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Seeing Christ in Your Heart

Tuesday, 10 Apr 2012 Leave a comment

The final part of a series on the resurrection appearances of Christ.

Summary

A study of the resurrection appearances of Christ provides great insight to the nature of our future resurrection bodies. But, more importantly, it provides another layer of teaching or understanding about how we are to recognize Christ. Merely seeking for Christ through physical (carnal, intellectual) means will not impact your life.

Consistently, those to whom Jesus appeared had to see Him with their heart (in the spirit, by faith) before they recognized Him, and even after knowing it was Him, they still could not recognize Him in the physical realm. The only way to continue recognizing Him was spiritually, by faith. The initial spiritual recognition usually occurred through experiencing or re-experiencing a personal, intimate experience with Jesus. You must operate beyond the physical realm into the spiritual realm by faith in order to recognize the resurrected Christ because His resurrection body was spiritual (I Corinthians 15:44) and flesh cannot readily comprehend things that are of a spiritual nature (I Corinthians 2:14, John 3:6).

The experiences of those who saw he resurrected Christ provide a lesson for us today. We must not seek to find God through merely natural means. While examining the physical circumstances of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ and the lives of the apostles after the Ascension is helpful and may answer some questions, it will not of itself lead to salvation. Even if we perceive some truth, it will be clouded with doubt. Christ must be recognized and accepted by faith. No physical truth or event will produce that faith. Faith comes by hearing the Word because the Word is spirit and life. Only an experience with God in our heart, where our spirit and soul intersect, will bring us to a true recognition of the resurrected Christ.

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

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The Last 5 Resurrection Appearances

Monday, 9 Apr 2012 Leave a comment

Part 3 of a series on the resurrection appearances of Christ.

Appearance #4 – Luke 24:36-49 (Mark 16:14; John 20:19-23): To the disciples (without Thomas)

At v. 37 we find the disciples did not recognize Jesus. Even when He showed them His scars, they rejoiced but their amazement revealed that they still did not believe fully in their hearts (v. 41). Only when Jesus taught them the scriptures did the eyes of their heart fully open (v. 45). We again see the effect of the Word (spirit) on the physical. When our physical senses fall short, only influence by the spirit in our heart will cause our soul to grasp what we are seeing or what is happening.

Appearance #5 – John 20:24-31: To the disciples (with Thomas)

Not much information is given as the focus is on Jesus speaking to Thomas. It is possible recognition of Jesus flowed from His previous appearance, presumably even for Thomas once his five senses were satisfied.

Appearance #6 – John 21:1-14: To the seven disciples by the sea

The disciples did not recognize Him (v.4) despite the previous two visitations. But, initially this could very well have been because of the distance to shore (roughly 100 yards, v. 8). Once Jesus gave them specific fishing instructions (again!) and another miraculous catch ensued, John immediately knew it was Jesus in his heart (v. 7). But, amazingly at v. 12 the disciples knew in their heart that it was Jesus but they just simply could not perceive Him with their five natural senses. This is just a further illustration that a spiritual resurrection body cannot be perceived with only physical means. Any attempt to do so sill be clouded with and shrouded in doubt.

As with Mary Magdalene and the disciples on the road to Emmaus, an incident similar to one already in their heart was needed to open the eyes of the disciples’ hearts (v. 6-7). But, this is a very positive incident especially for John. In the past, the hearts of the disciples were so hardened that they could not perceive spiritual truth and power even after having just witnessed it (Matthew 15:33, Mark 6:52, Mark 8:17).

Appearance #7 – I Corinthians 15:6: To 500 disciples at once

Not enough information is given for us to understand how quickly Jesus was recognized. This incident could also be a duplicate of another incident such as the gathering at the ascension.

