How many of us have been approached by someone who said, “I have some good news and some bad news, which do you want to hear first?” I am always tempted to say, “Give me the good news and keep the bad news to yourself!” But in life we will receive some bad news from time to time.
In fact I am sure that some of us feel like we have already received our share of bad news. Many of us have experienced troubles in our relationships. Some of us have experienced financial and business struggles. Others have experienced major health problems, spiritual dilemmas and so forth. For many this has been a year of extraordinary loss, hurt or grief.
On the first part of the week, we heard about the loss of Ed McManhons. Who could ever forget him on the tonight show, introducing Johnny Carson with those famous two words “Here’s Johnny”.
And on Thursday we heard about the loss of Farrah Fawsett. She loss her battle with cancer, and she was best known for her role as one of “Charlie’s Angel’s”.
And as we were digesting the loss of Farrah Fawsett, on that Thursday afternoon we heard of the loss of Michael Jackson, one of the greatest public Icons of out time.
I watched the heart-wrenching scenes on TV as many tried to come to grips with the tragedy. I heard actors and singing talk about how great this loss was. We all saw scenes on TV from when Michael started out with his brothers as the Jackson five, to moving on to a solo career.
I was in high school when they were breaking out as the Jackson Five. I remember when “I Want Ya Back” and “ABC’ hit the pop charts. I remember when they were introduced to the world on the Ed Sullivan Show and American Bandstand. I saw the Jackson Five in a concert in Buffalo, NY in the late 70’s. We dance from their music at our high prom. Back in the day, I even tried to learn how to “Moon Walk”. Of the millions of “Thriller LP’s that were sold, I bought one of them.
There were also some sad testimonies of people who were close to him saying that he was a lonely man. All the money and all the fame and yet he was a lonely man. Now if his death was difficult for the world to digest, how much more magnified it must have been for his birth mother, dad, and other brothers and sisters.
So my brothers and sisters, Thursday was a sad day.
But all that happened on Thursday reminded me about how the disciples and many others must have felt on the day Jesus died.
The death of Jesus has left his disciples devastated in grief. They had not only lost their teacher and their leader, but their best friend.
All of their hopes and dreams for the future rested in Him and now he was dead. All the meaning had disappeared from their lives.
Jesus had died on Friday; Joseph of Arimathea had courageously stepped forward to claim the body and prepare it for burial.
Joseph completed his preparations just before the Sabbath began at Sundown on Friday. The Sabbath had ended at sundown on Saturday and with the first light of Sunday morning the women had ventured forth to the tomb. We read what happened in Luke chapter twenty-four and beginning in verse one.
“Now on the first day of the week, very early in
the morning, they, and certain other women with
them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which
they had prepared. (2) But they found the stone
rolled away from the tomb. (3) Then they went in
and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. (4)
And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed
about this, that behold, two men stood by them in
shining garments. (5) Then, as they were afraid
and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to
them, "Why do you seek the living among the
dead? (6) "He is not here, but is risen! Remember
how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee,
(7) "saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered
into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and
the third day rise again.’" (8) And they remember-ed His words.” (NKJV)
In the words “He is risen” lies the difference between Christianity and every other religion in the world.
The followers of Confucius can go to his tomb and he is still there.
The tomb of Budda is likewise occupied.
One can make a journey to Mecca to the tomb of Mohammed, and he is there. But the tomb of Jesus is empty!
“A follower of Mohammed and a Christian were discussing their religions and had agreed that both Mohammed and Christ were prophets. Where then, lay the difference? The Christian illustrated it this way: ‘I came to a crossroads and I saw a dead man and a living man. Which one did I ask for directions?’ The response came quickly, ‘The living one, of course.’ ‘Why, then,’ asked the Christian, ‘do you send me to Mohammed who is dead, instead of Christ who is alive?’ This is the basic difference between Christ and all the other religious leaders. ll the others came into the world, lived, died – but none of the them lived again.”
The resurrection changes everything, Luke wants us to ponder the “so what” of the Jesus’ resurrection. What is it that the resurrection teaches us even today?
First of all, The Resurrection Assures Us That We Are Following The Right Person!
There are so many voices clamoring that they hold the truth about the existence of life. There are so many that we could follow. How can we be sure that Jesus is the right way to go? We live in an age that says that it is just not, politically correct to say that your religion is better than someone else’s. After all, if we’re sincere it doesn’t matter what you believe, right? Well, of course not. We can be sincere and still be sincerely wrong. Some things are just too important not to be sure of.
For example, I do my very best to see to it that when my family travels in an automobile that it is in a safe condition to do so. When we invest our money we want to know that there is a reasonable expectation of a return on our money. Likewise, the spiritual issues would be of extreme importance to us. This is not something we can afford to be wrong about. How can we be sure that following Jesus is the right road to travel. Turn to the book of Romans chapter one and verses 1 through 4.
1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.
Here the Apostle Paul says, (Romans 1:4) that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Did you catch that? I want you to underline two phrases in that verse. Underline where Paul says that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God”…and then in the later part of the verse underline how he says that he is declared to be the Son of God…”by the resurrection.” The resurrection proves that Jesus was who he said he is. He claimed to be God; and he proved his claim by coming out of the grave. The Resurrection was not only proof of who Jesus is but of what he had done.
The Resurrection Assures Us That We Are Following The Right Person! And…
Secondly, The Resurrection Assures Us That We Are Truly Forgiven!
Now I want you to turn in your Bible to 1 Corinthians 15. The Apostle Paul put the importance of the resurrection in perspective when he said, in 1 Corinthians 15:16-17, “(16) For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. (17) And if Christ is not risen, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins!” Our greatest need as humans is what to do with our sins. When we are honest we have to admit that we have them, the question is what can we do with them.
All the other “religions” in the world either ignore the sin problem or try to solve it through self-effort. There is no other religion that tells us that that leader has taken our sin upon himself and has died in our place except for Christianity. Jesus is the only hope of the world for forgiveness of sins, for he is the only one who has risen from the dead.
The Resurrection Assures Us That We Are Truly Forgiven! And…
Thirdly, The Resurrection Assures Us That There is Life Beyond the Grave.
The apostle Paul raises the question in 1 Corinthians 15:18-20, “Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. (19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (20) But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
Paul’s point is that because Jesus did indeed rise from the grave he has shown that he has
power over worst and most feared of enemies death and the grave. By saying that Jesus was the “first fruit of those who have died” (means that Christ’s resurrection is an earnest or prototype of resurrections to come). His resurrection is the proof that we to will live beyond the grave.
In John chapter eleven Jesus went to minister to the family of Mary and Martha, Lazarus their brother had died. In verse twenty-five of that chapter Jesus made a profound statement about belief, “Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life: He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” Verse 26 “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die”.
Jesus said to Thomas in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”[g]
55 “ O Death, where is your sting?[h]
O Hades, where is your victory?”[i]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.