“The Risen Christ”
The Bible is filled with a variety of stories. It is a record of significant things that happened a long time ago. From the creation of the world to the return of Jesus, the Bible describes things which are fascinating and important. Something that captures our attention, perhaps more than most, are the events surrounding the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. In fact, most everything in the Bible points to that most significant story. Have you considered, however, what it would be like if Jesus did not come out of the grave? It was important for Jesus to die on the cross. It was necessary for Him to be buried in a tomb. But if Jesus did not rise from the dead, everything else would be meaningless. If Jesus is still in the tomb today, He would be no different from any other religious leader of the past. We cannot underestimate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Because of that, we have the promise of His presence with us today. We have the reassurance of being a part of God's family, and we have the hope of rising from the dead to be united with Jesus and with our Father in heaven. Today, on "Key to the Kingdom," we will spend some time in a familiar Bible passage written by the apostle Paul. We will notice several blessings and promises which are made available to us, because Jesus rose from the dead. I hope you will join us for that study today as we are reminded again of the importance of Jesus' resurrection.
Most every person has some special people in his or her life, and those people are important and they bless us and special and various ways. Now, obviously there are some people who are more special than others, and that's just the way it is. But the question comes, what about Jesus? What makes Him important and special to so many? Well, what Jesus did when He was upon this earth changed the course of history and it redirected people's destiny. I want us for the next few minutes to notice some statements in the Bible about Jesus, that still impact us today. I think about the words of Simeon, that devout old righteous man in the temple. When Jesus’ parents brought Him to the temple, to dedicate Him to the Lord, Simeon was there, and he had received the promise from God that he would not pass-away until he saw the Lord's Messiah. Well, this was that occasion. And Simeon took baby Jesus into his arms and he offered this prayer, in Luke chapter 2 beginning with verse 30: “My eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people. A light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people, Israel.” Oh, Simeon knew that he held in his arms the Savior of the world, the one that would bring light and salvation to all people, both to the Jews and to the Gentiles. John the Baptist was the man preparing the way for the arrival of Jesus Christ, and he proclaimed a message to the people in hopes of preparing them for Jesus’ message and His ministry. And as he was doing that, one day, he looked up and he saw Jesus coming to him; and, he stated these words, in chapter 1 of the Gospel of John, in verse 29: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Yes, John recognized in Jesus the One who took away and eliminated the sin in this world. And then Jesus even said of himself, in Mark chapter 10 and verse 45, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” And that's exactly what Jesus did. He came to pay the price for, your sake and for mine. He paid the ransom. He paid an amount that we could not pay for our self, as He gave His life so that we might experience life. Oh, those statements plus many more remind us that Jesus is special. He died on the cross to do His Father's will. He died to fulfill Old Testament prophecy. He died to eliminate the curse of sin and to show His and His Father's great love for all of mankind. Yes, Jesus’ death is special, and without it we would be separated from God. Well, all of the New Testament points to the death of Jesus Christ, and it seems to be something that is focused on throughout the entire Bible. But, what about Jesus' resurrection? What is so important about that? Well, by rising from the dead, Jesus does not offer just a few good ideas on how to live a good life. Instead, He gives a new life. He presents to us the opportunity to start over and to enjoy a new life in Him, with all of the Father's promises and blessings. And with that new life, we experience hope for our life, both today and also for eternity. In 1st Corinthians chapter 15, the apostle Paul lists several things that are true because Jesus Rose from the dead. I want to read that passage of Scripture, and then notice several things that are true because Jesus is alive. We find these words in that 15th chapter, beginning with verse 14. <If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead. But He did not raise Him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. Oh, if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.> The first thing we notice, here in verse 14, is if Jesus was not raised, then our message is meaningless. Yes, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, every word we speak about Him would be empty and false and void of meaning. The story of salvation would be nothing more than a myth. Years ago when my children were young, they would come to me with their favorite storybook and crawl up into my lap and want me to read that story to them. I was more than happy to do so. Oh, that story book was filled with wonderful words and beautiful pictures, and my children were fascinated by it; and I thought, this is nothing more than a myth. This is a fairy tale or a made up story. Well, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then His story would be nothing more than that. It would be nothing more than a fairy tale or a myth. Yet, we can thank God today that is not the case. Jesus’ resurrection leads us out of spiritual darkness and transfers us into His wonderful light. And since that is real, since that is true, then so is His message. Here's the second thing we notice in the text. If Jesus was not raised, our faith is useless. We see that in verse 14 and also in verse 17. Can you imagine putting your faith or trust in something that never took place at all? Well, it would be a waste of time. It would be absolutely useless. On occasion, I see things advertised