The Shaking of the Earth In Death, The Shaking of the Earth In Resurrection

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament narrative concerning the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ—which is the Church—as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the ninth and tenth chapters of this New Testament book. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find one of the most pivotal and crucial moments in all of Church history, for it is within this particular text we find the narrative concerning Saul of Tarsus beginning to take shape and beginning to take center stage within the book of Acts. As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face with what is not only one of the most crucial and pivotal moments within church history, but also within the growth of the early Church during the days after the day of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Spirit. I would absolutely love to know how much time elapsed from those three and a half years Jesus the Christ walked upon the face of the earth and the narrative of Saul of Tarsus beginning. We know that Saul of Tarsus is first mentioned in the opening chapter of the eighth chapter of this New Testament book, and yet I can’t hep but wonder how much time passed and how much time had elapsed from the resurrection of Jesus the Christ until the appearing of the resurrected—and not only the resurrected, but also the ascended and glorified Jesus the Christ—unto Saul of Tarsus as he journeyed on the road to Damascus. How much time elapsed from the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ unto the right hand of the Father until His appearance unto Saul of Tarsus as he journeyed from the city of Jerusalem unto the city of Damascus with letters and orders to bring back to Jerusalem those who were followers of the way, and those who were followers of the Lord Jesus the Christ? How much time had passed from the day of Pentecost which was recorded in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts to the time of the Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing unto Saul of Tarsus while traveling and journeying on the road to Damascus? Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear how much time had elapsed from the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ until his appearing unto Saul of Tarsus while traveling on the road to Damascus, and yet I find it absolutely incredible that the resurrected, the ascended and the glorified Jesus would indeed appear unto Saul of Tarsus while he was traveling and journeying along the road to Damascus.

            The more I read the New Testament narrative of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke the more I can’t help but be brought face to face with the tremendous truth that in the opening chapter we find the resurrected and ascended Jesus the Christ as He would not only be raised from death to life and show Himself alive to upwards of five hundred at a single time. In the opening chapter of the New Testament narrative written by the beloved physician Luke we find and read the resurrected Jesus the Christ who would show Himself alive unto the twelve apostles—and not only unto the twelve apostles, but perhaps unto a minimum of one-hundred and twenty disciples and followers at a single time. We know from the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints that after Jesus had risen from the grave He showed Himself alive unto upwards of five hundred at one time—many of whom were still alive at the time of the writing of that epistles. I continue to find it absolutely incredible that while Jesus showed Himself alive after being raised from the grave to upwards of five hundred men at a single time there were only one-hundred and twenty which were present in the upper room. The more I think about and consider this the more I can’t help but find myself asking and wondering where the other three-hundred and eighty souls were. If Jesus showed Himself alive unto five hundred men at one time and if there were only one-hundred and twenty who were present in the upper room than I can’t help but wonder where the other three-hundred and eighty were. If there were that many who saw, witnessed and beheld the risen and resurrected Jesus the Christ—why then would there only be one-hundred and twenty who were present in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. What would and what could have caused and prevented these three hundred and eighty souls from joining the one-hundred and twenty which were present in the upper room, and thus not experiencing that initial outpouring and release of the Holy Spirit?

            I sit here right now thinking about and considering the words and language that is found in the opening chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, and I find myself thinking about and considering the powerful truth that within this opening chapter—not only do we find and see the resurrected Jesus the Christ showing Himself very much alive, but we also find the ascended Christ. It is within the first chapter of the New Testament narrative of the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ we find written and recorded the account of the resurrected Jesus the Christ showing Himself alive unto His disciples and followers—and not only His showing Himself alive after His resurrection, but also ascending unto the right hand of the Father in heaven. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that although there was none among those who were present at the mount of Olives who saw Jesus rise from the grave, nor any who witnessed the stone being rolled away and Jesus emerging from the grave, it was indeed true that there were those who would indeed and would in fact see, witness and behold Jesus ascend unto the right hand of the Father. There were indeed those who would see, witness and behold the death and crucifixion of Jesus the Christ, and there were those who would indeed see the burial of Jesus after His lifeless body was taken down from the cross after hanging there for six hours. It’s interesting to note that while there were eyewitnesses to the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ, while there were eyewitnesses to the burial of Jesus the Christ, and while there were even eyewitnesses to the ascension of Jesus the Christ, there were no eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. We know how there were those women who entered into the garden and who came to the tomb and saw the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. We know that the apostle Peter and the apostle John made haste to come unto the tomb after they had heard report of the stone being rolled away, the grave clothes remaining in the tomb, and yet the body of Jesus the Christ being absent from the midst of the tomb. We know that Mary was the first to actually see Jesus alive after He had been raised by the Spirit from death to life, however, even with all of this being said there was not a single soul who was actually an eyewitness to the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. The crucifixion of Jesus the Christ was a very public act which would take place within and upon the earth, and the burial of Jesus the Christ was a very public act which those would see, witness and behold as the lifeless body of Jesus within the grave clothes would be laid within the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.

