It Was No Ghost

It was no ghost that the disciples were seeing on that day when Jesus appeared to them.  It was not the spirit of Jesus who was standing among them.  It was Jesus  in the flesh!

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.​ – Luke 24:39 (NIV)​

Then Jesus asked for a piece of fish and He ate it in front of them.  If He had been a mere ghost, the fish would have fallen to the floor.  But Jesus was truly alive!
He had been raised from the dead and now, everything would change.  Nothing would ever be the same.  He commanded His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received power from on high.  Jesus promised that He would send the Holy Spirit and about 50 days after His resurrection, He did just that.  The Holy Spirit of God came in power upon the apostles and things began to change.  They preached the Word of God boldly.  They healed the sick.  They raised the dead.  They changed the world.  They went from cowering in an upper room wondering what to do next to going boldly into the world to change it for God’s glory.  You and me, we are the legacy of the apostles.  We stand on their shoulders and are filled with the same Holy Spirit.  Let us resolve ourselves to going into our world to boldly change it for Jesus.  Let us do what the Spirit enables us to do in order to bring glory to God and lost sons and daughters home to the Father.
Luke 24:36-49 (NIV)

36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 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.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

44 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.”

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them,“This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations,beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”


The Burning Heart Within You

When you hear the words of Jesus, does your heart burn within you?  After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to two men walking from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus.  They didn’t recognize Him.  Perhaps His resurrected body had been transformed, healed or His identity was kept secret from them.  In any case, they didn’t know who had joined them.  They were talking about what had happened the previous three days and now a “stranger” had joined them and asked them about their conversation.  They were incredulous.  Was this man the only one in Jerusalem who had not heard what had happened?!?  How was that even possible?  They told Him what had happened to Jesus and how His body was now missing.  They were hoping that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, but now that hope seemed to be fading.
Now it was Jesus’ turn to be incredulous.  He explained what God had prophesied about the Messiah throughout the Old Testament.  Then, when He appeared to be leaving them, they asked Him to stay with them as evening was approaching.  Jesus agreed and then, at the evening meal, He broke bread and gave it to them after giving thanks for it.  It was then that their eyes were opened and they realized that they were with Jesus!  Then He disappeared from their sight.  The two men ran off to see the 11 disciples and tell them that they had seen the Lord.
One of the interesting phrases in this passage is after Jesus is revealed, one of the two men says to the other:

Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us? – Luke 24:32 (NIV)

As they heard Jesus explaining the Scriptures, their hearts burned within them.  When you hear and read the Word of God, does your heart burn within you?  God’s Word is amazing!  It has the power to give life to the spiritually dead.  It has the power to call the lost home.  It has the power to change the sinner into the saint.  It is a love letter from God to you.  It is a road map to our heavenly home.  It is an instruction manual for how to please God through obedient living.  It tells us everything we need to know about how to have a real relationship with God based on love and grace and not on following rules.  It teaches us to follow Jesus and live for Him.  My prayer for you today is that this living, active Word will cause your heart to burn with passion and excitement as you read it.  For the Word of God is life-changing and it can bring about an amazing transformation in your life.
Luke 24:13-35 (NIV)
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 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?”

19 “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.


When Christ Shall Come…

The message from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana from October 26, 2014.


Just As He Said

I spend a bit of time in cemeteries.  One of my responsibilities as a minister is to perform funerals.  So one spends time in cemeteries comforting those who grieve and saying, “Farewell” to the dearly departed.  When someone is buried, then it becomes all too real.  Through tears and sorrow, you realize that they’re not coming back.
As they laid Jesus’ body in the tomb, there must have been such a sense of finality and shock.  How could it be over?  How could He be gone?  Why did it have to end this way?
Beaten and battered.
Jesus was being put into the tomb and those who were putting them there were trying to figure out what was going to happen next.  They had no idea!
Upon arrival at the tomb, they discovered that the stone had been rolled away!  The body of Jesus was not there!  How could someone have taken the body?  How could they have overpowered the squad of Roman soldiers?  How was this possible?  All of a sudden two angels appeared and explained what had happened.
They reminded them of Jesus’ words.  He told  them what was going to happen.  He told  them that He would be killed and that He would rise again.  Now, it had happened, just as He said!  The tomb was empty!  Jesus had triumphed over the grave!  He was alive!
For those of us who put our faith in Jesus for salvation, the grave is not the end of the road.  It is little more than a speed bump on the way to our own resurrections.  For though we will one day pass and be buried, we will rise…just as He said.

Luke 24:1-12 (NIV)

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 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 wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away,wondering to himself what had happened.


The Father’s House, Our Home

The sermon from Griffith First Christian Church from October 19, 2014.


A Temporary Tomb

What was it like for Joseph to handle the dead body of Jesus?  Luke says that he had been waiting for the Kingdom of God (verse 51, NIV).  He had disagreed with their decision to put Jesus to death.  What was the basis for his dissension?  Was he a believer?  I think that he was.  He placed Jesus in his own tomb so that this homeless carpenter would have a place of rest.  Perhaps this was an act of worship.  Maybe it was just a kind act.
Little did Joseph know that Jesus’ use of his tomb was only going to be temporary!  The grief that they all felt was only going to be temporary.  The women were preparing spices for Jesus’ body, but they were spices that would never be used.  Jesus had promised that the Father would raise Him to life on the third day and that is exactly what would happen.  At this point, though, everyone had forgotten this promise.  They did not realize what was about to happen.  They just knew that Jesus was dead and buried on Friday.  They didn’t understand that Sunday was coming.
Luke 23:50-56 (NIV)

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.


Inspiring Faith

Jesus, hanging from the cross, inspired faith by His death.  When He breathed His last, the crowd took notice.  The Roman centurion remarked in faith, “Surely this was a righteous man” (Luke 23:47, NIV).  The crowds, once mocking Jesus and insulting Him, now beat their chests in sorrow as if to exclaim, “What have we done?!?”  The realization of who Jesus really was had hit them.  Truly He was the Son of God!
Nearly 2,000 years later and Jesus’ death still inspires faith.  But it is not His death alone.  It is also His resurrection!  For many religious leaders have come and gone.  They have preached their messages and have lived “good” lives.  They have gathered followers by the thousands and even the millions.  But they all have one thing in common – they died.  Jesus, though, is different.  Yes, He came in the flesh.  Yes, He preached His message of love and hope and He lived a perfect life.  He gathered followers by the thousands and today it numbers over 1 billion people who claim faith in Christ.  Yes, He died, but He didn’t stay dead!  You can find tombs of religious leaders all over the world.  Their remains are in their tombs.  Not so with Jesus Christ!  He conquered death and He defeated the grave!  He rose from the dead on the 3rd day and walked out of His tomb and He never went in again!  Now we await our Savior from Heaven who will give us the victory over sin, death and the grave.  Only through Jesus Christ can we have the victory.  Let us live our lives in such a way that we will inspire others to remark, “Surely Jesus is the Son of God!”

Luke 23:44-49 (NIV)

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.


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