God’s story of redemption and the events surrounding that first Easter had their roots in the Old Testament.
Genesis 3.15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.
The first promise of redemption came to Adam and Eve after their sin in the Garden. God promised a “Seed: The Seed of the Woman”, who would bring the death blow to the head of Satan, the Tempter, and bring spiritual redemption to mankind. Satan had used the serpent as his vehicle through which he tempted Eve, and thereby brought spiritual death to all of mankind to follow. Even at that early time of history, God gave a symbol by which mankind could look forward to this redemption, and through that symbol show their obedience to God and faith in that coming Redeemer. That symbol was the sacrifice of an animal: an animal that was innocent of the sin of Adam.
This promise of a Redeemer by God for mankind was repeated and expanded to Abraham. In this expanded promise, God said that the Redeemer would come through the special descendant line of Abraham. This promise was repeated and reconfirmed to Abraham’s son, Isaac, and was passed to Isaac’s son, Jacob, and from Jacob to his sons, who made up the twelve tribes of Israel.
Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob, was sold by his brethren to some traveling Ishmaelite traders, who in turn, sold him into slavery in Egypt. Those familiar with Scripture at all, know the story well. While Joseph was a slave in Egypt, God through special revelation warned of a great famine that was to come, and gave instructions to properly prepare for that famine. Joseph was appointed to oversee the gathering and storage of food so that Egypt, and the Promised Descendant Line through which the Redeemer would come was sustained during that time of famine. Because of that famine and other circumstance, Jacob and all his household moved to Egypt, where he remained until his death, and his descendants continued to live in Egypt for approximately 400 years.
During most of this time the descendants of Jacob, known as the Children of Israel, were slaves to the Pharaohs of Egypt, and built some of the great cities and monuments to these emperors who claimed to be gods. About 430 years passed after God reconfirmed His promise of “The Seed” to Abraham, and from a human perspective, it looked as though God had forgotten His promise. Not so! God works according to a time schedule unknown to man, but none the less, His schedule is accurate and very detailed.
At the appointed time, baby Moses was born through whom God would free Israel from Egyptian slavery, and demonstrate very clearly that His promises were true and that His Plan was on course. Through the process of the Children of Israel being freed from Egypt, God provided many examples so we could better understand this redemptive program. These examples also provide us with a Schedule of Redemption.
That Schedule of Redemption is revealed throughout the Old and New Testaments in words, symbols and types. Over and over in the account of Christ’s earthly life, we read that He did such and such so the Scriptures might be fulfilled. That is certainly true of the account of Christ’s ride into Jerusalem at which time He gave His final offer: to be the King of the Jews.
That promises of God’s Redeemer in the Old Testament tell of the suffering Savior. Those promises of God’s Redeemer also tell of a royal Redeemer, the King of Kings. It was first spelled out to David in through the prophet Nathan.
II Samuel 7:10 "Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously, 11 since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the LORD tells you that He will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. 15 But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever."
The Jews and many of us Christians have a problem understanding that before the Redeemer could bring freedom from physical oppression, that Redeemer must first bring freedom from the bondage of sin and spiritual oppression. Before the Redeemer carry out the ultimate punishment on those who oppressed the Jews, that Redeemer must first accept the punishment for the sins of the Israelites that kept them under oppression many times greater than their physical slavery.
This was also true for all humanity. The cross must come before the crown. Don’t be too hard on those Jews who didn’t understand or accept God’s timing. You see, many of us who have accepted God’s redemption from sin, still want the physical blessing, before the spiritual experience.
Matthew 6:31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Even we who are Christians still want the earthly things before we seek the heavenly things
Matthew 6:34 "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.
Those phrases have nothing to do with advanced planning, or proper and natural concern for things and events. They have to do with chronic anxiety and continual lack of trust in God and His provision.