            The more I think about and consider this reality and truth the more I can’t help but be brought face to face with the reality that the crucifixion and burial of Jesus was very much a public event as there would be those who would witness both the crucifixion, as well as the burial of Jesus the Christ in the garden. What’s more, is that even the ascension of Jesus the Christ was a very public event, as there would be those whom Jesus would lead to the mount of Olives where He would not only deliver unto them final instructions before He returned unto the Father, but also where He would ascend unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven. It’s something worth thinking about and considering when reading the New Testament book of Acts, for while the crucifixion and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ was indeed very much public before the eyes of those that would behold it—the resurrection itself would be a personal and private work. Oh I can’t help but think to myself and consider that while Jesus did indeed show Himself alive unto the apostles, and while Jesus did indeed show Himself alive unto upwards of five hundred AFTER He had been raised from death to life, there was not a single soul who was present at the tomb who witnessed and beheld Jesus rise from the grave. Oh we do know that there were guards stationed at the tomb, and we know that they were stationed there to guard and protect the body of Jesus from those who would seek to come unto the tomb, remove His body, and then declare that Jesus had indeed risen from the grave. We know that there were indeed Roman guards which were stationed and positioned at the tomb, however, when the angels descended from heaven and rolled away the stone the guards which were stationed there fell to the ground as dead men. I would dare say that even though the guards were stationed there at the tomb when Jesus was raised from death to life by the Spirit they would not and did not actually behold His being raised from death to life, nor did they witness and behold His being brought forth from the grave.

            I sit here and think about the awesome and powerful truth and reality concerning the resurrection of Jesus the Christ and how although Jesus would indeed show Himself very much alive after He was raised from death to life—there would not be a single individual who would actually witness and behold the act of resurrection. We know that each of the four gospel narratives speaks to and reveals the resurrection of Jesus the Christ, and we know the beloved physician Luke presents us with the truth of Jesus showing Himself alive in the opening chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. We also know that the entire fifteenth chapter of the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints is dedicated to the resurrection of Jesus—and not only dedicated to the resurrection of Jesus, but also dedicated to the reality that because He was raised from death to life, so also can we be raised from death to life, and so also can we experience the transformation of our physical bodies at the time of the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. While it was indeed true that there would be those who would indeed and would in fact witness and behold the resurrected Jesus the Christ after He had been raised from death to life, there was not a single man in the flesh who actually witnessed and beheld that resurrection. This is quite interesting when you think about and consider it in light of what is found in the New Testament book of Acts, for in the opening chapter of this book we find ourselves witnessing a number of disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ interacting with Him after His resurrection and after He showed Himself alive among them during those days after the resurrection. What’s more, is that during the first and opening chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we also find those who accompanied and were present with Jesus at the mount of Olives witnessed and beheld Jesus the Christ ascend unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven. There were those who were with the resurrected Jesus the Christ who would watch, witnessed and behold as He was lifted and taken up from among them into heaven before a cloud hid Him from their sight. With this being said we must also recognize that within this New Testament book of Acts there would be two other men who would see, witness and behold—not only the resurrected Jesus the Christ, but also the ascended Jesus the Christ. In the seventh chapter we find Stephen looking up into the heavens and see the Son of God standing at the right hand of the Father, while in the ninth chapter we find the apostle Paul experiencing the resurrected and ascended Jesus appearing and speaking unto Him.

