Jesus lives again and returns to God

Part 12 of an EasyEnglish Bible Study Course on the Life of Christ

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 A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

Friends bury Jesus

Barrie Wetherill

When Jesus died, it was nearly the Sabbath. [That is, Saturday. Saturday is a holy day for the Jews, when they rest. They do not work.]

Joseph (from Arimathea) and Nicodemus

Joseph (from Arimathea) asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Together with Nicodemus, he buried the body of Jesus quickly. They buried the body in a grave, near the place where Jesus died. (Both Joseph and Nicodemus were leaders of the Jews.)

 

Usually Jews would wash a body and rub oil on it. There was not enough time to do this before the Sabbath began. Joseph and Nicodemus just wrapped Jesus' body, and laid it in a grave. The grave was like a small cave, which men had cut in rock. Joseph and Nicodemus rolled a heavy stone against the front. They would do nothing more during the Sabbath.

The women prepared the oils that they needed. They wanted to complete the Jewish customs. But they had to wait until early on the Sunday morning. These women had seen where the men had buried Jesus.

Guards at the grave

The Jewish rulers also saw the grave where the body was. They ordered soldiers to guard the grave. They did not want anyone to pretend that Jesus had become alive again (Matthew 27:63- 66).

At this time, the friends of Jesus had separated. When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, his friends had run away. The soldiers had come from Jerusalem. The *disciples would not have gone back there. Probably they went over the Mount of Olives [a mountain] to Bethany. Peter and John stayed in Jerusalem. The women also stayed in Jerusalem.

The first *Easter Sunday The guards run away

Early on Sunday morning, the whole earth shook. The heavy stone rolled away from the grave, and an *angel sat on the stone. This filled the guards with great fear and they seem to have run away.

An empty grave

The women went to the grave very early, to finish the proper preparation of the body. They saw that the grave was open. The body was not in the grave. Mary Magdalene seems to have run back to Peter and John immediately. Then she returned to the grave.

Meanwhile, the other women saw two *angels. The *angels told them that Jesus was alive. The women were to tell his *disciples (Matthew 28:5-8). Then, they should all go to Galilee.

Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene told Peter and John and then they ran to the grave (John 20:1-10). John saw how the cloths lay there. He seemed to realise even then that Jesus was actually alive (John 20:8). But Peter and John did not see Jesus before they returned home.

Mary Magdalene returned to the grave after Peter and John. She remained there and she wept. Then Jesus appeared and spoke to her. At first, she did not recognise Jesus. She was so sad and her eyes were probably full of tears. Then she recognised Jesus and he told her not to hold him. He was not going to return to God his Father yet. He also told her to tell the *disciples about him.

Jesus is alive!

At this time, some women were going to tell the other *disciples. (These disciples were probably still in Bethany.) On this journey, Jesus appeared to these women (Matthew 28:9,10).

On that same day, Jesus appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34). Later that day, he appeared to ten *disciples in a room. He even ate with them and they touched him. Jesus told them that he was not merely a *spirit. Then he taught them from the Bible. He showed them that the *Messiah had to suffer (Luke 24:36-49). *Prophets had said that Jesus would die on the cross. But now, these events had happened. The words of the *prophets had come true. And now, Jesus was alive again. The *prophets had also written that this would happen. Jesus explained all these things to them. It was a wonderful Bible study meeting!

Thomas' doubt

Thomas was not there on that occasion and he refused to believe. He said that he would have to put his hands into the nail marks. Then he would believe.

A week later, after the festival of the unleavened bread [a Jewish festival], he was there with the other *disciples. [A festival was a special time of worship and happiness. At the festival of unleavened bread, the Jews remembered that God had rescued them from Egypt.] Jesus appeared and spoke directly to Thomas. He told him to put his finger into his injuries. Thomas then fell down before Jesus. Thomas called Jesus, 'My *Lord, and my God.’ (John 20:26-31). Jesus replied:

Other appearances 40 days and over 500 witnesses

Luke records that Jesus appeared to the *disciples during a period of 40 days. Jesus spoke to them about the *kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul tells us about some other appearances. One, in Galilee, was to 500 witnesses at once. He does not mention appearances to women. In Jewish courts, women were not witnesses. It is interesting that Jesus appeared first to the women. Paul wrote his list about 25 years later. At that time, many of the witnesses would still be alive. People could have asked them questions, to check Paul’s list.

John 20:29'Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed. Other people will believe although they have not seen. God will bless those people.'

