A final word…

John 20:30-31, 21:25 NIV84

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

The 50 day journey we have taken together through Scripture is just a small part of all that God has done on behalf of His creation. We pray that you will continue to journey through the Bible asking your own questions, listening for God to speak, and obediently following His Word to you. 

The Word was written that you might believe and have life in His name. Spend time increasing your faith and allow Him to write many wonderful things on your heart… so many that the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

Father God, bless each person who makes this journey with a hunger for Your Word and the discipline to spend time seeking You each day. Open their eyes and ears to all the wonders You have prepared for them.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him” —
1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV84

Day 50

Resurrection and beyond…

Matthew 28:16-20 NIV84

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “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.”

On a mountain in Galilee, Jesus met with His disciples for the last time. How did the disciples react when they saw Him?

What were Jesus’s final words?

Here we come to the heart of Calvary: Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection earned Him all authority in heaven and on earth… and He commands His disciples to …go and make disciples… He calls His followers to spend their lives making more disciples to follow Him into His Father’s kingdom. This final command is for all disciples and requires two elements: baptizing and teaching.

  •  …baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… To baptize is to “submerge,” and the word name is synonymous with “character.” What does it look like to submerge someone in the character of the Triune God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit? Take some time to think of the character traits of each person in the Trinity. How might you submerge a potential disciple in those traits?
  • …teaching them to obey… Obedience is not a very popular stance to take these days. Independence is worshiped in our culture, and truth equals personal opinion. How well does the church follow through on this aspect of making disciples? How do you deal with obedience to His commands in your own life? 
Do you think the church is doing a good job in following Jesus’s final command? Are you?

Father God, help me to go forward on this journey toward true discipleship. Grow me in my understanding of making disciples. May others see me in You and You in me, as I love You through obedience to everything You have commanded.

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,
for all of you who were baptized into Christ
 have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Galatians 3:26-27 NIV84

Go in peace as you celebrate the Risen Savior… not just today, but every day…

Day 49

Resurrection and beyond…

John 21:15-23 NIV84

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

Who did Jesus question after breakfast? What name did He use?

Just as Simon Peter returned to fishing, Jesus addressed him with the name he had as a fisherman: Simon son of John. Peter (the rock) had crumbled under pressure — three denials given — now he is given three opportunities for restoration. How did Jesus respond to Peter’s declarations of love?

Jesus met Peter where he was and gave him a command after each affirmation of love, ending with the ultimate command: Follow me! Each relationship with Jesus is personal; to Him and to the Believer. Can you identify times in your life when you have denied Jesus? Have you allowed Him to approach you for restoration? Imagine Jesus asking you: ________, do you love Me? What is your response?

Lord, You are a personal Savior who gives a personal call. Thank You for Your interest in me and our relationship. Thank You for working to restore what has been broken by my unfaithfulness. Thank You for not leaving me where You found me. Help me to stay focused on You, and not concern myself with how others follow You. My path of discipleship is about me and You, not anyone else.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…
Hebrews 12:2 NIV84

Day 48

Resurrection and beyond…

John 21:1-14 NIV84

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “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.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”

Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Why do you think these seven disciples decided to go fishing?

For three years the disciples followed Jesus. Now that He was risen, they could not keep track of Him. He appeared and disappeared; clearly they would not be following Him the same way as before His crucifixion. Unsure of what to do they returned to what they did before they met Him. In your relationship with Jesus, does He seem to pop in and out of your life? When it feels like He has gone, do you find yourself returning to your old ways, before you knew Him?

Jesus met them where they were, He returned to the place where He had gathered many of them. Read Luke 5:1-11. What similarities do you see in these two accounts? What do you think Jesus was trying to remind them? How does He remind you of His call on your life?

Jesus, help me to remember that You have called me to a new life. A life of discipleship. Continue to graciously remind me of who You call me to be — I do not want to keep returning to the place You found me.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV84

Day 47

Resurrection and beyond…

John 20:24-29 NIV84

Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not see and yet have believed.”

Who was missing from the Twelve when Jesus came the first time? Did he believe them?

Jesus returned for the benefit of the “doubting Thomas.” What did He invite Thomas to do? How did Thomas respond?

According to The College Press NIV Commentary, Jesus’s words to Thomas could be more literally translated: “Thomas, do not be unfaithful, but be faithful.” Jesus longs for us to believe — be faith-full. In response to Jesus’s invitation, Thomas gave one the clearest confessions regarding the identity of Christ in Scripture: My Lord and my God! Do you have doubts about Jesus’s divinity? What doubts do you have regarding the Christian faith? Ask Him to increase your faith.

Lord Jesus, I want to be among the blessed who have not seen and yet believe. Increase my faith. 

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
Hebrews 11:1-2 NIV84

Day 46

Resurrection and beyond…

Luke 24:36-49 NIV84

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 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.”

