The Victorious Resurrection of Christ
>This morning we continue to talk about "The Fundamentals of Our Faith".
Today we come to the "Victorious Resurrection of Christ".
But may I say to you that this by far is the most important fundamental of our faith...
Because if Jesus Christ is not risen from the dead...
Then all of the other fundamentals we believe fade into insignificance.
You see, we as Christians affirm the fact that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.
We as Christians affirm the fact that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin.
We affirm the fundamental fact that Jesus lived a sinless life.
As Christians we affirm the fundamental fact that Jesus Christ died a substitutionary death on the cross.
We also as Christians affirm the fundamental fact that Jesus Christ is one day going to come again.
But I tell you if Jesus did not rise from the dead, it made no difference whether he was born of a virgin or a harlot.
If JC did not rise from the dead it makes no difference that his life was sinless or if he was a vile sinner.
If Jesus did not rise from the dead, his death meant absolutely nothing...
Except that it was just another man who died.
The resurrection of JC is the heart of our Christian faith.
Paul says it like this when he wrote to the church at Corinth.
He said: and if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
Now he did not say that just one time, but he said it twice.
In I Corinthians 15:14, and then again in verse 17.
Two times he makes the point that if Jesus Christ is not risen from the dead...
Then our faith is in vain.
That means itís empty...itís meaningless...
Itís purposeless...itís useless...
It has absolutely no value whatsoever.
Friends, the Christian faith is not a set of pleasing rules helping this old sinful nature try to do better.
The Christian faith is a proclamation that there is a living Savior...
Who can make a new man out of an old sinner if he will come to him in repentance and faith.
Thatís the heart of our faith.
There is a risen Savior...heís in the world today.
>Now the OT predicted the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The NT presents throughout all of its pages the resurrection of JC.
Let me share with you just what these first 8 verses of Luke teach about the resurrection.
I cannot share with you all that the Bible says...
But I do want to share with you just what these 8 verses teach about the resurrection of our Lord.
>First of all, I want you to see the morning of the resurrection.
The Bible says there in verse 1: on the first day of the week, very early in the morning.
When did Jesus rise from the dead?
The Bible tells us that he rose very early in the morning on the first day of the week.
Sometimes people ask, "Why is it that Christians do not observe the Sabbath day?
Why is it that we do not worship on Saturday?"
Now there are many who worship on Saturday.
There are obviously Jewish people who still hold to Sabbath.
There are some Jewish Christians who still celebrate Sabbath which is unnecessary.
And there are some Christian Gentiles who call themselves Seventh Day Adventist who observe Sabbath worship...
And there is even in our own state a group who call themselves Seventh Day Baptists.
And they are Baptist people who believe much of what you and I believe...
And yet they worship on Saturday rather than Sunday.
Why do we not hold to the Sabbath? Why do we not keep the Sabbath?
Because of two reasons.
>#1 Ė first of all, from a Christian perspective the Sabbath is not a day but a person.
The book of Hebrews makes it very clear that our Sabbath is not a day of the week or a day on the calendar.
The Bible makes it very clear that our Sabbath is the person of JC himself.
The word Sabbath does not mean seventh as many believe.
The word Sabbath means "rest".
And friends, you and I do not pick out one day of the week in which we rest.
You and I find our rest in the person of Jesus Christ.
We rest in him.
The Bible says the battle is not ours.
The battle is the Lordís.
We do not fight in the power of our own strength, but we fight in the power of his strength.
And so our Sabbath is not a day...
It is the person of Jesus himself.
>But another reason we do not observe a Sabbath day is because of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus.
Jesus rose again from the dead on the first day of the week.
Sunday is not a part of the weekend, in spite of what WTBS, Ted Turnerís station, tries to proclaim.
It is not the ending of the weekend.
It is the beginning of a brand new week.
Sunday is the first day of the week.
It is a wonderful way to begin a week.
Iím glad Monday is not the first day.
If Monday were the first day, the whole week would be ruined.
But Monday is the second day and weíve had Sunday to get ready for it.
And it makes Monday a better day because we began the week on Sunday.
Jesus Christ rose from the dead on Sunday...
And the NT has numerous examples of believers gathering on the first day of the week...
To celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
But I want to say to you, friends, that means that every Sunday is Easter Sunday.
We gather on the Lordís day not because he instructed it in the word of God.
