Summary: The good news about Jesus is that He offers us a way out of a dead end life! Just as God provided Israel with a way out of Egypt, so He offers us a way out of darkness and bondage into His marvelous light!
A Way Out
(Community Sunrise Service)
Intro: Nearly every Easter I make it a point to take another look at why I believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. And as I look at my own spiritual journey over the years, I can identify several pieces of evidence that have strengthened my belief that Jesus is all He claimed to be and did all that His Father sent Him to this earth to do. First of all, there are a number of historical writings that refer to Jesus Christ as a historical figure who was executed under Pilate, the Governor of Judea. It is very difficult for anyone to argue the fact that such a person lived – at least with any kind of credibility. Obviously, the most complete account of His life is found in the Bible in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
-So as we think about His resurrection from the dead, at least 3 things stand out to me that help confirm the claims the Bible makes about Jesus. First, there is the empty tomb. What happened to the body of Jesus? Did His disciples steal His body as many of the Jews and Roman soldiers claimed? This does not hold up for many reasons. The tomb was heavily guarded by Roman soldiers who would likely have been executed if they had fallen asleep. The disciples would have had to overpower the guards, move a 2-ton stone, and relocate the body somewhere where it would never be found. Why then weren’t the disciples arrested for violating Roman law, robbing a grave, and assaulting Roman soldiers? It just doesn’t make sense. The gospel accounts actually show the disciples needing to be convinced that Jesus was really alive. They didn’t expect it or believe it at first.
-A 2nd piece of the puzzle has to do with the number of witnesses. Over 500 people saw Jesus alive at the same time. Thomas touched the holes in his hands. 2 men walked and talked with Him on the Road to Emmaus. Then Jesus appeared to the 11 disciples and let them touch Him and He asked them for something to eat and ate it right in front of them. Some of the disciples also had a fish BBQ with Him on the beach of the Sea of Galilee. 1 Cor. 15 talks about how many different people saw Jesus after His resurrection. With that many eyewitnesses seeing Jesus in different locations and times, we have overwhelming evidence that He really was alive.
-The last thing that means a lot to us today is the fact of changed lives. Not only did the disciples change from timid, defeated has beens to bold and powerful leaders in the early church. Each of them except for John was put to death for claiming that Jesus was alive. Lots of people will die for what they believe in, but never for a lie. And millions of lives have been changed since the first century AD. Lives are still being changed today.
-So, the resurrection of Jesus is so much more than a fairy tale! In fact, the entire Christian faith rests on the resurrection. Paul tells how to be saved in Romans 10 – Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. No resurrection, no salvation. Why? Because the resurrection was the greatest evidence that Jesus was truly the Son of God – God in flesh who came to save the world from sin.
-I would love to talk with you about these and more pieces of evidence about the Bible and the resurrection. If you have the desire to search out the facts, I’d love to help you with that. Knowing that Jesus Himself has already overcome death gives us hope that our own death does not get the last word! When it is time for us to go, our spirits leave this body and go to be with the Lord. And when Jesus returns as He promised, those who have died trusting in Him will be raised to life again with new bodies and will be with the Lord forever and ever.
-Death does not get the last word. Our problems and troubles do not get the last word! Our own personal failures do not get the last word. Part of the good news about Jesus (which we call the gospel) starts with what may sound like bad news. What’s the bad news? We can’t be good enough to earn our own way into heaven! (Eph. 2:8,9). Who then can be saved? How can we make it into heaven? Not those who do enough good things, but those who receive God’s gift of life through faith. Again, Romans 10 says that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. If a person makes a statement of faith that Jesus is Lord of All, and if they believe in their heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, they will be saved!