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Seeing is not always believing, the disciples responded with fear and doubt when Jesus entered the room. How did Jesus encourage them toward belief? Have you ever considered the Law of Moses (the first five books of the Old Testament), the Prophets and Psalms as prophetic books to inspire belief in the resurrected Christ? How could you use these books to bolster your faith?

Who did Jesus tell them they were? What were they to wait for in the city?

“Power from on high” — the Holy Spirit — would enable the disciples to fulfill their roles as witnesses for Christ, but He would not be the witness. Students are empowered to attend college by parents, scholarships, grants, and loans, but they still have to do the work of attending class, studying and taking tests in order to move forward in a degree plan and graduate. The same is true in our walk of discipleship. The Holy Spirit empowers Believers with spiritual gifts, knowledge and understanding, but we have to do the work of prayer, study of Scripture, and obediently exercise our gifts to become effective witnesses. How have you connected with the “power from on high” to grow as a disciple?  Do you spend time in the Word asking Him to open your mind to understanding? How have you exercised the gifts you’ve been given? How do you deal with the tests of faith He places before you?

Father God, thank You for the presence of the Holy Spirit. Forgive me for the many times I neglect the gifts and refuse to access His power to grow as a witness. Fill me with a desire to fulfill the purpose You have for me and help me to take steps in that direction by devoting time to prayer, prayerful study of Your Word, and obedience.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
2 Peter 1:3 NIV84

Day 45

Resurrection and beyond…

Luke 24:13-35 NIV84

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from  Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast.  One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. 

Does it seem odd that these two disciples returned home after they heard the news from the women that Jesus was alive? Do you think they believed?

Who did they meet on the road? What happened?

At the Last Supper, Jesus gave thanks and broke bread …do this in remembrance of me Here He demonstrated the effect: Communion opened their eyes to Jesus. Joining together, walking the same road, discussing Scripture, looking for Him in the Word, opened them up to the Truth and stirred their hearts. Important acts of fellowship that help us know Jesus’s presence. Do you practice regular fellowship with other disciples? What does it look like, spiritually, to walk the same road together?

Lord, send someone into my life who will walk the same road with me. Teach me to fellowship with others through prayer, study of Scripture, and spiritual disciplines. I want to grow in my knowledge and understanding of You. I want to experience You in the midst of fellowship.

“…For where two or three come together in my name,
there am I with them.” —Jesus
Matthew 18:20 NIV84

Day 44

Resurrection and beyond…

Matthew 28:11-15 NIV84

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.

While the women went to tell the disciples what had happened at Jesus’s tomb, what were the guards doing?

How did the chief priests respond to the news?

No matter how many witnesses, no matter how much proof, if someone does not want to believe a supernatural, miraculous happening they will come up with a plausible natural reason for what has been reported. Belief in the Gospel begins in the heart and no amount of evidence or reasoning can cause a person to believe who is not prepared. Do you know someone who resists the truth of the Gospel? Are there parts of the Bible you have trouble believing? What steps can you take to begin alleviating doubt? in others? in yourself?

Father God, You alone prepare a heart for belief. I ask that You begin today to bless me with the faith I need to deal with my own doubts, and please work in the heart of ______________ whom I love and long to see become a Believer.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —
and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
Ephesians 2:8 NIV 84

Day 43

Resurrection and beyond…

John 20:11-18 NIV84

…but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 

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.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

“Woman,” he said, “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.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Why is Mary crying? How many times was she asked about her crying? by whom?

Imagine what emotions Mary might be feeling. What if someone you dearly loved died and the funeral home misplaced the body before the service? How would you feel? Is it any wonder Mary didn’t seem to recognize the angels or Jesus?

What caused her to recognize Jesus? How did she respond?

Jesus, calling Mary by name, opened her eyes and dried her tears. He gave her a message for His “brothers” making it clear something new has happened with His resurrection: they are now family, sharing the same Father God. Have you heard Jesus call you by name? Have your eyes been opened to the spiritual reality of being Jesus’s brother or sister? Do you experience God as Father? If so, how? If not, what do you think keeps you from entering into that relationship? 

Lord, I choose to seek You earnestly, as Mary did when she thought she lost You. Let me hear You call me by name, show me that You are near. Work in my heart until I can confidently enter into an intimate relationship with our Father God.

Day 42

Resurrection and beyond…

John 20:3-10 NIV84

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

Then the disciples went back to their homes…

Where were Peter and the other disciple (John) running? Why?

Even though the news of the empty tomb sounded like nonsense, two of the Eleven ran to check it out. How did the scene inside the tomb effect John? Where did the disciples go after they left the tomb?

John believed the tomb was empty, but beyond that he had no understanding of what he had seen or heard. Understanding deepens our faith and inspires us to share what we know with others. Do you understand everything you believe? Do you know why you believe what you believe? What can you do to begin taking steps toward greater understanding?

Father God, do not allow me to be content with belief that has no understanding. Bless me with understanding as I seek it in Scripture. Deepen my faith, ignite the desire and ability to share what I believe with others.

May my cry come before you, O Lord;
give me understanding according to your word.
Psalm 119:169 NIV84