Appearance #8 – Matthew 28:16-20 (Mark 16:15-18; Acts 1:4-9): The Ascension

Most (or all) present had seen Jesus already, and they had been called by Him to meet here, so all should have recognized Him (to a degree). Yet, some still doubted (v. 17). On the surface this is astounding. Having spent more than three years with Jesus and seen Him multiple times since the resurrection, some of the original eleven disciples still doubted that this was Jesus and that He had been resurrected. It took the astounding miracle of the Ascension to finally cure this (Luke 24:52).

 – Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

Recognizing Jesus on the Road to Emmaus

Sunday, 8 Apr 2012 Leave a comment

Part 2 of a series on the resurrection appearances of Christ.

Appearance #2 – Matthew 28:9-10: Women running to tell the disciples of the resurrection

Not enough information is given to know how quickly the women recognized Jesus. But, Mary Magdalene was with them, and she had already just seen Him. So, perhaps in this case recognition occurred quickly or even instantaneously.

Appearance #3 – Luke 24:13-22 (Mark 16:12-13): Two men on the road to Emmaus

The men did not recognize Jesus (v. 16). This passage reveals much about why people could not recognize Him. Mark 16:12 reveals that Jesus appeared to them “in another form.” This is the crucial key to understanding the inability of people to recognize Jesus in His resurrection body. His resurrection body was spiritual (I Corinthians 15:44) and flesh cannot readily comprehend things that are of a spiritual nature (I Corinthians 2:14, John 3:6). At v. 15 we see the disciples reasoning, meaning they were operating carnally and not spiritually. To help lead them to recognize Him, Jesus began by teaching them the Word. Remember that the Word is spirit and life (John 6:63). So, this began to open the eyes of their heart (v. 32), but the truth did not consciously register in their souls. Only when Jesus broke bread as if in offering communion were the eyes of their heart fully opened (v. 30-31). This was a deeply personal act with great spiritual significance that caused them to finally see Jesus with their heart.

Just as with Mary Magdalene in the first incident, these men could not recognize Jesus with only their physical senses. They had to recognize Him spiritually through an intimate, personal experience before they knew it was Jesus.

It is also interesting to note at v. 31 that Jesus vanished as soon as the two disciples finally recognized Him with their heart. Once Jesus is revealed to us through His Word we shouldn’t need a visible manifestation of Him. Faith gives us evidence of Him (Hebrews 11:1).

 – Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

Mary Magdalene Turning (Twice!) Towards Christ

Monday, 2 Jan 2012 Leave a comment

I heard a minister mention and briefly teach on the fact that at each appearance of Christ between the resurrection and ascension people did not recognize Him. While I knew some of the stories (especially the Road to Emmaus story), I had not noticed that this happened at every appearance. So, I set about to study it. Today’s post begins a series looking at all of the appearances of the resurrected Christ.

Appearance #1 – John 20:11-18: Mary Magdalene at the tomb of Christ

11But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
12And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
14And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
15Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
16Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
17Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
18Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
(John 20:11-18)

Mary Magdalene did not recognize Jesus in His resurrection body (v. 14). Only when he spoke to her by name (v. 16) did she recognize Him. There is a strong implication here that she had to see Him in her heart (by faith, in a deeply personal way) in order to recognize Him.

This will be the prominent theme as we examine all of these appearances: those to whom Christ appeared in His resurrection body did not know for sure it was Christ until they saw Him spiritually or in their heart in a deep, personal manner. Their five carnal senses were not enough to ensure positive recognition of Christ. The same is true for us. If we only try to know and understand Christ through the natural things described in the Bible, we will not really know Him. We must come to know Him in our heart, spiritually, on a truly personal level, in order to recognize Him.

To further illustrate this during this appearance, notice at v. 14 that Mary is facing Jesus, but at v.16 the scripture says she turned herself to speak to Jesus. Did scripture just not record that she turned away between verses 14 and 16? This is a very real possibility. But, also consider that she may have already been facing Him and this second turning was figurative, in her heart. (The word “turned” in v. 16 is the Greek word strepho which indeed means to turn either literally or figuratively.) Mary could not recognize Jesus with only her physical senses; she had to recognize Him in her heart (spiritually).

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing