The last words of Jesus have special insight and meaning for encouraging God's people in direction and faith.
Media Download Options [ Download Media: right-click on link ]
MP3 Audio -
I believe it is the case that there is often special insight and meaning that we can get in the scriptures from the first time something is mentioned in the Bible. And as that is the case, I believe it is also the case that there is special insight and, almost like a minefield of revelation and special insights we can get from the last time, or times, that something is mentioned in the scriptures. And I believe that this is especially true with regard to the last words that Jesus spoke on the earth before His final ascension into the heavens to sit at the right hand of God, the Father.
So in the sermon today, we're going to examine the last words of Jesus while on the earth. We'll look at the last words He spoke before His physical death and the words as recorded in the scriptures that He spoke after His resurrection, but before His final ascension.
In those words, I believe we will find a number of things including encouragement for God's people, direction and faith. Faith comes by hearing, and is strengthened by hearing and hearing the words of God, and certainly that applies to the words of Jesus, the Son of God, and God in the flesh.
We're going to examine these last quoted words of Jesus in chronological order, and so for that I have followed A. T. Robertson's Harmony of the Gospels, a standard textbook that has been used for many years at Ambassador College and University and at Ambassador Bible Center. Let's begin by considering the last four things that Jesus is recorded as saying before His death. The last four, and I think we can learn something from these last four.
Let's begin with Matthew:27:46 -
Matthew:27:46 – It says , ". . .about the ninth hour. . ." which we would understand to be about three o'clock in the afternoon, and as we understand, this would have been on a Wednesday. . . ". . .about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" . . .and for us, the translation would be: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
Now in contemplating this cry of Jesus, several thoughts come to mind that I'd like to share with you today. First of all, at first reading, one would . . .just a natural first reading without any elaboration or looking elsewhere, one would assume that there was some surprise, or some....that this was unexpected to Jesus, that He wasn't expecting this. We know that He knew that He had a "bitter cup," that His Father had given Him of suffering to drink, but perhaps this aspect of it is not something that He knew. He knew much of what that would be; He had predicted that He would be betrayed and beaten and shamefully treated and killed, but, and He knew the scriptures that, you know, there would be a piercing of a spear, He knew all that; He had inspired them as "the Word," but perhaps, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" This part of it, He had not known before.
You know, there are some things, at least one particular thing, but by extension, we would argue maybe there are other things that the Father hadn't even revealed to Jesus. We know of one of those cases over in Mark 13 where Jesus was talking to His disciples, and it seems like there are a few constants down through time, and one constant has been that God's people have had the question, "How long, oh Lord? When's this going to end, oh Lord? Tell us when the end is." That's been on the mind of, and rightfully so, understandably so, for, it seems like, forever. And the same answer is always given by God when He chooses to answer it. And He's talking here in Mark:13:32 -
Mark:13:32 – ". . .of that day and of that hour,. . .you know, the very end when He would return in glory, . . . no one knows, (not even the) neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. "So here is one specific instance, and quite possibly there are others, and quite possibly the one we're talking about is one of them, that the Father, for whatever reason, had not chosen to reveal it to the Son. "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Why do I at least have a sense of separation from You that I've never experienced before?
Now Jesus had to take upon Himself, we know this, the sins of the entire world, and suffer and die to be a perfect sacrificial lamb of God, and it's apparent that at least a part of that suffering would be at least this temporarily sense of being abandoned or forsaken by the Father. So that's certainly one possibility that comes to mind.
A second one is this: was this – "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Was this a question really for you and me to consider, as much, or even more so than it was for Jesus to ask of the Father? Was this a question really for you and me to ponder? Why? Had the Father forsaken Jesus, at least temporarily, or at least in the sense that He'd never experienced before? Well, perhaps, if it's for you and me to ponder the question, it's to make us focus on at least to what God is the awfulness of sin, the hideousness, awfulness of sin.
Now we, as people in the Church of God, can say those words, and at times, we even feel it and it's from the heart, but as human beings, we don't consistently view sin especially our own, I think, the way God does. It is not a laughing matter. It's not a minor issue. Sin is a black and awful and hideous thing, and as Jesus took upon Himself all the sins of all mankind. It says there in Corinthians, that He became sin, or a sin offering for us, at least for a moment, it seems that the Father couldn't even look at it and had to turn away.
Well, perhaps that is something for God's people down through all ages to consider. Do we view sins, especially our own that same way as how hideous and awful they are. And what was the cost of removing them? You know, at Passover time, we often read I Peter 1:18 and 19; you might just consider that. I won't turn there, but it talks about - . . .we were bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. It was a high cost. That was an expensive item, you might say. A high cost of removing sins really from the presence or even the memory of a just God. It required the life and death of His own beloved Son even to the extent to at least, temporarily, turning away from Him in some way that Jesus was expressing here – " My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
And then there's a third thing that we can consider, and that is, you know very well, many of you, this is not the first time in the Bible where these words have appeared. Jesus wasn't thinking these thoughts or uttering these words for the first time. What He is doing is quoting from Psalm 22. And let's go back there and look at Psalm 22. As He was dying on the cross, here is evidence that Jesus had Psalm:22:1 on His mind because this is a direct quote from that. There is every evidence that Psalm 22 and 23 are really a couplet, you might say they're joined. There's a common thread running through Psalm 22 and 23, and it would seem as we read through both of them that it would be logical, and I believe it's true that Jesus had both of these Psalms on His mind, and He was meditating these thoughts. I believe He had committed much of the scriptures to memory as a human being, and here, all we see over in Matthew 27 is part one of Verse 1 of Psalm 22.
Psalm:22:1 – My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? But I don't believe that that was the one and only part of Psalm 22 that Jesus had in mind. I believe He was thinking the thoughts of the Bible , and if it is true that He was quoting Psalm:22:1 (a), I believe it's quite likely that He was thinking, maybe He didn't utter it aloud, but at least thinking of all of Psalm 22 and all of Psalm 23.
