symbols, opening the containers one by one in a surprise fashion and after running about the church property in wild confusion, the students returned to the classroom, placing the containers on the table.

Surrounded by the children, the teacher began to open them one by one.  After each one, whether flower, butterfly or leaf, the class would ooh and aah.

Then one was opened, revealing nothing inside.  The children exclaimed, “That’s stupid. That’s not fair! Somebody didn’t do their assignment.”

Philip spoke up, “That’s mine.”  “Philip, you don’t ever do things right!” the student points out.  “There’s nothing there!”  “I did so do it,” Philip insisted.  “I did do it. It’s empty; the tomb was empty!”  Silence followed.  From then on, Philip became a full member of the class.

Philip died not long after that from an infection most normal children would have shrugged off.  At the funeral this class of eight-year-olds marched up to the altar, not with flowers, but with their Sunday school teacher, each to lay on it an empty pantyhose EGG.

The JOY of Resurrection Sunday Morning!

While you may be broken like Humpty Dumpty because of sin, unfixable by anyone in the world, and because that tomb is genuinely empty and Jesus is alive and well…what He did on the cross for you and I, paying for our sins, we’ve been given an opportunity.  Not only to be fixed, but to become a NEW CREATION and to have fellowship with God.

That’s the Joy of Resurrection morning.  

God can fix you spiritually and you can have the HOPE that He will one day complete your redemption by redeeming your body to be like Jesus’ body.  There is no JOY without the relevancy of the Resurrection and without it, you have no life! 

 


 

Credits & Footnotes:

Footnote [i] :  Our Daily Bread REDEEMED, Pg. Devotion: Day Nine.

Footnote [ii]:  Hank Hanegraaff Resurrection – Publisher: W. Publishing Group.

Footnote [iii]:  Christianity Today.com – Philip’s Egg by Harry Pritchett Jr. in the Leadership Journal Magazine.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted in the text.

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search.

 

 

 

The Mystery “Streaker” in the Garden

Clothing Can Send A Message

When my family was young, dressing for church on Resurrection Sunday (Easter) was a day for spring dresses, suits and ties.  I remember trying to scrape some money together in the early 70’s, just so daddy’s little girls could venture out to the shopping malls and pick out that special dress.

We may not dress for Easter in the way we used to…but, we do send out signals with our clothing.  We do communicate what we feel about ourselves and, we send signals regarding our self-image.

Uniforms Can Identify Authority–

We wear clothes to tell others who we are and what we are about.

My dad was a San Diego Fire Department Captain.  When he wore his firefighter slicks, get out of his way so he could do what he must.

If I were to stand in the middle of a busy street today, holding my hand up to stop traffic, chances are…I would be hit and killed by an auto.  But put on a police uniform and do the same hand motion…traffic would come to a halt because they would recognize the authority of the uniform.

Some people communicate with their clothes of not just who they are but who they hope to become.

“Dress for Success” Idea

There are groups available to serve jobless people, offering not just counseling, but also business suits and tailored dresses.  My folks always told me, “If you are going out on an interview…look the part.”

So, what does our clothing have to do with this week’s Scripture message?

AN INTRIGUING LITTLE FOOTNOTE IN MARK’S GOSPEL –

This footnote comes during that stormy scene in the 14th Chapter, when in dark Gethsemane:  JESUS prayed alone because His closest friends for the past three years would not stay alert–the betrayer’s kiss, the arrest, a brief scuffle, and–what distressing words!

“Then [His disciples], forsaking Him,

fled, all [of them]”  (Mark 14:50 AMP).

BUT NOW COMES THE INTRIGUING FOOTNOTE – Mark 14:51-52 English Standard Version (ESV):

MARK 14:50-51
MARK 14:50-51 [Bible Iliad The Naked Young Man @ Alpha]

51  And a young man followed him (Jesus), with nothing but a linen cloth about his body.  And they seized him,  52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

After the descriptive narrative, the story continues:  trials and denials, prisoner releases and floggings, mocking and parading, and, in the end, CRUCIFIXION.  DEATH.  Dramatic death,  DARKNESS and death.

[More reporting, more investigation is needed.]

THE MYSTERY IS REVEALED –

Here’s the MYSTERY that grabbed my attention.  Why did Mark waste his ink on this certain young man, wearing nothing but linen?  Why tell us about a person who was almost snatched by some soldiers but who pulled out and ran away…NAKED?

But was this really a waste of ink?  Scripture points out:  “Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience…”  (2 Timothy 3:16).

That said, then who was this young man…what does this mean?  Does his dropped linen cloth send a MESSAGE?

Just as clothing can send messages, and what we wear may send signals, so also what we leave behind marks out a new identity.  What we drop off permits us to become something new.

Who then, was the “STREAKER” skittering through the grove of olive trees?

In study, I found several possibilities, each represents a different way of understanding the “dropped cloth.”  Each of these dropped cloths may fit some of us.

The Possibilities–

Some think that the young man may not be anyone we can name; that he may have come from an affluent family.  LINEN was expensive, and so if he was wearing linen out there in the garden at night, when you might have expected informal clothing, it might suggest he had wealth and wanted to show off.

If this theory is correct, this young man came close to JESUS, almost got caught up with Him, but he ran because he couldn’t risk losing his financial status in the community.  So he dropped his cloth, his fine linen cloth, and ran away…NAKED!

Wow!  I thought there may be a METAPHOR for some of us here.

We’ve watched JESUS from a distance.  We have listened to Him, but with skepticism, because He teaches things that are hard to swallow.

We’ve trusted in our success in business and in our profession, but JESUS speaks about losing our lives in order to find them.

JESUS tells us that if we want ETERNAL LIFE, sell all that we have and give it to the poor.

Getting Close to JESUS!

We can’t get too close to this JESUS, not as prosperous as we are  He demands too much!

If this is correct, that this young man is a man of means, clad in fine linen…Symbolically then, as he came close to JESUS that night, he had to drop that cloth.

I HEAR A HARD LESSON–that the meaning of LIFE doesn’t consist in the abundance of the things which we possess; that our dollars and our acquired acclamations do not earn us anything really.  In the sight of God, as the Bible teaches it,  “All our righteousness is as filthy rags”  (Isaiah 64:6).

All the STUFF we have will deteriorate and all the achievements we have piled up…will fade.

It’s a hard thing to hear for the “whoever’s”…

The “whoever’s” In our prosperous achievement-oriented society,

“Whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for My sake, and the gospel’s will gain it”  (Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; Matthew 16:25).

That means we have to DROP the cloth of prosperity and no more pretension.

Behind our pretty clothes, our varnished veneers, and our well-manicured lawns, lies nothing but the NAKED TRUTH–we are desperately needy.  Only Christ Jesus can satisfy our need.  We must drop the cloth of PRETENSION.

But What If…

What if the anonymous STREAKER found in the garden of Gethsemane was NOT a young man of wealth?  Maybe it was someone we can actually name, identify that young man losing his cover in the garden.

All for good reasons, some Bible students think this certain young man was LAZARUS. The man who JESUS raised from death a little while before.  Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, were good friends with Jesus.

JESUS arrived at their home in Bethany after Lazarus had been dead for four days, shrouded and buried.

But JESUS stood at his grave and commanded, “Lazarus, come forth!”  And indeed he did.

The Bible story reports that they had to release the grave-clothes in letting him go.

What if…the young man mentioned in these verses… is LAZARUS?  And more than that, 9306807480_694ec4546esuppose that this LINEN CLOTH is his buried garment.

True, it no longer has the same purpose of binding his arms and legs, but is free to move about.

But is he still wearing that shroud?  Is he still running about town in the same cloth used to wrap his dead body?  How weird would that be?

But even if that sounds bizarre, it’s not unusual.  Though peculiar, but not uncommon.

