Sunday, March 31, 2013

Resurrection The Divine Plan


Revelation 1:18  I am He who lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Welcome to our celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. You can follow the account this morning from Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 24, beginning in verse 1 and following. Luke 24:1ff – Let’s begin …

It was in this season of the year not quite 2000 years ago that Jesus of Nazareth was plotted against by the religious leaders of the day, was betrayed by a close friend, arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, wrongfully accused by false witnesses, sentenced to death by Pilate, then scourged and mocked before being crucified by the Roman soldiers who willfully carried out their orders.

The whole ordeal took only about 15 to 18 hours … just one moonlit night of judgment, the morning scourging and that afternoon the crucifixion. Just when everything seemed to be going so well: Jesus was at the height of His popularity; God’s hand was evidently upon Him; important leaders were beginning to believe He might be Messiah; His teachings had never been better or more easily understood … and then … all of the sudden … all seemed lost. It all happened so quickly.

It had been just a week since Jesus had ridden into Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey to the cheers and appellation of the multitudes who waved branches and cried “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” What a difference 7 days can make.

A new day was about to dawn signaling another Sunday morning and the time for a new week to begin. The disciples of Jesus, minus Judas, were unable to pull themselves together. They had spent the last 3 days mourning and weeping without hope and afraid that they too were only one step away from arrest and execution. It was all so hard to grasps.

Two wealthy and politically connected lesser known friends of Jesus had begged Pilate for His dead body and had buried Jesus quickly, just before sundown on Friday evening. According to the Jewish culture, customs and calendar, today was the 3rd day since Jesus had been buried in that borrowed tomb adjacent Golgotha. There were some things which must be done today. The body would need more attention and care to properly anoint and prepare it for burial. Mary decided to rise early and gather a friend or two and go to the tomb that Sunday morning before sunrise.

Luke 24: 1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.

When the ladies arrived at the Garden Tomb they found the stone had already been rolled away and so they went in but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. This perplexed them and they could not figure it out - suddenly two men stood by them in shinning garments.

This so frightened the ladies that they bowed their faces towards the ground and then the men spoke. “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but He is risen just like He said …”

With this they remembered the words Jesus had earlier spoken to them. Immediately they ran to where the remaining eleven Disciples were staying with friends and the ladies told them everything.

Luke 24:11 Their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.

Howbeit, the Bible says, their words seemed like idle tales to the 11 Disciples and others who heard their testimony. The Disciples simply could not imagine Jesus was alive. Nonetheless Peter ran to the tomb, stooped down, looked in and saw the linen burial cloths lying by themselves but he still did not know what to make of it all.

Later that same day two of the Disciples were walking on the road leading to the village of Emmaus, about 7 miles outside of the City of Jerusalem. They talked and reasoned concerning what had happened the last few days. As they traveled Jesus joined them on the road but they did not know it was Him. Jesus questioned the two Disciples as to the meaning of the conversation and why they seemed so sad. 

The Disciples voiced amazement that this supposed stranger did not know the events surrounding the day and how Jesus of Nazareth had been delivered and condemned, crucified and buried only 3 days past. This Jesus was one in whom they had placed their hope that He would redeem Israel. The Disciples told Jesus about the testimony of Mary and Peter but they were still blind and confused and did not know what to believe.

Luke 24
25  Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
26  "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?"

Jesus interrupted them and reproved them for their hesitance to believe the scriptures concerning the suffering Messiah and His eternal kingdom.

When the two Disciples drew near to the village where they were going Jesus made as though He would continue on. However they constrained Him and begged that He would abide with them since it was already late afternoon. With this invitation, Jesus went in.

Luke 24
30  Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
31  Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.

By the way … this all happened on that Sunday, the day Jesus rose from the grave. No wonder Sunday is often referred to as, “The Lord’s Day.”

Although it was towards the evening, these two men went out immediately and returned to Jerusalem to find the Disciples and others who had gathered with them. They exclaimed, “The Lord is risen indeed …”

Luke 24
35  And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
36  Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you."
37  But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.
38  And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?”

Why do doubts arise in our hearts? Sometimes people refuse to believe what they cannot see for themselves. Not a bad heart, but a bad habit. To top it off, that first Sunday one of the original 11 Disciples was missing from the group, it was Thomas. When Thomas returned Jesus was gone and they tried to tell him that Jesus had truly risen from the dead, was alive and was the promised Messiah sent by God to redeem Israel.

Thomas refused to believe, just as they had earlier been “slow of heart” to believe, as Jesus put it. It was one week later, on the next Sunday, while they were all gathered together and Thomas was with them, Jesus appeared again. This time Jesus spoke directly to Thomas and said: “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas, moved by this face to face encounter and personal plea from Jesus, embraced Him as Lord and God.

John 20:29  Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

The Truth about the Resurrection:
·        God had a plan … a very strategic plan – A Divine Plan
·        Judas did not sell Jesus, Judas sold himself
·        Jesus was not killed by Jews or Romans or nails on a Cross – His life was not taken, it was freely given. (John 10:17&18)
·        Jesus strategically entered into death so that He might destroy him who had power over death, that is the devil. (Hebrews 2:14)
·        Jesus is alive!

You do not know someone until you meet them. Because you have not met someone does not mean they do not exist. Don’t be slow of heart to believe. Jesus is alive. Blessed are all those who have not seen, yet believe!

Revelation 1:18  I am He who lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Have you met this wonderful risen Savior?

Do not be slow of heart to believe all that is written concerning Jesus.

Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe.

Declare your trust in the truth today.

Believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess Him as Lord and you shall be saved.

Happy Resurrection Day …

The Lord is risen indeed!