            It is with all of this in mind I would not only like to call and draw your attention to the words which we find in each of the four gospel narratives concerning the resurrection of the Lord Jesus the Christ—and not only the narrative concerning the resurrection of the Lord Jesus the Christ, but also concerning the ascension of Jesus as well. What’s more, is I would like to also call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the opening chapter of the New Testament book of Acts concerning the resurrection of Jesus the Christ from the grave, His showing Himself alive to upwards of five-hundred at one time, as well as His ascension unto the right hand of the Father in heaven. I would also like to call and draw your attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the opening verses of the fifteenth chapter of the first New Testament epistle written unto the Corinthian saints concerning the resurrection of Jesus the Christ—and not only the resurrection of Jesus the Christ, but also the manifestation of His being very much alive during those days after the stone had been rolled away, and during those days after He emerged from the tomb raised from death to life by the Spirit. Consider if you will the following narratives which are found in each of these passages of Scripture within the New Testament, beginning with the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

            “IN the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and His raiment white as snow: and for fear of Him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me” (Matthew 28:1-10).

            “And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: He is risen: He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him. But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into galilee: there’re shall ye see Him, as He said unto you. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid. Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalen, out of whom He had cast seven devils. And she went and told them that had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that He was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. After that He appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they say at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen” (Mark 16:1-14).

            “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen” (Mark 16:19-20).

            “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchure, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexced thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered His words, and returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass” (Luke 24:1-12).

            “And as they thus spake, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And He said unto them, Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when He had thus spoken, He shewed them His hands and His feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, He said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke24:36-49).

            “And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from then, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the Temple, praising and blessing God. Amen” (Luke 24:50-52).

            “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciples, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciples did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchure, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home” (John 20:1-10).

            “But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? Whom sleekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardner, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboin; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not: for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things unto her” (John 20:11-18).

            “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen: to whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:1-3).

            “And when He had spoken these things, while they behoeld, He was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:12-14).

            “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed” (1 Corinthians 15:1-11).

            I realize that this was a lot of Scripture to present to you within this particular writing, however, I feel it is absolutely necessary to understand that while men were witnesses of the crucifixion they were not witnesses of the resurrection. While men were indeed witnesses of the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ they were not witnesses of the resurrection. Men would witness and behold Jesus nailed to a cross and crucified upon a cruel Roman tree at Golgotha and Calvary, and men would witness and behold Jesus ascend into heaven where He would sit down at the right hand of God the Father, however, when it came to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ it would be a personal and private manifestation that would take place within and upon the earth. It’s interesting to note that while there were indeed guards that were stationed at the tomb to prevent men from coming during the night and stealing away the body of Christ and proclaiming that He had been raised from the dead, they themselves would not be witnesses to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus the Christ. They would experience the earthquake, and they would experience the manifestation of the angelic beings there at the tomb, but they would both fall as dead men there outside the tomb. What’s more, is we know that both Mary’s came unto the tomb and beheld the stone being rolled away and the body of Jesus not being present within the tomb, as well as the apostles Peter and John coming unto the tomb. We know that there were angelic messengers which came unto the tomb and that they were seen and witnessed there at the tomb, and we know that Mary would indeed see Jesus outside the tomb, however, there was absolutely no one made of flesh and blood who witnessed and beheld Jesus raised from death to life within the tomb, nor even Jesus emerge from the tomb after being dead and buried for three days.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the resurrection of Jesus the Christ—and not only the resurrection of Jesus, but also the ascension of Jesus—and how in the opening chapter of this New Testament book we find the foundation and core of the gospel which the apostles and early Church preached being that Jesus was raised from death to life after suffering and being crucified, and that He ascended unto the right hand of the Father where He would remain and abide until the appointed time when He would return unto us to gather together all His holy saints, disciples and followers. It’s quite interesting to think and consider the fact that while the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus the Christ was indeed a very public manifestation and act carried out in the earth, the resurrection of Jesus—essentially that which would ultimately reverse the suffering and death He experienced and restore Him to life—would indeed be a person and private act and manifestation that would take place in the midst of the earth. The ascension of the Lord Jesus the Christ would indeed be a very public event which would take place within and upon the earth as there would indeed by those individuals who would witness and behold as Jesus would be lifted up from among them and received into heaven as a cloud hid them from their sight. The underlying question I can’t help but ask myself and wonder is why there was no one who witnessed the resurrection of the Lord Jesus the Christ. Why in all of the text found within Scripture is there nothing that indicates and suggests there being any one made up of flesh and blood who saw, witnessed and beheld the resurrection of the Lord Jesus? Oh there were those who would witness and behold the resurrected Jesus after He had been raised from death to life and after He had emerged from the tomb, however, there would be none who would actually be present at the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark when the earthquake came upon the earth, when the stone was rolled away from the tomb, and when Jesus would indeed emerge from the tomb very much alive. Oh there might very well have been those who felt the earthquake at the time the stone was rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, however, there were none present during those days who would actually witness and behold the stone rolled away, nor even Jesus emerging from the tomb.

