Posts Tagged With: resurrection

Five Components for a Gospel Resilience

A gospel resilience sees the momentary afflictions in light of glory to come.   

We tend to despair and lose heart when it comes to our Christian faith.  Paul alluded to the afflictions, the perplexing, the persecution, and the striking down (2 Corinthians 4:8) that Christians receive due to their faith in that which is unseen and faith in the One who is now at the right hand of the throne, interceding for the saints. 

Paul writes to the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 

From the text, we see five components needed to maintain a gospel resilience in your walk with Christ.

Conversion

The key sentence in this passage is, “Therefore, we do not lose heart.” Notice who he includes. He does not say, “Therefore, I do not lose heart.” Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” We, our, our, us, we. Plural. More than one. Here, he refers to the church, the people of God, the bride of Christ.

The apostle Paul did not always identify with the church. In Philippians 3, we see that Paul identified with his Jewish heritage and his ascending the ladder of the Pharisees’ world. “Circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:5-6). He followed the covenant of circumcision, thanks to the obedience of his parents, both Hebrews. He even came from the tribe where Israel’s first king, King Saul, came from. But he was decidedly conservative when it comes to the law. Any heresy against the law of Moses had to go, and he had the zeal and permission to do so.

But something changed. Paul could then say, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” He wanted to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and share in His sufferings! Where did this change come from? Why did he go from wanting to identify with the Pharisees, to then identifying with the very people he tried to destroy—and spend a lifetime suffering for it?

Conversion! He had been changed! He no longer wanted to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed. His mind had been renewed. He renounced the old self, the “outer man.” As he wrote the Ephesians, outside of Christ, “you were dead… but God made you alive.” You are no longer a child of mercy, but a child of grace—it is a gift, not of yourselves, not of your own works, but of His work in you.

Calling

Paul’s resilience remained through his calling from Christ. The phrase, “So we do not lose heart” is the second time we hear this, the first being in 4:1. The purpose of saying this was because this ministry he had from God was ‘received’—given by God. He did not ascend to this on His own. By God’s grace, God called him to salvation, and now God called him to service.

If Paul had decided to do this on his own, then when he grew tired of it, he would move on. When people began to afflict, persecute, and strike him down, he would see it as against him, and would be tempted to remove himself from situations where he would receive such grief. But God saw him, saved him, and sent him into His service.

When Paul (then Saul of Tarsus) encountered the risen Christ, he was led into Damascus because “for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank” (Acts 9:9). But the scene switched to another part of town to a follower of Christ named Ananias, whom God called to go and lay hands on him so he might receive his sight. As you may imagine, since Paul was a Christian-oppressor, he had reservations. The Lord then told him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:15-16). So he as a Jew would go to the ‘unclean’ Gentiles and preach to them the resurrection of Christ?

When God called me into the preaching ministry, I ran for about 18 months. Why? Because I worried. What about my music ministry? What if I have to leave my church? What about my students? Would I have to pack up and move to school? Where would God take me? I love these people—why should I have to leave them? My main issue was, who? Me! And He used those 18 months to bring me through much internal clarity about my motives. He brought me to a point to where I had to serve Him or I didn’t think I would make it.

When I surrendered, I felt this peace. I did not know what was in store for my family and me, but I know I had to surrender to God’s call.

Comprehension

Everywhere Paul went, he preached that which is of “first importance”—the resurrection of Jesus Christ. After Ananias’ visit, it says that “And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’” Later, it says, “But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ” (9:22). He did this everywhere He went. Why?

He recognized that Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection were the foundation of the Christian walk.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that 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 of the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he also appeared to me” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

Paul received this teaching, but also experienced seeing Christ. There was a comprehension to where he saw and understood that since Jesus rose from the dead, Christianity stands. If he didn’t, then Christianity falls! So him saying, “We also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:14), this is not wishful thinking.

