For God so loved 3. He confirmed His power

March 31, 2013

The Resurrection of Christ stands as the greatest event in human history; whether you hold to believe in it or not you cannot doubt the fact that all of human history has been somewhat affected by what happened 2000 years ago in Jerusalem.

It is the key to our faith, the confirmation of what we believe and the hope on which we stand. Resurrection Sunday stands as the greatest day on the Christian calendar and I believe the greatest day in our entire history.

This morning as we gather in the cool of an Easter sunrise I want to look at the power that was displayed on this day 2000 years ago.

We have being going through a series called “For God so loved” looking at the theological foundation of Easter, what it truly means for you and me. This morning we continue that by looking at the theological significance of the Resurrection.

So I have titled my message this morning “For God so loved that He confirmed His power”.

We are looking at the great confirmation of power that happened early on Easter Sunday over 2000 years ago.

So let’s start out by looking at:

What happened that morning?

This is my first point this morning; what happened on Easter Sunday?

Well, most of us sitting here are quite familiar with the stories, Early. while it was still dark, the disciples realised that Jesus was gone, He had being raised.

Each Gospel gives us an account of what happened and I’m sure most of us are quite familiar with the stories.

Many however, have argued against the validity of what happened that morning. Stating that people “rising” from the dead is simply not possible.

Now, what I find particularly interesting is that they cannot deny the validity of the New Testament (for they stand alone in the world of literature to be the most accurately reproduced literature that man has ever produced; no other literature comes close), so they attack the validity of what was said.

They would say, “Yes the disciples said that Jesus was raised that Sunday morning but we know that that could not have happened.” So almost since the resurrection there has being counter arguments of what happened:

Some say

The Disciples stole the Body

This was the first excuse that was given - we see this in Matthew 28:13

This is still propagated among some Jewish circles and liberal thinkers. It is believed that the disciples went out and stole Jesus’ body to create a cult.

Now the thought of this is too far beyond the situation to actually be taken seriously.

Let us just put our minds in the minds of the disciples. They have just lost their leader and close friend. I’m sure the first thing they would have thought is let’s go and steal His body to create a movement.

These were uneducated fishermen, a religious zealots and tax collectors. This is not mentioning the fact that they had in fact all being scattered by the Roman and Jewish authorities.

The Idea that they would have mounted an offensive against the protected tomb of Jesus is impossible to believe.

To add to this, the Gospel is clear that the tomb was guarded. Matthew 27:62-66

There is more evidence but we will get to that later.

The second idea is that:

Jesus did not die, He “swooned”

This again is a stretch of the account of what happened. There are many things recorded in scripture that confirm that Jesus actually died.

Mark 15:37,39 - All the accounts specifically state that He died (i.e., His spirit departed, etc.) (Cf. Matt. 27:50; Luke 23:46; John 19:30,33).

Mark 15:44,45 - In order to confirm that Jesus was dead, Pilate made inquiry of the centurion who had been in charge of the crucifixion.

His side was pierced with a spear.

John 19:31-34 - Soldiers came to break His legs to hasten death; but they did not have to do so, since He was already dead. So they pierced His side with a spear. This also confirms that He died on the cross.

All this was personally witnessed by multitudes of people, both friends and enemies. Note Luke 23:48,49; John 19:35; 1 Peter 5:1.

Mass hallucinations

This is one of the greatest stretches of all the arguments against the resurrection. An intellectual leap that has no basis. Something happened in Jerusalem that first Easter; something that created a movement that changed the whole world. There is no illusion or hallucination that can hold that power.

It is John who says it most clearly when he says

“W have written that you might believe!”

We must accept that something amazing happened that First Easter Sunday!

The Word of God tells us that Jesus confirmed His power by being raised from the dead.

The reality is that the evidence stands as overwhelming; Jesus did in fact rise from the dead.

If we look at it in any detail the scriptural evidence is profound and the external evidence is also significant.