            FEELING THE EARTHQUAKE AND BEHOLDING THE RESURRECTED JESUS, BUT NOT WITNESSING THE RESURRECTION ITSELF! It is truly something worth noting and referencing that there would have undoubtedly been those present during these days who would have felt and experienced the earthquake and yet would not have witnessed the actual resurrection of Jesus from the dead. There would have undoubtedly been those who would have experienced the force of the earthquake, however, there wouldn’t have been anyone who would have witnessed the stone rolled away from the tomb, the Spirit raising Jesus from death to life, and Jesus emerging from the tomb. In all reality, it’s quite interesting to think about and consider this reality and concept, for although there would be those who would indeed see, witness and behold the resurrected Christ, there would be none who would actually witness the act of resurrection itself. What is even more interesting is when you think about the fact that were essentially two earthquakes which would take place three days apart from each other. There would be the initial earthquake that would take place while Jesus was still hanging upon the cross after He had declared “It is finished” and gave up the ghost, and there would be a second earthquake that would take place on the third day when the stone would be rolled away from the entrance to the tomb where Jesus’ body would lie. Stop and think about how truly incredible this is, for there would be two shakings which would take place within and upon the earth—a shaking that would be linked to the death of Christ, and a shaking that would be linked to the resurrection of Christ. There would indeed and there would in fact be a shaking that would take place when Jesus gave up the ghost after the work on the cross had been finished, and there would be a second earthquake when Jesus would be raised from death to life after the work against death, hell and the grave would be completed. There would be an earthquake that would be directly linked to the death of Christ on the cross after He had finished and completed the work appointed and ordained for Him to do there at Golgotha, and there would be a second earthquake that would be linked to the resurrection of Christ as He would emerge from the tomb having triumphed over death, hell and the grave—and not only triumphing over them, but also laying hold of the keys of death, hell and the grave.

            Taking a step in a different direction it’s worth noting and understanding that there was indeed a work that would need to be completed and performed on the cross as Jesus hung there for six hours. For three of those hours there would be a powerful and pervasive darkness that would cover the earth at that time, and I am absolutely and completely convinced that the darkness—while it might very well have been a physical and literal darkness—was a spiritual darkness as all of hell itself descended upon Golgotha to mock, jeer, ridicule and rail against Jesus the Christ as He hung there upon the cross. We know this is most likely true due to the words which the apostle Paul wrote when writing unto the Colossian saints when He spoke of Jesus triumphing over principalities and powers having spoiled them through and upon the cross. We know that there was indeed a work that was performed upon the cross of Jesus the Christ—not only a work of atonement, sacrifice, propitiation and redemption, but also a work in confronting the unseen spiritual forces that descended upon Calvary and surrounded Jesus on all sides during those three hours of darkness. Once the work upon the cross was finished, however, Jesus would declare “It is finished” and would give up the ghost. It was when Jesus gave up the ghost that there would be a great earthquake and the veil within the Temple would be rent in two. Not only would the veil in the Temple be rent in two, but so also would the graves of the righteous be opened. There would be an initial shaking that would open the graves of the righteous, and there would be a second shaking that would cause the righteous dead to come forth from the graves. Stop and think about this for a moment, for there is something truly powerful that happens when God shakes the earth. There was an initial shaking that would take place within the death of Christ—one that would open and unlock the graves of the righteous—and there would be a second shaking that would take place within the resurrection of Christ—one that would cause those whose graves had been opened to come forth within and upon the earth. What’s more, is for a period of forty days there would be a wonderful and powerful demonstration and manifestation of resurrection as not only would Lazarus move upon the earth, not only would Jesus move upon the earth, but so also would the righteous dead whose graves had been opened move upon the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful truth and reality, for there is something absolutely astounding when thinking about the death of Christ on the cross and the shaking which took place at the point of His death which would open the graves, as well as the resurrection of Jesus the Christ and the shaking which would take place—a shaking that would not only cause Jesus to come forth from His grave, but the righteous who were still in their graves.