Notice for example, not only does Psalm:22:1 start out – My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Which is a cry of abandonment, but it also includes, for example later in the Psalm:22:21, where it says – Save Me from the lion's mouth and from the horns of the wild oxen . Now, just in passing, who is the lion who seeks to devour God's people – well, Satan. And Satan was certainly part of this whole scene surrounding Jesus' death. Remember He said to Judas the night before, "What thou doest do quickly," and Satan entered into Judas's heart and he went out and betrayed the Son of man for a few pieces of silver. But look at the last part of Verse 21.
Verse 21 – You have answered Me. You see, the positive assertion of faith that in the final analysis, He was not totally abandoned. There was perhaps a moment of abandonment. God doesn't spell out the details of how long, but consistent with Verse 21 (a), is Verse 21 (b), the second half of Verse 21. And look at Verse 22:
Psalm:22:22 - I will declare Your name to my brethren; in the midst of the congregation (assembly) I will praise You. Now if Jesus were thinking this as He hung on the cross. He was also looking forward to the, you know, the positive after His resurrection where He would be resurrected and sit at the right hand of the Father, and it would be His job to be the High Priest and the Head of the church, and He's thinking about the future and the positive fulfillment of God's wonderful plan.
Verse 23 – You who fear the Lord, praise Him! All you descendents of Jacob, glorify Him, and fear Him, (all) you offspring of Israel!
Verse 24 – For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; . . .and who was more afflicted than He at that moment... Nor has He hidden His face from Him . . . .You know, in a permanent sense, where Jesus was completely on His own strength to drink all of this cup all on His own strength. But, yes there was a sense of God having turned away because that He represented all the sins but not of total abandonment where He would only be on His own strength. I don't think we see that when we look at all of it. . . . But when He cried to Him, He heard. I believe those words and those thoughts were also in His mind. And also, look at Psalm 23. What would be more appropriate to be on Jesus' mind than this?
Psalm:23:1 – The Lord is My shepherd; I shall not want.
Verse 2 – He makes me to lie down in green pastures; . . .and then, Verse 4 . . .
Verse 4 – Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, . . . And what servant of God had ever been in a deeper, darker valley of death than Jesus was at that very moment? But He says . . . I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, (they) comfort me. So, yes, there was a cry of abandonment, but also an assertion, and a confident assertion of God's abiding help, and that He would see Him through to the end.
Verse 5 – You prepare a table before me in the presence of My enemies; . . . His enemies were all around the cross, and those Roman soldiers were doing whatever they could to maximize His suffering. . . . You anoint My head with oil; And My cup runs over.
Verse 6 – And Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. And thoughts of eternity on beyond the suffering of the moment on beyond three nights and three days in the grave, on beyond the resurrection where He would reassume His place at the right hand of the Father for eternity, where He had dwelt for all past eternity.
Now the second of these last four things that Jesus is recorded as having said is found in John 19. And by looking at these four, I think an overall point will come out as well as just the individual things that we can consider as we look at them individually, in John:19:28 -
John:19:28 – After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, . . . Before we get to His quote, . . . that the scripture might be fulfilled,. . . even at the very end, what was foremost in His mind? That every nuance, every detail of the will of God, His Father, as recorded in scripture, every detail had to be fulfilled. The primacy of scripture, the centrality of the word of God, and now, it's almost as if He had a checklist of things, even including the sufferings, and now He knew that all things in the scripture that it might be fulfilled, He also mentioned, . . . "I thirst!" So He utters the words, "I thirst!"
A declaration by Jesus concerning one aspect, a prophesied aspect, of His suffering; He'd lost a lot of blood, obviously; He's hanging there in the heat of the day in the sun and there would be just a terrible suffering from thirst. So He, you know, He just articulates that – "I thirst !" One aspect of His awful suffering directed probably to His tormentors, the Roman soldiers, because they responded in a certain way. Rather than give Him water to relieve it, they dipped this sponge, it tells us here, in this sour wine, a vinegary concoction that when placed to His bleeding and dry lips would even make His suffering greater. Then two verses later, we get the third of the last four things He said in His human existence. In Verse 30:
Verse 30 - So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" A declaration, or His statement, again, speaking to those at the foot of the cross, or to Himself that reflected His realization that now He had completed the drinking of the bitter cup of suffering that His Father had given Him to drink.
And then the fourth and final of these last four statements He uttered as a human being, is back in Luke:23:46 -
Luke:23:46 – (And) when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice,. . . And this would have used up the last bit of human strength that He would have had to be able to utter anything with a loud voice, but it says – a loud voice. He said, "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit." And Having said this, He breathed His last.
The last four things that Jesus spoke – "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? I thirst. It is finished. Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit." What do you notice about that quartet of utterances? The first and the last are prayers to God. He spoke the first of these last four, and the last of these four to His Father. They are prayers. And the second and third in between are statements to others or to Himself. And even in this, Jesus set an example for us for all time. He bracketed; He enveloped; He framed His last utterances to other people, or even with Himself with prayers to God for guidance and help.
Do we, so the question is, like Jesus, do we bracket or frame or envelope our dealings and our thoughts and our words with other people, and even with ourselves with prayers to and guidance from our Father in heaven? In effect, do we pray without ceasing? Or, on the other hand, do we focus in times of trial or suffering, do we focus on ourself, on our strength, our resources, our intelligence, our influence or that of others? Do we focus on ourself or others for the wherewithal to get through a very difficult time? He did not. He preceded and followed His last human statements to others with prayers to the Father.
So the way to endure in a Godly manner whatever the trial is, is not a new truth at all, but as exemplified in Jesus' last statements with help and prayer to God, with help from God as a result of prayer to Him.
Now, of course, He died and was unconscious, and following His death, we have the accounts in Matthew and Mark and Luke and John of several things just historically. There was a great earthquake; there was the rending of the veil in the temple and the things that that signified. There was the resurrection in the area around Jerusalem of some who had served God in their lives; they had died, and then it says they came out of their graves, and they went forward, and they testified, or they witnessed. And it's only mentioned one time in the Bible, Matthew:27:52. We don't have any other scriptures on that, but some people were resurrected from their tombs, and they testified, or they witnessed some aspect of God's plan, and then they no doubt, died a second physical death because they'd already died once before, and they are awaiting the resurrection at the last trumpet.