We gather on the first day not because there is biblical mandate to it.
But we gather on the first day to celebrate that which is essential to our faith.
We gather on the first day to declare to the world that which makes us uniquely distinctive...
Is the fact that our Savior is alive.
The Buddhist worship a god who is dead.
The Muslims worship a god who is dead.
The Hinduís worship a god who is dead.
But those of us that are Christians, we worship a living Lord Jesus who sees and hears and breathes and feels.
He is alive today and because of that we gather on the first day.
>The Bible says he arose very early in the morning.
Early in the morning.
I donít know how early, but it was early in the morning when these women got to the tomb...
And he had already checked out.
He arose early in the morning.
And may I say to you that was a morning that turned all darkness into light.
That was a morning that dispelled all darkness.
And friends, when you became a Christian, you entered into eternal morning.
There is no more night.
Now friends, I realize there may come shadows in your life.
But even though the shadows may come, bless God, the light is still on...amen?
Thereís one thing the devil cannot do.
He can walk the shores and roar like a lion.
He can cheat and lie and kill and deceive.
He can destroy and do all kinds of things.
But he has not ever been able to extinguish the light of the risen Savior.
He is the light of the world and in him there is no darkness at all.
He overcame the darkness and the darkness could not overcome him.
And so we see the morning of the resurrection.
>Now the second thing I want to share with you from this text is the mourners who were unaware of the resurrection.
Look there in verse 1: on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
Now who are the "they"?
They came to the tomb.
Who are these people identified as "they"?
>Well look back at the preceding chapter to verse 55.
Two verses before verse 1, the Bible says:
The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes but they rested the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
>Now who is the "they" of verse 1?
Itís these women.
We know the names of some of them.
Mary the mother of James and Joses.
We know the names of some of these women.
But every time we see them mentioned, it always tells us that they were also accompanied by many other women.
Everywhere Jesus went there were many women who followed him.
And when Jesus was being crucified and all of his disciples except John were off hiding somewhere behind closed doors...
These faithful, godly women were there at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
When they took the body of Jesus off the cross and carried it to the tomb where it was going to be buried...
These faithful women followed the body of Jesus.
When the body of Jesus had been placed there in the tomb...
These faithful women went inside the tomb and looked at his body...
And determined to go and prepare spices that they might come back and anoint his body...
With all these spices and perfumes.
It was a gesture of love.
Today we send flowers.
But in that day people would anoint a body with spices and perfumes...
To show great love and affection for the one that was dead.
And so as these women were standing there in the tomb viewing the dead body of Jesus...
They decided to go and prepare these spices and ointments that they might come back...
And anoint his body.
>Why did these women follow him?
They followed him in life...
They followed him in death...
Why did they follow him?
Were they like these teenage groupie girls at a rock concert who would sell their very soul to spend time with these people?
Were these women like those silly women who come from all around the world...
And stand at the tomb of Elvis and shed great crocodile tears?
Were these women like those silly women?
These women were not like silly teenage groupies...
And these women were not like silly old enough to know better women.
These women were women whose lives had been gloriously changed by the power of Jesus Christ.
>Look back in Luke 8 and weíre first introduced to some of these women.
(Verse 1) After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.
The 12 were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases.
Who were these women?
They were women who had experienced the power of Jesus Christ in their lives.
>Let me tell you something, friends.
I really cannot understand why any man would not want to be a Christian.
But I especially cannot understand why any woman would not want to be a Christian.
Because you see before Jesus came, women were nothing more than pieces of property owned by men.
Women spoke when men said they could speak.
Women stayed where men said they were to stay.
Women dressed like men said they were to dress.
Women behaved like men said they could behave.
They had no life of their own.
They had no will of their own.
They had no way of their own.
They were nothing more than chattel property.
But Jesus Christ brought dignity to womanhood.
Jesus Christ declared that in him there is no male or female...
That we are all equal in his sight, of equal value, of equal worth.
Now if you think that the NOW can do you more good than Jesus did...
Then you go line up with that national order of witches.
But Iím telling you Jesus brought to the women of the world a freedom and a dignity and loyalty...
That they never had before.
And thatís why these women followed him.
Why the disciples were scared to death, afraid of being killed, and were hiding when Jesus was hanging on the cross.
These women valiantly stood there not caring what happened to them.
