Hope in the Resurrection
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Introduction – Good Friday Obituary
(I recognize there are spelling and grammatical errors in the following illustration. I simply copied it as is to reuse for this specific message)
Jeruselem 33 AD
Jesus Christ, 33, of Nazareth died Friday on Mount Calvary, also known as Golgotha, the place of the skull. Betrayed by Judas, Jesus was crucified by the Romans, by order of the Ruler Pontius Pilate. The causes of death were extreme exhaustion, severe torture, and loss of blood.
Jesus Christ, a descendant of Abraham was a member of the house of David. He was the Son of the late Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth, and Mary, His devoted Mother. Jesus was born in a stable in the city of Bethlehem, Judea. He is survived by His mother Mary, His faithful Apostles, numerous disciples, and many other followers.
Jesus was self educated and spent most of his adult life working as a Teacher. Jesus also occasionally worked as a Medical Doctor and it is reported that he healed many patients. Up until the time of His death, Jesus was teaching and sharing the Good News, healing the sick, touching the lonely, feeding the hungry and helping the poor.
Jesus was most noted for telling parables about His father’s Kingdom and performing miracles, such as feeding over 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish, and healing a man who was born blind. On the day before His death, He held a Last Supper celebrating the Passover Feast, at which He foretold His death.
The Body was quickly buried in a stone grave, which was donated by Joseph of Arimathea, a loyal friend of the family. By order of Pontius Pilate, a boulder was rolled in front of the tomb. Roman soldiers were put on guard.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that everyone try to live as Jesus did. Donations may be sent to anyone in need.
I had this illustration sent to me this week by several well-meaning church members. As I previewed the item, it hit me the number of inaccuracies listed in the illustration that most people over-looked. Let’s consider several of them.
First of all, “The causes of death were extreme exhaustion, severe torture, and loss of blood,” is wrong. It was my sin and your sin which caused His death. He willing gave His life for us that we might have a relationship with Him.
Then, “He was the Son of the late Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth,” is also incorrect! He was not the son of Joseph but is the Son of God. He is Immanuel, God with us!
Third, “He is survived…by His faithful Apostles,” is just wrong! They all abandoned Him. They were anything BUT faithful! So much for Peter’s never forsaking Him!
Fourth, “On the day before His death, He held a Last Supper celebrating the Passover Feast, at which He foretold His death,” is incorrect. He had been telling His disciples for a year that He would die by the hands of the religious Jews and secular Romans. He was telling them this long before the final Passover meal.
Fifth, “The Body was quickly buried in a stone grave, which was donated by Joseph of Arimathea, a loyal friend of the family. By order of Pontius Pilate, a boulder was rolled in front of the tomb. Roman soldiers were put on guard,” gives the impression His life was over! That was it! Life was finished. So, where is the resurrection? This implies He was simply a man who left us a wonderful legacy!
Then we discover the phrase, “In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that everyone try to live as Jesus did,” makes it appear that it is our good works which get us into heaven. Friends, it can’t be done! It is impossible because Jesus was holy, righteous and without sin. Can’t say the same about us!
But the one which is so obvious is, “OBITUARIES.” There can never be an obituary for one who is still alive! Jesus died and rose again to give us real life in Him! He now sits at the right hand of the Father! Even if the obit had been written on the crucifixion day, the paper would have had to run a retraction on Monday!
Because of that hope, we find that Jesus’ death, burial and RESURRECTION gives us three things.
First, it gives us…
A LIVING Hope
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
It is in this living hope that we find Peter revealing God’s abundant mercy. It is overflowing beyond anything we deserve or can imagine! We don’t deserve it, can’t earn it, unable to purchase it but is freely given to us.
We also discover Peter sharing openly concerning this living hope through a new birth! To be “born from above, born again or begotten” is something we can’t do for ourselves. It is God who quickens our spirit to respond to the grace He has extended. For Peter to confess this spiritual truth reveals the changed nature within him that he was willing to die as a testimony for Christ!
But ultimately, we find our living hope in Christ. It is only through Him that we experience true life.
Illustration – Deborah and Katelyn
Recently, my wife kept our two month old grand-daughter to give our daughter some rest. You see, Katelyn has colic. Some call it acid reflux or indigestion, but we call it sleepless nights! Deborah stayed up the majority of the night. Katelyn only found comfort in Deborah holding her. We both wondered out loud if the night would ever end!
No matter how dark it gets or how bad it seems, we have a living hope in a living Lord! We can then hold on no matter how desperate things may seem because He is the bright and morning star! He’ll come when all seems so dark and hopeless.
