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- The Resurrection Of Jesus -
- The Apostles Prepared To Start The Church -
( Audio Version read by Kathy Bird )
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A man named Joseph from the town of Arimathea, receives permission from Pilate to take the body of Jesus. He and another man by the name of Nicodemus wrap Jesus' body in linen with spices and place it in a new tomb that Joseph has prepared for himself. He seals the entrance with a large stone.
The next day, which is the Sabbath, the chief priests ask Pilate to put a guard at the tomb saying, "Jesus said he would be raised to life after three days and if any of the disciples of Jesus should steal his body, that would make the last lie worse than all the rest that Jesus told to the people. Pilate tells them, "Take a guard, go and make the tomb as secure as you can."
Sunday, the day after the Sabbath, it was discovered that Jesus had risen from death
and left the Roman guarded tomb. Two women who come to the tomb see the large rock rolled
away from the entrance and cannot find the body of Jesus.
Two men in radiant clothes stand beside them and the women are terrified. "Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive? He is not here; he has been raised."
Then the angels remind them of the things that Jesus said about being crucified and three days later rising to life. They say to the women, "Go tell the disciples Jesus has been raised and you will see him in Galilee."
They hurry back and tell the apostles what had happened, but some of the apostles think the women are speaking non-sense and they do not believe them.
Peter and John however, run to the tomb and see it is empty, with the cloth that was around Jesus' head rolled up and put separately from the other linen wrappings. Then they both believe that Jesus has risen from death and they go back to tell the others.
Jesus appears to two disciples walking on the road to a small village seven miles away from Jerusalem. When Jesus leaves them, they go back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples how Jesus talked and ate with them. By now, the other disciples knew that Jesus' body was not in the tomb and they did not believe the story told by the women about Jesus' appearance to them.
The scripture says, '...as yet they did not understand that Jesus had to rise from the dead'. They locked themselves in their homes, afraid the Jews would come after them because they were disciples of Jesus.
While they are talking to the two disciples who had talked and ate with Jesus, he appears to them saying, "Peace be with you" and then he opens their minds to the scripture and imparts the Holy Spirit upon them saying, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
One of the disciples named Thomas is not there and when the other disciples tell him what happened, he says, "I will never believe it without seeing and feeling the holes in his hands where they nailed him to the cross and wound in his side where the Roman spear pierced his body."
A week later when the disciples are all together, Jesus comes and stands before them saying,
"Peace be with you", and then says to Thomas, "Take your finger and examine my hands. Put your hand into my side. Do not
persist in your unbelief, but believe!"
Thomas replies, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus says to him: "You became a believer because you saw me. Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed."
- The Acts Of The Apostles -
- The Replacement Of Judas -
- The Holy Spirit And The Birth Of The Church -
- The Church Of Jesus Grows -
Luke continues the story in the book THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, and says that Jesus appeared to the apostles many times for forty days after his resurrection in ways that proved beyond a doubt that he was alive.
Jesus helps them believe and finally he leads them to a place in Bethany and he tells them, "I myself will send upon you what my Father has promised, but you must wait in the city until the power from above comes down upon you." Then he raises his hands and blesses them. As they are all watching, he is taken up into heaven.
They return to Jerusalem with great joy giving thanks to God. Soon the time will be right for them to start preaching the message about repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus name.
The eleven apostles: Peter, John, James and Andrew, Phillip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Patriot, and Judas son of James, gather in an upper room in Jerusalem where they are staying. They frequently pray as a group, together with the women and with Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers.
A few days later there is a meeting at the upper room with about 120 believers and the subject is the replacement of the 12th disciple, Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus. When Judas found out that Jesus was condemned to death, he tried to undo his wrong by returning the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests saying, "I have sinned by betraying an innocent man to death!" The chief priests answered, "What do we care about that? That is your business!" Judas threw the coins down in the temple and went off and committed suicide. The chief priest could not put 'blood money' in the treasury according to their law, so they bought a field to be used as a cemetery for foreigners. The new 12th apostle, Matthias, is chosen by lot and added to the group of eleven apostles.
Ten days after Jesus had
left them, all the believers are gathered in one place. It is also the Jewish celebration
Feast of Weeks or the Day of First Fruits (of the harvest), which occurs fifty days after
Suddenly there is a noise from the sky like a strong wind blowing and it fills the house where they are meeting. Then they see what looks like tongues of fire which spread out and touches each person there. They are all filled with the Holy Spirit and they speak in other languages as the Spirit enables them. The commotion of all this noise draws a large crowd of Jews who are living in Jerusalem and have come from every country in the world. Luke says each person hears the believers speaking in their own language and are amazed by it. Others claim these believers have had too much wine and are drunk.
Peter stands up and addresses the crowd saying, "These people are not drunk, as you suppose; it is only nine o'clock in the morning!" Then he proceeds to tell them about the prophecy from scripture having to do with Jesus whom they have crucified and makes an appeal to them saying, "Save yourselves from the punishment coming upon this wicked people!" Many listen to Peter and come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and Luke says that three thousand people are baptized that day and the new Church is started. And for the believers, this day is turned into the Christian Pentecost. (meaning fiftieth day)
The Apostles and the other believers continue their ministry, led by Peter and John; preaching the good news about Jesus, healing the sick, comforting the poor in spirit, and performing many great miracles.
The Church is gaining popularity and there is much opposition from the chief priests, the officer of the Temple guards, and some Sadducees.
They are annoyed because Peter and John are teaching the people that Jesus had risen from death. The Temple guards take Peter and John to jail, but finally they are released with a strong warning not to speak or preach in the name of Jesus. This does not stop them from preaching the good news about Jesus and the healing ministry of the Church continues to grow and new believers are added to the Church by the thousands.
The attempt of the chief priests and Sanhedrin ( the Council ) to suppress the Church by stoning a new leader named Stephen does not stop the good news about Jesus from being preached.
From that day the Church in Jerusalem begins to suffer cruel persecution and all
the believers are scattered throughout the provinces of Judea and Samaria, taking with them
the good news about Jesus. The only ones who remain in Jerusalem are the Apostles.
These stories are easy to find in the Book Of ACTS, but I will be concerned here with the highlights of the Apostles lives so that the story line can be presented clearly.
One of the Apostles named Phillip goes to a principle city in Samaria and preaches the good news about Jesus and performs many miracles of healing. The Apostles in Jerusalem hear about Phillip's success in Samaria preaching the word of God, so they send Peter and John to them. On their way back to Jerusalem, Peter and John preach the good news in many villages of Samaria and Phillip continued on his own preaching on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the towns from Azotus to Caesarea.
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January---------Lazarus And The Rich Man
February-------The Greatest Commandment ("about love")
March-----------The Lost Sheep / The Lost Son
April-------------Meaning Of Easter / 3 Examples From Jesus
May--------------The Worry Of Daily Life
June-------------The Ten Lepers
July--------------The Good Samaritan
August----------How To Give and How To Pray
September-----The Un-believing Towns
October---------Signs Revealing Christ's Return To Earth
November------The Last Supper
December------Why We Should Celebrate Christmas
January--------The Things That Make A Person Unclean
February-------Marriage, Adultery, and Divorce
March-----------Jesus Chooses The Apostles
April-------------The Coming Persecutions For The Believers
May--------------Jesus Feeds 5000 Men ( part 1 )
June-------------Jesus Walks On The Water ( part 2 )
July--------------The Bread Of Life ( part 3 )
August----------The Meaning Of The Cross
September-----Jonah And The Whale
October---------Jesus And The Devil ( Satan )
November------Jesus And The Sabbath ( The Day Of Rest )
December------The Christmas Story ( The Birth Of Jesus )
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