The Greatest Miracle in History: Matthew 28:1-10


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In our last episode, we discussed Jesus’ death leading to resurrection and the amazing truth that Jesus is the ultimate Life-Giver. In this episode, we continue this same theme by drawing our attention onto an amazing detail, or should I say, an amazing lack of a specific detail, included in Jesus’ resurrection. While Jesus’ list of miracles doesn’t include this event for some reason, I think this might be one of the most amazing miracles in the entire Bible, and it is definitely the most significant miracle in this world’s history.

Let’s read what happened on resurrection morning, and discover what we can learn about this amazing miracle from what is included and what isn’t. Our passage comes from Matthew’s gospel, chapter 28, and we will read it from the New Century Version. Starting in verse 1, Matthew tells us that:

The day after the Sabbath day was the first day of the week. At dawn on the first day, Mary Magdalene and another woman named Mary went to look at the tomb.

At that time there was a strong earthquake. An angel of the Lord came down from heaven, went to the tomb, and rolled the stone away from the entrance. Then he sat on the stone. He was shining as bright as lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The soldiers guarding the tomb shook with fear because of the angel, and they became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus, who has been crucified. He is not here. He has risen from the dead as he said he would. Come and see the place where his body was. And go quickly and tell his followers, ‘Jesus has risen from the dead. He is going into Galilee ahead of you, and you will see him there.’” Then the angel said, “Now I have told you.”

The women left the tomb quickly. They were afraid, but they were also very happy. They ran to tell Jesus’ followers what had happened. Suddenly, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings.” The women came up to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my followers to go on to Galilee, and they will see me there.”

In all the chaos surrounding resurrection morning, Matthew has the most detail included about Jesus’ actual resurrection. While all the gospel writers include details of the women being the first to go to the tomb, and that the women who went to the tomb saw angels, Matthew includes extra details about the guards’ experience. Matthew describes what happened by saying in verses 2 through 4: “At that time there was a strong earthquake. An angel of the Lord came down from heaven, went to the tomb, and rolled the stone away from the entrance. Then he sat on the stone. He was shining as bright as lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The soldiers guarding the tomb shook with fear because of the angel, and they became like dead men.

There is one detail that is missing that we might think should be included. In this event, nothing is said about the angel greeting Jesus as He steps out of the tomb or that the angel called Jesus out of the tomb when rolling the stone away.

This is significant because nothing in this event indicates that the angel had any role in Jesus’ resurrection other than to disperse the guards and to remove the stone for the women and disciples to examine the place where Jesus lay. The angel also had the privilege of reminding those who came to the tomb how Jesus had repeatedly told them He would die and that He would return to life.

In this event, the angel who came down did not resurrect Jesus.

Instead, John’s gospel records Jesus saying something fascinating that directly ties into this event and this miracle. In John, chapter 10, verses 17 and 18, Jesus tells those present: “The Father loves me because I give my life so that I can take it back again. No one takes it away from me; I give my own life freely. I have the right to give my life, and I have the right to take it back. This is what my Father commanded me to do.”

Jesus has the power to give life and to return it, and this isn’t just the power to do this for other people. In some way that is impossible for us to truly understand, Jesus has this power over His own life as well. The greatest miracle in the entire Bible is Jesus resurrecting Himself from the tomb.

I don’t think it was an accident that earthquakes happened at the moment Jesus died and here at His resurrection. Jesus’ life returning to Him shook the earth just like the earth shook when His life left Him. All this is described before Matthew tells us the angel came. The earthquake was not caused by an angel hitting the ground on arrival, as I have heard some people speculate. Instead, the earthquake was the evidence that Jesus’ life returned to Him, and the angel was simply sent to reveal to the world what had just happened inside the tomb.

Jesus did not need the angel’s help to step out of the tomb. In His resurrected body, Jesus is able to move through objects, as is seen when He appears to the disciples while they have locked themselves in the upper room. The angel was sent for our benefit, so that we could see and know that the tomb really was empty.

The greatest miracle in the entire history of the world is Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus returned to life exactly how He said He would, and Jesus’ resurrection gives us the hope and reassurance that when it is our time to die, He is more than able to resurrect us when it is time for us to be with Him!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first and place your faith, hope, trust, and belief in Him and in what Jesus accomplished for you. Believe in Jesus and in His resurrection, and trust in the truth that since Jesus stepped out of the tomb alive, we know that there is life awaiting us after death.

