The Way from Redemption to Power
By Donald R. Ramsey
A few years ago, my wife and I were preparing for one of our many trips to Israel and we were having some trouble getting the hotel reservations we wanted. We usually liked to base our visits in and around Jerusalem with short visits to other parts of the country. However, for this trip we were not able to obtain accommodations in the Jerusalem area. So we began to seek a place in other areas of the country. We decided on a hotel just north of Tiberias in the Galilee. Although we both had been to the area many times before, it had been many years since either of us had spent any length of time there.
Our hotel room overlooked the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) and we enjoyed getting up in the morning to have breakfast on the balcony. We also took time to have Bible study and reflection on the balcony both in the morning and in the evening. During one of these sessions, we began to reflect on the reasons why the Lord may have wanted us to base our visit in the Galilee instead of Jerusalem.
Our trip from the airport had taken us through Nazareth into Tiberias and we commented on the fact that Jesus and the disciples may have walked in the area as well. I began to consider what the Lord wanted us to learn from our time in the Galilee area.
Of course, much of the Lord's ministry took place in the Galilee and some of his principal sermons were given in the Galilee. Most Bible students will be very familiar with the Lord's ministry in these areas. However, in reading some of the references in the Gospels, some interesting things began to stand out.
Prior to his crucifixion, Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 26:32:
“But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”
After his death, we read in Matthew 28:1-10:
"Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
From this passage we learn that the followers of Jesus were told twice that they would see him in Galilee, first by the angel and then by Jesus himself.
Another very familiar passage relates the incident on the road to Emmaus.
"That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
"So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight."
These two did not recognize Jesus. It is important to note that although these two would have been expected to know Jesus, something was different and they failed to realize who it was they were speaking with. It was not until their eyes were opened that they recognized him.
"But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.
"Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.
"Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Again we see someone would would have been expected to recognize Jesus (Mary) but did not. Also, Thomas who would not believe until he had seen the nail marks and touched his wounds, would have been expected to recognize Jesus on sight struggling to know who he was.
The setting then turns to the Galilee where Jesus has told them they would see him. Yet again, however, we find the disciples not able to recognize Jesus.
"After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
"Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
"When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead."
Again we see seven disciples who had been with Jesus for years having difficulty recognizing him. It is stated that this was the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after his resurrection.
Something was different. The disciples were kept from recognizing Jesus until he opened their eyes. The disciples were being moved beyond the redemption that Jesus had just made possible with his crucifixion to the life provided in his resurrection together with the power that would be required for the spread of the gospel. It was necessary for the disciples to have a new kind of relationship with and understanding of Jesus.
This was explained in more detail by Paul in:
2 Corinthians 5:16-17
"From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
We must move beyond a natural understanding and knowledge of Christ to a spiritual understanding and knowledge which is the result of our being a new creation in Christ.
"Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit."
In this passage we are told that Jesus is creating a new man and that through him we have access in none Spirit to the Father. We are being joined together as a holy temple, a dwelling place for God by (through) the Spirit.
In order for the dwelling place of God to be built properly, Paul informs us that we must be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God."
Furthermore, Paul explains that he remembered the Ephesian believers in his prayers that God would give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God and that they might have the eyes of their heart (mind, understanding) enlightened.
"I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints."
Remember that when Jesus was breaking bread with the two disciples after the walk on the road to Emmaus, the scripture says that "he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,“ Luke 24:45
Paul said to the Galatians that he was in anguish until Christ could be formed in them.
"my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!"
We must have Christ formed in us. It must be the mature Jesus; the Jesus of the resurrection and not the baby Jesus of which many are so fond.
We must be nourished and knit together in Christ.
"and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God."
We must also be renewed in the spirit of our minds as Paul told the Ephesians in:
"And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
"Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
"Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
We are instructed not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewal of our mind.
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
The writer of the book of Hebrews notes that we must go on to maturity and not be satisfied with the basic principles of the gospel.
"About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
"Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits."In order to achieve this maturity, Jesus instructed the disciples in:
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The apostles operated with this great power in their ministry as shown in the following scriptures:
"And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all."
"And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5
"For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction."
"So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power."
"And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee,"
"And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs."
We must follow the example of Jesus and the apostles and possess the word of God as Jesus said in
"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life."
So we are left with this admonition:
"Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.