Jesus is resurrected from the dead. Everything He had said to His disciples has come to pass. What was next? How were the disciples supposed to change as a result of the Resurrection? What did Jesus’ resurrection mean for His followers? What does it mean for you and me today? Where do we go from here?
There is a moment in Alice in Wonderland when Alice comes to a junction in the road that leads in different directions. She asks the Cheshire Cat, “Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to go to,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where,” replied Alice to which the Cat replied, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” (Daily Walk, May 31, 1992.)
The Resurrection is a junction in the road. Where we go from there is of utmost importance. The Resurrection is supposed to make a daily difference in our lives. What we do with it, how we process it, where we go from that reality and how we walk cannot be arbitrary. It’s not something we can take lightly or haphazardly. The Resurrection makes a definitive and daily impact on our lives as we seek to continue to walk with Jesus.
Too many Christians go to Calvary and stop there. They make it to the cross where Jesus died. They feel remorse for their sins. They willingly let Jesus take the place of their punishment. They know that Calvary only becomes a place of victory because the tomb is empty, but they stop short of allowing the impact of the Resurrection to make a daily impact on their lives. To understand what lies beyond the empty tomb, we must walk past Calvary, through the empty tomb and into the life of discipleship Jesus calls us to. To help us, let’s look at the three characters I mentioned briefly last week; Mary Magdalene, Thomas, and Peter who encountered Jesus personally right after the Resurrection.
John 20:10-18 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11 but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
The Resurrection compels us to live a life of PROCLAMATION. Jesus appeared first ot Mary Magdalene and commissioned her (the first female preacher!) to go share the Gospel “Good News.” Because of the Resurrection, Mary went from “follower” to “proclaimer!”
In this exchange, Jesus explained to Mary that He wasn’t going to stay on earth, but would return to His Father in Heaven. He was introducing the news that the Resurrection would change the kind of relationship Jesus and Mary would have. Jesus told her, “Don’t hold on to me.” The Greek word that Jesus used to tell her not to touch Him means, “Don’t cling to me.” Mary didn’t just want to hug Jesus because of her joy over the Resurrection. She wanted to cling to Him. She wanted Him to stay with her. She had gone from the intense low of feeling the loss of Him to elation of having Him again. She wasn’t going to lose Him again. She wanted to keep Him with her always.
By telling her not to cling to Him, Jesus was easing her into the reality that she was no longer going to walk behind Him and listen to Him teach in a 3D earthly dimension, but their relationship would move beyond a physical, earthly relationship to a spiritual empowering. She would become a proclaimer of the Gospel, one to tell the story of Jesus’ life, death, burial and Resurrection.
Because Jesus was leaving, He commissioned Mary and the others to become the ones to proclaim the Good News. The empty tomb meant that Jesus’ sacrifice had been accepted. The price for that you and I couldn’t pay was paid. When Jesus arose victoriously over death, death became nothing those who put their faith in Christ would ever have to fear. He took our place in punishment. He took our place in death. We don’t have to fear either. That is good news, news that had to be shared, and since Jesus was ascending shortly to the Father, the disciples needed to embrace that they were to become proclaimers of these truths. Jesus had proclaimed the Kingdom of God. Now that job was given to His followers.
You and I are to be proclaimers of the same truths, and the awesome thing about these truths is that they contain GOOD NEWS! That’s what the word “Gospel” means. Do we believe it is Good News? Church, do we believe the Gospel is really Good News? I feel like many Christians live their lives tip toeing around people with the Gospel, trying to not to disturb anyone with it. So they whisper it, hint about it or hope their friends and family will “like what they see” just from watching the Christian’s life. Then, maybe they won’t have to “say” anything or much about anything where the Gospel is concerned. I am telling the truth this morning. Many have become so politically correct, so careful about never offending anyone that we have forgotten that we have truth to tell that is still GOOD NEWS, and the last time I checked the angel said it was “for all people!”
I remember how I felt when I found out we were expecting our first child, Hannah! It was incredibly joyous news. It was news I couldn’t contain. I knew it was news that would change our lives forever in the most exciting way. It didn’t matter to me that it was two o’clock in the morning, I was calling some people! I couldn’t wait to share it! I wanted everyone to know my great news as soon as possible. If I couldn’t wait to tell the good news that impacted me, how much more should I not hesitate to proclaim the Good News that impacts everyone who is willing to listen and believe!