So all of that is recorded, certainly His burial and the setting of the seal on His tomb. It's also recorded about how fearful and full of doubt His disciples were; there's a number of statements about that, and they were hiding out, you know, in fear, and then as we understand it, on a late Saturday afternoon, is His resurrection from the dead after three days and three nights of death, and then the discovery early morning by the women who went to the tomb of an open tomb and an empty tomb. So all of that is recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
And then after that, for approximately forty days, the Bible tells us, Jesus appeared to and spoke to and ate with various of His disciples. Sometimes one at a time; sometimes He would meet with two of them; we're going to read of one of those cases; sometimes with larger groups.
Many different times, He appeared to one or two or several or larger groups of His disciples, and in those accounts, He is quoted in the scriptures as having told them certain things and uttered certain words to them. And in these accounts, in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are recorded the last words uttered by Jesus before His final ascension into heaven. And we would think, at a time like this, when there was limited time left for Him to interact on the earth with them in bodily form, we would certainly expect that He would be talking to them about fundamental, most important matters, and so that's where we're going to spend the rest of the time in the sermon just looking in chronological order at those things that the resurrected Christ said to His disciples. We should consider them; we should apply them; think about them and apply them to ourselves.
The first such utterance is found in John 20. He's been resurrected, and we'll see, not only here, but in several cases, He was able; He was able to do anything, but He appeared as a man in bodily form, but in a way that even those who knew Him very well could not recognize who He was. When it served His purpose, for them not to know who He was, but to talk with them, He did that. And this is the case of Mary Magdalene, the very first words the resurrected Jesus is recorded as speaking, was to this woman who had been one of His followers, one of His dedicated followers, who had in her previous life had a very difficult time, shall we say, with her moral life, a number of demons, just a checkered past.
But Jesus chose that individual to be the first one, at least that He has recorded in the scriptures, as having talked to. So we come to John 20, and she comes there and finds an open but empty tomb. And she's weeping, and she's looking – where have they put the body? And in John:20:15, Jesus said to her:
John:20:15 - . . . "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?". . . Now that seems innocuous enough; just read on by that. "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?". . .
I find that it's striking how often in history when God initiates an interaction with a human being, He does so by asking them questions. I mean, He's God; He knows everything; He could just come out with declarative sentences, you know, or declarative statements, or commands, but so often, what God does is ask questions.
Now, we're going to come back here to John:20:15 in just a minute, but to show you that there's a pattern of that, I'll just make reference. In Genesis 3, we go clear back to the beginning, the newly created Adam and Eve, the first things that God is recorded as saying to them were questions – Genesis:3:9 - . . ."Where are you?"
Now God knew exactly where Adam and Eve were. Nothing is hid from God. He knew exactly . . ., but He opens with a question – "Where are you?
Verse 11 - . . ."Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree?" He perfectly understood that they had eaten from the tree that He had commanded them not to eat. What is this that you have done? Four questions.
A chapter or so later with Cain – " Why are you angry? Why has your countenance fallen? Where is your brother?" Questions.
Later with regard to Solomon, God appears to Solomon – "What shall I give you?"
Later in the New Testament, God appears to Saul trying to destroy the church. And on the way to Damascus , He appears to him, and He says, "Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" Questions.
I believe that it is the case that a full, well-thought-out, correct, deep answer to the questions that God poses, not a superficial or flippant answer, but a well-thought-out one, an honest one, one that gets clear down to the motivation and intent of the heart, that such an answer to these questions from God leads to something. And that's why God asks them in the first place. It leads to Godly insights into the goodness of God, and/or the awfulness of sin, and/or the awfulness of not trusting God, and/or the need to be reconciled to God. Those are the fruits of honest, meditated-on answers to the questions that God initiates these interactions with.
Now, (John:20:15) - . . . "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Before He had died, Jesus had told His disciples on many occasions exactly what was going to happen. The Son of man is going to be betrayed; He's going to be abused: He's going to be shamefully treated; they're going to kill him; He's going to be buried; He's going to be dead for three days and three nights; He's going to be resurrected. And at the time, His disciples wanted to believe all those things; maybe they convinced themselves that they had, that they did believe them, but an honest answer to the question – "Why are you we e ping," – would be – this all ended horribly. It didn't work out like it was supposed to. What Jesus – she's talking to Jesus; . . . doesn't know – what my Leader had said didn't come to pass. He wasn't able to close the deal, because He talked about a resurrection.
Now, when you go and find an open and empty tomb, isn't that . . . why wouldn't that lead her to the conclusion - that even that aspect of it had been fulfilled? But she's weeping; she's crying; she's looking for. . .
"Whom are you seeking?" She's seeking the body; she thinks the soldiers, the Jews, had come and stolen the body. If she really believed what He'd said, there would be no body, no dead body to be looking for. He asked her – no, don't feel too sorry for Mary Magdalene because the same treatment He's going to give out to a number of His disciples over the course of the next few days to get them to look at their own heart and to see that they hadn't really believed Him. They hoped, they'd wished what He'd said is true, but they didn't fully believe Him.
The answer to the question – "Why are you weeping," – is because she's concluded that everything ended horribly, not the way it was supposed to. "Whom were you seeking?" Why are you seeking a dead body? If He said He was going to live after three days. . .why aren't you looking for a live body? And "Why are you weeping?" Why aren't you rejoicing?
The next. . .the second thing that the resurrected Jesus spoke to any human being that's recorded is actually the very next verse. John:20:16. And we see another aspect of God and His dealing with people here. That was somewhat corrective or forcing her to look deep down into her heart and see the lack of faith and/or understanding, but He just says simply, let me finish reading Verse 15 just to put a point on previously, when He said, . . . "Whom are you seeking?"
John:20:15 – (continued) - . . . She supposing Him to be a gardener, . . . She couldn't recognize who He was. . . said (to Him,) "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." She's looking for a dead body. She didn't believe in the resurrection, even though He had told His disciples many times.
Verse 16 - And then Jesus said to her, "Mary!". . . He reminds her that He knows her, personally. And the eyes were opened at that point, and now – how does this person know her personally? Well, God reminds us in many ways that He knows us personally. You know, you're not a number.
