Summary: A sermon for Resurrection Sunday
“O’ REJOICE THAT THE LORD IS RISEN!”
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.”
“This is our Gospel. For this is what Christianity essentially is – a religion of Resurrection. This is what every worshipping congregation is intended in the purpose of God to be – a community of the Resurrection. This is the basic character of every act of public worship – a proclamation of the Resurrection. And this is what the Gospel offers to our dark and ruined chaos of a world, where men peering into the future are daunted by the well-nigh impossible task of creating order out of confusion and life out of death; the power of the Resurrection.” James S. Stewart, A Faith to Proclaim” – Hodder & Stoughton, 1953
The death and Resurrection of Christ are events three days apart and yet inseparable. The Son of Man came to serve by giving His life a ransom for the many, but His death would have meant nothing except for the Resurrection.
In fact, that is a pointless observation to make for several reasons; the main one being, as I said in opening, the events are inseparable. He had to die to accomplish the plan of salvation, and because of who He is death could not keep Him. Moreover, because of what His death and Resurrection mean for us, without either one we would still be lost.
The songwriter may have said it most simply when he wrote, ‘…who died, eternal life to bring; and lives that death may die”
The truth of the Resurrection is the very foundation and framework of Christianity. It is the central message of the Apostles from the day they came out of the upper room freshly filled with the Holy Spirit, and it has been the message of the heralds of the Gospel ever since.
Pastor Lloyd Ogilvie pointed out: “The most powerful historical proof of the Resurrection is the ‘resurrected’ disciples. Dull, defeated people became fearless, adventuresome leaders. Cowards became courageous; the timid became bold.”
The Resurrection of Jesus is the legitimization of the rest of His earthly life and ministry. What would His teachings mean for us more than any other teacher or philosopher of history, if not for His atoning death, and what hope could we possibly have – what message of any significance could we bring to a hopeless world – had Jesus not come out of the grave in glorified body in the power of the Resurrection?
There would be no message. There would be no salvation. The world would have continued its unchecked plummet into dark, demonic, animalistic chaos and by now either destroyed itself or suffered the fiery wrath of an uncompassionate God.
But the Resurrection is real and it is an event that took place in history. It is not an intangible doctrine to meditate upon; not a point of theology to debate.
Bruce Larson wrote: “The events of Easter cannot be reduced to a creed or philosophy. We are not asked to believe the doctrine of the Resurrection. We are asked to meet this person raised from the dead. In faith, we move from belief in a doctrine to a knowledge of a person. Ultimate truth is a person. We met him. He is alive.”
It was the power of God demonstrated in the body of His Son who died for us, to turn the course of history and begin the great harvest that will culminate in uncounted myriads of glorified saints gathered around Him, worshiping and glorifying Him in eternity.
The Resurrection is what proves Jesus’ teachings are true, and as I said earlier, is the very center of the Gospel itself.
The Resurrection is the catalyst for evangelism, and in the life of the believer it is the source of power to live the Christian life and the very reason for total commitment to the Christ-life.
The Resurrection gave birth to the church. What? It wasn’t the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost? No, the church was born the moment Jesus Christ rose from the dead, for because He lives, we too shall live, and as someone somewhere has said, the Resurrection of Christ had the Resurrection of every believer contracted in it. The church was born an everlasting entity the moment Jesus burst from the tomb.
It is the message of the Resurrection that has been met with all forms of resistance by the spirit of this world.
When Paul addressed the Mars Hill philosophers they listened with interest while he told them of a God who made the world and who made mankind from one. They leaned in closer as he quoted their own poetry and applied it to speak of One who is the Father of us all. They could easily take his words and adapt them to their own imaginations concerning whatever sort of gods they wanted to worship and adore, or placate and schmooze, but when he began to tell of a fixed day when the world would be judged in righteousness they stiffened and began to scowl – and when he told them that judgment would be ministered by One risen from the dead they fell apart. Some wanted to hear more later, others mocked and went away laughing.