All they knew is, they were nothing.
They were enslaved by sin.
Many of them were possessed by demons.
One of them mentioned in Luke 8 is a woman by the name of Mary Magdalene.
She was possessed of seven devils the Bible tells us.
Her life was totally in bondage to the devil.
All of her life the devil had pulled her chain and she had to jump.
She had jumped from bed to bed to bed with any man who wanted her or would have her.
Her life was a sham.
There was never a sparkle in her eye.
There was never a smile of sincerity upon her lips.
But Jesus Christ came and he drove out those foul demons and he filled her life with his precious Holy Spirit...
And he cleansed her by his blood.
And her eyes became radiant as diamonds and her smile became warm and affectionate and genuine.
She was no longer coyly trying to seduce men.
Her life was a life of radiance of the love of Jesus Christ.
Thatís the kind of women that followed him.
And they came on that resurrection morning not knowing that Jesus had already risen from the dead.
As they made their approach they came in a spirit of mourning.
They came to rub spices and ointments on a body that is dead...
Simply because this would be a final way to show their appreciation for him.
They knew that the stone had been rolled in front of the door.
But somehow these women had the faith to believe they could roll it away.
Now I have to tell you, folks, that takes a lot of faith...
Because weíre not talking about a little pebble that you have in your driveway.
Weíre talking about a huge, massive boulder that would have weighed tons and tons.
And for these women to think that they could be strong enough to roll that stone away...
So that they could go in and anoint his body, these women had great faith.
But the Bible says when they got close enough in the darkness of that early morning light...
When they got close enough to be able to see, they saw that the stone was rolled away.
Now the gospel of John tells us that when Mary Magdalene saw that the stone had been rolled away...
She ran to tell Peter and the other disciples.
And so Mary Magdalene was probably the first one to see it...
She turns and runs to go get Peter out of respect for him I suppose.
But these other ladies did not go with her.
They just drew closer and closer.
And you can imagine the shortness of their step and the slowness of their walk...
As they made their entrance there to that tomb that had been sealed and was now unsealed.
That stone was rolled away.
And they look inside...and heís not there...
The mourners who came unaware of his resurrection.
>But now the third thing.
Weíve seen the mourning of his resurrection, the mourners who came...
And then thirdly, I want you to see the mysteries of his resurrection.
And there are two of them found in Luke 24:2 & 3, and Iíve already alluded to both of them.
First of all, they found the stone had been rolled away.
Now who was it that rolled the stone away?
It wasnít the women because it was already rolled away when they got there.
It wasnít the Roman soldiers that were guarding the tomb...
Because if they had rolled the stone away they would have been put to death...
Because the order of the Roman government was to seal his tomb and make it sure.
For them to have rolled the stone away would have been certain death for them.
Who rolled the stone away?
Well the Bible tells us that it was an angel of God.
That there was an earthquake that accompanied it, but it was no an earthquake that rolled the stone away...
But rather it was an angel of God who rolled the stone away.
>Now why did he do it?
Did he roll the stone away to let Jesus out?
Friend, I want to tell you, Jesus had already gone before the stone had ever been rolled away.
Donít you remember that after his resurrection the disciples were there in a room hidden behind locked doors...
And they were terrified that something bad was going to happen to them.
And all of a sudden Jesus walked into the room.
And the Bible tells us there were no doors that had been unlocked.
There were no windows he could have climbed in.
He just walked right through a locked door.
Now friends, if Jesus could walk through a locked door...
I guarantee you he wouldnít have any trouble getting out of a sealed tomb.
He did not roll the stone away to let the Lord out.
He rolled the stone away to let the women in.
>But there was a second mystery.
Not only the stone had been rolled away, but look in verse 3:
But when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
The emptiness of the tomb.
How do you explain that?
Well, skeptics and infidels have tried to explain it.
Some say his disciples stole the body.
Now if the disciples stole the body, how did they get past the soldiers?
If his disciples stole the body, where did they put it?
And here is most important of all.
If his disciples stole the body, why did all of them die a martyrís death?
Now listen, friends, most of us have participated in practical jokes.
Most of us have pulled pranks on other people.
Maybe youíve rolled somebodyís yard.
Maybe you have put toothpicks or plastic spoons in their yard.
Maybe youíve painted their car.
Maybe youíve done something else.
Most of us have tried to do things to trick somebody into believing something.
