When I was a young boy, my father didn’t read me fairy tales or bedtime stories. No, he read me another classic work of literature: Foxes Book of Martyrs. These accounts of men and women throughout history being persecuted, tortured and ultimately killed might seem like odd reading material for a 5 year old boy, but my Father was trying to impart something to me form this early age. These heroes of the faith endured so much for the sake of the gospel. But what was it that made these men and women endure such intense and awful persecution, even unto death?
Coming now out of the Easter season, we often forget that the life of Jesus here on earth did not end with the resurrection. In fact, Jesus remained with the disciples for 40 more days after He was resurrected. Have you ever asked yourself: if Jesus had been with them for 3 and a half years, if he had already died for our sins, if he had already been resurrected to new life, what else could he do for the disciples for 40 more days that he had not already showed them? What more could they have possibly been missing?
Scripture tells us that the night after the resurrection, Jesus came to the disciples who were were hiding for fear of the Jews. Matthew tells us that when he appeared to them, they worshiped but some doubted. Could it be possible that in all that they had seen, that they still did not believe? The bible describes this period as a time when Jesus presented himself to them with many infallible proofs. But also, He breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus was not only demonstrating but imparting to them through the Spirit that He was definitely alive, that he had truly conquered death, that the resurrection was real and beyond a shadow of a doubt. Why did they need this assurance?
That book my father read to me as a child recounts the death of all 12 of these disciples. Jesus great commission to go to the ends of the earth and preach the gospel was not going to be an easy one and he wanted them to be sure of the promise he gave them that he would be with them always: that neither time, nor space and not even death would be able to separate them from Him.
Are you totally convinced? Have you received the breath of Jesus and the Spirit that comes with it? The Spirit that assures you that no matter where you go, no matter what trials you face, Jesus is always with you?
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