New Testament Week 25: “That You May Believe.” – Matt 28, Luke 24, Mark 16, John 20-21

Jesus’s Ministry will be completed in this week’s study when the Peace Offering will be completed. In addition we will hear the words and direction the Savior gives His disciples for their quest to build a church and bring the gospel message to the world.

One final reminder of the three offerings of Jesus and their similarities to the Day of Atonement. On the Day of Atonement, or what we now call Yom Kippur, the offerings and the rituals performed by the High Priest in the temple were symbolic of the reconciliation, or atonement for all Israel’s sins, with God. I want to compare the basics of these offerings to Jesus Christ final three miraculous moments: atonement for our sins, bearing the physical pains and burdens of all mortal life, death and resurrection. These moments will coincide with our final three lessons as well.

  • First Offering – Sin Offering – (Heifer)
    • The offering was performed in the valley below the temple – Gethsemane was in the valley below the temple.
    • The offering was meant to cleanse us from the inside-out, to cleanse Israel of their sins – Christ bled in the garden of Gethsemane to pay for our sins and the consequences of our sins.
  • Second Offering – Burnt Offering – (Goat/Lamb)
    • The offering was performed at the temple – Christ was scourged on the same level as the temple.
    • The offering was meant to cleanse Israel from the outside-in and represented becoming sanctified – Christ bore our physical pains and burdens in these moments.
  • Third Offering – Peace Offering – (Ram)
    • The offering was performed on the mount above the temple and it is not a coincidence that the ram represents the ram that took the place of Isaac for Abraham – Golgotha was on the hill above the temple and Christ is the offering that takes the place for us.
    • The offering was meant to bring reunion and fellowship with God the Father – to us Christ’s death and resurrection provides the ability for us to be reunited with our families and with God in an exalted state. or true fellowship.

One additional thing to remember is that while Jesus was dead he preached to the spirits who had died and were in “prison” allowing them to participate in salvation because of His atonement.

One of the things I love the most about the end of the gospels is the beginning of the witnesses and sharing their experiences with the resurrected Christ. Sharing our witness and our faith in Jesus Christ is one of the highlights and focal points of being a disciple. I want to share my witness that I believe Jesus Christ is our resurrected Lord and that when we follow the gospel and minister to those around us then we become more like Him and the Kingdom of God spreads into people’s hearts and lives. I hope that this first six months of study has helped you increase your faith in Jesus Christ.

CHAPTERS FOR STUDY WEEK 25 – Matt 28, Luke 24, Mark 16, John 20-21

Focus:
– Christ being resurrected completes the offering for our redemption and reunion with God.

– Christ’s resurrection is only verified through witnesses and the Holy Ghost.

– When we have been converted it is our responsibility to carry out Jesus’s mission of ministering to all humankind.

Context and Timeline:
– In Israel, the first day of the week was Sunday. When Christ was resurrected on that day, the day became known to Christians as The Lord’s Day. However, Sunday did not replace Saturday as the Sabbath at that time. Jewish Christians celebrated both days as holy days and it wasn’t until Christians were established outside of their Jewish traditions that Sunday became the only holy day. Then many generations later it became the Sabbath day for Christians.

– It is believed that the final chapter of The Book of Mark actually ends after verse 8 and that many of the things after verse 8 were added years later by those who had compiled further accounts of the post resurrection doings of Jesus Christ.

– It is very significant that women play such a prominent role in the last week of Jesus’s life. In specific, Mary Magdalene, is at almost every important moment. She is the first person Jesus reveals Himself to after the resurrection. There are scholars, and many others who believe that Jesus and Mary were married. That folk theology is found in the early Latter-Day Saint theology as well. I have always felt like it was possible and even likely, but I don’t think it is necessary to know that.

– When Jesus visits to discouraged disciples on the road to Emmaus it would have been about 7 miles outside of Jerusalem on the way to Galilee.

– In John, when Jesus instructs Mary to report to His brothers (disciples) it is actually translated as brothers and sisters.

– One of the more interesting verses in John’s resurrection account is when Jesus commands Mary to “touch me not” and this has spawned all kinds of folk theology in Christianity. However, the translation makes more sense as “Do not hold me back” and is more like an emotional plea to allow Him to leave to get to the presence of the Father even though He would love to be there with Mary.

– John 21 was also added in later years as more accounts of the resurrected Lord’s visitations were compiled.

– There are tens of thousands of scholars who have sought to disprove the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet while there are plenty of scholarship that has changed the way we can look at the gospel accounts, it is impossible to challenge the testimonies, witnesses, and faith of the people that knew Him. These disciples had every reason to move on from Jesus when He was killed and the revolution was quashed. Yet, a movement that filled the world began because of their witness, their miracles, and their faith. By their fruits ye shall know them.

– When Jesus commands His disciples to “Feed His Sheep” and bring the gospel to all the world, including the Gentiles, it is called the Great Commission. This moment is the moment the Church of Christ is actually born. From here Peter and the apostles will need to figure out how to structure, build, and maintain a Church at a time when all forces were against their success.

Story:
All of the narratives begin with Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and John heading to the tomb in order to properly prepare Jesus’s body for burial. It is Sunday morning early and when they arrive and from this point the narratives all give different information. In each account the tomb has been moved and there is one or two angels there to inform them that Jesus has risen and is not there.

Jesus then appears to them, in John we get a detailed conversation with Mary, in the other accounts they are able to verify that He is Jesus by holding His feet and hands. Then they are all instructed to inform the disciples that He has risen and that He will see them when they return to Galilee.

Of course the disciples cannot believe what they are hearing when they are told that Jesus has risen from the dead and they run to the tomb to see if it is true. When they find His body gone they are worried and hopeful. I am sure they had mixed emotions. While they were discussing the news, and before they went back to Galilee, John and Luke report, Jesus appeared in their midst. They were afraid, but He blessed them and let them handle Him and He ate with them and then they watched Him ascend into heaven for a time.

Jesus appeared to a number of other disciples and people after His resurrection before He finishes His resurrected ministry in Galilee. Thomas who was not with the disciples initially and did not believe their story is visited by the Lord eight days after His first appearance. Thomas is overcome with happiness. Then there are two men on the road to Emmaus who are discouraged that the revolution failed who the Lord walks with and teaches. They do not realize it was Him until He left their presence, but they immediately reported it to other disciples.

Finally, after the disciples had returned home to Galilee, they were fishing and Jesus appeared again to them while they were fishing. Jesus helps them catch fish and then they meet and dine together while Jesus gives them their purpose. He asks them to do two main things, 1) build a church and spread the gospel around the world; 2) Minister and take care of Jesus’s sheep, or all humankind.

The apostles, seemed to be purposeless after His death, but when Christ gives them this Great Commission then their lives have changed again. Their discipleship will move to the next level now as the leaders of the movement.

In John, we get these verses, “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book, but these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you will have life in His name.” This is the purpose of the gospels, this is the purpose of these written witnesses. I hope that we have all benefited from the first part of our study this year. I have learned so much and feel closer to the Lord.

Questions:
Why are women the first to experience the resurrection of Jesus Christ in each account? Having largely been silent in the accounts why do they play such a huge part of this most important moment?

How would it have felt to be a disciple, who thought the revolution was over with the death of Jesus, that realized that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead? What would you do if it were you?

What does it mean to each of us when Jesus says to “feed my sheep”? Why is that the thing Jesus emphasizes before He is gone from the earth?

Key Moment or Scripture: John 20:11-17
11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 
12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 
14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
 

I have always thought that Jesus must have loved Mary very much, as she played such an important part of His life in the last six months He was alive. She was always there to minister and listen to Him, and she was going to be there for Him, even in death.

Jesus speaks a lot of friendship at the end and I think there is something powerful about true friendship. In fact, I believe this is what Jesus means when He tells us to “Feed His Sheep and Lambs.” I think we can do better as friends. I know I can. I have amazing friends, but I can do more to ease their burdens, listen to their struggles, and celebrate their successes and miracles. I think friendship is where our discipleship becomes powerful. Friendship is where we become the most like Christ.

I want to challenge each of us to be better friends to each other. I think if we will try to be better friends, share our emotions, fears, joys with each other, then we will have more experiences like Mary does when she is reunited with her Lord, and her friend Jesus Christ. When I die and can see my friends and loved ones again it will be one of the greatest moments I can imagine and I think it will be greater if we share our lives with each other as true friends.

Final Thoughts:
Jesus’s life is incredible and I have benefited so much from the study this year. I hope you have too. For the rest of the year we get to look forward to learn how disciples acted and grew without Jesus in their presence. We see the struggles, the divisions, the miracles, and the beauty of bringing a church and a group of people together who are so different. There are so many lessons for us to learn about our own lived experiences with the church and with each other in the rest of the New Testament. I hope you are looking forward to it as much as I am.