He Is Risen!
Posted on 04/08/2012 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
LORD I LIFT YOUR NAME ON HIGH
Lord I lift your name on high
Lord I love to sing your praises
I'm so glad you're in my life
I'm so glad you came to save us
You came from heaven to earth
to show the way
From the earth to the cross
my debt to pay
From the cross to the grave
from the grave to the sky
Lord I lift your name on high!
BECAUSE HE IS RISEN
I live, I live, because he is risen
I live, I live, with power over sin
I live, I live, because he is risen
I live, I live, to worship him
Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus!
Because you're alive,
because you're alive,
because you're alive, I live!
THE RESURRECTION SONG
Hear the bells ringing, they're singing
that you can be born again
Hear the bells ringing, they're singing
Christ is risen from the dead
The angel up on the tombstone
said he has risen, just as he said
Quickly now, go tell his disciples
that Jesus Christ is no longer dead!
Joy to the word,
He has risen, hallelujah!
He's risen, hallelujah!
He's risen, hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hear the bells ringing, they're singing
that you can be healed right now
Hear the bells ringing, they're singing
Christ, he will reveal it now
The angels, they all surround us and
they are ministring Jesus' power
Quickly now, reach out and receive it
for this could be your glorious hour!
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
Today we celebrate the centerpiece of the Christian Faith -- the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
The fact that He was born of a virgin is very important, since His father was God, not man. That made Him both fully God and fully man, and made Him able to live a sinless life.
The fact that He was tempted but did not sin is also vital, since if He had sinned, then He would have been paying for His own sin on the cross, and He would have been unable to bear your sins and mine.
The fact that He was beaten and whipped and poured out His blood was something that had to happen, as explained in Isaiah chapter 53 and verse 5,
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All these and the many other details concerning Jesus' birth, life, and death were carefully orchestrated by God himself, thousands of years before they happened; and they are exact fulfillments of what God had spoken by the mouths of his prophets, those things that would take place as God's redemption of mankind unfolds.
But all of this, all these things, all of Jesus' miracles, all His deliverances, all the blind eyes He opened, all the dead He raised back to life; all of these would be no more than exciting bits of history, if He had not risen bodily from the dead.
Scripture says this plainly in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, beginning with verse 12:
1 Corinthians 15:12-22
12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.
14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.
16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.
17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!
18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
This says that if Christ is not risen, then our faith is empty. It says if Christ is not risen, our faith is futile, and we are still in our sins! Those who have passed on have perished. If Christ is not risen, there is no hope!
You see, we cannot just skip over the resurrection. Some of us have a permanent picture of Jesus burned in our minds and reflected in our works of art as either a gentle shepherd, which He is, or as a dying or dead man on a cross. Or a corpse lying in a tomb. But according to the book of Revelation, He is far from being a suffering victim.
Let's read the first description of Jesus found in the first chapter of the book of Revelation. First, I'd like to point out the first words of the first verse of the first chapter of this book. It begins with the words, "The revelation of Jesus Christ." This book, while it reveals things that are to happen in the end times, is not just a revelation of things to come, but it is a revelation of Jesus Christ, and who He is today.
Let's start reading in the first chapter of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, starting with verse 10.
10 I (John) was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,
11 saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and, "What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea."
12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,
13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.
14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;
15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;
16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.
18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hell and of Death."
So John saw Jesus as He is today, the glorified, risen Lord, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. And in the chapters to come, we see that night and day the angels, the elders, the creatures, and the saints, praise and worship the Lamb, the worthy one, the one who has redeemed all tribes and nations to Himself by His blood! The one who was slain, and has conquored hell and death, and has taken the keys of hell and of death, winning total victory over them... Glory be to God!
Then in chapter 19, we read about an event yet to come, starting with verse 11.
11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.
13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God,
18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great."
19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.
21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
This is an image of Jesus we don't usually hear taught in Sunday School. But this is the risen Jesus, with eyes of fire, with a face shining radiently as the sun so that mortal man cannot even look upon it, riding on a white horse, defeating His enemies and casting the father of lies and the mass murderer of the ages into the lake of fire, destroying all those who follow his ways.
This is the difference the resurrection makes. Without it, we have a good teacher who tells good stories and promotes peace; a great healer, a great prophet, a great man. We also have someone who is nothing more than that, and cannot do anything for us today, at least not directly, because dead men cannot feed you; dead men cannot lead you; dead men cannot heal you; dead men cannot set you free; dead men cannot raise you up from the dead and give you everlasting life.
