Summary: Jesus must become more than a dead man in the way we live and present Him to others.
A Dead Man Named Jesus
Intro: This will be a somewhat different sermon. It is more topical than most of my sermons are. In other words, the topic comes from the text, but not necessarily the main points. However, I’d like to go ahead and read the narrative account that Luke gives us in Acts 25, and then focus on v.19 as the basis for the message today.
-In v.19, Festus tells King Agrippa, “They had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. Here is the main thought of the message today:
Prop: Jesus must become more than a dead man in the way we live and present Him to others.
Interrogative: What do we mean by allowing Jesus to be more than a dead man?
TS: I’d like to look at 3 principles that will help us let Christ live in us and through us.
I. Many People View Jesus (and Christianity) as Dead or Irrelevant
-Some people have had bad experiences with a church or with Christians, or with religion. Unfortunately, that colors their perception of who Jesus is. They say, “After all, if that is what Jesus is like, then who needs Him?” Or, after seeing how some so-called Christians live, they conclude that the whole thing must be a fraud, and that only the weak-minded are taken in by it.
-There are other people who may not have had bad experiences with Christians or churches, but they just don’t see how God has anything to do with their everyday lives. This is always troubling to me, because I want people to know the Jesus I know. I don’t want them to miss out on a relationship with their Creator. I don’t want them to miss out on forgiveness or eternal life! But for many people, Jesus is just a dead man who religious people still like to talk about.
-Some people are just waiting to see a Christian whose life really demonstrates the claims of their faith. If God is a loving God, can they see that love in us? If God is patient, how are we doing in that area? If God cares, do we?
-Unfortunately, sometimes the church has placed so much emphasis on believing the proper doctrine that they have not properly examined their lives to see if it is being lived out.
-What makes something relevant? Well, something is relevant when it helps meet a need. Something is relevant when you cannot live without it. Something might be relevant if it helps me improve as an individual, as a spouse, as a parent, or in some other relationship.
-Bottom line: If the church cannot demonstrate how someone who died nearly 2000 years ago can make a profound difference in people’s lives, then we will be painting a picture of a dead man named Jesus! Now I realize that many will reject Jesus – even when He is shown to be real and relevant. Festus did. Festus was a pretty good ruler, one of the better ones, but even after encountering the relevant Christ in the life of Paul, he still viewed Jesus as a dead man, and a dead issue in his own life.
-But even though some will reject Jesus, never making room for Him, there are others who will receive Him, and experience an awesome life change! That’s the power of the good news about Jesus! Lives changed! Hope restored! Joy bestowed! A release of peace! Something to live for!
-TS: That leads us to the 2nd point.
II. Many People Have Encountered the Risen Christ
-We’ve already covered much of Paul’s life in our study of the book of Acts. Paul had a powerful encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Up until this point, Paul had viewed Christ as a dead man named Jesus. However, when Jesus started talking to him, and Paul was blinded by the powerful light of His presence, Paul’s life was dramatically changed! He stopped persecuting the followers of Jesus, and he became one himself. Jesus became so relevant in Paul’s life that every decision he made involved hearing from the Lord and doing what He wanted. Paul devoted the rest of his life to sharing the good news about Jesus.
-Many people sitting here today have encountered the risen Christ. To you, Jesus is much more than a story. He is more than someone who died 1978 years ago. He is more to you than a dead man named Jesus, whom some claim is still alive. If you have encountered the risen Christ, then you know what I’m talking about. Your sin is gone! Your guilt is gone! You now have a reason to go on! Your fears are turning into victories. You’ve traded your despair for joy and hope. You are able to care more for others than you do for yourself. Your desires are changing. Your habits are changing. You are beginning to experience the life you’ve always wanted!