Sermon title:

Christ’s Resurrection Gives Us Life

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, April 4, 2021

 

 

Christ is risen!   He is risen, indeed!

 

And that makes all the difference in the world.

 

When I was a young man, in my late teens & early 20’s,

Jesus was one of my heroes—

along w/ Albert Schweitzer & Mahatma Gandhi.

 

They were all dead, of course,

but I found the stories of their lives inspiring.

 

It wasn’t until later that I learned Jesus was different.

 

He lived an inspiring life,

and died a self-sacrificing death,

but he rose from the dead on the 3rd day.

 

And he is alive todaypersonally revealing himself

in the lives of those who follow him.

 

Those who consider themselves followers

of Albert Schweitzer or Mahatma Gandhi

are following a memory—a legacy.

 

They may have left inspiring examples,

but they are gone, and can do nothing to help you

in your life today.

 

But the miracle-working Jesus

continues to work miracles in people’s lives today.

 

That’s because followers of Jesus

are following a live person.

 

And he promises to make himself known

to believers individually.

 

At John 14:21 he said,

21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

 

Jesus does that in different ways,

but he promises to show himself to you

if you love him and follow him.

-----------------------------------

 

How can he do that, in view of the fact that he was executed

some 2000 years ago?

 

Well, that’s the story of Easter Sunday,

which is really Resurrection Sunday—

the day Jesus rose bodily from the grave.

 

Last week we looked at the events of Palm Sunday

through Good Friday, with the aid of

artistic masterpieces—classic paintings

found in museums all over the world.

 

And we’ll do the same today, for the events of

Resurrection Sunday.

 

The old pictures we’re using are all from WikiMedia,

labeled as being in the Public Domain—

which means they are free to use

without any copyright restrictions.

 

There are also a couple of newer drawings

that have WikiMedia permissions statements attached.

 

So, we start off with what happened

after our Lord Jesus died on the cross.

 

Mark 15:42 says, 42 When evening had now come,

because it was the Preparation Day,

that is, the day before the Sabbath,

43 Joseph of Arimathaea, a prominent

council member who also himself was

looking for God’s Kingdom, came.

He boldly went in to Pilate, and

asked for Jesus’ body.

 

44 Pilate marveled if he were already

dead; and summoning the centurion,

he asked him whether he had been

dead long. 45 When he found out

from the centurion,

he granted the body to Joseph.

 

46 He bought a linen cloth, and

taking him down, wound him

in the linen cloth,

and laid him in a tomb which

had been cut out of a rock.

 

He rolled a stone against the door

of the tomb.

47 Mary Magdalene and

Mary, the mother of Joses,

saw where he was laid.

 

Matthew 27:59 says,

59 Joseph took the body, and

wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,

60 and laid it in his own new tomb,

which he had cut out in the rock,

and he rolled a great stone

to the door of the tomb,

and departed.

61 Mary Magdalene was there,

and the other Mary,

sitting opposite the tomb.

 

The religious leaders demanded

that the governor Pontius Pilate should seal the tomb

and post a guard.

 

He granted that request.

 

Matthew 27:65 tells us,

Pilate said to them, “You have a guard.

Go, make it as secure as you can.”

66 So they went with the guard

and made the tomb secure,

sealing the stone.

 

And so, our Lord’s body lay in the tomb

until the 3rd day—until the day that we celebrate today

as Easter morning—Resurrection morning.

 

Albert Schweitzer’s grave still holds the remains

of Albert Schweitzer.

 

And Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were scattered at sea.

 

But Jesus Christ rose bodily from the grave on the 3rd day.

 

He is alive, and that’s why

he can work miracles in your life today.

 

Matthew 28, beginning with Verse 2,

tells us that, around sunrise,

 

2 There was a violent earthquake,

for an angel of the Lord

came down from heaven

and, going to the tomb,

rolled back the stone and sat on it.

 

3 His appearance was like lightning,

and his clothes were white as snow.

 

4 The guards were so afraid of him

that they shook and became like dead men.

 

Mark 16:1 continues the story:

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene,

Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices

so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.

 

2 Very early on the first day of the week,

just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other,

 

“Who will roll the stone away

from the entrance of the tomb?”

 

4 But when they looked up,

they saw that the stone, which was very large,

had been rolled away.

 

Luke 24:3 adds,

3 but when they entered,

they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

We, today, know the significance of the empty tomb,

but those women did not.

 

They apparently assumed someone had moved the body.

 

At this point, apparently Mary Magdalene left the other women,

and ran off until she found Peter and John.

 

John 20, Verse 2, tells us

“she came running to Simon Peter

and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved,

and said,

“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,

and we don’t know where they have put him!”

Luke 24:3 elaborates on the wonderful things

that happened to the other women,

who Mary Magdalene had left behind at the tomb:

“when they entered,

they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

4 While they were wondering about this,

suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.

