Discerning Jesus

Discerning Jesus

Before getting started this morning, I need to add an important correction to last week’s message.

Although Jesus was resurrected from death to life on the third day, He did not ascend back into Heaven until at least 40 days after His death. 

I had wrongfully taught that Jesus resurrected, ascended to Heaven, was seated at the right hand of the Heavenly Father, and then decided to return to hang out with His buddies.  This is not a Biblically accurate timing of events, though.

Instead, He resurrected, then remained on earth and hung out with His buddies, then ascended to Heaven after 40 days to be seated at the right hand of the Heavenly Father.

We find the clearest evidence of this timeline here:

Acts 1:1-11

1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

This morning, we’re going backwards a few chapters to learn from a few other times when the resurrected Jesus came to be with His disciples.

The biggest lesson for us from these accounts is to be discerning and more aware of what God is doing in our midst.  This was a tremendously uncertain and concerning time of danger for the disciples of Jesus.  Their lives were literally in danger during this waiting season between the promise and the fulfillment of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

We now go back to the third day after Jesus have His life on the cross to pay the cost of our sin to form a new covenant with us after the old was fulfilled.

Luke 24

Jesus Has Risen

1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.

No word of God will ever fail, right?  Jesus often spoke of the day that all of this would take place, but they did not yet understand it.  Oh, they were about to, though!

9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.

The women repeated what Jesus had said several times and what they had firsthand experienced.  It still was a bunch of nonsense to the apostles and they refused to believe what happened.

Just because it seems like nonsense to us and we can’t grasp or understand how what is happening could possibly be God at work doesn’t mean that it is not.  If it does not contradict His word, then we’ll trust this quote from Psalm 51:4

Romans 3:4

Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:

“So that you may be proved right when you speak

    and prevail when you judge.”

Let’s let God be God and trust Him leaning not into our own understanding.

There was one apostle who wasn’t about to dismiss their testimony so quickly, though!

12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

On the Road to Emmaus

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

Now Jacob just had a dream and

Genesis 28:16

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

Can you imagine being physically with Jesus living life together day and night and then still missing Him when He is right beside you talking to you?  If they can do this, if the scholars and look at the living Word of God in the eyes and call Him a demon and blasphemer, then how easily could we miss God right in our midst?

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

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19 “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. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 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. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

Just picture Jesus facepalming right here in this moment…

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 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.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.

It is amazing how a memory can transform our minds.  Just a smell or song or touch can transport us back in time to a memory and completely change us in that moment. 

That is what the breaking of bread did for His disciples.  They were taken back to the recent Passover and the last meal they shared together.  Then, they believed wholeheartedly that Jesus was alive!

In these end days, it is so critically important for us to have eyes to see and ears to hear Jesus.  We don’t want to miss out on God or to mislabel His works just because we don’t understand or discern Him!

32 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?”

Often times, the Holy Spirit’s discernment within us is simply a “gut-feeling”; a burning of our hearts through the Spirit within us to whether something is God or not.  His Spirit with bear witness to ours either way.

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

We would think that this would completely settle the matter for them all, right?  Oh, but how slowly we understand and how quick we are to forget and to rely on our own emotions and understanding!

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

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

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 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.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement,

Let’s just read that a few more times in case we missed it…

Emotions will often lead us away from truth.

Even good emotions can cause a lack of understanding and judgement within us.

he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

44 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.”

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

It’s not enough to read God’s word and be able to quote it, we must allow Jesus to open our minds so that we understand it.  The author of it, the Holy Spirit, dwells within us and can help lead us from knowledge to understanding to wisdom in living it out rightly.

46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 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.”

The Ascension of Jesus

50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

Fear was cast out!

Genuine life transformation had taken place!

This was even before the outpouring and empowerment of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost!

This was the direct result of simply understanding Gods word!

They now openly and with abandonment to self praised God right in front of their enemies!  They worshipped before those who threatened to take their lives! 

This morning, Jesus wants to do the same work in our lives.  He wants us to be transformed and emboldened to freely live a lifestyle of worship to Him.  He doesn’t want us to miss out on any of His plans and purposes. 

We can discern Jesus moving in our midst because of the Holy Spirit living within us.  We get to cooperate with Him in order to live our lives to their full and not to miss out on any opportunity before us!