In the last part we talked about why Jesus died on the cross. It was painful to study the brutal way our king was slain and sobering to remember that he did it for us, willingly. But today we’re going to celebrate because he rose from the dead and returned to the Father, conquering death and holding the keys to Hades. We focus a lot on his death, but his ascension is what changed everything!
In this part we will ask the questions: What did Jesus’s spirit do when he was in the tomb? What happened on Easter Sunday? What is Pentecost? What happened to the disciples when Jesus ascended to Heaven? What is he doing now? And when will Jesus come back?
- Part 1 | CHILDHOOD: Who is Jesus?
- Part 2 | MINISTRY: Who were Jesus’ disciples?
- Part 3 | MINISTRY: What did Jesus teach?
- Part 4 | MINISTRY: Why did Jesus perform miracles?
- Part 5 | ARREST: What happened in the last days of Jesus’ life?
- Part 6 | DEATH: Why did Jesus die on the cross?
- Part 7 | RETURN: What happened after Jesus died and when is he coming back?
- Part 8 | I saw Jesus in a dream
Listen to the podcast
What was Jesus doing between his death and resurrection?
From Friday afternoon to Sunday morning Jesus’ body remained in Joseph’s tomb. But where was his spirit during this time? Well, there is a lot of debate on the subject. First we’ll look at a few places in scripture that many scholars think pertain to this time:
Acts 2:31: he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.
Psalm 16:10: For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.
1 Peter 3:18-19: For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.
This is out of my theological league, so I’d like to offer this explanation from GotQuestions.org:
“So, where was Jesus for the three days in between His death and resurrection? For a time, He was in Hades, preaching to the spirits in prison (whoever they were). Then, He released all of the righteous dead of Sheol/Hades and took them with Him to heaven. But, again, there is controversy on virtually every point.”
So the answer isn’t clear where Jesus was on Saturday, but the important thing is what happened on Sunday!
What happened on Easter Sunday?
Piecing the gospel accounts together, here is what happened on Resurrection Sunday:
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome, Joanna and other women went to Jesus’ tomb very early Sunday morning (Mark 16:16, Luke 24:10). They brought spices they prepared to anoint Jesus’ body, as they had been in a rush to put Jesus’ him in the tomb on Friday before the Sabbath (or day of rest). They were unsure who would roll away the stone in front of the tomb for them (Mark 16:3).
Then there was an earthquake and an angel, whose appearance was like lighting and clothing white as snow, rolled back the stone and sat on it. Angels told the women “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said” (Matthew 28:6). The two angels told the women to go and tell the disciples. So they ran with fear and joy to tell them.
The guards witnessed the earthquake and angel “and for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men” (Matthew 28:4). They went into the city and told the chief priests. “… they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day” (Matthew 28:12-15).
Mary Magdalene told the disciples the tomb was empty. Peter and John ran to see. Peter went inside. “Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes” (John 20:6-10).
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. (John 20:11-18)
Jesus also appeared to Mary The Mother Of James, Salome, And Joanna on their way to tell the disciples. “And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him” (Matthew 28:9).
Isn’t Friday to Sunday two days not three?
This is a very particular question, but one I have often wondered, so I’m including it. Jewish tradition is that each day that is touched is considered counted. So this would make Friday, Saturday and Sunday three days.
Who saw Jesus after he was resurrected?
It was 40 days from the day of Jesus’ resurrection to his ascension into Heaven. During this time he appeared to hundreds of people. These are the encounters his followers recorded, though there may have been many more:
- Mary Magdalene
- Other women
- Two Disciples On The Emmaus Road
- The Disciples (Thomas Absent)
8 days later:
- All Of The Disciples
- Seven Disciples At The Sea Of Galilee
- A Mountain In Galilee
- Over Five Hundred People
- James (Jesus’ half-brother)
- The Disciples (during the Ascension)
- Saul (some time after the Ascension)
Why did Jesus remain on earth 40 days after he rose from the grave?
After Jesus’ death on the cross, the disciples and followers were dismayed. But then he showed them repeatedly that he lives! His body was not stolen. He conquered death and holds the keys to death and Hades (Revelation 1:18). He also prepared them for what was to come and gave them instructions to take his message to the world.
