Pastor Kristi J. Rhodes
Hillcrest Community Church of God
5994 18 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs, MI 49319
This spring we celebrated Easter on April 24, the resurrection of our Lord from the grave three days after He was crucified and buried. But did you also know that wasn’t the end? After Jesus arose from the grave He appeared several times in several different places and to several different people including more than 500 people all at the same time over a period of 40 days? And that’s not all! He not only appeared, He interacted with them. He talked with them; He ate with them and continued to instruct them. These people were eyewitnesses—people who saw with their own eyes the resurrected Lord! If you were an attorney in a court of law and were able to produce just one eye witness to an event, that would be enough to convince the court of the truth. But what if you traipsed more than 500 eye witnesses through the witness stand that swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and testified that they saw Jesus alive after He was crucified and buried for 3 days? There should be absolutely no doubt to the validity of these events. There is even a record in writing directly from several of these eyewitnesses. Why is it that modern theories are credible, while actual eyewitness accounts are not? After 40 days from the Resurrection, while Jesus was speaking with the disciples on the Mount of Olives, Jesus was taken up to Heaven before their very eyes! (Eyewitnesses again.) But before He was taken up, He said in Matt. 28:18-20 NIV, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the very end of the age.” Jesus gave the disciples this assignment, but not without preparing them and then empowering them to accomplish their task. He commanded them: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about…You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem (your city), and in all Judea and Samaria (your country), and to the ends of the earth (all the world)!” Acts 1:4-8 NIV. We were created for a purpose. There is a divine plan for our lives that we cannot accomplish apart from God. When Jesus left, He sent His Spirit to remain here until He returns. As Christians, Jesus has promised that He will be with us always. That means always. Even in the darkest of places, even when we can’t feel Him, even when we have doubts, we can be sure that Jesus is here with us. Don’t ever lose hope!