Category Archives: Easter

The Resurrection

Mark 16:1-8  1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.6 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.7 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.”8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Are you looking for Jesus?  Does it seem to be a lost cause; a search that will never produce any results?  Maybe you’re looking in the wrong place.  Jesus isn’t in the tomb.  He is risen.

Sometimes we have a tendency to make up our own theology, our own doctrine that we think fits our beliefs better than what the Bible actually says.  We make up traits for Jesus that were never true of Him.  We create our own false Jesus.  But the power of the gospel to save lies in the truth of who Jesus Christ really is and what He really did.

It’s hard to swallow, the fact that God came down to earth in the form of a human man and that He lived a perfect life.  It’s harder still to believe that He would sacrifice His own life in place of ours so that we can be reconciled to God.  Hardest of all to grasp is the idea that He rose again from the dead.  That He lives even still today, reigning over all things.  But that’s our hope.  Without it we have nothing.

The hope you and I have that we can one day be with God through resurrection is the fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.  If our Savior is dead, then we’re doomed.  But if our Savior lives, then we too can live on forever.  Since He DOES live, we have hope that we can cling to.  Jesus’ resurrection is a truth that changes everything.

Burning hearts

Luke 24:32  They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

The Word of God has an effect on all who experience it.  As Jesus walked with the disciples that were headed to Emmaus, He opened up the Scriptures to them in a very real way, showing them the overall theme of the Bible – Himself.  As they heard all of this, presumably for the first time (though they “knew” the Scriptures), their hearts burned within them.  After inviting Jesus to stay with them their eyes were opened and they saw clearly who He was and that God had revealed Himself, through Jesus and through the Scriptures.

And what happened immediately after that?  The result was exactly what it was for anyone whose heart burns from within – they had to go share what they now knew.  When your heart is burning, you can’t help but tell the world what made it so.  After hearing Jesus’ words, experiencing Him, and having their eyes opened to the truth, they immediately went out and spread the news that the Christ had risen.  There was no doubt left in their minds that it was true and that everyone needed to know.  They knew the value of this news.  They knew what it meant to all mankind.

Experiencing Jesus does this to a person.  He has such an impact on us that our hearts burn from within and we can’t help but share the Gospel with all of those around us.  No one has ever had such an effect on all the world.  Those who experienced Him for who He is turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6) and we can continue to do so for His glory.

The Invitation

Luke 24:29  but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.

On the road to Emmaus, the disciples didn’t see Jesus for who He was.  Even after He had opened up the Scriptures to them as an ongoing story concerning Himself, they didn’t realize who was in their presence.  They were intrigued, maybe even amazed by His brilliance, but they did not yet see Him as the Christ because their eyes were still closed.

As they came upon their destination, Jesus acted like He was going to keep walking (knowing full well what was going to happen).  The disciples invited Him to come along with them.  They wanted to know more.  They wanted to spend more time with this man.  Only after this invitation were their eyes opened.  All that they knew in their heads became real finally when it hit them that they were talking with the Christ all that time on the road. He became more than they had ever expected.

The journey of a disciple requires an invitation to Jesus.  This doesn’t mean salvation, because He does the inviting in our hearts and we respond.  This is an invitation for Him to join us along the road as we travel into spiritual maturity.  We can’t understand it all on our own, we need Him walking with us.  As the disciples headed to Emmaus saw, Jesus is more than willing to accept and open up our eyes.

 

Head knowledge is not heart knowledge

Luke 24:25  And he said to them,“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!

Our friends who encountered Jesus along the road to Emmaus days after His death on the cross were very knowledgable of the Scriptures.  They longed for the promised Jewish Messiah because they had been taught from a young age all about the manuscripts and the Law, the oral traditions and the customs.  They knew the stories of their ancestors inside and out.  But Jesus pointed out to them that their head knowledge did not equal knowing the Scripture in their hearts.

He rightly pointed out to the disciples that they were being foolish for knowing the promises of God through the prophets without realizing that they were being fulfilled right in front of their eyes — by the very man who stood before them!  They were so concerned with what they “knew” that they didn’t know anything.  They couldn’t see the forrest for the trees.  All of that teaching did them no good if they couldn’t recognize the One whom the prophets had foretold.