- Worry [Mat 6:31] (Greek)
- To be (preoccupied) anxious (to the extent of frustration concerning things that may never come to pass); To be troubled with cares before the need; Solicitude
- To be “care-weary”; Distressed; Paranoid
- Anxious (New Century)
- Full of painful concern; Having an infinity for being solicitously desirous
- Solicitude (Webster)
- Uneasiness of mind due to fear and a perpetual undercurrent of apprehension
This type of worry is more of a state of mind, rather than a concern for a specific thing, person, or event. This type of worry centers on the need, instead of the provision and the Provider.
When a person is in a state of solicitude, they worry about such things as: “Will there be enough for supper?” when both the freezer and the cupboard are full and running over. Christ is not in any way suggesting that be become flippant concerning things or the need for providing those things. That truth is clearly taught throughout the Scriptures. We are not to sit by with our mouths open and our hands idle, and sanctimoniously say, “Oh, well! The Lord will provide.”
I Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
II Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.
Matthew 21:1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. 3 "And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them." 4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: 5 "Tell the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.' " 6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: "Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' Hosanna in the highest!" 10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, "Who is this?" 11 So the multitudes said, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee." 12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.' "
I’m quite sure that if you and I had lived at the time of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem on that foal of a donkey, we too would have been looking for physical deliverance instead of spiritual regeneration. Even now that we have this knowledge, many of us still first seek the things of this earth, before we seek the things of God.
But let’s move on to the event itself. Jerusalem of old was not only a pleasant place spiritually, it was beautiful beyond imagination. The modern city with it new architecture does not even hold a candle to the evidence we find in the ruins of the old city.
Psalms 48:1 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised In the city of our God, In His holy mountain. 2 Beautiful in elevation (Jerusalem), The joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, The city of the great King. 3 God is in her palaces; He is known as her refuge. .11 Let Mount Zion rejoice, Let the daughters of Judah be glad, Because of Your judgments. 12 Walk about Zion, And go all around her. Count her towers; 13 Mark well her bulwarks; Consider her palaces; That you may tell it to the generation following.
Even the Jerusalem of the psalmist’s day, as beautiful as it was, did not compare to the city at the time of Christ. For our journey, I will draw heavily from a very descriptive writer of another century, Alfred Edersheim. When I speak of scenes or facts of Jerusalem or the temple, I will be using, for the most part, his research.
Coming to Jerusalem from Bethany as Jesus did, Jerusalem would completely hidden from view, for a time, by the ridge of Mt Olivet. As you take the descent of the Mount of Olives and make that turn in the road, the traveler gets their first glimpse of Jerusalem. It is true that Mt Olivet on the right would still hide the Temple, and most of the city. However, the eye could scan the busy suburb of the priests, and rapidly climb the heights of Mount Zion to where Herod’s place covers the site once occupied by David’s abode. Just a few more steps along the trail, and Jerusalem is lost from sight again by the excited pilgrims.
As the crowd of well-wishers followed and surrounded Jesus on His entry to Jerusalem, I’m quite sure that Jesus heard their shouts of "Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' Hosanna in the highest!" Those meaningless accolades, and gestures of good will were probably crowded to the background of the mind of Christ as He came to a ledge of rock that gave Him His first panorama view of the city. There stood the earthly “City of God” in all its glory. It was only a little over four miles in circumference. However, there were some 600,000 permanent residents. On the feast days, as it was on this day, the population of Jerusalem could swell upwards to as many as two or three million. It was very possible that this very ledge of rock overlooking Jerusalem was where Christ, only hours after the Palm Sunday event, sat and prayed for the city:
Luke 13:34 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 "See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is He who Comes in the name of the Lord!' "
The reference Christ makes in the last part of vs 35 is speaking of a future time, not Palm Sunday. This event of Luke 13:34-35 takes place after that day and the events of Palm Sunday. Christ passed, or possibly stopped, at this ledge of rock that gave the traveler approaching the city from the east their first full view of the city. The city of Jerusalem was built of four hills. Its street were narrow, and paved with white marble. A portion of the streets running from the Temple had a foot path slightly elevated for the use of those who had just been purified in the temple. The rest walked on the lower part of the roadway.
