Eastertide Study Guide
May 3, 2020
Pastor Clay Olsen
Guess what? It’s still ‘Eastertide’! It’s still Easter time or Easter season. Last week Pastor Robert had a great message walking through some of the amazing things occurring during that 50 day period from the Resurrection to Pentecost, which we celebrate as the birthday of the Church. Our Brother always has really good insights from the studies he shares with us. Actually, you can also listen into further things Pastor Robert shares in the weekly radio program on the Talk Station with Faith Matters. So tune into that.
But we don’t often think of Easter as Eastertide or Resurrection Season that covers 50 days each year. So let’s think about it! Again, Easter is really not just one day – it’s a 50 day period that begins at sunset on the eve of Easter and ends on Pentecost, or the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. Plus, you recall, 10 days before that, or 40 days after the Resurrection of Jesus was His ascension into Heaven.
No doubt some of you have visited Israel and have stood on the Mt. of Olives. And the wonderful thing about standing on the Mt. of Olives is that it is still the same Mount of Olives where Jesus once stood when He ascended into Heaven and His disciples watched Him go. Sure, there is some different dirt there by now, but it’s the same mountain. And think about the disciples watching Jesus go. You know that they sure wanted to go with Him.
But why did Jesus not take them with Him? The reason Jesus didn’t take them with Him was because of what He told them right before He left them: Acts 1:8- “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” NASU Jesus left them on Earth, left them in their mortal bodies, in order that they would be His witnesses everywhere on Earth and to everyone on Earth. It’s basically the same reason that any of Jesus’ disciples are still in their mortal bodies on this present Earth. If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are also a Witness of Jesus Christ’s. It’s part of your God given identity. You and I are Christ’s Witnesses of the joys of these Resurrection truths…Witnesses to the truths of the Gospel of salvation, Witnesses to the truths of the wonders of eternal life, Witnesses of our coming immortality in union with Christ, and Witnesses to the need to live life according to instructions of God’s Word, which is God’s Owner’s Manual for life.
Again, the fact that you are still here, that you are physically sitting in a physical vehicle or a physical chair in a physical body on this physical Earth, is because you still have more work to do as a Witness for Jesus Christ wherever you go in your own Jerusalem, and your own Judea and Samaria, and your own journeys to even the remotest parts of the Earth. That’s who Resurrected people are: Witnesses of Jesus Christ…and that’s what resurrected people are commissioned to do: to witness for Jesus Christ in their worship and in their service for their King and Savior.
And one thing that helps us to act on who we are is that, as Witnesses of Jesus Christ, we are convinced of the truths of everything about our Lord Jesus and His Resurrection. Think about that: we don’t have to convince anyone here of the reality of the Resurrection. You wouldn’t be out here if you didn’t believe that Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead. In fact, if the same Angels were here this morning that were at the tomb on that Resurrection morning, they would say to us the same thing they said to the women in Matt 28:5-6- “ …I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified……, for He has risen, just as He said.’ NASU
You’re here because you are looking for Jesus. You’ve come looking for Jesus, the Risen Lord Jesus, not so much as to find Him in His resurrected body, but to find Him in your focus of worshipping Him, because you have already found Him as your Lord and Savior. You are looking to worship Him each day, as in…Monday through Saturday, as well as on Sunday! You believe Jesus Christ actually arose from the dead, and is alive today, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and yet because the Holy Spirit is present with us today and everyday…you believe He is our Immanuel, our God who is always with us. And you believe that He is who He says He is: He is the mighty God, the Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace, our Eternal Father… He is your healer, your Savior, your King, and your Lord. You are here because Jesus not only died, rose again, and ascended, but He’s also coming back!
Eastertide is a celebration not only of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, but also a celebration of His promised return. Do you remember what the angels also said to the disciples at the ascension? Acts 1:9-11- “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, ” Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
Oh yes, this Jesus, this same Jesus is coming back to walk the earth just as He did before He left the earth, only this time this world will be His kingdom and He will be the Sovereign King over all the earth. He’s coming back. Or, perhaps you’ll go to Him first, but either way, as sure as we are looking at each other here this morning, soon, maybe very soon, soon and very soon, you’re going to be looking at this same Jesus that the disciples were looking at when He left.
Now, just what does the Resurrected Lord Jesus look like? Well, neither the prophets nor the apostles attached any photo images of Jesus in the Scripture writings, so we don’t have His physical image. Yet we do have some descriptions. Remember Jesus’ words to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” John 20:27
One of the unique things about Jesus resurrected body is that He retained His scars from the cross. It seems that Jesus will be the only one in heaven with scars. But for all eternity we will be able to look at those precious scarred hands and remember what it took for us to get there, what it took for you and for me to get to live in heaven. Those scars could have been ours, you know, but He took them for us. Isa 53:5-6 is a passage we should think about over and over, just as we have been sharing it recently in our study times together: “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.”
