Christ the King Who Conquers Death

Easter 2023  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  16:28
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John 20:1-18 and Luke 23:25-24:12
Scene 1. Jesus is Risen!
It is the central truth of Christianity.
Without it we have nothing.
A cardinal fact and doctrine of the gospel is this.
If Christ has not risen, our faith is in vain.
The Apostle Paul understood this fact listen to his words in 1 Cor. 15:14-23
1 Corinthians 15:14–23 NLT
14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. 20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. 21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. 23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.
The whole of the New Testament rests on this as an historical fact.
On the day of Pentecost Peter argued the necessity of Christ’s resurrection. (Acts 2:24–28).[1]
Jesus himself clearly indicates the fact of his resurrection in Matt. 20:19; Mark 9:9; 14:28; Luke 18:33; and John 2:19–22.
It is the central truth of the Gospel.
Jesus was crucified, died was buried and was raised to life on the third day.
He appeared to his followers for some 40 days and then ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father.
The Gospel writers gave their eyewitness accounts of the facts.
Scene 2. But have you even stopped to consider how brutally honest the gospel accounts are about the crucifixion and resurrection.
You see if you were going to make up something and try to pass it off as fact you wouldn’t include many of the things the gospel writers included.
Let’s start with the report about the burial clothes.
In John’s Gospel chapter 20 we read
John 20:3–9 NLT
3 Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. 4 They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, 7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. 8 Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed—9 for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead.
Now think about this.
Even if the disciples did steal the body.
Would they have put in the story about the chief priests bribing soldiers to say the disciples stole the body when they were asleep.
You wouldn’t suggest it, especially if you did it.
And you wouldn’t suggest something which everyone at the time knew wouldn’t happen.
Soldiers at that time didn’t fall asleep.
The death penalty made sure of it.
A bunch of scared fishermen who had just run away, wouldn’t go stealing the body of their slaughtered leader from hardened soldiers.
They had lost, they were in hiding.
Matthew Henry in his “Commentary,” on John 20:1–10, fittingly remarks,
“The grave-clothes in which Christ had been buried were found in very good order, which serves for an evidence that his body was not ‘stolen away while men slept.’ Robbers of tombs have been known to take away ‘the clothes’ and leave the body; but none ever took away ‘the body’ and left the clothes, especially when they were ‘fine linen’ and new (Mark 15:46). Anyone would rather choose to carry a dead body in its clothes than naked. Or if they that were supposed to have stolen it would have left the grave-clothes behind, yet it cannot be supposed they would find leisure to ‘fold up the linen.’” [2]
Let’s look at another detail that the gospel writers include.
The women were the first witnesses of the resurrection.
Now if you were in a middle eastern culture such as Israel 2000 years ago and were trying to convince people that you weren’t mad and your leader had come back to life after being crucified and speared in the heart.
You wouldn’t include the fact that the women were the first to see it and tell you about it.
The testimony of a woman didn’t count for much in those days.
You would be laughted out of town.
You can just imagine the response. “What he came back to life after being flogged, crucified and speared and you believe this because some women told you.”
In fact you wouldn’t include any of Jesus’ ministry to women.
It was scandalous, but Jesus did it because it was right.
If you were seeking to convince people of your story.
You wouldn’t put such things in.
But the Gospel writers did.
They put it in because that is how it happened.
It didn’t help their story.
But the brutal honesty about their own failures.
Honesty about who was involved
Honesty about their reaction
All point to one thing and one thing only
Scene 3. Jesus is risen, just as he said he would and his followers didn’t even try to make it sound convincing, they told it as it really happened, because it is true.
The importance of Christ’s resurrection is this; if he rose the gospel is true, and if he rose not, it is false.
Christianity is in its very essence a resurrection religion,” says Dr. John Stott. “The concept of resurrection lies at its heart. If you remove it, Christianity is destroyed.”
Let us be sure of this.
In every century, brilliant minds have set out to prove that the resurrection is a lie and in all intellectual honesty have been convinced it is truth.
One of the latest is Lee Strobel.
A Chicago Tribune Legal writer.
Who went from atheist to apologist for Christianity.
If you want real evidence.
I suggest you read Lee Stroble’s books.
The Case For Christ
Or the Case for the Real Jesus.
In short there is more than enough evidence for the Jesus that the church has always taught.
And the current challenges to Christianity that are so prevelant on the internet are simply rubbish, easily refuted by anyone who is willing to take the time to examine things properly.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ affirms to us that He is indeed the Son of God, just as He claimed to be (Rom. 1:4).
It also proves that His sacrifice for sin has been accepted and that the work of salvation is completed (Rom. 4:24–25).
Those who trust Him can “walk in newness of life” because He is alive and imparts His power to them (Rom. 6:4; Gal. 2:20).
Our Lord’s resurrection also declares to us that He is the Judge who will come one day and judge the world (Acts 17:30–31). [3]
It proved him to be the Son of God, he said he would rise again and by so doing it authenticated all his claims (John 2:19; 10:17).
Scene 4. You can’t escape the truth of the resurrection, you have to do something about it, what will you do?
You can try to ignore it.
But in essence that is denying it.
You can fight against it.
Not only is that denying it, it is also setting yourself up as the judge of God
Or you can accept it
As Strobel puts it.
Jesus is uniquely divine, miraculous, prophecy fulfilling and resurrected.
That puts us in the place of being beholden to him.
We are neither personally superior or morally independent.
He is God and we’re not.
Jesus is God incarnate and he demands not just too much.
He demands everything.
The great writer C. S. Lewis said,
“The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, “Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good .... Hand over the whole natural self, all desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours” (C S.Lewis - Mere Christianity)
Christ is Risen.
The Church has declared it since the days of the Apostles.
It is the central fact of history
And it has enormous implications for each and every one of us.
The question is simple.
You accept it and let it change your life.
Or you fight it and fight God.
But why would you fight God when he loves you with all his being and desires that you live a full life now and spent eternity joyfully in his presence.
Believing the Resurrection requires faith,
But it is reasonable faith
Faith that makes sense.
I invite you today to accept the resurrection and find real freedom.
[1]Easton, M.G.: Easton's Bible Dictionary. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996, c1897 [2]Easton, M.G.: Easton's Bible Dictionary. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996, c1897 [3]Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. Lk 24:1
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