Sunday, April 20, 2014

He Is Risen!

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."
(John 11:25-26)

Easter Sunday. To many it means the Easter bunny, a day of food and celebration. For some it is an obligatory church-attending holiday, after which life goes on as usual.

How sad that we have so quickly forgotten the true meaning of Easter. Our God reigns! Jesus Christ died, yes. But even more importantly, He rose again and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father.

Jesus Christ literally defied death. But He did more than just a Houdini move. We "ooo" and "ahhh" over the narrow escapes by magicians like David Copperfield and others, but eventually even those daredevils will face death. Their power is limited.

But Jesus Christ was greater -- He defied death FOREVER. Jesus Christ lives and reigns for eternity, whether you or I believe that fact or not.

And He has reclaimed life for all those who believe in Him. This is the second miracle of Easter. Through God's work on the cross, we have access to eternal life as well:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ' The righteous will live by faith' (Romans 1:16-17).
If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved (Romans 10:9-10).
Whosoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven (Matt. 10:32-33).
Please consider today the wonder of God's power and His love for you. He knows you. He knows what you have done. He knows what you are going to do. But He is waiting for your response, my friend. God doesn't need your praise or your service to Him; He desires it. It is not what we do for God that gets us into heaven and gives us a right relationship with God. It is only by faith in Jesus Christ. Look at these Scriptures:
Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified (Galatians 2:16).
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead can’t be ignored. It changed human history, and it has changed countless lives. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can have hope. Our hope is not in technology. Our hope is not in human solutions. Our hope is certainly not in politicians. And our hope is not in preachers. Our hope is in God.

It has been said that man can live 40 days without food, three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but not one second without hope. Have you lost hope? Has something happened to you recently that has caused you to feel like a rudderless ship without any real hope or purpose in life?

I think some of Jesus’ disciples felt that way. They had lost hope after his crucifixion. In their estimation, Jesus had somehow failed in His mission. They held the view that when the Messiah came, he would establish his kingdom and rule as King of kings and Lord of lords, which in their case meant overthrowing the Roman occupation of Israel.

Though it is true that the Scriptures say the Messiah will come again and rule and reign, they failed to see that the Messiah would first come and suffer and die. So many passages pointed to that. So when Jesus, their friend, their hero, their Messiah and their Lord was suddenly arrested on false charges, beaten and murdered in cold blood before their eyes, it seemed as though something had gone horribly wrong. These disciples were so downhearted, discouraged and hopeless that they decided to get out of town. They left Jerusalem. And as they were on their way to Emmaus, a stranger joined them. As it turned out, it was Christ himself.

It’s interesting to note the people to whom Jesus chose to appear, post-resurrection. He could have appeared before Pilate and said, “Remember me?” He could have appeared before Caesar and said, “You think you are a god? Check this out. Years from now, all they will remember you for is a salad, but I will change human history.” But instead, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. Perhaps it was because she was among the last at the cross and the first one at the tomb. It seems that Jesus went out of his way to reach out to ordinary people, to obscure people, to people who were often forgotten by others.

We also have this interesting detail about that unexpected encounter on the road to Emmaus: “So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him” (Luke 24:15–16 NKJV). Jesus was traveling incognito, and the Gospel of Mark adds this detail: “He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country” (Mark 16:12, emphasis added). They were walking along, not realizing that Jesus himself was walking with them.

