“The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.”
Luke 23:47-48 NIV
The Centurion did understand that the Jewish leaders had pushed so hard for the wrong man to be crucified. He instantly recognized this as a grave miscarriage of Roman justice. The Jewish Religious Leaders had exploited the judicial system, with the aim of carrying out their own agenda. It was wrong under the Roman judicial system, to have sentenced an innocent man for anything at all. But all these were in the big plan of God to redeem humanity from eternal condemnation of hell.
A sense of guilt came upon the crowd, that had shouted for Him to be crucified, as they beat their chest in bewilderment of what they had just witnessed. The crowd that saw Him hung on the cross, had also seen the thick darkness and the earthquake, which occurred as hell was opened up to receive the soul of Jesus (Luke 23:44-45 and Matthew 27:51-54). But unknown to them at that time Jesus was just fulfilling the will of His Father, in giving His life for the ransom of all men from slavery to sin and death. Jesus by His death on the cross publicly shamed the devil. He destroyed every works of the devil with a public display in victory. A righteous man had to die to redeem all humanity from sin. This is the truth about the gospel that His crucifixion and resurrection gave to us.
Apostle Paul wrote:
““Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:55-57 NIV
But His death was not the end of it all. It was just the beginning of the whole story. Satan is doomed for eternal damnation (Revelation 20:10). And he knows it. But for those who had experienced the power of the resurrection in their lives; a new beginning had dawned. For if Christ’s death has given us the victory over sin, then His resurrection has made much more available for us.
IN THE SIMPLICITY AND FOOLISHNESS OF THE GOSPEL IS THE WISDOM OF GOD
Jesus after His resurrection gave us all, the command to go into all the earth and proclaim, through the simplicity and the foolishness of what is called the preaching of the gospel; the revelation of the wisdom of God for the salvation of all men. In the preaching of the gospel is the wisdom of God to the lost and perishing of the world to be saved. And this is the gospel that, this same Christ Jesus who died and rose from the dead, is in fact the Son of the Living God.
Today Christians who are obeying this last command of Jesus, are still putting the devil to public shame.
So why is His resurrection so important?
The scriptures says:
“But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.”
Acts 13:37 NIV
Another translation of the Bible says:
“but He whom God raised up saw no corruption.”
Acts 13:37 NKJV
Jesus in His death never saw decay or corruption. His body in death was as fresh as it was before his death. His body never got rotten in the grave. Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection defeated the devil. He put him to public shame and disgrace. Hallelujah!
And that’s why we do celebrate His Resurrection. It’s a celebration of the victory over the power of sin and death. JESUS IS ALIVE. That’s the good news which the other religions on earth today do not have. It is the real good news of joy in the heart of everyone who believes in Him.
BE JOYFUL AND REJOICE, YOUR REDEEMER LIVES
When Jesus rose from the dead, the bible says:
“…the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the LORD.”
John 20:20 (NIV).
The Williams translations says:
“...the disciples were thrilled with joy over seeing the Lord.”
And the Weymouth translations puts the same scripture this way:
…”they were filled with joy at seeing the Lord.”
What an amazing thing for them to have witnessed the resurrection of the Son of Man, whom they had seen died a few days before then. The disciples were “overjoyed”, “thrilled with joy” and “filled with joy”. He is alive once again. The joy of seeing Jesus alive again gave them all, a renewed assurance of faith in what they had always believed about Him; that this same Jesus is the Christ and the Anointed One.
And just as they rejoiced when He resurrected; we who are still alive today do have a reason to rejoice also, that He’ll be back again. Yes, He’s coming back to get those who believe in Him (John 14:1-4). And that’s part of the gospel also. He is the Son of the living God. That joy of His resurrection led them into celebration with Him. Jesus ate and drank with them, to proof that they were not seeing something mysterious. No, it was not the Ghost of the dead Christ that they saw. But right before their eyes was the real deal.
Jesus Himself told them:
“Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.””
Luke 24:39-44 NIV
The evidence is there today. His grave is empty. He rose from the dead, He ate, He drank and He continued to fellowship with them for 40 more days before ascending into the Heavens.
JESUS COMMISSIONED EVERY BELIEVER TO PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL
So as not to allow the joy of His resurrection to get into their head so much, Jesus took the disciples to the plains of Galilee. Jesus needed only 500 of those, that had seen Him risen from the dead, to begin the new call of God to all men. Out of the multitudes that saw His miracles, signs and wonders; only 500 received the real deal. He then revealed and gave these 500 believers the real deal to the end of the earth, saying:
“…“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””
Matthew 28:18-20 NIV
This deal is what is still thrilling many of His followers across the globe today to rejoice. It is the last commandment of Jesus to all believers in His name. They were filled and thrilled with joy of the good-news that He is alive. But they were not to just rejoice, so as to go back into their businesses as usual.
Peter, James and John were about to get down into the mentality of business as usual, when Peter said to the rest of them:
““I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.”
John 21:3 NIV
That’s the type of mentality that has made many believers unfruitful, even today with the proclamation of the gospel. We need to note here that as long as they had the business as usual mentality, they caught no fish at all until Jesus showed up on the scene with them. This is a complacent mentality that denies the power of God in our world today. It is the mentality of a believer who wants to do nothing in God’s Kingdom. But Jesus showed up and rebuked Peter three times. The scriptures says:
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.””
