(11/1) Anyone like to walk through Old Grave yards and read tombstones? They can be interesting and sad. Each one contains a story. Perhaps you like to visit the grave of a loved one as an opportunity to keep their memory alive.
There are some pretty impressive tombs in the world. Consider:
- The Egyptian Pyramids Ė the tombs of the Pharaohís with all their wealth and secrets.
- The Taj Mahal in India- considered one of the 8 wonders of the world, built by an emperor of the 17th century as the tomb for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
- In Red Square in Moscow is the crystal casket of Vladimir Lenin.
- In London there is Westminster Abbey or the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter- Westminster, where English Monarchs as Queen Elizabeth I, and Queen Mary, for whom Maryland is named, as well as Missionary David Livingston and Evolutionist Charles Darwin are buried.
- In Medina, Saudi Arabia, Mohammedís grave is guarded and visited by devote Muslims.
- In Arlington Va. There is the sobering Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers; the grave of President John Kennedy, and the rows of white crosses, reminding us of those who have served our country many to the point of giving their lives.
Regardless of their elaborate designs and ornamentation, they along with every other grave, are permanent reminders of the death and decay that each and every one of us faces. Set against all of these is the simple cave like tomb in which the body of The Lord Jesus Christ was buried. Unlike all the others, that tomb is empty. The Reason it is empty is
because Jesus Christ is alive. No other explanation is possible. Marx, Lenin, Muhammed, and every other religious leader, philosopher, or king is dead or will die. Even those who were revived have died again. But Jesus of Nazareth is Alive.
Letís stand and recite the Apostleís Creed
I. On the Third Day He Rose Again
In this one sentence we have one of the two most distinguishing points of our faith in Jesus Christ. The first is the love and grace of God that no other religion refers to; that is, that God would give Himself for His creatures as He would suffer and die on a cross for them and then forgive them and adopt them as His children. That is a love beyond
comprehension. And it is the first half of our Gospel message. "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 buriedÖ" (1 Cor. 15:3-4a). His suffering and His death were FOR OUR sins. That is love and grace.
The proof that He died, was dead, is that He was buried. Wrapped in 75-100 lbs of spices and wrapped in cloth like a mummy, He was laid in a tomb that was sealed with a huge stone and the wax and seal of Rome. The Jewish leaders had remembered that He said He would rise and they were determined that, that would not happen so they asked Pilate to seal
the tomb. With wax, rope, the Roman seal in the wax, and a guard posted. He was dead as we left Him last week.
But the second distinguishing mark of our Faith is that He did not stay dead. Paul says, "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." (1 Cor. 15:4b-7)
Five things to remember about this part of the creed. The Resurrection was:
A. Prophesied Ė Letís go back quickly to Isaiah 53 and pick up with verse 10: Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. 11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the
great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors. The one who would die for sins would see the results of His sacrifice and would justify many, that is those would believe, or stake their lives on. Paul says
concerning Abraham and us, "He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness." And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness." 23 Now it was not written for his
sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification."
Psalm 16:10-11 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Both Peter in Acts 2 and Paul in Acts 13 refer to these verses to say that David is dead and his tomb is still occupied. This could only be referring to Jesus whose tomb is empty. The prophecy is that one would die, and not remain dead or in the grave.
Throughout our Lordís ministry He implied or expressly said that He would die and rise again. In John 2 He said that if they destroyed the Temple he would raise again in 3 days. They thought He was referring to the Temple in Jerusalem, but John Says he was referring to His death and Resurrection. He told sign seekers in Matthew 12, that He would give
them no sign except the sign of Jonah. That is, that just as Jonah was 3 days in the fishís belly, so He would be dead 3 days and would rise again. But in Matthew 16 and several times afterward He told them directly that He would be killed and would rise again in 3 days. It was because of these pronouncements that the Jews wanted to guard His tomb. His disciples apparently
did not listen or believe that until He appeared to them afterward as is illustrated by Thomas in John 20.
Nearly every sermon or teaching opportunity that is recorded in Acts includes the Resurrection of Jesus as the central part of the Gospel. This is the Good news, our God is alive, He is Lord and He is Christ. There is no Gospel truth without the Resurrection. We would not know that our sins are forgiven. We like the Muslims would be preaching a hope so
religion without any guarantees.
How do we know He is alive?
1. The witnesses Ė Jesus appeared to over 500 people Paul says in 1 Cor. 15. The Women and Mary Magdalene, the 11 Apostles, the Two on the road to Emmaus, James His brother, Paul and others.
2. The guards at the sealed tomb- the empty tomb may have costs them their lives, and certainly no one would attempt to steal the body or they would have been killed.
3. The frightened and hiding disciples. They certainly had no intention on perpetrating a hoax. They were scared that there would be 11 more crosses and so they hid in an upper room, perhaps where they had the last supper.
4. The boldness of the disciples to pronounce that He is alive and their willingness to die for that belief. Everything changed for them because they saw the risen Lord Jesus.
What does that mean for us? A lot that we donít have the time to cover but for now, consider:
1. Our sins are indeed paid for. (Romans 5:25)
2. We know that there is eternal life for us. Because He lives, He said, that we would live also in John 14:19. When we die and we will die, we will be immediately escorted into His presence (2 Cor. 5:7-10). I do not have to fear death anymore.
