Try wrapping your mind around this – are surrounded by a culture of death, yet when someone dies we have a celebration of life, not a funeral. Death is glamorized, many fascinated with zombies, several million worshipers of Santa Muerte (sacred death), lobbying for assisted suicide and euthanasia, abortions worldwide at more than 1 every second. True, there are many who labor diligently to save and nurture life. Yet much of what we see / hear on daily basis centers on death and dying. Many we encounter daily have completely upside down view of life and death.
Understandable for first followers of Lord Jesus in hours immediately following real Black Friday – blackest day they had ever known. One they were counting on to save them could not even save himself… instead succumbing to unspeakable agonies of crucifixion. No surprise if they were more preoccupied with death than life – after all, how attractive would life be if all your hopes had died?
There is shock… too much happening too quickly, all just so wrong. Mob violence, repeated injustices from those charged to uphold justice, and everything turning out exactly opposite of expectations. Then so little time for burial, no time for proper one. Gloomy days, sleepless nights, devoted followers now anxious for their own future. Certainly no mental or emotional resources to more than deal with present reality.
Easy for us, from this distance, to say gently “don’t you remember what he said?” But we know rest of the story and… we were not there in the moment, experiencing it first-hand. On first morning, women returned to garden sepulchre intending to do right what men had done hurriedly days earlier. Found that nothing was like they expected – tomb not sealed by massive stone, not guarded by contingent of Roman soldiers, body not there needing further care. Was an open tomb, overseen by angels, empty but for now superfluous and empty grave clothes.
Those angels asking questions that make little sense – Why do you look for the living among the dead? Well, he was dead the last we knew. He is not here! We know that, we see that, who took his body away? He is risen! Risen? What is that supposed to mean? Where did you put his body? Remember what he told you… Remember? All we remember is how this is all so wrong. He said what? …the third day rise again? What? This is too much, we need to process this.
Slowly, very slowly at first, over next hours reality of what happened, what Jesus had said begain to register. Jesus spoke often about significant upcoming events. Immediate followers heard, lacked places in framework for viewing life to hang pieces of information. Spoke on 3 separate occasions about his upcoming death and resurrection (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33) – hearers didn’t really begin to get it until after had taken place.
A. the source of life (John 1:4; 8:12)
life does not come from non-life
to believe, first, that anyone knows exact recipe for mass of highly condensed matter that exploded in Big Bang 13 billion years ago takes massive amount of faith
then to believe anyone can accurately describe what followed requires just as much faith, as does believing life spontaneously arose from soup of nonliving substances
far more believable that a living God created all things by his powerful word, out of nothing, in space of 6 days, all very good
is true for life in all forms
every last bit of tangible evidence clearly demonstrates requirement for living to produce more living things after their kind
the one at beginning, already present, in whom was life – the Word… who was with God, who was God, gave life to every living creature from single-celled organisms right up through most complex being
one who is source of life also the authority – John 10:18
one who has power to give life has not only power over own life, has authority over everything to which he gave life
no other being has power to take life away from source, yet he has necessary power to lay it down, to take it up again
need to think carefully and precisely – was not God who died on Calvary’s cross; was the God-Man who gave his human life and then raised himself: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19)
B. the first living sacrifice (John 6:51; 1 Cor. 5:7)
gave his life so he might give life
was the Lord Jesus – the true passover lamb that every other lamb dimly pictured – who was sacrificed for us
Jesus gave his life so he could give eternal life to all who trust in him – nothing less would satisfy holy and righteous God
that way from nearly the beginning – Adam and Eve forfeited life… not only for them, but for all their posterity
justice required a life in return for theirs, if not from them, then from a suitable substitute… who had no debt of his own to pay
could only give life from own treasury – had to take it back to give
Jesus laid down his life, gave up his human life by his own authority and power; would take it up again so could give it to others
way God designed it – had to be someone to do perfectly what first Adam failed to do, then he could be substitute for his people, grant them life he purchased on their behalf
C. his life the ground of our life (John 14:19b)
see John 5:21; 10:10, 17
was Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth – to give life to his people: “even so the Son gives life to whom He will.”
unlike what some think… that Jesus leveled playing field to put us on par with Adam, Jesus gives life more abundant – life that can never be lost or taken away
both death and life absolutely necessary
Jesus – “because I live, you will live also” – could not skip they dying part first, otherwise is not a resurrection!
besides, since had forfeited life, someone had to recover it for those who needed it – had to be life for life, not works for life, money, bargaining
must be in that order
had to be real death followed by real resurrection – only way to satisfy God’s demands, only way to know they were satisfied
if Jesus could not overcome death, would mean he failed to pay penalty for sin – why Paul could declare confidently: if Jesus did not rise from dead, our situation is hopeless, we still in our sins
D. his resurrection guarantees ours (John 5:25-29)
if no resurrection – preaching futile, faith is empty
would make no sense to try and proclaim good news of salvation if Savior was accused truly: “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.”
hope promised in Gospel some for this life, mostly for next life – if Jesus still buried somewhere, his fate is our fate… hopeless and empty of any true value
Jesus’ resurrection to better life
true, Jesus walked and talked here on earth for nearly 6 weeks after resurrection – for last 1900+ years, been experiencing all joys of heaven at Father’s right hand
Heb. 6:19-20 “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Heb. 12:2 “…Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
same true for us – John 11:25-26
Jesus is both resurrection and life to those who live and believe in him – may experience physical death, at same time possessing life
Jesus himself promised resurrection of those who are his will be to “resurrection of life”; those who die in their sins will hear Father’s summons to “resurrection of condemnation”
E. a singular package (John 17:2-3)
“The distinctive gift of the Gospel is the gift of life. ‘I am the Life,’ says Christ. And the apostle’s confession is in harmony with his Master’s claim–‘For me to live is Christ.’ Salvation is nothing else than the restoration, preservation, and exaltation of life.” Archibald Alexander
salvation not ticket to good life
can all probably come up with description of “the good life” – easy, enjoyable, no drama, everything you need close at hand
keep dreaming! that is only place where that kind of life exists around here… and is nothing at all like what God has in mind
not even ticket to heaven
God loves you, has wonderful plan for your life, even better in heaven… not that either; Jesus didn’t die and rise again to save people from hell – would only be treating symptoms
he gave his life and rose third day to save us from our sins – not getting old, not our neighbor, not even cancer is greatest problem… is our sin that stands between us and God, between us and life
salvation as offered in Gospel is only way to life, the real thing
Bible describes those yet unconverted as dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1) – unresponsive to spiritual things, not fully alive
different situation for those whom God has changed: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4-5)
requires belief in some basic things: Rom. 10:9-13
“if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
Listen to words of Jesus –
John 3:36“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
1 John 5:10 “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.”
There is human existence beyond death – not reincarnation, not something we pick off buffet after arriving. Destiny is obvious from choices made before death, character of life now. Make sure you have reason to be confident in a good future found in eternal life through our savior Jesus Christ.