Life, Death & Living Again
This morning we will be reading from a passage of scripture found in The Gospel of John, Chapter 19
John Calvin commented on this passage and said:
“The weakness of faith is manifested when the confession of faith is withheld.”
We have set aside this time, the traditional Easter Sunday morning church service, to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.
It was at Passover almost 2000 years ago that Jesus offered Himself as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.
The blood of Jesus which was shed on the cross of Calvary that day paid the redemption price for every soul who believes in their heart that Jesus is Messiah and accepts Him as the Lord of their life.
The putting to death of the King of the Jews was both a tragic and wonderful event.
Wonderful for all who would be freed from their sins … but tragic for those who were not prepared for Jesus’ death.
Lets look into the scriptures which immediately follow the crucifixion and glean from the truths of God’s word concerning:
Life, Death and The Resurrection
John 19 NKJV
38 ¶ After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus.
39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.
40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.
41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.
42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.
Each step and every moment of Jesus reveals new power.
Here we see two men who become very important figures in this tragic and wonderful moment. First:
* Joseph of Arimathea
> He was a member of the Sanhedrin counsel and
> A very wealthy landowner and well known business man from the city of Ramah
> He was also a secret follower of Jesus … A closet Christian.
> When Jesus was alive Joseph was afraid to personally acknowledge Him or publicly identify with Him for fear he would lose his standing in society.
> Now, in this tragic moment - Jesus is dead and Joseph’s fear gives way to boldness and Joseph comes out of the closet. Next there’s:
* Nicodemus - This is the same Nicodemus from John 3
> Who was a Pharisee and Magistrate and a Chief Ruler of the Jews
> John 3:2 says that he “came to Jesus by night”
There are quite a number of people who only come to Jesus at nighttime. Either each night before they go to sleep by repeating their nighttime prayers they learned as a child or in the nighttime seasons of their life when they are alone and lonely and nothing else has worked.
> Jesus called Nicodemus a master of Israel but one who knew nothing about spiritual things.
> It was to Nicodemus that Jesus uttered the familiar words which so many Christians now memorized:
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
> When Jesus was alive Nicodemus came to him at night
> Now, in the middle of the daytime, Nicodemus decides to publicly acknowledge His relationship with Jesus and brings 100 pounds of expensive spices to perfume the decaying memory of what could have been. (This is enough spices to embalm 200 bodies.)
I. Jesus In Life
A. Both Senator Joseph and Judge Nicodemus were good and honorable men and they both knew about Jesus’ life.
1. They knew about the miracles Jesus performed
2. They knew about the meetings He held
3. They understood the claims He made
4. And they believed He was Messiah
B. But this knowledge of Jesus’ life did little if anything to move either Joseph or Nicodemus to publicly identify themselves as followers of Christ.
C. Perhaps they were too educated, too ambitious, too wealthy, too important or too sensible to publicly follow Jesus in His life and ministry. Maybe they were embarrassed to be identified as a member of that group. Who knows? … However …
Wealth, power and position can make the confession of Christ only the more difficult.
D. What we see here is that while knowing and experiencing Jesus’ life did not move either of these men to serve Him, knowing and experiencing Jesus’ death did!
To experience the life of Christ is to know about Him and perhaps become inquisitive or even embracing of His claims.
* Ambition, fear, position or love of money can still reign
* We can privately and secretly support His cause while publicly supporting our own.
* It is easy to put off paying what we owe - when we think we have all the time in the world.
* But, Time waits for no man.
II. We see the affect of Jesus’ life now let’s look at Jesus In Death
A. To experience the death of Christ is to know Him, not just know about Him, and to therefore extinguish all passions belonging to the flesh.
1. When we see His death for ourselves, we loose heart to follow anything else.
2. We publicly proclaim allegiance without fear of what others may think or what the personal costs may be.
3. Time is no longer our friend - what we do, we must do now
4. Fear is replaced with holy boldness
5. It takes embracing the death of Jesus personally and publicly to break the bonds of fear.
6. Our praise perfumes the living soul like aloes and myrrh the dead.
B. To know the life Jesus lived is good
C. To understand the death Jesus died is even better
D. However, if we want to experience the best God has to offer us, we must get to know Him in the resurrection
1. To experience the resurrection of Christ is to embrace eternity as a certain reality.
2. To know Him in the resurrection gives us eternal perspective.
3. Life viewed from eternity’s vantage point is more powerful than any temptation, test, trial or tragedy life can offer us.
If all we know is His life we may not follow Him publicly.
If all we know is His death we may not follow Him powerfully.
We all need to know Him in His resurrection and in our daily life.
The Apostle Paul vehemently declared in:
10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Muslims do not worship a risen Mohammad
Buddhist do not worship a risen Buddha
Hindus worship cows as sacred reincarnations of their dead ancestors
Only Christians hold claim to the worship of a Risen Savior, Alive and coming again.
A. Do you know Him or just know about Him
1. Are you a closet Christian
2. An undercover Christian
3. A Secret, night-time Christian
B. You can know Him personally and publicly
1. In life
2. In death
3. And in living again … in the power of His resurrection?
C. Will you let Him rise again in you today?
1. He came the first time born from a virgin womb
2. He was resurrected to life again from a virgin tomb
3. He wants to live now through me and through you
D. Let Him Rise Again Today and Everyday In Your Life!
Matthew 28 NKJV
1 ¶ Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
5 But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
6 "He is not here; for He is risen …