Summary: Jesus is hanging around to let us know that he loves us just the same. If you go on in Jesus name, if you go on according to his word, you will never walk alone.
1 Corinthians 15:5-8 / Jesus Keeps Hanging Around
5And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
Ascension Day is one of the few remaining events in the Christian church that hasn’t been touched by secular society. Think about Christmas and Easter. These are two main celebrations on the Christian calendar and yet they also have secular ideas and traditions that have little to do with the actual Christian meaning itself.
Ascension Day however is always a little different. No one received a “Happy Ascension Day” card in the mail this week. No one went out for Ascension Day dinner. None of the stores had a big “Ascension Day Sale”, and there’s no character like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny associated with this day.
In fact, I’m willing to guess that many of you here this morning don’t even know when Ascension Day was. It was this past Thursday. Ascension Day is 40 days after the celebration of Easter, so it’s always on a Thursday every year. The 40 days represent the 40 days Jesus hung around after his resurrection.
One of the things that makes this day so unique is it’s the last time recorded in Scripture that Jesus is seen on earth. Now Paul as read in our text does encounter him, but that was later on in the book of Acts when Paul was on the road to Damascus to persecute Christians. But Paul did not see the actual, physical, resurrected body of Jesus, Paul saw a bright light, and heard a voice. Which is the reason he says he was, “born out of due time.”
Because according to Acts 1:21 the qualification of being called an Apostle was you had to physically see Jesus. You had to hear him teach you had to see him perform miracles - from the time of his baptism until the day he ascended.
This is why those who are a bit more “read” in the scripture have an issue with the modern-liberal day minister who wants to be called an “Apostle.”
“And that he was seen of Cephas”
- Jesus hangs around for saints who stumble -
Christ appeared to a disciple sometimes called Cephas (rock), sometimes called Simon, but better known as better Peter. You know Peter. He was the one who spoke before he thought. Like some of us still do today. Before the other disciples recognized who Jesus was Peter was the one who saw him as the Christ.
Peter pledged eternal devotion but in the hour of Jesus trial discovered that rock had cracks in it. And so Jesus hung around long enough to restore a fallen friend, to lift the spirit of a saint, and to let one of his trusted followers know that his denial had been forgiven.
I’m glad that Jesus hangs around for saints who stumble. Notice I said “I’m glad” cause some of you act like you don’t stumble. But let me remind you that 1 John 1:8 says:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
So reality is all of us ought to be glad that Jesus hangs around for saints who stumble. When others would criticize us, when our weakness and failures make us question our faith, when our adversaries seem to have gotten the victory, when our conscience has beaten us and shamed us, Jesus is hanging around to let us know that he loves us just the same.
Regardless of your broken promises he loves you just the same. Regardless of your shattered determination he still claims you as his own. He does forget, he does forgive, he does allow us to start all over again and walk in the newness of life.
“And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve.”
- Jesus hangs around for those from whom much is required -
Jesus hung around long enough to appear to his twelve. There were other followers, yes, but he took out time for his immediate group. Those whom he had called by name to drop their nets, leave tax-collecting tables, and give up all to follow him.
Theirs was a special place for no other group of people before or after them would have the privilege of knowing Jesus like they knew him. They knew the intimate Jesus, the personal Jesus, they had seen and heard what the prophets before them had only written about.