“But I don’t know what to say.” Try some of these lines:
Jesus died and rose from the dead, and we are forgiven.
Jesus was willingly punished in our place so we can go free.
Jesus demonstrated the love of God on the cross that is for everyone who wants to share it.
God has adopted us as His children and the price He paid for us is blood.
We no longer have to be slaves to sin, Romans 6, 7 and 8. Because of the Resurrection you and I have the freedom NOT to sin.
The same power that crushed death and the Devil, that same power that raised Christ from the dead is now at work in the people who receive the truths of the crucifixion and
Resurrection (Eph. 1:19-21).
Because of the Resurrection, the broken relationship problem we have with God is solved and we can become what we were created to be and do what we were created to do.
Because Jesus became new after His Resurrection, we can be new too.
The curse on our lives is broken because Christ redeemed us from the curse (Rom. 3:24, Gal. 3:13, Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14, Tit. 2:14, Hebrews 9:11-12).
You were unrighteous, but Jesus made you righteous (Romans 5:17-19, Gal. 5:5, Phil. 3:8-9).
In other words, you were UGLY, but Jesus has made you beautiful to look at because when God looks at you He sees Jesus!
Or how about the simple truth that I have found to be very effective: “I know Jesus personally, and you can too!”
Proclaim it with me. Christ is risen! That wasn’t hard, right? But let me break it down for you. The people in this room already know that! When you leave here you need to proclaim it out there because I am telling you we are now living in a time when you ask someone about Jesus they may say, “Who is Jesus!” How will they know unless we embrace our call to proclaim the Good News? The Resurrection compels us as Christ’s disciples to live a life of proclamation.
John 20:24-31 24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
The Resurrection compels us to live a life of DECISION. Post Resurrection, we read Thomas’s definitive statement of faith: “My Lord and my God!” No ambiguity. No wishy washy half-hearted commitment. A skeptic was instantly converted. He emphatically took Jesus to be His Lord and Savior.
The Resurrection creates a dividing line that creates the need for decision. Those who don’t decide what they believe about Christ, by their “lack of choice” make a decision against Him. Those who don’t decide for Him won’t be right with God. They won’t be forgiven of their sins. They won’t be empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a victorious life. There are some things in this life you can “take or leave.” What you decide about them has no lasting consequences. When someone asks you if you want vanilla or chocolate ice cream and you say, “Surprise me” whichever one you are served has no consequence of any value. There are some things you can be on fence about or indecisive about, but listen, friends, no one can be on the fence about Jesus. You are on one side or the other. And which side of the fence you are on has lasting, eternal consequences.
Being decisive about Jesus isn’t a one-time event, but a daily choice. We love the salvation piece. Freedom from sin! Reconciliation with God! Woohoo! Trading our shame for His righteousness is a great deal! But daily walking with Jesus involves daily decisions. Jesus didn’t quit instructing the disciples after the Resurrection. He told them where to go and what to do until the Holy Spirit was poured out, and then Jesus and the Holy Spirit traded places, and the Holy Spirit became the BOSS of every believer. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity who guides us into all truth (John 16:13). The fact that Jesus died and rose again is truth, but there is more truth for us to know, embrace, and walk in.
Resurrection, you see, makes a daily relationship with God possible. That’s why it is such Good News. We can be in daily fellowship with God! What does that look like? You make a choice daily about whether to get out of bed, right? When you get up, that is, when you rise . . .when you daily rise you have intentions. You intend to go to work or go to school or whatever the day calls for. When you choose to rise and go to work or school or to the appointments you have scheduled or to do the errands you have to run, you realize there will be a physical, mental, and emotional investment you will make. Living your life will require something of you. There will be some unknowns you will encounter, some challenges along the way, and more decisions to make as the day progresses, but if you choose to rise, you are choosing to embrace the day’s path. You may complain about your experiences, you may struggle with some things, but when you rise you are making a commitment to walk through the day.
The same is true for those who choose daily to rise in Christ. However, when we rise in Christ daily, our spiritual lives and our physical lives become lives we no longer plan out and control. When we come to Christ, we leave our agenda at the cross, and we pick up the will of God. That’s what Scripture talks about when it says we are to “carry a cross daily” (Luke 9:23).
