In our Foundations class we were talking about the resurrection of Jesus and the some of the important things that transpired at that time.
It is important to understand that Jesus’ resurrection was a physical fact. His resurrection was not a just a spiritual reality. He rose from the grave as flesh and bone. He was not a ghost or ‘spirit-only’ being after His death, but actually conquered physical death.
The resurrection is documented in all four gospels, (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 20 and 21.) We are going to look at some interesting ideas that stem from the account in John’s gospel.
First let’s notice this interchange with Mary.
Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'" - John 20:17 NASB
As we have said often, the price for our sin was the pure blood of Jesus. This blood was shed on the cross, but coming out of the tomb, Jesus says to Mary, I have not yet ascended. To understand what was going on here, let’s look to Ephesians 4.
Therefore it says, "WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN." (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) - Ephesians 4:8-10 NASB
This passage is a description in somewhat cryptic language of what Jesus did during those three days in the grave.
Jesus teaches that the righteous dead, before His sacrifice on the cross, would live in a place referred to as Abraham’s bosom, or paradise. He tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. We will not read that here, but you can take a look at your leisure.
In the period of time when Jesus is in the tomb, we understand from this scripture that he descends to this place- this ‘Abraham’s bosom’ and leads those waiting there to heaven, where He would present His blood, the atonement for their sin, and there they would be with the Lord.
So while Jesus’ body is in the tomb, He is in Abraham’s bosom preaching deliverance to the captives. Upon His resurrection – I believe (and for the record, this is by no means doctrine I would ever break fellowship for. I would ask you to read here with grace) Jesus was headed directly to the Fathers throne to present His blood, and to lead the faithful dead to heaven.
This is what was going on in these odd verses in Matthew 27.
The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. - Matthew 27:52-53 NASB
It is as if Jesus was heading to heaven with all these men and women of God, and Mary caught Him. This gives us a glimpse of His priority for relationship. He was willing to delay this whole procession, and leave the faithful dead wandering around Jerusalem while He paused to comfort Mary. Finally Jesus says to her – Don’t cling to me, I must go to the Father. She lets Him go and the procession proceeds.
So what happens when He goes to heaven to present His blood?
I believe we get a glimpse of that in Revelation Chapter 5. John looked in on a massive ceremony of some sort.
And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. - Revelation 5:6 NASB
In verse 6 we see that He was a lamb having been slain – one translations reads ‘bearing the fresh marks of slaughter’ which makes me wonder if this is not the very moment when Jesus presents His blood to the Father. Whether this was before He went to Galilee, or after His ascension I can’t say for sure. But I do believe this is what we are seeing here.
That’s enough to digest for one day.
If this is too far out there for you to follow – don’t fret – just skip it and come back next time. This is just one of those ideas that swims around in my head from time to time.
Come again soon.