Before we get down on the poor disciples of this story let’s take a look at the modern day church, at ourselves.  We’re a very educated society, with so many schools and so much at our disposal for learning about God and His Word.  Many of us have quite a few verses memorized and have learned the stories of the Bible from a young age.  We could tell someone who asks almost anything about any story…but how do those stories apply to our lives?  Do we know that answer?

“Knowing” the Scriptures is not the same as seeing Jesus for who He is and what He’s done by seeking Him.  Knowing God on a personal level enables us to really know the Scriptures and see them with eyes wide open.  Jesus has enabled us to know Him if we’ll just seek Him out.  If we look for Him, we’ll see that the entirety of God’s Word is about Jesus. From Genesis to Revelation.

Jesus in the Scriptures

Luke 24:27  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Can you see Jesus?  There He is, in the Garden of Eden, as the serpent is cursed by God and promised that One would come who would crush him (Genesis 3:15).  He’s there as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stand among the flames without being burnt up (Daniel 3:24-25). He’s the one foretold by the prophets (2 Samuel 7:12–16; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; 50:6; 52:13–53:12; 61:1; Jeremiah 23:5, 6; Daniel 7:13, 14; 9:24–27; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 6:12; 9:9;12:10; 13:7 and so on) and ushered in by The Baptist (John 1:29). And yes, we find that even in the very beginning, He was there (John 1:1). But so much more than these examples, He’s the central character of every story in every book of God’s Word.

As the disciples who walked to Emmaus spoke to Jesus, He pointed out to them how all of the Scriptures they knew concerned Him, they all had a purpose of shedding light on the man who was also God.  God revealed Himself to mankind through Jesus and He revealed Jesus through the Scripture.  When the eyes of the disciples were opened, they saw it.  When our eyes are opened to who Jesus is, we see it too.  It’s all about Him, every story, every prophesy, even the Law is given to show that we needed Jesus to come (Galatians 3:24-25).  It’s genius, if you think about it.  Who else, ever, in the entire history of the world, has written such an extensive story with so much action, so much rich dialogue, such beautiful poetry, such love, such applicable moral teaching, that reveals in the end to be about a great Hero that was the basis for the rest of the story up to that point?  It’s brilliant!  And it’s God-inspired.

What the disciples got that day is that Jesus is the central character.  He’s the one that matters in the big scheme of things.  We can learn a lot from Moses, David, Solomon and other heroes, but their main purpose was to point to Christ. Their good deeds and their flaws alike were to show us Jesus.  The prophesies, the plagues, the desert wandering, the flooding, all to point us to Jesus.  Not every view of theology agrees with this notion, but what matters is that Jesus did.  He’s the one who said Moses wrote about Him (John 5:46) and made claim to be the One that the prophets spoke of (Luke 4:21).  If Jesus believed it, it’s best to follow His lead.

Hoping for something more

Luke 24:21a  But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel…

Have you ever looked back on something in your life and realized how foolish you looked for not seeing what was right in front of you?  The story in Luke’s account of the Gospel about two disciples who were talking while they traveled, just days after Jesus’ death on the cross, makes one wonder just how foolish they felt as they looked back at their encounter with Jesus.

As they walked along sulking that this man they had followed, who that had placed their trust in as the promised Messiah, the one who would redeem His people Israel, the resurrected Jesus actually joined them.  These two of His disciples recounted the story of Jesus’ crucifixion to Him (because they didn’t recognize Him as being Jesus) and expressed lament over the fact that He hadn’t lived up to their hopes.  We look back now and wonder how on earth the risen Lord could have disappointed anyone’s hopes, but these Jewish men had been awaiting a Messiah who would establish an earthly kingdom to save them from their oppressors and Jesus did not do that.  No, instead He was killed by those oppressors.  This fell short of what they had wanted from Him.

But Jesus came to do so much more than just save Israel from an oppressive government. He came to bring reconciliation with God, to all, Jews and Gentiles alike.  But the men didn’t know this yet because they were so focused on their own expectations.  Can’t we do that sometimes?  Don’t we sometimes expect God to answer us in some small way and when we don’t see it we get all upset with Him, when really there’s a much bigger blessing in store if we’d only open our eyes?  The guys in this story opened their eyes and eventually saw Jesus for who He was and what He came to do.  That’s hope for all of us.

