Posts Tagged ‘jesus disciples’

“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”—John 6:9

When Elisha received twenty barley loaves and some grain, he saw that by God’s power the food would feed a hundred people (2 Kings 4:42-44). Jesus took five barley loaves and two fish and fed a crowd of five thousand. At both meals there was so much that there were leftovers.

As in the days of Elisha, the Lord often did miracles to help with the personal needs of his people. Jesus, the bread of life, is concerned that we have not only food for our souls but also our daily bread. Sometimes we don’t appreciate how much God cares about our day-to-day needs.

But notice that Jesus does not feed the people by himself—he uses the disciples to distribute the bread and serve the people. As Jesus’ disciples today, we should expect the same—Jesus will use us to share in his many ministries of compassion. He is eager to bring us into his work. He not only wants to feed us but also wants us to help him feed others.

Of course, like the disciples, we will look at our resources and wonder how we can make any difference. Our supplies will seem small and inadequate.

But Jesus doesn’t care about that. Our call is to offer what we have to him and to trust that it will be enough. We are to stand by, ready to serve and to be surprised by what he does with the resources we have.

churchWhy on earth would you, a busy person, want to sacrifice what little R&R time you have to attend public worship regularly? In the final analysis, those who attend public worship regularly do so because they believe they are gaining much more than they are giving up. The benefits of attending far outweigh any deficits (real or imagined). If you have never attended a Christian congregation regularly or have fallen into a habit of not doing so, and especially if you don’t feel ready or motivated to go, I invite you to read the following “Ten Good Reasons to go to Church.”

1. To have fellowship with the crucified and risen Christ

If you knew that Jesus Himself was going to be at a particular place on a regular basis, would you not be motivated to go? The local Christian congregation is that place. Christians gather publicly to be with their risen Savior. When they worship, the Lord Himself is present!

Though it is true that Christ is always with individual believers, He is present in a unique and special way where Christians gather around the Word. He promised to be where Christians gather: “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20) and “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Both of these statements are spoken to Christians in the plural, to the believing community. Further, Scripture calls Christians assembled together, “the body of Christ.” In other words, the answer to the question, “Where can I find Jesus today?” is “Where Christians gather ” for they are His body.

Specifically, Jesus comes among His people through the preached Word and the Sacraments. What Jesus said to the disciples applies to every sermon which proclaims His Word truly: “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16). We hear the preacher, but it is Christ speaking through Him. The Lord also comes among us through the holy Supper. If it is true that the Lord’s Supper is the crucified and risen Christ’s body and blood, then this has awesome ramifications. It means that as the people of God receive this meal, they are entering into intimate fellowship with Christ Himself. The Lord’s Supper is called “communion” (Greek koinonia) because there the people of God have intimate communion with Jesus and with one another (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). After communing, with Simeon we say, “Lord, lettest now Thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation” (Luke 20:29-30).

2. To be forgiven

Why come to church? Because the Lord Jesus is there. And He is there primarily to give forgiveness to all who repent and believe. Proclaiming the full forgiveness that Jesus won for us on the cross is the main point of all Christian worship services. This is the amazing thing about our God. He comes among His people not primarily to receive but to give. To give the precious forgiveness of sins. He does this through the preaching of the Gospel, holy Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper. What a joy it is to weary souls who have been struggling with their sin all week to hear and receive God’s pardon given through Word and Sacrament.

3. To hear the voice of God

Never before have people been confronted with so many voices. Never before have people been confronted with so many choices. Life can be confusing and at times overwhelming as we try to sift through and sort out right from wrong, truth from error. All the more reason to go to church regularly. For there the voice of God Himself speaks to us through sermon, Scripture, liturgy, and hymnody. God speaks to His people as a whole and He speaks to them individually, guiding them into truth, reminding them of what is right, warning them about what is wrong. His is a voice of strength and comfort, a voice of healing and binding up. His is a voice of sanity amidst the insanity. His is a voice that tells the truth when so many other voices cannot be trusted. How sad when believers pray for guidance but fail to show up at the place that God has chosen to give that guidance.

4. To grow in the knowledge of the Bible, God’s Word

This reason is related to the previous one but is not redundant. Here I am responding to a common excuse: “I don’t need to go to church to hear the Word; I can read the Bible on my own.” On the one hand, private study of God’s Word is wonderful. Would that all believers had a daily diet of God’s Word! But private study of Scripture must not be a substitute for hearing the preached Word.

