He Is Not Here, But Has Risen

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Luke 24:1-12

The bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ which we celebrate today as resurrection sunday is one of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. He died and rose again thus reconciling sinful humanity to the Father through the efficacy of the finished work on Calvary. He died in our place as a ransom for our sins. He appeased God’s wrath for the punishment of our sins. (See Isaiah 53:4-6). His death and resurrection paved the way for everyone who will believe in Him to have a relationship with the father and to have eternal life.

As has been said already, the resurrection is a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith. Without the resurrection of Christ, there will be no Christianity. Paul says “…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1Corinthians 15:17). That is a very categorical statement. What Paul is saying is that, without the resurrection, we are still sinners living in sin and everything we have believed in the name of Christ is a hoax—if there was no resurrection.

Paul went further to say, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. These words speaks to us of the import of the resurrection in Christian doctrine. Randy Alcorn, in the book Heaven wrote that

The physical resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of redemption…. Indeed, without Christ’s resurrection and what it means–an everlasting future for fully restored human beings…there is no Christianity”.

I will say that, if there is no resurrection, we better pack bag and baggage and walk away from the Christian faith. But thank God He “raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by [death] ( Acts 2:24). This is a wonderful testimony. Death couldn’t hold him captive. “God, His Father, heard His cry; Raised from the dead, He reigns on high”–Isaac Watts

The events leading to the resurrection points to one intriguing fact. The disciples disbelieved Him when He spoke about His resurrection all the while He was with them. John tells us that it was when Christ was raised from the dead that they remembered and believed what He had told them about His resurrection (John 2:22).

When Jesus died, the world of the disciples was shattered. All hope was lost (Luke 24:21). On the first day after the burial, Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James and other women (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:1, 10; John 20:1) went to the tomb to give Jesus’ dead body a befitting burial with spices prepared the previous day (Luke 23:56). The narrative clearly gives us an indication they were not expecting a resurrection either.  When they got to the tomb and didn’t find Jesus, their first thought was not that He had resurrected. Rather, “they were perplexed” (v.4). It was there; the truth of Christ’s resurrection was revealed to them:

Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen (vv.5-6)

These are words of great hope. Christ is alive! Christ didn’t remain in the grave. He rose to give hope to those who will believe in Him for the forgiveness of their sins. Now, when the women told the disciples; they also didn’t believe: “these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them” (v.11). All these ‘disbeliefs’ clearly indicates to us that the resurrection was not expected and couldn’t have been staged or fabricated by the followers of Jesus.

Why will they make up something they didn’t even believe or anticipated? Peter, we are told run to the tomb and and when he saw the tomb empty, he “went home marveling at what had happened.”(v.12).

Today, we have the testimony of Scripture telling us Christ is alive. We have no reason to doubt God’s word. Christ is alive!

Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures … he was buried … he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1Corinthians 15:3-4)

Christ Died For Our Sins

Lamb
Image: Cover Photo for TableTalk Magazine (Ligonier.com), January 2015 issue

Genesis is the first book of the Bible. It is also the book of beginnings because it tells us  the origins of life and accurately explains the main problem of the world–Sin. From the first two chapters of Genesis, we are told of a Creator ―God― Who created the world and all that dwells in it (Genesis 1:1, 31, 2:26-27). After creation, God saw that everything He had created was good (Genesis 1:31).

But today, in contrast to Genesis 1:31, the world in its current state is not good. It is a world filled with pain, tragedy, wickedness, cruelty and every horror imaginable. How do we reconcile the current state of the world with God’s proclamation that “everything that he had made…was very good”. The answer is that sin entered the world. So;

What Is Sin?

Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God [a].Lev 5:17; Jas 4:17; 1 John 3:4

~Westminster Shorter Catechism Q14

In these words we see what sin is. Sin is breaking God’s law by omission or commission. In modern English, the words, “want of conformity” will read as “inability to conform to the law of God” or “failure to measure up to or obey God’s command”. In Greek, the word hamartia is used in explaining what sin is. Sin is “missing the mark” just like when an archer or bowman misses their target. And rightly so, we are all sinners because we have missed the mark of God’s righteous standard (Romans 3:23).