The Truth is…many of us continue to wear our grave-clothes.

Many of us exhibit the relics of a DEATH from which we’ve been freed at SALVATION.

Many of us act as though we were trapped in THE PAST instead of THE FUTURE.

Like LAZARUS, we have been offered new life by JESUS; but, again, like Lazarus, we do not shake off the things that bind us that hold us back.

PAST BAD HABITS CONTINUED…

Some of us our BOUND in old habits that make us appear as “dead men walking,” even though we have been shown the right path to take.

We hold on to old prejudices (“I’m guilty”).  And yet, who of us does not know that in JESUS CHRIST there is a way, a TRUTH, and a life–a life that brings freedom?

Why would we choose death over life?  But we do.  We do.

Dropping the “Shrouds of Death” –

LAZARUS, raised from death, not yet thought life unleashed his freedom.  And so here he is, on the night of trial, lingering on the edge of the garden, yet not ready to go and die with JESUS.

Why should LAZARUS even fear death?

He has already been given life, and should understand that the One who gave him life once…could do it again!

BUT LAZARUS is living in a SHROUD and had to drop that cloth exposing his frail limbs.

SAD FOR LAZARUS!  AND SAD FOR US…

…If God, who has begun a work of SALVATION in us will not bring it to completion.

SAD FOR US if once we said “YES” to Jesus and His offer of a NEW LIFE, but done nothing with it for years and years.  It means we are still wearing GRAVE CLOTHES!!

We must drop the “shroud” that BINDS us to the past.

There is a THIRD THEORY in this story…

During my investigation, I uncovered a THIRD possibility of who the anonymous young streaker might be.

It might have been a nameless rich and accomplished young man, who could afford a LINEN CLOTH, or, it might have been LAZARUS, still wearing his burial shroud, or it might have been MARK himself, the author of this gospel.

It may have been a very young MARK writing this account, not wanting to name himself as the “streaker,” but telling us that he was there all the time.  He was a WITNESS–but in his nightshirt.  Night clothes, pajamas, sometimes were made of LINEN.

Uncovering the Evidence in the Garden – 

There are many reasons why it could be MARK, too many to list in this blog.  But it definitely could be John Mark.  It is consistent with what we know of Mark in other places of the Bible.

Here in this seemingly insignificant little story of a young man who came out to the garden one night, awakened from his sleep, got close to the action, but who hesitated at the key moment.

Here is a young man who had followed JESUS, maybe even closely, but who went back home to sleep when things got tough.  He pulled back to SAFETY–an insulated life, and came out to watch, but at a distance.

And if it’s true that MARK is the mystery “streaker” in the garden, just as he did later on, according to the Book of Acts…he RAN.  He bolted.

When the going got tough, he got going, but not because he was tough, far from it.

He got going because he was afraid.

He got moving because he was immature and not ready for what was coming next.

He got to his feet and ran because he had not yet awakened to all that JESUS had in store for him.

He ran and exposed his maturity.  As we often do.  As we run.

We too go to sleep by cutting short what we could very well experience.

We too start to be a follower of Christ, but find Him too complex, too much.  So we slip into unconsciousness–we go to sleep, we run from Him.

Hazy and Lazy About the Christian Faith…

Some of us don’t get it what it means to be a Christian.  Our PRAYER lives have not advanced beyond,  “Now I lay me down to sleep.”

Our GIVING lives have not passed beyond tossing a coin or two to a beggar on the street corner, or sending a minimal check to a charity or church.

WE ARE ASLEEP!  We could be so much more as Christians, but we just haven’t grown up.

So like MARK, we go about in our sleepy-time night-clothes, not aware that we are called to be children of the Light.

We need to LET GO of the life of near-nothingness and to commit to grow in JESUS. Otherwise, we will find it mighty cold out there, exposed in the night with nothing to protect us.

THERE IS STILL ANOTHER LINEN CLOTH THAT WAS DROPPED –

Dropped Cloths…

The rich man, or Lazarus, or Mark.  Take your pick.  Each one of them exposes us; dropped cloths that will strip away all the ways we hide ourselves.

