The Resurrected redeemer

Were you there—when He rose up from the grave?

10. The Resurrected Redeemer

 9. Saul who becomes PaulIndex | Homepage

2 Corinthians 5:14–21; Romans 14:7–9; 1 Corinthians 6:1920 (NIV)

2 Corithians 5:14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no  longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no-one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Romans 14:7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself
alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.

The Resurrected Redeemer

The focus of our attention

Imagine a guest of honour being ignored at a dinner specially given for him.

So often we ignore Jesus on His ‘special’ occasions and instead focus and talk about so many other things, except Him. We talk about ourselves, our jobs, our finances, our sports teams, our entertainments and pleasures, and many other things—some of which are not wrong in themselves. But, even on what we regard as His ‘special, days’, many people rarely concentrate on Jesus. So, the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection is not shared as it should be with non-Christians, who desperately need Jesus. And Christians are not as helped and encouraged as they should be by fellowship, and discussion about the Bible and about God.

This book has focused on people at the cross who saw Jesus die, and on those who met Jesus after the resurrection. Obviously, Jesus is the one who is always involved, but now we will focus our attention on our ‘resurrected Redeemer’ Himself. He always must be the number one in our lives even though we obviously have to deal with many other necessary matters in life too.

If you know Jesus as your Saviour, you know we will be in Heaven with Him. When you get there, you will discover that Jesus is Heaven’s focal point as ‘Worthy is the Lamb’ rings out in joy and triumph. But let us centre our thoughts and worship on Him here on earth too, whenever we can.

Our approach in this final chapter is very simple and, I hope, will prove helpful. We are going to consider something about Jesus Himself contained in the other nine chapters of Part 2 where we explored the resurrection.

We started in Chapter 1 to establish some biblical principles about the cross and resurrection, and then glean from each chapter something about who Jesus is, and what He does and has done. Our main focus is not now on the people who saw Jesus die on the cross or met Him after He rose from the grave. It is mainly on our cruelly crucified Saviour who did rise again in great triumph from the grave. We will have a ‘Focus’ on Him from each chapter in Part 2.

Focus 1. Setting the Scene to focus on our ‘resurrected Redeemer’

We have heard read Romans 14:79 and 2 Corinthians 5:1421. Both passages move from the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, to what that means to us and what we should do about it. We do not look at Christ’s death and rising again as an antique collector looks at an antique mirror in a shop. We look into the mirror of God’s word, see Him there, and see ourselves and how we should respond to ‘the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20; see also Galatians 1:4 and Titus 2:4). You may still need to come to know the Lord Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour. If you have already trusted Christ, your response may well be to worship Him, thank Him, say and mean ‘Sorry’ to Him and repent. We all need to ask Him to be Lord of our lives day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, and moment by moment.

From Romans 14:79, when we see that Jesus has bought us for Himself and for our salvation, we follow by grace in His loving footsteps. Just as He did not please Himself, so we are to ‘live to the Lord’ and one day ‘die to the Lord.’ He deserves to be our Lord: we do not deserve to be His servants, but by grace we are. ‘We belong to the Lord.’ Part of 1 Corinthians 5:1920 reiterates this theme: ‘You are not your own; you were bought at a price.’ And what a price Jesus paid! He paid that price to own, use, and bless us now and throughout eternity. That is why Romans 14:9 (for me, the key verse in the Bible) says, ‘For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.’

2 Corinthians 5:1421 tells us how our understanding of that works out. Verses 1415 provides its own commentary and reminds us, ‘For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.’

One hymn challenges us with the words:

‘All for Jesus. All for Jesus.
All my being’s ransomed powers.’

Remember 1 Corinthians 6:1920, ‘You are not your own … you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body’ and another version adds, ‘and in your spirit, which are God’s.’

2 Corinthians 5:16 reminds us that we do not now regard Jesus in the same way that the world regards its heroes such as Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Churchill, Roosevelt, Einstein or Kennedy. Jesus, of course, outperforms all of them—He is sinless, perfect and also the incarnate God, so it really is no contest! But we do not see Him now just as a man doing amazing miracles and giving unbeatable teaching. We now see our ‘resurrected Redeemer’ from the point of view of the spiritual blessing of salvation. He gives that to all who turn from sin and trust in Him. The gospel changes each of us who put our trust in His shed blood. He was judged for our sins, rose and lives forever. ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.’ Through His death and resurrection, He begins to change us entirely from the inside out when we receive Him!

But our ‘resurrected Redeemer’ is the Reconciler! He took humanity’s hand with one nail-pierced hand, and God’s Divine hand with His other. He has brought together the omnipotent, holy God with unworthy sinners who repent and believe in Him. Jesus wants others to be reconciled to God too, in order to save them from Hell and spend Heaven with them. He also wants reconciled sinners to be reconcilers. With His gift of eternal life, He has given us ‘the ministry of reconciliation’ and told us how to do it! Verses 2021, ‘We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him, who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.’ We should keep that aim constantly in mind and ‘Just do it.’ Others need to hear the gospel from your lips, in exactly the same way that you needed to hear it from those who told you to turn from the wrong in your life and ask God for forgiveness and Christ to enter your life.

Focus 2. Learn about our ‘resurrected Redeemer’ from the women

We might think that these brave, faithful, kind, generous and loving women, who we met in Chapter 2 of Part 2 of this book, would not only be at the cross when Jesus died, but later would also meet the ‘resurrected Redeemer.’ I think we would all say that they deserved that. More surprisingly, their kind actions and careful planning become a strong strand of evidence to show that Jesus really died and then rose bodily again from the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. So never underestimate the ‘co-lateral’ value of loving and kind attention and service to and for Jesus, such as these women showed both at the cross and at the empty tomb, and through encouraging other Christians who were struggling.

One thing about our ‘resurrected Redeemer’ really strikes me here. It shows that Jesus cares for each individual. He knows our names. If you trust in Him as your Saviour, your name is on His Heavenly register, known as ‘the Lamb’s book of life’ (Revelation 21:27). It is by far the most important register to have your name on.

I am bad at remembering names, but I know how positively some people respond when I do remember their name correctly. (That is especially so in prisons.) Jesus, of course, is good at names and everything else! He knows how we all like to be recognised by name, especially by someone we admire greatly. I recall a ministers’ conference where, in the dark, a well-known American preacher and teacher, the guest speaker at the conference, walked past a relatively ‘unknown’ and unseen man who was talking to some friends. This preacher reaches thousands each week, so could easily forget the names of some relatively ‘unknown’ people. (None of us are unknown to the Lord, of course!) Out of the dark night the friendly American drawl sounded, ‘Is that you, Michael?’ (Not his real name.) ‘Michael’ recognised the speaker’s voice, as he often listened to him preach on the ’Web’ and knew him well. That greeting really perked him up!

That was just another man lovingly greeting a friend however well-known and gifted he was. But picture Mary Magdalene in John 20:16. She went in early morning darkness to the tomb to treat Jesus’ body with spices. She earlier saw Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus place Jesus’ body in that tomb. The tomb is now open and empty, except for the graveclothes, and the guards have left. She goes to tells Simon Peter and John that someone has taken Jesus’ corpse. The two men run to the tomb. They inspect it. There is no body in the tomb. Mary weeps outside the empty tomb. Where have they taken her Lord? She sees and talks with the two angels, explaining her confusion and sadness. She turns round and sees someone she thinks is the gardener. He seems to have appeared suddenly from nowhere. She does not recognise him as Jesus. Maybe her tears make it hard for her to see, or perhaps Jesus hides His identity. But it is the risen Jesus! The supposed gardener asks, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Mary fails to recognise Jesus, even when He speaks to her. She says ‘Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.’

Then Jesus says to her one word that changes everything—not because of the word itself, but because of who says it. Our ‘resurrected Redeemer’ says, ‘Mary.’ She replies, in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni’—meaning ‘Teacher.’ Jesus tells her not to hold Him physically as He has not yet returned to His Father—He wants her relationship with Him from now on to be solely spiritual and based on faith, not on sight or feeling. Jesus says, ‘Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’ She goes and tells them, ‘I have seen the Lord.’

