Easter Sunday – April 9, 2023

Read Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20, Acts 1:1-11

Today, all over the world, people are celebrating the greatest comeback story ever told – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!!!  

Yet, this is not a story. It was a real event that literally changed the course of history and began a movement that has transformed the lives of billions of people during the past 2000 years. Without the resurrection, we have the story of a great teacher who was falsely accused, and ended up dying on a cross. With the resurrection, He solidifies His teaching that He was not just a great teacher. You see, on numerous occasions, Jesus claimed to be God. (Mark 14:62, John 18:5-6, John 8:24, 28)  The Messianic title Son of Man and the words “I am” were known by all of the Jews as titles reserved for God Himself, so on the day when He rose from the grave, He proved this once and for all! No one has ever raised from the dead, it is not natural. Resurrection from the dead is a supernatural occurrence and reveals that Jesus is truly who He said He was. Not a great teacher, who did a lot of great miracles and died as a sacrifice, but THE RISEN LORD!  Because of the resurrection, we who believe in His name will also not die but will have everlasting life! (John 3:16)

While a resurrection from the dead can not be scientifically proven, if you put the case on trial, the evidence is so overwhelming that no one who gives it an honest investigation can walk away and deny its validity. In order to say that the resurrection did not happen, a person would have to deny evidence that is beyond explanation any other way. Thousands of skeptics have tried to disprove this event, and all who were honest in their evaluation of the evidence, came to one conclusion: It happened. When you come to this verdict, you have no other choice but to put your faith in Jesus as God and this in turn changes everything! You read His teaching differently, knowing that everything Jesus taught was God’s instruction for man. You desire to obey, knowing that what He did – dying on the cross for you – was done out of a great love for His creation. See, the reality of the resurrection makes everything make sense! 

All four gospel writers record the resurrection. Each of the writers gives the details of this event from different angles, but there is no debate on whether it happened or not! The Bible and history learned from extra-Biblical literature makes the case for the resurrection rock solid. First, consider the disciples. Remember yesterday they were hiding out, afraid to come out in public for fear of arrest, but after this day, they are completely changed. They go from fearful followers to fiery preachers almost overnight. They preach about the resurrection with such confidence that no warnings of beating, imprisonment or death can deter them. You see, something changed them and there is no other logical conclusion except that they must of come face to face with the risen Lord. When you have an encounter with the risen Lord, you are a never the same again! Then, there is Paul. Paul was a zealous persecutor of the early church until one day he meets the risen Lord. His whole life and mission changed on that Damascus road, and He boldly preaches and writes about the reality of the resurrection for the rest of his life. Also, Jesus’ brother, James, who did not believe Jesus was the Son of God before the resurrection, becomes a believer and important leader in the early church! (1 Cor. 15:5-7). Change like we see in these men is not natural. It is only possible because of something supernatural – A man rising from the dead! 

Another important aspect of the resurrection is the empty tomb. Unlike the majority of famous people throughout history, there is no grave to visit for Jesus Christ. A trip to Israel won’t take you there because the tomb was empty!  The Pharisees and religious leaders floated a rumor that the disciples stole the body, but think about it, these men were hiding out in fear just hours before the tomb came up empty. What would have caused them to come out of hiding, fight off a Roman guard and move a giant stone? It is not logical, and also doesn’t explain why almost all of them eventually died a martyr’s death. Why would they die for something they knew was a lie? Additionally, during the days that follow Christ’s resurrection, if they had stolen the body, the Romans would have found it and held it up for all to see. Jesus appeared to over 500 people after His resurrection. The gospels were written while these people were still living, so if the resurrection had not happened, someone would have said so, but that is not what happened. Instead, billions of people  have believed in the resurrection and have changed lives to prove it. Christianity is a movement that has been attacked throughout the past 2000 years, but nothing and no one has been able to stop it because the truth can not be silenced! It happened, and because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, this world has never been the same! 

The resurrection was a miracle! The greatest miracle of all time and isn’t that what we are all longing for? A miracle? There is so much suffering in this world: brokenness, injustice, bondage, loneliness and fear to name a few. But, VICTORY is what this day represents! This one event was a game changer ending satan’s plans once and for all! So many people who call themselves Christ followers are shackled by sin and unable to break free, but Peter’s words are true: “God raised him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by death.” (Acts 2:24). Death had no hold over Him, and it has no power over us who believe anymore. In fact, the power that raised Jesus from the grave lives in us through the Holy Spirit! “ The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” Rom. 8:11. Because of the Spirit’s power, we can overcome sin’s grip on us. As we daily yield our lives to Him, we can experience victory on a daily basis!! I pray that we can truly understand the truth of what the power of the resurrection means! This prayer from the apostle Paul is my prayer for us as we learn to live and experience this power that is ours through FAITH!

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Let’s rejoice; let’s celebrate; He is ALIVE and His Life gives us both abundant life on this earth and eternal life in heaven!

To God be the Glory; Great things He Has Done!

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