32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:32-40)
Jesus is alive, therefore Christianity is alive! If Jesus is dead, then Christianity is dead. The Apostle Paul’s speaks to this in 1 Cor. 15:17, 19: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile (incapable of producing any useful results) and you are still in your sins… If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
The resurrection. It is our hope of life after death which translates into missional confidence to display and proclaim the kingship of Jesus to the world. God is Lord over all and has He conquered Satan, sin and death, and therefore all authority has been given to Him and you are an inheritor of all that Jesus has if indeed you submit to His kingship. The Christians in Heb. 11 did not place their hope in making it in this life, rather their hope was that God will redeem them regardless of what happens, and that the sting of death is gone. This is our living hope, as well as our future hope.
Paul in 2 Cor. 1:9 says, regarding his receiving comfort from God: 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. Can you relate? Has God brought you there?
Here’s my goal for this morning as we examine the resurrection of Jesus Christ: The show us that the point that all the gospels actually make, in their own ways, is that Jesus has risen from the grave, therefore, God’s new world has begun. Jesus has risen from the grave, therefore Israel (the church) and the earth have been redeemed. Jesus has risen from the grave, therefore His followers have a new job to do.
And what is that new job? To bring the life of heaven to bear in an actual, physical, earthly reality. We will unpack our new jobs more next week. But for now, I want to examine Christ as the King for a moment and then examine the reality of the resurrection for us today.
JESUS THE KING: Look at the word incarnation (refer to Ty’s sermon). God became carne asada as Ty said. Jesus is not only fully divine, but He is fully human which we learned earlier in this series and it’s vital to this “God-sized” promise. God gives great honor and dignity to humanness through sending Christ in the flesh. He is restoring humanity! God honors His creation, the human body, by sending Jesus! What an awesome thought!!
But Jesus’ incarnation was much more than God honoring His creation or just some visit to humans from the Creator. This was the launching of God’s full and final counter-offensive against all the sin, death, and destruction that entered the world when Adam ate the forbidden fruit. This is the beginning of all things being made new!!
When Jesus breaks into human history, knowing the cross and resurrection are ahead of Him, He says this in Mark 1:15: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is “at hand” (or “has come!”); repent and believe in the gospel.” What is Jesus saying here?
I think He’s saying this: “The effects and power of God’s kingdom has come to earth to draw men to God through ME.” Essentially, the kingdom of God is here now, but we know that it is not yet fully revealed here. So what does Jesus do next?
-Jesus goes into the desert and resists Satan unlike our first parents Adam and Eve….
-He casts out unclean spirits and demons from men and women…
-He cleanses a leper of his deadly disease…
-He heals a paralytic man and tells him his sins are forgiven…
-He touches the eyes of a blind man and light, color, and clarity enters His life…
-He calls out for dead Lazarus, and he comes walking out of a tomb…
-And He says: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are
sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
Jesus is God’s kingdom made visible to us, but we know that the fullness of God’s kingdom is not yet revealed. How do we know this? Well, we can simply ask, “Are all healed? Are all unclean spirits forever removed from the earth? Are we made perfect on this earth?” The answer to these questions are, we know from Scripture, NO!
Some are healed, some die of disease. Some are delivered from unclean spirits, and some don’t want to be parted from them. Some are living very holy lives, but all are still waging war against the flesh.
What we see here in the beginning of Mark is that Jesus boldly claims with His words, that He has authority over all of creation, sickness, disease, demons, and sin. He’s essentially saying, “This stuff isn’t in my Kingdom!! Sin brought about all this, but My Kingdom will not have it. Sin is not the norm. Death was not part of my plan!”
Jesus’ incarnation was the beginning of the God’s kingdom being revealed on earth in a permanent fashion. IT IS HERE! IT IS AMONG US! But not yet fully. We see glimpses of victory all around us, we see it fully in the hearts of the redeemed as their sins have been forgiven. But the church, oh the church, is the picture of God’s Kingdom here on earth and it is a small glimpse of what is yet to come in its fullness! (next week)
Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, the internal problem of sin is fixed through a new heart, and through Jesus, the external problem and affects of sin will be once and for all dealt with when His kingdom is fully revealed. Consider with me for a moment of the reality and the implications of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus:
1. Our hearts are spiritually regenerated / made alive / born again. This is God’s doing, not ours. We were dead and lifeless, BUT GOD moved on our behalf (John 3:3; Eph 2:5; Ezekiel 36:26).
2. Our sins are forgiven. This means the penalty of sin is removed because Jesus became a curse in our place (Ps. 130:7-8; Gal. 3:13: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”).
3. Death no longer has any victory or sting because our life is new in Christ. 1 Cor. 15:20: But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (explain the feat of firstfruits after the passover; why don’t we see farmers crying when they sow a dead corn seed…the harvest time will come!). If we die (spiritually and physically), then we go be with Jesus, the firstfruits of the resurrection and that’s far better than remaining here on earth as Paul says. (Hosea 13:14; Phil. 1:21).
