Matthew 28:1-15: 1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
What must it have been like to be so close to Jesus for 3 ½ years, sharing meals with Him, walking and talking with Him daily, listening to Him teach? What was it like to see Jesus lay His hands on a blind man and suddenly the man could see, or to lay hands on the deaf man and suddenly he could hear, or to witness Jesus giving a command to the lame man to pick up his bed and walk, and see him suddenly rise up for the first time in years? What was it like to see the demons screaming out in terror of Jesus as they exited the people they were tormenting, because the King of kings had commanded them to leave? What was it like to see this amazing Man, the Son of God, calm the wind and the waves with a command, multiply the bread and fish, and raise the dead? What was it like after 3 ½ years of these amazing experiences, to see Jesus arrested, falsely accused at his trial, severely beaten, mocked with a crown of thorns and a royal robe, and then crucified with nails in His hands and feet?
Devastating! Heart-breaking! Crushing! Overwhelming!!
But then it happened—three days later, the most incredible event in history that completely changed everything!
The resurrection of Jesus was a transformative event. After the crucifixion, the followers of Jesus were hiding out behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. They were afraid they may be next to be arrested and executed. In fact, one of the amazing proofs of the resurrection of Jesus is that these servants of God went out and preached the resurrection of Jesus at the cost of their lives. There is no way that they would have suffered the way they did for a lie, such as the lie the religious leaders wanted the people to believe—that the disciples stole His body during the night. The first time they were faced with hungry lions or the whipping post, they would have said: “Just kidding. We made it up. We recant.”
But, that is not what happened! The disciples of Jesus were so completely convinced that Jesus is a alive that they were willing to be arrested, whipped, imprisoned, crucified, thrown to the lions, and so on—for the truth that Jesus is alive!!
The resurrection of Jesus is the reality that separates the Christian faith from all other faiths. The religious leaders who founded the other religions of the world are all dead and gone—in many cases you can find the tomb where they lay. But, if you visit the tomb of Jesus, you will find it to be empty—Hallelujah, Jesus is alive!
When loved ones who have walked with Jesus come to the end of their lives, the resurrection means everything to us, because suddenly the truth speaks soothingly to our hearts that death is not the end for our loved ones, but rather a transition from this life into the eternal, because Jesus has conquered death! The apostle Paul wrote those beautiful words in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (KJV). What a beautiful truth!
The resurrection of Jesus is key to the Christian faith. Some years ago I was ministering to a married couple. The wife wanted to give her life to Jesus and be baptized into him, and the husband desperately wanted to join his wife in believing, but he was stuck on the doctrine of the resurrection. He said, in essence, “I want to believe, but I just cannot seem to get there.”
I suddenly realized that he had a spiritual block, and that if he truly wanted to believe God would help him to get there—because that is the will of God. So, I asked him if I could lay hands on him and pray for him. He agreed.
I laid hands on his head and prayed something along the lines: “Loving Father, You know that Sam (name changed) here wants to believe in You, and You have said if we ask anything, according to Your will, You hear us and we have what we have asked of You. So, I pray now, in Jesus’ Name, that you will open Sam’s heart and mind to believe in the truth of the resurrection.”
Suddenly, Sam said, “I believe. I believe.” He had an amazing look of joy on his face, and his body began to tremble, and he said, “Look, my body is shaking.” With tears of joy Sam had, by the grace of Christ, experienced the power of the resurrected Christ saving His soul, and he actually experienced the Holy Spirit’s beautiful Presence.
Sam and his wife were baptized just minutes later, and began a new life in Christ.
What does the resurrection mean for you? How does it give you hope? Sometimes, I discover Christians who are feeling despair because their loved one may have died without Jesus. However, I will point out to people in these circumstances that we have no way of knowing whether our loved ones reached out to Jesus before they died. As I mentioned in last Sunday’s message, the thief on the cross is proof that the grace of Christ can be extended even upon the deathbed, if the person reaches out to Him in sincere repentance and faith.
The question we need to address, is what will I do with the resurrection? What will you do with the resurrection? Will you allow the truth of what Christ has done to permeate every area of your life? Will you and I choose to live in the power of the Holy Spirit who is the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead?
Friend, Jesus is alive. If you have not surrendered your life to Him, I urge you to do so today. Go to Christ in prayer, confess your sins to Him, repent—turn away from your sins—and invite Jesus into your heart. And then, at the first opportunity you get to identify with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus through baptism by immersion under water, I urge you to obediently be baptized. Giving your life to Jesus is the best decision you will ever make in your life. Let the resurrected Christ live in and through you. Commit to serving Jesus with a local church where the Bible is still believed and taught as the true Word of God that it is! Live an uncompromising life of faith and trust in Jesus. Let Jesus shine in and through you so that others may be reached with this glorious Good News!!
