THE RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION OF CHRIST

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    [Mark:15:42-47]; [Mark:16:1-20]; [Acts:1:1-11].

    Lesson No.: 
    171
    Class: 
    Junior
    Memory Verse: 

    “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

    Notes: 

    Hope Gone
    For hundreds of years the Jews had been looking for someone to come among them who would rise up and be a mighty king. They looked for one who would break the power of their oppressors and make them a free nation again. Then came Jesus working many miracles: healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding thousands of people on only five loaves of bread and a few fishes. Surely He could do anything; and there were some people who believed in Him and thought that now the Deliverer or Messiah had come.

    But after only three years of going about doing good among the people, He had been crucified; and they were still under Roman bondage. Of course, many people had been saved, their sins forgiven, and they were free in spirit; but they wanted to have a free government.

    They were puzzled, and wondered, among themselves: Why had He let His enemies whip or scourge Him? Why had He followed them up Calvary’s hill to be nailed to the cross? He had said He could call a legion of angels to help Him if He wanted to. Then why had He not come down from the cross? They had hoped to the end -– but now He was dead.

    Fulfilled Scripture
    There was a man named Joseph of Arimathæa who had been expecting God to set up a kingdom on earth, and he must have felt that Jesus was in some way connected with it, even though he had died. We have not heard him mentioned as a follower of Jesus, but at this time he was not ashamed to go to Pilate and ask for the body of Jesus so he could give it a decent burial. Joseph was rich and owned a good tomb which he freely gave to Jesus, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah: “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death” (Isaiah:53:9). The wicked were the thieves with whom Christ was crucified, and Joseph was the rich man in whose sepulchre He lay.

    The Third Day
    The chief priests who had condemned Jesus to death remembered that Jesus had said He would rise the third day. They did not really believe that He would, but they were afraid that some of the disciples might come and steal the body of Jesus and then say that He had risen. They wanted Pilate to be sure that the tomb was guarded past the third day so the Jews would not tamper with it.

    The priests need not have worried about the disciples. They did not even remember that Jesus had said He would rise again. They were so sad that all they could think about was that their beloved Jesus was gone from them. In their grief they said: “We trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel” (Luke:24:21). And they felt that now it was all over.

    The Promise of Life
    Jesus had tried to warn His disciples that He would have to suffer and die; but He had promised them that He would live again. There had been the time after the Transfiguration, when He had told Peter, James, and John not to tell what they had seen until “the Son of man were risen from the dead” (Mark:9:9). They had talked among themselves: what did He mean by rising “from the dead”? Another time He had told them that He had power to lay down His life and take it up again; but such a thing had never happened before. How could they understand such a saying?

    Jesus had told His disciples, too, that after He had risen He would meet them in Galilee. But the disciples did not go to Galilee to look for Him, for they never expected to see Him again.

    Unbelief
    Mary Magdalene and another Mary had watched Jesus laid to rest in the sepulchre of Joseph, and had gone home to prepare spices to use in anointing Him when the Sabbath was passed. They never once thought that He might be gone when they returned.

    Imagine their surprise when they came on the first day of the week with their spices, and found the tomb empty! Jesus was gone; but, there sat an angel to tell them: “He is risen; he is not here.” There was the fine linen, which Joseph had bought for Christ’s grave-clothes, so there was no mistake about this being the right place. The news frightened the women, and they could not believe.

    Jesus had risen with a body that looked just like any human being. When He met Mary Magdalene in the garden and spoke with her, she thought at first He was the gardener, and she asked Him if He had taken the body of Jesus away. When He called her by name, then she knew He was her Lord. She hurried away to tell the other disciples that it was really true that He had risen from the dead, and she had seen Him. But they did not believe her.

    Later that day, while two of the disciples were walking to Emmaus, Jesus walked along the road with them and talked with them; and then He stopped and ate with them. He was not a spirit but was Jesus, alive, in the flesh. When He asked the blessing upon the food before they ate, they recognised Him. He vanished from their sight, and they went back quickly to Jerusalem to tell the Apostles that they had seen Jesus alive. But the people they told did not believe!