3. The Holy Spirit is with us forever (John 14)
4. We have a Home that He Himself has prepared for us (John 14:1-3)
5. I have comfort in knowing that I will be with my loved ones who trusted Jesus forever. (1 Thess 4:13-18)
6. This why we worship every Sunday morning. Every Sunday is a remembrance of Easter, and a celebration of His victory on Calvary.
I trust my very life on the belief that Jesus Christ is Alive.
II. He Ascended Into Heaven
40 days after His Resurrection, Matthew 28 and Acts 1 tells us, that Jesus ascended, He went up into heaven. Jesus returned to His Father, to have His glory restored and be exalted and crowned with Glory and Honor (Heb. 2:5-9; Phil 2:5-11). Two things here that are important to remember.
A. We are to about His business
His parting words contained the command to go and make disciples. We know he is coming back and that people are lost and will die and be separated from Him forever. People are messing up their lives because they donít know the right way to live and we who have His words and have the book are to be about the business of sharing that with those who
donít. When you awake in the morning do you think about making disciples? You need to. You are Godís plan to reach the world, starting with the world you live in, where you are.
B. We are to make Disciples with His help.
In Matthew 28:20 He says he will always be with us. How? By sending His Holy Spirit to live in Us. That is what Acts 1:8 says. "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." 5-6 Times in John 14-16, He promised to send us the
Holy Spirit to be our Helper, Encourager, and to give us strength and power to do what He has commanded us to do. Donít ever say, I canít do what God has asked or commanded us to do, because You have the power to do anything, all things that He has said.
III. And is Seated at the Right Hand of the Father
A. The Right hand is the place of prominence, and the place of authority.
The Right hand is a reserved place of special honor. The author of Hebrews reminds us that being seated there is the sign that there are no more blood sacrifices for sins necessary. Sacrificing is finished. Jesus said so from the cross. "It is Finished!" No priest could sit down, because sinners were constantly sinning and needing to offer sacrifices
B. The Right hand is not a place for angels. It is only for the one to whom it is reserved (Hebrews 2:6-9).
C. The Right Hand is the Place of our Great High Priest.
From there Advocates and Intercedes for us. He has the Fatherís ear. Again the Author i Hebrews in 7:25 and Paul in Romans 8:34, that He stands between God and Satanís condemning accusations. That even when we mess up and we do mess up, He reminds all of His saving power and grace and the effectiveness of His death and resurrection for all of our sins.
John tells us in I John 2:1-2 says, My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. Paul says, Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is
also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (Rom. 8:34). Its why we cannot lose our salvation, "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
D. The Right Hand is where He is waiting for the day When he will return
and make an end to sin. Hebrews 10:12-13 says, 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. Why is He waiting? Because the Father wants people to have the opportunity to hear of Jesus and repent and become disciples (2 Peter
IV. He will come again to judge the living and the dead (Acts 17:31; Matt.
25; Rev. 20) One of the absolute doctrines of our faith is that Jesus Christ will return. (John 14:3; Matt. 24-26; Mark 13; Luke 17 and 20; Acts 1:11; Titus 2:13; 2 Tim. 4:8; Phil. 3:20; 2 Peter 3)
There are over 300 verses in the 216 New Testament chapters that speak of the second coming of Jesus. That is 1/20th of the entire new testament is dedicated to this theme. The Prophecies of His Return actually have His return on phases separated by at least 7 years. One we call the Rapture of the Church (1 Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Thess. 4:13-18) and the
other we call, the Revelation of Jesus Christ (Rev. 19, Matthew 24-25).
The Timing Ė Mark 13:28-37; It will be unexpected, like a thief in the night (2 Peter 3:10; Matt. 24:42-44). But it will be at the precise right time just as the first coming was (Gal. 4:4). The word quick is an old word for living. The creed is either talking about those with eternal life and those without as in Rev. 20. Or He is talking about those
who are alive when he returns. That is what I believe. I actually believe there will be two great judgements.
1. When He returns as in Matthew 25. He will separate all the living as a shepherd would separate the sheep from the goats. He will then judge them. The saved will live and begin the 1000 years of Jesusí kingdom on earth. We refer to this as the millennial Kingdom. That they loved and followed Jesus at the risk of their lives is evidence that they had
committed their lives to Him.
2. The lost will be sentenced to the lake of fire. Whether they die first or go alive to the pit is unclear, but what is clear, is that their lives reveal they never repented and followed Jesus. Their fate is sealed.
During this time Satan has been shut up in a prison (Rev. 20:2-3). While the kingdom began with saved people. These gave birth to children who still had a sin nature and had to be saved. Jesus was ruling in righteousness. No need for an army or police force, because the King takes care of it. He has restored the earth to a paradise state. But after
1000 years He lets Satan loose. Why? Probably just like in the Garden of Eden, to give man the choice. It appears that living in the presence of the Messiah the King, people will still reject Jesus and follow Satan until Jesus says, "Enough." And with a word, Satan and all who follow Him including the lost dead of all time will be raised to be judged. Letís read Rev. 20.
This, my friends is what Jesus died to saved us from. And what Jesus said that we will never have to face if we believe, trust with our lives and stake our lives upon. "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." (John
5:24). Paul reminds us in Romans 8:1-2, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."
The only Judgement waiting for us is for the rewards Jesus wants to bestow on us when we are with Him (2 Cor. 5:10; Romans 14:10)
I Believe what I Believe, that Jesus rose again on the third day, and the He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, from where he will come to judge the living and the dead. I stake my life on it. Letís Pray!
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman