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Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC)                                               Sermon # 1206

April 5, 2015              EASTER                                                         Luke 24:1-12

Dr. Ed Pettus

 

“He Is Risen!!”

 

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb,

 

Imagine for a minute the deep sorrow and pain and confusion that must have dwelling within the women as they walked to the tomb.  It is very difficult for us because we are looking back.  Looking back, we see things through a different lens.  Our view is tempered by the resurrection.  When we look back to Christ’s suffering and death, when we live in the silence of the tomb on Saturday, we cannot help but know that new life is coming and today, has come.  We look back with the good news that He has risen from the dead.  Death no longer has any sting.  Life is new and eternal.  Jesus is alive and better than well!  Because he lives, we live and even when we breathe our last breath, we will live on in Christ. 

 

            They come to the tomb and the stone has been rolled away, the body is not there and two men in bright clothing say 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,

 

            I imagine the memory of what Jesus had said was a huge relief to them.  Sometimes when we are upset about something and we might remember a word of comfort or a reminder that someone said this would happen and it brings a sense of relief to us.  It could indeed be true that Jesus is risen; after all, he said he would.

 

 

Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them told these things to the apostles,

 

We know the story – the guys did not believe the women and had to run back to the tomb to see for themselves. 

 

They thought it was an idle tale.  They needed to see for themselves.  The resurrection is certainly treated by the world as an idle tale.  The problem now is you cannot run to the tomb to see.  It takes faith to believe that which sounds like an idle tale.  It takes grace to regenerate our hearts that we might receive this good news.  It takes believing without seeing. 

 

Steven Mathewson wrote a devotional type book a couple of years ago listing 50 reasons why the resurrection changed everything.* I have narrowed those down to a top ten.  Everything seems to be listed these days in a “top ten” format. 

 

So here we go:  JESUS WAS RAISED FROM THE DEAD…

 

#10      To Fulfill the Scriptures

 

That he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15: 4

 

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24: 44– 47

 

I did not list these in a particular level of importance, that would be too subjective, but this would be in my top three!  According to the scriptures means that Jesus fulfills all the prophecies, all the Mosaic foreshadowing, and all the Old Testament message of God’s love, grace, and mercy.  Everything about God’s word comes to fruition in the person of Jesus Christ.  With our high regard for the authority and inspiration of God’s Word, this means that Jesus brings complete meaning to everything said previously, not just specific texts that speak of his life, but of the entire message that speaks of God’s redemptive nature and promise.  He fulfilled and completed and gave full meaning to the Old Testament.  He fulfills and continues God’s story with us.

 

 

#9        To Give Us a New Way to Live

 

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6: 4

 

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6: 8– 11

 

The resurrection of Christ means we have a whole new way before us to live.  We are alive to God!  We have new life!  We have buried the old self and we have been raised up to live no longer under sins rule, but under God’s rule.  We are dead to sin.  It has no power anymore.  We live apart from sin that we might live to God.  That means we live to bring glory to God.

 

 

#8        To Display God’s Amazing Grace

 

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2: 6– 7

 

Jesus opened a new way of knowing and experiencing God, apart from the law, yet making use of the law.  Jesus shows us God’s grace and even how the law is a guide to see that grace.  God gives us unmerited favor and kindness because of Jesus.  The resurrection makes that possible.  As Mathewson says it, “Grace is God giving me what I don’t deserve. Mercy is God not giving me what I do deserve” (p.78). 

 

#7        To Give Us New Birth into a Living Hope

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1: 3

 

Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” Acts 23: 6

 

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 1 Thessalonians 4: 13– 14


Everything is made new in Jesus.  We notice all the reasons in the world why people might lose hope.  We get discouraged as well when we see Christians killed in the Middle East or see senseless murders or crime or other sufferings around the world and in our own nation.  But we have in Jesus Christ a living hope.  While we might have bouts of sadness or despair or depression, we always have this hope lurking deep within us.  Christ gives us hope when all else fails us.

 

#6        To Heal Us

 

Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Acts 4: 10

 

Peter is giving testimony as to the source of healing for a lame man.  Healing is not just about one ailment or crippling concern, but in Jesus it is about being made whole.  It is also about a future.  Not everyone is healed as we might think they ought to be, but there will come a time in the fullness of God’s time when all will be healed.  In the resurrection, healing will come today or on a day to come.

 

#5        To Glorify the Lamb of God

 

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1: 18– 21

 

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. Peter (Acts 3: 13– 15)

 

I mentioned to you Thursday night how Jesus spoke about and prayed that the Father be glorified in Jesus’ suffering and death.  And God is certainly glorified in Christ’s resurrection.  While everything seemed to be going wrong from a human point of view, God’s plan would reveal God’s glory and the glory of Jesus when, on this morning, Christ would be raised from the tomb.

 

#4        To Intercede for Us at God’s Right Hand

 

Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus, who died— more than that, who was raised to life— is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8: 34

 

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7: 23– 25

 

Mathewson suggests some ways Jesus prays for us.  First is in John’s gospel when Jesus prays for the disciples and the Church in chapter 17.  The second is through his office of high priest according to Hebrews.  A third is also from Hebrews that Jesus helps us in times of need.  I would add a fourth, (which Mathewson does indirectly), that Jesus intercedes for us through the Holy Spirit according to Romans 8.

 

#3        To Unite Us with Him in His Resurrection

 

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. Romans 6: 5– 8

 

We are forever united with Jesus in his death and resurrection, signified in our baptism.  This redefines who we are.  Martin Luther is said to have awakened each day with the statement, “I am a baptized believer in Jesus.”  (Or something to that effect!)  Our identity is complete in this union with Jesus in his death and resurrection.

 

#2        To Forgive Our Sins

 

But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay. Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Acts 13: 37– 38

 

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 1 Corinthians 15: 17

 

The only way we can know forgiveness is because Christ is risen!  Yes, the cross is where we recognize the sin taken upon him and washed away in his blood, but resurrection completes the sacrificial nature of overcoming sin and death.  Without the resurrection, the cross makes no sense. 

 

#1        To Give us Eternal Life

 

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11: 25– 27

 

Because he lives, we live.  Because he conquered death, we shall not die!  Yes, we will have a final breath in this life, but that is not the end for us.  Death has no power over Christ and no power over those of us in Christ.  The tomb is empty because death has been defeated.  This physical body may perish, but that which is me lives on with Jesus and that which is you will live as well. 

 

Well, there you have it, ten of many reasons why this day is the most important day for a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Christ is risen.   He is risen indeed.  Hallelujah! 

 

 

 

 

*Mathewson, Steven D. (2013-01-15). Risen: 50 Reasons Why the Resurrection Changed Everything. Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.