Saturday, March 22, 2008

My Easter Preparation - Saturday

What happened after the crucifixion? Friday night, Saturday, even Sunday morning... What were the disciples and the other followers of Jesus doing? Not much, so far as we can tell. About the only thing Scripture records is that some of the ladies prepared some spices for the dead body of Jesus.

Read Mark 16:1-3 and Luke 24:1-4.

It seems like the followers of Jesus were in shock. It seems like they thought it was all over. "Our hero, our leader, our Messiah is dead."

Were they expecting the resurrection? Were they waiting anxiously for His return? Were they eager to go out into the world to proclaim the victory of Christ on the cross? No. It was over.

Sure, Jesus was a great teacher, but there have been other great teachers. Not as great, but great none-the-less. And yes, Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, but He was not the first (or the last) to make such a claim. And Jesus died a violent and terrible death, that He seemed to have predicted, but what real meaning does that have now? He is dead.

But you know the rest of the story... Something happens and the disciples perk up and live the rest of their lives proclaiming the greatness of Christ and imploring people to give up everything to follow Him. What was the difference? What changed the disciples from disappointed mourners to bold crusaders?

The resurrection!

I think most Christians lose sight of the importance of the resurrection. That is what I want you to focus on today.

We do not follow Jesus because of His teachings... (even though His teachings are always correct and helpful)

We do not follow Jesus because of His love... (even though He has loved more than any other)

We do not follow Jesus because of His perfect life... (even though He is the only person live a sinless life)

We do not follow Jesus because of His death on the cross... (even though it is through that death that our sins may be forgiven)


You might ask, 'Noel, why do you follow Jesus? Why not Buddha, why not Mohammed or Allah, why not New Age, why not Scientology, why not Sun-Myung-Moon?

At the risk of oversimplifying things let me give you a straight, honest answer...

I follow Christ not primarily because of His teachings, wisdom, lifestyle, or death, but I follow Christ because He said He would die and three days later come back to life, and then He did it!

I follow Christ (and His teachings, wisdom, lifestyle, and death) because of His resurrection. And I believe that is the very same answer you would have gotten from any of the disciples.

After seeing Christ live, after hearing Him teach, after watching Him die, they were about ready to quit. But when He rose from the grave, that changed everything!

You can read how the apostle Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 15:1-26.

After reading through those verses once, go back and focus on these one at a time.

1 Corinthians 15:14 NKJ And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.

1 Corinthians 15:17 NKJ And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

So what does Paul say our faith hinges upon? The resurrection.

And when Paul is trying to prove the validity of Christianity, what does he appeal to? Re-read these next verses...

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 NKJ For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

Paul didn't try to prove Jesus was the Messiah based on His teachings, wisdom, lifestyle, or death. No, Paul offered one thing as proof that Jesus was the Messiah: All of these people saw Him resurrected!

We don't believe He is resurrected because of His teachings. Rather we believe His teachings because He is resurrected.

It is difficult to really teach this principle in the short space of this blog, but pray and ask God to help you see the importance of the resurrection and then join us tomorrow as we worship Him for the 'power of the resurrection.

Pastor Noel