For you see, in an EMPTY TOMB, there was another LINEN CLOTH (Mark 16:6-7):

“Do not be alarmed; you are looking for JESUS of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised, he is not here.  Look, there is the place where they laid Him…Go, tell his disciples…”

HE LIVES!
HE LIVES!

And they did GO TELL!

They told those who had depended on wealth and status, they could drop that pretension, for Christ is alive and gives freely, without price or payment to ALL who will TRUST Him.

He dropped His cloth and He lives!

They told those who were living in the past, that they could drop that habit, for JESUS is alive and gives NEW LIFE freely.

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old thing are passed away and all things become new”  (2 Corinthians 5:17).

He dropped His cloth and He lives!

And they told us who are so immature, so far short of what we could be, we can drop our masks, we can forget our veils.

JESUS DROPPED HIS CLOTH;  He sends a message.  He lives!

And because He lives, we too can live, and live more abundantly–

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whosoever believes on Him has everlasting life. And whosoever includes even such a child as I.”

He dropped His cloth…

He sends a message…

He lives!

Drop that cloth.  Right now, drop that cloth of yours, and truly live!


 Credits and Commentaries:

Commentary:  The powerful transformation of the young man – Mark 14:51-52 & 16:5 by AOSIS Publishing.

PHOTO’S not marked:  Google Images, Photo Pin.

Bible Translations:  English Standard Version (ESV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV); New King James Version (NKJV).

 

Connecting the Dots: The Resurrection and Ascension of Christ

He is not here!
He is not here!

THE TIMING OF THE RESURRECTION & CHRIST’S ASCENSION:

Harmonizing Biblical stories of the Resurrection of Christ Jesus and His post-resurrection appearances and all the events that took place that day has proven a challenge for many Bible scholars.  So in saying, as a Word Detective, I am going to investigate the Four Gospels and search for the biblical truths of Christ’s Ascension.  So grab your Bibles, and let’s get started.  And by the way, this isn’t a light read.

Harmonizing the Biblical Stories–

Bible skeptics love to take potshots at the Gospel stories; try to discredit the Scripture as in-breathed of God, therefore ‘one cannot rely upon the Bible.’

An important reminder.  God could have all four Gospel writers record all the events exactly the same way, but would that prove anything?

Four Aspects Presented by Four Writers:

All four Gospel writers were under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, depicting the four aspects of the Life of Jesus while here on earth.

Matthew – Writes his gospel with a view of Jesus as King.

Mark –  Shows Jesus as a Suffering Servant of God.

Luke – Depicts the Humanity of Christ.

John – Views Jesus’ Divinity.

Putting ALL the events in chronological order: (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1-2; Luke 24:1,10; John 20:1)

The Three Women at the Tomb–

Not less than 3 women go to the tomb that early morning, including Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome.  There is the possibility they don’t go as a group but as two separate groups, meeting at the tomb at slightly different times.  Take note that Mary Magdalene is especially singled out by all the Gospel writers on the resurrection day.

Making their way to the tomb, an angel of God descends from heaven–rolls the stone away–the earth quakes–the guards faint– and the said angel, sits on the stone (Matthew 28:2-4).

Arriving at the Tomb…

1.  Mary Magdalene finds it empty and runs to tell the disciples (John 20:1-2).  The other women mentioned remain behind.

2.  An angel shows them the empty tomb, telling them JESUS CHRIST has risen from the dead!  “Go and tell” – (Matt. 28:5-7; Mark 16:2-8; Luke 24:1-8).

Happenstance doesn’t occur in the Bible– Old Testament or New Testament.  

There are many points of comparison in Scripture showing the Holy of Holies is prophetic of the EMPTY TOMB.

FOR EXAMPLE:

Cherubim covering the Mercy Seat of The Ark of the Covenant
Cherubim covering the Mercy Seat of The Ark of the Covenant

1.  The Holy of Holies contained the Ark of the Covenant– the Presence of God, while the empty tomb contained the body of Christ Jesus.