Why not? There are two reasons, the first theological, the second practical. Because the Pastor, who holds the divinely appointed preaching office, is, by God’s will, the chief teacher of God’s Word, the one through whom Christ Himself speaks (see Luke 10:16; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Timothy 4:13-16; 2 Timothy 4:1-5; Hebrews 13:17). The Pastor has been blessed with a gift of teaching. Furthermore, he has gone through extensive schooling and study so as to become an “specialist” in God’s Word (though he also is always growing and learning). He has learned Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. He has spent many years in prayer and study learning God’s Word. Why not benefit from his area of expertise?
I find it ironic that though we are willing to acknowledge and turn to self-proclaimed experts in every branch of human knowledge, we do not see the need for an expert in the Word of God. In other words, in so many areas of knowledge we freely admit that we lack the expertise to form judgments and we seek out the experts to help us. We turn to doctors for our health, CPAs for our taxes, auto mechanics for our vehicles, psychologists for our problems, etc. However, when it comes to the Word of God, some apparently know it all. Yes, every Christian can and should read the Bible. Yes, the people of God are to judge the teaching of the Pastor. I am not promoting clergy tyranny. I am warning against lay anarchy.

5. To feed your soul

Feed the soul? Does the soul need nourishment? According to Scripture, yes. There we are reminded that “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4). There we are encouraged, “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). God’s Word is food for the soul. Public worship is the best place to give your soul the Word-of-God-nourishment it needs. In another place Jesus says, “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you” (John 6:27). How tragic to see people zealously provide for their bodies but not their souls.

6. To be loved and encouraged

Why go to church regularly? To be loved and encouraged. We all have troubles. We all face dilemmas and disappointments. We all wrestle with discouragement and heartache. Life can be cruel in a fallen world. What God said of Adam applies to us all: “It is not good for man to be alone.” Why bear your burdens alone? Coming to church means interacting with your fellow Christians, the body of Christ. It means receiving an encouraging word, a hug and a smile. It means having someone listen. More profoundly, it is often through His body that Christ speaks the comfort and crucial direction that we need. How often a timely word of Gospel spoken by one Christian to another dispels the gloom! How often one Christian will have a spiritual insight that benefits another. Come to church to be loved and encouraged.

7. To be prayed for

Jesus once promised, “if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). There is power when the people of God pray. But for those unfortunate souls who have cut themselves off from regular attendance at the Christian assembly, their needs are unknown, and they pray alone. An often overlooked reason to come to church is to be prayed for.

8. To love and encourage your fellow Christians

At the heart of the Christian ethic is the obligation to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus sharpens this in John 13 when He says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). The apostle Paul echoes this when he writes, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2) and “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:10).

Failing to attend public worship regularly not only transgresses the Third Commandment (“Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy”). It is also transgresses the law of Christ, to love one’s fellow Christians and to bear their burdens. When we refuse to gather with our fellow Christians, this is not love! By such refusal we lose touch with them and in most cases have no idea what they are going through. And if we have no idea what they are going through how can we encourage and help them? Furthermore, our absence is a powerful nonverbal discouragement to them. But our presence is a powerful nonverbal encouragement, even when no words are spoken.

9. To worship

That Christians are to worship God publicly is a Biblical given. Behind this given is the reality that we are creatures and God is the Creator. Everything we are and have is a gift from Him. Therefore God richly deserves our worship, our praise, thanks, and prayer. At the heart of New Testament/Christian worship is the gift of forgiveness that God has given us in Jesus Christ. Because God through Christ has forgiven us and given eternal life to us out of pure grace, He richly deserves our public praise and thanks through word and song.

When we worship the true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are doing what we were created to do. Worshiping our Creator is being in sync with who we really are. It is not by accident that the book of Revelation pictures heaven as a place were the ransomed of the Lord will worship God forevermore.
Because we were created to be worshiping beings, we will worship someone or something. Either God, our Creator, who alone deserves our worship, or someone or something else: ourselves, possessions, wealth, a cause, a career, a hobby, or another person.

10. To promote the Gospel

One last reason to attend corporate worship regularly is that by doing so we promote and defend the Gospel. Remember, the Christian Church exists, ipso facto, “to make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). We exist to tell the good news that through Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, God has forgiven humanity and offers heaven as a gift to those who believe this. The Church’s main mission is to populate heaven not to make people better (though through the Gospel this happens, too!).

