Summary: Our salvation has been secured by Jesus rising from the dead, we receive salvation daily, and we will receive our full inheritance as the children of God in the fullness of time.
We know the story well, but it is so good it must be told again!
It seemed death had won.
It seemed hope was gone.
It seemed the dream had died.
It seemed that evil had triumphed, and that perhaps Jesus was not who we believed Him to be. Maybe He wasn’t the Messiah. Maybe He wasn’t the son of God.
After all, we saw Him die. His tortured, beaten, bloody body was taken down and put in the tomb, and the tomb was shut and guarded.
It seemed life would go back to what it had always been. Matthew can go back to collecting taxes. Cleopas and his companion have hit the road to Emmaus. Simon the zealot can find the next revolution to join. And Peter is already getting the nets ready and heading back to the fishing boat.
Just one last task to do, and the women have that under control. They have the burial spices and are going to the tomb to finish with Jesus’ dead, lifeless body.
But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 3 So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.
5 The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”
8 Then they remembered that he had said this. 9 So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. 11 But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. 12 However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.
Truth or Nonsense?
Christ is risen from the dead. It sounded like foolishness, like fantasy, like “nonsense”. To many people, it still does. People don’t come back to life after they have died on a cross and been laid in a tomb for 36 hours or so. It is crazy talk.
Until you meet Him.
Here is the core of Christianity – it is not a set of ideas which we intellectually agree with. It is not a set of moral rules we choose to live by. It is not an emotional crutch we lean on because we feel we cannot handle life on our own. It is a living, daily relationship with the living, daily present Jesus.
Truth is in the encounter. Christianity is a relationship with the God of the Universe, revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ, and made possible through the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is not a long-distance relationship. It is not a relationship built on memories of things in the past. It is not a relationship that is meant to lie dormant for years and years, to be pulled out when and if we suddenly need help. Being a Christian – being a follower of Jesus – is about a living, breathing, daily, consistent relationship with the once-dead-but-now-resurrected King of kings, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Encounter Births New Life:
This encounter – this experience – of the living Lord Jesus, results in such a change in us that Scripture calls it a “new birth” – the old self is completely gone, crucified, put to death; and the new life is come. That is how drastic the change should be.
To try and grasp some of what this means, I want to take you to 1 Peter 1.
Remember Peter. Jesus’ first disciple, called to become “a fisher of men”, the one on whom Jesus said He would build His church, promised to follow Jesus to death and then when things got dangerous swore he never knew Him, and was then restored by Jesus after a great fish bar-b-que on the beach. He became the leader of the church in Jerusalem, and many years later he wrote these words:
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead