A very dynamic Easter message that shows the total transformation that Easter brings for those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Easter Greetings! The world celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ today. He is risen! May the message and the power of Easter be true to you today!
Today we are going to see how difficult it was for people to believe the resurrection news and we are further going to see the difference it makes when a person believes in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Bible speaks elaborately about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. All gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) give us great detail about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Then the Book of Acts is the story of the apostles going around and proclaiming that Jesus died and had risen from the dead. If you read through the epistles we can read that Jesus Christ has finished his work on the cross, ascended to the Father, and we are to follow and have him as our Lord. The letters say we are to be witnesses, we are to love God, and we are to look for His return one of these days. Then in the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation we find Jesus Christ ruling and reining in heaven, getting ready to come back, take us home, and subdue his enemies. This is all about the resurrected Jesus Christ.
Now, we have the Word of God and anyone who reads the Bible will believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Actually speaking it was a very difficult thing for people in Jesus’ time to believe in His resurrection. In the very first Easter, hardly anyone believed in the resurrection. If you see the scripture surrounding the resurrection we will discover that nobody really believed the resurrection. Jesus himself tried to tell his disciples several times that he will raise again. Mark 8:31 He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” Jesus said, “I am going to be falsely accused by the Pharisees and Sadducees, and I am going to suffer many things at their hands, I am going to be crucified. I am going to die but I am going to rise again.” Even though Jesus said it over and over and the OT prophesies spoke of Jesus’ resurrection, no one surrounding Jesus really caught the message.
The Bible speaks of the ladies (Mary Magdalene; Mary, the mother of James, and Salome) coming early morning to the tomb of Jesus. Even the ladies who came early morning to the tomb did not believe that Jesus would rise again. They came with spices asking, “Who will roll away the stone from the tomb?” Why did they bring spices? They brought spices to put on the dead body of Jesus Christ. They did not expect Jesus to be risen and gone. When they saw the tomb stone rolled away they were shocked.
Resurrected Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene and asked her to tell his followers the news. When Mary Magdalene and other woman went and told the disciples about Jesus’ resurrection they never believed it. Mark 16:10-11 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. Now these are the people who walked with Jesus, ate with Jesus, and ministered with Jesus all the 3-1/2 years. They could accept his death after they saw it but to believe that he would rise from the dead even though Jesus said it to them was difficult.
Then remember Jesus appeared first to 2 of his disciples while they were walking in the street. When they came and told the other disciples about Jesus, they did not believe either. Mark 16:13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either. Then Jesus appeared to the other disciples except Thomas. Finally when the disciples told Thomas about the resurrection see what he said: John 20:25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” Is it not amazing that those who walked close with him, who believed all what he said, but when it came to the resurrection they just could not accept it?
The death of Jesus must have been a great setback for the disciples because Jesus was everything for them. They were very close to Jesus. See how close Jesus was to his disciples: John 15:13-15 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. Jesus had been their leader. He spoke to them with authority, lead them with vision, provided for their needs, and empowered them to do God’s work. By now Jesus had become their friend. What kind of hopeless, helpless, and horrible feeling they must have had when Jesus died? They left everything and followed him and here they are without a leader. Now that they saw their master die on the cross, they went away saddened and broken-hearted because they never believed that Jesus would rise again. Even on the resurrection day, they are weeping and mourning. They lost all hope. But finally when Jesus appeared to them, when they knew that he had risen, when they could accept the fact that he rose from the grave, it absolutely radically changed their life. They had a renewed faith and hope.
1. RESURRECTION BRINGS HOPE.
Once the disciples came to know the resurrection for sure, then it was the same message of resurrection they wanted to tell the whole world. Everything about them changed when they accepted the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were even willing to lay down their life for the sake of the Gospel. It is believed that 10 of the 11 disciples were martyred for their faith. The disciples had renewed hope.
Well when you accept that Jesus Christ died for your sins, when you ask for forgiveness of your sins, accept him as the Lord of your life. When you believe that Jesus Christ rose again from the grave, ascended to the Father and is presently in heaven, and he is in control; your faith is going to radically transform just as much as the disciples. The resurrection of Jesus Christ marked an absolute transformation for those who believe in Him.
If Jesus can rise again from the grave I have hope. I believe that he will work in my life, transform my life. It does not matter how big my problems are. It does not matter how difficult my situation is. People may reject me, family may lose hope in me, but I have hope in the Lord. He cares for me. He is living and he will fulfil what he has promised. Brethren, we have a renewed hope this morning.
2. RESURRECTION BRINGS EMPOWERMENT.
The resurrection totally transformed the power of the Christians. Paul said: Philippians 3:10-11 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
The resurrection brought a new power to our Christian faith – The power of resurrection. The resurrection gave way to the Holy Spirit. After the resurrection came the Holy Spirit and the power of the Holy Spirit is the same power of resurrection. Romans 8:11 And the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, (That power that broke open the Roman seal, the same power that rolled the huge tomb stone, the power that rose Jesus form the dead is in you.) he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his spirit who lives in you.
