Christís Greatest Triumph
The men of this world have often been triumphant.
Those of you who have been watching college basketball have seen some great triumphs in the last few weeks.
Some of our young men have returned home from Iraq in triumph.
Politicians wage their campaigns and on election night one rejoices and says, "I have won."
But these triumphs are nothing compared to the triumph of the Lord Jesus Christ...
Which came when he conquered death and the grave and came back to live forever.
A few days before this it seemed that he was anything but a conqueror.
While he was at a place of prayer in the garden, rude men came and arrested him.
They rushed him off to a midnight court of evil men.
There he was cursed, he was beaten, he was spit on.
They pressed a crown of thorns down upon his head...
They mocked him...
The next morning they led him outside the city walls...
The streets were lined with people who ridiculed and laughed and cursed him...
They threw stuff at him.
In a few minutes they nailed him to a Roman cross.
He hung there in the hot sun until 3:00 in the afternoon and he died.
There he hung on those nails, a bloody, lonely, desolate figure.
He didnít look anything like a conqueror.
It looked like the agony, suffering and pain of defeat.
And then some friends came and tenderly lifted his body from the cross.
They buried him in a borrowed grave.
After a life of 33Ĺ years...
The Son of God is dead.
But no grave could hold the Lord of life!
On Sunday morning, while the bells in heaven were ringing and the angels looked upon the scene...
He burst the bonds of death and the grave and came forth!
Now he goes forth conquering and triumphant!
The day is coming when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess...
That he is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
I want to share with you today 4 things about his resurrection.
>First of all, the announcement of his resurrection.
Our story begins with a group of women.
One was his mother, others may have been related to him...
Still others he had given a new life.
All of them loved him, and during his ministry as he traveled from place to place...
A group of women followed him and ministered to him and his disciples.
And when it came down to dying on the cross, these women were standing by.
Now as he rises from the dead, we see them again.
Itís true that women were the last at the cross and the first at the tomb.
And it should have been that way.
When he came into the world women were nothing more than slaves.
He lifted them to a level of human beings.
Go today where Jesus is not known and youíll find the same true today.
But in our country where we have the blessings of Jesus, and many women are following Jesus faithfully...
And enjoying all the blessings he secured for them.
But the devil is at work.
Maybe some of you can remember the old cigarette commercials of 30-40 years ago.
There was a handsome man sitting by a lovely woman...
The man was smoking a cigarette and she said, "Blow some my way"...
This was only the beginning...
This brought drinking, drugs, premarital sex, abortion, to the highest levels ever.
What is the result of this trend?
Many women donít have the Christian influence they used to have and ought to have.
I wonder how many children will be able to say in the future...
"My mother was a great Christian and the memory of her has kept me straight!"
Jesus has done so much for women, they ought to love and follow him.
Do we thank God for the consecrated Christian women?
They are the salt of the earth Ė they are the light of the world.
And we ought to lift up women.
Well, the women in this story could not get over the death of their Savior.
Some of them decided to go to the tomb early Sunday morning to anoint the body of Jesus.
They gathered up spices and headed out for the cemetery.
They remembered the great stone that was over the tomb, but that didnít stop them.
But when they arrived at the tomb, the stone had already been rolled back.
They rushed into the tomb and the body of Jesus was not there.
They were greatly distressed Ė they were afraid that his body had been stolen by his enemies.
But they looked up and saw two angels.
One at the head of the grave and one at the foot.
One of the angels said...
Why do you look for the living among the dead?
You are looking for Jesus Christ...
But he is not here! He has risen!
He is the Lord of life and no grave can hold him!
He made the world, including the piece of ground where he was buried.
While he was here on earth he brought three people back to life!
Now he shows his power over death by bringing himself back to life.
Friends, there have been some wonderful announcements made to the world.
But as great as this angel made...
It meant that every claim that Jesus ever made was true...
It meant that now we have a living Savior...
It meant that Satan was defeated!
It meant that he was Lord of all!
Now the angel said:
"Donít you remember what he said?
He told you that he would be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified...
And that on the third day he would rise again."
Oh yes, they remembered.
For three days they had been living in the shadows.
Their eyes had been swollen from crying, all hope was gone.
If they had only remembered that he said he would rise again...
They could have been rejoicing, anticipating.
>We forget, too.
We forget the sweet promise of God!
How much sweeter and finer would our lives be if we only remembered...
That he said, "I will never leave or forsake you."
But when trouble comes we feel alone.
He said, "I will be with you always".
But yet there are times when we feel that no one cares.