5 In their fright

the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them,

"Why do you look for the living among the dead?

6 He is not here; he has risen!

Remember how he told you,

while he was still with you in Galilee:

 

7 'The Son of Man

must be delivered into the hands of sinful men,

be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'"

 

8 Then they remembered his words.

 

 

Matthew also tells of the angel speaking to the women,

but adds more details, beginning at Matthew 28:5:

 

5 The angel said to the women,

"Do not be afraid,

for I know that you are looking for Jesus,

who was crucified.

6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.

Come and see the place where he lay.

7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples:

 

'He has risen from the dead

and is going ahead of you into Galilee.

There you will see him.' Now I have told you."

 

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb,

afraid yet filled with joy,

and ran to tell his disciples.

 

While the women were heading off in one direction

to the place where all the disciples were gathered,

Mary Magdalene had already

gone off on her own

—apparently in another direction—

where she had found Peter and John

and told them that Jesus’ body

was missing from the tomb.

 

John 20, Verse 3, continues that part of the narrative:

 

So Peter and the other disciple

started for the tomb.

4 Both were running,

but the other disciple outran Peter

and reached the tomb first.

 

5 He bent over and looked in

at the strips of linen lying there

but did not go in.

6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him,

arrived and went into the tomb.

He saw the strips of linen lying there,

7 as well as the burial cloth

that had been around Jesus' head.

The cloth was folded up by itself,

separate from the linen.

 

8 Finally the other disciple,

who had reached the tomb first,

also went inside. He saw and believed.

 

9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

 

The two angels who had spoken to the women

apparently hid themselves from Peter and John.

 

But Mary Magdalene had evidently

followed Peter and John back to the tomb.

 

And after they left,   John 20:11 says,

 

Mary stood outside the tomb crying.

 

As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb

12 and saw two angels in white,

seated where Jesus' body had been,

one at the head and the other at the foot.

 

13 They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?"

 

14 "They have taken my Lord away," she said,

"and I don't know where they have put him."

 

At this, she turned around

and saw Jesus standing there,

but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

 

15 "Woman," he said, "why are you crying?

Who is it you are looking for?"

Thinking he was the gardener, she said,

"Sir, if you have carried him away,

tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."

 

16 Jesus said to her, "Mary."

 

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic,

"Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).

 

17 Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me,

for I have not yet returned to the Father.

Go instead to my brothers and tell them,

'I am returning to my Father and your Father,

to my God and your God.'"

 

So, Mary Magdalene went on her way

to the place where all the disciples had gathered.

 

The other women were already headed there,

when Christ appeared to those other women, too.

 

 

Matthew 28:9 says,

9 Suddenly Jesus met them."Greetings," he said.

They came to him, clasped his feet

and worshiped him.

10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid.

Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee;

there they will see me."

 

Soon all the women—including Mary Magdalene—

made their way back to the gathering of the disciples.

 

Luke 24:9 continues,

 

9 When they came back from the tomb,

they told all these things

to the Eleven and to all the others.

 

10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna,

Mary the mother of James, and the others with them

who told this to the apostles.

 

11 But they did not believe the women,

because their words seemed to them like nonsense.

 

------------------------------------------

As Sunday morning wore on,

 two men—Cleopas and another disciple—

left the gathering,

and were apparently heading home.

 

 

Luke 24:13 tells us the “two of them were going

to a village called Emmaus,

about seven miles from Jerusalem.

 

14 They were talking with each other

about everything that had happened.

 

15 As they talked

and discussed these things with each other,

Jesus himself came up

and walked along with them;

16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

 

 

17 He asked them, "What are you discussing together

as you walk along?"

 

18 They stood still, their faces downcast.

One of them, named Cleopas, asked him,

"Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem

and do not know the things that have happened there

in these days?"

 

19 "What things?" he asked.

 

20 "About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied.

"He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed

before God and all the people.

The chief priests and our rulers handed him over

to be sentenced to death,

and they crucified him;

21 but we had hoped that he was the one

who was going to redeem Israel.

And what is more, it is the third day

since all this took place.

22 In addition, some of our women amazed us.

They went to the tomb early this morning

23 but didn't find his body.

They came and told us

that they had seen a vision of angels,

who said he was alive.

24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb

and found it just as the women had said,

but him they did not see."

 

25 He said to them, "How foolish you are,

and how slow of heart

to believe all that the prophets have spoken!

26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things

and then enter his glory?"

 

27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets,

he explained to them what was said

in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

 

28 As they approached the village

to which they were going,

Jesus acted as if he were going farther.

 

29 But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us,

for it is nearly evening;

the day is almost over."

 

 

So he went in to stay with them.

 

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread,

gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.

 

31 Then their eyes were opened

and they recognized him,

and he disappeared from their sight.

