This is a special message presented on Resurrection Sunday, April 20, 2014
Many of you have heard of Adam and Eve. God created them in the Garden of Eden and gave them perfect everything! They both had perfect air, food, water and perfect companions. However, the one thing God asked them not to do, they did. That produced a problem. God had said that if they ate of the fruit that was forbidden to them, they would die (They did die physically, hundreds of years, but this death was spiritual, a separation). It was a spiritual death (a separation), because God is holy and His holiness cannot tolerate anything that is contrary to His character and will. They could no longer enjoy intimacy in relationship with God. So God banished them from the Garden! That was a problem.
Have you ever lost out on something good because of what you did and now you can’t get it back? What would Adam and Eve do? What would you do? They were banished and there was nothing they could do to restore their relationship with God. Nothing!
But God had a plan. He said, “And I will put enmity (hostility) between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Gen. 3:15 NKJ) This was God’s promise that one of Eve’s great, great grandchildren would bruise (crush) the head of Satan, even though Satan would bruise the Child’s heel. What did that mean? What did that look like? No one before 30 A.D. really understood it. It was a clue that no one – not a priest, not a prophet and not even a king could fully comprehend.
Well, history records that Adam and Eve had children and they multiplied fast! But they also made bad choices! The devil stuck his nose into the human race again, so that God had to destroy the world with a flood (around B.C. 2300). He started over with Noah and his family, eight souls, and then turned over the responsibility of governing from families to governments. What would you do?
Then, a hundred years later, at the Tower of Babel, man showed once again that he didn’t want to listen to God. Mankind wanted to establish himself as his god, so God gave him different languages and the people spread out, each group according to their language. What would you do?
About that time, God chose one man, Abraham. God promised Abraham that one day he would have a land he could call his own and a future son through whom the whole world would be blessed. God told Abraham that those who blessed him and his children He would bless and those who cursed him and his children, He would curse. That was the beginning of Israel!
Time after time, Satan stuck his nose into God’s business and tried to mess up His plan. Satan knew that this child from Eve would come through Abraham, so he needed to confound, confuse, or compromise the line to this promised one, whomever it might be. Satan didn’t know who it would be at the time, because the Bible had not been written. He understood the prophecy given to Adam and Eve. He understood the promise to Abraham through whom the child would come, who would crush his head. He thought, “I must destroy this people.”
Satan created false religions and drew many away from God. King Solomon fell into his trap, for his 700 wives drew his heart from God. Satan used a false gospel, or way of salvation, that required one to “work your way to heaven” or “become a really good person” and many fell for that. Satan sent false teachers to distort what God’s Word said. He often tried to stop the line to Jesus, as when he killed all the sons of King Ahaziah (except one son, who was hidden and continued the line to Jesus).
God had one plan and Satan tried to destroy it. But when Jesus was born and as He lived His life, He satisfied the requirements of the Law. At Jesus’ death, God used the Roman soldiers to put Him on the cross and “He (the Father) made Him (the Son) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21 NKJ)
Now, after the cross, how did the disciples know what to do? They went to the tomb!
1) Isn’t Jesus dead? John 20:1-10
Why did they go to the tomb? They thought He was dead. That made logical sense. They could not comprehend how He could be living. When you hang nailed on a cross and someone pierces your side, you die. Jesus died! He was no longer with them.
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” 3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes. (John 20:1-10 NKJ)
Don’t we often live like that? I do. I get concerned about things working out or how I should respond in this situation or that. I wonder if I’ll be able to help someone or not. I go into over-think.
They went to the tomb, because they thought He was dead. We do that also! We live like God is dead. Let me explain. When I worry, become anxious, or become angry, I am living as though He is dead. I am living as though He is not able to take care of my situation. I show that in my perspective and by my actions that I think God is dead.
I struggle with the same things you do. I know the academic, Biblical answers. I can talk for hours about the character of God, or His will and promises. But my sin shows that for me, God must not be alive, at the least, that His life is not living through me!