But someone who said He will rise from the dead and then does it, never to taste death again, is someone to be reconed with. And I'm not talking about someone who rises only as a spirit, which is what some people believe and teach. I mean, would we be expected to be impressed with the resurrection if Jesus only rose in the spirit? Don't we see from Scripture that Moses and Abraham, among others, were alive in the spirit? And don't most of us in the Church believe that WE will rise in the spirit after our bodies die? What then would it matter if Jesus were spiritually alive, but His body was dead, and had rotted in the grave?
If Jesus were only a risen spirit, He sure went to a lot of trouble to trick His disciples into not believing the truth. When they first saw Him, they thought He was a spirit. In response, Jesus asked them why they had doubt in their hearts, and showed them His hands and His feet; then He asked for something to eat, reassuring them by saying, "A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."
And the disciples remembered that Jesus had told them before His death that He would rise bodily, not just spiritually, from the dead. In John chapter 2, we read this, starting with verse 18.
18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?"
19 Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
20 Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?"
21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.
22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.
You see, Jesus was not talking about the temple of His spirit, but about the temple of his body. The spirit isn't a temple, but rather it is the being itself. The body, on the other hand, is a temple for that spirit. And they truly did destroy the temple of His body so much, as the Scripture says, so that He could not even be recognized as a man, but was a beaten, torn, bloody mess, a living sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice, the temple of God in whom dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily, destroyed by the people He came to save. And it is this same body that Jesus raised up in three days.
You can find the remains of the other so-called great religious leaders throughout history.
Tal Davis says this in an article published at the 4truth.net website. He says:
"Indeed, Christianity stands or falls on the truth of Christ's resurrection. It is the one historical event that validates both the claims of Jesus about Himself and the message that Christians proclaim. No other religious leader validated his truth claims in such an undeniable way. Moses, as great a prophet as he was, is dead. Muhammad is dead. Buddha is dead. Confucius is dead. Baha'u'llah is dead. Any and all the founders of the world's religions are dead. Only Jesus Christ overcame death itself with this ultimate miracle, establishing once and for all the truth of His deity and Lordship."
Thank you Tal for that beautifully-worded truth. The religious leaders of that time would have loved to provide a decaying body of Jesus to the public to prove once and for all that He was only a mad man pretending to be the Son of God. But all they could spread was the amazing story that the fiercly-trained roman guards watching the tomb had all fallen asleep, even though the punishment would have been death; that the fear-struck disciples had snuck up and, without waking any of the guards who supposedly were sleeping, had rolled the great stone away from the tomb; and then they carried the body away and somehow disposed of it so completely that no remains were ever found nor was there any evidence that there had ever been foul play.
Crazy story, huh? Pretty impossible for a thinking mind to believe. But they were desperate. They couldn't let Jesus' resurrection be printed on the front page of the local daily scroll. In fact, there is no indication that they didn't believe the report of the guards that Jesus had risen; instead, they told them to report this outlandish grave robbery story, and promised their lives would be spared the usual punishment of death if they would only report this lie.
And let's consider the fate of those who saw Jesus die, then saw Him physically alive on the third day. They were put to death, one by one, because they refused to deny the truth that Jesus had indeed risen bodily from the dead. How small of a group would you have to have to have them all go through torture and death defending something they know is a lie?
The bodily resurrection of Jesus is just as sure of a fact as anything else you may readily believe which has been written in history. And it is the assurance of our faith, the evidence that our hope is in something which, unlike you and me and all the greatness of man, cannot be conquored by death.
The spirit of this age will tell you that all religions are good, and it matters only which one you want to choose, if any.
But the Spirit of Truth will tell you that Jesus validated every claim He ever made, along with those made by the Scriptures, by removing His own body from the grave, that body now full of life and glorified by God, and by removing that same body from this earth by ascending into heaven; He who descended from God and who ascended back to God, making intercession for us day and night.
The spirit of this age has a hypnotic, soothing, alluring, enticing, seducing voice that the masses love to follow.
But the Spirit of Truth will not hypnotise you, will not entice you, will not seduce you, and will not deceive you. Truth doesn't need those things; only a lie needs to hypnotise, sooth, allure, entice, and seduce you, because it cannot stand on its own.
But truth will present itself to you openly and without apology, even if you find it offensive; and it is up to you to accept it or reject it; it is up to you to wake up to the light or to continue your sleeping in the dark.
Those of us who believe should be careful that we are not lured back into the darkness of compromise and the politically-correct lies from hell.
We serve the One who spoke into the dark emptiness of that which does not exist, and created the light, the earth, the sun and moon, the stars, and the farthest reaches of time and space with his Word.
We serve the One who created man in His image and likeness, not as a cell that formed into green ooze that grew appendages, crawled out onto land, grunted a few times, then became the great gods we believe our minds and wills to be; but as a creation after God's own image and likeness, into which He breathed the breath of life.
