He was not just a good man who happened to do miracles.
Jesus broke with all conventions, doing the unexpected, associating with the downtrodden, ignored, and forgotten outcasts of the earth. Reaching down, lifting up, He did not fill the role assigned Him by the Jews. They figured a proper Messiah would behave far differently — like coming with an entire army to conquer Rome and rid the Jews of their terrible oppression.
The disciples were comfortable in His presence, though He promoted a markedly different attitude toward sin and sinners than did the Pharisees. He offered assurance that He had not come to judge, but to save those who were lost.
Crowds thronged Him, amazed to witness Jesus healing the sick, opening blind eyes, and raising the dead as He preached a message of repentance toward God. It was for this purpose He had come.
There was something compelling about Jesus that drew people to Him. When He issued that stirring invitation “Follow Me,” they willingly did so.
Following the common practice of the day, Jesus, as Teacher, chose prospective students to learn from Him as they crisscrossed the countryside, preaching and healing. They left their families, their nets, the seat of customs, their occupations and embraced Him as leader of this close-knit group of twelve.
For three-and-a-half years, Jesus and this select group traveled from town to town offering hope to suffering humanity.
Fear and grief
But now Jesus was gone, crucified by the actions of some of the very ones He had come to save. A depressing cloud of fear hung over the disciples, and they clung together, wondering what would become of them.
Meanwhile, some of the women found an outlet for their grief by preparing spices to anoint the body of their beloved leader. It was the least they could do. But who would roll away that heavy stone? To their surprise, they found the tomb open.
An angel at the empty tomb told the women that Jesus had risen and wanted His disciples to meet him in a mountain place in Galilee. Fueled by fear, the women fled, trembling and amazed and delivered the angel’s message.
The disciples’ initial reaction was disbelief. They had gathered together to mourn and comfort one another in the loss of their Leader. Now they were on their way to meet Him.
They rejoiced to see Jesus alive! Over the next forty days, He revealed Himself to them more fully. At first, they flip-flopped between joy and disbelief, but were finally convinced that Christ had indeed risen from the dead.
During His ministry, Jesus had told His followers that the Son of Man had to die and be raised again. Temporarily blinded to the full implications of His words, they now remembered these conversations concerning the future.
Jesus opened the disciples’ understanding of the Scriptures contained in the law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms concerning Himself. It was necessary that Christ should die and rise again, and that repentance and remission of sin be preached.
The full impact of God’s salvation plan opened their eyes to the depth of Jesus’ mission on earth. They now knew that under the Mosaic law, the sacrificial lamb, though perfect and without blemish, had been a type of Christ and could not in itself atone for sin (Hebrews 10:4-8).
Lord and Savior
Jesus had spoken of His impending death in this way:
“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:23, 24, NKJV).
Earlier, the disciples had known Jesus as their leader, mentor, teacher — Son of God! God had provided that perfect sacrifice for sin in the person of His Son. Now that Jesus had completed the work of salvation, the disciples recognized Him as their risen Lord and Savior, and worshipped Him accordingly.
Jesus died to save; He rose to give hope and the promise of eternal life. He ascended into the heavens as Mediator and High Priest; He will come again as the giver of life, to judge and to rule as King.
Call to action
The disciples, awestruck, watched as their Lord ascended into the heavens, but angels appeared and took them to task: “Don’t just stand there! He is going away, but He is coming back. In the meantime, don’t just stand there!”
The words of Jesus came back to them. “Go! Do! Make disciples in every corner of the world.”
Now it was time to share that message with all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. With His instruction to preach, baptize, and make disciples ringing in His followers’ ears, a whole new dimension of ministry and purpose opened the doors of their understanding to deliver the gospel message far afield. And the word spread over the face of the then-known world.
To the work!
The message continues to spread and is for all who would follow Christ today: Don’t just stand there! Do something to promote the coming kingdom of God. Be part of the action.
Watch! Look up! Rejoice in His promises and get to work.