Also, always pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow personally closer to God each and every day. While learning from others is okay to do, never let your own personal relationship with God become dependent on someone else to help you grow. A personal relationship with God must be personal, and a personal relationship with God leads us to Jesus and to eternal life.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or deviate away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of Miracles – Episode 48: While most people might not think of the resurrection as one of Jesus’ miracles, discover how this might have actually been Jesus’ greatest miracle, and the most significant miracle in all of history.

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Living with Secrets: Matthew 1:18-25

Focus Passage: Matthew 1:18-25 (NASB)

For this journal entry, we will look a little closer at one of the events in Jesus’ birth, and uncover a truth that I found especially interesting. This truth is hidden in plain sight, but it is easy to miss if you read this story without paying attention.

In verse 25 we read, “but [Joseph] kept her [Mary] a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

While Joseph had planned to send Mary away silently to not publicly disgrace her, an angel in a dream convinced him otherwise. We don’t know if their wedding was the next day, or if it happened at a future date, or if Jesus was conceived weeks or months before. If Mary raced off to be with Elizabeth for three months prior to her wedding, then it would be very possible that Jesus would have clearly appeared to have been conceived outside of marriage. However, if all this happened before or right around the same time with Joseph and Mary traveling to see Elizabeth and Zechariah immediately following their marriage (a.k.a. honeymoon), then it would have looked to outsiders that Jesus was a honeymoon baby.

We know from reading Matthew that Joseph kept Mary as a virgin until after Jesus was born – but to everyone else looking at the scene, it probably would have looked as though Jesus was Joseph’s son.

This is significant because often times in our own lives, each family has secrets that they don’t want to share and/or they don’t feel are either believable or relevant for others to know. Perhaps it is simply a countercultural choice that the couple has made that they don’t want to share for fear it will cause division, or perhaps it is a dark secret that has brought the family shame in the past and they would rather it be erased from their history.

At any rate, Joseph and Mary had an incredible and unbelievable family secret, and Joseph accepted the reality that it meant, and chose to raise Jesus as his own Son. Joseph stepped into the unbelievable, and became the earthly father to the Savior of the world. For us, we cannot change the past, but we can choose to accept the place we are currently at (including all the craziness present) and see it as a step towards moving forward into a better future.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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Letting Jesus Clean You: John 13:1-17

Focus Passage: John 13:1-17 (NIV)

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Read John 13:1-17 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

While washing the disciples feet on the night He was betrayed and arrested, Jesus has an interesting conversation with Peter about what was happening. John records their conversation, and in this dialog, we can discover a powerful truth about God’s love for each of us.

As Jesus was moving through the group of disciples washing their feet, “He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’” (v. 6)

Jesus responded by saying, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” (v. 7)

Peter then replies, “No! You shall never wash my feet.” (v. 8a)

Jesus then tells Peter, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (v. 8b)

With probably a little bit of shock involved, Peter then responds, “Then Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (v. 9)

We now come to the key part of this discussion I want to focus in on. Jesus then replies, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.” (v. 10a)

In this conversation, we see Peter, one of Jesus’ most vocal disciples first saying that he never wants Jesus to wash him, while in the next breath asking Jesus to wash his entire body. This is amazing in my mind, not only because it gives us a glimpse into the type of person Peter was, but that it draws our attention onto an amazing spiritual truth.

When we look under the surface of this conversation, we discover this truth: When we come to God, He begins to transform our lives into the lives He created us to live.

However, like Peter’s conversation with Jesus, we must be willing to let Jesus wash us. God/Jesus knows the areas of our lives that are not clean, and we must be willing to let Him touch and clean those areas of our lives and hearts.

But with that said, God/Jesus does not want to wash our whole bodies, because He knows that some parts of our lives, our history, our character, and our mission are already in line with what He wants for us. God does not want to erase our character when He transforms our lives; He simply wants our focus to shift onto being more like Him while also being the person He created us to be.

When we accept Jesus and let Him wash us, we must be willing to let Him wash the areas that He feels need to be washed, and be okay with the areas that He says are already clean.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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Flashback Episode — A Last Minute Prediction: Luke 23:26-31


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On the morning He was crucified, after all the trials and sentencing, Jesus is led away to Calvary carrying His cross. On this trip to the hill where He would die, the gospel of Luke records an interesting prediction Jesus makes to some of those who were following the procession out of the city. While most people focus in on the first verse of our passage, the verses that follow are probably more significant for us living today.