The untrue story that the *disciples stole Jesus' body

The guards had run away from the grave. These guards were Roman soldiers. The Roman army rewarded courage, but hated cowards. These soldiers had left the place that they were guarding. Usually their officers would have killed them for this. Instead, men paid them to say that Jesus’ *disciples had stolen the body. Of course, this is not true. It is also not at all likely. When Jesus appeared to the *disciples later, they were very surprised. It was hard for them to believe that this was Jesus. Afterwards, they spoke out boldly. The fact that Jesus had come alive again was a very important part of their message. Because of this, men attacked them, and even killed many of them. But they continued to speak about Jesus, although some had a very painful death. (Read about Stephen, Acts 7).

More evidence that Jesus rose from the grave

The behaviour of the first Christians showed their character to everybody (Acts 2:47). People respected James in particular. He was a half brother of Jesus. He lived only to please God. The Jewish writer Josephus mentioned him. The Christians became people with a purpose. In the next 25 years, they spread the good news about Jesus through all the Roman *empire. Jesus had risen from the grave!

Several facts are clear:

There was no body. If the enemies of Jesus could have shown a body, that would have ended the new belief at once.

The courage of the Christian witnesses, and their behaviour, impressed people very much. The *disciples soon went everywhere and spoke about Jesus. They said that the *prophets had spoken about all these things. Probably the *disciples repeated what Jesus had taught them. And now, they themselves were witnesses of these events.

The *prophets had written hundreds of years before this. Now, the events that they described, had happened.

In just a few days, the disciples had changed. They were no longer afraid. They did not continue to hide themselves away. They were bold men who changed the world.

The *kingdom of God Jesus told his *disciples to wait for the *Holy Spirit

Jesus did not tell his disciples to go out immediately and speak about him. He told them to wait. For forty days, he spoke to them. He told them to wait even after he returned to *heaven. They waited then for ten more days.

We can understand this better if we pretend to be these *disciples. For three years they travelled with Jesus. Then suddenly, his enemies took him, and he died. This must have seemed like a defeat. How would they feel? We can know this when we read about the *disciples on the road to Emmaus. They said:

But suddenly, they discovered that Jesus is alive. There was such a lot for them to understand now. After Jesus came alive again, they understood many, many things. They must have discussed together the things that Jesus had said. Now they could understand them. They looked again at what the *Old Testament said. For the first time they would now understand what the *prophets had written.

Israel and the *kingdom

The *disciples now asked Jesus a question.

Luke 24:21 But we had hoped that he was going to save Israel. And there is more. It is the third day since all this happened.

Acts 1:6'*Lord, are you now going to give back the *kingdom to Israel?'

The *disciples had hoped for a long time that Jesus would do this immediately. The *prophets had promised a *kingdom for the Jews. Before Jesus died, the *disciples often argued. They argued about who would be important in this *kingdom. The death of Jesus ended these hopes. But now they began to hope again. Perhaps they thought that Jesus would now establish the *kingdom in Jerusalem. Before his death, Jesus made a promise to them. One day they would sit on 12 *thrones beside him, in his *kingdom. They would *judge the 12 families of Israel. Perhaps this is why they asked this question.

The real nature of the *kingdom of God

The *disciples were thinking only about the future of Israel at this time. This was not what Jesus was thinking about. He had died for the whole world. At that time, very few people in the world knew about the love of the *Lord Jesus Christ. They did not know that he had died for them. The most important thing was to tell everyone. Everyone had to know what Jesus Christ had done for them. They could have new life if they trusted him.

The *kingdom of God is a much greater thing than the disciples had imagined. God would establish the *kingdom immediately, but not completely. The *kingdom will be complete only when Jesus returns to the world again. We call this the Second Coming. At the Second Coming, Jesus will establish the *kingdom completely. But also, Jesus will *judge everyone. He will punish everyone who did not want to know him on earth. The *kingdom of God will be a time of complete goodness, peace, and joy. Nothing that is wicked will ever enter the *kingdom of God. The most important qualities of the *kingdom will be love, service and humility [that is, people will be humble]. There will be no force and power, as the *disciples wrongly supposed.

Tell the world about Jesus

The most important thing then was not to establish the *kingdom for Israel. The most important thing was to tell the world the good news about Jesus. But Jesus was not angry with the *disciples. See how kindly he corrected them in Acts 1:7,8. Notice also the order in which he mentioned the world.

'You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem.' This means that the Jews are to hear the good news first. But the good news is not only for them. Everyone in the whole world, to the furthest places, needs to know the good news. Jesus can forgive their *sins, if they trust him as *Saviour. The *disciples had not understood the importance of their task. They had not understood what a great task it was.