            Although there would be no one who would personally witness the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the grave early that morning after the earth had shaken and after the stone had been rolled away there would be those who would come forth out of their graves just as Jesus would come forth out of His graves. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus would indeed be the first to come forth out of His grave, and then with His emergence from the grave all those whose graves had been opened would come forth from their graves. What’s more, is that for at least a period of forty days there would be the company and fellowship of the resurrected as Lazarus would walk upon the earth, Jesus would walk upon the earth, the only son of his mother who was a widow, Jairus’ daughter, and all those whose graves would be opened and unlocked at the death of Jesus would walk upon the earth at the same time. There would indeed be a wonderful and powerful witness of resurrection which would take place after Jesus Himself rose from the grave and walked among men, for not only would Jesus walk among men as one who was raised from the dead, but so also would Lazarus walk among men as one who was raised from death to life. Not only this, but there would be all those whose graves were opened at the shaking of Jesus’ death and who came forth at the shaking of Jesus’ resurrection would also walk upon the face of the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful reality, for there is indeed a truly wonderful truth surrounding this company of the resurrection, as there would be a fellowship of those who walked among the living as those who were brought back and restored from death to life. In all reality, I would dare say that there was not only a fellowship of the resurrected with those who had previously been dead and yet were raised from death to life, but there was also a fellowship of the resurrection with those who witnessed and experienced the resurrected Christ after He emerged from the grave. There were indeed those who partook of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ on that third day when there would be a great shaking that would cause Him to emerge from the tomb and from the grave, and there would be a witness and experience of resurrection in terms of actually beholding and handling Jesus the Christ when He emerged from the grave.

            Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly awesome and powerful reality, for in all reality there were two distinct experiences with the resurrection of Jesus the Christ when the stone was rolled away from the tomb and grave which He had been buried in. There was the initial experience of being a part of Christ’s resurrection when He himself emerged from the grave and showed Himself alive unto disciples and followers during those days, and there was a secondary experience of witnessing and beholding the resurrected Jesus the Christ. There would indeed be a powerful experience of resurrection and there would be a powerful witness of the resurrection—both of which I am absolutely and completely convinced are absolutely necessary when we think and speak about the resurrection of Christ. What I can’t help but think about and wonder is if any of those whose graves were opened at the shaking of Christ’s death, and if any of those who came forth out of those graves at the shaking of Christ’s resurrection actually witnessed and beheld the resurrected Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is I can’t help but wonder how long some of those righteous who were present within the graves were actually dead and buried in the earth. It’s truly something unique and captivating to think about and consider how at the shaking of Christ’s death graves would be opened, while at the shaking of Christ’s resurrection there would be an exodus of the righteous dead who were previously in their graves. Oh I can’t help but wonder what it was like for those righteous dead to emerge from their graves and to once more walk among men in the midst of the earth. What was it like to previously be dead and your body be buried in the midst of a tomb and grave, and yet when Jesus was resurrected from death to life you yourself were brought back to life in the midst of the earth? How absolutely powerful it must have been for those who were previously dead to emerge from their graves at the resurrection of Jesus the Christ, and to be a part of a fellowship of the resurrected ones.