on the television that grab my attention; and I think to myself, “I believe that particular product would benefit me in some way, and the price seems to be just right. I think I will make that purchase.” And so I make the purchase and bring home that product, but it never measures up to my expectations. And then I begin to think, “Well, I paid a little too much for that product and it really is not what it was advertised to do.” Maybe you have been there as well. Well, it would be useless to place our hope in one called Jesus who never did what the Old Testament prophets told us He would do. If Jesus never followed through, certainly it would be useless and a waste of time to put our faith and our trust in Him. And yet, here's the key; because Jesus rose from the dead, our faith in Him is justified and it leads to eternal life. Here's a third statement for us to consider from verse 15. If Jesus was not raised, the Bible is false. If the resurrection of Jesus Christ did not happen, then, the story told in these 66 books here in this Bible is made up and untrue. Sometimes what we read on the internet or on social media, perhaps even in the newspaper, is not true. It is a false story. It is something that is made up and it never happened in the first place. We have to think very carefully about whether or not we believe everything we read. Well, some 40 writers, over a period of 1500 years, wrote the Bible; and all of them tell the same story about Jesus Christ. And if their messages are not true, then they have deceived this world for a long, long time. Oh, throughout many or throughout history, many people have tried to say that the Bible is not true. They have tried to discredit its teaching. They have said that its teaching is not relevant to today's world. Well, many years ago, people believe that the Bible would soon be forgotten and Christianity would be a thing of the past. Well, obviously that has not taken place and I suppose that it never will. But if that had been true, there would be no reason to believe in Jesus’ resurrection. But because, as we read here in the text, Jesus is no longer in the tomb, we can know without a doubt the Bible is not false, but it is absolutely true. Let's take a look at another thing here in verses 16. If Jesus was not raised, death is victorious. If Jesus is still in the tomb, today, there was no celebration in heaven. There would be no reason to look forward to spending an eternity with our Lord in heaven, because there would not be such a thing. And if that case was true then, we, unlike Jesus, would be in the grave forever. We could not anticipate being reunited with the Lord. There would be no victory over the tomb. Yes, if the resurrection did not happen, then death would be final. Jesus would still be in the tomb and we would have no hope of rising spiritually out of the tomb ourselves. From time to time, I attend a funeral or a memorial service for a friend or a loved one; and, I hear a person talking about that particular individual, whom we have come to honor. And that person describes the kind of life the individual lived, and his relationship with the Lord, and the hope that he had of spending an eternity with God. And that inspires those of us who remain to think about our life and to think about the hope that we too have because Jesus rose from the dead. But if Jesus did not rise from the dead, there would be no reason to preach such a message of life beyond the grave. In fact, there would be none. And yet when Jesus, victoriously rose from the grave, He paved the way for all of us to be victorious and to conquer death as well. And now, we have the hope of being alive and living with Jesus Christ for all eternity. Here's a fifth statement that we find from Paul. If Jesus was not raised, sin could not be forgiven (verse 17). If Jesus was still in the tomb, we would still be lost in our sin, and we would have to come up with a solution for our sin problem. And yet there would be none, for there is no other solution that eliminates the curse and the problem of sin in our life. Jesus already did that when He Rose from the dead. Many people, it seems, have a hard time forgiving themselves of the sin they have committed in the past. Maybe they have done some things that offended God or other people. Maybe they have left undone some things they needed to do, and their life is full of sin and mistakes and regrets. And along with that, they also live with a great deal of guilt, knowing that they could have done something different or better in the past, but they don't understand what to do. Well, because of Jesus' resurrection, He gives us the hope that we don't have to deal with our sin any longer. He's already paid the price to remove the sin and the guilt from our life. And when we come to the Lord, we recognize that our sin can be forgiven and forgotten. I've tried to describe this in various ways, and perhaps this one is my favorite: When God forgives our sin, He throws it into a lake of water, and then He throws up a sign that says, “No Fishing Allowed.” When God forgives our sin, we are to forgive our sin also. God throws it away. He forgets that it even happened, and we are to do the same. And because of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, we can do that with all confidence. Well, God has already dealt with your sin, and with mine, through His son, Jesus Christ. He's overcome that sin problem, because He died and He rose again. Here's one final thing for us to consider. It's found in verse 18. If Jesus was not raised, heaven is hopeless. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, there would be no hope of eternal life. Heaven would be nothing more than a pretty picture painted-up somewhere in the sky, and those who long to see Jesus will have been misled. Oh, if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not true, then heaven is not true either. And if that is the case, then none of us have any hope of the future. We don't have any hope for life eternal. Perhaps some of the saddest words which have ever been spoken are the words, “you have no hope.” And maybe those words are spoken by a parent or a teacher, maybe even a coach; and they say to a young child, there is no hope for you, you don't have any hope, or you are hopeless. And no doubt, words like that devastate young people. They think they are of no value and of no use to this world, and they have no hope of making it in this world. And that's tragic when those things are communicated by other people to a youngster, or maybe even from one adult to another. But in Jesus Christ, we have hope! He is the greatest gift that has ever been given to all of mankind. And His resurrection from the dead is more special than any gift we will ever give or receive. Yes, His death changes our life and His resurrection redirects our destiny. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, we have no forgiveness and our faith is useless. If Jesus is still in the grave then the Bible is false and we have no hope. But, today we can come together and praise God for the fact that is not the case. Paul concludes this section about the resurrection of Jesus with a final summary statement, in verse 20 of chapter 15: But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead. Well that summarizes his whole message, doesn't it! That eliminates any kind of question mark or concern. Paul knows for a fact that Jesus is not in the tomb, but He rose victoriously on that third day. Oh, the death of Jesus Christ, His burial in the tomb and then His resurrection from the dead offers, to you and to me, a new beginning. He invites us into a relationship with His Father. He does not want anyone to refuse His invitation or to turn his or her back up on Him. Oh, for one reason or another, we might refuse to meet with the leader of our nation, believing that our thoughts and our beliefs are not like his or hers. We might reject an invitation to be with a famous entertainer; stating, “Well, that kind of entertainment really does not appeal to me.” We might even refuse to shake hands with a famous professional athlete saying, “I'm really not into that particular sport.” And those things may or may not happen, but let us never turn away from the new life that comes through Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. If Jesus did not die and rise from the grave, then we would be lost in our sin and we would have no hope of an eternal relationship with God in heaven. And yet, while we were still lost in our sin, because of His great love for you and for me, God sent His Son to pay the price to set us free from sin. And when He went to the cross and He gave His life, for you and for me, we now have that hope. We can experience that forgiveness of sin, as He sets us free. And more than anything else, He wants us to receive that free gift of salvation, as an expression of His love. God loves us more than we will ever know. Yes, God is longing for us to be found. That's why He sent His Son to this world, to seek and to save those who are lost. He wants us to come out of our lost-ness and to receive the salvation that Jesus has to offer, and to be found by Him, and to experience that eternal life. Oh, it is true, there are some very special people in our life, and some of them are more special than others; and yet, there is no one who is more special than Jesus Christ, God's one and only Son. And we find that to be true when we go to the story of His death, burial and resurrection. What He did for us is so meaningful, and His resurrection from the grave gives us so much hope and confidence. As we put our faith and trust in Him, we know that we will be eternally rewarded. My hope and my prayer for you today is that you believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and that, indeed, it redirects your eternal destiny.
In the past, I have had the privilege to sit at the feet of many educated and insightful Bible teachers. Those times of study were very special. And yet, as good as those sessions were, it could never compare with sitting at the feet of Jesus. In Luke chapter 23 we read about two people walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus on Easter Sunday. They were talking about the things that had just happened in the past few days. They walked North out of Jerusalem before turning West toward Emmaus, and suddenly a third person showed up. It was Jesus himself. He asked them what they were discussing, and they responded with amazement; as they could not believe someone that close to Jerusalem had not heard the news. They shared the details of what they knew and had witnessed. Cleopas was sharing with this stranger about the Gospel, Jesus’ life and ministry and death, but an unexpected turn of events had just taken place; news was beginning to trickle in that Jesus was no longer dead. Well, imagine the things Jesus might have shared with them as they walked along the road. One of them, evidently, lived in Emmaus, and they went into the house to eat. Jesus was invited to stay and break bread with them, and it was then that He became the host for the meal. And at that moment they recognized Jesus for the first time. Their eyes were opened and they saw the resurrected Lord, and at that moment He vanished from their presence. Oh, this is just one of many special appearances of the resurrected Christ to a number of His followers. How special it must have been for these two disciples, and others, to have witnessed the resurrected Lord. Indeed, it is special for us to read about and to understand the importance of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
Thank you for being our guest today on “Key to the Kingdom.” It is good to remind ourselves of the many blessings that come our way because Jesus rose from the dead. If you would like to hear or view this message again, please go to our website, keytothekingdom.com. There you can download it in a variety of formats. Previous lessons are on the website, as well, and all of them can be accessed without any cost or obligation. Daily devotional thoughts, short inspirational videos and other information about this mission effort might be of interest. I especially encourage you to take a look at our latest newsletter and an update on our work in India. Another way to access this ministry is through a free app which can be downloaded onto your smart phone. By calling the number on the screen, you can leave your name and number and we will be happy to get back with you very soon. We would love to visit with you personally. Thank you again for joining us for today's episode. I hope you will tune in again next time as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”