The promise of the *Holy Spirit

Why we need the *Holy Spirit

The *disciples had a very great task now. Many people would oppose them.

Paul warns us in Ephesians chapter 6 that we do not fight against powerful people. We fight against *spiritual powers. Jesus described himself as the light of the world, but these powerful *spirits do not want light. They want darkness. They want to behave like the Devil.

Acts 1:7,8And he said to them, 'You do not need to know times or seasons. This is the Father’s responsibility [that is, God's responsibility]. But when the *Holy Spirit has come upon you; you will have power. You shall be witnesses to me:

• • •

in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.'

But when God calls people to a task, he helps them. He gives them all the powers that they need. Jesus promised his *disciples the power of the *Holy Spirit.

In general, the Jews had not obeyed God. He gave them his law, but they could not obey it. But God told the *prophets to promise them a new covenant. [That is, an agreement between God and the people. Each promises to obey the agreement.]

There are similar words in Ezekiel 36:26,27. Jesus talked to the *disciples about the promise of the *Holy Spirit just before he died. John records it for us, in John chapters 14-16. Jesus promised that the *Holy Spirit would teach the *disciples. The *Holy Spirit would help them to remember what Jesus had taught them (John 14:26). The *Holy Spirit would teach the people about *sin, goodness and *judgement (John 16:8). Men would arrest the *disciples and take them to their rulers. Then the *Holy Spirit would tell the *disciples what they should say (Luke 12:11,12). The *Holy Spirit would give them calm when they were in trouble or difficulties. (John 14:27, John 16:33).

The *Holy Spirit gives courage to the *disciples

Soon afterwards, Jesus' words came true. We can read about this in the Book of Acts. Jesus had given the *disciples a task. He gave them all the qualities that they needed to do it. Peter spoke about that on the day of Pentecost. [That was the day when Jesus sent the *Holy Spirit.] The people who heard him realised at once about the *sin in their lives. This is what Jesus had promised that the *Holy Spirit would do. 3000 people believed in Jesus that day.

Let us think about Peter. He followed Jesus to court. But then Peter said that he did not know him. When a servant girl asked him questions, he swore at her. He denied that he knew Christ. However, only a few weeks later, Peter spoke out with courage. Although people were ready to attack him, Peter was bold. (See Acts 4:1-22, Acts 5:17-42). Soon after Jesus became alive again, men took Peter to the Jewish leaders. These men had ordered the death of Jesus. They could easily do the same to Peter. They ordered him not to speak about Jesus. This was his reply.

And on another occasion, Peter said this to them:

The Jewish and Roman rulers tried hard to stop these Christians, but the new belief had spread too far. Nobody could not stop it.

The Ascension [Jesus left earth and went to be with

God in *heaven]

At last, one day when Jesus had been talking to the *disciples, he returned to heaven. The *disciples actually saw him go up. They watc
ed until a cloud hid him. They did not see him again. Jesus was not still on earth. But Jesus’ work would continue with the help of the *Holy Spirit. While the *disciples were still looking at the sky, two *angels appeared. This is what they said:

Jeremiah 31:33,34 'Afterwards, I will make this covenant [agreement] with the people from Israel,' declares the *Lord. 'My law will be in their hearts and minds. [That is, they will know God's law. And they will love God's law.] I myself will teach them my law. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Nobody will have to teach his neighbour. And nobody will have to say to his brother, "Know the *Lord." Everyone will know me, whether they are important or not,' declares the *Lord. 'I will forgive their evil deeds. I will not continue to remember their *sins.'

Acts 5:29-32But Peter and the other *disciples answered: 'We must obey God rather than men. You murdered Jesus when you killed him on the *cross. But God gave him life again. Now God has given him a place of honour. Jesus is Prince and *Saviour. He can help this nation to be sorry for the wrong things that they have done. If they decide to obey God, he will forgive them. We are witnesses to these things. And the *Holy Spirit is also a witness. God has given the *Holy Spirit to those people who obey him.'

Acts 4:12'Nobody else can rescue us. God has appointed Jesus Christ to save us from our *sins. Only Jesus rescues us.'

Acts 1:11'Men of Galilee, you do not need to continue to look at the sky. You saw Jesus go up to heaven. Like that, he will come back again.'

The importance of Jesus

It is important for us all that Jesus died on the *cross. It is important that he became alive again. It shows us many things. When Jesus died on the *cross, he dealt with all our *sins completely. God has accepted what Jesus has done for us.

Now, Jesus has great authority and power. In fact, he told the *disciples, 'God has given to me all authority in heaven and on earth.’

