Welcome to the Mountjoy Ministries Blog

This blog was authored by Bryan W. Sheldon, author and Bible teacher. His books are listed below. The studies in the blog are offered in the desire that they may be helpful in directing readers to the truths contained in the Bible.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Messiah and His Miracles

The Resurrection of the Messiah (Continued)

“But now Christ is risen”, for: “He … presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). There are ten recorded resurrection appearances over a period of almost six weeks.

(i)      To Mary of Magdala. (John 20:14 ff)

(ii)     To others of the women. (Matt.28:9,10)

(iii)    To Peter on his own. (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor.15:5)

(iv)    To the two on the road to Emmaus.(Luke 24:13 ff)

(v)     To a group of disciples when Thomas was absent. (Luke 24:36 ff)

(vi)    To the disciples when Thomas was present. (John 20:26 ff)

(vii)   To the seven disciples by the Lake.(John 21:1 ff)

(viii) To a company of more than 500, in Galilee. (1 Cor.15:6)

(ix)    To James, the half-brother of the Lord. (1 Cor. 15:7)

(x)     To those who witnessed the ascension. (Luke 24:50,51; Acts 1:9)

Post-Ascension Appearances

(i)      To Stephen: (Acts 7:56)

(ii)     To Paul: (Acts 9:3 ff)

The Importance of the Resurrection Appearances to the Disciples

These resurrection appearances were not for the nation, but for the disciples. They confirmed those major truths that have engaged us.  Jesus of Nazareth was:

(a)     Israel’s true Messiah,

(b)     and God incarnate.

(c)     He is the lifted up One, as physically demonstrated not only by His crucifixion but also by His ascension.

(d)    He has the serpent in subjection. His presence at the right hand of power by the throne of God confirms this.

(e)     He has the authority to forgive sins, because

(f)     He paid the price. The ‘blood on the ground’ was His.

(a)           The truth that Jesus is Israel’s Messiah.
To the two on the road to Emmaus, Jesus, as a travelling Rabbi, explained from the T’nach the prophecies of Messiah’s suffering, and then connected those prophetic Scriptures to the life of their Master. He explained that the Jesus whom they saw crucified, was in fact ‘Messiah the Prince’ of Daniel,[1] and that the resurrection that they found so difficult to believe, was a part of God’s great plan: “Ought not the Christ (Messiah) to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26) Later that day, when He visited the gathering of the disciples in Jerusalem, He repeated the discourse; and 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…Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ (Messiah) to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day”. (Luke 24:44-46)

[1] Dan.9.25
More Next Time

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Messiah and His Miracles

The Sign of the Prophet Jonah (Continued)

The Burial of the Messiah

Events had reached their predicted end: “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him”.[1] It was Joseph of Arimathaea, who went to Pilate, and obtained the body of Jesus: He took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before”.[2] Note the change of emphasis, “they crucified Him, but “he took it down”, not ‘Him’ but ‘it’, the body of the Messiah.  The burial of Jesus was the burial of the body of the Messiah only. Jesus no longer occupied it.  He was away somewhere else. He had descended into Hades. Paul wrote, Jesus: “also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?”[3] And again: Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)”.[4] Jesus had prophesied: “for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  Jesus described his destination as “the heart of the earth”; Paul, the great expositor, calls it, “the lower parts of the earth” and “the abyss (the deep)”.  The garden tomb does not fit these descriptions.  The Bible tells of Jonah’s experience in these words: “I went down to the bottoms of the mountains, the earth with its bars closed behind me forever”, and: “You cast me into the deep”.  In keeping with this context, an earthquake marked the descent of Christ into Hades.[5]

The descent of the Messiah into Hades is used to emphasise at least two important truths in Scripture.  (i) That total victory over Satan would not be accomplished until the kingdom of the dead was under the control of the Lord of life.  (ii) The second truth suggests the height of the exaltation of the Messiah was in direct contrast with the depth of His humiliation.   The Bible states, “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)[6]  William Kelly writes ‘He led those captive who had led the Church captive. We were led captive of the devil, and Christ going up on high passed triumphantly above the power of Satan’.[7]  Paul also wrote, ‘And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to … death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’[8]

The Resurrection of the Messiah

The sign of Jonah required a resurrection from the grave. Jonah returned from the dead. “You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God.”[9]  Therefore, Jesus must return from the dead.  A Messianic Psalm says, “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption”.[10] Paul quoted it in Antioch, and applied it to the resurrection of the Messiah,[11] and had it in his mind’s eye when he wrote to the Church at Corinth, “Christ … rose again the third day according to the scriptures”.[12]

Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead. A mighty movement in the earth’s crust attended the ascent of the Messiah from Hades: “Behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.” [13] There were multiples of the sign of the prophet Jonah, i.e. saints returning from Hades (Abraham’s bosom): “Graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many”. [14]

The Sadducees who denied the doctrine of the resurrection[15] must have been much perplexed. In life, Jesus sent them multiples of the leprous ‘living dead’ who had been restored from their pitiable condition. Now in death He sent them multiples of those who had been actually dead but were now living again. Jesus, the Messiah, gave the Sadducees, who knew neither the power of God nor the Scriptures,[16] one unforgettable lesson.

The disciples, during their time with Jesus, struggled to understand the teaching of His personal resurrection. For example Mark tells us: “He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead. They seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what was the rising from the dead”. [17] But it was clearly important that they should grasp it. On several other occasions He prophesied: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again”. [18]  In another place He speaks of His resurrection as taking up His life again; “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father”. [19]  Here He separated two of the aspects of His rising from the dead: (i) He had the freedom and the ability to return from Hades; (ii) He had a charge from the Father to make that choice: “This command I have received from My Father”. The harmony that is in the Godhead is emphasised here, and those Scriptures that state that God raised Him from the dead[20] are further illuminated by the Messiah’s own teaching. The Father gave the Son to death and the Son gave Himself.  The Father would raise the Son and the Son would raise Himself.

Next Time : More on the Resurrection of the Messiah.

[1] Luke 23.33
[2] Luke 23.50-53
[3] Eph.4.8-10
[4] Rom.10.6,7
[5] Matt.27.51
[6] Eph.4.8-10
[7]Kelly, W. ‘Lectures On The Epistle Of Paul, The Apostle, To The Ephesians’ (Page 168).
[8] Phil.2.8-11
[9] Jonah 2.6
[10] Psalm 16.10
[11] Acts 2.25-28
[12] 1 Cor.15.
[13] Matt.28.2
[14] Matt.27.52,53
[15] Luke 20.27; Acts 23.6-8
[16] Matt.22.29
[17] Mark 9.9,10 (NASB)
[18] Matt.20.18,19; cf 16.21; 17.22,23
[19] John 10.17,18
[20] Acts 3.15; 4.10; 13.30; 1 Cor.15.15; Gal.1.1; Col.2.12; etc