Consecration

Paul noted, “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”

Our outer body, that is, our flesh, is wasting away. There are two ways to think about this. One, is that our flesh in the physical sense is indeed wasting away.

But we can also look at this from a spiritual aspect. In biblical terms, the flesh is often referred to in a spiritual aspect as well. The flesh often means our sinful nature.

Paul goes on: “For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” Earlier, we listed off all that Paul endured for the sake of Christ. These, he calls ‘light’ and ‘momentary.’ Why? He recognized that the affliction and the tribulation and the persecution were the preparation. Consider how things are now:

  • Outer man wasting away –> inner man renewed daily
  • Light/momentary affliction –> eternal glory
  • What is seen in transient –> what is unseen is eternal

The more we rely on our ‘flesh,’ the more we rely on our outer man, the more we rely on what is seen, and the more we focus on the afflictions we face in this world, the less gospel resilience and perseverance we shall have. Yet, the more we recognize the treasure as opposed to the clay pot of ourselves, the more we focus on the unseen, this provides the perspective needed for gospel resilience.

Comfort

Paul continually brings in eternity. Our afflictions for Christ are preparing an eternal comfort in and through Christ. There are things for the believer that we cannot see. But it’s eternal and beyond anything we can compare with here.

At the beginning of this epistle, Paul begins the epistle with this beautiful passage:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

Notice how prolific the word ‘comfort’ is. False teachers said, “If you’re faithful, comfort will happen in this life.” The gospel comforts those who need comforting, so they in turn will comfort others with the gospel. A gospel resilience sees the momentary afflictions in light of glory to comeWhat we seen here is temporary, so we comfort one another by that which is ‘unseen’—that which is eternal.

There’s an old hymn that I just absolutely treasure:

Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder;
Why it should be thus all the day long?
While there are others living about us
Nevermore rested, though in the wrong

Farther along, we’ll know all about it.
Farther along, we’ll understand why.
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine.
We’ll understand it all by and by. 

When death has come and taken our loved ones;
Leaving our home so lonely and drear.
Then do we wonder how others prosper
Living so wicked year after year?

Farther along, we’ll know all about it.
Farther along, we’ll understand why.
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine.
We’ll understand it all by and by.

The Spirit of God helps provide the resilience while we are here, giving us the mind of Christ and understanding the thoughts of God.  This line to the counsels of heaven, along with the revelation of His Word gives us that holy perspective.

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My Present Refuge, My Chosen Portion, My Future Hope (Psalm 16)

This psalm is given the name by many the “Resurrection Psalm,” based mostly on Psalm 16:10. This psalm brings present comfort as well as future hope in the midst of the circumstances. The apostle Peter used this Psalm during his sermon at Pentecost (see Acts 2:25-28). David (the author of this Psalm) was dead, “and his tomb is with us to this day” (Acts 2:29). Yet, one of David’s descendants, Jesus, would die, but only for a time. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead. No corruption truly touched His body—decay did not do its deadly deed.

1. The Lord is my refuge (16:1-2).

Three names for ‘God’ are used in these verses.

  • “God”—el—God is our strong and mighty One.
  • “LORD” –Yahweh—The covenant name for God. This name is first introduced in Exodus 3:14 as God reveals His name of Moses in the burning bush.
  • “Lord”—Adonai—Our master and Lord.

Our God is imminently qualified to serve as the only and ultimate refuge. He is strong, mighty, eternal, covenant Lord of all. These names encapsulate Christ’s function. Revelation 19 shows how Christ is strong and mighty against the enemies, using the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God) to annihilate all those who stand against Him and His Word. He is the “I AM” found in John 8:58 as well as the other I AMs found throughout John!

And He is our Lord Jesus Christ—our Master (Ephesians 1:3), who is in charge of all whom He surveys and knows.

