HE IS RISEN! - HE IS RISEN INDEED!
This morning we celebrate the Resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ. It is far more than just an interesting historical event. Jesus rising from the dead is the most important event that ever took place and is the GREATEST gift mankind shall ever receive.
What happened on Easter assures us of FOUR IMPORTANT THINGS.
First and foremost Easter assures us that - Jesus is Who He Claimed to Be! John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am!” This is one of the most explicit claims that Jesus made regarding His deity, His power, and who He was. In fact, John’s gospel records seven “I Am…” statements that Jesus made in order to bring people to a point of believing in Him as their Savior.
Jesus said, “I am...the bread of life – I am…the light of the world - I am...the door - I am…the Good Shepherd – I am…the resurrection and the life - I am…the way, and the truth, and the life – and, I am…the true vine.” Near the end of his Gospel, in chapter 20, verse 31, John tells us the importance of these seven statements: “… these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” It is here that John tells his readers the one condition for necessary for eternal life: It is to BELIEVE - to place one’s trust in Christ alone.
And we can believe in Jesus with confidence, because the Resurrection proves that He is who He claimed to be! That being said, if He is who He claimed to be, we don’t have to seek any other way to eternal life! The truth is - there is no other way! Jesus did not say “I’m just one way.” He did not say, “I’m a good way.” He did not say, “All spiritual roads lead to the same place, so take your pick.” He said, “I am the way”. In my twenty years of ministry, I’ve seen a lot of people try a lot of different ways to get to heaven.
Some people try “salvation by sincerity.” It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere. Some people try “salvation by service.” I’ll just do a few good deeds and that should be enough to get me in. Some people try “salvation by subtraction.” I’ll give up all my bad habits.
Unfortunately for these folks: being sincere, offering acts of service, and giving up bad habits are NOT ways to salvation. They may be things you do as a result of your walk with Christ, but they are not things that will bring you eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. The condition that is necessary - is that you believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be!
Brethren, Jesus has the Power that He Claimed to Have! Listen to the words of Jesus regarding His life and power. John 10, verse 18: “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
In other words, no earthly force could keep Jesus in the tomb. The Romans killed him, put him in a tomb, put a one-ton stone in front of the entrance, sealed it with the Roman seal, and posted a 24-hour guard to secure it; all of which was supposed to keep God from doing what he said He would do. But none of it could stop God from doing what he promised he’d do.
When God says He’s coming out of a tomb. Get ready because He’s coming out!
Jesus did what He claimed He would do! In Mark 10:33-34 we read that Jesus even told the twelve disciples in advance about His death and resurrection. “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him unto the gentiles: And they shall mock him, and scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.”
Well, guess what? That’s exactly what He did. He did what He promised. Jesus had the power that He claimed to have and Easter proves it! The bottom line is - that Jesus is who He said He was - He has the power to do what He claims He will do - and He keeps the promises that He makes!
The second thing we are assured of because of Easter is forgiveness.
If Jesus said he will forgive your past, that’s exactly what he will do! In John 8:10-11, Jesus said the woman that was caught in adultery and brought before Him for judgment: “…Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?” She replied, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee: Go, and sin no more.” This passage represents one of our deepest human needs – the need to feel and know forgiveness.
Imagine what great news it was for the accused woman. The only righteous person who ever lived had set her free! She had been forgiven! Like this woman, we have all thought, said, and done things that we wish we had not done. Some of us have gotten caught; some of us haven’t, but we all have regrets and guilt and wish that we could go back and start over. Well, because of Easter, we know that God can and will forgive us if we confess with a contrite heart, repent, and intend to lead a new life following the commandments of God. You and I can walk out of here today fully forgiven of every sin we’ve ever committed – that’s Easter. Easter say’s “You’re forgiven!”
The third assurance of Easter is that Jesus said He would be with us always - he’ll be there for us!
After His resurrection Jesus met with the eleven remaining disciples in Galilee and gave them His great commission found in Matthew 28:20. He came and spake unto them saying, “All power is given unto me in heven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
Because Jesus was fully human He experienced all that we will experience in this earthly life. He experienced pain, loss, sadness, anger, temptations, hatred from others, love, and betrayal. Every human emotion that we experience – Jesus has experienced.
Jesus knows that there will be people out there who are going to put obstacles in the road to make life more difficult for us, even to take advantage of us. He realizes that the trials that life puts in front of us will be overwhelming at times; that there will be times when we feel powerless.
Our Savior knows we can’t manage our lives without Him. That’s why he made this promise. That’s why Easter says “I’m with you always.”
One of life’s deepest needs is for companionship and oneness with the God who made us and who enables us to manage life’s problems. Easter makes it possible.
We can walk out of here today knowing we have companion for life; someone who will walk with us in this life, never forsake us, and never leave us – be with us even unto the end of the world; which brings us to the fourth assurance of Easter.
The fourth assurance of Easter is that Jesus said he would come back. John 14:2, 3 “In m father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Another of our deepest needs is to know that we have a future; that this world is not all there is; that there’s something more than life as we presently know it.
There are two things that can terminate life as we know it. The first is death. All the science man can or has developed won’t be able to conquer that major problem. We can prolong life, but we can’t alleviate death.
The second thing that can terminate life, as we know it - is the coming of Christ. What’s important here is that either way – natural death or our Lord’s second coming - requires us to be ready. Because of Easter, we can walk out of here today fully prepared and ready for the world and life to come. For the Christian there is no greater comfort than the promise of eternal life guaranteed for us by Easter.
If you are not a believer or doubt what’s in store for you at your death: this is a great day of opportunity for you to have your deepest needs met! Your future can be secure; your relationship with God can be established; and your conscience can be cleared ALL BECAUSE OF EASTER! God has made all sorts of incredible promises. Some so incredible, that many find them difficult to believe.
So the question to you this Easter morning is this; WILL YOU TAKE HIM AT HIS WORD?
If so, Jesus has an invitation for you: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with Me.”
Jesus is alive my friends, and He wants you to have a personal relationship with Him. Because of His sacrifice on the Cross, and God’s acceptance of that sacrifice by the Resurrection and Ascension of His Only Begotten Son, the Bible promises that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
That is the message and invitation of Easter! Jesus has conquered sin, overcome death, and invites you share in His victory – now and forevermore. HE IS RISEN – HE IS RISEN INDEED!