When Jesus comes again, he will not be an ordinary man. He will not merely be someone that men killed on a *cross. He will be the *Lord. Everybody will respect him. Everybody will give him honour. Nobody will be able to stop his power and rule.

Jesus today

About 50 years after the Ascension, the *disciple John had a *vision. In his *vision, John saw Jesus in *heaven. John saw how great Jesus is now. The *vision made John very much afraid (see Revelation 1).

Today, Jesus is not here with us, in this world. But we speak to him in prayer. We hear him through his Word [that is, the Bible]. And Jesus has sent the *Holy Spirit to us. The *Holy Spirit speaks to us and teaches us.

Jesus will come again Acts 1:11

What we read in Acts about this is very clear. Let us look at it.

Jesus will come back again. The Bible mentions this often. There are more words of Jesus about this subject than about any other! The *New Testament mentions this subject 318 times. Some of these are long passages. We read about this subject often in the books between Matthew and Revelation. It is important because it affects every person in the world today.

When Jesus comes back, he will have great honour and power (Matthew 24:30,31). He will finally *judge every person:

Some people trust and obey Jesus. They will go to the wonderful place that God has prepared for them.

Other people will go to a terrible place. They will not be with God. But God wants all people to have the opportunity to trust Jesus. He wants everybody to escape

from the punishment for their *sin.

To tell the world the good news about Jesus is a very important task. Jesus has given this task to you and to me. We should remember that Jesus will come back. He will be *Lord of all. This should help us to do this work for him.

Jesus commands us all to teach his good news

Jesus' message is for everybody from every nation. Jesus died to suffer the punishment for our *sins. God caused Jesus to become alive again. Now, Jesus rules in *heaven. In the future, he will return to this world. Then, he will have great honour and power. He will *judge every person.

So, each person must trust God now. Each person must confess their *sins to God. And each person must invite God into their life. God will forgive all the people who trust in him. Then, they will belong to his *kingdom. They will be God's own people. This is God's good news for everyone.

Acts 1:11'Men of Galilee, you do not need to continue to look at the sky. You saw Jesus go up to heaven. Like that, he will come back again.'

Jesus had tried to tell the *disciples how important this was. They must do everything that they could, to spread the good news. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record his command to speak about him everywhere:

This command is for all of us. It was not only for some special people. One day, we will be with Jesus. He will ask about what we have done for him. Today the task is still going on. Some Christians must travel far to teach God's good news to other people. Other Christians tell their neighbours about God's message. But no Christian should be silent. No Christian should refuse to speak about Jesus. Jesus’ command is for each person here today. The need is as great as ever.

Read: Luke 24, John 20 and 21, Acts 1:1-11

Word List

angel ~ a servant from God who brings messages to men.

baptise ~ when you put a person in water, or pour water on a person. Christians do this to show that the person belongs to Christ and his church.

cross ~ two pieces of wood fixed together. Jesus died on a cross, and so the cross is now the sign of the church

disciple ~ a person who believes in Jesus and obeys him. The 12 men whom Jesus chose to be with him were the first disciples.

Easter ~ the season of the year when Christians remember that Jesus came alive again after death.

empire ~ land that an emperor (a very important king) rules over. heaven ~ where God lives and rules. Holy Spirit ~ God’s Spirit, sent by Jesus to help people. judge ~ decide if a person is good or bad.

judgement ~ the decision about whether someone or something is good or bad. kingdom ~ land that a king rules. Kingdom of God ~ the time when God will rule over everybody, completely. Lord ~ another name for God or Jesus, which shows that he has authority over everything.

Messiah ~ Messiah means the same as Christ. That is, the one whom God chose as *Israel's special king. God forgives us because Jesus, our Messiah, suffered the punishment for our evil deeds.

New Testament ~ the part of the Bible that tells about Jesus, and the beginning of the church. Old Testament ~ the part of the Bible that tells us about the time before Jesus came. prophet ~ a person who can tell other people what God wants. Saviour ~ Jesus, who brings us to God, and rescues us from wrong things in our lives.

sin ~ wrong things that we do or say. spirit ~ the part of a person which is alive, and which we cannot see.

spiritual powers ~ in Ephesians 6:12, this means the devil's servants (also called evil spirits or demons).

Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus came to the *disciples. He said, 'God has given to me all authority in *heaven and on earth. Therefore go and make *disciples in all the nations. *Baptise them with the authority of the Father [God] and of the Son [Jesus] and of the *Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey all the things that I have commanded you. I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'

throne ~ a special chair, which a ruler sits on. vision ~ a dream, sometimes a dream that comes to a person who is awake.