The Resurrection – A Wall or A Gate
Please open your Bibles to Matthew 28:1-7 which Pastor Karenlee will be reading and teaching from in a few minutes.
We hope many of you were able to join us for our Good Friday service. It was good to remember all that happened between the Passover Meal, which we call the last supper and when Jesus was placed in the tomb after the crucifixion.
It was not “good” in the sense of pleasant or enjoyable.
It was good in the sense that it reminded us of a series of events that were unthinkably cruel.
And it was good in the sense that even through all of the trials and torture and the unjust crucifixion we could point to the verse that tells us “For God so greatly loved the world” that He sent His One and Only, Begotten Son.
That God so greatly loved His disciples who failed and betrayed Him, that God so greatly loved the Jewish leadership and the mob that arrested Him and Pilate and Herod and the soldiers who crucified Him; that God so greatly loved all of them that He sent His Son to be the perfect sacrifice for their sins and for our sins as well!
But on this Sabbath day we turn to an event that took place three days later; the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Please read along in your Bibles as Pastor Karenlee reads from Matthew 28:1-7
May God bless the reading of His Word
Brief prayer for help
How do we know that really happened? In the Old Testament we read that no person shall be put to death based on the testimony of only one eye witness; there must be a minimum of two eye witnesses. What about a resurrection? How many witnesses would that require? Wouldn’t it be great if we had some eye witnesses?
In 1 John 1:1-4 (NLT) the disciple Jesus loved writes:
“We proclaim to you the One who existed from the beginning, Whom we have heard and seen. We saw Him with our own eyes and touched Him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.
“This One who is Life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen Him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that He is the One who is Eternal Life.
“He was with the Father, and then He was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.
“We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.”
Who else can we look to as a witness? We can look to Luke as a witness and even though he himself was not an eye witness he was a highly educated physician and a research historian.
Here is what Luke writes in the beginning of his Gospel …
Luke 1:1-4 NIV
“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the Word (that is, Jesus).
“With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”
How about one more …
The apostle Paul wrote a letter we know a 1 Corinthians to a church he planted in Corinth somewhere around the years A.D. 53-55 which was about 25 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection.
In 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 ICB Paul writes …
“I passed on to you what I received. And this was the most important: that Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say; that He was buried and was raised to life on the third day as the Scriptures say; and that He showed Himself to Peter and then to the twelve apostles.
“After that, Jesus showed Himself to more than 500 of the believers at the same time. Most of them are still living today. But some have died. Then Jesus showed Himself to James and later to all the apostles.”
Now, I’d say that is a pretty good assortment of eye witnesses, wouldn’t you?
Romans 10:9-10 says “If we confess with our …” (recite the rest)
Eternal life is a wonderful benefit.
But, do we have to wait to die before we can enjoy the benefits of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ?
Is there any benefit to this salvation in this life?
(Testimonies: Pastor Karenlee and I tell about the wonderful changes Christ has made in our lives with all glory to God for taking sinful, unusable people and making us so that His purposes can be completed through us as His servants.)
These testimonies are a witness to what Jesus has enabled through His death and resurrection. Without His death and resurrection we would have no hope.
There are millions who do not know this essential, Biblical truth.
There are millions who do not even really know WHO Jesus is!
Last night I saw a video on You Tube that was asking these insane questions …
“If the gun laws had been more strict, would Lee Harvey Oswald have been able to kill Jesus?”
“When did Lee Harvey Oswald kill Jesus with a gun?”
The people being interviewed had no idea how Jesus died.
The people being interviewed had no idea when Jesus lived and died.
You may laugh at that but it is horrifying!
Literally, eternally, spiritually horrifying!
Walk down the street and greet people with, “Christ is Risen” and see what kind of response you get from people.
Many churches themselves are filled with Biblically unschooled people.
I remember hearing the pastor of a mega-church tell about how he was out playing golf with one of his church leaders who asked him, “Was Moses before or after Jesus?”
Does that stun you?
I remember as a young man singing in a Gospel trio and one of the songs we sang had these lyrics:
His name is voiced in every conversation
He’s now become a superstar they say
But, Oh, the curse it’s bringing to our nation
As men profane His Holy Name each day
It’s hard to understand how those around us
Are plunging to a lost eternity
And all the while they say the name of Jesus
They curse the only name that sets men free
How badly has the church and those who profess to be Christians failed in telling who Jesus is and why they need Him?
Roughly 75% of Americans professed to being Christians.
How can so many profess to be Christians and yet so many do not know?
What about us?
We need to answer these questions:
How well do WE know Jesus?
Is He our joy and our Salvation?
If someone were to do a forensic examination of our lives would they find that Jesus is the driving force in our lives?
If we DO know Jesus well and IF He is our joy and our salvation and IF there is overwhelming evidence that Jesus is the driving force in our lives then why aren’t we telling others about our Glorious Savior?
Romans 10:13-15 says,
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Now, don’t take this Scripture and make it out to say that it’s up to the preacher to tell everyone.
We who name Jesus as our Savior are to be His witnesses!
And we are called to be ambassadors for Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:20 says,
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
Christ is Risen; He is Risen Indeed.
This statement has implications that will reverberate through eternity.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is a wall and a gate.
It is a wall to those who know of the resurrection but refuse to believe it. This unbelief is an insurmountable, impenetrable wall.
There is no salvation if Jesus is not risen from the dead.
And, if Jesus IS risen, then there is no salvation for those who will not believe.
That is the wall as it is connected with the resurrection of Christ.
If that is the wall, what is the gate?
The gate is belief in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
This belief is not just a token nod to the historicity of the resurrection.
This belief is an “all-in” belief that results in a life transformed by Jesus and committed TO Jesus.
Jesus has paid the sacrifice for our sin.
Jesus has made the way for our salvation.
For those of us who have entered through the gate of belief in Jesus Christ we have eternal life starting right now.
What can COVID-19 do to us? It can take our mortal life. So what?
None of us are guaranteed even the next moment here on earth.
BUT … if we are born again, if we are “in Christ”, if we have been adopted into the family of God by placing our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, then our mortal death is just a passing into a wonderful eternity in the presence of Jesus.
Not so for those who stand outside the wall of unbelief.
Now … think back to the song we looked at earlier about how Jesus’ name is used in our society and how the matchless name of Jesus is used as a curse word.
Here’s what the chorus of that song says,
For He is more than just a swear word
More than just an “I-don’t-care” word
How can we use His name so recklessly
Our only hope is in this one Word
Whosoever will may come Word
He’s more than just a swear word
He’s the precious Son of God!
Our only hope, my only hope, your only hope is in the precious Son of God. And, for those who know nothing but His name as a curse word, their only hope is in the name of Jesus as well!
Let’s tell them! Amen? Amen!
Final thoughts and prayer