“HE AROSE!” John 20
INTRO – (Billy Graham) “I was invited to have coffee one morning with Konrad Adenauer before he retired as the Chancellor of Germany. When I walked in, I expected to meet a tall, stiff, formal man who might even be embarrassed if I brought up the subject of religion. After the greeting, the Chancellor suddenly turned to me and said, “Mr. Graham, what is the most important thing in the world?” Before I could answer, he had answered his own question. He said, “The resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ is alive, then there is hope for the world. If Jesus Christ is in the grave, then I don’t see the slightest glimmer of hope on the horizon.” Then he amazed me by saying that he believed that the resurrection of Christ was one of the best-attested facts of history. He said, “When I leave office, I intend to spend the rest of my life gathering scientific proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” It was the fact of the resurrection of Christ that called the disciples to go out as burning young revolutionaries to change the world of their day. They preached that Christ is alive. This should be our message every day of the year.”
All in one day this past week, I saw a video of a Sikh worship service at the new Sikh temple on I-20, saw a Muslim woman dressed in a full burka walk into Starbucks, interacted w/ an atheist, & listened to an expert talk about the hellish evils of human trafficking – & all of these were right here in the Jackson, MS metro area, not in some distant, foreign land. If I didn’t know that Jesus is alive, I would be full of despair, hopelessness, & fear, b/c if He ISN’T alive, then all we HAVE is despair, hopelessness, & fear!
- If I wasn’t assured of His enduring presence, I would be so afraid.
- If I wasn’t completely confident in His eternal promises, I would be so distressed.
- If I wasn’t aware of His exceptional power, I would be so weak.
But Jesus IS alive today! The proofs of His resurrection are overwhelming. Sir Lionel Luckhoo, a famed defense trial lawyer who secured an unprecedented 245 consecutive acquittals, stated, “I have spent more than 42 years as a defense trial lawyer appearing in many parts of the world and am still in active practice. I have been fortunate to secure a number of successes in jury trials and I say unequivocally the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.”
- The eyewitnesses’ evidence – Hundreds of documented eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection, many of whom willfully went through torture & even death rather than recant their testimony. No good reason why they would do this if it was all a lie. The Apostles, who were cowering in fear after the crucifixion, took to the streets to boldly proclaim the resurrection in spite of rapidly increasing persecution. They gave up everything to preach this message, including their own lives.
- The empty tomb evidence – All the Sanhedrin needed to do to completely destroy the faith of every Christ-follower was produce a body. But they couldn’t! And their reasons why they couldn’t find the body hold no water either:
- The disciples stole His body – There’s no way that they would have remained so steadfast & committed in their faith if they had done that.
- Jesus wasn’t really dead, so He got out by Himself – Really? A man who was flogged, beaten, crucified, & stabbed through the heart w/ a spear was able to get up, roll a massive stone aside, & walk out, leaving no blood trail, & stay hidden & out of the public’s eye for the rest of His life?
- The women’s testimony evidence – The very fact that all of the NT Gospel writers told that the women were the first to get to the tomb & testify to the resurrection supports the validity of the resurrection. The testimony of women in the NT times was not even permissible in court due to their lower class in society. Dr. William Lane Craig: “The fact that women are the first witnesses to the empty tomb is most plausibly explained by the reality that – like it or not – they were the discoverers of the empty tomb! This shows that the Gospel writers faithfully recorded what happened, even if it was embarrassing. This bespeaks the historicity of this tradition rather than its legendary status.”
I’m so thankful for the resurrection today! As Hank Hanegraaf said, “The resurrection is not merely important to the historic Christian faith; without it, there would be no Christianity. It is the singular doctrine that elevates Christianity above all other world religions. Through the resurrection, Christ demonstrated that He does not stand in a line of peers with Abraham, Buddha, or Confucius. He is utterly unique. He has the power not only to lay down His life, but to take it up again.”
And on this Easter morning, let’s consider 3 monumental statements that changed everything:
“IT IS FINISHED!” (John 19:30) – tetelestai – Our sin debt has been paid in full! It’s done! Nothing else needs to be done! Not another drop of blood needs to be shed! The agony is over! The ordeal is complete! The cup of God’s wrath has been consumed! The race has been run & the enemy has been defeated! Hallelujah, Church! It is finished!
- He did it for YOU!
- He came for YOU!
- He lived for YOU!
- He suffered for YOU!
- He died for YOU!
- He finished for YOU!
So give your life to HIM! Live for HIM! Serve HIM! Glorify HIM! Quit going through the motions! Quit playing the game! Quit being half-hearted in your devotion to Him! He died for YOU…But listen to this next statement:
“HE HAS RISEN!” (Matt. 28:6; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:6) – What an exclamation! This day is a day of triumph for those of us who know Christ! The birth of Jesus is wonderful, but the resurrection is even more exciting! It’s the exclamation point on the earthly life of Jesus! As Beth Moore said, “Some things are just impossible, & death keeping its hold on Jesus is one of them!” I love the old hymn we used to sing:
“Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave he arose;
With a mighty triumph o’er his foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And he lives forever, with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
But that’s still not the end! There’s one more statement that changed everything:
“I AM COMING SOON!” (Rev. 22:12) – That’s HIS promise, & that’s our HOPE! He’s coming back to get His children one day soon! Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go & prepare a place for you, I will come again & receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.”
He’s coming back to get us, brothers & sisters! The world is getting darker! The signs are getting clearer! The day is getting closer! And we need to get ready & help as many others as possible to get ready, too! Keep looking up, keep pressing on, keep growing in your faith, keep coming to church, keep sharing the Gospel, & keep the faith b/c HE IS COMING SOON!
So, the question is: ARE YOU READY? If Jesus were to come back today, would you be ready to go w/ Him? Are you absolutely confident that you’ve given your life to Him? Are you 100% sure of your salvation right now, today? If not, why not today?
If you ARE saved, then is your life right w/ Him? If He were to return right now, is there anything in your life that you would be ashamed for Him to find right now? Are you walking w/ Him? Is your commitment to Him & His Church where it should be? Is there unconfessed sin in your life? Secret sins in your life? Sins you’ve not repented of? Sins that you continue to hold on to day after day, week after week, month after month, even year after year? What decision have you been putting off? Is it time for you to rededicate & recommit your life to the soon-returning Savior today?