What Happened Three Days After Jesus Died – Resurrection and Ascension*

{If this is your first “What Happened” post, go back to the introductory post for the survey of the major events of Holy week that we’re doing together on Servant Girl Stories during March. Then, read the post detailing Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Next, read the post about the night before Jesus died. Finally, read the post describing Jesus’ trials and crucifixion. After that, you’re ready for this post}.

The women find Jesus’s tomb empty. Image credit: 1stbiblical blog

As early as possible on the first day of the week, you gather with the other women to take more spices to the tomb where Jesus’ body was placed.

Nicodemus and Joseph already covered his body in myrrh and aloes before binding him and laying him in Joseph’s tomb three days ago. But the women agreed to take more spices as soon as the Sabbath was over, and you want to go with them.

One last chance to be near Jesus.

It seems right that he should be honored this way.

The sweet aroma of the burial spices forces you to confront the truth – their scent is meant to cover the stench of a dead body as it decomposes. Jesus is dead. You are going to anoint his dead body with these spices. You have helped anoint dead bodies of loved ones before, but you never really noticed how the spices smelled. Not so keenly as you do now. But the odor is overwhelming. Your eyes burn, and your nose and throat sting.

Thinking of him and how much you loved and were devoted to him, hot tears pour from your eyes again. You haven’t stopped crying since Friday. Since you witnessed his gruesome death. Something you will never forget for the rest of your life.

You still cannot believe the teacher is gone.

Quietly, you and the other women gather the spices and make your way to the tomb. You don’t look at each other. You don’t speak to each other.

How can he be dead? You ask yourself for the millionth time. How could someone that good… be gone?

On the day he removed the demons that possessed and tormented you for so long, you vowed to follow him to the ends of the earth.

You just never expected the end to come so quickly…and in Jerusalem.

“How will we move the stone?” Someone asks, snatching you back to the present.

You’d been blindly following the group in a trance of disbelief, despair, and devastation.

How will we move the stone? You wonder, your forehead furrowing. Panic begins to rise. We must be allowed to anoint his body! You think as your heart begins to race. Blood pounds loudly in your ears.

From the front of the cluster of your friends, Joanna gasps loudly and stops so quickly that Salome bumps into her and you bump into Salome. The other women behind you crowd close.

“Look!” Joanna’s voice is barely above a whisper.

Glancing past the women in front of you, you see it. But you don’t believe it. You squint and blink against the sun just beginning to rise over the tombs.

The stone has already been rolled away…

The empty tomb/Image Credit: istockphoto

Readings for the fourth week of March

*As you read each account, note similarities and differences.  How does each writer describe the events?  How are they similar and how are they different?  How do the different perspectives give you a fuller picture of the event?

**Always pay special attention to the things Jesus said/direct quotes.

***When you’re reading, try to imagine the scene in your head: see the people, hear the sounds, inhale the smells. Visualize the events happening as clearly as something you’ve witnessed with your own eyes. For example, with the arrest in the garden, see the soldiers’ torchlight dancing off their armor, hear the worried voices of the disciples as they realize what the soldiers have come to do…imagine you are there in the scene as it unfolds.

Sunday – Jesus resurrects and appears to various people. 

READ:

  • Matthew 28:1-20
  • Mark 16:1-9
  • Luke 24:1-53
  • John 20:1-31

Other Accounts of Jesus’ Appearances after His Resurrection

Optional Reading

READ:

  • John 21:1-25

The remaining 11 disciples speak with Jesus before he ascends.  Soon after that, the disciples return to the upper room (where the Last Supper was held) for a prayer meeting. 

Jesus ascends into heaven. Image Credit: pinimg.com

Optional Reading

  • Acts 1:1-14

Everything we have read about Jesus’ Passion week should point us to Jesus, the cross, salvation, and penitence. It should make it even more grateful for what he did and what it means in our lives.

During the week, reread the verses as many times as possible. Try to read them in different translations as well. Also, read commentary on these verses. Listen to them on a Bible app that will read them aloud. This will help you visualize everything and write the events on your heart. Journal your thoughts on the questions to consider above. Share our survey of events with a friend so you can discuss together what God is showing you as you pray and read.

I pray the Lord will show you something fresh in these familiar stories as you prepare your heart for His resurrection.

Image Credit: elevatechristiannetwork.com

How have you been impacted by studying accounts of Easter events in the 4 Gospels? I would love to hear about your experience reading about Easter week.

