In Lesson 8, Courtney Doctor walked us through the time from Jesus’ crucifixion to Pentecost. It’s kind of staggering to stop and think about all that occurred in this brief period of 50 Days. Why would she claim that this span of time, barely a blip, chronologically, on the radar screen of history, contains THE most important days in all of history? Let’s look:
Jesus’ death on the cross bought us back from slavery to sin and death, paying the purchase price, or ransom, for our redemption. (Mark 10:45) He died in our place that, by faith, we might be clothed in his perfect righteousness before the Father and be reconciled to him. (2 Cor 5:18-21) Jesus’ sacrifice was essential to pay the penalty for our sin; his perfect obedience in the Garden of Gethsemane, facing down the agony of bearing our sin and enduring the wrath of God that was due it, undid and redid what took place years before in the original garden, Eden. By agreement with God the Father, Jesus willingly (for the joy set before him! Hebrews 12:2) set aside honor, glory, and perfect, unbroken fellowship with the Father that sinners (his enemies) might be made righteous and granted unhindered access to God. (Isaiah 53, Hebrews 4:14-16, 10:19-22)
Jesus is not the only good man in history to die – even for the sake of another. But Jesus is the ONLY perfect man to die on behalf of another, and the ONLY one who is BOTH fully God and fully man. Though Jesus’s death is clearly unique in what it accomplished, his death is not the end of the story. As Courtney Doctor notes in our study (p. 142), it’s highly likely that we’d have missed the miracles of Jesus’s virgin birth, sinless life, and atoning death if we’d been alive when they took place. “But at the moment of the resurrection,” she says, “everything changed.” In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul tells us that it is “of first importance” that Christ DIED for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, was BURIED, was RAISED on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he APPEARED to Cephas (Peter), and the twelve disciples, and then to more than 500 others. Jesus appeared physically – in a resurrected body. Jesus’s resurrection is the ground of our hope of eternal life; apart from it, our faith is in vain! (1 Corinthians 15:14-19) 1 Corinthians 15 gloriously spells out the mystery and victory of the resurrection. Resurrection is not only something Jesus did when he conquered sin and death. It is also part of the victory he has secured for us! We, too, have been – and will be – resurrected to new life, according to 1 Corinthians 15 – not just spiritually, but physically, as he was.
While Jesus’s death and resurrection are certainly central to the story of redemptive history, there is still more to his life and work beyond these events. After Jesus’s death and resurrection, his disciples asked him “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) Even those closest to him, who had walked alongside him in his public ministry and been promised a significant role in the building of his church (Matthew 16:13-20), had yet to understand Jesus’s mission. They would understand soon, though! Acts 1:6-11 indicates that after Jesus answered their question, “as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” Verse 11 tells us that Jesus was taken into heaven, and will come again in the same way his disciples saw him go. Hebrews tells us what Jesus is actually, presently doing in heaven. We learn that he is seated there at the Father’s right hand as our great high priest who has offered his perfect sacrifice once for all, thus securing an eternal redemption for us. (Heb. 9:12, 10:12). We learn that he “always lives to make intercession” for those who draw near to God through him. (Heb. 7:25) The kingdom that Jesus came to restore was a greater kingdom than even his closest disciples could imagine while he was still with them! Jesus’s ascension marked the return of the king to his throne, as well as the entrance of the perfect high priest into the Holy of Holies. (Ephesians 1:20, 2:6)
Back in Lesson 4 we discussed the concept of covenant, and saw that it encompasses the commitments to which God binds himself and to which he calls his people. While most of God’s covenants were between himself and his people, theologians speak of one specific covenant that occurred only within the members of Godhead: the covenant of redemption. In the covenant of redemption, the Father planned the way of salvation, the Son committed himself to accomplish that plan and the Spirit gave himself to effectively apply it in the lives of those who would be saved. While you won’t find “Covenant of Redemption” as a passage or chapter heading in scripture, the evidence of these commitments and their fulfillment are evident throughout its pages. In John 16, Jesus assures his disciples that it is to their advantage that he go away, so that he might send them the helper, the Holy Spirit. Shortly after Jesus’s ascension, we see the Holy Spirit descend upon the people of God in a powerful way. In Acts chapter 2 the Holy Spirit fulfills the promise of Ezekiel 36:26-27, in which God says he will remove his people’s hearts of stone and give them hearts of flesh, putting his own Spirit within them, to cause them to walk in his statutes and obey his rules. At Pentecost, the believers were “all together in one place” when a sound “like a mighty rushing wind” filled the house and “divided tongues as of fire” appeared and rested on each one. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Others in Jerusalem “from every nation” heard in those “other tongues” their own language – despite the fact that those speaking were Galileans. (Acts 1:7) Peter, in the power of the Holy Spirit, stood and boldly proclaimed and explained the work of God in Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit being witnessed:
“‘This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing….Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.’ Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.’ So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (from Acts 2)
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16
Sweet sisters, the Holy Spirit of God dwells in you who by faith have been reconciled to God through His son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. So how do we live while we are waiting for our King to return? I hope you’re being encouraged and edified as you consider that very thing in this week’s lesson.