Again, what caused the scars? My sins, your sins; What is sin? Essentially, sin is my will instead of God’s will…sin is your will instead of God’s will. Isaiah says sin is going our own way instead of God’s way, sin is being in charge of our own life instead of turning charge of our life over to God. Our refusal to surrender to God is what caused Jesus to have to suffer the consequences that should have been ours. But Jesus chose to suffer, so that He could save you and me; save us from that spiritual death penalty…from eternal separation from God, and give us spiritual life, eternal life; life without end in union with Him.
Just think; If you were the only one that had ever sinned, if everyone else were like the holy angels and without sin, if it had only been you that had sinned, God would have sent His Son just for you, to die just for you, in order to rescue you. And we know that God would have done just that, just for you. And how do we know that? Because God told us so, remember John 3:16-17? And we’re going really personalize this passage this time. And as we do so, maybe you’ll see this familiar passage in a whole new way…a new ‘family’ way. Let’s look:
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world. Loved who? Loved the world. Who is the world? The world is you and me and each human being made by God. The world is one person at a time. I don’t know if you have ever done this before, but what we’re about to do should change everything you think about God and your relationship with God. So as we read John 3:16 and 17, put your name, your full name where we pause for that. “ For God so loved……….. now put your name right there ………………, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever, …..put your name in there again, believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge………. put your name there again, but that…………. your name once more……. might be saved through Him.”
Try writing John 3:16 and 17 out on a card or maybe in your notes on your phone or tablet or somewhere, and put your name in those places, and read it over and over and see what effect it has on you and your relationship with Jesus.
You need to see your name all through John 3:16 and 17 because, again, the world is made up of one person at a time. Plus, remember the reason Jesus gave His life to save you… “For God so loved the world”…You see, you mean the world to Him, and you always will. He didn’t just come to save everybody else…He came to save you. He didn’t just want to save everybody else…He wanted to save you. Remember, He loved you before you loved Him.
This is why we celebrate the Resurrection. This is why we gather for these church family services and sing and pray together, and even shout together…“Thank you Jesus”!
Remember this: Jesus is the Risen Lord, He is alive. This historical truth is a present reality. And just because we have not yet seen the Resurrected Lord like the disciples did, still, because He is God, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, He really is here with us and is with us wherever we are. Jesus said: “I will be with you always”.
We could say that what we really need to do is to look at the truth of the Resurrection, and the truths of God’s presence through Resurrected eyes. In fact, the unseen realities around us are actually the greater realities. Listen to Paul’s words about this: 2 Cor 4:18 … we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. NKJV
We believe the Spirit of Jesus Christ is here, but we don’t see Him, yet. We believe He forgave our sins and gave us a new spirit. We believe He resurrected our spirit from being dead in trespasses and sin to being alive together with Him. We believe He’s preparing a place for us in the better country of Heaven. We believe our saved loved ones and friends are now living in Heaven with Jesus, seeing Him in His resurrected body, with His scars and all. We can’t see all of this yet, but all this and more are all part of reality, the greater reality, because the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. The question is; Which are you looking at most this morning, or most mornings, or most days?
Again, you are here this morning because you believe the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is true, even though you cannot yet see Him. You believe in Resurrection truths. And that’s exactly the way the Angels and the Apostles are telling us to now look at everything in our lives, through Resurrection truths. Your sight will catch up, sooner or later, but Resurrection truths stand alone. If you have surrendered your life to Christ in repentance and received Jesus into your life by faith then your very soul has been resurrected. And if you don’t look all that much different from before you were converted, well, give it time, you will. And I don’t mean because of aging. But one day you’re going to look very different, you’re going to have a resurrected body that is like that of Jesus. 1 John 3:2- Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, and we can’t even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns. But we do know that when He comes we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is. NLT
Friends, that’s Resurrection truth. Whatever trials and problems, whatever infirmities, disease, sickness, or difficulties you’re dealing with now in your body, or in your life, it’s only a temporary condition. You’re not going to have that body you have now for very long….you’re going to get a resurrected body, that will have no pain, no sickness, no arthritis, no allergies, no viruses or anything like it…
The point is, these are resurrection truths, and one day, what we are celebrating here by faith, we will one day, maybe one day very soon, we will be celebrating these truths by sight. Sight will catch up, but truth leads. Remember that! Sight will catch up, but truth always leads. Truth leads…and Jesus is Truth. So let the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the truths of the Scriptures lead you to continue to celebrate your Risen Lord, and to live according to God’s word every day of your life as you look for His return or for your trip home to Heaven to see Him.