TEXT: Luke 17:26-33
26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
Powerful Life Lessons from the Aftermath of the Resurrection #7
TEXT: Acts 9:1-6
So far in this Easter Week series, we have talked about the power of the resurrection as it pertains to those who are already following Jesus Christ. But the power of the resurrection extends even to unbelievers — and not just to passive unbelievers but to those who hate the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Acts chapter 9 introduces us to one of these haters of the Gospel — a man named Saul, more commonly known as Paul. He was a Jew dedicated to the persecution of the followers of Jesus Christ. As you might recall, after Jesus’ tomb was found to be empty, the Jewish authorities paid the Roman guards to say that the disciples had come and stolen Jesus’ body. They did not want the word to get out that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead. They knew that if that got out among the people, the ‘Jesus movement’ of the first century would be back in full swing.
Of course, as we saw from Acts chapter 2, the disciples of Christ were boldly preaching in Jerusalem that Jesus had been raised from the dead, and so the Jewish leaders set about to stamp out all of those who followed Christ. This is where Saul comes in. Saul was a well-educated man who was evidently very favored by the religious authorities. He had been born in Tarsus, his father was a Pharisee, and he had been trained in tentmaking. We don’t know what Saul looked like, but an ancient source states that he was “a man of moderate stature, with crisp hair, crooked legs, blue eyes, large knit brows, and a long nose.”
The Jewish authorities were relying on Saul to help them eradicate the followers of the Way. We read that he was “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord.” The phrase “breathing out” puts us in mind of a dragon breathing out fire. That is how fierce Saul’s hatred for the church was. He was on his way to Damascus to arrest any Christians he found and bring them back to Jerusalem to be put on trial. And that is when he has his encounter with the resurrected Christ.
Powerful Life Lessons from the Aftermath of the Resurrection #6
TEXT: Acts 2:1-11
No one can deny that the history of the world has been a history of division, hatred, prejudice, and animosity between nations, races, ethnicities, and social cultures. Even today, much of the conflict and tension in our world can be defined by the barriers that separate groups of people: Arabs vs. Jews, Sunni Muslims vs. Shiite Muslims, Hindus vs. Christians, Blacks vs. Whites, the wealthy upper class vs. the poor lower class, and the list goes on.
In Jesus’ day, there was plenty of division to go around as well: Jews vs. Gentiles; the religious, well-to-do upper class vs. the poor, barely-getting-by lower class; slave-owners vs. slaves; Pharisees vs. Sadducees; men vs. women; Rome-hating zealots vs. Rome-loving pacifiers. Just as in modern times, I am sure there were people in Jesus’ day who wondered why folks just couldn’t get along with each other. I am sure that for those people, the coming of Jesus Christ was a breath of fresh air. Jesus was a leader who associated with anybody who wanted to do the will of His Father in Heaven no matter what their status or position was in life. Jesus talked to, mingled with, and worked miracles for Jews, Gentiles, Samaritans, Greeks, Romans, military leaders, sinners, fishermen, tax collectors, the pious, the not-so-pious, the rich, and the poor.
After His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus bequeathed that legacy of breaking down barriers to His followers. They, like most sinful, prejudiced human beings, were much slower to accept people who were different from them. But, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they came around to it. As we live in a time when there is much discussion about diversity and racial reconciliation, what can we learn about the breaking down of barriers between people groups which came about in the aftermath of the resurrection?