Though his body was able to do things that it had not before (for example, walking through a locked door in John 20:26) and on a few occasions his disciples did not recognize him at first (John 20:14, Luke 24:16, John 21:12), but he still ate fish and bread in front of them (John 21:13, Luke 24:42). He was not an apparition, but flesh and blood.
Jesus appeared to many and they believed, but read what Jesus tells Thomas about you and me. Matthew 28:12-15:
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
What happened when Jesus ascended to Heaven?
Let’s read from Acts 1, written by Luke. In fact, you can read Luke and Acts like a two-part series.
The Promise of the Holy Spirit
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Before Jesus ascended he prepared his disciples in these ways:
- He proved to the apostles multiple times he lives. There was no more room for their continual doubt.
- He opened the mind of the apostles to understand the scriptures and his fulfillment of “the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24).
- He told them to stay in Jerusalem because they would soon receive the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).
- He gave them the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
As Christians we celebrate Christ’s birth, his resurrection, but quite often we skip celebrating his ascension into Heaven altogether. It’s like we skip the best part! He had conquered death, secured our reunification with God and was returning to Heaven to reign forever! As John MacArthur says, it is “heaven’s affirmation that he had accomplished everything he had come to do.”1
What is Pentecost?
After Christ’s ascension, the eleven chose Matthias to replace Judas. The group of followers numbered 120 at this time, according to Acts 1:15. This included the apostles, Jesus’ brothers, mother and women. It is unclear if they continued to meet in the same upper room where they partook in the Last Supper, but they remained in Jerusalem as Jesus had directed them.
It was 10 days after Jesus went to Heaven that the Holy Spirit came upon the group. We know this because Pentecost means “50” in Greek, as it is a festival that takes place 50 days after Passover. And as we just read, Jesus went up into Heaven 40 days after Passover. Pentecost is the Jewish Festival of Weeks, a celebration of “the first fruits of wheat harvest” (Exodus 34:22).
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?
That day was the first fruits of the spiritual harvest, indeed. After Peter addressed the crowd, telling them to repent, be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit, they were “cut to the heart” and “about 3,000 were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:37-41).
Why did the disciples need the Holy Spirit?
In John 17:7, before his death, Jesus told his disciples, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”
In the Old Testament, the Spirit would on occasion come upon people, but only for a period of time. For example, when Saul was the first king of Israel, the Spirit came to him but after his disobedience God took his blessing away (1 Samuel).
When Christ lived the perfect life and conquered death, he paved the way for us to our Holy God. Before this moment in time, God could not dwell with man, let alone inside of him. But now that we are one with Christ, the Spirit of God no longer resides inside a temple. The temple is now our body. This is what Jesus meant when he said “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19).
Jesus says in John 14:26: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Dane Ortlund lists what the Spirit does in his book “Gentle and Lowly”: He regenerates us, convicts us, empowers us with gifts, testifies in our hearts, leads, makes us fruitful, enables, intercedes for us when we don’t know how to pray, guides us to truth, transforms us into the image of Christ.
Once you have accepted Christ, you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and are “sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). He will “help you and be with you forever” (John 14:16).
After the Holy Spirit came to the disciples, they were on mission for Christ instead of for themselves, their minds were opened to scripture instead of living in doubt, their spiritual vision was clear instead of blinded by only what they could see with human eyes. That’s not to say they didn’t have their disagreements later, but that’s a story for another day.
Like we teach the kids in Sunday school, it’s like they were flashlights who finally received the battery.
Who is Saul or Paul?
Some years after Pentecost, Jesus appeared to Saul of Tarsus. He was a Pharisee actively persecuting and murdering Christians, but something turned his life upside down. He encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus.
… and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” … Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
God told a man named Ananias to lay hands on him. “And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.”
Note that Jesus said, “Why are you persecuting me?” Saul wasn’t persecuting Jesus, was he? He had already died and risen. But these Christians are one with Christ through the New Covenant. A covenant is a solemn oath between two loving friends. It is essentially saying: We are one. Your enemies are my enemies. Your family is my family. So to Jesus, Saul persecuting them was the the same as persecuting him.
From this point Saul was transformed and dedicated his life to preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. He changed his Hebrew name, Saul, to the Roman version, Paul. He was now a messenger to all people — Jew and Gentile. Paul went on to write at least 13 of the 27 New Testament books.
He had persecuted Christians with all his might and zeal only to find out he was on the wrong side. He called himself the worst of sinners, knowing that he had sent many innocent to their deaths. On top of that, once he changed sides and lived his life for Jesus, he himself was persecuted, flogged, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned.
There are many takeaways, but the two that stand out to me in this moment are: 1) following Christ does not mean a trouble-free life; 2) anyone can turn their life around and use it for God’s Kingdom!
What happened to the apostles?
Here are the traditional stories of their missions and deaths. As you read, ask yourself what the chances are of every single man willingly to be tortured to death for something that he thought was a lie or something he did not actually believe in. To me, these stories are overwhelming evidence that Jesus’ disciples truly believed he was the Messiah — that he did die on the cross and rose from the dead.
Peter: Peter’s teaching can be linked to Samaria, Rome and Asia Minor. He was crucified in Rome probably during the reign of Nero and asked to be crucified upside down as he felt unworthy to die the same death as Jesus.
James, son of Zebedee: He is thought to have taught in Spain and Syria. Acts 12:2 says King Herod had him killed by sword.
John: He cared for Jesus’ mother and was the church leader in the Ephesus area. He survived being boiled in oil in Rome. He was exiled to the mines on the island of Patmos for his faith, where he wrote Revelation, and later released to modern-day Turkey. He was the only apostle to die a natural death.
Andrew: He brought the good news of Jesus to Greece, Asia Minor and Russia. He is thought to have been crucified for days on an X-shaped cross in Greece. His last words are reported to have been: “I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.”1
Philip: He is thought to have preached in North Africa, Asia Minor, Ukraine and Turkey. He may have converted a Roman proconsul’s wife to Christianity that led to his crucifixion in Turkey.
Nathanael: He ministered in Asia Minor, India and Armenia. He was flayed alive in Armenia.
Matthew: He taught in Persia, Macedonia, Syria, Parthia, Media and Ethiopia. He was possibly stabbed to death by sword in Ethiopia.
Thomas: He brought the gospel to India and was stabbed with a spear during one of his trips.
James, son of Alphaeus: James might have been crucified in Sinai or Persia. The other tradition is that he was stoned to death in Jerusalem.
Thaddaeus: He took many missionary trips, but is best known for founding a church in Turkey. It is said he was either clubbed or axed to death. Another says he was crucified.
Simon: He is thought to have taught in Persia and killed after refusing to worship and offer sacrifice to the sun god.
Matthias: He replaced Judas and was supposedly stoned and beheaded.
Paul: He traveled throughout Asia, Greece and Italy. He was tortured in Rome and then beheaded in 67AD.
James, brother of Jesus: He was not one of the 12, but he was the leader of the church in Jerusalem. He is said to have been thrown off the pinnacle of the temple and survived, so he was clubbed to death. This could be the same pinnacle that Satan took Jesus to during his temptation in the wilderness.
Jesus warned of their persecution, yet they remained faithful and their reward is in Heaven.
What is Jesus doing now?
Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). He is at the right hand of his Father, ruling the universe and reigning over all. He is the commander of angel armies.
With all the evil that happens today this might seem confusing. Professor D.A. Carson writes, “God’s will is being done without being contested in heaven. And there will come a time in the new heaven and the new earth when it will not be contested anywhere. But right now it is being contested, even though Christ is reigning, even though God’s sovereignty is not removed.”
Jesus the high priest
Jesus the great high priest who:
- Sends the gospel out into the world
- Teaches his followers in tandem with the Holy Spirit
- Oversees and guides his churches
- Calls people to himself
Lets read from Hebrews 4:
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Jesus the intercessor
Unlike high priests of the old testament who offered animal sacrifices for the sins of the people, Jesus the High Priest offered himself as the final and perfect sacrifice. Because of this he can also act as our intercessor or advocate to our high and just God. This is why we pray in Jesus’ name. His blood has atoned for our sins so that we might sit blameless before a holy God. It’s like getting in because you “know a guy.”
23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
He also says he will prepare a place for you, working on your behalf in heavenly places.
I’ve heard this described several times as a court room. God is the judge. Jesus is your defense. Satan stands there accusing you (Rev 12:10), listing your sins and faults and demands you be declared guilty. But our defender has paid our debt for us so our God sees us as righteous and free.
Jesus the friend
In John 15:15 Jesus says, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
He is the “friend who sticks closer than a brother” in Proverbs 18:24. King Jesus of the universe asks you to be in a relationship with him so that he can be your high priest, intercessor and friend.
When will Jesus come back?
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
In Matthew 24:36 Jesus tells us: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
Some people try to decipher the book of Revelation as if it will unlock a code to when Christ’s return will be. Or maybe they can predict when it will happen by the series of events in this prophetic book. I know, because I used to be one of these people! I studied and studied. The more I studied the more I realized the beautiful mystery that it is. The book packed with symbolism and Old Testament references, but it is not a secret code to knowing exactly when the end of days will come. For we are not meant to know.
1 Thessalonians 5:2 says: “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”
MORE: Bible Project has an excellent short video on this topic for further study.
How will we know it’s Him?
The Bible says there will be many false teachers in the end of days and to be on guard.
23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
We read that he will come back the same way he left. Let’s read Revelation 1:7: “Look, he is coming with the clouds,’ and ‘every eye will see him, even those who pierced him’; and all peoples on earth ‘will mourn because of him.”
1 Thessalonians 4:
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
It seems he will be visible to all people. This will not be a quiet entry like his first coming. He came as a lamb, but he’s coming back as a lion to not only claim his own, but “repay everyone for what he has done” (Rev. 22:12-13).
We don’t have time to get into the fundamental views on the rapture, second coming and the millennium, but when he comes back he will defeat Satan.
Let’s read what John saw in his revelation, given by God. Chapter 19:
The Heavenly Warrior Defeats the Beast
11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
King of kings and Lord of lords.
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”
19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
It is said, the first time Jesus came, he came to redeem; the second time he will come to reign. It’s a gruesome image, but it is recorded so we will know the truth, of what is to come. The people who will go down with Satan into the fiery lake of burning sulfur will go there because they choose it. God grants us the choice — if we want to live without him on earth, it will be the same after death. But this life will be as good as it gets. For only torment awaits those in the fire.
What does it mean Jesus is the last Adam?
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49:
45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
Adam’s disobedience was replaced with Jesus’ obedience to the Father. But it’s not just Adam who has been disobedient, we all have.
Because of Jesus’ obedience, there is hope for the hurting. Hope for the grieving. Hope for the addict. Hope for the angry. Hope for lost. Hope for all of us who have sinned and cannot get to God on our own. Our hope is in Jesus and Jesus alone — the servant king who came down from Heaven, lived gentle and lowly life in every way, healed the helpless, loved the unlovable, taught the unteachable and died for even those who would reject him.
Why does Jesus have so many names?
Christ, Messiah, Savior, Son of Man, Lamb of God. What do all of these mean?
Jesus’ name would have been pronounced Yeshua in ancient Israel. It was changed over the course of time to Jesus in English translations. Yeshua means “to save” or “deliver.”1 It is closely tied with the biblical name Joshua. As Joshua let his people out of the desert into the promised land, Jesus will lead us out of this sinful life into eternity with the Father.
Christ is not Jesus’ last name. Instead it means “the anointed one” or “chosen one.”
Messiah also means “anointed.” It refers to the awaited king of Israel promised in the Old Testament.
A savior is someone who “saves, rescues or delivers.”1 Humans have sinned since the beginning and because of this our world is fallen and corrupt. Jesus lived a perfect life we never could, died on the cross to take all the punishment on himself and reconcile humanity with God.
Isaiah 7:14 prophesied “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Immanuel means “God with us.”
John 14:18 says “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” Jesus was God in human flesh on earth.
Son of Man
Interestingly, Jesus refers to himself as the “Son of Man” more than any other name and it indicates an emphasis on his humanity. It refers to a dream Daniel had while he was a captive in Babylon. He had a vision of four beasts representing “four kings who shall arise out of the earth” (Daniel 7:17). But there’s another who will take the throne.
“I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.
Clearly we can see Jesus is the Son of Man in this story. The importance here is that he was the human none of us could ever be and will be given everlasting dominion while restoring the relationship we were supposed to have with God. Read the parallel in what Jesus says in Mark 13:24-27:
24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
Son of David
God made a covenant with David, that the messiah would come from his lineage (2 Sam 7). This rested upon and reinforced the Abrahamic covenant. So when the suffering people cry out to Jesus on the street, saying “Son of David,” they are telling him they acknowledge his deity and that he is the chosen one sent from God.
