April 24, 2011
He Is Risen – Everything Changed
Luke 24:1-12 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
Today, we have come together to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. But as we do that we must not get lost in the celebration of the Holiday as much as we pause to remember the event that makes Easter, Easter. If we are not careful, we will become enthralled with the activities and details of the holiday and forget that the reason we celebrate is because Christ has risen and for no other reason.
I am by no means suggesting that Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies, new clothes, Easter bonnets and a great meal are not ok; it is simply that we must keep everything in perspective. This is a problem for most holidays we celebrate. Take for example the Fourth of July. Too many today celebrate with fireworks, cookouts and friends but fail to remember the very reason why we are celebrating. We celebrate on the Fourth of July to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence which secured our freedom from a hostile England.
We celebrate today because Christ’s death on the cross secured our freedom from sin and His resurrection guaranteed that we would have power over sin, death and the grave.
Let us take a look at the Resurrection story this morning. On Friday afternoon Jesus breathed His last breath of air. In Luke 23:50, Joseph of Arimathia a member of the council, a good and righteous man and one who had not consented to their decision and action; because he was looking for the Kingdom of God took Jesus’ body to be buried.
The Women came along to see where His body was to be laid so that they could return after the Sabbath to anoint His body with burial oils. They returned home to prepare the oils and spices because once the Sabbath started they would not be allowed to kind of work according to Jewish Sabbatical law.
As the sun rose the women were off to prepare the body of Jesus for burial. You see that the Sabbath was over at the first light of dawn. When they arrived at the tomb of Jesus they show something that they did not expect. They found the tomb empty.
What they found were two men who proclaimed the words that would reshape all of history and future events. “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here for He is risen.” Suddenly, they remembered the words of Jesus and they ran to tell the disciples. But the disciples rejected the story and considered the words “idle tales and they did not believe them.”
As we review the facts of this story one thing becomes very evident. No one expected for Christ to rise from the dead. Joseph had wrapped Jesus in a burial cloth and the women were preparing the oils and spices for His burial.
The disciples well they were at home. Because of the events of the past week they were afraid, they were confused and they were filled with disbelief. And, when the women had brought the word that Jesus was alive their word was rejected. The disciples did not believe the report of the women.
The disciples did not recognize that the power of God was able to conquer death and the grave.1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. This gives us hope because there are times when I have fallen short and have failed to understand the truth of God’s word.
Let me ask you, how would you have acted knowing that Jesus was going to rise again? Would you have gone to the grave site and waited with anticipation? Any time I am waiting for something I keep checking until I receive that item or the event occurs.
Notice that Peter finally gets up and runs to the tomb. He looks into the tomb but he marvels at the fact the tomb was empty. It still had not registered that Jesus had fulfilled the words that He had promised.
Once Peter and the disciples realized what had happened they knew that because Jesus arose everything changed.
- Everything that Jesus had said about Himself was true.
- Everything He had said about God was true.
- Everything Jesus had said about personal
prayer to God was true.
- What Jesus had promised about Him dying for the payment of sin was true.
- The revelation of Him as the Lamb of God and the Son of God was evident.
The resurrection of Christ symbolizes victory over sin and death. Believers can enjoy transformed lives and reconciled relationships with God in and through Christ the risen Lord (1 John 3:1-10). The followers of Christ are guaranteed to enjoy eternal life as the result of the victory of Christ over death (1 John 3:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:12, 20, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
The resurrection of Christ reassures us that God has power and authority over His creation. Not even death can limit His power. He can bring to life that which is dead. “Death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54) so “in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22, also see 1 John 4:9).
Christ’s resurrection also demonstrates God’s power over sin. The final outcome of sin is death. When God raised Jesus from the dead He conquered our greatest enemy. God altered the forces of nature along with the ultimate effects of sin. The Creator of Life created life once again.
This also means that believers have hope for their own resurrection after they die. Because Jesus lives we can also live again. Paul told the Corinthians that Jesus is “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” 1 Corinthians 15:20. Christians look forward to following Jesus into eternity with God.
What does this all mean? It means that there is no sin or no event that is beyond God’s ability to transform because of the cross and the power of the resurrection.
As we anticipate our final reward, we can experience life with Jesus right now. Christ’s resurrection assured the possibility that people can have a real relationship with a living person. Jesus is not the dead hero of our faith. He is our living Friend and Guide. We can walk each day in communion with a living Savior.
To comprehend the impact of this story we must move ahead to Acts 2 where Peter stood before the people to proclaim that Jesus was alive.
In Acts 2:38-39 Peter proclaimed
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
We repent and receive the truth of God’s promise that to all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:21)