The Old Testament attests to the resurrection of Jesus and it was written many years before He was even born;

Passages like Isaiah 53:7-10 which predicts that the Christ would be led like a lamb to the slaughter, He would be cut off from the living, and made an offering for sin. However, in that same chapter we see how His life would be prolonged and His days would be long and He would see His seed. How could this be unless for a resurrection?

Psalms 16:9,10 also alludes to the death and resurrection of Christ.

Jesus also predicts His own death and resurrection John 2:18-22, Matt 12:39-40, Mark 9:9-10. Jesus spoke clearly on His coming death and His expected resurrection. His disciples only fully grasped this once He had actually risen.

We see from the Biblical account how severe and total the suffering of Christ was. He was spared no torture before the cross.

It also remains clear from the Biblical account that Jesus was pierced with a spear

John 19:31-34 - Soldiers came to break His legs to hasten death; but they did not have to do so, since He was already dead. So they pierced His side with a spear. This also confirms that He died on the cross.

There is more evidence but we will stop at that.

The reality is that Jesus died! So the reality is that Jesus rose! Early that Easter Sunday a dead Jesus came back to life, and showed Himself to His disciples?

So ----

What does this mean?

What is the significance of all this? Why was it important for Jesus to rise again? Why was it not simply enough for Him to die for our sin?

It is important because we have a resurrection faith! God loved the world so much that He confirmed His power on that Easter morning.

And the resurrection of Christ proves 4 things:

Jesus has power over death (Rom 6:9)

The great hope of the Christian faith is the security that our life is eternally in Christ’s hand, we have a hope of an eternal future. We see this in Romans 6:9.

And the reality is that any “Christianity that takes away from our hope of eternity is in fact a Christianity that denies our very hope. It says in Romans 6:9

“For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.”

Because we saw Him rise because there was confirmation that He has victory over sin, we who have placed our trust in Him have confidence that He will remove the sting of our own death.

We have security knowing that Christ is raised therefore we too will be raised with Him into a new life.

This is at the very core of the hope that we have in Christ!

The second thing it proves is that

Jesus can forgive sins (1 Corinthians 15:17)

How does the resurrection prove that Jesus can forgive sins?

Paul says something interesting in 1 Corinthians 15:17 on reflecting on the resurrection of Christ he says

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”

If Christ did not rise from the dead we are still under the guilt of our sins. For there is no promise of release. The toil we feel now under the burden of sin and the sinful system we find ourselves in has no promise of release.

The Resurrection proves that Jesus conquered death and therefore conquered the cause of death; sin. Without Christ being raised we are left alone with our sin, with no confirmation of victory and no promise of hope!

Our hope lies in the fact that Jesus secured resurrection!

The third thing it proves is that

Christ is Divine (John 20:24-28)

The confirmation of Divinity is one of the most powerful realities about the resurrection.

It is with the resurrection of Christ that we glimpse the divinity of Christ. His power and authority are displayed in His ultimate victory over death and the grave.

It is the story of Thomas that so clearly illustrates this. Thomas who refused to believe that Jesus had actually being raised said “unless I see Him and touch Him I will not believe. Upon witnessing the resurrected Christ he says these immortalised words.

Read John 20:24-28

It is on seeing the resurrected Christ that Thomas cries out in humble surrender “my Lord and my God!”

The resurrection remains the ultimate display of Christ’s divinity and power. Not even death could hold him!

Finally it proves

The power and confirmation of the Divinity of Christ in the resurrection prove to us that there is a hope that we can strive on persevere for the sake of the Gospel.

It says in 1 Cornithians 15:13-19

“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14) And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15) More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16) For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17) And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18) Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19) If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

Our hope our faith our power lies in the knowledge that Jesus rose from the dead! We are left hopeless if this was not true.

So today we remember Christ died for our sins, yes, but more so than that He rose to prove that there is life and He has the power to save us from our sins.

God so loved the world that He confirmed His power on that first Easter Sunday.

So today as we celebrate resurrection, let us celebrate our God Jesus Christ who showed the world that He is powerful enough to save us from our sin.

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