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The Blessed Hope - The Coming of Jesus - Part 1

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    Tettei Shahday-Annang

Ever since the fall of Adam death became a major problem, and is still an issue with many. From generation to generation, man has tried everything possible to find solution to death. Some sought to the eating and drinking of human and animal flesh and blood, the worship of idols, while others resorted to the making and drinking of concoctions. However, none of these practices could ever fulfil the desire of man. Jesus gives life, and He is the solution to death! From beginning God put Adam in the Garden of Eden and warned him not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17).

Later on the Lord God created Eve for Adam, for He realised it was not good for the man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Satan then came in to deceive the woman to eat from the tree. She was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too (Genesis 3:1-6). God had already warned Adam that he would die the moment he eats from the tree. The question then is, "Did Adam die the moment he ate from the tree?" Of course not. Many people think that God was talking just about physical death. He was talking about spiritual death.

The moment they ate the fruit they died! There was a separation between God and man; He couldn't relate to him the way He wanted to. All along, God had been looking forward to an eternal plan that would solve this whole issue. The people of Old were pardoned by God for the sake of their faith in Him. Over two thousand years ago, God provided a permanent solution to mankind's problem through Christ Jesus our Lord. Surprisingly, many are still making some vain practices to find solution to their problems. See, you can't solve your own problem! The more you try, the harder it becomes. When Jesus was nailed to the cross He cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46).

At that time Jesus was spiritually dead, just as Adam did when he sinned. It's not Jesus' body that became sin but His spirit. Sin is a spiritual problem. Jesus died spiritually and physically. Death does not just mean the cessation of life. Spiritual death means separation from God! Because Jesus took our place, He had to partake of spiritual death as well as physical death. So He cries out here, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"Jesus never sinned while He lived. But you see, even though He had no knowledge of sin, God made Him to be sin with our sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). He took my place! He became what I was, praise God, that I might become what He is. Hallelujah!

That is the reason why God had to take off His eyes because Jesus had been made dirty with sin. He had to be made sin so that He could go to hell to meet Satan, and He did. "And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Colossians 2:15). When Jesus went to hell, the devil and his cohorts jumped on him. Being mighty and stronger than they were, He shook them off! He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets; He made a public show of them. Hallelujah! This is our victory beloved! The best part is that Jesus didn't remain in the tomb. He resurrected, for He declared: "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death" (Revelation 1:18).

He is the One that gives life, the hope of mankind. He is the bread of life (John 6:35; 48). He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). Anyone that believes in Him, confessing Him as Lord and Saviour has eternal life (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10). After Sabbath, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary had come to see the sepulchre where Jesus laid. The angels of the Lord said unto them, "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" (Luke 24:5). Many seek the Living One among the dead. How many times people have sought in vain for life among dead forms? They are seeking life among dead works, dead feelings, dead services, a dead god - wells without water.

All through creation I've heard of no one that has found solution to mankind's problem. Everybody else's god in every religion in the world is dead except ours! All those that tried to find solution to mankind's problems are dead and gone, nowhere to be found. I believe this is one of the reasons why some people do not believe in Jesus, and even say he didn't resurrect because His disciples took and hid Him. Listen, He is the Resurrection and the Life, and anyone who believes in Him never dies (John 11:25-26). Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Christ everywhere and every way is our Christ, for ever and ever most richly to enjoy. Whether His disciples hid Him or not, my Bible tells me He resurrected from the dead.

Let's turn over to the Word: "Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch" (Matthew 27:62-66). 16 soldiers were appointed to guard Jesus' tomb. They ensured maximum security.

How then could his disciples escape with Him? Something incredible transpired: "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" (Matthew 28:1-7).

Nothing could hold down Jesus in the tomb! All the powers of earth and hell have failed to keep Him. He's alive! Thank God, He's risen! He is risen! He is risen! The Pharisees thought they were being smart, but it was a waste of time. When the watchmen saw the angles, they became so fearful that they fell as dead men. Who are they to stop the doings of God? Death could not hold him captive. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in us (Romans 8:11).

The people were still not satisfied even after the mind-blowing resurrection of Jesus. As the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and told the leading priests what had happened. A meeting with the elders was called, and they decided to give the soldiers a large bribe. They told the soldiers, "You must say, 'Jesus' disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.' If the governor hears about it, we'll stand up for you so you won't get in trouble." So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today. (Matthew 28:11-15). Who then can tell me Jesus never resurrected? Oh, I feel and experience His resurrection power!

When Jesus gave up the ghost, the Bible records that "...the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:51-54). It is very significant that the veil in the Temple was rent in two from top to bottom.

Under the Old Covenant, that veil curtained off the Holy of Holies in the Temple. Nobody could go there expect the high priest - and went in there once a year. So before Jesus' crucifixion, no one but the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and he had to take great precautions as he entered and made sacrifices for the sins of the people. The Shekinah glory - the visible presence of God - was kept shut up in the Holy of Holies. Notice that when Jesus died the veil parted, which signifies that God does not dwell in buildings made with hands. He dwells in us now! On the day of Crucifixion, the glory moved out. Jesus gave us the glory (John 17:22).

God no longer dwells in an earthmade Holy of Holies; God now dwells in us. The glory of the Shekinah presence of God now dwells in our hearts! The glory that the Old Testament folks sought to see now dwells in us; think about it. This same Shekinah glory dwells in us; ponder over this. Sometimes we think more about the birth and death of Jesus that we miss the resurrection power. However, if His birth is all there were to it - if He was born and it ended there - there would be no plan of salvation; there would be no New Birth. But the fact is that Christ did actually rise from the dead and has become the first of many who will come back to life again someday.

Death came into the world because of what one man (Adam) did, and it is because of what this other man (Christ) has done that now there is the resurrection from the dead. Everyone dies because all of us are related to Adam, being members of his sinful race, and wherever there is sin, death results. But all who are related to Christ will rise again. Each, however, in his own turn: Christ rose first; then when Christ comes back, all his people will become alive again (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). Before Jesus came, everyone that died went to hell. In hell, there was Abraham's bosom and hell proper. Abraham's bosom was a place of comfort compared to hell itself where there's torment.

To make things clearer, let's take a look at the story of the rich man and Lazarus. There once was a rich man, expensively dressed in the latest fashions, wasting his days in conspicuous consumption. A poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, had been dumped on his doorstep. All he lived for was to get a meal from scraps off the rich man's table. His best friends were the dogs who came and licked his sores. Then he died, this poor man, and was taken up by the angels into Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell and in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham in the distance and Lazarus in his bosom.

He called out, "Father Abraham, mercy! Have mercy! Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool my tongue. I'm in agony in this fire." But Abraham said, "Child, remember that in your lifetime you got the good things and Lazarus the bad things. It's not like that here. Here he's consoled and you're tormented. Besides, in all these matters there is a huge chasm set between us so that no one can go from us to you even if he wanted to, nor can anyone cross over from you to us" The rich man said, "Then let me ask you, Father: Send him to the house of my father where I have five brothers, so he can tell them the score and warn them so they won't end up here in this place of torment."

Abraham answered, "They have Moses and the Prophets to tell them the score. Let them listen to them. I know, Father Abraham," he said, "but they're not listening. If someone came back to them from the dead, they would change their ways." Abraham replied, "If they won't listen to Moses and the Prophets, they're not going to be convinced by someone who rises from the dead." (Luke 16:19-31). This story doesn't depict that poor men go to heaven and rich men go to hell. The reason this rich man went to hell was because he put all his trust in his wealth, and never trusted in God. He thought his wealth was all he needed and not God. In fact, God wants His children wealthy! The rich man wanted Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his five brothers who were in the same condition while he was alive but Abraham said it's impossible.

This is because there're already preachers, prophets, evangelists, pastors etc. in the world. If they wouldn't listen to them, neither would they listen to Lazarus. There're lots of men of God in our day, but do we listen to the message they have for us? Sometimes we even go as far as saying wrong things about them. I always say that even if you do not believe in a preacher, don't say wrong stuffs about him. Christianity is not by sight! It's very sad people want to end up in hell before they believe there's a place called hell. Don't be like the rich man. I believe you'd have given your life to Christ after reading this message if you've not done so.

The reason why I chipped in this message was to show you what happens after death (before Jesus came). It's either you went to Abraham's bosom or hell proper. But when Jesus died and resurrected, something different transpired. You remember Jesus went to hell because He took our sins upon Himself. In hell, He defeated Satan and freed the children of God. Abraham was a righteous man but he was in hell. When Jesus died, there was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. What's more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. At the resurrection of Jesus, they left the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many (Matthew 27:51-53).

When you were in your room and someone was once buried there, the floor split open and the dead came out alive. This is what scripture is telling us. The people in the city could recognise them that had risen from the dead because they once lived with some of them. No wonder the captain of the guard with those with him got so scared to death when they saw the earthquake and everything else that was happening. They concluded, "Truly this was the Son of God!" (Matthew 27:54). Hallelujah! Since then believers go straight to heaven when they die, while unbelievers go to hell. They're all waiting for the resurrection of their bodies into justification and condemnation respectively.

When Jesus was crucified, one of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, "So you're the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself - and us, too, while you're at it!" But the other criminal protested, "Don't you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn't done anything wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom." And Jesus replied, "I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:39-43). Why didn't Jesus tell him of Abraham's bosom because He knew there was such a thing like that? Oh glory, Jesus had a better plan. Even though those that go to hell are tormented, hell is just a waiting place.

The lake of fire is where Satan and hell, including the people in it and death will be destroyed forever (Revelation 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15). God didn't create hell for man but for the devil and his cohorts. Do you think God is happy when people perish? He's NOT! In fact He's not willing that even a single soul should perish (2 Peter 3:9). This is why we keep preaching the Gospel to get souls saved. Thank God Jesus resurrected from the dead – that gave us a new hope for living. As in Adam people go to hell, even so are we made alive in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 5:18). After His resurrection Jesus said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18). Hallelujah!

The Greek word for "power" in this verse is "exousia" {ex-oo-see'-ah} (Strong's #1849), and it means "authority." Jesus has taken back what the devil stole from Adam and delivered it to the church. After His resurrection, Jesus immediately delegated the authority upon the earth to us. His authority upon the earth is manifested through the Church. He says to us, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover" (Mark 16:15-18).

This is similar to the great commission found in Matthew's Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus has given back to us the authority that Adam lost but with responsibility. We're to preach the Gospel, cast out devils and heal the sick. Tongues speaking is a part of us and even if we drink any deadly thing it would have no effect on us. We don't quake at the bite of a serpent. Praise God!