Lamb of God
Leviticus lays out with precision and detail how and when sacrifices were to be made at the tabernacle in the wilderness. The bloodshed from an animal — blood means life — didn’t blot out their sin forever, but only atoned it, or only offered “reparation for an offense,” as Merriam-Webster says. So this would have to be done again and again. Instead, Christ, who is the perfect lamb, sacrificed his life ONCE for ALL sin so that we can be reunited with our Father in Heaven! His blood was shed and life given to cover the blood that we should shed for our sins.
Lion of Judah
Jesus was from the line of Judah, one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Its symbol was a lion (for leadership) and most kings came from this tribe, including David and Solomon.1 He came to the earth the first time as a sacrificial lamb to give us a way out. But the second time he comes it will be like a lion, a king who judges.
His name is above any other name. It is powerful to call upon the one who has conquered death, the one who invites you into relationship with him. Never abuse it. Never take it in vain and use his holy name as a bad word. Instead, offer it up in prayer and thanksgiving for the one who mediates between you and God.
How can Jesus’ death atone my sins?
I didn’t understand how Jesus dying on the cross could atone my sins until I began to learn about covenants. This is special, follow me, ok?
First, let’s note that God is just and cannot let evil go unpunished. And the Bible is clear: “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) Our sin from the beginning has corrupted and distorted his perfect creation and separated us from him.
Now, a covenant is a solemn oath between two loving friends. It is essentially saying: We are one. Your enemies are my enemies. Your family is my family. From this moment forward we are one. Traditionally, throughout time and throughout the world, a covenant was sealed with a sharing of blood. Because blood represents life. This transfusion of life is symbolic. They share the same blood and life now.
When we take communion and drink the wine representing his blood and eat the bread representing his body, we are entering a blood covenant with him. We are making him a part of us and us a part of him. What this means is because he put on our robe of humanity, we may put on his robe of righteousness.
Jesus lived a sinless life and therefore conquered death. He still shed his blood and willingly died though. For what purpose? He went to the cross so we wouldn’t have to. He can be our sacrifice, our substitute, because we have accepted him and are one with him. It is so that those who enter the covenant with him, who become one with him, will be admitted into the Lord’s presence on his account rather than our own. We are adopted children of God because we are one with Jesus and God is his Father, his family. The Holy Spirit can dwell inside of us for the same reason.
There is, however, a cost to entering this precious covenant of old.
These are our covenant responsibilities (Matt 10:34-39):
- Love Jesus more than anyone
- Take up our cross and follow him (even if it costs friends, reputation, job, even your life)
- Walk with him closely, minute by minute
- Lose our old way of life and build it around him instead
Jesus says in Rev. 3:20: “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”
How can I become a follower of Jesus?
These events are still as relevant today as they were 2,000 years ago and you have a part to play. If your heart is pounding and there is a lump in your chest, don’t put this off for another day. Wipe away that tear. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, God wants you. His son calls you. This can be the beginning of a transformation like you’ve never imagined.
Here’s what to do:
- Pray to God in your own words. Ask for forgiveness from your sins. Tell him you accept his son Jesus as the messiah and that you believe he died for your sins. Invite him into your life and make His will your will.
- Receive the Holy Spirit and begin the renewing and transformation of your mind and life.
- Get plugged into a Bible-based church. Check out this church directory by The Gospel Coalition. This is key to having those seeds he has planted flourish and not be pecked away by the birds.
- Take communion with the wine representing his blood and bread representing his body. This is the New Covenant you are entering with the King of the Universe.
- Get baptized and publicly declare your love for the Lord Jesus!
- Go tell the world about the good news of Jesus Christ!
Are you wayward? Have you not been baptized? Do you need a recommitment? It’s not too late! Now is the perfect time. For not one day of life is guaranteed.
You might not be able to see his face as the disciples did. You might not see the kindness in his eyes or hear his soothing voice confessing his love for you. You might not be able to physically touch his scared hands, feet or side. But his promises remain. What he did stands — the same as then as today. He loves you and calls to you in your spirit. Do you feel it? One day we will see his lovely face, hold onto his scared hands and hug his body of flesh and blood that he took on for our sake. The day is coming soon, friend.
I’ve shared everything from the written Word of God up to this point, but today I’d like to share my own encounter with the Messiah. How does it feel to see him face to face? What is is personality really like? Well, I met him in a dream and I’d like to share it with you.
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