I've recently been doing little genealogical study on my ancestors, and I had ancestors on both sides of the Civil War, and I've got some of the military records. Well, those men had a number, they were a number, right? We're not a number in the Church of God; you're number 142,912; you're number 67,- - - , you know. "Mary!" He had an intimate relationship with her; He knew her by name, and He knows His people by name. He says, "I know my sheep. My sheep hear My voice. I know them, personally."
The third thing that He spoke after His resurrection is Verse 17:
Verse 17 – Jesus said to her – "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'" Now it's quite understandable, humanly, that there would be this period of time where finally, her weeping has been turned to joy. She realizes that this isn't the gardener. This is the One she was looking for, and He truly is alive. I mean, you talk about a whiplash of emotions.
Now, just imagine – there might have still been tears, but now they're tears of gratitude, and of just, you know – "It all worked out like He said, like You said," and she's not letting Him go. She's hugging Him, not letting him go, and there was an enormous relief and joy, you know, just human emotion at it's completely understandable.
But look at what He said, "Not now. It isn't time." Something is more important than our human emotions and our human, anything, our human reason, because there was an aspect of God's plan that was foremost in His mind and that had to take precedence.
Again, the checklist: We know that the wave sheaf offering typed the acceptance of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God at the Father's presence. So our understanding is that on this day, perhaps early on this day, this Sunday, He was miraculously transformed to the throne of His Father in heaven and was accepted as the sacrifice for the sins of the world. How long that took in human terms, I have no idea, but He said, "Not now. You can't cling to Me now." Something else overrides human logic, human desire, human emotion, human anything. It's the plan of God. Every detail, every little detail of what His Father intended had to override all other considerations.
Now the fourth utterance is found in Matthew 28. Just one word. Now these are the other women beside Mary Magdalene. You know, a number of them went to apply embalming spices and so on to His body because they'd had to do such a hurried job of that before He was put into His grave on that Wednesday, so now they come back after the Sabbath and after the weekly Sabbath and all, and they bring back these spices, and we pick it up in Matthew:28:9 -
Matthew:28:9 – And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them saying, "Rejoice!". . . I think it would be easy to, again, just read right past that, but, why? What's there to rejoice about? Well, let's think about that. Every aspect of what He had predicted, the awful suffering and the betrayal and everything, had come to pass, true, but also, the most spectacular part of all, that after three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, He would be resurrected, thus proving that He was the Son of God, that He was greater than Jonah. Yeah, there's a reason to rejoice. God's in charge. God can do the most incredible thing including resurrect a dead person and raise Him up on high.
The very essence of what we understand uniquely in the Church of God, I believe, is good news. That's why it's called the gospel. Our basic job is to go out and spread good news, cause for rejoicing because at the end of the day, if the day is 7,000 maybe 100 years, or roughly, it's all good.
This 6,000 years is a botch. I think we all understand that. It's a mess that we're living through here, and God's people had to live through. And there's all kinds of things that we wish were different, but on beyond, on into eternity, into deep eternity, it's all, according to the word of God, going to be wonderful. To use Biblical terms, glorious, rejoicing, forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever. So there's underlying, there's an underlying sense of joy, or should be for God's people regardless of the temporary circumstances of life. And so early on, as I say, I think He's speaking about primary things, early on, He reminds them to rejoice.
Early on, the next quoted words of Jesus is also another very important issue. The fifth thing that He's recorded as saying in Matthew:28:10, the very next thing. Jesus said to them:
Matthew:28:10 - . . .Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me." How many times down through the ages in the scriptures do we see God in dealing with His people saying, "Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. Do not be afraid." Why does that have to be said so often? And the only answer can be that God's people tend to be afraid. And why wouldn't God's people tend to be afraid? They've always been outnumbered; they are sheep surrounded by wolves; it's dangerous serving God in Satan's world, and besides that, didn't we just sing it – ". . .not many wise men now are called, not many noble," not many people with the great strength of character, even human character of the world; we're not all that great.
At one point, God doesn't spare our feelings; He calls us the "off-scouring of the earth." That's not a real way to compliment people. But we tend not to be the great, the mighty and the strong. We know we're outnumbered; we know it's dangerous, and we know we're sheep surrounded by wolves; why wouldn't we be afraid? But – "Don't be afraid. I don't care if you're outnumbered, don't be afraid. I'm in charge. I'm never going to leave you; I'm never going to forsake you." How often does God remind His people, He does right here – "Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. Fear not." "Do not yield to the terrors of the devil." That is one of the ways that even mentally, people in general, I think, are succumbing more to worry and fear and just an agitated state of mind because the world's getting more perilous all the time, and it's a fruit of, and a cause of, and it's associated with, mental weakness and mental illness is constantly being afraid. And if we're not careful, God's people can also yield to that, and that's one of the prime weapons I believe that Satan uses to try to devastate God's people is fear. So He again and again says, "Don't give in to the terrors of the devil or of this world or of your own weakness – don't be afraid."
Now we switch over to the sixth utterance, Luke 24 – I've got these all numbered – I don't know that I'll continue with the numbering throughout because some of them are kind of repeats of each other, but this is the sixth, if you're keeping track. Luke 24. Now this little account begins in Luke:24:13. Here we have two of Jesus' disciples; it's not two of the apostles, not two of the twelve; there aren't even twelve left; Judas is now dead; not two of the eleven, but it is two of His disciples. It's only important apparently that we know one of their names because only one is given; one of them is named Cleopas; he's the spokesman of these two, and the other one is called – the other disciple. Cleopas and the other guy are walking down a street or a road from Jerusalem . It begins in Luke:24:13 –
Luke:24:13 – Remember, I told you, don't feel too sorry for Mary Magdalene. Jesus wasn't giving her treatment He didn't give anybody else for their good. Watch what happens here. Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day. . . Sunday, as we understand it. . . to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem.
Verse 14 – And they talked together of all these things which had happened. There's a laundry list of things that they're talking about. Note: it's interesting as we see what they're talking about . . . . all these things that had happened.
Verse 15 – So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, (that) Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.
Verse 16 – But their eyes were restrained, so (that) they did not know Him. Exactly the same thing as with Mary Magdalene. These had been His disciples, but they couldn't recognize Him in this state.
