Christmas to Calvary — December 24


Jesus Is Raised

Now on the first day of the week, at very early dawn, they came back to the tomb bringing the fragrant spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. And it happened that while they were perplexed about this, behold, two men in gleaming clothing stood near them. And as they were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, they said to them, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has been raised! Remember how he spoke to you while he was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of men who are sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise?” And they remembered his words, and when they returned from the tomb, they reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the others with them were telling these things to the apostles. And these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they refused to believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, and bending over to look, he saw only the strips of linen cloth, and he went away to his home wondering what had happened.

Jesus Encountered on the Road to Emmaus

And behold, on that same day, two of them were traveling to a village named Emmaus that was sixty stadia distant from Jerusalem, and they were conversing with one another about all these things that had happened. And it happened that while they were conversing, and discussing, Jesus himself also approached and began to go along with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are these matters that you are discussing with one another as you are walking along?” And they stood still, looking sad. And one of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to him, “Are you the only one living near Jerusalem and not knowing the things that have happened in it in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” So they said to him, “The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene, a man who was a prophet, powerful in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers handed him over to a sentence of death, and crucified him. But we were hoping that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. But in addition to all these things, this is the third day since these things took place. But also some women from among us astonished us, who were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying they had seen even a vision of angels, who said that he was alive! And some of those with us went out to the tomb and found it like this, just as the women had also said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish and slow in heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things concerning himself in all the scriptures. And they drew near to the village where they were going, and he acted as though he was going farther. And they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is getting toward evening, and by this time the day is far spent.” And he went in to stay with them. And it happened that when he reclined at the table with them, he took the bread and gave thanks, and after breaking it, he gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he became invisible to them. And they said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was speaking with us on the road, while he was explaining the scriptures to us?” And they got up that same hour and returned to Jerusalem and found the eleven and those with them assembled, saying, “The Lord has really been raised, and has appeared to Simon!” And they began describing what happened on the road, and how he was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

And while they were saying these things, he himself stood there among them. But they were startled and became terrified, and thought they had seen a ghost. And he said to them, “Why are you frightened? And for what reason do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that I am I myself! Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they were still disbelieving because of joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Do you have anything to eat here?” So they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in front of them.

Jesus Commissions His Disciples

And he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything that is written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending out what was promised by my Father upon you, but you stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

The Ascension

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands, he blessed them. And it happened that while he was blessing them, he parted from them and was taken up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they were continually in the temple courts praising God.

Questions for Reflection:

  • If the tomb had held Jesus’ body held His body, what do you think that would have meant for Christianity (see 1 Corinthians 15)?

  • How does Christ’s resurrection affect our lives today?

  • How would you say you have gotten to know Jesus better over the course of this study?

  • Tomorrow is Christmas, and we have spent December 1-today looking at all of His life and, now, His death and resurrection. How does the reality of the cross and the empty tomb affect your thinking about celebrating Jesus’ birth tomorrow?

Live-the-Word Challenge:

Traditions are often considered essential in celebrating Christmas. Find some way to inject the gospel into your Christmas traditions. Find one particular tradition that can be altered to reflect that Jesus is indeed the reason for the season. Who knows: maybe this will indeed become a new tradition for you and your family and help you in the years to come to reflect more Christ in your CHRISTmas!

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