2.  The Veil covered the entrance of the Holy of Holies and the Stone covered the opening of the Tomb.

3.  Worshipers were not allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, and the tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers.

4.  The Veil covered the Holy of Holies–JESUS’ body was covered in a shroud (Matt. 27:59).

5.  Blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat and on the worshipers in the temple for forgiveness of sins–the BLOOD poured out of JESUS on the Cross and then in the tomb for the forgiveness of sins once and for all (Past, Present, and Future).

6.  Two carved Cherubim (angels) faced the empty space above the Ark of the Covenant, covering it with their wings, while TWO ANGELS greeted the women at the empty tomb.

Left Alone Weeping…

Mary Magdalene returns to the scene and stoops down looking into the tomb.  She sees two angels sitting where JESUS had lain, one at the head and the other at the feet.

They question her, she replies and as she turns around, she sees JESUS, thinking that He is the gardener, pleading with Him for the Body of Jesus.

JESUS then calls her by name and suddenly…Mary recognizes Him.  She responds and reaches out to touch JESUS, cling to Him, who quickly cautions her saying,

John 20:16-18:

[16]  Mary!  Turning around she said to Him in Hebrew,  Rabboni!–which means Teacher or Master.

[17]  Jesus said to her,  Do not cling to Me [do not hold Me], for I have not yet ascended to the Father.  But go to My brethren and tell them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.

[18]  Away came Mary Magdalene, bringing the disciples news (word) that she had seen the Lord and that He had said these things to her.

The Bible Verse Most Believers Have Overlooked (John 20:17):

They missed this “ascension” of Christ in which He must first present Himself pleasing before the Father.

Most Christians believe that there is only one ascension of Christ, and that it took place right after He spent 40 days with His disciples following His resurrection (Acts 1:1-5, 9).  However, John’s Gospel clearly points out Jesus’ own words–-He must not be touched with human hands until He goes up to see His Father, our Father, His God, our God.

WHY?  The Book of Leviticus Chapter 16 gives answer:

On that given day, it was the one day of the year the high priest was allowed to offer a blood sacrifice in the Holy of Holies; sprinkle the sacrificial blood of a lamb before the presence of Yahweh, covering the sin of the people.  The high priest was the only one who could do it!

The Day of Atonement–

Yes, alone and unassisted, the ATONEMENT had to be made by the solitary high priest (Lev. 16:17).

As a High Priest, JESUS laid down His life as the represented Passover Lamb.  He was the SACRIFICE.  He took His own BLOOD and He went up (“ascended”) in to the Holy Presence of God, where He presented it before His Father, after which He came back out to where He first entered in.

HOW LONG DID THIS TAKE?

How long did it take for JESUS our Lord to ascend and come back down?  It didn’t take very long, not even minutes.  When Aaron the high priest took the blood of the sacrificial lamb into the Holy of Holies, he certainly didn’t dilly-dally in that place.  He sprinkled the blood on the Mercy Seat and came right back out.  That was why small bells were attached to the rim of the high priest’s garment.  Outside the Holy of Holies, you could hear the bells as the priest moved about.  No bell-ringing? The priest wasn’t found worthy in the sacrifice and was struck dead.  The other priest could then drag him out by his feet.

JESUS, as the High Priest:

As a High Priest, JESUS laid down His life as the Passover Lamb.  He was the SACRIFICE…He took His own blood and went up in to the Holy Presence of God and presented it before His Father, after which He came back out to where He first entered in.

How long did this take for JESUS our Lord to ascend and come back down?  Didn’t take long, not even minutes.

The Revelation…

Now, with this revelation in hand, let’s continue to look at the events as follows:

1.  Mary Magdalene–goes off to tell the disciples she has seen the Lord (Mark 16:9), and Christ goes up (ascends) to His Father, His God.  And then comes right back down again.