            RESURRECTED AT THE SHAKING OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION! RESURRECTED AT THE APPEARING OF CHRIST’S COMING! It’s interesting and worth noting that within Scripture—not only was there a resurrection that would take place at the shaking of Christ’s resurrection, but there will also be a resurrection that can and will take place at the appearing of Christ’s coming. There was indeed a resurrection which would take place at the shaking of Christ’s own resurrection—a resurrection that would be triggered and brought into motion by the initial shaking of Christ’s death. There is not a doubt in my mind that just as there was a shaking at the death of Jesus which unlocked and opened the graves, and just as there was a shaking at the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, so also will there be a shaking that would take place at the coming and appearing of Jesus the Christ. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly awesome and captivating truth, for it gives a tremendous hope for what can and will happen at the sound of the last trump when the dead in Christ will rise first, and we which are alive and remain upon the earth will be caught up together with Jesus to meet Him in the air. How truly remarkable and beautiful it is to think about and consider this, for it brings us face to face with just how powerful the resurrection of Jesus the Christ was—and not only how powerful the resurrection of Jesus was, but also how powerful His ascension was. We dare not and must not miss the awesome truth surrounding the resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Christ, for it is in Christ’s resurrection we have been given the promise of resurrection from death, and it is in Christ’s ascension we have been given the promise of ascension with Christ unto His Father who is in heaven. In all reality, I would dare say that we need both of these realities and both of these manifestations within the life of Christ, for they provide us with the context and framework for our own resurrection and ascension. Pause for a moment and think about how truly incredible the resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Christ are, for it is within the resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Christ that we find hope within ourselves. It was this truth surrounding the resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Christ which the apostle Paul preached unto both the Jews and Gentiles, and which he wrote in his epistles which were sent unto the churches.

            It is this concept of the resurrected and ascended Christ that is so absolutely and incredibly powerful when reading the book of Acts, for there were at least two individuals who would see the resurrected and ascended Jesus the Christ. Stephen—when he was being stoned to death—would look steadfastly and intently into heaven and would see Jesus the Christ standing at the right hand of the Father, and it would be the apostle Paul who would also see and behold the resurrected and ascended Jesus the Christ on the road to Damascus. Within the gospels we find a company and fellowship of the witnesses of the resurrection, and yet there is another company and fellowship—a fellowship of the ascension of the Lord Jesus the Christ. There was indeed a fellowship of those who witnessed and behold a resurrected Jesus from death to life, there was indeed a fellowship of those who witnessed the ascension of the Lord Jesus the Christ unto the right hand of the Father in heaven, and there would also be a fellowship of those who would witness and experience—not only the resurrected, but also the ascended Jesus the Christ. Stephen, the apostle Paul, and the apostle John would all see, witness and behold the resurrected and ascended Jesus the Christ, as each of these individuals would have a unique encounter and experience with the ascended and exalted Christ. Stephen would see the ascended and exalted Jesus the Christ when he was being stoned to death, while the apostle Paul would experience the resurrect, ascended and exalted Christ while He was journeying to Damascus to carry out murderous threats against the Church and against the disciples and followers of the way. Oh that we would truly recognize and understand this awesome and powerful truth, for while in the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find a great persecution breaking out against the Christians within the city of Jerusalem, we find in the ninth chapter the conversion of perhaps one of—if not the greatest persecutor of Christians in history. Consider if you will how the seventh chapter of the New Testament book of Acts concludes and how the eighth chapter of the same book begins:

            “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord. And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:54-60).

            “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).

            As I read these passages of Scripture I can’t help but think about and consider how closely linked and connected the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ truly was to the stoning and death of Stephen, as well as to the conversation of Saul of Tarsus whom we know would become the apostle Paul. It would be when and while Stephen was being stoned to death that he would look steadfastly into heaven and would see the Son of God standing on the right hand of God. It would be while Stephen was being stoned to death that He would look steadfastly unto the heavens and would see them opened before him. Not only would he see the heavens opened and the glory of God, but he would also see Jesus standing on the right hand of God. THE HEAVENS OPENED, THE GLORY OF GOD, JESUS STANDING ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD! There is a pat of me that can’t help but wonder if Stephen knew Jesus the Christ, and perhaps knew what He looked like during those three and a half years He walked among us as the Word made flesh which dwelt among us. Is it possible that Stephen saw Jesus at some point during those three and a half years He walked among us as Emmanuel, and when He saw Him standing on the right hand of God He had some degree and measure of recognition. We know that Luke wrote how Stephen—being full of the Holy Ghost—would look steadfastly into heaven, would see the glory of God, and would see Jesus standing on the right hand of God, but we also know that Stephen declared unto those who were present at the time of his stoning and death that he saw the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Oh I can’t help but wonder if Stephen recognized and understood that this was Jesus the Christ who had walked upon the face of the earth during those three and a half years. Is it possible that Stephen recognized Jesus standing on the right hand of God and could make such a declaration concerning Him being there at the right hand of God because of that recognition?