Jesus knew this and other traditions well, such as in Jerusalem:
- No dead body could remain over night
- There could be no sepulchers (except those of the house of David and the prophetess Heldah)
- No domestic fowls could be kept within the walls
- There could be not vegetable gardens - lest the smell of decaying vegetation defile the air
These traditions were started and held because it was at Jerusalem and the temple that a person was made righteous, or so the people were taught. Therefore, they didn’t want to have anything in the city that might pollute and cause a lack of righteousness. These and other hollow tradition caused Christ great sorrow as He wept over the city. There manmade traditions had blinded them to the only true righteousness from God, His Only Begotten Son, and Israel’s Messiah.
The city was a sight to behold, but its beauty lay in insignificance alongside the grander of the Temple and the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount was a series of terraces upon terraces rising higher and higher above the city. There were many enclosures of marble with cedar roofs and richly ornamented. There were the marble porches and the four courts in which different classes of people could meet to worship.
The Temple itself stood out as a mass of snowy marble and gold glittering in the sunlight against the half-encircling green background of Mt Olivet. There were nine gates to the city of Jerusalem. The grandest of them all was the Eastern Gate or known as the “Beautiful Gate.” Therefore the Eastern Gate was the gate of choice for a pilgrim to enter Jerusalem and then on to the temple. This gate was so massive that it took the collective force 20 men to open and close it.
From the Eastern Gate, Solomon’s Porch was easily assessable. It was on this porch that so many of the events of the Bible took place. Possible it was here that the 12 year old Christ taught the elders of Israel when He was separated from His parents. Peter’s sermon was delivered here. It was over this porch that they led Christ to and from the palace of the High Priest and to trials of the Sanhedrim, Pilate and Herod. It would be over this porch that Christ crossed on that Palm Sunday on His way to the Court of the Gentiles where He cleansed the temple.
Time would not allow us to present even in our limited, halting manner, the marvelous grander of this Temple. We stand in awe of even its shadow left deep in the rubble and debris that now covers its magnificence. Yet, we stand in reverence of the beauty and grandeur that is now only a memory. In the shadow of it beauty, it is so easy to “seek first for things.” Yes, it is so easy to seek first for things, even religious things, long before we will give any thought to real spiritual things. We must be sure that our priorities are right and the order of our search is correct, or we, too, will be as these sincere religious people were on that Palm Sunday so long ago.
They walked with the King of Kings across the variegated marble porch crying. "Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' Hosanna in the highest!" We would be wrong to question their sincerity, for they were truly sincere. By that act the put their lives on the line against Rome, and the leaders of the Jews. Yes, they were sincere, but it takes far more that religious sincerity to possess and live the spiritual life. These sincere followers who cried, "Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' Hosanna in the highest!" followed Christ over Solomon’s Porch.
This was truly kingly. However, only days later, some of those same people with equally sincere followed this same Jesus across that same porch calling “Away with Him, Crucify Him!! Crucify Him!!! We’ll not have this man rule over us!”
The difference in these two scenes was not the Man, or the crowd or their sincerity. The difference was that they were seeking earthly things, instead of spiritual things. Yes, only days after pledging their allegiance to Christ, they follow Him, who was now beaten and humiliated, across the Royal Bridge, out of the city and there gave their approval for His death.
Listen my friend. I don’t know what brought you to this place today. If it was religious fervor it’s misplaced. It was religious fervor that marched Christ to the cross. Religion is man trying to something good enough to gain the favor of God. Religion will never get you even close to eternity with God. It was religion that nailed Christ to the Cross. Christ died on that Cross so you don’t have to struggle in hopelessness trying to be good enough. Christ Death on the cross provided payment for your sins and offers to you His righteousness as a gift so you will be acceptable to God not because you are good enough, but because you are in Christ and He is more than good enough.