2.  The Guards–having raised themselves, report the empty tomb scenario to the authorities, who then bribe the guards to say that the disciples have stolen the body of JESUS  (Matthew 28:11-15).

3.  JESUS meets the women–on their way to tell the disciples the NEWS the angel has given them.  JESUS greets them, and they draw near and hold His feet, worshiping Him.

*[Note:  JESUS could now be touched].

4.  JESUS comforts them, and reaffirms the instructions the angel has given them (Matthew 28:8-10).

 It is at this time, the Old Testament saints resurrect and many go into the city of Jerusalem and appear to many (not all) of the disciples  (Matthew 27:52-53). 

* [A Note about Matthew 27:50-54]:

The word “and” appears often in the New Testament.  This conjunction can sometimes confuse readers, because of the way Scriptures were translated; marked off into verses for the ease of locating particular words and phrases.

The original written manuscripts were in Greek, which didn’t separate words, nor used accents and punctuation marks.  Even in Luke 23:44-47, appears misleading in comparison to Matthew 27:30-34.

Nevertheless, the proper readings of the two passages are as follows:

Matthew 27:50-54:  

1.  After JESUS had given up His spirit, an earthquake happens.  At the same time, the VEIL in the Temple in Jerusalem was torn into, top to bottom.

2.  After the RESURRECTION of Christ Jesus (on the 3rd Day), the graves were opened [Remember, there was also an earthquake as an angel descended and rolled away the stone in front of the grave].

3.  THE SAINTS of old resurrected and many of them went into the city of Jerusalem and appeared to many of the Disciples.

Luke 23:44-47:

1.  From about the sixth hour (12:00 PM) until the ninth hour (3:00 PM), there was DARKNESS over the land because the sun was darkened.   2.  The VEIL of the Temple was rent (torn) as JESUS gave up His spirit crying,  “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”.

3. Mary Magdalene and the other women meet the disciples and relate what they have seen and heard (Mark 16:10-11; Luke 24:9-11; John 20:18).

4.  Later the same day, JESUS appears to Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5).  

Cleo and a friend in dismay…”JESUS had been crucified…who would redeem us now?”

In the late afternoon of the same day, JESUS meets up with Cleopas and another disciple on the road to the village of Emmaus, a distance of about 7 1/2 miles (12 kilometers) from Jerusalem.

As the day turns to evening, they all sit down at the dinner table.  JESUS breaks the bread, and the disciples suddenly recognize Him.  They immediately return to the city (15 miles round-trip… in one day!), and report the event to the Eleven and others (Luke 24:13-35).

Later that night… 

JESUS appears to the disciples in a closed room…and Thomas the disciple is found missing (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25).

And again, after 8 days…

JESUS appears again to His disciples in a closed room, but this time, Thomas is present (John 20:26-31).

Following that, and over a period of up to 40 days since His resurrection, JESUS appears a few more times–to seven disciples at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-25), and to about 500 disciples in Galilee and to His half-brother James (1 Corinthians 15:6-7).

The Great Commission…

While JESUS is with the disciples, He commissions His disciples, teaches the Scripture and the PROMISE to send the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:16-20; Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:4-5).

The Ascension…

After 40 days, JESUS ascends into Heaven (Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:6-12).  

It becomes quite clear, that as He ascends, He takes the resurrected Old Testament saints up with Him, for they are no longer held in captivity by the Prince of Darkness who has held them in Sheol (not Hell) all that time.

The POWER of the Resurrection…

By the POWER of JESUS’ resurrection from the dead, these saints are now Christ’s captives.

JESUS sets them free into Paradise as He ascends to sit in His Father’s Throne (Ephesians 4:8; Matt. 27:52-53; Rom. 1:4).

JESUSONTHETHRONESURROUNDEDBYANGELS
Sitting on the Throne

There you have it.  READING your Bible is more than just scanning the pages.  It’s a conscious effort to search for the truth with the help of the Holy Spirit in “connecting the dots”.