Summary: This Easter message focuses on what we have because Jesus was raised from the dead.
Beyond The Cross
Throughout my early years in the Church, we sang a song that contained the following words that I am sure many of you will recognize: “Jesus keep me near the cross, there’s a precious fountain. Free to all, a healing stream, flows from Calvary’s mountain. In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever, till my raptured soul shall find, rest beyond the river.” This song focused on what Christ did for us on the cross – He died for our sins. There was also another favorite song of mine that we sung containing these words, “God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus. He came to love, heal and forgive. He lived and died, to buy my pardon, an empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know, He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.” This song talks about what happened after the cross and that is what I want to talk to you about this morning in this Easter message I’ve titled, “Beyond the Cross.”
Many people wear crosses as a profession of their Christian faith and that is totally fine by me. We see people wearing crosses as jewelry or decorating their accessories. We see them everywhere; on the walls of people’s homes, in Churches, on books and on clothing. Some crosses are elaborate while others are plain. Some have images of Jesus still being on the cross while others are just the cross itself. Regardless of the cross selected, the subliminal message delivered is that the cross bearer identifies as a member of the Christian faith. The cross for some Christians is a reminder of what Jesus did when He died for our sins and wearing one reminds them of that. Still, for others, they wear the cross to feel closer to Jesus and to ward off evil spirits – a belief made popular in old vampire movies. What I want us to think about this morning is this: it started with the cross but it did not end there. You see, if Jesus had stayed “on the cross” or in the grave, we would not be here today.
I want you to see what was recorded in First Corinthians 15:14-18: “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins. 18Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” I want you to see this clearly. If Jesus had not risen from the dead then everything we believe; all the prayers we have prayed; and everything we have done in His name was/is in vain. Not only that, but if He hadn’t been raised from the dead then everyone who has died is still dead and will spend an eternity burning in the lake of fire. That also means that when we die, we will join them. Are you seeing this picture? So this morning we are not going to talk about the cross; or the beatings He took; or His march to Calvary. We are not going to talk about the nails being driven into His wrists and feet. We are not going to talk about the spear that was thrust into His side. No my friends, we are going to talk about His resurrection and ascension because for us, this truth, that He rose from the dead and now sits on the right hand of the Father, gives us the opportunity to do what is captured in the second song I mentioned – face all of our tomorrows without fear because we know He holds our futures! Amen! Praise be to God that He raised Christ from the dead!!!
So let’s talk a minute about what happened. After Christ died on the cross, the disciples and His other followers, those who had spent three faithful years following Him, went to their homes heavyhearted, their dreams shattered. Many questions must have raced through their minds making sleep impossible. What happened to the multitude who praised Him as He entered Jerusalem on an ass a few days ago? What happened to His disciples that none of them fought to free Him? How could God allow this to happen to the man who was supposed to be His Son and Jews’ Messiah? It was a very long night followed by even longer days and nights. How could they reconcile what they thought they knew about the Savior coming to save them and now He’s dead and buried? You see, they did not think about or understand what was recorded in the Old Testament pertaining to His death and resurrection. When they read Psalm 16:10 which says, “For You will not leave My soul in Sheol; neither will You allow your Holy One to see corruption….” they did not know that this spoke of Jesus not being in the grave long enough for His body to start decaying. When they read Isaiah 53:9 which says, “And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth...” they did not understand that this was a prophecy that Jesus would die as a criminal but would be laid in a rich man’s tomb that had never been used. They did not have this understanding until after He rose from the dead – and thank God He did rise from the dead