In our two prior feature lessons, we have emphasized certain truths pertaining to the cross of Christ and their connection with the numbers 0 through 7. Specifically, we noted that Jesus had zero broken bones and zero sins. There is only one sovereign Lord, and He died one death to atone for all. At the cross, there was only one apostle present. Jesus was unique having two natures (both mortal and divine). When the Christ died at Calvary there were three crosses. After three days, Jesus was raised from the grave. The soldiers who hung Him on the cross divided His garments into four parts and cast lots for his seamless tunic. Our Lord's body suffered five major wounds on His last day (i.e., back, head, hands, feet, and side). He endured six unmerciful hours on the cross before giving up His spirit. While on the cross, He made seven statements that were recorded by divine inspiration.
Let us now continue this study by considering:
8--EIGHT DAYS AFTER THE RESURRECTION
John 20:19 declares - "Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'" However, Thomas was not with the apostles when Jesus appeared on this occasion.
Now wait a minute, Stephen. The Lord arose from the dead on a Sunday and this appearance of His happened on the next Sunday--that's only seven days! Well, from our modern way of reckoning time, you'd be exactly right. But, the Jews would have considered from Sunday to Sunday to be 8 days (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).
Consider John 20:25-29 to see what happened another eight days after this - "The other disciples therefore said to him, 'We have seen the Lord.' So he said to them, 'Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.' And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, 'Peace to you!' Then He said to Thomas, 'Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.' And Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and My God!' Jesus said to him, 'Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" Think what Thomas missed initially because he was not meeting with his brethren! Friends, we miss a lot today when we fail to meet with our brethren also.
9--NINE GIFTS BROUGHT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT AFTER JESUS' ASCENSION
Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit after He ascended, and the Holy Spirit would bring gifts for men. What kind of gifts? I Corinthians 12:4-11 answers that question - "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills."
This outpouring of gifts happened on Pentecost and these gifts were distributed and made use of during the first century. These gifts are no longer available for mortal use today.
10--TEN DAYS PRIOR TO PENTECOST
We've got to do a little math for this one. Acts 1:1-3 reads - "The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God."
According to Luke, Jesus was seen over a period of forty days. Pentecost always came fifty days after the Passover Sabbath. So, when Jesus ascended at the end of the forty day period, there were still ten more days until Pentecost of Acts 2; that is, ten more days until the Holy Spirit was poured out and the church was established!
11--ELEVEN APOSTLES WHO WAITED IN JERUSALEM
The remainder of Acts 1 explains what happened during those ten days. The apostles obeyed Jesus and waited patiently for the power from on high to come. There were only eleven of them at that time since Judas had committed suicide. At God's direction, however, Judas' position as an apostle was given to Matthias and there were again twelve.
12--TWELVE APOSTLES WHO TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN
After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, things started moving quickly. Three thousand souls obeyed the gospel in one day, and the number continued increasing. Soon, persecution arose against the church by Saul of Tarsus and others. Persecution caused Christians to leave Jerusalem and proclaim the gospel message wherever they went. Congregations of the Lord's church sprung up all over the world.
Consider this description of what the early Christians had done, as recorded in Acts 17:5,6 - "But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, 'These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.'" It's incredible to think about twelve men turning the world upside down! The power, of course, is in God and His word. God worked through the apostles and the thousands of converts they made. The influence of Christianity upon the first century world was significant and noticeable! Friends, are we turning the world upside down for Christ in our generation?
Perhaps we could continue this theme of preaching the cross by numbers, but the number twelve seems like a good stopping point for me.
The cross of Christ is the most important event in the history of the world! We need to know all about it and make sure we are living for Jesus each day. Have you taken up your cross, dear listeners? Are you truly following Jesus?
Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.