4. We are made righteous before God so that as we live in the flesh and battle with sin, God continues to see us as righteous because the life of Jesus has been assigned to us. Had our slate just been wiped clean (meaning, only our sins are forgiven), then our sins after our redemption would not be covered (we all continue to sin). But God redeems us and transfers Jesus’ righteousness on to us, ETERNALLY! (Rom. 3:21-26; Rom. 4:3).
5. We are no longer slaves to sin and rebellion. This means the power of sin is broken in our lives. Now we are free to love, serve and glorify God with our lives (display His beauty). We are not our own for we were bought with a price (Micah 4:10; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; Titus 2:13-14).
6. We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13; Rom. 8:15-16). After Jesus raised from the dead, He ascended into heaven and sent His Holy Spirit to be with us as we remain witnesses for Him on this earth (John 14:15-17; Matt. 28:20).
7. We are moved (kineod) to walk in the good works that God has set out before us. We receive from God redemption not just for ourselves, but for the sake of others who are from from God (Eph. 2:10; Col. 2:6-7).
8. We are adopted by God Most High and receive a heavenly inheritance, where moth and rust cannot touch what God has awaiting for us (Eph. 1:3; Matt. 6:20), for God never loses any of His sons or daughters (John 6:39). We are secured by God for eternity (1 Peter 1:4-5).
9. We will one day reign with Him in glory. The redemption of Jesus will one day remove the presence of sin in our lives and we will be restored to shalom, they way things should be! (Col. 3:4; Rev. 21:1-5 – the last week of the series).
This, church, is something worth saying “Hallelujah!” about. “Amen!” “Praise God!” and “Woe is me!” because of the great need that we all realize we have when we encounter this gracious God who invites us into this kind of life. I want to remind every one of you this morning, that Christ is inviting you into this reality today. This is not some “pie in the sky” kind of dream that might happen one day. This is a present reality!
Now as we close, do you remember the passage we read in Heb. 11 at the beginning of the sermon? They had faith in God raising the dead regardless of their circumstances here on earth. Faith in the future resurrection is what you need to face every situation. The promise of this gospel is not fully realized here on this earth as we saw in that passage and as we all have seen in our own lives. But the resurrection gives us confidence to face anything with hope and boldness and not doubt that God is good or absent because life comes after death!
At this point, the question we should ask is, “How do I receive what Christ promised? This resurrection thing sounds legit, I want in on that…what do I need to do next?
In the OT, there is a story of 3 Jewish men who were captives in Babylon, and were being forced to bow down to an image made of the king of the day, Nebuchadnezzar, or else be thrown into a furnace of fire and die. The king commanded them to bow down and threatened them of death. We pick up the story in Dan. 3:16-18:
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Look at their response. They say: “God can save us, but if not, we still will not worship you.” Their faith was not in their agenda for God to do something for them. Rather, their faith was in God.
When often people say “I trusted God so much, I prayed and prayed and was faithful in prayer, and He didn’t come through for me. He didn’t give me what I asked for or what I needed”. And my response usually is, “You weren’t trusting in God. You were trusting in your own agenda for what you wanted God to do for you. You had an agenda for God and God isn’t gonna conform to your agenda because He loves you too much.” (for example, parenting!)
What you need to realize is this: “You are deeply loved!” and “You can’t get all that you want here on earth.” This is what we teach our kids, but we as adults need daily reminders of this. If your world constantly revolves around you and want you think you want or need, you’re never gonna make it. But, if you understand that everything revolves around God and His will, and that because of the resurrection, you can handle anything that this life has to offer because all of your deepest longings will be met in Christ and all of your pain and losses will one day be as if they never happened.
Not only that, but because of the resurrection, “everything we do in the present in the power of the Spirit and out of love for God and our neighbor will be, eventually, part of God’s new world,”1 God will not waste one stoke of life (1 Cor. 15:58).
If you believe the resurrection, you can face anything in life and your life counts. But you must die! Die to yourself, your agenda, your will, and eventually physically die, for you to inherit the firstfruits of Christ Jesus. I want to urge you today to choose Christ? Will you follow the risen Savior, Jesus, and acknowledge Him as king? Will you receive the sentence of death so that you will trust in God who raises the dead, and not yourself?
Let me close with this quote by NT Wright from the last page of his book, Simply Christian: “…[the] new creation has already begun. The sun has begun to rise. Christians are called to leave behind, in the tomb of Jesus, all that belongs to the brokenness and incompleteness of the present world. It is time, in the power of the Spirit, to take up our proper role, our fully human role, as agents, heralds, and stewards of the new day that is dawning. That, quite simply, is what it means to be Christian, to follow Jesus Christ into the new world, God’s new world, which he has thrown open before us.”