Summary: Jesus came to set people free, and His death and resurrection provided for that. I’d like to look at some parallels between God's deliverance of Israel from Egypt and how He delivers us from bondage in our lives.
An Easter Exodus
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. But for now, I’d like to move in another direction for the remainder of our time this morning. Jesus came to set people free, and His death and resurrection accomplished that. I’d like to look at a very brief history lesson from Israel.
1. Problems are often a part of everyday life
-Joseph, one of the great-grandsons of Abraham, was sold as a slave by his brothers and taken to Egypt. Later God lifted him up to be the 2nd most powerful man in the kingdom and he saved the lives of his family when a famine hit the land. As a result they all moved to Egypt and lived in the land of Goshen as shepherds. However, a new King or Pharaoh rose to power who did not know Joseph and did not respect God. As he began to build his kingdom, he put the Hebrew people to forced labor to build pyramids and other tributes to himself and to the gods of Egypt.
-The life of a shepherd was not glamorous or easy, but it was really pretty good compared to the slavery the Hebrew people found themselves in. They were driven to work 7 days a week with no reprieve. The only rest they had came each evening when it became too dark to work anymore. Life was oppressive! It was hard! And we don’t pick up the idea that God was punishing them by making them slaves to Pharaoh – it was just the way life had turned out. God knew it was coming, and knew that He would deliver them at just the right time.