He says, "All things work together for good."
Yet we cry, "Why does this happen to me?"
He says, "My grace is sufficient for you."
Yet there are times when we feel that there is no help coming from anywhere.
Life would be sweeter for all of us if we only remembered that the one who conquered death is our daily companion.
The announcement of his appearing and then there is the appearances of the Redeemer.
He appeared to Mary Madgalene.
She had been a deep-dyed sinner.
But Christ had made her over and she loved him.
As she stood outside the tomb crying...
"They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we donít know where they have put him."
Then she turned around and there was Jesus.
He said, "Woman, why are you crying?"
She thought he was the gardener.
Now listen to the words that gushed from her heart...
"Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him!"
Look at the great love in this one who had been forgiven.
>Then Jesus said just one word: "Mary".
And she cried out: "Master!"
Oh, the voice of Jesus.
Friends, have you heard it?
Have you heard that voice speaking peace to your soul...
And joy to your heart?
He speaks and the sound of his voice...
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing...
And the melody that he gives to me...
Within my heart is ringing.
>Next he appeared to the other women.
He told them to go and give a message to his disciples.
Down through the years he had met and told many men and women to deliver the message of his resurrection...
And of his love for them.
>Next we see two disciples as they walked toward Emmaeus.
They were talking about the crucifixion and their hearts were sad.
Suddenly Jesus joined them but they did not recognize him in his resurrected body.
Jesus asked, "Why are you fellows so sad?"
And they said, "Our great Master was crucified three days ago.
We thought he was going to deliver Israel but there is no hope for us now.
And on top of that some women went to the tomb this morning and found it empty.
They said there were some angels there and they told them he had risen from the dead.
But no one has found his body.
It canít be true Ė it just canít be."
Then Jesus began with the OT scriptures and showed them how it had been predicted that Christ would die and rise again.
They reached the home of one of the men and the stranger was invited in for a meal.
Naturally they asked him to turn thanks at the table...
And when he did their eyes were opened up and they knew it was Jesus.
Then he disappeared just as suddenly as he had appeared.
Now listen to what these men said:
"Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us?"
Oh yes, friends, our hearts do burn within us when we have been talking to Jesus.
But remember this: in order to walk with him you must go the way he is going.
If you walk in sin and worldliness and indifference...
You cannot expect him to walk with you.
He walks the upward way.
Why not get on that road with him?
>He appeared next so Simon Peter.
But that meeting is surrounded with mystery.
>Then on Sunday night the disciples gathered in a certain room and locked the doors because of their fear of the Jews.
If they had killed their Master, they might also kill them.
And while they sat around grieving...
Jesus came and stood in the middle of the room.
He spoke peace to their hearts and their grief was turned to gladness.
But one was missing Ė Thomas.
And because he was absent he missed the greatest blessing of his life.
Oh there are so many like Thomas today!
The people of God meet in his house and Jesus comes to bless them...
But others miss the blessing because they are not there.
But when the next Sunday rolled around Thomas was there.
If Jesus came this time he certainly wanted to be there.
And praise God...Jesus did come.
He stood before Thomas and said...
"Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side, stop doubting and believe."
Thomas didnít have to feel the body of Jesus.
When he heard his voice, he just cried out...
"My Lord and my God!"
>Next we see him beside the sea, where he caused the disciples to make a great catch of fish.
They ate a meal together on the beach...
He turned to Peter and said...
"Peter, do you love me?"
Three times he asked Peter this question.
Peter said passionately that he loved Jesus more than anything in the world.
Then Jesus told him to do something about it.
And Peter went out and gave his life in service and blood for the Savior.
Let me ask you a personal question.
Do you love Jesus?
Iím not asking if you have joined the church or been baptized.
Iím asking if you really love Jesus Christ.
He died in your place...
He has saved you...
He blesses you every day.
Someday he is going to take you to heaven.
Do you love him?
Do you appreciate him?
Then you ought to do something about it.
You ought to live for the things for which he stands.
You ought to live a Christian life.
You ought to be faithful to his church, present at every service and doing your best for him.
You ought to give as he gave.
He gave his all.
He asks you to give only one-tenth.
You ought to witness for him.
You ought to tell what the Savior has done for you and what he can do for others.
You ought to put Christ first in every relationship.
In your home...your business...your social life...
If you donít, you donít love and appreciate Christ, in spite of all you say.
>Then he appeared to more than 500 people on a mountaintop.
>Then we see him standing before the disciples and giving them the Great Commission.
He said: therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you, and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
You noticed when he promises to be with us...
It is not when we are walking in the ways of the world.
It is not when we are disobedient to his command.
But when we are doing his will and having a part in his great work on earth.
>Jesus appeared this many times between his resurrection and ascension.
All of these people had a personal contact with the risen Christ.
Every one of them would swear that he was alive.
>Now we have seen the announcement of his resurrection...
We have seen the appearances of his resurrection...
Now letís look at the ascension of the Savior.
After 40 days here upon the earth, the time comes when Jesus is going back home.
He takes his disciples to the Mount of Olives...
Promises them that the power of the spirit will soon fall upon them and again...
Tells them to go out and witness for him.
Now itís time for him to go.
Suddenly a cloud comes down from heaven and surrounds him.
While the disciples look on in amazement he leans back upon the cloud...
And that cloud goes up and up, taking him heavenward.
Soon the heavens open up and receive him...
While the disciples are standing there gazing into heaven...
Two men in white stand by them and say to them...
"Why do you stand here looking into the sky?
This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven...
Will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."
Yes, my friends, Jesus is coming back.
It may be today...
It may be tomorrow...
It may be years to come...
The main thing is this: are you ready for his coming?
When he comes he will take all of his own to heaven.
But those who have not believed in him will be left behind to meet their doom.
Are you ready for his coming?
Now we have looked at the announcement...
We have looked at the appearances...
And the ascension...now letís look at the aftermath.
What happened after the resurrection and the ascension?
First, there was Pentecost.
Christ told the disciples to wait and pray until the power from heaven fell upon them.
On the 10th day the Holy Spirit came down and fell upon these believers.
They became possessed with a power greater than the nuclear bomb.
They preached and witnessed and 3,000 were saved in one day.
This same power is available to us.
If we are willing to clean out our hearts and let God possess us entirely.
The power of the Holy Spirit will fall upon us and we will do great things in his name.
Next we see the disciples as they go out preaching the gospel.
They had been cowards.
They had run when Jesus was captured.
They had locked the doors for fear of the Jews.
But everything is different now!
If Christ can rise from the grave he can do anything.
Never again will they be afraid.
They know that he will take care of them.
And we read that they went out and preached with holy boldness.
Some have said, "These are the men who have turned the world upside down".
And what was the burden of their message?
They preached the resurrection!
Everywhere they told of a Savior who had conquered death and came back to life again.
Next we see these men dying.
They not only lived for Christ, but they died for him also.
All but one died a martyrís death.
This is another proof of the resurrection.
Do you think these men would have followed a course that led to certain death if the resurrection story was a hoax?
No, they knew he was risen from the dead...
They knew all his powers were true.
Let us thank God that we have a living Savior.
Not a man who came and lived and died...
But a God who could conquer death and the grave.
When we go to the grave of Jesus...
We hear the angelís voice...
"He is not here, he has risen!"
Because we have a living Savior...
We can come to him for salvation.
A dead man cannot save you!
He canít forgive your sins and take you to heaven...
But Jesus said, "Come unto me and I will not cast you out!
I will save you and wash your sins away...
I will write your name in the Lambís Book of Life and take you home to heaven at the end of the way."
I know he can save me...
I know he can save you.
>If we could open the gates of heaven this morning and go in and talk to the ones there...
They would say to us...
"We were sinners, but we came to him by faith and he saved us...
He brought us through many dangers, toils and snares, and even through death...
And he brought us home to heaven at last...
We were sinking deep in sin...
We were going down to hell and we cried out for help...
Then we saw the face of one dying upon the cross."
Thank God, Jesus rose again and reaches down to save all who come unto him by faith.
>Because we have a living Savior we can come to him for help.
He is not just a Savior to take us to heaven...
But one to help us here as well.
He came that we might have abundant life.
He knows the way through life...
He walked it himself.
He knows every temptation, every sorrow, every heartbreak that comes to you and me, for all of these came to him.
So remember him in the time of your need.
Come to him and he will help you bear the burdens of life.
>He lived and set an example for us, in his life.
He died for our sins and we know it.
He rose for our sins and we know it.
He rose again and lives today.
And he is coming again someday and we are going to meet him and give an account for our lives.
Are you ready for that day?
In that day he will not be a humble carpenter...
But the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
He will have all power in heaven and in earth.
Are you ready to meet such a God?
If not, let me urge you to repent of your sins...
Put your faith in him...
Follow him in baptism...
Become a member of his church and live your life at its best for him.
If you would like to do that would you bow your head and pray with me?