How did sin enter the perfect world God created one may ask? Again, we turn to the book of origins. In Genesis 2:16-17, we read of a commandment God gave Adam, the first created man, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”.

Fast forward to Genesis 3, Adam disobeyed God; he ate of the forbidden tree and by that act of disobedience, sin entered the world. Adam in the garden of Eden was acting as a federal head for all of humankind therefore his fall became the fall of all who will ever walk this earth: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned”(Romans 5:12).

Except Jesus who lived a perfect life without sin, all humankind inherited the consequences and effects of Adam’s fall; physical and spiritual death. Our nature was badly corrupted and we were alienated from God. The Psalmist said “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).

What he means here is that he was born with a sin problem. He inherited sin. We are by ourselves unable to please God: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:11-12). These words describe the helpless state of humankind without Christ. They are enemies of God, separated from Him and guilty of eternal damnation.

However God didn’t leave sinners to our fate to try to work our way to Him. God made the first move towards reconciling sinful humankind to Himself. If you read Genesis 3 again, we see that though Adam and Eve sinned, God’s mercy was manifested.

Firstly, God proclaimed what theologians refer to as protoevangelium–the first gospel. God announced His plans towards reconciliation. A curse was pronounced and a remedy for that curse was also revealed: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

The seed of the woman referred to here is Christ who the Bible speaks of by saying “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil”(1John 3:8). The works of the devil is sin that separated us from God. And it is this, Jesus died to destroy. He took the punishment that belonged to sinners. He died in our place to appease for our sins and reconcile us to the Father. Our sin was imputed to Him. He became our substitutionary atonement  (Isaiah 53:5-6, John 1:29).

Secondly, God covered the nakedness (guilt and shame) of Adam and Eve revealing a type of Christ’s imputed righteousness to those who will come to Faith through Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:21). Paul aptly captures this saying, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2Corinthians 5:21).

Christ was murdered on the cross because of the sins of you and I. And He resurrected to give eternal life to all who will come to Him in Faith. This is the essence of what we celebrate as Easter. Christ dying for the sins of the world (John1:29). If you have not come to saving faith through Christ, you are condemned to eternal damnation and an enemy of God. One day, you will have to answer for your sins before a Holy God and nothing you will present will measure up to God’s Holy standard. Your good works outside of Christ are like filthy rags. Repent from your sins and turn to Christ for forgiveness.

Our Ways Are Not God’s Ways.

steps-in-sand

Last week, Christians worldwide celebrated Easter, the commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you are a believer, this season marked the day your salvation was secured. If you are not a believer, He died for sinners and until you come to Him in Faith, you have no reason to celebrate Easter.

There is one fascinating account of the Easter events which teaches a number of lessons in our sourjourning as pilgrims on this side of eternity. The account is in Luke 24, where two of Jesus’ disciples were undertaking a journey to a village named Emmaus. While travelling, they discussed the events that had taken place in Jerusalem, namely, the death and resurrection of Jesus (vv.13-14). Immersed in their lamentation, Jesus joined them on their journey and we are told their eyes were kept from recognizing him. (vv. 13-16).

On hindsight, the reader of the Bible sees the victory in the death and resurrection of Christ. However, as we read the narration, one fact emerges; the disciples, who walked with Christ were dejected by His death. They believed Jesus was going to be their political deliverer from Roman rule. But in cold blood, the life of their leader who offered hope to them was brought to an abrupt end, so to speak. He was lifted on a cross  and gruesomely murdered. He died a death reserved for criminals–crucifixion.

When Jesus joined in the conversation with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, he asked, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?”(v.17). Their reaction to the question was evident of the content of their conversation:

And they stood still, looking sad (v.17).

Why were they sad? Because their hopes and expectations about the man Jesus has been curtailed. .

We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel (v.21)

The disciples had their hopes and expectations. They had hopes of deliverance from Roman oppression. Their hope was political. But God’s agenda for sending His Son was grand than political, it is redemption from spiritual death and bondage. It is reconcilatory. God is in Christ reconciling the world –Jews, Romans, Greeks, Gentiles — to Himself. Jesus came to restore lost humanity into relationship with God. The agenda is mammoth, a worldwide reconciliation; calling a “great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Revelations7:9). This is God’s agenda for sending Christ.

Regardless of the dreams and expectations we hold for our lives, we must come to a basic truth in our faith walk that our ways are not God’s ways and most often, our expectations fall short of God’s ways. Expectations can and do slip through our hands. But God’s agenda is bigger than any expectation we may have. He is working behind the scenes working out His own agenda concerning our lives and that must settle our hearts.

Whatever expectations drive our lives, we must ensure they align with God’s revealed will in His word. We see this clearly playing out in the conversation when Jesus rebuked His disciples for lack of Faith in God’s revealed will and from the Scriptures taught them God’s will concerning His suffering:

25:And he[Christ] said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
26:Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory ?”
27:And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

If we are going to think God’s thoughts and not merely go through life with what we think is God’s way, we must be people who expose ourselves to God’s will through what He has revealed in His word. Our expectations must not be simply what we want God to do. But our expectations must be what God wants to do. And the only way to know this is through faith built from His word.

Christ rebukes the lack of faith of the two in the revealed will concerning His suffering. Then He takes them through an exposition of the things written about Him. Truly, there is no reliable place for the believer to thrust their anchor than in the word of God. To allay our fears and assuage our worries, we must as a matter of necessity look to the word of God.

May God grant us grace that our expectations will align with what He has revealed in His word concerning His work in us through Christ.

He Is Not Here, For He Has Risen

 

jesus-resurrection-life

Today is Resurrection sunday, the third day after Christ was crucified and He rose again. The gospels record that, on the third day after His crucifixion, at dawn, some ladies went to the tomb to attend to His body: “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him” (Mark 16:1).

While with His disciples, Christ spoke often of His death and resurrection (Mark 8:31). However, the events after His crucifixion gives us an indication His own disciples didn’t believe it when He spoke of His resurrection. His death dashed their hopes. They thought He was the deliverer of Israel from Roman oppression (Luke 21:13-21). But here, the one they have sunk all their hopes in has been brutally murdered. Their hope was gone. The women who went to the tomb encountered an angel and the conversation points us to three proofs of the resurrection:

He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you .” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:6-10).

1: The Empty Tomb:

“He is not here…Come, see the place where he lay”

These words point us to the truth of the risen Messiah. There was no body to be anointed by the women. The tomb was empty. Again, so the women will be certain of the angel’s proclamation, he bid them further “Come, see the place where he lay”. The Empty tomb is there to prove Jesus resurrected. The empty tomb is very crucial a sign of the resurrection because the events surrounding the burial of Jesus makes it impossible for the tomb to be empty apart from a bodily resurrection. Before He was buried, there was the fear His body will be stolen to prove a resurrection by the disciples. So the chief priest and the Pharisees approached Pilate to ensure maximum security was available: “Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard ( Matthew 27:65-66).

By the gospels narration, there is no reason to believe the disciples stole Jesus’s body to fake a resurrection. These were men who were terrified and were no where to be found during His crucifixion. Peter had denied Him thrice and from the conversation on the road to Emmaus, the disciples were expecting no resurrection. How could they, who were not expecting a resurrection and had lost all hope, spoof a resurrection story?

He resurrected. The empty tomb is proof.

2: Jesus’ Own Words

“for he has risen, as he said”

If we trust Christ, we must trust His words. The angel’s announcement carried weight. He reminded the women Jesus resurrected as He promised. Indeed, one of the charges against Him was that He had said they should destroy the temple in Jerusalem and in three days He will raise it up again (John 2:19).

Later John will tell us that, when Jesus spoke about the temple, He was talking about His body:

But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken (John 2:21-22).

Do we believe in the words of Jesus? Every word He spoke? Then His resurrection must be believed.

The bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ which we celebrate in this season as Easter is one of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. He died and rose again thus reconciling sinful humanity to the Father through the efficacy of the finished work on Calvary. He died in our place as a ransom for our sins. He appeased God’s wrath for the punishment of our sins. (See Isaiah 53:4-6).His death and resurrection paved the way for everyone who will believe in Him to have a relationship with the father and also to have eternal life.

3: Eye Witnesses
“he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him”… And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!”

Jesus didn’t just resurrect and vanish into thin air. He actually revealed Himself to His disciples and some other people. Paul, recounting the death and resurrection of Jesus said:

he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1Corinthians 15:4-8)

Paul, prior to his conversion, he was Saul, a vicious enemy of the Christian faith. However, he embraced the Christian faith and became its number one advocate. What happened? He experienced the resurrected Christ. He became an eye witness of what he was opposing. On a journey to Damascus to apprehend Christians and execute them, he met with the Lord Jesus.(Acts 9). This same enemy of Christ and Christianity, later on wrote to defend the resurrection (1Corinthians 15:12-18).

There is no hope for the Christian without the resurrection. But because He rose, we have cause to be hopeful.

Because I live, you also will live (John 14:19).

Christ Our Sin Bearer

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Genesis is the first book of the Bible. It is also the book of beginnings because it tells us the origins of life and accurately explains the main problem of the world–Sin.

From the first two chapters of Genesis, we are made to know there is a Creator who created the world and all that dwells in it (Genesis 1:1, 31, 2:26-27). After creation, God saw that everything He had created was good (Genesis 1:31). But today, in contrast to Genesis 1:31, the world in its current state is not good. It is a world filled with pain, tragedy, wickedness, cruelty and every horror imaginable. How do we reconcile the current state of the world with God’s proclamation that “everything that he had made…was very good”. The answer is that sin entered the world. So;

What Is Sin?

Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God [a]. Lev 5:17;   Jas 4:17;   1 John 3:4

~Westminster Shorter Catechism Q14

In these words we see what sin is. Sin is breaking God’s law by omission or commission. In modern English, the words, “want of conformity” will read something like inability to conform to the law of God or failure to measure up to or obey God’s command. In Greek, the word hamartia is used in explaining what sin is. Sin is “missing the mark” and rightly so, we are all sinners because we have missed the mark of God’s rigtheous standard (Romans 3:23).

Now, how did sin enter the perfect world God created? We again go back to Genesis, the book of origins. In Genesis 2:16-17, we read of a commandment God gave Adam, the first created man, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”. Fast foward to Genesis 3, Adam disobeyed God; he ate of the forbidden tree and by that act of disobedience, sin entered the world.

Adam in the garden of Eden was acting as a federal head for all of humankind therefore his fall became the fall of all who will ever walk this earth: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned”(Romans 5:12).

Except Jesus who lived a perfect life without sin, all humankind inherited the consequences and effects of Adam’s fall; physical and spiritual death. Our nature was badly corrupted and we were alienated from God. The Psalmist said “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).

What he means here is that he was born with a sin problem. He inherited sin. We are by ourselves unable to please God: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:11-12). These words describes the helpless state of humankind without Christ. They are enemies of God, separated from Him and guilty of eternal damnation.

However God didn’t leave sinners to our fate to try to work our way to Him. God made the first move towards reconciling sinful humankind to Himself. If you read Genesis 3 again, we see that even in their sins, God’s mercy was manifested. Firstly, God proclaimed what theologians refer to as protoevangelium–the first gospel. God announced His plans towards reconciliation. A curse was pronounced and a remedy for that curse was also revealed:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel (Genesis 3:15).

The seed of the woman being referred to here is Christ who the Bible speaks of by saying “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil”(1John 3:8). The works of the devil is sin that separated us from God. And it is this, Jesus died to destroy. He took the punishment that belonged to sinners. He died in our place to appease for our sins and reconcile us to the Father. Our sins was imputed to Him. He became our substitutionary atonement  (Isaiah 53:5-6).

Secondly, God covered the nakedness (guilt and shame) of Adam and Eve revealing a type of Christ’s imputed righteousness to those who will come to Faith through Jesus Christ. Paul aptly captures this saying, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2Corinthians 5:21).

Christ was murdered on the cross because of the sins of you and I. And He resurrected to give eternal life to all who will come to Him in Faith  If you have not come to saving faith through Christ, you are condemned to eternal damnation and an enemy of God. One day, you will have to answer for your sins before a Holy God and nothing you will present will measure up to God’s Holy standard. Your good works outside of Christ are like filthy rags. Repent from your sins and turn to Christ for forgiveness.

~Article was first posted on The Gospel Network