The problem was they were going in the wrong direction. They should have either stayed in Jerusalem with the other disciples or went with them to Galilee, where Jesus told them to go. Instead, they wanted to put as much distance between themselves and the cross as possible.
But instead of giving up on them, Jesus joined them on their journey and asked a question: “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” (verse 17 NLT).
So one of them said, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days” (verse 18).
It would be easy for us to criticize these two, but if we had been in their sandals, we probably would have done the same thing. A lot of times we don’t listen to what God says in the Bible. We worry when we should pray. We panic when we should trust. And we turn away from him when we should cling to him.
So what did Jesus do to restore their hope? He took them to the Scriptures and explained them. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that sermon. I wonder what he told them. I wonder whether he said, “Hey, guys, remember Psalm 22 that says, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ and ‘They pierced My hands and My feet’? That was speaking of the crucifixion.”
Maybe He took them to Isaiah 53. “Hey, remember that passage were Isaiah says, ‘As a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth’? That was talking about Me. ‘He was wounded for our transgressions’ – that was me, you guys. It is all pointing to me. All of those Old Testament symbols – from the Passover lamb to the rock that was broken in the wilderness and water came out – those were symbols of me. It is all a picture of me.”
They still didn’t know it was Jesus, but they knew this much. The guy really knew the Scriptures. They liked him. And they found that as they listened to him, their hearts were being rekindled.
That is where we will find our hope being rekindled as well. Romans 15:4 says, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (NKJV).
When you are downhearted, when you are discouraged, the last thing you want to do is run from God. You should run to God. Go to God with your troubles. Go to God with your questions. Go to God with your pain. Go to God with your complaints. The main thing is, go to God. Don’t run from him.
Like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, sometimes we don’t realize that God is with us. He is with us all the time. He is with us on the sunny days, and he is with us on the cloudy days. He is with us on the mountaintops, and he is with us in the valleys. He is with us in all that we go through in life.

If you couldn't make church today, below are a couple of Easter Messages; the first by David Jeremiah and the second by Max Lucado:

David Jeremiah: The Resurrection Of Jesus
(Jump to around 17 minutes to get straight to the sermon)

And this (just for some extra inspiration on this day):

Worship The Great I Am

Revelation Song


Caver said...

Wonderful message today Scott. If I may humbly add some music to send chills down your spine in recognition of today...

"He's Alive" by Dolly in 1989

The most powerful "Amazing Grace" I've ever heard

Thank You Father!
Thank You Jesus!

Scott said...

AMEN brother. I'm hoping next easter we'll be worshiping together in New Jerusalem :) Maranatha!

Dutch Treat said...

THE FACE OF JESUS: Once upon a time in a world forlorn, in a tiny stable an infant was born. It was in Bethlehem on a night so clear, that the face of Jesus first did appear. His face appreared to Mary and Joseph to whom it gave quite a glow. They knew He'd be someone special. For God had decreed it so. His face appeared to shepherds who came to worship and adore. For an Angel told them a Saviour was born of who'm the prophets foretold years before. They were so deeply moved by what they'd seen and heard, that they couldn't wait to tell everyone what had just occurred. His face appeared to wisemen who traveled far and wide, to locate their newborn King; and a star was their guide. They presented to Him gifts of myrr, frankincense and gold. to see wealthy men honoring a child was a sight to behold. His face appeared to Simeon a pioused and elderly man, who was filled with the Holy Spirit and in tune with God's plan. He longed to see his Messiah before his life would cease; and when he saw the child he knew he would die in peace. His face appeared to the Temple teachers when He was just 12, who were astonished at the questions in which He'd delve. Although His paraents didn't know what this visit meant, for the first time Jesus realized why to this world He was sent. His face appeared to John the Baptist who traveled a barren land, to preach forgiveness and repentence. The Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. He baptized people so as to repent from all sin. He prepared the way and baptized Jesus so His ministry could begin. His face appeared to Satan who tempted Him 40 days; and tried to entice Him with worldly treasures in various ways. Satan wanted to be worshipped; and truly gave it his all. Yet Jesus resisted him and stayed true to God's call. His face appeaed to 12 men, an ordinary lot; and ranked high in society they certainly were not. Yet He saw something in them to help Him reach His goals. So they became His first desciples; and fished for men's souls. His face appeared to Nicodemus a scribe and pharisee; and there was something about Jesus that sparked his curiosity. He knew Jesus came from God in order to teach all men; and Jesus said that to enter heaven he must be born again. His face appeared to a woman who was sitting at the well; and while she was digging for water her life story He did tell. She was a despised Samaritan to whom all Jews cursed. Yet He showed her the way to living water that would forever quench thirst. She told the entire village what she'd seen and heard; and after meeting Jesus many were assured. His face appeared to a Roman officer whose son was in bed lain. For he was paralized and suffering in great pain. Jesus was impressed with his faith and how to Him he'd yield; and just by uttering a word the little boy was healed. His face appeared to a man who for 38 years had been ill. Laying by the Pool of Bethesda for living he'd lost his will. Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well; and by a simple command he was delivered fro a personal hell. His face appeared to Jairus whose daughter was gravely ill; and her chances of surviving were practically nil. So He went to his house where there was much weeping; and He assured them that she was only sleeping. His face appeared to a woman whose slow bleeing was taking its toll; and just by touching His garment she was made whole. His face appeared to Bartimaeus who was totally blind; and came forward to Jesus for mercy to find, For he recognized instantly that Jesus was his Lord; and purely by his faith his eyesight was restored.

