A message for Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron OH, Sunday, April 24, 2022.
For the “Live in Church” audio of this message, click here.
It’s now a week after Resurrection Day—the traditional recognition on Easter Sunday when Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion.
Let’s do a brief recap.
Matthew 28:1-10 NLT
1 Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.
2 Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. 3 His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. 4 The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.
5 Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. 7 And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”
8 The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. 9 And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”
Imagine the euphoria that the women felt when they went to the tomb just before dawn and were told by members of the heavenly host that Jesus was not there! He was alive and on the move to Galilee! He rose from the dead just as He said He would!
From there, the emotions of his disciples and followers were all over the place! There was wonder, joy and incredulity for those closest to Jesus, and it was coupled with different levels of belief and disbelief. We know how Thomas had to see the hands, side and feet of Jesus to believe, but may we be like the ones Jesus referred to during His comments to Thomas:
John 20:29 NLT
Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
And that is our challenge for today and the days ahead—to believe in Jesus without seeing Him. While Thomas did see Jesus face-to-face, you have a spirit-to-Spirit relationship with Him as you receive His strength and wisdom in obedience to His Word.
Paul gives an account of those who witnessed Jesus after His resurrection:
1 Corinthians 15:3-8 NLT
3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. 5 He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. 6 After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I (Paul) also saw him.
We don’t speak much about the period of time beyond the encounters that Jesus had with the men (His disciples) and the women (His traveling support), but I think it is important for us to see that the plan of Jesus revealing Himself to His people is nothing less than fascinating. The account of Jesus ends in the gospels before the conclusion of this 40 day period before His ascension. If anything, we find that Jesus spent a lot of time during this period appearing and reappearing to the disciples just to bolster their faith and assure them that He had indeed returned! This is found in Luke’s introduction in the book of Acts:
Acts 1:1-3 NLT
1 In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. 3 During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.
Let’s consider the time Jesus and His disciples spent during the forty-day period. Jesus appeared from time to time just to prove that he was really alive, and the disciples were now looking at the totality of their experience to learn eternal truths directly from the One who conquered death for them—and for all of us.
Jesus, when he entered His ministry:
- Invited His disciples to come and follow Him.
- Shared His wisdom and knowledge freely to all who would listen.
- He healed sickness and infirmity to reach those who needed to see His miracles in order to believe.
In the same manner, Jesus invites us to go beyond what we see. His scriptures tell us about His life, death, burial and resurrection, but even the disciples had to believe that what they were seeing was true! Plain and simple, they needed to have faith. Jesus had to teach them with these actions:
- Jesus invites everyone to “come and see.”
John 1:35-39, 43-46 NLT
35 The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. 36 As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” 37 When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.
38 Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them.
They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day.
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” 44 Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown.
45 Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.”
46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
“Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.
I believe it is safe to say that the vast majority of people know of Jesus, but only a few know Him in the manner that He desires.
He invites everyone to come, see and learn more about Him. As you learn more about Jesus, you learn more about His character.
John 12:44-45 ESV
44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.
John 14:9 ESV
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Jeremiah 29:13 ESV
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Jesus’s early ministry was all about inviting people to come and see who He was. He knew that those who loved Him would follow and learn more from Him.
- Jesus said “come to me.”
Jesus’s disciples needed to see Jesus after His resurrection to remind them of His messages to the people. He was still continuing to teach them that Jesus was to be their heart’s desire, and He told them that it was perfectly fine to just come directly to Him and go to Him in prayer whenever it was necessary.
His appeal to those who were carrying life’s burdens was another way to draw people near to Him. He simply said, “come to me,” and I will make things better. This also developed the faith of those who were without hope.
Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
John 6:35-37 ESV
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
The invitation is always open for anyone who desires fellowship with Jesus Christ.
Revelation 22:17 ESV
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
It’s an open invitation until it isn’t anymore. If you desire to come to Jesus, do it soon. As a matter of fact, do it now, for tomorrow is not promised to any one of us.
Listen to Jesus when He calls you. He is saying, “Come to me.” Come to Him with your moments of joy, your moments of pain, and with your prayers and petitions.
James 5:13 ESV
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
John 15:7 ESV
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
- Jesus said “believe in me.”
The 40 days following Jesus’s resurrection were filled with calls for the disciples to not doubt, but believe in Jesus. Believe in everything that they have seen and have faith that what they witnessed would carry them on to their future mission of proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Savior. Jesus knew that their mature faith in Him would make them unstoppable. Believing wholeheartedly in Jesus helped them to overcome fear.
Luke 24:44-49 NLT
44 Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. 47 It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ 48 You are witnesses of all these things.
49 “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.”
Mark 9:23 ESV
And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”
John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
John 6:38-40 ESV
38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
John 12:46 ESV
I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
Romans 10:9-13 ESV
9…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Believing in Jesus is more important today than ever. He challenged the disciples to believe in Him, and He challenges us to do the same:
John 6:26-29 NLT
26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”
28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”
29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
Believe in Jesus. That’s all that is necessary.
Don’t let the celebration of Resurrection Sunday wane to a place of complacency in Christ. There’s no better time than the present to continue the development of your personal relationship in Jesus.
Jesus continued to teach the disciples as there was still the need to get them ready to go out into the world and preach the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20). He knew that the Spirit would empower them, but they had to believe in Jesus and trust wholeheartedly in Him.
Use this precious time to learn from Jesus as the disciples did.
Believe in the One that God has sent to us. Believe in Him for what He has done for you.
Copyright © 2022 Melvin Gaines