Verse 17 – And He said (to them,) "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?" What kind of a conversation is this that leads to your sadness? Well, again He opens up an interaction with a question. Now, what is a well-thought-out, Biblically honest answer to Jesus' question? What kind of a conversation is this that you're sad? The honest answer is - it's the kind of conversation that's disbelieving of what Jesus said. Why would they be sad if they truly believed He'd been resurrected? And they had already a significant amount of evidence that He had been, as we watch this little scene develop. Why would they be sad if they truly believed what He had said and what in fact had now come to pass that He had been resurrected by the Father?
Well, the answer to the question is – well, this is the kind of conversation: it's a faithless one; it's a discouraged one, and it's one that doesn't really believe that Jesus and the Father were able to do all that He had said earlier. Well:
Verse 18 – (Then) the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, "Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem , and have You not known the things. . ." again, these things, . . . (which) that have happened (there) in these days?"
Verse 19 - . . ."What things?" Jesus, they didn't know it was Jesus – "What things? " He's going to draw out from them – it's not exactly analogous to give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves; that's not the point, but He's causing them by their own words to draw out from them, which they can then later look at and repent of, the capacity to arrive at an incorrect faithless decision. So He just listened. He said, "What things?"
All right, let's notice the things that the spokesman, Cleopas, itemizes.
Verse 19 - (continued) - Well, he says: ". . . The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people." We're talking about this Teacher that we had who was able to do miracles, and He was able to speak mighty things.
Verse 20 – "(and) how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, . . . incidentally, He had predicted that. . . and they crucified Him. And He predicted that.
. . .the Son of man would be lifted up, remember?
Verse 21 – "But we were hoping. . ." Ahh, really by their own words they showed what was in their heart; it was hope; it was wishful thinking. They wished all those things that He had said, including the happy ending were true, but they didn't really believe it. ". . .we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.
Verse 22 – "Yes, and certain women of our company, (who) arrived at the tomb early, they astonished us." Why wasn't it just confirmation of what they believed? Because what'd they tell these men?
Verse 23 – "When they did not find His body,. . . Would they expect to find a body if He'd been resurrected? "When they (did not) didn't find His body, and they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive." He's drawing out from them, by their own testimony, a list of things, every one of which is consistent and was consistent, with the conclusion that everything He had said, including His resurrection after three days and three nights, had been fulfilled. This is all a testimony - oh, oh, continue on:
Verse 24 – "(And) certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said;". . . empty and open. . . ". . .but Him they did not see." Why would you expect to see Him? He's not there. He's been resurrected.
Well, this is all a testimony, and we shouldn't wag our finger and, you know, cluck our tongues at these two fools because all this is is testimony of the capacity of the human mind, of human nature, to be blind to spiritual reality and to not arrive at right conclusions and to disbelieve even though there is plenty of evidence in front of them to believe. You can liken it, you know, to a lead shield around the human mind that x-rays can't – the x-rays are faith and belief in God. It's like there's a lead shield around us in our natural state that the x-rays cannot penetrate; faith cannot get in there; they had all the evidence; every one of these things is consistent with God is true. If the first five things that a man predicts have happened, why wouldn't you think the last two were going to happen? Because that requires the spiritual endowment of a believing heart, and they didn't have it yet.
Now the next thing that He spoke now is in the very next verses, verse 25 and verse 26. Now He reveals Himself to them. And He is, however you want to say it, whatever adjective you want to use, He is corrective. You could say this is mild correction, medium, or hot sauce correction. Whatever, but He's correcting them. Look at the words.
Verse 25 - . . ."O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all (that) the prophets have spoken!
Verse 26 – "Ought. . ." I want to come back to the word – ought – it implies necessity – had to be, had to be – " . . .ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" And their eyes are opened and now they know who it is they are talking to, and by their own testimony they had shown, just like Mary Magdalene, just like all the other of the eleven disciples, just like you and me in our natural state, there's a lead shield; faith can't get in there by virtue of human intelligence, human reasoning, or even human will. It has to be a miracle. And then, of course, they knew who He was, and He left them at that point.
Verse 27 – Before leaving them – And beginning at Moses. . . Now where does He go? Does He just continue talking, or doesn't He take them back again to scripture. And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. In these few utterances that are recorded of the post-resurrected Christ, He keeps taking them back to the will of God as articulated and recorded in the scriptures. Nothings else matters. Every detail of that will happen. He doesn't even use His own authority, who they now knew was the resurrected Son of God. He takes them back to the word of God and teaches them so that they can believe. Old and New Testament are a basis for believing and faith.
The next utterance is the same chapter, Luke:24:36 -
Luke:24:36 – Now, not just to one, not just to two, but to the group of the disciples. . . (Now) as they said these things, Jesus Himself. . . Just miraculously was there. He's there. He didn't go through the door; He didn't ask to be let in; He just appeared behind closed doors and walls. He . . . stood in the midst of them, and He said to them, "Peace (be) to you." And we're going to see a number of occasions that He asks them to have peace among themselves. That must be very important to God that His people not only have peace with Him but peace with each other. "Peace to you."
God's desire for us – peace, based on trusting Him and His goodness and His care for us. It's invisible, that care, but if we believe in it, we can have peace. Remember, probably what Jesus was thinking on the cross was not only Psalm:22:1 – My God, My God why have You forsaken me, but also – the Lord is My shepherd, I shall not want. And there is reason for peace of mind that sees us through very difficult times.
Now we go to Mark 16. So I'll say again, we don't have to feel overly sorry for Mary Magdalene; we don't have to be overly sorry for Cleopas and the other disciple; Jesus is even-handed in this. Now the group of disciples is all together, and let's notice what He says to them:
Mark:16:14 - Afterward He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief. . . much as He had to Cleopas and the other disciple along the way. . . . He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. He's pointing out to them; He points out to us; He points out to everybody, there is a serious problem with not believing God's word. There's a serious problem, if we're going to follow God, in not believing that He can do even the impossible, and allowing doubt as to His capacity to fulfill His word to be in our hearts. . . . He rebuked their unbelief and their hardness of heart because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. This is something that they, and everybody, eventually will have to repent of. And certainly, they did.