Now, many of us control ourselves not to commit the overt sins. We don’t murder or steal, because we’d be thrown in jail! But we struggle with “acceptable” sins, like worry or frustration or resentment. You don’t get thrown in jail for those things. And even more of us struggle with sins of omission, like not spending time with God in His Word, like not wanting to follow Christ or be a disciple, or like not being willing to learn how to disciple others. Those are also “acceptable” sins. We struggle with sins like not telling others that Jesus is the Savior of the world. We struggle with sins like not leading our marriage or family. We struggle with many sins that show that we live like Jesus is dead! But Jesus isn’t dead!
2) He is living! John 20:19-23
That Sunday night, the disciples were gathered in a room in Jerusalem. They barred the door, because they were afraid the Jews would come after them to stop this “Jesus stuff”! They thought Jesus was dead. At least He wasn’t in the tomb where He should be, and they were confused. Have you ever been confused?
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews…(John20:19a NKJ)
Have you ever been confused about God’s will for your life? Has it made you slow way down and even stop serving, because you just weren’t sure you had God’s blessing to keep working? The disciples felt alone, but then Jesus showed up! They were afraid, and He spoke to them,
Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19b NKJ)
Can you imagine? It was exactly what they needed to hear! And then what happened? They were weak in their faith, so He showed them His hands and side.
20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. (John 20:20 NKJ)
He was alive, with them and had the evidence to their greatest problem – sin before God. “It is finished!” Jesus proclaimed on the cross. Now there could be peace with God!
What is your greatest problem you face in life? For some of you, it’s loneliness and lack of friends. You have 600 on Facebook, but you still feel alone. For some it’s fear – you have money in the bank, friends who care for you here at church, and the blessing of small children, but you still fear about life and how you are going to raise them. For some, you aren’t sure you know how to do this God-stuff, like praying, talking about the Bible, or doing things at church, because you aren’t sure you will do it “just right.”
21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:21-23 NKJ)
Do you see those three things: God’s peace, empowerment and forgiveness. These three solve every problem of life. So what should they and we do?
3) Live in Him! John 20:26-31
A week later, Thomas still hadn’t seen Jesus and He confronted the others, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, I will not believe.” That’s the way many of us are. We are lonely, fearful and feel inadequate about the God-stuff. We need someone to show us what we need to do. That’s what Jesus does,
26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:26-29 NKJ)
Jesus is not dead! He is living! He is alive to replace any loneliness you have with His presence. He is living to replace any fear you have with His confidence. He is living to replace any guilt with His forgiveness. Will you accept Him today?
The question is not, “What would you do?” but “what will you do today?” Will you accept the Lord Jesus, the Savior of the world, as your living God, or will this be another Resurrection Sunday (what many call Easter) that comes and goes? Will you trust in Jesus Christ and become a child of God? When you do, you will be content only in Jesus. He’s the real thing! There is nothing else in life that will satisfy you.
30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31 NKJ)
Jesus is our living God!
Live your life in Jesus and you’ll have joy and influence others!
- Let your life shine so others believe your God is living!
- Tell your whole body to awaken and tell others Jesus is living!
- Join the cause to tell others that Jesus is living!
My hope is built on nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name!
On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.
Message Based Discussion Questions
- When was the first time you went to a Resurrection Sunday service? What do you remember about it?
- Do people live like Jesus is alive and directing their life? __________ What does it look like when people live like Jesus is dead? What does it look like when people live like Jesus is alive?
- The disciples were confused about Jesus’ resurrection, because they didn’t find Him in the tomb. Were they wrong in looking there? ___________ What were they expecting? What Scriptures would you use?
- Thomas is often called “Doubting Thomas.” Is that an appropriate title for him? ____________ What other believers in Scripture might be characterized like Thomas?
Making application from the message to life:
- What are several areas of other people’s lives in which they live like they do not believe Jesus is living?
- How would you disciple someone to live like Jesus is living?
- What are several areas of life that could be influenced if we truly believed Jesus was living and we needed to live in Him?