Dutch Treat said...

THE FACE OF JESUS: (cont.) His face appeared to 5000 who had nothing to eat; and feeding that many people was no easy feat. So He took 2 pieces of fish and 5 small loaves of bread; and all 5000 returned to their homes very well fed. His face appeared to Peter, James and John on a mountaintop; and His face and clothes lit up, which made quite a backdrop. Then the faces of Moses and Elijah were prominently displayed; and God's voice proclaimed Jesus as His son who must be obeyed. His face appeared to the rich young ruler who wanted to live forever. Yet form his earthly ties he did not want so sever. Jesus said to follow Him and give his wealth to the poor. Yet in all his riches he felt far more secure. His face appeared to 10 lepers who wanted to get well. Jesus sir have mercy on us. All of them did yell. He healed all 10 of them out of compassion and concern. Yet only one of them came back to thank Him in return. His face appeared to Zacchaeus who collected taxes dishonestly, who sought a closer look. So he climbed up a Sycamore tree. Jesus showed him a love and compassion that was badly needed; and Zacchaeus promised to pay back all those he had cheated. His face appeared to Mary and Martha who grieved and cried. For their dear brother Lazarus had just died. Lazarus, come out: with a mighty shout He said; and by this great miracle He raised him from the dead. His face also appeared to some who weren't exactly thrilled. For they hated Him so much that they wanted Him killed. He exposed their selfish motives, and when all was said and done, despite His miracles they wouldn't accept Him as God's Son. His face appeared to many as He triumphantly entered the City. Yet 4 days later they wanted to crucify Him. What a pity. His face appeared to Judas whose objectives didn't match His; and who for 30 pieces of silver betrayed Him with a kiss. His face appeared to Pontious Pilate before whom He was tried, who knew that He was innocent and wanted to take His side. Yet he was so scared of a mob loaded for bear, that he decided to wash his hands of the entire affair. His face appeared to 2 men who on the cross with Him died; and one made a remark to Him that was rather snide. He mocked and taunted Jesus with intent to chastise; but the other one sought forgiveness; and he went to Paradise. His face appeared to Mary Magdaline who went out to the tomb, to show her respect to Jesus; and she was full of gloom; but when she heard someone call her name her spirits must have soared. For when she turned around it was the face of her Risen Lord. His face appeared to 2 men on the Emmaus road, when someone walked up beside them; and their emotions freely flowed; but when they stopped to eat that night and saw Jesus breaking bread, they knew instantly that He had risen from the dead. His face appeared to the disciples in various places throughout; and the nail scars in His hands erased any doubt. His mission to save the world from sin He did consumate; and was ready to return to The Father in His new glorified state. Shortly after that He ascended up in the sky, so that He could be with His Father up on high. Yet He sent The Great Comforter for us to receive, whose spirit rests and dwells in all those who believe. For as we struggle and toil in this world full of strife, simply by faith in Him He's promised us eternal life. For He's up there right now preparing for us a place, where we will dwell forever once we've finished our earthly race. Then we will finally be able to enter that Golden Door, where we will be with Him forever and evermore. For someday soon the Face of Jesus WE'LL see; AND WHAT A GLORIOUS DAY THAT IS GOING TO BE! Happy Easter everyone, Dutch.

Scott said...

Dutch - thanks so so much for that. What a great Easter message! Hope all is well with you brother, and God Bless