Serving Christ and sharing the Gospel

The Great Commission (Lk 24:36-49)

Well after the excitement of Easter day, the day that is the greatest day in history, how are you feeling?

I’ve got to say that I was grateful for the bank holiday Monday - the family returned to their homes and Chris and I got up late and just went for a walk into Upminster, brought some cake and chocolate in M&S with a £5 voucher they had sent her for her birthday, that was about to go out of date, had a coffee in Costa, got to talk to a really nice chap I meet once at the bereavement service, walked home and then we became ‘couch potatoes’ for the rest of the day. We read we had a couple of little snoozes , it was wonderful! But then we know what happened on that first Easter day, we know that Jesus had been crucified, that He had died, had He Had raised and, that he had beaten death and we believe this so we could just relax.

But the disciples are still trying to work it all out, the bit before our reading is about the two that meet Jesus on the Road to Emmaus, you can read that for yourselves later, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that Jesus walked with the two, discussing what had happened in the last three days. And the fact that Jesus’ body was missing. Then Jesus slowly with love explained all to them, Jesus said ‘to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself’.

And then while they were having a meal and Jesus took the bread they recognised him and their response was as we read in chapter 24 v33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon. Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

So the disciples were running back to tell the others the good news of Jesus resurrection, and they run at best in the evening if not the night when it was most dangers not only under foot but from robbers, they run to tell the others the fact that Jesus lived, that he had died and rose again - that this was a fact.

And this is where our reading started we read in v 36 “While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 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.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. 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.

Let’s be honest if Jesus appeared right now right hear with us I am sure we would all be startled and frightened, if fact startled and frightened might be a bit of a massive understatement, some of us would not be able to cope and no doubt would black out or worse embarrass ourselves.

But Jesus is a great and loving God, Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you.” Woh there, claim down, chill out it’s only me Jesus. And to prove it he lets them examine his hands and his feet and to touch him and he eat fish with them to prove He was not a ghost or a figment of their imagination or that they were suffering from some sort of mass hysteria.

Now we read in the bible about Jesus returning, and many like me believe this to be true, but I did not always believe it was true, but did you know that the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is very, very, strong.

Some people have said “Well, that was just hallucination.” Sure, people do hallucinate. Normally, people that hallucinate are highly strung, highly imaginative, very nervous or sick, or on drugs. But the disciples don’t fit into any of those categories. We’re talking about burly fishermen and tax collectors! We’re talking about realists and cynics and sceptics.

There was Thomas, who said “I’m not going to believe unless I see it for myself”. And then look at the number of people that saw the risen Jesus after his crucifixion. Jesus appeared to over 500 people, on eleven different occasions. Are all these people really likely to share the same hallucination?  Or the nature of the appearances. Hallucinations are subjective: they have no objective reality. It’s like seeing a ghost.

James Odgers, founder of the Besom Charity actually became a Christian because of that one verse….he recognised, quite rightly, that ghosts don’t eat fish!, and came to the conclusion that Jesus had to have risen in bodily form. Jesus ate with the disciples. He cooked breakfast for them on one occasion! He had long conversations with them. All of this had an immediate effect; it transformed the disciples, and resulted in the birth and explosive growth of the Christian church right across the globe. The question we have to ask ourselves is what was it that caused that if it wasn’t the resurrection.

Many Scholars and others have done extensive work of detailing that evidence. They have looked at the strength of the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.

A method commonly used today to determine the historical authenticity of an event is “interpretation to the best explanation.” They “begin with the evidence available, and then work out if that was true what would be the best explanation of that evidence.” In other words, they should to accept an event as historical if it gives the best explanation for the evidence surrounding it.

Many scholars say when we look at the evidence, of the, The Empty Tomb, The Resurrection Appearances, The Origin of the Christian Faith, the truth of the resurrection emerges very clearly as the best explanation. There is no other theory that even come close to accounting for the evidence. Therefore, there is solid historical grounds for the truth that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.  It is worth pointing out that in establishing the historical authenticity of the resurrection, most scholars do not assume that the New Testament is inspired by God or even trustworthy. They looked at the truths that even critical scholars admit. In other words, these truths are so strong that they are accepted by serious historians of all persuasions. Therefore, any theory must be able to adequately account for these.

William Craig said “If we deny the resurrection, we are left with at least three inexplicable mysteries”, there is a much, much better explanation than an appeal to mystery or a far-fetched appeal to a stolen body, or hallucination, or ideas from other religions. The best explanation is that Christ in fact rose from the dead! Even if we take each fact by itself, we have good enough evidence. But taken together, we see that the evidence becomes even stronger. For example, even if two of these facts were to be explained away, there would still be the third truth to establish the fact of the resurrection.”.

And if it were all rubbish why would the disciples as Phil said last week suffer such appalling deaths if it was not true, it’s not as if there was any wealth in it for them or their families.

Then we read in v45 Then he (Jesus) opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day”

Jesus opened their minds. So what do you think about that, supernatural, yes it was, does it still happen, yes it does, want prof I am standing hear now in front of you, I did not get it I read the bible as I have said before after a while I believed it but I did not get it, until I said the pray of salvation and asked Jesus to be my Lord and opened myself up to the Holy Spirit and then my mind was opened and I understood, I got it, I was blind, I was deaf, and then I could see, I could understand, through the power of the Holy Spirit and faith and spending time with God, God can do this I have experienced, and seen this in many people, if you have faith if you spend time with God, He will do this.

I was talking to a friend the other day a teacher who said she felt closer to God this week because she had time to spend with him in his word through the Bible and in prayer. Iif you have accepted Jesus as your saviour do you make time to spend with Him, if you don’t how do you expect to understand him to know him.

In verse  47 Jesus said  and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

And here we have the core our commission to tell everyone that there is an opportunity of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, to tell of the Fathers love, and it began in Jerusalem and it has spread to the whole world and time and again what the bible said has come true that not all will understand and not all will accept and many will turn away, because the love of the world and self is strong, but for me and my house the love of God and of Jesus is what up holds us. And as the bible also says many will turn away from sin and turn to God, but how can they do this if no one tells them.

The Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2 says this to all believers But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. That we my declare the praise of Him who called us out of darkness.”

And because the adversary is strong Jesus said in verse 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.” Jesus did send the Holy Spirit, to those who stayed, to those who were obedient.

And that same Holy Spirit is available to us all, all we have to do is ask for it, ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit every day, pray come Holy Spirit, fill me Holy Spirit, The Holy Spirit is Gods life force in us, then be obedient to the promptings of the Spirit, D L Moody was once asked why he urged Christians to be filled constantly with the Holy Spirit. “Well,” he said, “I need a continual infilling because I leak!” He pointed to a water tank which had sprung a leak. “I’m like that!” he said. It’s a fact that living in this sinful world we do need to be replenished by the Spirit every day.

So in conclusion, right at the beginning of my talk we heard about the disciples running back to tell others the good news of Jesus resurrection, and they run at best in the evening if not the night when it was most dangers, the fact that Jesus Lived, died and rose again is fact, the fact that Jesus asked us to tell everyone is fact, the fact that Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to help us is because He, Jesus does not want us to do this alone but for it to be a partnership with the Father the Son And The Holy Spirit, and why because he God loves us John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

And what do we have to do? Hold on to the faith that we have, or to profess that faith ask God to forgive our sins and to ask Jesus into our lives and to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us, and then to do what Jesus asked of us, which is  30 Love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength.’ And to ‘Love our neighbour as ourselves.’  And that loving is telling others that God loves them, just as he loves you and me. Good news should be shared, the disciples could not wait to share the good news, what about you are you ready to share the good news that Jesus is alive today and living in you.

If you have never invited Jesus into your life I invite you to join me in this pray, say it out loud or say in in your heart, but if you have never said it say and mean it and talk to me after the service or any time this week my number is on the notices as is my email. Lets pray:

“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”