2. The Lord delights in His saints (16:3-4).

We delight being with our Lord Jesus and to be with other believers. As true believers, we are uncomfortable with those who are in unrepentant, open sin. If you find yourself more comfortable around unbelievers and blasphemers than you do around believers, then you need to “examine yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

3. The Lord provides many blessings (16:5-8).

  • He is our portion, giving us daily all that we need (Matthew 6:9-13).
  • He is our protection, securing our lot. If we belong to Christ, then nothing shall take us out of His hand (John 10:27-29).
  • He is our partition, where we are content with the lot He has chosen for us (Philippians 4:10-19).
  • He is our teacher, being our counselor by day and night (John 14:25-27).

4. The Lord is my resurrection and my life (Psalm 16:9-11).

For the believer, God will never abandon them to the grave. Jesus is our righteousness, who atoned for our sins on the cross. Christ never saw corruption in death, and if we are in Christ neither shall we! We have a future hope that we can know and in which we can rejoice! His strong right hand protects and provides for us—pleasures forevermore!

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Resurrection Sunday Prayer: Thy Resurrection My Peace

O GOD OF MY EXODUS,
Great was the joy of Israel’s sons
     when Egypt died upon the shore,
     Far greater the joy
     when the Redeemer’s foe lay crushed in the dust.
Jesus strides forth as the victor,
     conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing might;
He bursts the bands of death,
     tramples the powers of darkness down,
     and lives for ever.
He, my gracious surety,
     apprehended for payment of my debt,
     comes forth from the prison house of the grave
     free, and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.
Show me herein the proof that his vicarious offering is accepted,
     that the claims of justice are satisfied,
     that the devil’s sceptre is shivered,
     that his wrongful throne is levelled.
Give me the assurance that in Christ I died, in Him I rose,
     in His life I live, in His victory I triumph,
     in His ascension I shall be glorified.
Adorable Redeemer,
Thou who wast lifted up upon a cross
     art ascended to highest heaven.
Thou, who as man of sorrows wast crowned with thorns,
     art now as Lord of life wreathed with glory.
Once, no shame more deep than Thine,
     no agony more bitter, no death more cruel.
Now, no exaltation more high,
     no life more glorious, no advocate more effective.
Thou art in the triumph car leading captive Thine enemies behind Thee.
What more could be done than Thou hast done!
     Thy death is my life, Thy resurrection my peace,
     Thy ascension my hope, Thy prayers my comfort.

(From The Valley of Vision)

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The Components of the Gospel Declared and Delivered

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me (1 Corinthians 15:3-8, ESV). 

So Paul recognizes (and so must we) that the gospel is preached to us, received by us as a gift, is that by which we stand, and that by which we as Christians are being saved (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).  Yet, there is the concern by Paul that the Corinthians by their actions had believed in vain. 

Some of the Christians in Corinth were wondering what was the true importance of the resurrection.  Was it really necessary?  Yes!  In fact, Paul begins to outline that it is of “first importance.”  In other words, the gospel is not the gospel without a risen Savior—without a crucified and resurrection Christ!  Again, he breaks this down into four components in his defense of the resurrection, outlined in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.

First, Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures.

Christ’s death was necessary.  He died on a wooden cross outside the camp, bearing the curse for us by becoming a curse on our behalf.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).  What is this “cup”?  This is the cup of God’s wrath that is poured out on sin in judgment (Zechariah 12:2).  Since Jesus had no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), then he stood as the scapegoat, bearing the curse of the sins of the people outside the camp (see Hebrews 9-10).  Christ served as a propitiation for our sins, taking the wrath that was deserved and directed toward us, and putting it on Himself as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:30).  Only in this manner may Christ make us righteous before God.

Secondly, we see “that he was buried.”

Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:39-40:

39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

The prophet Jonah (whom Jesus refers to not as a myth or a fable, but as a real, historical person) serves as a foreshadowing of what would happen with Jesus.  So many ask for a sign—Jesus provides one in Jonah, which in turn signifies the greater ‘burying’ in Christ who would be buried not for his own sins (a la, Jonah) but in payment for the sins of all who would believe.