Matthew 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
He Died Because of Our Sin
I John 3:1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
We are to be holy, just as He is holy. 1 John explains one of the great principles that makes that experience possible. Oh, how we need to practice those truths!
There is so much in the Easter story! If we were to just examine the account of the events, it would take several lessons. If we were to study the ramifications of the events of the resurrection, it would take a lifetime.
When Christ came, He offered Himself as the Messiah and King of Israel. God in His word had promised that through Israel would come the Messiah, Who would restore all things that mankind had lost to Satan through sin. But Christ’s offer was rejected! The nation of Israel not only rejected Christ as Messiah and King, they rejected Him for Who He was: the God of Gods, the Creator or all things. To demonstrate their rejection as final, the Lord Jesus Christ was nailed to the Cross and died.
To human history, it was the Jewish rejection of their Messiah that put Christ on the Cross, and it was the Roman soldiers who nailed Him there. They were only part of the story. You see, our knowledge and understanding is so very often limited that we see in short spans of time. To our thinking, events take place at a certain hour, day and year. That is because we live in this spectrum of existence called time with past, present, and future.
Not so in the real world of Eternity. Christ did not die because conditions or circumstances went sour during that Passover week. Christ was nailed to the Cross, because of your sin and mine.
1 Peter 2:21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 "Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth"; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness-- by whose stripes you were healed.
1 John 2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?
Was it only that we slipped, or made a mistake or two, or did something wrong that was the cause of Christ’s death? No! The fact is, there is nothing good or righteous that we can do. When we live in a sinful condition and have sinful natures, there are no right actions. The only beneficial choices of sinful mankind are actions that are less wrong than others, but as a sinful human there is nothing we can do that is good or righteous.
If we are honest, a very short glance at a list of sins will reveal many, if not most of these sins, are active to one degree or another in your life on a daily basis. The reality is that your sin nailed Christ to the Cross, just as surely and literally as though you drove the nails through His hands and feet!
Power over Sin and Death
After his death, Christ was taken down from that Cross, where our sins had placed Him, and His body was laid in a tomb, where all expected it to stay just as all other great men before Him.
But God in Love and in the fullness of time, kept His promise given to Adam in the Garden, and fulfilled His word given to many throughout the ages.
Matthew 28:1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. 5 But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 "He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
Please let your mind move back across time to that scene of Christ’s dying and death. Christ had been wrongly accused, beaten and crucified. Christ had endured the suffering of the cross. He experienced the horrible reality of God the Father and God the Spirit turning, and separating themselves from Him. He was all alone, God had forsaken Him because of your sins. His friends and followers had forsaken Him because of fear. His own nation had forsaken Him because of unbelief. Christ experienced the burden and pain of the sin of the whole world, then He died, and was buried in a borrowed tomb.
Romans 3:3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?
Christ’s death and resurrection was because, and for our sins. He died for my sins, and your sins so that we would not have to pay that eternal penalty. All sin was taken care of on the cross. Even though all sin has been paid for, there is one thing that Christ’s death cannot overcome: unbelief. If you choose not to believe in the Person and work of Christ on that cross, there is nothing God can do. God will not force you against your will to become a Christian. You must willingly believe by faith. Your lack of belief or your lack of faith in receiving the Gift of God is the only thing that can separate you from God for all eternity.
If you are reading this today, do not reject the gift of God which is Eternal Life. If you reject God’s Salvation, there is no other way to obtain Eternal Life. By the rejection of God’s Eternal Life, you have deliberately chosen to continue in Spiritual death, with its eternal end in the Lake of Fire.
Simply because some do not believe, does change the fact of God’s grace. The fact is, that to us who do believe, Christ is so very precious.
1 Peter 2:7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,"
Mark 16:6 But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.
To Believer, those words should be bring great joy. His is risen! He is not here. The only words that should bring greater joy to a Believer are, “He’s coming back!”
1 Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 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 the most pitiable. 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Luke 24:25 Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. 28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, "Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent." And He went in to stay with them. 30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?" 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, "The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."
