Summary: Christ is risen. The implications and benefits of this affect all who believe.
1. Illustration from "The Other Side of the Hedge" by E.M.Forster. Click here to read.
2. Easter is that special time in our lives and the church year when we are called to lift our eyes from our earthly lives and struggles and look heavenward.
3. Col 3:1-2.
1. Today is Easter Sunday - we think back to how Jesus rose from the dead. How wonderful it must have been that first Easter morn to experience meeting the risen Christ.
2. Today we look beyond the actual events of that day. We consider what the resurrection of Jesus really means for us and how His resurrection enables us to look heavenward today.
3. We consider the fact that Christ arose and then the benefits of his resurrection.
4. Perhaps this seems obvious, but the resurrection does not simply mean that Christ arose and went to heaven as God. It means that as a man, a human, Christ rose from the dead in a glorified body. The same body that was slain on the cross and laid lifeless in the tomb was alive again.
5. The idea of Christ rising from the dead seems to hard to believe for some - and so some well meaning Christians may say that if we find it too hard to believe, that’s OK, just receive Him as Lord and Saviour.
6. But, unless believe, we are not truly children of God, as we will see.
7. First, consider, what proof is there that Christ rose from the dead.
a. Some have argued that Christ did not really die - that He only went unconscious. Remember, as we said last Friday, when J of A asked Pilate for Christ’s body, Pilate confirmed with centurion that Jesus was dead.
b. He rose on 3rd day. Jews they believed that a person’s soul did not leave body until 3rd day - after 3 days person was really considered dead. Yet after 3rd the body would decay, and we are told in Acts 13, Christ’s body did not see decay.
c. We know Christ rose because of the many witnesses that saw Him. (1Cor 15:5-8).
d. How these witnesses were affected. After Jesus told them he would die and rise, disciples did not understand any of this. (Luke 18:34). After Mary Magdalene told them Christ had risen, they did not believe her. (Luke 24:11)
e. Unless they actually saw Christ, saw His pierced body and experienced His physical presence, they would not have believed it.
f. They not only believe it, but it changed them - it became the basis of their faith and their preaching. (1Cor 15:14)
g. What may well be the strongest witness to the resurrection, is how His kingdom, His church has survived and grown - because we have a living king.
8. Christ did rise, it was the basis of the faith of the early church and must be so today.
9. Now we consider why His resurrection is so important. Heidelberg Catechism gives three reasons or benefits..
10. First benefit is our justification.
a. He paid the penalty of sin by his death - but death had no power over him because He was without sin.
b. If stayed in grave, His death would have been of no benefit for us - then would show that He was not perfect and therefor was not a perfect sacrifice. That He could not pay for our sins, but rather His own.
c. By resurrection, shows he paid for our sins not his own - and that he FULLY paid for our sins.
d. Imagine we owe great debt - punishment is jail where we stay until we work of debt - till fully paid. Someone comes along and says "I will take your debts upon me and serve the time on your behalf". Not only for us but for all who trust that He came do this and take up His offer. So many of us agree. Few days later we meet this person out on the streets. We may worry if he really paid our debts, but he did, for unless he did, he would not have been freed. Because he was freed, we know that we will not be put back in prison - for outstanding debts.
e. In same way Christ took our debt upon Him - He remains in prison of death until our sins are fully paid. By being out of prison of death or the grave, we know that we are justified.
f. 1Cor 15:11,17.
11. Second benefit - Catechism says we are also by His power raised up to a new life - this is our sanctification.
a. As Christ died and rose, so our sinful self, has died. (Rom 6:6-7, 9)
b. Sin no longer has mastery over us. As the Holy Spirit brought Christ to life so already now He generates or quickens our spirits to new life.