*Along with the Bible verses listed above, the following articles helped inform the narrative at the beginning of this study:

https://www.gotquestions.org/anointing-spices.html

https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/678-the-sweet-fragrance-of-a-subtle-argument

https://godasagardener.com/2016/03/25/aloe-and-myrrh-wrapped-body/

What To Do if You Want to Hear From God

Have you ever asked any of these questions:

  • Does God have anything to say to me?
  • Is God trying to tell me something?
  • How do I know if God is speaking to me?

The short answers are:

  • He does.
  • He is.
  • Learn to hear His voice.
Image Credit: tounearth.com

Yes. God speaks to His children in a million different ways and about many different things.

Why should we care about hearing from God?

That’s easy…so we can bring glory to His name by being obedient to His will.

How do we know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, when He speaks and what He says?

The answer to that question is both simple and complicated. The simple answer is – we have to be familiar with His voice.

The complicated part is HOW we become familiar with His voice. (But it’s only complicated because we make it that way).

We become familiar with His voice the same way we learn anyone’s voice: by listening to Him speak.

  • Walk and talk with Him.
  • Pray to Him.
  • Read His Word.

You probably know about those. If you’ve been to church or to a Bible study or Sunday school, it’s likely someone has told you those things. But there is another way to learn to hear from God, to familiarize yourself with His voice:

Work with Him.

That’s what Samuel did in 1 Samuel 3:1a – “Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli”. The Bible doesn’t say exactly what Samuel was doing, but we know he was helping in the temple in some way. And one night, the Lord called to Samuel by name…

Image Credit: bible.com

I want that. Don’t you? I want to hear God calling my name. So, I want to know, How do we minister to God?

When we minister, we give help, serve, offer ourselves or our services. When we minister, we are sent to others, we supply something to meet a need, provide something, attend to someone, take care of someone, show care or concern for someone…

That tells me, if we’re ready to hear from God, we need to be in His service – attending to Him, caring for Him, helping Him. This means that we serve others. In serving others, we serve God. In ministering to others, we minister to God.

When we are God’s hands and feet in the world, when we work with Him, we will start to hear from Him. We will hear from Him and talk with Him so much, we will know His voice when He calls us.

Image Credit: pinimg.com

How can you serve God where you are right now? In your family? In your circle of friends? At your job? At your child’s school? Ask God to show you what to do, where to go, and how to minister to Him by ministering to others. Then, be ready to listen to what He has to say to you while you work.

Guided Prayer:

Lord,

Thank you for choosing me and making me your child. Thank you for desiring a relationship with me. Thank you for loving me so much that you sent your Son to die for me.

Forgive me when I don’t honor that sacrifice. Forgive me when I don’t glorify your name with my life.

Help me to bring you glory, Lord. Show me what it is you want me to do to minister to others. Show me how to care for you by caring for others. Show me where to serve. Show me where to help. Show me where to minister. I want to hear your voice, Lord. I want to be in service to you.

Amen

Shift the Focus

A panicked shriek broke through the den of otherwise happy sounds bouncing off the gym walls. I turned to see two boys sprawled on the floor, one of them red-faced and screaming. As I walked toward them, one boy picked himself off the floor, shot a half-concerned half-confused look at the other one (still lying on the floor and screaming) and walked off.

I crouched down beside the boy on the floor. He was clutching one hand tightly in the other. He was so upset, he could barely make a sound although his head was thrown back, his mouth was open wide, and tears were streaming down his face. I gathered him in my arms. “Did you hurt your hand when you fell?”

“I…want…mommy!” He managed between gulps of air. I hugged him tightly and sat in a nearby chair. The rest of his classmates played jubilantly around us. (I teach a 4-year-old preschool class, and it was very cold and wet from a few rainy days in a row, so we had our play time inside our gym).

We sat on the chair together while he gasped for breath and cried. I rubbed his back. He continued to hold his hand so tightly the end of his fingers turned purple.

“Let me see your hand. Can you show me where it hurts?”

“I want mommy!” He insisted.

From what I could tell, nothing was terribly wrong with his hand. I didn’t see the accident, but I saw the two boys running at full speed around the gym earlier, so I assumed they’d somehow collided and fallen. This little guy had put his hand out to catch himself or maybe the other little guy landed on this one’s hand. Whatever happened, he worked himself into a tizzy about it.

We continued to sit. Me rubbing his back and him crying, although not as fiercely as before.

After a while, I noticed one of his classmates (the same little boy who’d gotten tangled up with him just a few moments earlier) skipping past us singing, “Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy Valentine’s Day! Do-de-do. Do-de-do”.