How does attending church regularly promote the Gospel? In a variety of ways. First, by supporting the local congregation through weekly offerings, you allow the Gospel to be preached to our local communities. Without the financial support of faithful members, such local mission work would cease. Can’t financial giving be done without attending? Yes, but apart from the inappropriateness of such non-attending giving, this rarely happens. In reality, only those who attend regularly contribute regularly. Second, as we hear and receive the Gospel through preaching and Sacrament, we are empowered and motivated to share the Gospel out in the world. Third, those who attend regularly give a very positive message to others about what Jesus Christ means to them. He means enough to set aside several hours a week to hear His Word and praise and thank Him. This can’t help but attract others to Christ. Fourth, when we come regularly we will from time to time invite others to hear the Gospel.

stdas0600Matthew 8:33-34 – Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region. (NKJV)

If you have been living for Jesus very long you’ve experienced what Jesus and His disciples experienced on this occasion. When Jesus showed up not everyone was excited. In fact, these people wanted Jesus to leave! Don’t allow the negative response of people to keep you from praying. My responsibility is to keep praying for my city and leave the results in God’s hands. While my desire is for everyone to be a follower of Christ, I realize that people will make their own decisions. I will keep praying and believing God for a spiritual awakening to take place in my town.

faith

This father brought his afflicted son, who had suffered from childhood, to see if Jesus would heal him. He first ran into Jesus’ disciples and asked them for help, but they could not. By the time he finally gained Jesus’ attention, there had to be a growing doubt in his mind as to whether his son could ever be healed.

And the instant he comes into the presence of Jesus, his son wallows on the ground, foaming at the mouth. He timidly puts his request to Jesus, “If thou canst do anything… help us.” Only to have Jesus throw the ball back in his court, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible.”

How this father must have struggled to find the right words, the right response. Finally, through his tears, he gives this confession:

First, he calls Jesus his Lord. He knows Jesus has authority that is not of this world and humbles himself before him. Then he cries out, “I believe!” This is not an arrogant presumption that he has the faith Jesus requires, but a sincere statement of why he came to Jesus in the first place.

Finally, he admits his fear and doubt, and runs to the right place for help: “Help thou mine unbelief.” Without realizing it, this father displayed exactly what great faith looks like!

Genuine faith does not trust in one’s own ability to believe, to work, or to obey. True faith looks to Christ to fulfill all our gaping inadequacies.

Do you feel yourself doubting? Falling? Giving in? Don’t try to hide your struggles or difficulties from Jesus; take them to him, confess them to him, and let his grace supply your every need.

Religious Leaders Plot to Kill Jesus
FROM MATTHEW 26: 1-5 (NLT)
. … (Jesus) said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover celebration begins in two days, and I, the Son of Man, will be betrayed and crucified.”

At that same time the leading priests and other leaders were meeting at the residence Caiaphas, the high priest, to discuss how to capture Jesus secretly and put him to death. “But not during the Passover,” they agreed, “or there will be a riot.”

A Woman Anoints Jesus with Perfume
FROM MATTHEW 26:6-13 (NLT)
Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had leprosy. During supper, a woman came in with a beautiful jar of expensive perfume, and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste of money,” they said. “She could have sold it for a fortune and given the money to the poor.”

But Jesus replied, “Why berate her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, but I will not be here with you much longer. She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. I assure you, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be talked about in her memory.”

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
FROM MATTHEW 26:14-16 (NLT)
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver. From that time on, Judas began looking for the right time and place to betray Jesus.

Disciples Prepare for the Passover
FROM MATTHEW 26:17-19 (NLT)
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover supper?”

“As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The teacher says, My appointed time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.'” So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover supper there.

Jesus and the Disciples Share the Last Supper
FROM MATTHEW 26:20-30 (NLT)
When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the twelve disciples. While they were eating, he said, “The truth is, one of you will betray me.”

Greatly distressed, one by one they began to ask him, “I’m not the one, am I, Lord?”

He replied, “One of you who is eating with me now will betray me. For I, the Son of Man, must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for my betrayer. Far better for him if he had never been born!”

Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Teacher, I’m not the one, am I?” And Jesus told him, “You have said it yourself.”

As they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread and asked God‘s blessing on it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it and eat it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which seals the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus Again Predicts Peter’s Denial
FROM MATTHEW 26:31-35 (NLT)
“Tonight all of you will desert me,” Jesus told them. “For the Scriptures say,

‘God will strike the Shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you into Galilee and meet you there.”

Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.”

“Peter,” Jesus replied, “the truth is, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”

“No!” Peter insisted. “Not even if I have to die with you! I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.

Jesus Agonizes in the Garden
FROM MATTHEW 26:36-46 (NLT)
Then Jesus brought them to an olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go on ahead to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he began to be filled with anguish and deep distress. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me.”

He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you stay awake and watch with me even one hour? Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak!”

Again he left them and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away until I drink it, your will be done.” He returned to them again and found them sleeping, for they just couldn’t keep their eyes open.

So he went back to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then he came to the disciples and said, “Still sleeping? Still resting? Look, the time has come. I, the Son of Man, am betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. See my betrayer is here!”

Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested
FROM MATTHEW 26:47-56 (NLT)
And even as he said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a mob that was armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent out by the leading priests and other leaders of the people. Judas had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I go over and give him a kiss of greeting.” So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Teacher!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.

Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have came for.” Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. One of the men with Jesus pulled out a sword and slashed off an ear of the high priest’s servant.

“Put away your sword,” Jesus told him, “Those who use the sword will be killed by the sword. Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”

Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I some dangerous criminal, that you have come armed with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the temple? I was there teaching everyday. But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.” At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Caiaphas Questions Jesus
FROM MATTHEW 26:57-68 (NLT)
Then the people who had arrested Jesus led him to the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of religious law and other leaders had gathered. Meanwhile, Peter was following far behind and eventually came to the courtyard of the high priest’s house. He went in, sat with the guards, and waited to see what was going to happen to Jesus.

Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him to death. But even though they found many who agreed to give false witness, there was no testimony they could use. Finally, two men were found who declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.'”

Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God that you tell us whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

Jesus replied, “Yes, it is as you say. And in the future you will see me, the Son of Man, sitting at God’s right hand in the place of power and coming back on the clouds of heaven.”

Then the high priest tore his clothes to show his horror, shouting, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?”

“Guilty!” they shouted. “He must die!”

Then they spit in Jesus’ face and hit him with their fists. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who hit you that time?”

Peter Denies Knowing Jesus
FROM MATTHEW 26:69-75 (NLT)
Meanwhile, as Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant girl came over and said to him, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean.”

But Peter denied it in front of everyone. “I don’t know what you are talking about,” he said.

Later, out by the gate, another servant girl noticed him and said to those standing around, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath: “I don’t even know the man,” he said.

A little later some other bystanders came over to him and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.”

Peter said, “I swear by God, I don’t know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. Suddenly Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went away, crying bitterly.

The Council of Religious Leaders Condemns Jesus
FROM MATTHEW 27:1-2 (NLT)
Very early in the morning, the leading priests and other leaders met again to discuss how to persuade the Roman government to sentence Jesus to death. Then they bound him and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.

Judas Hangs Himself
FROM MATTHEW 27:3-10 (NLT)
When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and other leaders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”

“What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” Then Judas threw the money onto the floor of the Temple and went out and hanged himself. The leading priests picked up the money. “We can’t put it in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it’s against the law to accept money paid for murder.” After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says,

“They took the thirty pieces of silver—the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel—and purchased the potter’s field, as the Lord directed.”

Pilate Hands Jesus Over to Be Crucified
FROM MATTHEW 27:11-14 (NLT)
Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. “Are you the King of the Jews?” the governor asked him.

Jesus replied, “Yes, it is as you say,”

But when the leading priests and other leaders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. “Don’t you hear the charges against you?” Pilate demanded. But Jesus said nothing, much to the governor’s surprise.

Jesus Stands Trial Before Pilate
FROM MATTHEW 27:15-26 (NLT)
Now it was the governor’s custom to release one prisoner to the crowd each year during the Passover celebration—anyone they wanted. This year there was a notorious criminal in prison, a man named Barabbas. As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” (He knew very well that the Jewish leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.)

Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone, because I had a terrible nightmare about him last night.”

Meanwhile, the leading priests and other leaders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. So when the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?” the crowd shouted back their reply: “Barabbas!”

“But if I release Barabbas,” Pilate asked them, “what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

And they all shouted, “Crucify him!”

“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”

But the crowd only roared the louder, “Crucify him!”

Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this man. The responsibility is yours!”

And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!”

So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to crucify him.

Roman Soldiers Mock Jesus
FROM MATTHEW 27:27-31 (NLT)
Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire battalion. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. They made a crown of long, sharp thorns and put it on his head, and they placed a stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery, yelling, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him, and grabbed the stick and beat him on the head with it. When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.

Jesus Is Led Away to Be Crucified
FROM MATTHEW 27:32-44 (NLT)
As they were on the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and they forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. Then they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means Skull Hill). The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it.

After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. A signboard was fastened to the cross above Jesus’ head announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

Two criminals were crucified with him, their crosses on either side of his. And the people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “So! You can destroy the Temple and build it again in three days, can you? Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

The leading priests, the teachers of religious law and the other leaders also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross, and we will believe in him! He trusted God—let God show his approval by delivering him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” And the criminals who were crucified with him also shouted the same insults at him.

Jesus Dies on the Cross
FROM MATTHEW 27:45-56 (NLT)
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lemasabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a stick so he could drink. But the rest said, “Leave him alone. Let’s see whether Elijah will come and save him.”

Then Jesus shouted out again, and he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead after Jesus’ resurrection. They left the cemetery, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

And many women who had come from Galilee with Jesus to care for him were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James and Joseph), and Zebedee’s wife, the mother of James and John.

Jesus Is Laid in the Tomb
FROM MATTHEW 27:57-61 (NLT)
As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea, who was on of Jesus’ followers, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long linen cloth. He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance as he left. Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting nearby watching.

Guards are Posted at the Tomb
FROM MATTHEW 27:62-66 (NLT)
The next day—on the first day after the Passover ceremonies—the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will be raised from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing the body and then telling everyone that he came back to life! If that happens, we’ll be worse off then we were at first.”

Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted the guards to protect it.

Jesus Rises from the Dead
FROM MATTHEW 28:1-7 (NLT)
Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to see the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, because an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled aside the stone and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now go quickly and tell his disciples he has been raised from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember, I have told you.”

Jesus Appears to the Women
FROM MATTHEW 28:8-10 (NLT)
The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to find the disciples to give them the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them. “Greetings!” he said. And they ran to him, held his feet, and worshiped him. The Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”

Religious Leaders Bribe the Guards
FROM MATTHEW 28:11-15 (NLT)
As the women were on their way into the city, some of the men who had been guarding the tomb went to the leading priests and told them what had happened. A meeting of all the religious leaders was called, and they decided to bribe the soldiers. They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’ If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you and everything will be all right.” So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread among the Jews, and they still tell it today.

Jesus Appears to Two Believers Traveling on the Road
FROM LUKE 24:13-35 (NLT)
That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles out of Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. Suddenly, Jesus himself came along and joined them and began walking beside them. But they didn’t know who he was, because God kept them from recognizing him.

“You seem to be in a deep discussion about something,” he said. “What are you so concerned about?”

They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days?”

“What things?” Jesus asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did wonderful miracles. He was a mighty teacher, highly regarded by both God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders arrested him and handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had thought he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. That all happened three days ago. Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, Jesus’ body was gone, just as the women had said.”

Then Jesus said to them, “You are such foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted by the prophets that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his time of glory?” Then Jesus quoted passages from the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining what all the Scriptures said about himself.

By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus would have gone on, but they begged him to stay the night with them, since it was getting late. So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took a small loaf of bread, asked God’s blessing on it, broke it, then gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!

They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts feel strangely warm as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem, where the eleven disciples and the other followers of Jesus were gathered. When they arrived, they were greeted with the report, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter!”

Jesus Appears to His Disciples
FROM LUKE 24:36-43 (NLT)
Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” But the whole group was terribly frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost. “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why do you doubt who I am? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do!” As he spoke, he held out his hands for them to see, and he showed them his feet.

Still they stood there doubting, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it as they watched.

Jesus Appears to the Disciples in Jerusalem
FROM LUKE 24:43-49 (NLT)
Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and the Psalms must all come true.” Then he opened their minds to understand these many Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again from the dead on the third day. With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.’ You are witnesses of these things.

“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas
FROM JOHN 20:24-31 (NLT)
One of the disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among. He said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven’t seen me and believe anyway.”

Jesus’ disciples saw him do many other miraculous signs besides the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life.

Jesus Gives the Great Commission
FROM MATTHEW 28:16-20 (NLT)
Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them still doubted!

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Jesus Ascends into Heaven
FROM LUKE 24:50-53 (NLT)
Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting his hands to heaven, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. They worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God.