The Empty Tomb Wasn’t a Dream

The Empty Tomb Wasn’t A Dream

Daily Reading: (Matthew 28:1-4):

“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.”After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

Matthew 28:5-6,“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where He lay.” The stone wasn’t rolled away for Jesus to come out from the tomb. It was so that the disciples could see that the tomb was empty.

Now just before this moment of time, the Roman leaders were very worried about this very event happening. They know what was prophesied about the Messiah and they think that perhaps the disciples will try and steal the body of Jesus to make others believe that He is the Son of God. The Romans have a plan to prevent this from happening.

“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while He was alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order that the tomb be secured until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come and steal Him away and tell the people He has risen from the dead. And this last deception would be worse than the first.” “You have a guard,” Pilate said. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how” (Matthew 27:63-65).

So, did the disciples steal the body? Skeptics can’t argue that the tomb wasn’t empty. You can’t say this was all just a dream. If it were a dream, you’d go and the tomb would still have a body. No body means something happened, and so skeptics will try and use the argument that somehow Jesus’ disciples who were afraid and scattered at the crucifixion stole the body from a sealed tomb posted with Roman guards.

Not only is the tomb empty, but the angel says, you can see Jesus, He’ll be in Galilee (Matthew 28:7). If ever there was some kind of conspiracy happening, you aren’t going to tell people that you can see Jesus alive in Galilee. And also let’s not forget that she is talking to an angel.

“So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” He said” (Matthew 28:8-9). We have eyewitnesses of the empty tomb and Jesus will converse with meeting many other people as well as eat food with them later before ascending into Heaven.

The story continues, “While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day (Matthew 28:11-15).

This historical event happened, there is no body because Christ is risen indeed. If the Pharisees had stolen the body, the fastest way to stop the preaching of the disciples would be to produce Jesus’ dead corpse. But they did not and could not produce it.

According to Roman law, the body of a condemned criminal belonged to the state. That is why Joseph of Arimathea had to ask for Jesus’ body. To steal a body was a serious offense and it is odd that neither the Romans, nor the Jews, did anything to substantiate the charges if the body had been stolen. The disciples were never prosecuted for this alleged crime. Why? The fact is that the authorities did not really believe that Jesus’ disciples had stolen His body. Otherwise, they would have immediately arrested them when these same disciples publicly proclaimed in the same city of Jerusalem that Christ had risen. They didn’t want to bring more attention to the real truth of what had really happened.

So, the question becomes do you believe that Jesus died for your sins? Do you believe He rose from the grave so that all who believe Him will be given everlasting life? I have presented just a little bit of evidence from Scripture, recorded in history, and the evidence is overwhelming, declaring that Jesus is the Son of God. 

Disciple Making: It’s In You

It’s In You

Daily Reading: (Matthew 28:20):

“and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I want you to imagine in your mind what it would be like if Michelangelo never painted. Think about that. Imagine if Beethoven never composed music, if Jane Austen never wrote, and if Jackie Robinson decided to quit baseball because of hatred toward him. What if Thomas Edison never pursued any of his inventions? Imagine if Billy Graham gave into his own doubts about his abilities and never delivered another sermon. The list could go on and on but the point is, this world would be impoverished without the contributions of these individuals. They used the gifting that God gave them, the talent that was inside of them and left a mark on the world. I can’t imagine the world being the same without them and the work they did.  When we think about ourselves, we probably would never believe that we could leave a mark on the world quite like these people, but I got to tell you ours can be an eternal one.

There are many people who have been lied to and stolen from, individuals who never truly have discovered what God has placed in them and the world is impoverished because of it. Others it might take a long time before they are awakened and encouraged into moving forward using their gifts for God’s glory, let today be that day. Because this verse is an announcement to all believers, that what you need to move forward into your calling and bless the world, it’s already in you. You have a grand calling to change the world.

Matthew 28:20: “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The reason you will be successful in making disciples as you pursue it is because Jesus lives in you, is with you, and the Holy Spirit will empower you, because you are doing what you are called to do. It’s in you to make disciples. Or maybe I should say Christ in you enables you to make disciples.

The gifting God has given you whether you like to write, play music, build things, whatever it may be, the purpose for them is for God’s glory and also for your enjoyment. There is no greater joy than to see lives changed and added to the Kingdom.

Now what we can do is re-imagine how can this talent God has placed inside me lead me to use it to build relationships and get involved in my life calling to make disciples?

I want to go to the story of when Matthew the tax collector was called to follow Jesus and see what he did to lead others to Christ.

“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him” (Matthew 9:9). Jesus only needed to speak two words to forever change Levi’s life, “follow me”. Join Me. Become my disciple. 

“Follow me” Jesus said to a man that was hated by almost everyone. Levi/ Matthew is the perfect choice to follow Jesus, to show that no one is disqualified from receiving His grace, no matter what has transpired in their past. Follow Me is an invitation in your present and it leads you into what God has prepared for you in the future, and it shows your qualification for salvation has nothing to do with your past except for that everyone’s past dictates that we all need saving. This is the Gospel. We don’t deserve it, we can never earn it. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ. It is the ultimate unifier of us all, and it absolutely removes our pride and it causes us to want this same thing, salvation for even the worst tax collector.

Before Jesus came into his life, the tax collector was known as Levi. Levi comes from the Hebrew word meaning to lend. The name itself also means attached or pledged.His old name was exactly what he did. He loaned the Jewish taxes to the Roman’s that he attached himself to and then would take from God’s people extra money. But then Jesus comes along, simply says “follow me” and Levi is transformed into Matthew. Matthew comes from the Hebrew word given. And it means gift of God. Levi used to take from people, but Matthew will give to people what he received, the very gift of God, grace to others, Jesus.

Levi was given a fresh start and the very next thing he does is he throws a party and invites everyone he knows. Grace in your life will bring out generosity towards other people. His desire is that they might meet grace personified and have their lives forever changed just like he did.

“Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 5:29-30)?

Of the four Gospel writers, it was Matthew, the least likely choice to become a disciple of Jesus, who is the only one who presented Jesus to the Jews as their hoped-for Messiah. From that time on, instead of collecting tax money, Matthew collected souls for Christ. Matthew got together some people he knew and shared Christ.

What Matthew the disciple learned is key to disciple making, and it spurs us on to proclaim the good news of the kingdom, and it is found in a single word that speaks of Jesus’ heart for the people, compassion.

“When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

The potential to leave a greater mark on the world than Beethoven, Edison, Austen, Robinson, etc.. is when we will follow Jesus’ lead and have compassion on others. Use the talents God has given you to be a Matthew-a gift of God gracing others with Jesus.

Your Life Calling

Your Life Calling

Daily Reading: (Matthew 28:19):

“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.”

Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  

                                                      And

Ephesians 5:17: “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

There is a way to know what God’s will is and it is found in 1 John 5:14.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14).

After reading that verse in English you wouldn’t know what God’s Will is but it is clear in the Greek. The Bible tells us one of the reasons we might not have something is because we haven’t asked God (James 4:2). In 1 John it is telling us that we can be confident that if we ask anything that is a part of God’s Will He is going to hear it, which means He is going to respond and give it to you. So, this must mean that we can be confident in knowing what God’s Will is for us all the time, otherwise it would be impossible for us to have any confidence whenever we pray.

The Greek word for “will” (thelēma)-

  1. the purpose of God to bless mankind through Christ,             

                           (and/or)

2. of what God wishes to be done by us.

If we ask anything according to the purpose of God to bless mankind through Christ or if it is that of what God wishes to be done by us…. The answer will be yes. So, if the answer appears to be a no, God must have something better in store for us that He wishes to be done by us. That’s why Paul would write to the Ephesians, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We give thanks to God in all things when we realize God’s purpose is to bless us in Christ.

But what does this have to do with making disciples? If more believers understood the answer than more and more disciples would be made. Which means that more and more people would be blessed in Christ.

What if I told you that I know exactly what the calling God has on your life is? Would you be excited about it and would you want to move forward into it? How about if you knew that your life calling contains blessings from God.

This is your life calling:

“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” (Matthew 28:19).

Your calling is to go and make disciples and it is God’s Will for you. So, you don’t have to pray and ask God if He wants you to go and make disciples. A more mature thought would be how is this thing that I am praying for (the new job, the sale of my home, etc…) how can it be used to expand the Kingdom by being a vehicle to make disciples?

“Therefore Go.” Imagine that I set up the Boardgame Monopoly and that you have never played it before and I tell you that it is your turn to go. The word go expresses movement but where are you to go and what are you to do if you don’t know the purpose of the game? “Go and make disciples of all nations,” this would mean everywhere in the world. So, wherever you are, be intentional about disciple making (Matthew 28:19). 

How do we make disciples? “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.” The word Go “poreuō” is to lead or order one’s life. Make your life centered around disciple making. The way we make disciples is through the message that we have found in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (your message comes in the very next verse).

“that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

Wherever God has placed you, whatever gifting He has given to you, it shall be used to tell others the good news of the Gospel of Jesus that in Christ there is favor with God forever.

Fishermen Need Two Things

Daily Reading: Mark 1:17 & John 17:25-26

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.  I have you’re your name known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

As believers in Jesus Christ, equipped with the good news of the Gospel we not only share a common mission, we succeed at our mission in the same way even though the mission might be accomplished in a variety of God lead ways.

In Matthew 28:19 Jesus very clearly, and plainly lays out our mission. Jesus had already resurrected from the grave at this point and is about to ascend into heaven and He has specific instructions to His disciples of what the mission is and who the mission is for.

  • When the mission began: right after Jesus ascension to heaven (see Acts 2).
  • Who is the mission for: His disciples- (mathétés) a follower of Christ who learns the doctrines of Scripture.
  • What is the mission? Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
  • The Promise of the Mission:

We partake in the mission with all authority in Jesus’ name. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

We do not go at it alone. “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

So, if you live after Jesus’ ascension into heaven (every single person living on this planet now) and you are a follower of Christ who learns the doctrines of Scripture your mission is Matthew 28:19-20.

Mark 1:17:

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

  • The promise for followers of Jesus, is that He will send you to fish for people (Mark 1:17).
  • The timing for a non-follower of Jesus to come to Him is now because “follow me” (deute) means come now (Mark 1:17).
  • “Follow me” is an invitation of grace to take Jesus’ offer by faith. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • Our mission is a fishing one (Mark 1:17), but only time with Jesus will lead you to successfully fish (John 15:4-5).

The common denominator in the calling of the twelve is simply to follow Jesus. Because as we come to Christ He (poieō) make us, produces, bears, prepares, causes, carries out, forms or fashions us to fish for people.

Fisherman Need:

#1 Time with Jesus as this is what leads to fishing for people (Mark 1:17).

                      Which gives us a

#2 revelation that God is our Loving Heavenly Daddy (John 17:25-26).