That one word, ‘Mary,’ makes such a difference to her. Our Redeemer spoke to many thousands in His ministry. The gospel of His saving love will soon save 3,000 in one day at Pentecost. But He cares for one sad and confused lady and calls her by name to bless her, and at once uses her as His messenger.

Our Saviour cares for and loves individual people. That includes you! Make sure you trust and follow Him too. He not only revives you. He also wants to work with you and use you.

Focus 3. What we learn about our ‘resurrected Redeemer’ from Peter

In Chapter 3 of Part 2 as we considered Peter, we saw how the risen Lord Jesus deals with failures, like Peter. Just as the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time’ (Jonah 3:1), after the prophet had disobeyed God and fled from his duty, so Jesus personally restores Peter, recommissions him, empowers him and mightily uses him. Peter did not become perfect overnight—and neither will you until you get to Heaven! But he was blessed. His fellowship with God and with his fellow Christians was restored. His influence on others, through the Holy Spirit of course, was immense.

Have you stumbled or given up? Pray David’s Psalm 51 and keep on keeping on. Your ‘resurrected Redeemer’ has never left you and never will!

Focus 4. What we can learn from the two travellers about our ‘resurrected Redeemer’

The two travellers, going from Jerusalem to Emmaus, feature in Part 2, Chapter 4.

They met the disguised ‘resurrected Redeemer’ and walk with Him until they stop for a meal. When He breaks bread, they recognise Him and then He vanishes from their sight. But He does something very basic and helpful for them, and still does it today for us. He still blesses us today in the same way.

Although He is resurrected, He does not just use ‘resurrection power’ to help them. He goes straight to the written word of God and explains to them from the Scriptures all the things in there which are about Him—the prophecies, promises and pictures of Him in other Old Testament events. This is what the ‘resurrected Redeemer’ does for those who know Him. He does that today, too. God does not use a ‘hotline’ to speak to us. He continues to speak to us from His written word. But now we have the New Testament as well as the Old Testament, which together form our Bible. Jesus uses the Old Testament to help the travellers. Old and New were both written by men of God but, far more important, were written without fault under the influence and inspiration of God the Holy Spirit. These two men had been miserable, downcast, and had lost hope. That was all because after Jesus died, they forgot His clear promises that He would be raised from the dead. But Jesus has just opened the word of God to them. He has also opened their eyes of understanding and their hearts. They are changed by that. They now want to tell the disciples they have met the risen Jesus. They go and do so. What a difference it makes to meet and trust Jesus, the ‘resurrected Redeemer.’ That blessing continues for us each day as we pray to God to open the Bible to us, to help us understand it, and to put it into practice.

Focus 5. How the disciples relate to our ‘resurrected Redeemer’

There are many disciples who meet the risen Redeemer. Chapter 5 of Part 2 details what those occasions are, and that will not be repeated now. Instead we will consider one important thing about our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ today, based on an important principle we see about the disciples. It is simple but particularly important. It covers three situations: first, disciples all in one group; second, disciples in twos and threes and smaller groups; and third, individual disciples on their own.

It is simply this.

You will not be a blessing to other ‘disciples’ of Jesus—and remember, all committed born-again people are ‘disciples’—unless you are personally surrendered to Christ each day. That includes staying close to Him by having your daily quiet time of prayer and reading and meditating on the Bible. Do not miss a day!

If you cultivate fellowship with individual Christians, preferably men with men, and women with women, such as twos and threes or even bigger, that will help you immensely and help you to bless others. Our closest friends should be our fellow Christians. So why not agree to meet up and pray with one or two you know belong to the Lord. Where there are only two or three Christians meeting, Jesus is there. He is the living ‘resurrected Redeemer’ and will never leave us alone or forsake us. He is ‘Immanuel’—that means ‘God with us.’

But we Christians need to all meet together as believers in our churches and fellowships, and not forsake that, as some do (Hebrews 10:26). The illustration often used is that a fire will glow for a long time, but if you take one glowing coal off the fire and put it in the hearth, it will go dim and cold very much sooner. God meant us to worship together and to fellowship together so we can keep our spiritual warmth and glow together. If you are going on with the Lord, you will also meet regularly with your fellow believers. The Lord’s Day, Sunday, is a God-given opportunity to concentrate on Jesus, His work on the cross, and His risen life together in worship. On weekdays, get to the Bible studies whenever possible, as you strengthen and help each other. Go to the prayer meetings too. It is said that ‘those who pray together, stay together.’

