Surviving Quarantine Series
Discovering 40 Day Episodes in the Bible
“Seeing the Resurrected Christ”
Today we come to the conclusion of our current series “Surviving Quarantine – Discovering 40-Day Episodes in the Bible.” As we have discovered the word “quarantine” comes from two Italian words quaranta giorni, which means “40 days.” During this series we have been on our own 40-day journey through Scripture looking at 7 episodes where God used 40-days to help us survive quarantine.
Today we come to the last 40-day episode in the New Testament – Jesus presenting Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to His disciples over a period of forty days. (Acts 1.3) Our text this morning comes from the book of Acts chapter one starting with verse one and continuing to verse eleven. Here now the Word of God:
1 The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. 4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of 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 were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
Luke, the “beloved physician,” who was a friend and missionary companion of the Apostle Paul, wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. (Col.4.14) The Lord used Luke as the inspired Church historian to record the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus and the history of the early church. (30AD-67AD) Luke makes reference to his Gospel account in verses one and two when he writes, The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. (Acts 1.1-2) Even though we do not know actually who Theophilus was or why Luke felt the need to give him a historical record of the ministry of Jesus and the Early Church, we do know that God has used the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts to nourish the people of God throughout the centuries. Luke’s account of the ministry of Christ and the Early Church is not based on his own understanding but rather a careful investigation from those who were eyewitness and servants of the Word. (Lk.1.1-4)
After giving a details account of all that Jesus began to do and teach in His earthly ministry Luke begins the book of Acts by telling us that Jesus presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, over a period of forty days. (Acts.1.3) Well, what were these convincing proofs? The first convincing proof was when the two women came to the tomb where they had buried Jesus and found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” (Lk.24.3b-7)
The second convincing proof was when the resurrected Christ explained all things concerning the Messiah in all the Scripture beginning with Moses and all the prophets as He walked with two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. And we the eyes of the two men were opened and when they recognized the resurrected Christ He immediately vanished from their sight. (Lk.24.13-35)
And then there was the time when the resurrected Christ suddenly appeared in a room where a group of His disciples had gathered and said, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Lk.24.38-39) The disciples still could not believe it so He said, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them. (Lk.24.41-43)
Maybe the best summary of these convincing proofs is given by the Apostle Paul in the book of I Corinthians saying, For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that
He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. (ICor.15.3-7)
Seeing the Resurrected Christ
What is the purpose behind all of these convincing proofs? These convincing proofs showed the power of the resurrected Christ. The resurrection of Christ was the physical proclamation that Christ is victorious over death, hell, and the devil! Christ was not dead in a tomb. Christ was not held in the bondage of death. Christ is risen! Christ’s resurrection was a physical proclamation that He was the victorious Son of God. (Rom.1.4) And it was important for Jesus’ followers to see the resurrected Christ. Seeing the resurrected Christ caused dramatic change in the lives of Christ’s disciples.
For the past several months the ladies have been studying the Gospel of Luke and now the book of Acts. Barbara has really enjoyed this study. She made a comment the other day about the difference in the disciples in the Gospel of Luke as compared to the book of Acts. In the Gospel of Luke the disciples were confused, doubting, and timid but in the book of Acts they are focused, confident, and bold. What happened that caused this radical change? For forty days they witnessed the resurrected Christ. Not a hologram or a ghost but the risen Lord. And now when Jesus spoke to them about the kingdom of God they knew that it was a spiritual reality. Jesus was the Father’s promised Messiah and neither death nor the devil would be able to stop the advancement of the kingdom of God. At the conclusion of the Gospel of Luke the disciples were huddling together in small rooms fearful of the future but after witnessing the resurrected Christ for forty days those same disciples were proclaiming publically and boldly that Jesus Christ is Lord! On the day of Pentecost on the streets of Jerusalem Peter preached to thousands saying, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. (Acts 2.22-24) After being arrested for healing the lame man at the gate called Beautiful Peter told the authorities, Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4.10-12)
With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. (Acts 4.33) What brought this radical transformation? They saw the resurrected Christ! Brothers and sisters, if we are going to survive quarantine we must keep our focus on the resurrected Christ. He is the victor over death, hell, and the devil. Jesus is Lord over every situation in your life. We must seek to know Him and the power of His resurrection. (Phil.3.10) We must stay focus on the principles of the kingdom of God and not surrender to the philosophies and mindsets of this world. We must not allow the chaos and confusion of this world to distract us from fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb.12.2) Let us give testimony to the resurrection power of Jesus Christ in our lives! If we do, I believe God’s abundant grace will be poured out upon us all.