When Thomas said, “My Lord, and my God,” He was saying, “God, You are in control of all that happens next. Where You lead I can follow because Jesus, You obviously have no limitations. You went through the doorway of death and came out victorious, so I’m walking with You.” Daily decisions of a disciple become decisions of submission. Will we daily decide to do what God wants us to do? Will we daily decide to say what God wants us to say? Will we daily decide to go where God wants us to go, and will we daily respond to life’s events the way God wants us to?
When the kids at school are talking about someone in an unkind way and you are standing there, and God speaks to you to tell you to speak up or at the minimum to walk away, is your decision the same Thomas made? “My Lord, and my God!” Or when someone in an early class has the answers from the test for your later class do you refuse to cheat while internally saying, “My Lord, and my God?” When the co-workers are looking for a way to cut corners without the boss knowing, and God speaks to you to speak up, is your response, “My Lord, and my God?” When pornography pops up on your computer unsolicited by you, is your immediate choice to turn the computer off and stand up and say, “My Lord and my God?” When the store clerk accidently gives you too much change back, do you slip it into your pocket or do you quietly say, “My Lord, and my God,” before returning it? When the drugs are offered, the alcohol is flowing, the sexual invitation is issued and you are sure “no one would ever find out,” do you emphatically and decisively say, “My Lord and my God?”
Because of the Resurrection, you see, we can be done with wishy washy living. We can be declarative and decisive and we can choose to exercise faith in the Living Christ as we process every decision.
The Resurrection compels us to live a life of demonstration.
John 21:15-1715 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
For those who would follow Jesus it begins with a profession of faith, but it continues with a demonstration of faith. When Jesus asked Peter if Peter loved Him, Jesus didn’t take Peter’s word for it. He prescribed actions for Peter to do in order to back up those words. Jesus was driving home a point with Peter. Talk is cheap. Peter had talked big once before, but the follow through had fallen through. Jesus was telling Peter that if he loved Jesus, he would show Him with His life. The kind of love Jesus prescribed was active and hands on.
Remember, before His crucifixion, Jesus had given His disciples a new command; the command to love. John 13:34-35 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” A life of demonstrating love is a major hallmark for a believer. The way we love people, believers and non-believers, reveals the sincerity or shallowness of our love for God.
A pastor tells the story of a woman named Nelda who was returning from Tyler to Dallas, TX late one night when she began to have car trouble. She was in what she thought was an unsafe part of the city. So she began looking for a good place to pull off the street.
She spotted a post office with a well-lit parking lot so she turned into it. Just as she stopped her car, a middle-aged man came out of the door of the post office. She told him her problem and asked for his help. He told her he was sorry, but he was in a hurry and got in his car and drove off. As he pulled away she noticed the bumper sticker on his car. It read, ‘Jesus loves you and so do I.’”
“That’s the extent of some people’s love. It never gets beyond words. They have a bumper sticker religion. It may be that the greatest curse of the modern church is that when all has been said and done, a whole lot more has been said than has been done.” (http://sermons.logos.com/submissions/122181-Do-You-Love-Jesus-#content=/submissions/122181)
God isn’t interested in words without a walk to support them. I John 3:18 says, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” Jesus had a job for Peter that would prove His love. Jesus has a job for each of us as well and our willingness to embrace that task is proof of our love for God or love for self.
GO TO BLANKE SLIDE
The kind of love Jesus lived and died to model was a love for all people; unlovely people, vile people, rude people, rich people, poor people, educated and uneducated people, self-centered people, religious people, simple people, obnoxious people, slow people, dense people, offensive people, and even evil people. Without it, there is no real proof that we have been converted; that we have been saved. Because of the Resurrection we are compelled to love people the way that God loves us. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6) When no one should have ever thought about loving us, Jesus did. Without reservation or hesitation, and with every fiber of His being, He loved us.
Jesus forgave sinners while He hung on the cross, and in this discourse with Peter, right after the Resurrection, He was still in forgiveness mode. Peter had denied and deserted Jesus after promising He never would. Jesus didn’t wait for Peter to come to Him. He didn’t wait for Peter to confess His shortcomings and ask for forgiveness. He went to Peter and initiated the discussion. In love He reconnected to Peter and let Peter reconnect to Him by living a life of love.
What you do with the Resurrection is as important as what you do with the Cross if you want to go the way of Jesus. Let the empty tomb compel you to proclaim the Gospel, to decide daily to live for Christ, and to make sure your life is a demonstration of that internal decision as you live a life of love.