Summary: Why is the resurrection so important for us today?
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
April 11, 2004
“He Did It!”
INTRODUCTION: What does Easter mean to you? Is it chocolate Easter bunnies and spiced jelly beans? Colored eggs and Easter egg hunts? A day when family gets together for Easter dinner? A time for getting up early in the morning and going to a special sunrise service? Singing the traditional Easter songs, “He Arose,” “He Lives,” and “Christ the Lord has Risen today.”
It’s probably all of these things. Holy Week ended in the crucifixion on Good Friday, but now it is a time of Victory for Jesus. He arose from the grave never to die again. This is the very foundation of the Gospel. The Good News is that we, too, have hope for our future. Because He arose from the grave, we also have the hope of life everlasting.
As we celebrate this day, let’s see how today’s scripture speaks to us individually.
1. The Past--The Present: Years have gone by since that first resurrection Sunday, but the message applies today. When the early church began, Paul preached the message fervently. But just as today, many then flatly denied that there ever was a resurrection. Many said, “this couldn’t happen and it didn’t happen.” People tried to come up with various explanations for what happened. Some said that His body had been stolen from the tomb, some said He had never died in the first place, some said, “Oh, it is just a myth.”
Today, some people say, “Oh, it is not important if we have a historical Jesus or not. It doesn’t matter if He died on a cross or if He ever arose again.” What about this kind of thinking? You, too, may have never placed a lot of importance on the resurrection. In today’s scripture Paul said that believers were even beginning to deny the doctrine of the resurrection. It was understandable if the pagans believed that way, but not Christians. Paul established the certainty of the resurrection by going back to the Old Testament prophecies. This truth is confirmed according to the scriptures.
Psalm 16:10 foretells the resurrection by saying, “...you will not abandon me [David] to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One [Jesus] see decay.” Another Old Testament prediction is in Hosea 6:2, “...after two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” (refers to Jesus).
One of the earliest hints of the resurrection is found in the book of Job 19:25-26, “I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.” Even Job back years and years before Christ knew that there was a good ending in sight.
STORY: Jonathan had been promised a new puppy for his 8th birthday. He had a tough time choosing one from the dozen dogs available for adoption. Finally he decided on one nondescript shaggy pup who was wagging his tail furiously.
His Mom wanted to know why he chose that one.
He expalined, “I want the one with the happy ending.” In the resurrection of Jesus, God offers a happy ending.
The resurrection was so important to Paul’s preaching that he wanted to point out the people who had seen him. First of all he was seen of Cephas [Peter] (Luke 24:34). He was seen of 500 people all at once in Galilee, to James individually, and to all of the apostles (Luke 24:40) and at the ascension (Luke 24:51). He was seen by Paul in his conversion experience on the way to Damascus (Acts 9).
2. Why is the Resurrection So Important?: Why was the resurrection so important to Paul and why is it so important to us today?
Paul said, “if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (I Corinthians 15:13, 14).
In addition, he says if he has not risen then you are still carrying around the guilt of your sins and you do not have forgiveness of sins.
And, he said, “think of all those who have already died in Christ. They have perished with no hope” (I Corinthians 15:18).
He asked them, “Does it make sense for us to put up with all the persecution and hardships we go through if Christ be not raised?”
He said, “if only for this life we have hope in Christ, then we are to be pitied more than all men” (I Corinthians 15:19).
BUT, he says, this is not the case. He DID RISE from the grave. HE DID IT just as He said He would do. And because he DID RISE, he guarantees that we will rise again also. He preceded His people by his bodily resurrection. It was predicted in the Old Testament and people saw Him in the days that followed that first Easter Sunday. He guarantees our resurrection at His second coming.