            It’s worth noting and pointing out when reading these words that Stephen would see the heavens opened, would see the glory of God, and would see Jesus standing on the right hand of God as he was being stoned, while the apostle Paul would see a brightness of the glory of God shining round about and before him as he was traveling and journeying unto Damascus. It is in the ninth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find and encounter Saul of Tarsus being thrown from his horse because of the great and tremendous sight which was before him. We know from the opening verses of the ninth chapter that Saul of Tarsus would indeed witness a powerful encounter and experience with the resurrected, and the ascended Jesus the Christ. You cannot read the words found in the ninth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts and not see the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ being intrinsically linked and connected to the persecution of the Church. It would be when and as Stephen was being persecuted by those which were present within the city of Jerusalem who heard him speak  that he would see the heavens opened, would see the glory of God, and would see Jesus standing on the right hand of God. It would be when Saul of Tarsus was traveling and journeying to Damascus that Saul of Tarsus would see a great and blinding light which would not only throw him from his horse to the ground, but would also cause a great fear and trembling to come upon those who were traveling with him. It would be after Saul had been thrown from his horse while journeying from Jerusalem to Damascus that he would see and experience the resurrected and exalted Jesus the Christ, for it would be Jesus of Nazareth that would appear unto him there on that road. It would be there as Saul was on the ground he would not only hear the voice of Jesus the Christ speaking unto him, but would also see and experience a great and glorious light which blinded him. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the ninth chapter of this New Testament book concerning the conversion of Saul of Tarsus as he was traveling and journeying from Jerusalem to Damascus:

            “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutes: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink” (Acts 9:1-9).

            “And there was a certain disciples at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hands on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hat authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightiest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:10-20).

            We must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which are found within these two passages in the night chapter, for not only do we find the resurrected and ascended Jesus the Christ appearing unto Saul as he journeyed and traveled on his way from Jerusalem unto Damascus, but so also would the resurrected and ascended Jesus speak unto Ananias concerning Saul. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering that these two experiences and encounters would be the first time men would encounter the resurrected and ascended Jesus the Christ from the right hand of the Father in heaven. Up until this point in time there hadn’t been anyone who had heard the voice of the resurrected and ascended Jesus who was at the right hand of the Father in heaven, and yet what we find here in these verses is two men who would indeed experience the resurrected and exalted Jesus the Christ who would be at the right hand of the Father who was in heaven. Oh how absolutely wonderful and powerful it is to think and consider how Jesus the Christ would indeed be at the right hand of the Father who was in heaven, and how Jesus would not only appear unto Saul of Tarsus while he was journeying on the road to Damascus, but would also speak unto Ananias in the city of Damascus concerning Saul of Tarsus. It’s absolutely remarkable and astounding to read the words found in the first half of the ninth chapter of the book of Acts, for what we find here within this chapter is a beautiful and powerful picture of the resurrected, ascended and exalted Jesus speaking directly unto men within and upon the earth. We know that Stephen saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God after he saw the heavens opened and saw the glory of God, however, there is no indication that Stephen actually heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto him at this time. What we find in the ninth chapter, however, is not only Jesus appearing and speaking unto Saul of Tarsus, but also speaking unto Ananias in Damascus concerning Saul of Tarsus. In the opening chapter of the book of Acts we find Jesus showing Himself alive after being raised from the grave, and teaching His disciples and followers before ascending unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven. In the seventh chapter we find Jesus standing on the right hand of God in heaven, and Stephen seeing Him standing there after seeing the heavens opened and seeing the glory of God.

            One of the most interesting and unique truths surrounding the New Testament book of Acts is not only the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit during those days and times, but also the activity of Jesus the Christ. Not only this, but we also see the activity of Jesus the Christ in His glorified and exalted place at the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. It would be in the ninth chapter where we would not only see the risen, ascended and exalted Jesus appearing and speaking unto the apostle Paul while he was still known as Saul of Tarsus, but it’s in the same chapter where we find the resurrected and exalted Jesus the Christ speaking directly unto a man by the name of Ananias. Please don’t miss the importance of the interaction and exchanged between Ananias and the risen and exalted Lord, for we know nothing else concerning Ananias other than his name and that he was a disciple in Damascus. We aren’t given any information concerning and regarding Ananias after he obeyed the word and command of the Lord Jesus Christ and went to the house where Saul of Tarsus was and laid hands on him. It’s actually quite powerful to think about and consider the awesome and tremendous fact that here we have a man who the only things we know about him is his name and that he was a disciple in Damascus, and yet he was used in one of the most profound and powerful ways in all of church history. It would be very easy to miss out on just how significant and important the role of Ananias truly was, and to even think that there wasn’t anything special about what he did, however, I am convinced that this simply is not the case.