All of us have been carried snipe hunting and have spent a night out trying to find an animal that doesnít even exist.
You see thatís funny...thatís silly...
But folks, none of us would die for a prank.
I mean if it came to having to die before I would admit that I rolled somebodyís yard...
I would fess up whether I had done it or not.
You donít die for a foolish prank.
Now if his disciples had stolen his body, at least one of them all who died a horrible, terrible, martyrís death...
At least one of them would have said, "Hey, itís a trick. I can take you to where we buried him."
But not one did because there was no grave they could take them to, because Jesus was alive.
Friends, it was not the disciples that stole his body away.
It wasnít the soldiers that stole his body away.
Isnít that stupid?
If I didnít have any more to say that than, I wouldnít write a book.
Donít you understand that all in the world the devil would ever have to do to destroy the Christian faith...
Is to produce the body of Jesus?
Folks, Iím telling you right now, if the devil could raise up the body of Jesus Christ and say...
"This is the body of Jesus. Heís dead. Iíve had his body and now Iím going to destroy the Christian faith."
If the devil could produce the body of Jesus then our faith would be in vain.
But I want to tell you, he canít produce it because he ainít got it.
If he had it, heíd produce it and the faith would be dead.
But he doesnít have it...Jesus is alive.
The stone was rolled away by an angel, and the tomb is empty because Jesus was raised from the dead.
>One last thing.
We see not only the mourning and the mourners and the mystery but the message of the resurrection.
What is the message of the resurrection?
Itís found right there in verses 5 and 6:
In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?"
Why have you come to the graveyard to find the son of God?
He is not longer in the grave...he is alive.
Dead people, you carry them to the graveyard.
But living people donít belong there.
Why do you look for the living among the dead?
Who were these two men dressed in glowing, brilliant, white apparel?
They are the angels of God.
These are not Gentiles...these are not Jews...These are not even Christians.
These are two angels of God sent there to declare the most wonderful truth that has ever been known.
Why do you look for the living among the dead?
He is not here...he is risen as he said.
>Why are people surprised at the resurrection?
Because they really did not believe what he said.
Jesus said, "I must go to Jerusalem."
Jesus said, "Iím going to be abused. Iím going to be man-handled...
Iím going to be rejected...and Iím going to be crucified.
And Iím going to be buried. But on the third day Iím going to rise again."
Even those closest to him did not believe it.
These women could not believe it.
Mary Magdalene goes to get Peter and the other disciples.
These women go up and get the message of the angel and see the empty tomb.
So here comes Mary Magdalene and the boys running back this way...
And the women leave the tomb and start running this way...
And they meet head on.
And the women say, "Jesus is alive...Jesus is alive! Heís raised from the dead."
And do you think those old boys began to jump up and down and skip and shout and sing hallelujah, glory to God?
You know what?
The 24th chapter of Luke says: and they (the men) did not believe those silly women.
Thatís what it says.
I want to tell you I believe Ďem.
And I believe the testimony of the angel.
And I believe the testimony of Jesus.
And I believe the testimony of the word of God.
Jesus is alive.
And thatís why we gather here today not in vanity or foolishness.
But we gather here today in the power and in reverence for him who was dead and is alive forevermore.
He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me and talks with me along lifeís narrow way.
He lives, he lives, salvation to impart. You ask me how I know he lives?
Because of the testimony of these women.
Because of the testimony of the angels.
Because of the testimony of Jesus himself.
Because of the testimony of the whole Bible.
But because he lives within my heart.
Folks, if Jesus is dead, then thereís something strange going on inside of me.
I mean, I need a psychiatrist.
Because when I was a 13-year-old boy at Springlake Camp at Lonsdale...
I heard the pastor say, "If youíll give your life to Jesus, he will make you a brand new person."
And as a 13-year-old boy sitting back there by myself, I walked down that aisle.
And folks, I want to tell you, he came into my life and Iíve never been the same...
And Iíve never gotten over it.
I think Iím getting worse.
If Jesus is dead, I sure would like to know what got hold of me...
Because it turned my life into joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Because of him I am in the light.
Because of him I walk in the light.
Because of him no matter how dark it gets, I still see the light and know where Iím ending up.
My feet are here but my heart is already planted over there.
And the longer I live here the stronger that pull gets over there because Jesus is alive.