Let’s pray: Father, I pray in Jesus’ most powerful and holy Name, the Name that is above every name, that You will saturate with Your loving Presence each person hearing or reading these words, each person reaching out to You and seeking You. Release Your amazing grace and forgiveness, and fill people with Your Holy Spirit, with peace, with hope, and with faith. Release the power of Your Presence, with the beauty of Your tender mercies and compassionate grace, and fill us fresh with Your Holy Spirit. Lord, we ask You to bring awakening, revival, renewal, deliverance, and freedom to this world that is in turmoil. Bring an end to the Coronavirus disease, and to the spiritual blindness of the hearts of mankind. And, draw the people of this world into a deep abiding relationship with You. We pray all of this, in Jesus’ Precious Name. Amen.
I encourage you to use the link below and listen to the song, “He’s Alive” performed by the Gaither Vocal Band. I believe this song will lift your faith and spirit to an even higher level:
Blessings in Christ Jesus,
"Jesus Is Our Passover Lamb"
Greetings Destiny Church and blessings to you. We miss meeting together with you, and think of you often. I pray that you are all keeping healthy and safe, and that you are fellowshipping with the Lord and with one another.
As I have been serving as a hospital chaplain during this trying season, I have encountered so many anxious people—anxious patients, anxious nurses and doctors, and, yes, even chaplains. I have had my own moments where I had to grab my prayer journal, go sit with the Lord, and seek His peace through His Word and prayer.
As I was walking into the hospital yesterday, someone has written with colored chalk on the sidewalk encouraging messages to the hospital staff about the life-changing ministry they are providing. I had to look up in order to keep from crying because it was so touching I began to get choked up.
I saw a nurse who was sitting by herself in silence, and the stress was evident on her face. She is working on one of the Coronavirus Units. I talked with her and asked her what she does to help her come to a place of peace. She said, “Well, a while ago I went outside to get some fresh air, and I just cried.” I encouraged her to let the tears flow when she needs to, as that is a release. And then, with permission, I prayed with this nurse and invited the Prince of Peace to come and release His peace and protection upon her.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the crucifixion of Christ as we are in the Easter Season. I read from 1 Corinthians 5:6 which says: “…For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.”
I’ve been meditating on that passage: Jesus is our Passover Lamb.
Think about the story of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. On the night that the Lord was sending out the destroyer to strike down the firstborn in the land of Egypt, the Israelites escaped the wrath of God by applying the blood of the Passover Lamb to the lintel and the two doorposts of their home. Any home that had the blood applied to the door frame was passed over by the destroyer.
The Bible says that “…the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Because of the purifying, cleansing, power of the blood of Christ, the wrath of God passes over us, and we come under the protection of our Heavenly Father. That doesn’t mean we won’t have hardships and trials. Remember, Jesus was hung on a cross. But, it does mean that we will never be alone, no matter what we face. And, it means that we are assured a place in our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom for eternity. Listen to the account of one of the first people to receive the forgiveness that comes from applying the blood of Christ to their life:
Luke 23:33-43: 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. ” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Already, before Jesus had even breathed His last breath, the blood of Jesus was doing it’s cleansing work. All it took was for the thief on the cross to acknowledge His own sins, and to call out to Jesus those nine life changing words: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. ”
Jesus didn’t start lecturing him about all of his sins that had led to him being put on the cross as a thief. Jesus didn’t dangle them in front of him in shame. Jesus listened to the repentant heart of this thief and in compassionate love Jesus applied His Passover blood to this thief so that the wrath of God would pass over him and he would have a place in His Father’s Kingdom. 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
This past week, I spoke with at least two people who have family members who have died of the Coronavirus. I’m not in any way suggesting these people died because of their sins. I don’t think this plague is working like that. But, one thing that I hope is happening in this world is that people are taking an inventory of their lives, looking around them at what is important, searching their souls, realizing the brevity and uncertainty of life, and calling out to Jesus in repentance and trust. The blood of Jesus must be applied to all of our lives, if we would choose to have a place in Heaven with Jesus.
I know most if not all of you are likely believers in Christ. But, I want to urge, if in your soul searching you discover that you have never invited Christ into your heart, that you have not turned your life over to Him, or that you have not been living for Him, apply the blood of Jesus to your life by calling out to Him in prayer. It doesn’t take a lot of words. It only took the thief nine words to transform his life, and change his eternal destiny. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. ” Invite Jesus into your life. Surrender to him.
After the resurrection of Jesus, on the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter told the crowd of people who had participated in crucifying Jesus how they could apply the blood of Christ to their lives:
Acts 2:38 states: 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Father, we pray, in Jesus’ Name, that You would awaken the hearts and minds of the people of this world to realize the wonderful love You have shown to us in sending Your Son to die for us. We pray for awaking and revival. We pray that people will be turning to you in faith and repentance. We pray this virus will be obliterated, and that people will pour into Your church with a new zeal for You—eyes fixed upon Jesus. Oh Lord, these are scary times we are living in. But, Jesus is the Prince of peace. Release Your peace and grant Your protection. Provide wisdom and guidance to the leaders of our nation and of Your church. Come, and reveal Yourself to the people of this world. We pray all of this, with love and faith, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.