Taking the opportunity to distract the upset kiddo in my lap, I said, “Did you hear what he’s singing? I think he made that up. Have you heard that song before?” I made an exaggerated confused face.

My friend in my lap giggled.

The classmate made another loop. Still skipping and singing his made-up Valentine’s Day song.

“That is so funny!” I grinned at my injured friend. “Listen. He’s STILL singing his made-up song!”

The little boy giggled again, this time with his eyes and his face 🙂

The singing boy caught on to the fact that we were listening to him. He skipped in a tighter circle around us and sang louder, “Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy Valentine’s Day! Do-de-do. Do-de-do”. He watched us watch him and giggled mischievously.

I sang along and bounced the little boy on my lap. He laughed loudly. His eyes were still wet, but his face was lit with a smile. He hopped from my lap and ran off with his friend, starting another lap around the gym.

Most anyone who has experience with children will tell you, if they’re upset, distraction is a good strategy. (If they aren’t seriously hurt, of course).

If you can get them to focus on another person (another kid playing and having a good time or doing something silly), many times, they’ll forget their minor scrap or bump or pouty attitude, and voila! They’re off playing again.

This is what God wants us to do when we get bogged down in our own lives – focus on someone else. He wants us to take our attention off ourselves and our circumstances and put other people and their needs first.

Image Credit: Knowing Jesus

When we focus on others, we forget about our own problems – just like my friend forgot about his hurt hand when he focused on the other little boy’s song. And that’s part of the point. So many verses tell us to love our neighbors, love our enemies, put others above ourselves, love because God loves and love because He told us to do so. (This is just a small taste of the verses that tell us to put others first). So there’s gotta be something to this logic, right?!

Image Credit: dailyverses.net

More importantly, putting others first puts God first. When we look to the interests of others before we look to our own, God is glorified. And that’s the WHOLE point.

How to Love God

I love LOVE! There, I said it.

I especially love the idea of romantic love – I have since I can remember. I am a hopeless romantic.

Image Credit: Introvert, Dear

But, since I surrendered my life to Christ, He has taught me that I don’t know anything about love. I thought it was something I was supposed to feel. An overwhelming, all-consuming emotion. It was supposed to make me happy and giddy and forever excited to see the person who was the object of my love.

While some of that isn’t totally inaccurate, it’s only one side of the story.

I have learned that a Christian’s love should focus on God above anyone or anything else; He is the primary object of our love.

We express our love for Him by being obedient to how He said to live and by demonstrating love to other people.

God is love; therefore, Christians are love.

Many would argue that Christians aren’t love. Some of the people you’ve met proclaiming to be Christians weren’t loving. I can’t and won’t dispute that. I’ve met plenty of people proclaiming to be Christians who didn’t act loving either. Heck! I proclaim to be a Christian but don’t always show love well.

God doesn’t call us to worry about those other people as much as He calls us to do better ourselves.

Loving others is our command, and we have to do better at it.

It seems like it would help if we focus on the right thing first: God.

How do we focus on God? How do we love God?

Scripture says we must be obedient to Him.

Image Credit: Pinimg.com

Jesus tells us plainly in scripture that if we love him, we will keep him commandments. (John 14:15).

All.of.them.

Both practically – living them out – and conceptually – keeping our hearts and minds pure, too. (Matthew 5:27-28 gave an example of this).

Obviously, humans cannot do this on our own.

But it’s our purpose in life to keep our focus on God as much as we can. To pray to Him to help us focus on Him and to ask forgiveness when we don’t do it.

Be obedient.

Keep His commandments.

Live like He told us to live.

Pray.

Study the Bible.

Wait for His return.

Love other people.

This is what the Bible says about demonstrating our love for God.

But, exactly how do we do that?

I don’t know. We’ve got to talk to God it.

He’s given us the basics in His Word. He expects us to study it.

Then, we go to Him in prayer for the specifics – for how each individual person is to live out the commands.

It will look different for each person based on where you are in life right now.

He may ask you to be obedient by leaving a job.

by starting a job.

…by moving.

…by starting a ministry.

…by befriending someone.

…by trusting Him with your finances.

…by seeking Him about your relationships.

…by helping someone you don’t know.

by forgiving someone you don’t want to forgive.

by sacrificing your time for someone else.

…by spending more time in prayer and Bible study.

…by taking on a new responsibility at church.

…by stepping out of a responsibility at church.

Only through time in prayer with God can you discover how He has ordained that you should obey Him and show Him love. Spend that time with Him and with His Word and find out what He has for you to do.