After the forty days had come to an end Jesus gathered them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1.4-5)
Waiting for the Promise of the Spirit
Jesus had told His disciples on many occasions about the promise of the Father to send the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will be a comforter, a helper, a teacher, and the enabling power to equip us to do ministry. Jesus told them that it was to their advantage that He go away so that the Father would send the Spirit. (Jn.16.7)
The Holy Spirit is engaged in the life of the believer in Christ from the beginning to the end. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and enables us to embrace the good news of salvation in Christ. The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. (Rom.8.16) The Holy Spirit dwells in the believer leading him or her in paths of righteousness. (Rom.8.11) The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. (Rom.8.26) And the Holy Spirit equips and empowers us for ministry. And it is this equipping and empowering work of the Holy Spirit that is at the core of what is going on here in Acts chapter one. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1.8)
This command for them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised was the last command in the Gospel of Luke and the first command in the book of Acts. (Lk.24.49; Acts 1.4) The Father could have sent the Holy Spirit immediately after Jesus ascended into heaven but He waited for ten days before sending His Holy Spirit. What was the purpose for delaying the fulfillment of His promise? Allow me to offer a few reasons. First, waiting develops godly character. Like a child becomes spoiled and self-centered when they always get what the want when they want it. So it is with the child of God. Waiting develops godly character.
Secondly, waiting shows our dependence and faith in God. If we got want we ask for immediately after we ask for it God would be a “genie in a bottle” instead the sovereign Most High God. Third, waiting drives us to prayer. After Jesus’ disciples returned to Jerusalem they went up to an upper room and devoted themselves to prayer. (Acts 1.14) If we received what we wanted without waiting we would have no reason or passion to pray. Forth, waiting allows us time to consider things that might have been overlooked. As the hundred and twenty were gathered together in the upper room Peter stood up and led the group in the process of replacing Judas and established the qualifications for the office of Apostle. (Acts 1.15-26) Fifth, waiting brings the fulfillment of God’s promises in our lives in God’s time not ours. The Father sent the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, which was one of three annual feasts on the Old Testament calendar. The day of Pentecost was also referred to as the day of first fruits or the Feast of Harvest. Here in the book of Acts we see the Spirit being sent on the day of Pentecost where the first harvest of souls were brought into the Church.
What promise of God are you waiting for the Lord to fulfill in your life? As you wait I want you to know that the Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness. (2Pt.3.9a) For yet in a very little while He will come, and will not delay. But in the in between time the righteous ones must live by faith and not shrink back into unbelief. (Heb.10.37-38) The way we survive quarantine is to wait for the promises of God. And as we wait lets look to the Lord to develop godly character in our lives. Let’s look to the Lord to fortify our faith, drive us to prayer, consider things we might have overlooked, and patiently to wait for God’s perfect timing.
As I close this morning I want to challenge us as a church in two ways. One, I want to challenge us to see the resurrected Christ and experience the power of the resurrection in every situation in our lives. I want us to see Christ victorious over the grave to give us an everlasting hope. The disciples were radically changed when they finally saw Jesus in His exalted position and we need to experience that radical change as well. We need to change from living in confusion, doubt, and fear to being focused, confident, and bold in Christ! I want us to live in the reality of the Kingdom of God here and now. I want to challenge you to live as a citizen of God’s Kingdom and not be distracted by worldly philosophies and mindsets. And I want to challenge us as a church to wait for the power of the Spirit. I want us to devote ourselves to prayer that the Father would pour His Spirit out upon this place. For the past few months we have experience a lot of tribulations but we are the people who know that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom.5.3-5)