Friday, April 3, 2009

The Resurrection

It has been said that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most significant event in the history of the world. If you are a Christian, then you will probably agree with that assessment.

Matthew 28:1-6 "In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. "

This is one the four separate accounts from the Gospels. It has also been said that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is one of the best documented events of ancient history. A miracle, to be sure, but not the only recorded instance of someone coming to life again after dieing. We have the case of Elijah raising the young boy from the dead in the Old Testament. You remember the story. Elijah had been staying with a woman and her son. She had only a handful of meal and little oil, but it miraculously never ran out. Eventually the boy took sick and died, but by the power of God, Elijah raised the boy back to life. Some years later, Elisha performed a similar miracle in raising a young boy who had died from a head injury.
Shortly before his own resurrection, Jesus himself brought his friend Lazarus back to life. Lazarus had been ill, and Jesus seemingly "dragged his feet" in going to him on his sickbed, where his disciples apparently expected a healing to occur. Instead they arrived after Lazarus had been dead for long enough that as it is described in the KJV "he stinketh."

If, then, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was not a unique event in history, why do so many claim that it was the most significant? For that answer we have to understand the significance of his death. The death of Jesus Christ was not significant because of his death on a cross, for many men were crucified in Jesus day. No, Jesus death on the cross was significant because of who he was and why he was being killed.

Christ Jesus is that spotless lamb of God who was slaughtered as a payment for our sins. During the crucifixion, God the father poured out his wrath on his beloved Son just as though it was he that had committed all of our sins. That is what makes the resurrection of Christ so important. It is the proof given to all of us that his suffering and death was an acceptable payment for our sins.

But there is one more piece of information that we may be overlooking as to why the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most significant event in history. Sin! Sin is the reason that the suffering, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ had to take place. The reason for the event is often passed over lightly, or even ignored. The term "sin" will likely evoke one of several responses when it is brought up. Some will be indifferent to the term "sin", seeing it as an archaic concept, with no relationship to modern life. Others will find the mention of sin to be uncomfortable or even offensive. Immediately they will feel that they are being judged. And for a few, the mention of sin will bring conviction. There is a fine line between the latter two. The source of the emotions may be the same (the conscience) but the results are a world apart.

Few, it seems, have much idea what the origins of this word "sin" is. The words that are translated as "sin" in the Bible mean to "miss" or "to fall short." That doesn't sound so serious now, does it? And it wouldn't be, if it were man's standards that we were falling short of. But that is not the case. Taking sin "lightly" is a result of taking God lightly. It is a result of a lack of understanding the holiness of God. Until you start to get a glimpse of God's holiness, none of this "suffering, death, burial, and resurrection" of Jesus Christ can be of much meaning to you. because "sin " will not have much meaning to you. Every place in the Bible that we see a man get a glimpse of God's holiness, we see them taking it very seriously. Isaiah fell to his face and despaired that he was a man of unclean lips. Upon seeing "the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord," Ezekiel fell on his face. John says in the book of Revelation, that when he saw Christ in his glory, he fell at his feet as dead. If you do not take sin seriously, then it is because you have no grasp of the holiness or the glory of God.

Do you want to know what you are falling short of? God has spelled it out very clearly. The ten commandments are a good place to start. Go to Exodus 20 and see for yourself. Thou shalt have no other God's, thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not covet; those are just few of them.

The Bible teaches us that we are all sinners, and for some of us that fact is a comfort of sorts. "We're all in this boat together, so its no big deal if I am a sinner" But the truth is, God does not deal with us as a group with respect to sin. He deals with us as individuals. Did you notice how those commandments began with the pronoun "thou." Thou is singular. It means you as an individual. If God had meant the commandments to apply to us as a group, he would have said "ye."

I believe that standing before God on judgment day will be a very lonely place. Just you and your sin in front of a God that is Holy. Lonely, that is, unless you have an advocate. One to stand up for you and say "he is guilty, but I have paid the price for his falling short. I have lived a life in which I never fell short of God the Father's expectations even once, and I did it in this sinners place. I have purchased him with the price of my blood. He is mine." Yes, the judgment will be a very lonely place for many, but not so if you belong to Jesus!

If you belong to Jesus, then his resurrection is the most significant event in history! It is your proof that his suffering and death on the cross as a payment for your sins is acceptable to God.

(This post is from the message I gave at Valley View Baptist's most recent service at Friendship Manor. If you ever have the opportunity to get involved in a ministry to a nursing home, don't miss the chance. The residents are incredibly happy to have visitors and many of them expressed their thanks for us coming to them since they are unable to go out to attend church services.)

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