Disciples need all of this concentration on going on with our ‘resurrected Redeemer’ and winning others for Him.

Focus 6. What James teaches us about our ‘resurrected Redeemer’

We learn a lot about the influence of the crucified, but risen, Jesus Christ when we focus on His physical brother, James, who became His spiritual brother too! We look at the facts in Chapter 6 of Part 2. Now we concentrate on James’ brother, the Lord Jesus Christ.

There are two families we can be involved in: our physical family of mother, father, and however many children are involved. That is God’s only kind of physical family—one man, one woman, married for life, caring for and training up any children who come along. Do you remember that James and Jude were in that kind of family with Jesus? But they were not then Christians. We can only get to know Jesus spiritually, and be in His family, if we become ‘born again.’ But Jesus wants us to win our families for Christ. So, live a godly and loving life for God at home.

We need to realise that our spiritual family can only be entered because Jesus has ‘redeemed’ us, that is, He bought us back from our sins by taking our punishment on the cross, and because we have received Him spiritually in our lives by the Holy Spirit. That can only be because He conquered sin in His death on the cross and overcame the grave when He rose from it!

Members of our physical family may oppose family members who insist that they also must be ‘born again’—but that is what Jesus taught. But when members of the physical family trust in Jesus they become one with everyone else from their family who trust Jesus. Even those who once opposed Jesus, often come to love Him and revere Him as their Saviour and Lord. It is a great testimony to God’s grace that James, who like his physical family resisted Jesus, now follows Him closely and treats Him with loving reverence and respect. It is James’ servant-heartedness that helps him become a good leader. That is because of his relationship with his ‘resurrected Redeemer.’

Focus 7. ‘More than five hundred brothers’ with one ‘resurrected Redeemer’

We now consider a simple reminder here from Part 2, Chapter 7. It is that, while Jesus cares for and saves individual sinners one by one, He also has a heart for the crowds to know Him. Over 500 brothers meet Christ at the same time. Whether or not they were brothers in Christ when the 500-plus men first met together, we do not know. They certainly were ‘brothers’ in Christ by the time Paul wrote about them to the Corinthian church.

Our ‘resurrected Redeemer’ had compassion on the crowd. He saw them as a shepherdless flock. Matthew 6:34 tells us that Jesus once ‘saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So, he began teaching them many things’ (Matthew 6:34). It is highly significant that Jesus’ response to their need was to teach them His truth. We still need to know and use God’s word to fight falsehood, as did our ‘resurrected Redeemer.’ This lost crowd had no direction, no protection and could easily be prey to predators.

Similarly today crowds of people who are without Jesus as their Shepherd and Saviour lack purpose, are open to life’s problems without having Christ to help them through, and can be influenced by false teachers who will lead them not to Heaven but to Hell. Jesus said, in Mark 7:15, that those ‘false prophets’ are like ‘ferocious’ wolves in sheep’s clothing. He said we should ‘watch out’ for them. Never underestimate the vicious damage to lives that false teaching can bring. Urge people to know Christ and search the Scriptures humbly and daily, with the prayer that God the Holy Spirit will guide and bless.

May our ‘resurrected Redeemer’ give us the heart to reach many and the love and ability to lead individuals to faith in Christ, and to go on with Him. May He give us His grace to help us to get to know His word better and to teach it simply and clearly to others.

Focus 8. How ‘Doubting’ Thomas is blessed by our ‘resurrected Redeemer’

We learn something important about the Lord Jesus’ gospel priorities through Thomas coming to the point where he can say of Christ crucified and risen from the dead, ‘My Lord and my God.’ In 1 Corinthians 15:34 Paul insists that ‘what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.’ Did you notice that the risen Christ’s gospel is built on three main foundations: first that ‘Christ died for our sins;’ second that ‘He was raised on the third day;’ and third, that both of those are consistent with what the Bible both proclaims and prophesies, in other words, the death of Jesus on the cross and His new life after His resurrection are both ‘according to the Scriptures.’ In the case of ‘doubting’ Thomas we see how that works out in practice.

We all know Thomas is a born doubter. He declares His doubts openly to others after they say that Jesus appeared to his fellow disciples when Thomas was not present. Then, eight days later, Thomas joins with the disciples again and Jesus enters through a closed door in full view of all the disciples including Thomas. Thomas sees the nail prints of crucifixion that Jesus suffered, and declares ‘My Lord and my God.’ So, what has our risen Lord done? By showing His hands, feet and pierced side to them, Jesus effectively proclaims His crucifixion. By being there and entering through the closed door He demonstrates that He is risen. Here is an acted outworking of the two main tenets of the gospel, Christ’s substitutionary death and the miraculous resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know these were predicted in Scripture’s prophecies (for example, Isaiah 52:13 — 54:12) and they were fulfilled exactly as stated. Here is history written in advance.

As we saw with the two travellers, the risen Jesus did not use His exceptional resurrection power to prove His point by ‘zapping’ them! He went straight back to the Scriptures to back up His death and resurrection. That is a huge lesson to learn from our ‘resurrected Redeemer:’ ‘Preach the Word’ (1 Timothy 4:2).

We also see that Jesus’ sense of timing is always perfect and dovetails perfectly with God the Father’s will. After the first appearance of Jesus to the disciples without Thomas, the Lord gives Thomas eight days to think things through, as God the Holy Spirit works on Him. Then when the resurrected Jesus appears, Thomas is ready to see the evidence for the resurrection and trust in Christ. God controls His own timetable. Psalm 31:15 says, ‘My times are in your hands.’

Focus 9. How our ‘resurrected Redeemer’ causes Saul to become Paul

Many books have been written about how the risen Lord Jesus revealed Himself to others through the conversion, life, preaching, teaching and service of the apostle Paul. But to conclude this last chapter of Part 2, I am only going to look briefly at a small part of Acts 26:9–18, to see what the risen Jesus does on that Emmaus Road to cause Saul to become Paul. God, who changes Saul’s name and nature, can change your name (to ‘Christian’) and nature (by your being born again and thus becoming a new creation in Christ).

We know it is the Lord Jesus who appears to Saul, prostrates him, talks to him, and saves him. How do we know? Verse 15 Jesus says, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’ This is in reply to Saul’s asking Him, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ after he, and his companions were dazzled by a staggeringly bright light, were thrown to the ground, and the voice asked, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

How does our ‘resurrected Redeemer’ appear to Saul?

How does our ‘resurrected Redeemer’ appear to Saul? In a dazzling bright light from heaven, blazing around his companions and himself. God the Son, the Creator, is brighter and more powerful even than the sun He made. No other religious leader dare say that! The glory of Jesus is the glory of God, simply because He is God.

God is at work when our risen Lord and Saviour is at work:

  • By a voice from Heaven reaching down to earth. As the Lord of Heaven and earth, our ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’ speaks from His heavenly home to the world from which He seeks to save sinners from sin, death and Hell.
  • By replying to sincere questions, even from this extreme rebel who has venomously hated Christ and His people. Our risen Lord wants to save His enemies, and He will if they repent from sin and trust in Him.
  • By working on sinners’ consciences. For Saul, the pricking of his conscience under God’s influence will drive him forward to turn from his sins and trust and serve Jesus. Note that Jesus says it is hard for Saul to ‘kick against the goads.’ The word is ‘goads’ not just ‘goad.’ There were many occasions when God worked on Saul’s conscience. Do you have a nagging conscience over sin? If so, confess it, forsake it, and seek Christ’s cleansing and restoration. Do it now!
  • By giving promises of His good and gracious dealings to the man about to become a Christian.
  • By giving Him the most important task in the world—to turn sinners from Satan’s power, to open their eyes and enlighten them, to rescue them from Satan’s power, to know forgiveness, and to enable them to receive an eternal inheritance in Heaven along with all others who are Christ’s by faith.

The most fitting sentence to complete this book is from the timeless hymn, ‘Man of Sorrows’. It is:

‘Hallelujah! What a Saviour!’