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  • Writer's pictureMichael Gott

IT’S TRUE—HE IS RISEN

Luke 24:6-8 “‘He is not here; he has risen!  Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”’  Then they remembered his words.” (NIV)

The astounding truth of the rising again from the dead of Jesus Christ lies at the beating heart of the Christian faith.  It cannot be overstated.


It’s not surprising that the famous Scottish preacher James S. Stewart said with a clear insight, “Christianity is essentially a religion of the resurrection.” And, of course, the point he makes is this—had Jesus not arisen from the dead, there would be no, nor could there be any Christian faith!  So that—no one can overstate the importance of the resurrection of Jesus.


Paul admitted, “if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith ... your faith is futile; you are still in your sins ... those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.”  (I Corinthians 15:14, 17, 18; NIV)


The resurrection is just that plain and just that important!


So then, absolutely everything hinges on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. — Yes! Everything!  Someone said, “If Jesus actually rose from the grave, everything changes, and if He did not, everything collapses!”   It was certainly that way for the early Christians.  Those women “rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else” (Luke 24:9, NLT), and when Peter heard it, “Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look.” (Luke 24:12, NLT) — This was amazing, alive from the dead!


Paul said, “we preach that Christ rose from the dead” (I Corinthians 15:12, NLT).  So it is far more than a sermon subject for Easter Sunday morning—it is the very life blood of the Christian faith.  We cannot exaggerate its importance.  No belief held by Christians is more vital or victorious.  In fact, early Christians called every Sunday Resurrection Day!  They celebrated it every week!


Here is why—without the resurrection, the Christian faith has no significance and offers no hope!!  It’s the “power of the resurrection,” Paul said.


And let’s add this—without the resurrection, then Christ was and is a false prophet and He has deceived millions!!  Paul said if Christ is not risen, “we apostles would all be lying about God” (I Corinthians 15:15, NLT).  So think of the word “without.”


Without the resurrection, we are lost and have no salvation!!


Without the resurrection, we have no hope after death!!


Without the resurrection, we should just burn all our Bibles, close all our church doors, and call it all a cruel joke and turn our backs and walk away from it all into the hopeless darkness!


Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul, the great apostle, said, “we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”  (I Corinthians 15:19, NLT)


Gloriously, the word is boldly declared, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead” (I Corinthians 15:20, NIV).


Our wonderful text says,  “He is risen!”  Our glorious message for the world to hear is—He has risen!!  He is alive!!


Jesus declares of Himself, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”  (Revelation 1:18, NIV)  That is our living hope!  And on the authority of His resurrection “Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet.” (I Corinthians 15:25, NLT)


So then it’s concluded, everything Christians hold dear hinges on that statement, “He is risen!” being totally true—absolutely everything!  Michael Green calls the resurrection “the cornerstone of Christianity.”


Years ago when Billy Graham first preached in the former Soviet Union, there was a special meeting of Christian leaders.  These leaders requested him to emphasize the resurrection in all his messages.  They knew that the cross was best explained in the light of the resurrection.  They knew anyone could die on a cross, but the resurrection totally refuted communism and atheism.  The resurrection was the convincing proof!


Consider three powerful features of the resurrection that help us grasp the glorious truth:


The resurrection of Jesus Christ was—


I. Predicted During the Ministry of Christ

II. Presented as a Miracle of God

III. Proclaimed as the Message of the Church


I. HIS RESURRECTION WAS PREDICTED DURING THE MINISTRY OF CHRIST


It must be remembered that long before it happened, Jesus told them He would be killed and rise from the dead.  It was openly discussed by the disciples, who did not fully understand all it meant.  They couldn’t grasp it, but He certainly spoke about it.


1. It Was Recorded in the Saying of Jesus~


To take only one gospel, Matthew’s, we find references to the resurrection on at least four different occasions—in Matthew 12:39-40, Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:23, and after His transfiguration, in Matthew 20:17-19.


Let me give just one sampling.  Listen carefully.  “From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things … He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.” (Matthew 16:21, NLT)


His resurrection was clearly and constantly on the mind of Christ as much as the crucifixion!  Also, Luke 24:8 where it says, “Then they remembered …”


2. It Was Recalled by the Enemies of Jesus~


But Jesus spoke about it openly so those that hated Him also knew His claims.


Matthew 27:62-63—the open enemies of Jesus Christ mentioned,  “we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.”  As a result they wanted to make sure nothing happened at the tomb.  So it was well known that Jesus openly said, “I will rise again.”


And it was because of this, very precise precautions were taken: the guards were posted at the tomb, it was sealed—all these things to keep it from happening.  They knew the importance of keeping Jesus in the tomb.


