This is Resurrection Day!

This is Resurrection Day!

I am sorry to disappoint some of you, but we are not celebrating Easter! This is the anniversary of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! The pagan world has successfully turned our thinking from an empty tomb to an Easter egg and bunny. The meaning and importance of the Resurrection escapes most of the world (and part of the church). They are celebrating a pagan holiday in honor of the goddess of fertility and the rejuvenation of the earth. In the process, they are diminishing the most miraculous and important event in history!

What is the meaning of the Resurrection? Simply, Jesus Christ is alive! Rising from the dead, He proved He is the eternal God who came to give us eternal life! He is the Messiah—the Savior of the world! He is the Resurrection and the Life. This is something to celebrate!

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her [Martha], “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. Do you believe this?”

That would be hard to believe unless Jesus proved it by His own Resurrection. As a result, we have hope of life after death. Even now, we can experience His Life, the Holy Spirit. After we believe and give our life to Him in baptism, He resurrects us unto everlasting life by giving us a new birth from His Spirit! Do you feel His Life in you this morning? If so, then you know what I’m talking about and you feel like celebrating the Resurrection without ever seeing Him!

John 20:29 Jesus said to him [Thomas], “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Without the Resurrection, there would be no basis for Christianity. The apostle Paul declared the Resurrection as the foundation of his personal faith and listed as proof many eyewitnesses of Christ’s resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:1-8 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 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, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

The Resurrection means Jesus Christ is Lord! He has authority over life and death.

John 10:17-18 “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

The empty tomb convinced Jesus’ disciples of His lordship. If His body had remained in the tomb, He would be another prophet, but not the Son of God.

Romans 1:4 [He] was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord

The message of the Resurrection is that Jesus is alive. He is our living Lord! Furthermore, He has the power to resurrect us from “death unto life”!

But it didn’t look that way on Friday. On Friday, it appeared Jesus was not the Son of God. No one understood His message on Friday. There was great sorrow when the body of Jesus was carried from the Cross to the tomb Friday afternoon. The message seemed to say, “Jesus is defeated.” But on the morning of the third day, the stone was rolled away to reveal that the tomb was empty, and the angel announced the message, “He is risen!”

Jesus came to bring life—eternal life to all who believe. His resurrection is both a promise and provision of eternal life. To know Christ personally means to be resurrected with Him NOW and to live free from the bondage of sin and death by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 6:1-7 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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. 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.

Through man’s disobedience sin entered the world. That spirit of sin contaminated every person throughout history. The real meaning and purpose of life was perverted. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ restored to fallen mankind the means to conquer the spirit of sin and be filled with the Spirit of God. As man walked with God in the beginning, we can walk with Him again and be with Him throughout Eternity.

When you woke up this morning, you already knew how the story of Passover Week ended. You did not wake up wondering whether or not Jesus of Nazareth was still in the grave. You did not wake up to a world where death and evil seemed to have won the final victory.

Two thousand years ago, the disciples of Jesus did not wake up with the same assurance. Everything in life seemed hopeless. Evil had triumphed. Whatever they were expecting to face that day, it is clear from the Gospels that Jesus’ Resurrection was not on their minds.

Mark 16:1-7 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

Those women, making their way to the grave, were expecting to see a dead body and not a risen Lord. The fact that they were carrying ointments and spices to anoint Jesus’ body proves that they were not expecting the Resurrection. In addition, when they arrived at the tomb, found the stone rolled away, and saw that the tomb was empty, none of them said, "He is risen!"

To their alarm, the body of Jesus was not there. A "young man, dressed in a white robe" told them, "You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn't here. He is risen. He is going ahead of you to Galilee."

As they listened to this messenger from God they must have thought, "Gone to Galilee? But He died on Friday. We saw Him die on the cross. We watched Joseph of Arimathea take Him off the cross and put Him in this tomb. He's risen? He's gone to Galilee?” None of this made sense to them at the time.

I am intrigued as to why Jesus went to Galilee after His Resurrection? Galilee is an out-of-the-way sort of place, kind of like Arkansas. It's where Jesus grew up, but that's about its only claim to fame. Jesus spent most of His ministry in Galilee, getting ready to go to Jerusalem. Jesus spent most of His time getting His disciples prepared to leave Galilee and go to the Capitol City with Him. There, in Jerusalem, lived the people with the power and influence to change the world. But the people of Jerusalem crucified Jesus.

You might assume that the first day of His resurrected life, Jesus would have gone straight to the palace, to the seat of Roman power, and appeared there, proving He is the King of the Jews and King of kings.

Or you might assume that Jesus would go to the temple and prove to the Sanhedrin He is the Messiah and the Son of God.

However, He didn't go to the places of influence and power to prove anything to those unbelievers. The resurrected Christ came back to Galilee to appear the third time to the same men who denied Him, misunderstood Him, forsook Him, and fled into hiding.