You and I have the resurrection power in us. The resurrection power destroys the work of the devil. 1 John 3:8 The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. Because of Jesus’ resurrection we have power over the devil. No powers of darkness can come near us. No witchcraft will affect a child of God. No evil can harm you. Jesus has destroyed the work of the devil and we have the same when we have his Holy Spirit. Amen.
3. RESURRECTION BROUGHT TRANSFORMATION OF THE CROSS, GRAVE, AND DEATH.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Apostle Paul brings out some great truths about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the beginning of this chapter Paul talks about the resurrection. Then he spoke about the appearance of Jesus to the disciples and then to more than 500 people before he ascended. Paul then goes on to say that he had a personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus. With that introduction Paul goes on to present a tremendous testimony of transformation from the resurrection of Jesus in this chapter.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. Eternal life, life after death is the gift of the resurrection. If you really study the resurrection brought transformation of the Cross, gave, and death.
Before Jesus’ resurrection, the cross was known only as an instrument of horrible death, rough wood soaked with human blood. So terrible was this form of execution that the Roman Empire prohibited the crucifixion of Roman citizens. Crucifixion was only for the worst of slaves and enemies of the empire. But today, because of His resurrection, cross is a thing of beauty, people use it as jewellery. All around the world the cross is seen as a symbol of hope, symbol of Christianity, and a reminder of God’s love for us. The resurrection transformed the cross.
What about His tomb? Before the resurrection the grave was looked upon as the final chapter, the closing of a great door, the end of everything for man. But because of His resurrection, we can rejoice today that beyond grave is where life really begins, and then it will never end. That makes you wonder, doesn’t it, why we spend so much time worrying & fretting about material things?
People spend their entire life to work and struggle to accumulate things that we think are important in this world. But what happens after we die. All these things seem so unimportant, so inconsequential. What difference does it really make what kind of car we drive? Or what kind of house we live in? Or what clothes we wear? If we’re talking about eternity, then what difference do things really make?
Resurrection of Jesus gave a new meaning for the grave. It means everything until the grave is temporary, and all things beyond the grave is permanent.
Finally, there is the transformation of death. Before the resurrection, death was the end. Before the resurrection, death was the final curtain call. Before the resurrection, all we could do is mourn as those who have no hope. But after the resurrection, when someone dies, we mourn because we have lost a loved one. But we mourn as people who have great hope because Jesus Christ is alive. Today some of you may be sad because of the loss of your loved ones, but this is the day of hope. If Jesus is alive, then we, too, can live forever. We have the promise of everlasting life. Resurrection changes the whole concept of death for those who believe in Jesus.
Illustration: I heard the story of a very rich man who owned a great estate. One day, as he was riding along in the distance he saw one of his tenant farmers, an old man. It was lunch time, and the farmer sat under a shady tree and was getting ready to eat. But before he ate, he bowed his head and folded his hands in prayer to thank God for his food.
The rich man watched the old farmer as he prayed. Then he looked at his meal. It was only a dry chapatti and a small piece of mango pickle. The rich man mockingly said, “If that’s all I had to eat, I wouldn’t even bother to pray.” The farmer replied humbly, “It’s enough, and I’m thankful that God has provided it.” Taken aback by the old man’s answer, the rich man turned his horse and prepared to ride away. But before he could leave the farmer said, “Wait a minute. I need to tell you something. I had a dream last night. In my dream I heard a voice saying, “Tonight the richest man in the valley will die.”
As the rich man was riding home, the words of old farmer haunted him, “Tonight the richest man in the valley will die.” Until then he had felt quite well, but now he was beginning to experience pains in his chest. He wondered, “Could it possibly be true? Am I going to die tonight?” He called his doctor home and said of old man’s dream and of the pains that he had been feeling. After examining him the doctor said, “You’re as strong as a horse. There’s no way you’re going to die tonight.” The rich man said, “Well, I feel foolish that I paid any attention to the old man’s dream about the richest man in the valley dying tonight. But I just wanted to be certain.”
So, reassured, the rich man went to bed. The next morning there was a knock on the rich man’s door and the messenger said, “Sir, your old famer died last night.” Truly, the richest man in the valley died last night.
We work so hard, we want to accumulate a lot of things in this world but the real rich are the rich in the Lord. True riches are in heaven. By his resurrection, Jesus has given us the provision for us to rise again in his coming. Death is not final. Because of the resurrection we can says with Paul: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” You see, the resurrection makes the difference.
The final truth is this, “Jesus did rise from the grave. He went to be seated at the Father’s right hand; which means he has sat down on the throne, and from that point Jesus is exercising his rule unto all eternity. Will you commit yourself to him today?