What Does It Mean? Why Does It Matter?
Today is Easter Sunday. Easter is the most important Christian holiday that there is. It is the day that we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. In 1990 George Gallup took a survey and found that 84% of the people he talked to believed in the resurrection of Jesus. That’s good because the resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact. Jesus rose from the grave. It didn’t happen in secret. If it would have happened in our time CNN would be covering it live. There are at least 15 historical records found in the scriptures of Jesus meeting people - touching people - eating with people and talking with people after He rose from the dead. At one time a crowd of 500 people saw Him after the resurrection. There should be no doubt in our minds that the resurrection is a historical fact.
Today I want us to ask two questions about the resurrection. The first is, “What does it mean?” And the second is like it, “What does it matter?”
Let’s look at the first question. “Why does the resurrection mean?”
1. It means Jesus is who He CLAIMS He is
Do you know who Jesus claimed to be? Think about this for a minute. Jesus never claimed to be a great religious leader. He never claimed to be a great prophet. He never claimed to be a Man of God. But He did claim to be the Son of God. By claiming this title – He claimed to be equal with God.
To the religious leaders of that time to say you are the Son of God means that you are saying you are equal with God. You are saying you have God’s authority, that you have God’s power, that you are a direct descendant of God and that you are part of God’s blood line. This, of course to them, was blasphemy. No one could be equal with God unless you were the Son of God. This is exactly what Jesus claimed.
Let me ask you a couple questions this morning. Who has the power to forgive sin? God does. Who has the power to raise people up from the dead? God does. Who has the power to grant eternal life? God does. Did you know Jesus did all of these things? He forgave sin - He raised people from the dead - He told people that they would be with Him in heaven. He claimed to be equal with the Father because He was. We as Christians believe that Jesus is God in the flesh. God became flesh and dwelt among men. This is what Jesus claimed. Follow along in Matthew chapter sixteen:
“He (Jesus) said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 16:15-17 (NKJV)
You see when Jesus claimed to be “The Son of God” He was saying He was equal with the Father. He has the power to grant eternal life. Here are a couple other claims Jesus made. Follow along with me in a couple passages out of the gospel of John.
“Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life.” John 11:25 (NKJV)
“Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:6 (NKJV)
These are pretty strong claims. He claims to be “the” resurrection and “the” life. He also claims to be “the” way, “the” truth, and “the” life”. Notice He doesn’t say that He is “a” way. He doesn’t say He is “one” way. He doesn’t say I’m “just a” way. No, He says He is the way. All roads lead to heaven is a lie. That’s like saying I can pick up a phone and dial any number I want to on the phone and it will connect to my house. It’s just not true. Jesus is who He claims to be. He is the Son of God. He is the Messiah. He is THE Savior not just "a" savior. The resurrection shows that Jesus is who He claims He is.
2. It means Jesus has the POWER He claims to have
Look at John chapter ten with me:
“No one takes My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." John 10:18 (NKJV)
No one could keep Him in the tomb. The Romans killed Him. They made sure He was dead. They took a spear and opened up His side. Blood and water flowed from the wound. They were sure He was dead. They took Him and put Him in a tomb. They sealed the tomb with a heavy stone. They placed guards at the entrance to make sure no one bothered the grave. The guards were there 24 hours a day. Yet they could not stop Him from rising from the dead. He said, “I lay my life down and I can lift it up again.” No matter what you do – you can’t keep a good man down.
The grave is empty because He said He would rise again. That is why the tomb is empty. That is why there was no one there – wrapped up – dead – and buried. He had the power to rise from the dead and He did. He is the resurrection and the life. He has the power He claims He has.
3. It means Jesus DOES what He says He will do
What does He say He will do? He says He will rise from the grave. Now it’s one thing to say that and it’s another thing to do it. Any one can claim that they will rise from the grave – but only one has. Only one person in all of history has risen from the dead with a resurrected body.
I know what some of you are thinking right now. Some of you are saying, “I’ve heard of people who have been brought back from the dead.” In fact the Bible is full of stories of people who have risen from the dead. There are even people today who have died and come back to life. Some of you may even have relatives who have been clinically dead and have been resuscitated. But let me tell you that resuscitation is NOT resurrection. People who are resuscitated will die again. People who have been resurrected will never die again. There is a huge difference. Those who have been resuscitated will still age. They will still get sick. They will die again. At some point their bodies will give out. At some point their bodies will give up. At some point their bodies will stop functioning and they will die again.
Folks that is not what happened to Jesus. He came back with a body that would never die again. He came back with a body that would never grow old. He came back with a perfect body - a resurrected body. Follow along with me in John chapter 11.
“Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (NKJV)
When Jesus came back in a resurrected body He came back to live forever. There was no more aging process. There is no more death. There was no more pain. He came back with a resurrected body - the only one who has come back that way. Only one person in all of history has come back that way - and that is Jesus.
Jesus is who He claims He is. Jesus has the power He says He has. Jesus was able to do what He said He would do. He said that He would be resurrected from the dead and He was.
But let’s ask a different question now: Why does the resurrection matter?
Because Jesus is who claims to be, because Jesus has the power He claims to have and because Jesus can do what He says He can do…
1. Your sin can be FORGIVEN
Read along with me Romans 6:23:
“For the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans 6:23 (NKJV)
Circle the word “but” in that verse. I like that word. I like it because of what it says right before that word. The wages of sin is death - BUT. The BUT tells me there is a change that is about to take place. Something bad was about to happened – BUT. But God can change that.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NKJV)
Just ask Him – He’ll cover your sin. He’ll fix your situation. Not only will He forgive your sin.
2. You can have a purpose for LIVING.
Look at the next verse with me.
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 (NKJV)
Jesus came that we may have life. Not just life in the some future time but life in the here and now. The same power that enabled Jesus to rise from the dead will help you face life. The same power that resurrected Jesus two thousand years ago can be in your life right now. If Jesus can rise from the grave you can rise above any problems you may have. You don’t know what the future holds. Neither do I. But I know the One who holds the future. You may feel that life is out of control for you – but let me tell you it’s not out of control for God. He can give you a purpose for living. And -
3. You can have a home in HEAVEN.
We looked at this verse earlier. Let’s look at it again. It’s John 11.
“Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever.” John 11:25-26
Where are you going when you die? You can go where Jesus went. Where is He? He is in a place called Heaven.
Did you know that there is only one way to get to Heaven? You have to believe in Jesus. You have to be a friend of His.
A father took his son to a carnival one time for his birthday. The son asked six of his friends to go along. The father bought a whole roll of tickets for the seven boys. Each time the boys would get to a ride, the father would pull out seven tickets so all the boys to ride. They went through several rides until they came to the Ferris Wheel. The father took out seven tickets and handed them to the boys but he seemed to be one short. When he did a head count the father found that there were eight boys instead of seven. He asked the eighth boy, "Who are you?" The boy said, “I am Joe. I’m your son’s new friend. We just met today and he said that you would give me a ticket.” Did Joe get a ticket – absolutely! Any friend of the son will be taken care of by the father.
Let us pray.
“Father you have told us that there is only one way that we can get to heaven and that is by having a relationship with your son Jesus. I pray that we all would come to Jesus – ask for forgiveness – and believe in the power that raised Him from the grave. May our sins be forgiven, may we have a purpose for living and may we have a home in Heaven. Amen.”