We serve the One who is holy and perfect, who cannot tolerate sin, and who demands judgment and justice.
We serve the One who has caused nations to rise and to fall, who has set kings on their thrones and has thrown great rulers to the ground.
We serve the One who, from the foundation of the earth, knew your name, and knows whether, before you breathe your last breath, you will choose to accept His authority and His free gift of everlasting life.
We serve the One who, knowing all we would ever do, all the sin and shame we would heap upon ourselves, and all of those who would reject His love and spit in his face, left His glory and was born in a stable and laid in a manger; who subjected Himself to be raised as a child, to be rejected by those He created even as He opened their blind eyes and healed and delivered all who came to Him; and who was brutally put to death, beaten and whipped, His flesh torn and His blood poured out, willingly enduring the pain, both of body and of soul, as He took the blame for your every sin, and for mine.
We serve this One, this amazing and unimaginable One, who does not need humanity at all, but loves you and me so fiercely and completely that He would pay the ultimate price to redeem us to Himself.
Sadly, we have been corrupted by the age of entitlement. We think we have a right to food and drink, a right to a roof over our heads, a right to transportation, and even a right to health care. It's no wonder that, without even realizing it, this poison spreads into our notions about God, and holiness, and eternal damnation, and everlasting life.
But nobody really owes us anything. We, every single one of us, deserve to die. Most of all, God doesn't owe us compassion; He doesn't owe us forgiveness; He doesn't owe us healing; He doesn't owe us protection; He doesn't owe us paradise; and He certainly doesn't owe us the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Instead, the only thing God owes us is death. That's right. He does owe us that one thing. Death. Death, which is separation from life. Just as physical death is the separation from the body, so spiritual death is the separation from God, the separation from life, from peace, from comfort, from deliverance, from healing, from happiness, and from that which would separate and protect us from evil.
Romans 6:23 tells us this when it says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The wages of sin, the payment for sin, that which God owes us when we sin, is death. And ALL of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
BUT! But the gift of God is, what? The gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord!
I'd like for us to close today by reading the account of the resurrection of Jesus as found in the book of John. Let's read from John, chapter 20, beginning with verse 1, and then we'll have a time at the altar. John chapter 20, verse 1.
1 Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."
3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb.
4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.
5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in.
6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,
7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.
8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.
9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.
10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.
12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 Then they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."
14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, "Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away."
16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher).
17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'"
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."
20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
21 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."
22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.
25 The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!"
27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
29 Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;
31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
Some of us are like John, who saw the empty tomb and believed. Some of us are like Thomas, who wanted to believe, but needed to see and to touch. Some of us are like the religious leaders, who refuse to believe because it interferes with our religion, our comfort, or the way we want to believe -- or NOT believe.
But regardless of where YOU are today, JESUS has not moved from His place of glory, and He is seated at the right hand of the Father, waiting for that time when the pages of time will turn to the last paragraph of the last chapter, and all we have wanted to believe or insisted cannot be true bows its knee not to the spirit of this age, but to the Spirit of Truth.
And the Truth is knocking on your door today. Will you send Him away? Will you insist the knocking is just an emotion or the result of carefully-crafted words? Will you comfort yourself with the idea that the One who is knocking is only a myth, and it's only my imagination on the other side of your door?
Or will you shake off the siren song of the spirit of this age, and come running to the risen Jesus, the only one who can save your dying soul?
If you open the door to Him, He will reveal himself to you. The big myth about true faith is that it is blind. Instead, it is faith that brings you sight. Doubt is blind, while only faith can see. And if you choose right now to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be saved!
Just talk with Him now, and make your peace with God today.
Perhaps you just haven't been walking where you should be with the Lord, but you realize the time is short, and that just as He kept His word by rising from the dead, so He will come again, at a time you're not expecting Him, at a time you least expect, just like He said.
Well, there's no reason in the world why you should leave here today without knowing you're right with God. He's been waiting here all this time, all these years, holding out his arms to you, calling for you to come back home.
Perhaps you are right with God, and you simply want to draw closer to Him (and I hope this applies to every single one of us here today).
This altar is open, and you're invited to get out of your set and make your way to the front; come to the altar and spend some time with God; whether you're coming to Jesus for the first time, rededicating your life to Him and making peace with God, or you simply want to draw even closer to Him; get out of your seat right now and let's gather at the front for a time of prayer, worship, and ministry.
Whenever you need to go, you're dismissed, and I hope you have a blessed Resurrection Day. If you can stay during this time at the altar, afterwards you're invited to make your way to the room on your left for a time of fellowship. If you would like someone to pray or minister with you, please instant message one of us.
Come, and let's celebrate the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ together!