Even King David prophecied about this is Psalm 16:

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.

Peter clarifies this for his Jewish listeners in Acts 2:25-31 that this passage in Psalm 16 refers not to King David, for his tomb was clearly known to all as well as the bones it contained therein—but this was referring to another who was buried but did not see corruption or bodily decay.   This is King Jesus whom David prophecied would be resurrected. 

Thirdly, that he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures.

This fact caught the two disciples by surprise, but it shouldn’t have.  Jesus told them in Luke 24:25-27 that this was foretold clearly in the OT.  Sin kills, and since Jesus bore our sins, He died—but He did not stay dead.  In those three days in the ground, he went into Hades to declare victory to those who rejected him in this life (1 Peter 3:18-21).  He showed them that it was all true and that He conquered!  And He came forth from the grave with that same message:  victory!  Death has been conquered, sin’s affects have been vanquished, and all those who surrender to Him have what He has (Ephesians 2:4-7).  There is no gospel without a risen Savior and Lord.

Lastly, and that he appeared … . 

Yes, there were eyewitnesses.  Cephas (a.k.a., Peter), the disciples, and “he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.”  He appeared to James, then to Paul (Acts 9:1-19).  This was within 10-15 years of the event and Jesus’ life and ministry, which were burned into their minds.  But also, with Jesus still being alive, His Spirit still worked, moved, led, and inspired their writings for a record for us (read the book of Acts, as well as 2 Timothy 3:16-17). 

Eyewitnesses are well and good (in fact, every NT book was written by an eyewitness to Jesus life and ministry, or was connected to one who had).  But 2 Peter 1:19-21 tells us that the word of God is “more sure” than any eyewitness. 

But do not discount that there were eyewitnesses.

Recently, I had the chance to watch a Founder’s Day service at my alma mater, Palm Beach Atlantic University, that honored Dr. Ray Robinson, who served as our choral director and helped shape the School of Music and Fine Arts into a truly Christ-centered school.  It was a beautiful thing to behold being in the midst of that. 

In the weeks leading up to this, I was on a Facebook thread with a number of former students who were contacted to see if we could all make it to honor him.  Even though I graduated from there almost 20 years ago, I remembered so many details of that life-changing, life-altering, and in many ways life-saving time, that I not only could recall details of it, I could correct anyone who may have remembered various events incorrectly. 

Imagine walking with Jesus for 3 1/2 years.  Imagine being either for him or against him.  Do you think that this man, for whom more literature and art and music has been dedicated, could remember clearly the details of this Man’s life? 

Some of you may reject this, saying it’s a fable or a myth.  But I submit that if these things were not so, and with Paul and the apostles being so public, that each of these things would have and could have been refuted right there on the spot.  Christians, by and large, are not naïve.  They want to know if it’s true and are seeking out its truth. 

But we also know that this is a historical and spiritual book.  Satan wants you to deny it, even while he knows it’s true (James 2:19) and our flesh wants to deny it in its fallen form simply because we were born with the desire to want to have authority over our own lives.  If we believe the historical matters are true, then we have to deal with the spiritual matters that are just as true.  We are sinners destined for judgment (Hebrews 9:27-28) and must surrender to Christ who bore the brunt and the wrath of that judgment on the behalf of all who would believe. 

This gospel declared and delivered also demolishes all strongholds set up against it.  If you reject this, then what stronghold is holding you so strongly?  Is it that reliable?  Consider this gospel in the midst of your other considerations. 

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Distinctives of the Gospel (from 1 Corinthians 15:1-2)

In the resurrection chapter, also known as 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul gives a defense of the necessity of the resurrection to not only the church but also the world.  In the first two verses, Paul gives four distinctives of not only how the gospel affects believers as well. 

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.

We must understand that the world ‘gospel’ means in essence “good news.”  I’ve been reminded that the gospel is not ‘good advice,’ telling us how we are to live in the future.  It is good news, telling us what has already been accomplished for us in Christ Jesus!

The gospel is preached to us 

Good news is heralded!  Too often, we are looking for a conversation about this in our times of corporate worship—but there are times when we need to stop and listen to what has already been done.  No conversation is necessary as to whether this is true or not.  Truth is absolute—never-changing.  Truth is not relative to the individual (“Well, that’s true for you, but it’s not true for me.”) 

Regardless of what others may say, the gospel is that which is heralded and proclaimed.  Paul says, “Him [being Jesus—see Colossians 1:27] we proclaim.”  There are times to talk about it, to field questions, to engage skeptics, and to strengthen believers in this.  But through it all, we do not waver in the fact that Jesus is alive—this is the essence of the good news!

The gospel is received by us.

When the gospel is received, no indication is given that we receive it based upon anything we do to earn it.   No, it is a gift we receive (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8 ).  This must be the language used when it comes to the gospel.  We hear much about ‘accepting’ the gospel, but this terminology is not found in Scripture.  We receive it as a gift from our Lord Jesus who purchased our salvation and provided forgiveness to God on our behalf.  We were objects of His wrath, “but God made us alive” (Ephesians 2:4). 

The gospel is that in which we stand

The resurrection matters because, without it, we have nothing on which to hang our hope.  The reality of the resurrection is that Christ accomplished that which makes us stand righteous before God—an imputed righteousness granted by Christ on our behalf (Romans 3:24-26).  Without this Good News, we can only rely on good advice to fuel our good works—neither of which will do our fallen selves any good at all. 

The gospel is that by which we are being saved.

The gospel not only justifies, removing the penalty of sin that was against us and putting that penalty on Christ—it sanctifies by progressively removing the power of sin by killing the flesh and empowering the Spirit! 

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Why Do You Seek the Living Among the Dead?

In Luke 24, we see that on the first day of the week (Sunday) at sunrise, they went to the tomb where Jesus laid. It was a beautiful tomb, owned by a member of the Jewish Supreme Court, Joseph of Arimathea. This man, like so many others, was looking for the kingdom of God, waiting for the Messiah to come and to rule and reign as promised.

On that Sunday, some women came to the tomb but noticed that the stone which was rolled at the entrance of the tomb, sealed, and guarded by two Roman guards for the purpose of keeping outsiders from coming in and stealing the body, was rolled aside. The body was gone. They were perplexed, the Scriptures tell us.

The two men standing beside the tomb “in dazzling apparel” were angels. During times of God’s incredible work and intervention, these angels would appear to help give some direction. An angel came to Joseph just after Mary told him that she would have Jesus, even though she was still a virgin. The angel came and gave direction to Joseph, saying that all was according to God’s plan—and that plan was, as the angel told Joseph, “to save His people from their sins.”

They asked an all-important question to these women,

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise” (Luke 24:5-7).

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Obviously, the immediate context is that you cannot find a living, healthy being whose vitals are strong whose permanent bodily residence is in a cemetery. I’m always reminded of how my father, every time we would pass a cemetery, he would say, “You know, son, people are just dying to get in there.” And why would they seek after Jesus, when He told them repeatedly that he would rise in three days?

Human history is dotted with those who seek after life among things that are dead, even among those who are more devout. When God created everything, Adam and Eve were tempted to seek life in a place that promised death—eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They thought they would truly live if they partook of what was forbidden—and even destructive.

In Exodus, the people of Israel were delivered by God through the cloud by day, pillar of fire by night, refreshed by the rock in the waters—through the Spiritual Rock that is Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1-6). As they were going to the Promised Land, and even with all the provision God gave them, they longed to find their life among the dead: they wanted to return to Egypt where they would die in slavery. Even when their leader, Moses, was away, they crafted a golden calf—a non-living (that is, dead) idol that would lead them.