All right, now back to Luke 24. As I say, I'm following Robinson on this harmony, on this chronology. Luke 24, we didn't get to verse 38. We will now. Verse 36, of course, He said, "Peace," to them, we had read that, and they were afraid, afraid of Him. You see, this is again a tribute to the capacity of the human mind to arrive at wrong conclusions about the spiritual realm. So, now they're terrified when they see Him just appear. What would you expect? If you really believed that He was going to be resurrected, wouldn't you expect that He would have the capacity to do the things that He's doing, and that's suddenly appear? Why would they be terrified? Supposing they'd seen a spirit? Why couldn't they concluded that they'd seen Him as a resurrected Being? But, anyway, in Luke:24:38 – well, the answer is because they were human, and they had not yet been given the holy spirit.
Luke:24:38 – (And) He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?" A question, again. Don't you trust God? Why do you permit doubts in your heart? Do you not hold up the shield of faith, you know, to block the fiery darts of the wicked? I mean, all that's implied in there. "Why are you troubled?" Why wasn't there peace and rejoicing like He told Mary Magdalene and the other women? Because their hearts were full of doubt and disbelief. Then in -
Verse 39 – Thomas is not actually here at this point. There's really only ten of them. Judas is dead. Thomas, for some reason, isn't there. In Verse 39, He says, "Behold My hands. . ."
. . . where the wounds were and the nails. "Behold My hands and My feet,. . ." same comment. ". . . that it is I Myself. Handle Me. . ." Now this is later on that day where earlier, Mary Magdalene was not permitted to do that. Now, having been presented to the Father and back, they are. ". . . (and see), for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." He was manifesting Himself to them as a man, as a physical human being. And He gave them all the evidence, you would think they would need to completely believe and have all this doubt and fear and all those things driven from their heart. You'd think this would be the end of the story.
It'd be nice to have the sermon say, "That's it. And from then on, they lived happily ever after." Well, perhaps you're enough of a student of human nature to know that isn't the way it ended. There wasn't maybe quite enough evidence for them, as we see some things that even follow this.
But His question, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? And He lets them, except for Thomas, who isn't there, gain additional sensory evidence that should have led to a right conclusion.
Now the next quote, Verse 41. All of this has been pretty heavy and pretty intense, and maybe leading eventually to great repentance and all that, but just as we heard in the sermonette, sometimes there's time to let up a little bit in the pruning and be a little more gentle, and I think we see that in Verse 41. In the middle of all this, He said:
Verse 41 – "Do you have any food here?" . . ."Have you any food here?" There are times, when God, when Christ comes down to our very physical level, works with us at that level so He could later build us up, or continue building us up to a higher level. He went to have a meal with them, just eating food. There's something about eating food together with them that He thought would be exactly what they needed at this point. "Do you have any food here?" He came down to their level, the physical, so He could build up their faith.
Now we go to John 20, and you could see a metaphoric point even in that question. The spiritual food is the word of God. Are you feasting on the promises of the Bible? Which would have all led to the conclusion that everything is on schedule here. But in John:20:21, once again, we see Him appearing to them, and He says:
John:20:21 - . . . " Peace! Peace to you! And then He says something very significant, not only for them, but I think for everybody who would be a disciple or a follower of Christ. . . . "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." Now, what is He saying? How had the Father sent Jesus? All through His ministry, what did He repeat over and over again? "I didn't come here because I chose to. I came to do My Father's bidding. The words I speak – they're not My words. They're His words." He always deferred and deflected all the proper credit and everything to the Father.
He came with a mission from the Father. There was work to do. There were instructions. It wasn't just He came to hide out. He came with a job, with a mission, and that's exactly the way He's going to send them out. He said, "As the Father has sent Me,. . ." And I did it all, exactly as He wanted, "(I also send you.) I'm sending you. "
And so the church goes out into the world to represent God's truth to a world that primarily doesn't give a care about it at all, doesn't give any value to it at all. But it's still supposed to get out with that truth, that message, that good news and represent the truth of God, whether there's any response or not. Sometimes there's more; sometimes there's less. It doesn't matter. There is a mission; there is a work involved in being a disciple, a first fruit, a Christian.
You know, in that regard, look at the very first verse in the book of Acts. Acts was written by Luke, like the gospel according to Luke was written by Luke. It's a continuation, and the wording of it I think is quite interesting. If somebody said, "Okay, in a nutshell, describe the contents of the book of Luke. "
You would say, "Well, it's a description of what Christ did." Now look at the way he begins this next book.
Acts:1:1 – The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach." And the book of Acts is also described by the very same words, what Christ does. And now except He's not doing it on the earth in a bodily form; He's doing it through the church, which is His body. There's still a work God is still doing. So the book of Luke and the book of Acts are the same thing, the work of Christ and the Father. Nothing has changed. There is a mission.
All right, back to John 20. There's another thing He's quoted as saying here, very significant. See if I can do this. It worked in the morning. I'm going to do a miracle for you, right now. I'm going to show you a miraculous event. Now, you'll notice this piece of paper here. I can make it move without touching it. Watch this. (He can be heard blowing on the paper.) Isn't that something? (Giggles from the audience.) Don't you wish you could do that? That is a miracle. You don't see any way that I can make that paper move, but I can do it anytime I want. (More blowing.) That's what Jesus said in -
John:20:22 – (And) when He had said this, He breathed on them, and He said (to them), "Receive the Holy Spirit." How are weak, disbelieving, carnal human beings supposed to go out and represent a perfect God in this world? Isn't that impossible? Well, there's going to be a source that will change all that.
You know, there's a way for those x-rays to get through that lead. That's for the lead shield to be miraculously removed or penetrated, and the holy spirit can impart faith into a person's mind. That's one of its functions. By grace are we saved through faith, but that, faith is not of yourself; it is the gift of God. And so, it's a force that can penetrate, or having removed, it can get in there, and faith, and faithful service to God, and believing even the impossible is now possible because of this miraculous thing that He was demonstrating by blowing on them, just like this did, the holy spirit. And that prefaces the answer to all the – Yeah, but how're we going to do that? Yeah, how're we going to do that? What's the answer to this foolish and slow heart to believe? The holy spirit. The power of God to do the impossible.