Jesus, the risen Lord

Luke 24:5b-6a  “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen.

Why do we look for the living among the dead?  Just as those who lived with Jesus while He was on the earth, we can tend to look for Jesus in the tomb.  But He’s not there.  Some think of Jesus with some sentimentality, as though He was once great, but now lives powerless in the grave.  But He’s not there.  He is alive.

If Jesus was not resurrected, He would be unable to act as our intercessor today.  But because He lives, He mediates between God and man.  Because He lives, He has the power to act as Lord.  Our God is not a dead god.  Our God has all power and authority.

What other god ever loved his own people so much that he would sacrifice his own life to save them?  Who, in the history of mankind, ever sacrificed himself only to rise from the dead?  Only one.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gave His own life for us but lives now to act on our behalf.  He lives so we live.  If this wasn’t true, our faith would be in one who was powerless to be Lord of all.  But He does live.  And He is Lord of all.

He is risen!

Passage:  Matthew 28:1-10

Key verses:  Matthew 28:6  He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.

1 Corinthians 15:14  And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

The truth about the work of Christ on the cross, the forgiveness of our sins, and our reconciliation with God is that it all means nothing if our God is still lying in a tomb.  Jesus can’t mediate between God and man if He’s dead.  If His death is the end, then we’re no better off.

But – our God lives.  He isn’t dead.  Death couldn’t hold Him.  Hell couldn’t defeat Him.  He is risen.  He lives.  And because He lives, we live.  Jesus’ departure back into heaven is hope for us all that we’ll be resurrected as well, taken from this life into the next, never to die again.  But it means something now too.

Because Jesus departed, God sent the Holy Spirit to live within us.  His departure means we now act on His behalf as Christians, and He’s empowered us to do so.  No other religion on earth can make these claims because no other religion has a living Savior.  We have a God so loving that He would sacrifice His Son in our place, and that God is so powerful that death cannot be the end for Him.  HE IS RISEN!

Forgiveness in Christ

Passage:  John 19:28-30

Key verses:  Colossians 1:13-14  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Since the sin of our first parents, we’ve been on the path of destruction.  Only perfection can enter into the kingdom of heaven and we’re tainted.  Our sinful nature bought for us a ticket straight to eternity away from God.  But the story doesn’t end there.

You see, God couldn’t let it end that way.  He loved His creation far too much to let us have what we deserved, so in the ultimate act of love, Jesus became flesh, God bankrupted heaven of its treasure, and He delivered us from destruction.  Our debt was paid in His sacrifice.  Everything we owed was paid in full when He died on that cross.  He transferred us to His kingdom, a life spent with God, not apart from Him.  He redeemed us.

In Christ we have full forgiveness.  Our slate is clean, our record is wiped out.  We owe Him everything, because He has set us free.  In Him we have life.  His death finished the work that He was sent here to do.  But still the story doesn’t end there.  No, that part of the story gets us to Friday – but Sunday is the part that makes it all mean something.  Sunday is the main event.

The atonement


Passage:  Luke 23:26-49

Key verses:  Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Entire courses are taught at universities just to try and explain Jesus’ work on the cross.  The atonement is not easy to understand, but it is simple.  God came down to earth in human flesh, lived a sinless life, and then died as the one true spotless sacrifice that could take away our sins.  Without this one truth, all the rest falls apart.

Jesus took on our sins.  Read that again.  Jesus, the perfect Son of God, took on our sins upon Himself.  He took our punishment, bought our redemption.  That is the only reason you and I will ever see heaven.  It’s not because of how many good deeds we did or how nice we are.  It’s because we were bought and paid for by the blood of Christ.  Let that sink in.  Weep over the fact that it was necessary.

My sins nailed Him to that cross.  Your sins drove those spikes in.  Our rejection of God killed Him.  And He chose to be there.  As the one, true, all-powerful God, He could have ended this any way He wanted.  But He chose the cross.  He chose suffering in our place.  Because He loved us.  Even before we existed.  That’s the truth of the cross.