Second, we find that we have not only a living hope but we have…
A LASTING Hope
“to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you”
This lasting hope is a hope with a legacy! Jesus died that we may live. Trusting in Him is a blessing beyond what we can utter! Notice four things about this lasting hope! The word inheritance is only achieved through the death of another. Jesus has provided us with a marvelous inheritance.
First, it’s unending.
There will be no aging or deterioration in His presence! It will last for all eternity. His living legacy is incorruptible.
Second, it’s uncontaminated.
In the word “undefiled” we find there is no flaw or defect. Diamonds are near worthless if the black spot of carbon is spotted within. Everything Jesus touches will be pure and undefiled!
Then, we discover this inheritance is unchanging.
“It does not fade away.” This reveals there will be no diminishing of beauty in heaven or in the presence of Christ! It never lessens or declines. We grow older and our purchases in life deteriorate. But not so in Christ’s glory!
And finally, our inheritance and hope is unalterable because “it is reserved in heaven for you.”
This hope is fixed and irreversible. Unlike the stock market which changes daily, this inheritance has a permanent promise. God has made it so through His Son.
Illustration – Rabbit and Snake
I heard about a rabbit and a snake meeting in the forest. The rabbit said, "We don’t know how we look. Why don’t we describe each other to the other so we’ll know how we look?" The snake said, "Good idea. You’ve got a pink nose, long ears, and a fluffy little tail." The rabbit liked that, and he said, "I’m a rabbit! I’m a rabbit! I’m a rabbit!" The snake said, "Okay, you describe me." The rabbit said, "Well, you have a forked tongue, shifty eyes, and diamonds all over you." The snake said, "Oh no, I’m a televangelist."
Appearances can be deceiving! While we are promised Hope and Change in today’s world, authentic hope lies in the hands of the real change agent, Jesus the Messiah!
And finally, we have…
A LOVING Hope
“who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time”
The word “kept” means that we are guarded, protected and garrisoned. He is the safe house for our soul! What are we kept from? Three things:
First, we are kept from the penalty of sin.
He suffered what we deserved. My sins were imputed or placed on Him. Although most of the world rejects the sacrificial substitutionary atonement of Christ, He died that “whosoever” may come to Him for salvation!
Second, we are kept from the power of sin.
Sin no longer holds us in bondage. We have been set free. We are no longer at enmity with God. He has become our friend through His Son.
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Romans 8:15-25
And finally, we are kept from the presence of sin!
Although we still live in a sin infested world, one day all will be made right. Our glorification will be made complete. Because we have experienced being “kept,” should it not make us act differently than the rest of the world?
Illustration – Shively Christian Church
Chuck Colson tells the story about a youth group in a town named Shively.
The young people at Shively Christian Church, led at the time by Youth Pastor Dave Stone, were fiercely competitive with their neighbor, Shively Baptist, in all things, especially softball. They were also serious about their Christianity, faithfully attending the summer Bible camp led by the youth pastor.
One week, the Bible lesson was about Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, from John 13. To make the servant hood lesson stick, Pastor Stone divided the kids into groups and told them to go out and find a practical way to be servants.
"I want you to be Jesus in the city for the next two hours," he said. "If Jesus were here, what would he do? Figure out how he would help people."
Two hours later the kids reconvened in Pastor Stone’s living room to report what they had done.
One group had done two hours of yard work for an elderly man. Another group bought ice cream treats and delivered them to several widows in the church. A third group visited a church member in the hospital and gave him a card. Another group went to a nursing home and sang Christmas carols — yes, carols in the middle of August. One elderly resident remarked that it was the warmest Christmas she could remember.
But when the fifth group stood up and reported what they had done, everyone groaned. This group had made its way to none other than their arch rival, Shively Baptist, where they had asked the pastor if he knew someone who needed help. The pastor sent them to the home of an elderly woman who needed yard work done. There, for two hours, they mowed grass, raked the yard and trimmed hedges.
When they were getting ready to leave, the woman called the group together and thanked them for their hard work. "I don’t know how I could get along without you," she told them. "You kids at Shively Baptist are always coming to my rescue."
"Shively Baptist!" interrupted Pastor Stone. "I sure hope you set her straight and told her you were from Shively Christian Church."
"Why, no, we didn’t," the kids said. "We didn’t think it mattered."
Our responsibility is to Christ and His kingdom. We are not in competition with each other; we are on the same team playing different positions! Too often, we consider the other churches in our communities as “the enemy.” They are not the enemy. Satan and His demonic agents are. So, since we have been kept from the penalty of sin, the power of sin and eventually the presence of sin, let’s be about our Father’s business while there is still light!