Verse 23 – is the next quote: "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." At minimum, we would have to conclude, despite what nuance of understanding we have upon on all the ramifications of that, at minimum, I think we would all conclude, He's showing that God works through human instruments. There are going to be some He leaves behind after He's resurrected that He would give the power to represent Him on the earth even in regard to this matter. And so God, as it said in Acts:1:1, . . .Jesus began to do things. . . book of Luke, now He continues to do them through His church through the ones He works through, now, as He is at the right hand of His Father.
Now, Verse 27, this is eight days after – We were just at Luke:20:24, Thomas wasn't present; He appeared before them and let them touch His wounds. In the intervening eight days, they had told Thomas, "Thomas, guess what? We saw Him. He truly was resurrected; we've seen Him; we've touched Him."
He said, "You're all crazy. Mass delusion. I don't believe a word of it. You're nuts. You're having visions. You're . . ." What's the word I'm looking for here? Hallucination. Thank you.
"You're nuts, all of you." He began to think he was the only sane one.
Well, now, I suppose if you or I were God, we'd have just smashed and ended Thomas's career right then. But God is merciful. You might even say He's stubborn, a little bit. He chose Thomas to be one of His disciples, and He was going to equip Thomas. Thomas's lead shield was intact. So now He appears eight days later, and now Thomas is with them. And we know what happens here. He singles him out in the presence of all the other ten.
John:20:27 - . . . "Reach your finger here, Thomas, and look at My hands; (and) reach your hand here, and put it into My side.. . . He didn't even let the other ones do that, apparently. At least, it wasn't mentioned. Not only the nail wounds, the spear wounds. Stick your hand right in there, Thomas. Go ahead. Do it. . . . " Don't (Do not) be unbelieving, but believing." So, you know, you could spend the whole sermon on – what does that teach us? Well, God knows what each of us needs in our battle to have a faithful heart, and He let Thomas do things that you and I have never had the chance to do. Apparently, the other ten weren't even able to. And Thomas, of course, now the shield breaks off, or at least as much as it could.
Verse 28 - . . ."My Lord and my God!" No more doubt, and Jesus said something for Thomas's benefit, but more so, I think for His followers down through the ages, including today.
Verse 29 – He said, (Jesus said to him), Thomas, because you've (you have) seen Me. Because you've touched me. I didn't react to your jamming your hand...you've got to sense a miracle. I'm appearing as a human being, but not like anyone you've ever seen. Anybody else, you put your hand in a wound, and they would...no pain. He didn't react.
And Thomas says, ". . .My Lord and my God!" Verse 28.
Verse 29 - (continued) - "Because you have seen Me You have believed." That's great. Now, you know, go do the work. But . . . "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." All I can take from that is the obvious that it's possible to have every bit as much faith in Christ, in the resurrection of Christ, and the work of God in the year 2008, as it was in the year 31 because of this. "I can do miracles in imparting a believing heart." And it doesn't depend on touching a wound. And that's the way it's been for two thousand years.
Now we go to John 21. We've already seen that Jesus has appeared to one, to twos, to groups of ten or eleven. A number of occurrences have already happened before we get to John 21. And I believe that there was one of the disciples who was living in fairly high anxiety because he wondered when the other shoe was going to drop. Who am I thinking of? Peter.
On the night that Jesus was betrayed, good, old Peter, as Peter often did, was putting himself out. He couldn't help himself; it was just the way he was; front and center. Well, "Jesus, they'll run. You're saying, ‘tonight's the night;' they'll run. They're not going to stay with You, but I'm staying. I'm not like them. I love You more than they do. I'm more dedicated to You than they are."
And when the Roman soldiers showed up, he took off just as fast as any of them. And then he later denied three times that he even knew Jesus. And it says he went out and wept bitterly, before the cock crew the second time. Jesus hasn't addressed that episode in any of these prior manifestations. And I just got to believe that Peter wondered when is that going to get dealt with. Well, this is the time.
John:21:1 – After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, . . . Now they're not in Jerusalem anymore. They're up in Galilee, by the Sea of Galilee . Remember? He'd said to the women, "Go tell My disciples I'll meet them up at the Sea of Galilee ?" That was much later. That's now. And they had gone fishing. Peter and Thomas and all these others had gone fishing.
Verse 3 – Simon Peter said (to them,) "I am going fishing. They said to him, "We are going with you (also). They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night. . . worked all night . . . (they caught nothing) didn't catch any fish.
Verse 4 – (But when morning had now come,) In the morning, it came, and Jesus stood on the shore; the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Mary Magdalene didn't recognize Him; Cleopas and the other disciple didn't recognize Him; now His eleven disciples didn't recognize Him. And He starts talking to them.
Verse 5 - . . . "Children, have you any food?" Do you have any food? . . . No. Have you caught any fish? No.
Verse 6 – And He says to them, (And He said to them,) . . ."Cast the net on the right side . . . Now apparently they'd been casting the net on the left side of the boat all night long. Some people might conjecture that that was the standard practice; that's what good fishermen did; they put it out on the left side. They'd been doing it all night long. Maybe that's where they thought the fish would be. No fish. He said, "Why don't you just put it on the right side?" What have they got to lose? They hadn't caught any fish. They put it on the right side, and they got so many fish, it breaks the net.
Verse 7 – Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved, . . . John. . . said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" Okay, now the scales from their eyes fall off, and they begin to recognize who this stranger on the shore is. All right, so we get to the story, and they have breakfast together.
Verse 15 – So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,. . . In front of all of them. . . "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?"
And immediately, it's like a dagger in the heart. He'd remembered what he'd said – "They're going to run from you, but I'm more loyal; I love You more. I'm not going to run."
. . . ". . .You love me more than these?" These other ten? And He said, . . . "Do you agape . . . divine spiritual love Me more than they?"
And he answers, "You know I like You; You know I'm fond of You." He used another Greek word – philia love. He wouldn't answer with agape. He said, "You know, Lord. You know I like You." I'm sure that it had begun to penetrate his mind how faithless he had been, and how he had been relying on his human desires to serve God when it's God who works in us both to will and do His good pleasure to believe Him through the power of the holy spirit.