This was all planned out.  People went to Pilate to say, let’s make sure something doesn’t happen at the tomb.  In fact, this is so important I want to quote it again.  “They told him, ‘Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: “After three days I will rise from the dead.”  So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day.  This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead!  If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.’  Pilate replied, ‘Take guards and secure it the best you can.’” (Matthew 27:63-65, NLT)


And Dr. J. I. Packer said, “The victim of Calvary is now … loose and at large.”  Yes, the Christian church has the resurrection written all over it.


And because He lives, that demands not just loud applause but living allegiance!  Not just celebration one Sunday of the year but dedication every day of the year!


We say to the world, the best news the world ever heard came from a graveyard!  And we declare, an empty tomb in that graveyard is an open door to a glorious future for all believers.


II. HIS RESURRECTION WAS PRESENTED AS A MIRACLE OF GOD


The miracle of miracles—He died and arose triumphant!


It’s the greatest miracle in human history.  A miracle for which the only explanation is to be found in God Himself and His incredible power.  All four gospels repeat the event in convincing and powerful words of victory, so please note with me a couple of features—


1. The Description of the Details~


Always there are those who claim there are contradictions in the resurrection accounts, but in reality all the accounts stress exactly the same major facts:  an empty grave, the terrified guards, the amazed disciples, the appearances of Jesus, and finally the message of the angels.  All convey this vivid language of eye-witnesses who are totally convinced of an amazing miracle.


2. The Difficulties in the Denial~


We who believe say to the deniers of it that—to deny the resurrection is to raise even greater difficulties than to accept it!  For example, how do you account for the total transformation of the disciples?  And also, if He was not alive, then why was not the body produced to totally discredit the disciples?  And furthermore—why were the enemies of Christ totally powerless to refute the claims made by the Christians?


So the tables are turned.  The conclusion we come to is this:  With all these things before us, it is more difficult to believe that He didn’t rise from the grave than to believe that He did!  Suddenly—it’s more believable to say:  Jesus did rise from the dead!  He is alive!


III. HIS RESURRECTION WAS PROCLAIMED AS THE MESSAGE OF THE CHURCH


Amazingly, almost one-half of all that is said of Jesus in the Gospel centers around the cross and the resurrection.  So the New Testament centers around two great events in Jesus’ life—the terrible crucifixion and the glorious resurrection. But as we have seen, without the resurrection, the crucifixion would have been a total tragedy, not a glorious triumph!  This came to be fully realized by the early disciples.  Therefore—the early Christians announced the resurrection, and  it was proclaimed with much greater confidence and conviction by the early church than we do today.  It was their theme, it was their song of victory—it was their battering ram to knock down all pagan thought.


Now let’s take a step back and stand with the disciples after the crucifixion and before the resurrection.  Remember, darkness came, and Jesus died in that mid-day darkness.  His dying cry was, “It is finished.”  That could have been understood as an admission of defeat!  It could have been repeated in gossip as “I am finished.”  And before them was this battered body of Jesus.  That last scene was deeply embedded in their minds.


That’s how things stood—until suddenly here He was alive from the dead.  Do you see the true significance of it?


1. It Was Preached as the Ultimate Vindication of Christ’s Work~


So the resurrection was declared as something only God could do and yet had done!  By the resurrection He indicated His total approval on His Son’s sinless life and voluntary death.  So the resurrection validated and endorsed all Jesus said and did!  The resurrection vindicated Christ, and it absolutely supported and substantiated all His claims.  It was a glorious vindication of the work and witness of Christ Jesus.


2. It Was Preached as the Ultimate Victory of the Christian Experience~


The resurrection has a direct and dynamic effect on every true Christian.  “Because He lives,” the song says, we have the resources for a new quality of life—we can live in victory!  “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,” (Philippians 3:10, NIV).


Also, according to I Corinthians 15:20, we have confidence and certainty of a life to come hereafter!  The resurrection of Jesus proves beyond doubt that death has been defeated.  “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (I Corinthians 15:20, NIV)


And then, the resurrection must be stressed because by it He is proven to be Lord of all and forever by virtue of it and we are to share in that—by the power of the resurrection.


We as Christians now share His victory and His triumph.  Jesus promised us, “I have over come ... and you too will overcome.”  That’s what He said—so it applies to us now and forever.


Again, we share His risen and victorious life—hallelujah!!  “Death has been swallowed up in victory … thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15:54, 57; NIV)  That verse should be in our bloodstream. 


So the result is that it is only right to say, therefore—I call you to Christ, to confess Him as living Lord and Savior now!  Join numbers through the ages who join me in confessing Jesus is alive and Lord of all.

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