The early church was vibrant, loving, and a dynamo of change in the world around them. Much of the reason for the effectiveness of the first church was their occupation with and motivation of Christ’s resurrection and coming again. Over and over again in their message and fellowship of the first church, the theme of Christ’s death, resurrection and coming again was the center piece.
Peter’s first message, after the healing of the lame man, was fueled by these events.
Acts 3:11–16 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. 12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. 14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. 16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
Peter and John used it as their defense after they were arrested for preaching and healing in Jerusalem.
Acts 4:10 "let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 "This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' 12 "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
The ruler of the Jews imprisoned all the disciples, but God opened the prison doors, and told them go back to the Temple and preach, which they did.
Acts 5:17 Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, 18 and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. 19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 "Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life."
Very predictably, the Jewish rulers brought them before the Council to answer for their actions. Once again, their defense was the resurrection of Christ.
Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 "Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 "And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him."
In the rare chance that we ever had to answer for our testimony in Christ, I wonder what our defense would be. When God, by His grace, directed that the gospel be preached to the Gentiles (that’s us!) the very heart and fabric of that message was Christ’s resurrection, and it still should be!
Do you remember the account of Cornelius, a Gentile? He had been instructed to send for Peter to learn about the proper way to approach God. Meanwhile Peter, a Jew, had been instructed to go to Cornelius and declare the Gospel which, up to this time, had been reserved for Jew only. Here is what he said.
Acts 10:39 "And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. 40 "Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41 "not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 "And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43 "To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins."
When Paul was in Antioch of Pisidia during one of his missionary journeys to bring the gospel to the Gentiles, he was giving an Old Testament history lesson and declared the resurrection to be the heart and foundation of the Gospel and all Scripture.
Acts 13:22 "And when He had removed him (Saul), He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.' 23 "From this man's seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior Jesus…
Acts 13:26 "Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. 27 "For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. 28 "And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. 29 "Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. 30 "But God raised Him from the dead.
Quick side note: Those of Jesus’ day had slipped into a condition that I fear the Church finds itself today. We love and cherish the Word of God, as did those Jewish leaders. We study and search the Scriptures, as did those Jewish leaders, and find many things of great interest. But I fear, like those Jews of Jesus’ day, we too often miss the voice of the prophets; the very tonal expression that gives purpose and clarity to thoughts. As a result, we often know the facts of Scripture, but do not know the truth of Scripture. If we do not know the truth of Scripture, we will miss the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life provided by the God of all gods in and through Jesus Christ.
Paul goes on in his presentation of the Gospel to those Jews and Gentiles at Antioch.
Acts 13:31 "He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. 32 "And we declare to you glad tidings that promise which was made to the fathers. 33 "God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You.' 34 "And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: 'I will give you the sure mercies of David.'
Paul declares that all the Law, Promises, and Covenants are dependent upon the truth and power of Christ’s resurrection.
Acts 13:36 "For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; 37 "but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. 38 "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 "and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
If you, by any stretch of the imagination, missed Paul’s emphases on the resurrection and the absolute necessity of that resurrection if any of the Scriptures, God’s Plan, or Promises are to be valid, then take a peek at the following verses.
I Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 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 the most pitiable. 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Yes, the resurrection of Christ is the theme of all Scripture. It is on this reality that all other teachings in the Scriptures depend. We don’t have time to look at all the references to the resurrection by Paul and the other penners of the Scripture. Nor do we have time to look at the many times that Christ referred to the resurrection in His teachings. If Christ was not raised from the dead, then everything of Christianity is dead. But now Christ is risen from the dead. Therefore, we are assured of our resurrection, and all other promises in the Word of God.
Romans 5:6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
It was out of death that live sprang forth. This truth was written into all of nature by the hand of the Creator.
In Texas, we glory in the beautiful array of wild flowers across the countryside and even in town. Yet each little plant is a testimony to the truth of the resurrection. Each plant comes from a seed that has died. Christ so states that fact recorded in the Gospel of John and Paul echoes the obvious in his letter to the Corinthians.
