Summary: Whether we are or are not convinced that Christ rose from the dead does not affect the reality of the Resurrection. But if we accept its reality by faith and live consistently in light of it, it changes our lives like nothing else can.
"Return from the Dead"
[note: this is a revised sermon from my 2003 sermon, "Back from the Dead."]
1. For a lot of kids, Easter is about eater eggs and candy. Boy 1: "How did you get that bruise on your arm?" Boy 2: "I ate some Easter candy." Boy 1: "Eating Easter candy won’t give you a bruise." Boy 2: "It will if it’s your big brother’s candy!"
2. Today, we gather to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the most important event in all history, an event that changed history. It is either the worst lie of all time or the greatest event of all time; it cannot be moderately important. Ask the families of the thousands of martyrs in our world today. Believing Jesus rose from the dead can get you hated or disrespected, even in US.
3. Deputy Koontz had his life stolen from him a week ago today. Is death the end of the road?
4. Paul wrote: 1 Corinthians 15:13-19, "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
5. Note how that last statement tells us that belief in the Resurrection is not some crutch to help us cope with life's tragedies. Paul says that if it is NOT true, then belief in the Resurrection makes us pitiful creatures.
MAIN IDEA: Whether we are or are not convinced that Christ rose from the dead does not affect the reality of the Resurrection. The Bible presents it as objective history. But if we accept its reality by faith and live consistently in light of it, it changes our lives like nothing else can.
TS ----------→ The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a life changer, as seen in the text before us.
I. The Change in the APOSTLES (John 20:19- 29)
A. They lost their FEARS (19-20)
(1) Jesus approaches them gladly
(2) Shalom Aleikhem
(3) They are hiding from the Jews; in a few days, they would be boldly preaching to massive crowds of their brethren; at this point, they were skeptics and did not think that Jesus would be resurrected from the dead; when they heard the early reports from the women, they thought they were hysterical with emotion…
(4) indeed, the disciples would suffer persecution, torture, and death for their belief and unswerving proclamation that Jesus rose again
B. Their lives had PURPOSE and direction (21-23)
• They received the Holy Spirit – they now had the power/wisdom to forge ahead
C. Their cynical SKEPTICISM disappeared (24-29)
(1) Luke tells us He had to eat fish with them before they believed He was real; they frequently thought He was a ghost…
(2) note that all the apostles had doubted (except John)
(3) Thomas required the same proof as the others…
----what is bad is that he gave no credibility to his close friends
(4) When Jesus confronted Thomas, He quoted Thomas Himself…how would He know?
D. They acknowledged the DEITY of Christ (28)
(1) What the Jews expected in a Messiah
(2) OT is pretty clear that the Messiah is God in the flesh, but the Jewish mindset could not accept this…
---accepted being called God
---accepted worship AS God
II. How the Resurrection of Jesus Changes US
A. We need no longer live in constant FEAR
• Our relationship to the Lord can embolden us to break out of our protective shell and amount to something in the Kingdom of God.
• Every week in the email update, I attach a person to pray for in a persecuted land; it might be someone imprisoned, a family whose loved one has been martyred…fear
• Despite their fear, remain faithful to God…. Transformed by the resurrected Jesus
B. We have direction and PURPOSE
1. The criminal El Chappo is said to be reading “The Purpose Driven Life.” Perhaps God will get ahold of him, and he will find real meaning in life.
2. The rules for playing the game of life are changing rapidly; people are scurrying in all directions as the foundations of family, church, commerce, & government in chaos.
3. But those of us who have a heavenly perspective remain on the same trajectory