Our passage is found in the gospel of Luke, chapter 23, and we will be reading from the New Century Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 26, Luke tells us that:

26 As they led Jesus away, Simon, a man from Cyrene, was coming in from the fields. They forced him to carry Jesus’ cross and to walk behind him.

Pausing briefly, this part of our passage would be very tempting to focus in on. After all, Simon was probably one of the only people who got to experience the shame of carrying a cross without the death that followed. Simon is someone who was both at the worst place at the worst time, or perhaps the best place at the worst time. If it wasn’t for his presence here, he would be an unknown person in the Biblical record.

However, what comes next in Luke’s gospel is fascinating. Continuing in verse 27, Luke tells us that:

27 A large crowd of people was following Jesus, including some women who were sad and crying for him. 28 But Jesus turned and said to them, “Women of Jerusalem, don’t cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children. 29 The time is coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the women who cannot have children and who have no babies to nurse.’ 30 Then people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ And they will say to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ 31 If they act like this now when life is good, what will happen when bad times come?”

In this passage, we see Jesus predicting worse circumstances in the future when He sees people crying for what was taking place and happening to Him. On one level, this speaks to the amazing compassion Jesus had. While facing some of the worst pain and ridicule imaginable, we see Jesus focusing on others. While what Jesus says isn’t all that comforting when we look at the message, He clearly shifts the focus away from wanting or needing pity.

However, with that said, another level we can see Jesus drawing our attention to in this passage is that excessively focusing on or dwelling on what He went through isn’t productive in the long-term – especially if our focusing on this event causes us to feel sad for Jesus. We shouldn’t be sad that Jesus faced the cross; we should be glad.

While the temptation is present to believe Jesus died too young or too soon, the truth is that Jesus’ death is the only way any of us can hope to experience a life beyond the one we are currently in. When God gave up His life for us, we are able to accept the life He offers in exchange for the one we messed up. This is what Jesus accomplished. We shouldn’t feel sad that Jesus died. Instead, we should feel eternally grateful for what His death accomplished!

Looking at what Jesus describes in His message, we see a prediction of a time when people will look to those who cannot give birth and consider them blessed. I don’t know if a time like this has happened yet, or if Jesus’ prediction is still to be fulfilled, however, what He describes next makes me think Jesus is describing something that will happen immediately prior to His second coming.

When people call out for the mountains to fall on them and the hills to cover them, this sounds like the wicked people of the world realizing they picked the wrong side when Jesus returns as King. Part of me wonders if leading up to this point in history will be a point where humanity loses the ability to reproduce.

I will be the first to say that this is pure speculation. I have no idea what the final months, weeks, or days will be like leading up to Jesus’ return. However, what I do know is that Jesus’ return will catch the wicked people off guard, while being a welcome relief for God’s people.

Jesus closes with an interesting statement. In verse 31, He says, “If they act like this now when life is good, what will happen when bad times come?” Many translations describe this as a green tree verses a dry tree. The New International Version of the Bible describes Jesus’ words as, “For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?

The big challenge I see in Jesus’ closing words is that when times are good and people are ridiculing, abusing, and rejecting Jesus and His followers, how much worse it will be when times in the world are not good. Hinted at here is that prior to Jesus’ return, there will be a time when the world rapidly declines – and when this decline happens, God’s people will be blamed for it.

While I don’t know what will happen, how bad things will get, or how severe the hostility towards God’s people will ultimately be, we can be certain that how they rejected Jesus when times were going good will be nothing when compared to how they will treat His followers when things are bad.

However, as a follower of Jesus, I know that regardless of what happens immediately before His return and how rejected I may be among others, my reward is in heaven and I’d rather focus on the life that is to come without sin than trying to salvage a life that has been messed up by sin.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Be sure to always seek God first in your life. Regardless of what happens in this life, remember that Jesus will return triumphant, and His return will signal the end of sin. Remember that Heaven is the reward for God’s people, and that nothing in this life is worth risking our future life and our future reward.

Also, always be sure to pray and study the Bible for yourself because these are the two best ways to grow your relationship with God while also keeping your focus on heaven.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or let Satan trick you out of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year 4 – Episode 47: While on the road to Calvary, Jesus gives a warning to the women who are crying for Him. Discover some things we can learn about Jesus and about God from this event, and from where Jesus places His focus.

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