In Isaiah 44:9-20, we read about a man who had a large piece of wood. He took half of that wood and went to a craftsman. That craftsman shaped the eyes, the mouth, every bit of it, then set it up in a tent and would worship that idol. With the other he uses it to cook his food. Listen to what Isaiah says:

He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats mean; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”

The Scriptures are littered with such examples of seeking life after dead things. But do we do this today?

Consider an automobile commercial I heard a few years ago touting the ‘soul’ of this certain brand when it hits the road. In reality, cars are just bits of metal, wire, and belts put together to function getting us from point A to point B.

Or consider a new service for married folks who wish to get what the recent movie called a “Hall Pass.” It’s a service where you can cheat (commit adultery) on your spouse, no questions asked. I remember talking to someone who was committing adultery against their spouse and said the reason they couldn’t discontinue it was because they “never felt more alive.” This demonstrates another example of seeing life among the dead-end of sin.

In fact, this is the paradox of sin: the very thing Satan tempts us to think will make us alive will actually make us dead. Even religiously devout folks find this out. The religious leaders began to count on something else besides the life-giving Word of God. In Mark 7, Jesus spoke to these leaders and quoted from the book of Isaiah:

This people honors me with their lips,

But their heart is far from me;

In vain do they worship me,

Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men

(Mark 7:6b-7; cf. Isaiah 29:13)

See, it’s not just bad things that can become objects of worship, it can even be good things. But there are good things—and there are God things. We were wired to worship—and ultimately, we are wired to worship the God of the living—the living God!

Remember how he told you… and they remembered.

Remember how the women were perplexed? The angel said these words, “Remember how he told you . . . .” What was it? Well, a number of places Jesus told the disciples what would happen. “… the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”

Then notice in 24:8: “And they remembered his words.” The word ‘must’ is of utmost importance. Rather than merely seeing Jesus turned over to the religious authorities and be an innocent man who was brutally executed, the angels reminded them that it must happen that way. Why?

Look with me at Hebrews 9:15-22:

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must b e established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Before us is a Lord’s Supper table, which signifies the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this He instituted a new covenant, instituted the night before His crucifixion. The first covenant, begun at the Passover was brought about through Moses. The only way to fulfill that was to keep every bit of God’s laws. But we couldn’t. Thus, the sacrifices of “the blood of calves and goats,” whose blood was to cleanse from sins.

But those things could not get to the heart of the matter. We were born with that DNA to pursue the living among the dead. Why? Because we are born dead in our sins (Psalm 51:4; Ephesians 2:1). But in order for that first “will” to be in force to redeem us fully from our sins, one had to die so it would be enacted. And the shedding of that blood set into motion the forgiveness of sins, cleansing us and redeeming us.

The angels called the women to remember what He told us. And they are calling us to do so as well. Allow me to ask you some questions:

  • Have you heard these words of Jesus before? The disciples had—but they hadn’t heard. You may be one here this morning who may have come with family and friends, and recall this account from many years back, but it’s been a while since you’ve encountered it. God brought you here this morning to you would hear them again, and not search for life among the dead things of this age.
  • Maybe you made a commitment to Jesus Christ at some point in your life. You may be one who comes every so often, you may be one who is here everytime the doors are open. Do you remember His words? Do you relish in His lavish love for you in how Jesus not only had to go to the cross, but willingly went. How much does that empty cross and empty tomb play in your life now? Is Christ a living reality in your life, or are you tampering trying to find life among the dead things of this world that will simply pass away?

Michael Horton said once,

The resurrection is the watershed in history, with dominion of sin and death falling into oblivion, losing its grip on its terrified subjects, and righteousness and life coming to reign. . . . The clock is running down on this present evil age. The first fruits of the harvest, Jesus Christ, has been raised, entering the everlasting Sabbath rest in conquest. The war in heaven is over, though insurgent battles must still be waged on earth.[1]


[1]Michael S. Horton, The Gospel Commission: Recovering God’s Strategy for Making Disciples (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011).

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