Summary: Four things we find in the fact that Jesus is Alive - life, love, hope, and power
Jesus the Resurrected King
March 31, 2002
Every year thousands of people climb a mountain in the Italian Alps, passing the "stations of the cross" to stand at an outdoor crucifix. One tourist noticed a little trail that led beyond the cross. He fought through the rough thicket and, to his surprise, came upon another shrine, a shrine that symbolized the empty tomb. It was neglected. The brush had grown up around it. Almost everyone had gone as far as the cross, but stopped there.
Far too many have gotten to the cross and have known the despair and heartbreak. Far too few have moved beyond the cross to find the real message of Easer -- the empty tomb.
Every Christmas we gather in amazement that Jesus would leave the splendor of heaven and come to our little planet, become human, and experience life on earth. A few months later, we gather on Good Friday in humble amazement that our Jesus would die on the cross for our sins ¡V that He would take the punishment we deserve and die in our place.
And then we come to this day ¡V to Resurrection Sunday, to the climax, to the highest point, to the culmination of Jesus¡¦ ministry. And now we celebrate! Now we rejoice together! Not just that Jesus came to earth. Not merely that He died. BUT! That He rose from the dead!!!
You see if Jesus had only come to earth, He would merely have been a visitor ¡V God on a holiday. If He had only died, He would merely have been a religious teacher ¡V another Buddha or Mohammed. But He didn¡¦t just come to earth, and He didn¡¦t just die on a cross. He rose from the dead!
That is the excitement of Christianity ¡V that is the uniqueness of our faith! As the wonderful old hymn says it: ¡§I serve a RISEN Savior, He¡¦s in the world today. I know that He is living, whatever men may say. I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer, And just the time I need Him He¡¦s always near. He Lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life¡¦s narrow way. He lives, He lives, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.¡¨
We¡¦ve heard the story many times, and we heard it read again this morning. I hope we never tire of hearing the words ¡V He Is Risen! I hope we never cease to be amazed ¡V to be awestruck ¡V at the incredible fact that death couldn¡¦t hold the Lord of Life. And, most of all, I hope we never miss this simple fact ¡V Jesus is alive today.
That is what I want to talk about for a few moments this morning ¡V the fact that Jesus is alive today. At Christmas we celebrate an instant ¡V a moment in time. We do the same thing on Good Friday ¡V we remember a single moment in history. But the resurrection is different ¡V it is not just something that happened at a moment in time but it is a new daily reality. When we say ¡§He is Risen,¡¨ we don¡¦t mean just that at a moment in time Jesus came back to life, but really we mean He is Alive Today. Right now. At this very moment.
And that changes everything. The Apostle Paul is incredibly blunt in 1 Cor. 15:14 when he writes, ¡§if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.¡¨ What does it mean for you and I that Jesus is Risen? Let me suggest four things that I see in the resurrection
1. There is Love in the Resurrection
1 John 4:9 says, ¡§This how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him.¡¨
We see this love in a painful way on the cross. We see the extent of God¡¦s love for us as we reflect on Jesus¡¦ death. But it doesn¡¦t end there! The love of God did not only send Jesus to the cross, it also raised Him back to life! The love of God did not leave Jesus in the tomb, and us in despair, but it raised Jesus back to life so that, as John writes, ¡§we might live through him.¡¨ Love hates death. Love struggles against death and in favor of life. And in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, love overcomes death.
There is love in the resurrection not just expressed in terms of the love of God for us. The love we find in the resurrection also overflows from us to others. 1 John 3:14 says, ¡§We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.¡¨ We know that we participate in the resurrection life of Jesus because it spills over into our relationships with one another ¡V even with those who are difficult to love. Jesus prayed that the world would know we were His disciples by the depth of our love for one another.