            The more we read and consider the narrative of Ananias the more we are brought face to face with the fact that not only did Ananias hear directly from the risen and exalted Lord as indicated in the words being red in most of our Bibles, but we are also brought face to face with the fact that it would be he and he alone who would be the first disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ to encounter this man formerly known as Saul of Tarsus. In fact—even when the Lord Jesus was speaking unto him concerning his going and laying hands on Saul and praying for him that he might receive his sight Ananias initially mentioned and spoke unto the Lord how he had heard reports of what Saul had done in Jerusalem and what he had come to Damascus to do. It is absolutely powerful to think about and consider this narrative of Ananias, for what we find and read concerning this man named Ananias is that it would be he who would be tasked with the assignment of laying hands on Saul according to the word of the Lord Jesus and praying for him that he might receive his sight. Ananias could have been disobedient to the word, to the voice and to the call of the Lord upon his life, and yet to do so would have missed out on one of the most critical and pivotal moments in all of Church history and in all of Christianity. We know absolutely nothing else concerning Ananias other than the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ spoke directly unto him and instructed him to go into the street called Straight, and inquire of the house of Judas for a man called Saul. It would be there in the house of this man called Saul Ananias would lay his hands upon him, would pray him, and would be instrumental—not only in his receiving of sight once more, but also in the conversion process of this man who would become the greatest apostle to ever walk the face of the earth. It would have been very easy for Ananias to allow fear to creep into his heart, and to allow himself to be disobedient to the heavenly vision and assignment that was spoken unto him, and yet to do so would have been to miss out on one of the most pivotal moments in all of church history. Ananias heard the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that voice instructed him to put hands on him that he might receive his sight. What’s more, is that it was also unto Ananias whom it was revealed how Saul was a chosen vessel unto the Lord to bear his name before Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. Moreover, we also find and discover that it was also revealed unto Ananias that this Saul of Tarsus must needs suffer many things for the sake of the name of Jesus the Christ. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this absolutely awesome truth, for Ananias was one of the very few within the book of Acts who heard directly from the risen and exalted Jesus the Christ.

As I bring this writing to a close it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand how pivotal and crucial the role of Ananias was in the work of the spiritual body of Christ in the earth. We would like to focus a tremendous amount of attention on to the incredible amount of work the apostle Paul did in the midst of the earth among the Jews and Gentiles, however, we must not forget, nor overlook the critical role Ananias played in the growth of the early Church. I am absolutely and completely convinced that Ananias was undoubtedly a linchpin and catalyst for the growth of the Church—and not only for the growth of the Church, but also for the expansion of the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that were it not for the obedience of Ananias—his obedience to the divine call of the Lord Jesus Christ within his life—we might have seen something entirely and altogether different in the book of Acts. Despite what might very well have been fear, doubt, trepidation, anxiety and concern within the heart of Ananias we must needs recognize and understand that he was willing to overcome all of that anxiety, all of that fear, all of that terror and dread that might very well have been in his heart that the conversion of Saul might be complete. It was as a direct result of Ananias’ obedience to the voice and command of the Lord Jesus Christ that Saul was not only able to receive his sight, but also that Saul was able to be baptized in water and receive the Holy Spirit. We must notice the absolutely pivotal role Ananias played in the conversion process of Saul, for not only would he lay his hands upon Saul, but he would also be used in the recovery of his sight and his receiving and being filled with the Holy Spirit. Oh that we would allow ourselves to be absolutely captivated with and by the awesome and incredible truth that is found within the ninth chapter of the book of Acts and not only see the manifestation and revelation of the exalted and glorified Christ, but also His appearing unto Saul on the road to Damascus, as well as His speaking unto Ananias that he might journey unto Saul and lay hands on him that he might be filled with the Holy Ghost and receive his sight.

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