Summary: Part 1 in series Waking the Dead. This message communicates three thoughts abou the resurrection. 1) We do not believe it was not metaphorical. 2) Resurrection is not against the laws of physics. 3) Ultimately, this is still your choice.
The Risen Christ
Waking the Dead, part 1
Wildwind Community Church
April 11, 2009
Hey, Happy Easter everybody. I imagine that those of you who observed Lent this season have experienced blessing as a result. Some of you, too, are probably really looking forward to going back to whatever it is you gave up! I gave up car audio this season and although it has been beneficial in providing me extra time to pray in the car and focus on God, I have also discovered that for me giving up music for 40 days is maybe just one notch below giving up prayer. I won’t be doing it again next year, that’s for sure. Nonetheless Lent is a time of growth, a time of learning, and a time when we dedicate to God pieces of ourselves that normally we might not really think much about. It took me about ten days without car audio before I stopped habitually reaching for the radio button the second I got in the car. We are controlled in our lives by more things than we are aware of. If you did not observe Lent this season, I hope you will strongly consider it for next year.
But today (or tomorrow, if you want to be official about it) we arrive at the end of Lent and celebrate Easter. As I was talking with Christy about what I should say to you on Easter this year, Christy encouraged me to keep it simple. After all, Wildwind is blessed to have a large number of people who are fairly new to the whole Christian thing. Incidentally, I’m afraid I really overlooked something important when I failed to announce a few weeks ago that another person at Wildwind had made a commitment to Christ – this time one of our teenagers who my daughter Anna has been working with for several years. You’ll get to meet her soon and hear her story, since she is now seeking baptism. So if anyone else wants to be baptized let me know – I want to get that on the schedule soon. But in this spirit of wanting to make sure that as a church we are clear on the whole resurrection thing, I want to stick to basics today. What actually happened on that first Easter?
Sarah read the Easter story to you earlier to get us in the proper frame of mind, but I want to preach from a different text this morning. Would you stand for the reading of God’s Word?
1 Co 15:3-8 (The Message)
3The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me: that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; 4that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day, again exactly as Scripture says; 5that he presented himself alive to Peter, then to his closest followers, 6and later to more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time, most of them still around (although a few have since died); 7that he then spent time with James and the rest of those he commissioned to represent him; 8and that he finally presented himself alive to me.
You can have a seat. I’m going to keep reading to you, but the next thing I’m going to read – though I hope you’ll listen – isn’t sacred scripture or anything. What I want to read to you is the official doctrinal statement from the Free Methodist Church of North America on the resurrection.
II. The Son
¶A/103. God was himself in Jesus Christ to reconcile people to God. Conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, He joined together the deity of God and the humanity of humankind. Jesus of Nazareth was God in flesh, truly God and truly human. He came to save us. For us the Son of God suffered, was crucified, dead and buried. He poured out His life as a blameless sacrifice for our sin and transgressions. We gratefully acknowledge that He is our Savior, the one perfect mediator between God and us.
His Resurrection and Exaltation
¶A/104. Jesus Christ is risen victorious from the dead. His resurrected body became more glorious, not hindered by ordinary human limitations. Thus He ascended into heaven. There He sits as our exalted Lord at the right hand of God the Father, where He intercedes for us until
all His enemies shall be brought into complete subjection. He will return to judge all people. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
That’s our official belief. And I couldn’t have said it better myself. I don’t have one argument or one disagreement with one word of this. And that’s where I want to start tonight, by strongly stating that our belief in the risen Christ is not belief in a Christ that rose metaphorically. It is not belief that even though Jesus is still dead, his spirit lives on and we can all gain oodles of warm and fuzzy inspiration from that. We believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ, the most profound symbol of which is the empty tomb which once held a dead man and suddenly held only his grave clothes, because he who was dead returned to life. Here is a picture of the Garden Tomb, one of several places that are thought to possibly be the actual tomb of Jesus.