John 21:15 NIV
If we love Jesus that love will always compel us to “feed” His people, who had been redeemed from the power of sin and death. The love of God will always compel us, to feed them with spiritual food in strengthening their souls. For every believer in His name has been commissioned by Him, to take this message of salvation to the end of the earth (Mark 16:15-20). We have all been commissioned not to get too comfortable with the business as usual mentality. We have all been commissioned to feed His sheep, and give them the tools to do the works of God. We have all been commissioned to be witnesses to His resurrection, and not to get too comfortable where we are now.
That joy of His resurrection is still driving many Christians today, to take the gospel to the nations of the earth. That’s the joy that is the driving power to us at Bible Vision International Ministries in taking the gospel to all nations.
In his revelations from Jesus, John wrote:
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”
Revelation 7:9 NIV
This is the vision of Jesus about what it’s going to be like in heaven. And it is what drives us to take the gospel about His resurrection, to nations, tribes, peoples and to the language groups of the world that has never heard the gospel before. That’s why we go to such groups in Siberia, the Amazon jungle of South America, villages that are yet to be reached with the gospel across Africa. Our list is never conclusive, because Jesus said “go to the end of the earth”. There are many cities that has been evangelized by several evangelists today. But many more are still yet to be effectively reached with the gospel. Every tribe, people and language on earth must hear Him preached, and must be represented before the throne of God in Heaven. The gospel is not only for the major cities or nations of the world.
Do you know that since the time when the gospel started being preached from Jerusalem, there are still billions on earth today that are yet to hear the gospel preached? That’s why you can’t afford to have the business as usual mentality with the preaching of the gospel, when you know that a great harvest is waiting out there for the Lord. The devil is not having that mentality type of mentality. He is working around the clock to hinder and prevent the harvest of souls for God.
It’s time to let the joy of His resurrection manifest with His Love through you to the end of the earth. And if you want to be effective in this, you’ve got to come out of your comfort zone. Jesus wants to take you to a higher level of faith in your walk with Him. And you must begin from your “Jerusalem” right now.
During one of our last mission trips to rural Siberia, I listened to the testimony of a lady in one of the remote villages we went to, who was so grateful that we came. Her mother had just died two weeks before that time. She wept and with tears of joy on her face, she told us that she really wondered if her dead mother ever had the opportunity in her life, to hear the gospel and experience Christ as she did. She started asking me this question: “Why didn’t you come before now?”
Do you know that there are certain parts of the world today, where they still worship stones, woods and metals? The choice is yours’ today to take the last commandment of Jesus seriously, or not to do anything about it. There is still a lot to do for the Kingdom of God here on earth. Are you ready to get out and start doing your own part? What will you tell Him that you did in obedience to His commandment, when you see Him face to face? What is the engine and fuel driving your life and ministry today?
Many of those who saw Jesus preached the gospel, walked on foot to the end of their world from Jerusalem. They just obeyed and brought to all of us, the joyful news of salvation. But in our world today we can do what they did, much more effectively with air planes, cars and other means of transportation in quickening the return of the Lord. Maranatha!
JUST GO AND DO AS JESUS SAID
From that Monday after His resurrection on the plains of Galilee, Jesus reminded that initial group of 500 believers, about everything that they had seen and had been taught about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:1-4). He taught them after His resurrection for 40 days more, before He ascended into the heavens. During those 40 days Jesus gave them the best of His teachings, and addressed every concern about His identity.
They listened and took notes which Matthew, Mark, Luke and John passed over to us, in the form of the synoptic gospels. And through their writings the Holy Spirit has removed every doubt from us today concerning His resurrection.
But as they continued to rejoice in His resurrection, Jesus cautioned them not to expect a restoration of what the Romans had destroyed. He had not come to establish a political dynasty. His purpose in coming to the earth was revealed to us by the beloved of the Apostles when he wrote:
“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”
I John 3:8 NKJV
Jesus had warned them about the deceptions of the devil, through the world’s system to hinder them from fulfilling the Great Commission.
The scriptures says:
“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 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.””
Acts 1:6-8 NKJV
They had received the joy of salvation, when they saw Jesus; but were now directed to wait until the power comes from above to spread that joy of the good-news to the end of the earth. Without the power of the Holy Spirit no one can spread the joy of His resurrection. The celebration of His resurrection without the Holy Spirit, make you not different from the nominal Christians of the world today. They do have the gospel without the fire of the Holy Spirit.
As you celebrate His resurrection this year, let the joy of His resurrection in your life begin to spread, like wild fire to change your world. Jesus is indeed alive. Spread the fire. Let it burn through you to change your world, in winning the lost sinners for Jesus.
“But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
Romans 8:11 NKJV
Yes, indeed you are on fire now. You do have the fire burning in your bones; because the blood that flows in Jesus is in your bone marrows. Christ has filled your heart overflowing with JOY and has quickened your bones and body by His Holy Spirit. That is why you do what you are doing for the Kingdom of God on a daily basis.
You do have the real deal that the world is looking for. You are contagious with the joy of His resurrection, the love of God and the fire of the Holy Spirit to save the sinner, heal the sick and deliver the captives. Give it to the world. Spread the joy and fire of His resurrection in winning souls. Don’t get derailed from the command of Jesus to you. Your enemy wants to use the worldview of His resurrection to corner you into a deception. But you can defeat him and win to change your world for God. That is the reason you are alive, and in this world today – to change the world, and bring it to Jesus at the end of it all.
“All nations whom You have made Shall come and worship before You, O Lord, And shall glorify Your name.”
Psalms 86:9 NKJV
Amen! CHRIST IS RISEN INDEED!