They were fishing in Galilee, doing what they did before they met Jesus. Instead of rebuking them, Jesus prepared a fish fry for them. Jesus especially wanted to see Peter. Peter had denied Jesus three times to save his own life. Jesus knew Peter would be ashamed and would not expect Jesus to ever trust him again. But Jesus told Peter, “If you love me, feed my sheep and follow me.” With revived faith in their risen Lord, the disciples went back to Jerusalem to wait for the promise of the Father—the Holy Spirit.

Jesus came back for us as well, for there are times when we deny Jesus and forsake Him. Jesus is calling us to return to our “Galilee”, to go back to the place where we fellowshipped with Jesus and begin to follow Him all over again. He will meet us there.

After His Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, Jesus empowered His disciples with the Holy Spirit. The result is the birth of His Church—a community of believers with nothing more in common than their faith that Jesus rose from the dead and He sealed us for our own resurrection by giving us a new birth from His Holy Spirit. That's our only claim, our only hope.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you

To those who have made Jesus Lord of their lives, He gives them His Holy Spirit. He abides in us and we abide in Him. Therefore, we are not alone or powerless. He makes us His ambassadors. We have His grace to do His will and to testify that He is alive!

Furthermore, He will never leave us or forsake us. When we face persecution or walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we look up and realize that we're not walking by ourselves. When we come to some roadblock in our life, to our delight, there He is, awaiting us.

Therefore, the "proof" of the Resurrection is not the absence of Jesus' body from the tomb. It’s the presence of Jesus with His followers! We know He lives, because He lives within our heart!

I used to visit an old widow woman who lived all alone in a run-down house. Unable to read well herself, she loved to hear me read the Bible to her. As I read the Word, tears often ran down her cheeks. I asked her one day what she was feeling. Was she fearful or lonely?

"No," she responded, "I'm not fearful, because I am not alone. Jesus is with me all the time." She knew the Resurrection was real!

As I look back over my life, all the sins I've committed, all the times I've turned away from Jesus, gone my own way, and denied His Lordship, He was there for me when I repented and sought His presence. He meets me at my “Galilee” and is with me all the time.

In life, in death, and in life beyond death, Jesus is our hope. The risen Christ came back to us, He sent His Spirit to be in us, and He will come back a second time and take us home with Him.

Jesus said in John 14:1-6 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, you have a place reserved in Heaven. Think about what it will be like in Heaven. There will be no pain, no suffering, no sorrows, and no death. Yet, none of this compares with being with Jesus Christ in person for eternity.

Acts 1:-11 So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

It must have been an amazing sight to watch Jesus ascend into the clouds. However, that ascension will not compare to the sight of Christ coming back for His Church.

1Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.

We don’t know when Christ will come back again. It may be a hundred years before Christ comes back. It may be today. Either way, are you prepared?

Jesus promised that if we repent from our sins, accept Him as our Savior and Lord, and die to our old life in baptism, we will be born again of His Spirit and we will spend eternity with Him in Heaven. If we don’t repent and if we aren’t born again of His Spirit, we will spend eternity somewhere else. That somewhere is Hell, a place of constant torment.

Many people, who don’t want to make Jesus lord of their life, say that they don’t believe in Heaven or Hell. When you die, that is it. There’s no life after death.

What if they are wrong? Do you want to take that chance? Eternity is forever. Just because you don’t believe in something you’ve never seen, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I’ve never seen gravity, but it exists whether I believe in it or not.

Others say they will believe in Jesus if He comes back. But, He did come back! That is what I have been saying about the Resurrection! He has already come back, proving He is the Christ, King of kings, Lord of Lords, Savior, and the Son of God. The Resurrection is His proof!

No, the time to believe and the day of salvation is now! When we see His return in the clouds, it is too late, your choice has already been made and He is coming to bring judgment.

Jesus’ blood on the cross atoned for your sin. He was buried, rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven and He is coming back again! If you don’t believe Him before His next return, you will spend eternity in Hell!

So, if you are here today and you don’t know Jesus as your Savior and Lord, believe in His Death, Burial, and Resurrection. Believe in Him as the Son of God, who has all authority. Repent of your sin and self-rule. Die to this life and be born again of the Spirit by being baptized. You may not have another chance. You don’t know when Christ is coming and you don’t know when you will take your last breath!

You may be here today as a Christian, but with all that is going on in the world today; Satan has distracted you. You have deserted Jesus, denied Him, and doubted Him. Return to your “Galilee,” the place you first met Jesus. Recommit your life to Jesus, and follow Him again.

A victorious life is ours through the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ! That is what we are celebrating today! Let’s start living that victorious life now. Rejoice and be thankful for your salvation and for His love. Praise Him, love Him with all your heart, and tell others what Jesus has done for you. Be filled with His Spirit and enjoy His Presence in you every day, until He comes back again.

So, now you know who Jesus is and what He has done for you. You can’t earn eternal life. It is His gift of love to you. However, you must die to this life and receive it from Him. It is your decision.