 

32 They asked each other,

 

"Were not our hearts burning within us

while he talked with us on the road

and opened the Scriptures to us?"

33 They got up

and returned at once to Jerusalem.

 

There they found the Eleven and those with them,

assembled together

34 and saying, "It is true!

The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon."

 

35 Then the two told what had happened on the way,

and how Jesus was recognized by them

when he broke the bread.

 

So, it was Sunday evening already,

and besides appearing to the women,

and to Mary Magdalene separately,

Jesus had also appeared to Simon Peter by himself,

and then to the two disciples

on the road to Emmaus.

 

After all this, Luke tells us, in the next verse,

 

36 While they were still talking about this,

Jesus himself stood among them

and said to them, "Peace be with you."

 

John 20:19 tells us that the doors were locked,

but that didn't stop Jesus

from entering.

It says,

19 On the evening of that first day of the week,

when the disciples were together,

with the doors locked for fear of the Jews,

Jesus came and stood among them and said,

"Peace be with you!"

 

Luke tells us that this sudden appearance—

through locked doors—    frightened them.

He continues,

37 They were startled and frightened,

thinking they saw a ghost.

 

38 He said to them,

"Why are you troubled,

and why do doubts rise in your minds?

39 Look at my hands and my feet.

It is I myself!

Touch me and see;

a ghost does not have flesh and bones,

as you see I have."

 

40 When he had said this,

he showed them his hands and feet.

41 And while they still did not believe it

because of joy and amazement, he asked them,

"Do you have anything here to eat?"

 

42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,

43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

 

44 He said to them, "This is what I told you

while I was still with you:

Everything must be fulfilled

that is written about me

in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."

 

45 Then he opened their minds

so they could understand the Scriptures.

 

46 He told them, "This is what is written:

The Christ will suffer

and rise from the dead on the third day,

47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins

will be preached in his name to all nations,

beginning at Jerusalem.

 

48 You are witnesses of these things.

 

49 I am going to send you

what my Father has promised;

but stay in the city

until you have been clothed with power from on high."

----------------------

 

So, that was the first Easter.

 

It began with doubt, fear and grief,

but the day ended with joy and new confidence.

 

-------------------------------------------------

 

Now, Easter isn’t the end of the story

—It’s really the beginning.

 

During the weeks that followed,

Jesus made a number of other appearances to the disciples—including one time

when around 500 were present to see him.

 

Finally, Matthew 28:16 says,

 

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee,

to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.

17 When they saw him, they worshiped him;

but some doubted.

18 Then Jesus came to them and said,

“All authority in heaven and on earth

has been given to me.

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father

and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20 and teaching them to obey

everything I have commanded you.

And surely I am with you always,

to the very end of the age.”

 

Jesus’ promise is to be with us believers always,

even to the very end of the age.

--even though he ascended bodily into heaven.

 

 Luke 24:50 says,

 

he lifted up his hands and blessed them.

 

51 While he was blessing them,

he left them and was taken up into heaven.

52 Then they worshiped him

and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.

 

Acts 1:9 says,

he was taken up before their very eyes,

and a cloud hid him from their sight.

 

10 They were looking intently up into the sky

as he was going,

when suddenly two men dressed in white

stood beside them.

 

11 "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."

 

Christ ascended bodily into heaven,

and he’s coming again.

 

But, in the meantime,

Jesus is present in Spirit today.

 

The same Jesus who worked miracles centuries ago

is working miracles in his Church today

and in the lives of all

who come to him for salvation.

 

Christ said at Matthew 18:20 that,

“where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

 

And he promises to make himself known

to believers individually.

 

At John 14:21 he said,

21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

 

Colossians 1:27 speaks of

". . . this mystery, which is Christ in you . . ."

 

Ephesians 3:17 says

". . . that Christ may actually live in your hearts."

 

How does that happen?

It happens when you are “born again” as a child of God.

 

Galatians 4:6 says,

"To prove that you are sons, God has sent into our hearts the Spirit of his Son, crying 'Abba! Father!'"

 

If you don’t have

a personal relationship with Jesus

as your Lord and Savior,

you can do something about it.

 

The invitation is open to everyone.

 

At Matthew 11:28 Jesus said,

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

 

Jesus rose from the dead

that Resurrection Sunday Morning,

and he is alive today

to save you from your sins

and to give you rest for your soul.

Jesus will hear you,

if you speak to him—either out loud or in your heart.

 

Tell him that you repent of your sins,

and that you want to follow him as your Lord.

 

Then make a public declaration of your faith

through Christian baptism.

 

Jesus will honor your repentance

and will welcome you as his follower.

 

At John 6:37, Jesus said,

 

“I will never turn away

anyone who comes to me.”

 

If you have not yet turned to Jesus

for salvation and forgiveness of your sins,

do so now,

as we close with prayer.