Well, Jesus said it a second time.
Verse 16 – (He said to him) So Jesus said it . . . again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love agape Me? He didn't even ask more than these others in this case. He said, "Yes, Lord, You know that I (love) like You." "You know that I'm fond of you. You know that I like to be in Your presence."
He said to him . . . "Okay," just like He said before, "Feed my lambs. Tend My sheep." Talk's cheap, Peter. You can talk about how you're stronger than the others, but if you really love Me, you're going to do the job I've given you to do. It's really played out by what you do, not what you say. Take care of My sheep."
Verse 17 – He said the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved. You remember, he had denied Him three times. Now he has to, in front of all these disciples, go through this. Jesus wasn't doing this to torment Peter. He was doing it to help Peter, once and for all, once and for all, in a way that he would never forget, realize, he wasn't any better than anybody else. He might have been stronger physically than the other ten, but in serving God, it doesn't rely on human strength. ". . .Do you love Me?" And he said (to Him) "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." . . ."Feed My sheep." "Do I want you to do."
Well, feeding His sheep was part of the mission that Christ was giving Peter, and He goes on in Verse 18 to tell him some more interesting news.
Verse 18 – "Most assuredly, I say to you Peter, when you were younger, you girded yourself. . . You walked where you wanted to. (. . . and walked where you wished,) but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and another one will gird you. . . tie you up. . . and carry you where you do not wish."
Verse 19 – This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And the records we have indicate that he did die a martyr's death. And then He said simply, . . . "Follow Me."
" Even to that end. Just like I followed My Father's instructions even to the end that I came to."
Well, Peter, most of the fight's out of him, but not quite all.
Verse 20 – (Then) Peter, turning around, saw the other disciple whom Jesus loved. . . Now he starts like we tend to do as humans, comparing among themselves. "Okay, okay, okay – what about John over here? What kind of a death is he going to die?" You see, Peter quite really hadn't quite gotten all the fight out of him yet.
Verse 21 - ". . .What about this man?" He said to Jesus.
Verse 22 – Jesus said (to him), "If. . . yeah, that's the key word. . . If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me. " "You do what I give you to do. Don't spend so much time worrying about the other guy. You do what I want you to do, even to the end."
And I think that is something that Peter benefited from, even though it was painful to go through at the time and which he never forgot.
Now all of these things had happened and been said before we get to the end here, which when I started the sermon, you might have been thinking, "Okay, the things that Jesus said after He was resurrected, and maybe one or two things came to mind as paramount. Well, they are paramount; they are important, but they're way late in the game. All of these other things that happened first and the things that we can learn from them. And only now do we come to Matthew 28.
You know, I quit giving you the numbers according to Robinson; this is the thirty-second thing He is recorded as saying after His resurrection. Not the first or second; the thirty-second. And only now, maybe, are they really ready, I guess, to hear this.
Matthew:28:18 – (And) Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth, . . ." "Now you can believe in it, can't you? I told you I was going to die and be resurrected, and now you believe that that's happened. Now can you believe that the Father has given Me all authority – I'm in charge. . . in heaven and on earth. If it's permitted to happen, I've permitted it. If it's caused to happen, I've caused it."
So things are not spinning hopelessly out of control without the knowledge or the permission of Christ for the past two thousand years. He can step in and start or stop any time He wants to. ". . . all authority. . ." Can we believe that? Therefore, because that's the case:
Verse 19 – "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and (of) the Son and (of) the Holy Spirit.
Verse 20 – "and teach them, so it's a teaching work representing then the truth of God to a dark world that doesn't understand God's truth – teach them. . . (teaching them) to observe all things that I have commanded you;" And it's a work, calling people to obedience, even though most people will not do that in every regard of God's law. ". . . and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world (age)." That's why don't fear; that's why rejoice underlying all the troubles of life because I'm going to be with you.
I won't go to Mark 16 because it repeats the great commission and talks about some of the signs that will follow God's people. But I do want to go to Luke 24, as we get very close to the last statement. Luke 24. We kind of come back to a theme that we saw established earlier, the centrality of the word of God, how important it should be, because it's certainly important to Jesus, the resurrected Jesus and should be our guide.
Luke:24:44 – Only now, . . .he said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." Every word of the Old Testament had to be fulfilled.
Verse 45 – And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
Verse 46 – Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer. . ." And that's why they were weeping, and that's why they thought it was all ending horribly. ". . . and to rise from the dead the third day." And that's the part they didn't believe – that the shield, or the armor, or the lead around their head wouldn't let the x-ray of faith get in. Now they can begin to believe that especially with the help of the holy spirit.
Now that's the last of all the utterances that are recorded in the scripture of the resurrected Christ before He ascended into the heavens in the gospel accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But there is actually one more, and that's in the book of Acts. Acts 1. It's kind of interesting to see how themes are summarized and where we end sort of how we began.
Acts:1:4 – (And) being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise. . ." The thing that made it all possible, that would empower them and give them spiritual faith. ". . .but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "You have heard from Me.;
Verse 5 – "for John truly baptized with water; but you (shall) will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. . ." The power, you see, of God to believe and to do. ". . . not many days from hence (now)." And wouldn't you know it, one last chance:
Verse 6 - . . .They asked Him saying, said, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom. . ." When? When's it over? When's the last step?
Verse 7 – And He ends as He began, ". . .It's not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father has put (in) into His own authority.
Verse 8 – "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in (all) Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." And that is the last utterance of Christ before He was accepted back into the third heaven permanently.
So let's summarize just a bit. Jesus' last words on the earth before His final ascension include a number of things. We've seen, what I would say is loving comfort; He comforted the disciples who were fretful and fearful and all those things. It included loving comfort. It also included exhortation for His disciples to believe and not to disbelieve. We've seen that on many occasions. It included, His last words included, emphasis on the duty and the mission associated with following Him. It included emphasis on submitting to the will of the Father as reflected in the scriptures in every detail, the importance of the written word of God.
And finally, I think it included a lot of emphasis on acknowledgment of the only source of power that makes any of this possible, that makes faithful discipleship possible, that is receipt of the gift of God's holy spirit. I think we all thank God for these final words of Jesus.