    The Disciples Upbraided
    Jesus was sorry that no one would believe -– not even His Apostles -– until they had seen Him alive. He had told them that He would have to die, but that He would rise the third day. When Jesus met with the eleven, He asked them why they did not believe the things He had said. And what about the things the prophets had written about Him? Could not they believe that? Did they have to be shown before they could believe? Jesus told Thomas: “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John:20:29). That blessing is upon all God’s children today who have not seen Jesus in the flesh and yet have believed that He died for our sins and rose again.

    Christ’s Commission
    Jesus told His disciples that He had finished the work that the Father had given Him to do on earth, and that He would soon go to Heaven to be with the Father. After He was gone they would have to preach all that He had preached: repentance and forgiveness of sin. They must teach the people that Jesus loved them, and that they had to believe on Him in order to be saved. They must believe that Jesus had died as an atonement for their sins and had risen again.

    The disciples would not be alone when they went preaching -– in Jerusalem, to the people who had put Jesus to death; in Samaria, among the people who were hated of the Jews; in all the country round about; and to the strangers in the uttermost parts of the world. Jesus would go with them and work with them, “confirming the word.” That meant that He would bless their ministry and save souls and heal sick people in answer to their prayers, just as He had promised.

    Signs Following
    Jesus said: “And these signs shall follow them that believe.” Many people say today that the days of miracles are past; that miracles happened in the early days to establish the church, but that today there are none because there is no need for them. But Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” If those signs are not following our Christian living, it must be that we do not believe; and “without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews:11:6).

    If sick bodies are not being healed in answer to our prayers, and if sinners’ lives are not being changed through our ministry, there must be something wrong with our faith. The Apostle James wrote: “Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James:2:18). In other words, you say you have faith; prove it by your works according to God’s promises. God’s Word cannot fail, and His promises are to those who believe.

    Jesus prayed for His disciples that their faith would not fail. If we keep reading the Bible and praying to Jesus, He will give us the faith that will accomplish things for God. We must have our sins forgiven first; then when our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence that God hears us when we pray, and we will receive the answer. “These signs shall follow them that believe,” were among the very last words of Jesus. He then commanded them to return to Jerusalem to wait for the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which would make them witnesses with power wherever they went. Their faith would be increased so that the signs would follow their preaching.

    Into the Cloud
    All was now finished. For forty days Jesus had walked with them, and had given them many proofs that could not be doubted that He was really alive, the very same Jesus who had died on the cross. Out there on the Mount of Olives, while the disciples watched, Jesus was taken up into a cloud up to Heaven -– and He was gone.

    The disciples stood there in amazement, watching the place where Jesus had disappeared. Were their hopes to be shattered again? Had the One they loved so well gone forever? Suddenly two angels stood among them and said, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” That was a promise that He come again, and the disciples were satisfied. No doubt they remembered now that Jesus had said: “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John:14:2, 3).

    Jesus is saying that to us as Christians today. He is in Heaven preparing a place for us, and preparing us for that place; and one day soon He is going to come again and take His people into Heaven where they will enjoy all the wonderful blessings He has prepared for those who love Him.

    In the meantime, we must be diligent in our work for the Master, proving our faith in Him by the works that we do.

    Questions: 

    1. Who crucified Jesus? and why?
    2. Who buried Jesus? and what prophecy in Scripture did he fulfil?
    3. How do we know that the two Marys did not believe that Jesus would rise again?
    4. How did Jesus feel about the way the disciples received the news that He was alive?
    5. Name some instances when Jesus appeared after He arose.
    6. What were some of the last words of Jesus?
    7. Who would receive the blessings that Jesus promised?
    8. How did Jesus leave this world?
    9. What was the message of the angels who met the disciples on Mount Olivet?