Easter, 2013

Ten Lessons from the Resurrection of Jesus

Intro:  Well over three hundred verses are concerned with the subject of Jesus’ resurrection in the New Testament. But first let’s think for a moment about the timing here. Last week we celebrated the day of his rising. It is now a week after Jesus rose. In the Gospel narratives this would be about the time the disciples, or some of them at least, were just discovering for themselves that he was really alive. Or to be more accurate, when Jesus revealed himself to them. For a week they had been hearing from some, most notably the women, that he had risen. What were they thinking as they came together again a week later? We know what they came to think because the NT has so much to say about it.

The fact of the resurrection is pervasive in NT narrative, preaching and theological reflection. So let’s go through some of the high points about as the NT presents these things to us. So let me offer you ten key lessons that the NT writers draw from the resurrection of Jesus.

1. We are told that this event is a sign for unbelievers in Jesus’ own words: Matthew 12:38-40; cf. John 20:24-29.

At first I asked this text, why no sign? First of all, Jesus did not perform miracles on demand. Furthermore, they had already seen signs if they were paying attention. But most of all I realized that what the text says in effect is No sign except the best sign!

But there is more to this text. The Jonah story was not universally popular among Jews. After all it tells the story of the redemption of Israel’s enemies. Furthermore some Jews justified Jonah because they felt that his heart was for his own people Israel and that he did not want Israel shamed by those foreign pagans. So Jesus’ illustration may have rubbed them the wrong way.

2. But unbelievers are not the only ones who doubt. Believers do as well, and the resurrection is the answer for the believer’s doubt: Luke 24:38-43. We saw this last week in the case of the apostles, and noted that while it is Thomas that gets saddled with the description of doubt, it was actually all the apostles that doubted.

3. The resurrection, when coupled with the cross, is the center of the gospel itself: 1 Corinthians 15:1-19; Romans 4:24-25, 10:9, 10.

Paul could not be clearer. If Christ is not raised here are the consequences:

v. 14 our preaching is in vain.

v. 15 we are misrepresenting God.

v. 17 your faith is futile.

v. 17 you are still in your sins. This is the case because the crucifixion and   resurrection are a package deal. As Paul puts it in Romans 4:25, He “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

v. 18 Christians who have died are lost.

v. 19 we Christians are to be pitied above all people.

4. It provides the reason for the total commitment of our lives:1 Cor. 15:57-58 reads, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore (i.e. considering all I have just written about the resurrection), my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

5. It serves as the guarantee that Jesus’ teachings are true: Acts 2:22-24, 36. The apostles and other disciples had believed the teachings of Jesus, but when he was arrested and crucified they naturally began to doubt. This is not unlike many cases that we know about or experience. We seem to be getting along fine in the faith and then something very bad happens, perhaps something totally unexpected. Now our faith is shaken and perhaps even forsaken. We may be mad at God. Perhaps we toy with the thought that surely God does not care, or perhaps he does not even exist. What God worthy of worship would make such a world? What God worthy of our faith would govern the world this way? Surely, our faith as been in vain, we may think. Thoughts such as these may very well have troubled the disciples. Have they ever troubled you?

6. Further, the resurrection is the driving force for evangelism: Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 10:39-43.

7. It is the key to the believer’s daily power to live the Christian life: Rom. 6:4-14, 7:4ff, 8:9-11; Phil. 3:10. We looked at this some last week.

8. The fact that Jesus is the resurrection and the life even addresses the fear of death: John 11:25; 1 Cor. 15:54-58; cf. Hebrews 2:14-15.

9. The resurrection, especially when coupled with the ascension, is directly related to the second coming of Jesus: Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7.

10. Lastly, this event is a model of the Christian’s resurrection from the dead (Acts 4:2; 1 Cor. 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and provides a foretaste of heaven for the believer (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Peter 1:3-5).

Conclusion: Again I will stress that every view is a point-of-view. Are we seeing the risen Christ by faith. He said to Thomas, “You have seen and believe. Blessed are those who have not seen and believe.” Leonard Sweet tells a story to illustrate that faith has to do with how we see. Two shoe salesmen were sent to a third world country to sell shoes. After a while one of them telegraphs back that no one there has shoes and so how could he sell shoes there. He wants to come home. The other sends a telegram saying, this is a fabulous assignment. No one here has shoes. Please send me 5,000 pair immediately.

From which point of view do you see Jesus and his message? The fields are still ripe for harvest. The people you know who are in unbelief or doubt are hungry for something true and real. Go and tell them. Invite them in. They have no “shoes” and you have what they need.