God’s Word for You
Acts 13:31 For many days he was seen
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, May 28, 2020
31 For many days he was seen by those who traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses to the people.
The heart of Paul’s gospel is always the resurrection. Throughout the Old Testament, the message of the resurrection was something hinted at. Adam believed it, Abraham believed it, Moses believed it, David believed it, Isaiah believed it. Their words are recorded in the Bible, and the prophecies (especially Psalm 16:10 and Hosea 6:2) talk about the resurrection of Jesus. Paul is delighted to continue talking about the resurrection of Jesus, but he doesn’t talk about it as a promise, he talks about it as an historical fact. Jesus rose from the dead, and Jesus appeared to Paul in person.
Paul especially emphasizes the position of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles, who were eyewitnesses to his resurrection, but who were also already witnesses to his life and ministry. Here Paul could of said, as he does elsewhere, “He also appeared to me” (1 Corinthians 15:8), but instead he concentrates on the appearances Jesus made to the apostles in Jerusalem and in Galilee during the forty days (“many days”) before his resurrection.
There will always be people who argue against the doctrine of the resurrection. It was this teaching that caused Festus to tell Paul that he was out of his mind. “Your great learning is driving you insane!” (Acts 26:23). A great many people believe, either openly or in secret, that little superstitious things they do make a difference in life. Many will say that they hope there is some kind of life after death, but they’re not certain about Jesus’ role. Those are people who need our guidance and our preaching. But there will always be a few, usually those who are especially in love with the sound of their own voices, who arrogantly think that their learning is the pinnacle of mankind’s intelligence, and who delight in babbling and in mocking us. Luther said: “God be praised, I am so armed against this that the prattle of the whole world will, if it pleases God, not harm me. Therefore we must be on our guard with all diligence and always cling to God’s Word, on which this article (the resurrection) is based. There it has now stood 1500 years [Luther lived 500 years ago] and survived. It has indeed been attacked by many babblers and mockers, but it has never been toppled or crushed, whereas all of these vanished together with their prating and died, and no one speaks of them or remember them any longer” (LW 28, 163).
The resurrection of Christ means the resurrection of us all. In the end, in the distant but definite Last Day, we will be called by name from our graves. Then the angels will be able to rejoice with us and declare about the whole Christian Church, risen from the dead and escorted home by Jesus our Lord: “Who is this coming up from the desert, leaning on the one who loves her?” (Song of Solomon 8:5). The mockers will shriek in terror as they plummet into the abyss of everlasting pain, but we will be brought to the banquet of everlasting delight. There we will raise our glasses together and praise our Redeemer for everything he has done, and we will never tire of that praise. Heaven in all its joys is the result of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and we will see him for “many days,” the one we see now through the eyes of faith alone.
Pastor Timothy Smith