John 12:23 But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
I Corinthians 15:35 But someone will say, "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.
From death, comes life.
The pronouncement of death, both physical and eternal, was brought about by the sin of Adam in the garden and is reinforced by each of us as we personally sin. But, the loving Eternal God, Jesus Christ, lived a temporal and life on this earth and died a temporal death so that He might offer to each of us Eternal Life. Christ went to Golgotha alone and bore the punishment and the penalty for my sin.
John 20:1 On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." 3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
It is amazing how our personal life and our personal sin, can distort the truth of God. Peter, just hours before in the Upper Room, had said that he would always stand by his Lord. Why he would even die for Him! Peter even went so far as to demonstrate that fact in the Garden when he drew his sword and cut off the high priests servant’s ear. Yet, it only took a little of the warmth of the world’s fire and he was soon denying he even knew Christ.
The message of Easter is that God can and does bring new life from the wasted ashes of a self-centered life charred by sin. It only took one glance from the suffering Savior and that stubborn proud heart of Peter was broken. Only one look at the risen Savior and Peter found restoration. If Peter were to stand here today, I am sure he would say, “If Christ did it for me, He can also restore your life to where it was before there was sin and He can help your grow far beyond all that you thought possible.”
The reality of the resurrection should change our perspective.
Philippians 1:23 For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
II Timothy 4:6 The time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
II Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.
I Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
Matthew 6:19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
If we really had the proper perspective of Christ’s resurrection, it would put all other things in their perspective. We would shed our temporal perspective for an eternal one.
In the resurrection, we have hope we will be like Christ.
I John 3:1Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
In the resurrection, we have hope for the trials of the present.
Psalms 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
In the resurrection, we have hope for the future.
I Thessalonians 4:13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.
I Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
In the resurrection, we have hope beyond what we can see.
I John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
There are times when our hope seems lost. Circumstances overshadow the truths we claim to know and we despair.
Luke 24:13Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. 17 And He said to them, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?" 18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, "Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?" 19 And He said to them, "What things?" And they said to Him, "The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 "and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 "But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 "Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 "When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 "And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see." 25 Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. 28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, "Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent." And He went in to stay with them. 30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?" 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, "The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
The world had just fallen apart for these two men. They had lost their hope, their plans, and their future. Circumstances which they could not control were changing the direction of their minds and lives. Events which they did not want nor expect threatened to abolish hope for the future and purpose for living. Their very security had just been ripped from them and their dreams of the future had just been dashed. The events of life had become so magnanimous that those events occupied every corner of their minds.
Therefore, they missed the very One they longed to see, even when He was so near. We are not unlike these men. We often put more stock in what we perceive to be true than we do making sure we understand what God has promised. Over and over again, Christ told them that He was to die, and that He would rise again. However, they, like we do too often, allowed circumstances to become more real than the promises of God.
Anytime things become all important, God becomes unimportant. It was not until Christ left the two on the road to Emmaus that they began to look back with clearer vision.
Luke 24:32 And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?"
When you have a living Savior, He will enrich your life even when you don’t know He’s there. What a blessing! If that is true, and it is, can you imagine what it will be like to sit down with Christ over a heavenly cup of coffee? I can’t wait to say, Hey, Christ, let’s walk down to Dunkin Donut and get a double chocolate and a cup of coffee and chat a while and just talk with Him as friend with friend.
Remember! Christ is not an ideal. Christ is not a memory. Christ is not a cause to be pursed. Christ is real. Christ is alive. And soon we will see Him and talk with Him face to face.
I Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
I can’t imagine what life would be like without a risen Savior. This world does not hold enough joy, wealth, or satisfaction to make living worth the pain and constant dilemma that life has to offer. Christ says, “Don’t despair! There are better things to come because I live.”
The things of this life, whether good or bad, are so temporary, but the things of eternity are so permanent, because He lives!