The Resurrection of Jesus
This sermon on The Resurrection of Jesus from The Drama of Redemption was preached by Ryan Burns at Redemption Hill Church on Sunday, June 30th, 2013.
You may find the following resources helpful for further study and reflection:
These notes are the unedited transcript used by Ryan for preaching.
If you’ve been around Redemption Hill for any amount of time, you’ll notice that our sermons aren’t usually very light. And, I’d say the reason is that because when we open the scriptures, we’re not dealing with light subjects. We’re talking about God, who he is and what he expects of us, his creation. I think you’ll agree that this is no light matter. But, I hope that the weight of our time together each week actually produces life in you. Right?
I mean, I think there are two responses we can have when we engage God’s word and what it says about God and us. First, it can totally crush us. You can come here, week after week, and hear about God and leave totally crushed. And I think that’s good because I think when the weight of who God is, in his holiness and manifold perfections, when that sets in upon us we realize that we can’t bear the weight. We can’t right? So, what are we to do? Toughen up? Get better? Try harder? No! We need someone to bear it for us! That’s Jesus! that’s the gospel! That’s what we tell you, and anyone who will listen, week in and week out. When we realize that the weight we encounter as we engage God in his word is a weigh that we can only bear because Jesus bears for us… then the weight that you feel is actually something that can bring you the most true and full joy imaginable.
Think of it like this. I remember the first time Jennifer told me she was pregnant. We hadn’t “planned” to have children at that point in our life, but in that moment when she walked out of the bathroom, I felt a weight like I had never felt in all my life. The weight of the reality that our entire life was about to change. That weight, and the now 8 year old boy it represented, was and has been a constant source of joy. Things of true value, things of true worth, are weighty. The weight of proposing or accepting a proposal of marriage. The weight of accepting that new job. The weight of getting accepted to college. The wight of moving out of your parents home, buying your first car, buying your first home, the list goes on… All these announcements bear much weight, but the weight also produces joy. Like the arrival of your child, the walk down the isle to your best friend, the job you’ve longed for, the responsibility you’ve undertaken. Weight and joy are so very intertwined. So, we should not run or fear the weight we feel. We should embrace often embrace it as part of the process of joy.
That is what I hope and pray you’ve been doing the past few weeks as we’ve continued our series called The Drama of Redemption. The last two weeks we’ve looked at the deeply, intensely, personal climax of God’s great story of Redemption. Matthew’s gospel account has lead us through the last few days of Jesus life, leading us to the cross where Jesus died in our place, for our sins. The point to which all of scripture has been pointing. And I’m sure that the depth of this intensely personal Drama of Redemption has weighed on many of you. But I hope that in this weight, you have found much hope, joy, and peace. Like the weight knowing you’re going to be a parent, a husband, a wife, a _____, the weight of Jesus’ death, in our place, for our sins, should actually set your soul a-flight.
If that hasn’t been the case for you, if the weight of Jesus’ death as we’ve studied it the last couple of week is a burden that you can’t shake, may I suggest that is is 1 of 2 things.
One, it may be that you’re not a Christian. It may be that the weight you feel is the weight of what it means to stand before the holy God of all creation and know that, to sense that, deep down you just aren’t right enough with him. That this God might actually demand something of you that you don’t have, and the weight is real and heavy on your soul. If that’s the case, if that’s you, and I know that this may sound cliche, but trust Jesus. That’s the whole point of what Jesus did on the cross. He died for you, so that you don’t have to bear that burden. He’ll bear it for you. Trust Jesus.
For the others of you that have felt a great burden these last few weeks, but you have placed your faith and hope in Jesus’ work for you, you are a Christian. If that’s you, my advice is the same… Trust Jesus. Trust Jesus that the weight you feel is there to produce joy, to produce freedom, to produce life… abundant life, full live, eternal life. That’s what the weight is there for. The weight and worth of God, displayed in his son Jesus, is a spring of eternal joy.
Today, we’re going to gaze deeply into that spring of eternal joy as we look at the Resurrection of Jesus. My goal this morning is three fold. I want to tell you the good news of the resurrection. I want to tell you the great news of the resurrection, and finally, I want to tell you the glorious news of the resurrection. This is the weighty stuff of true worth. This is the weighty stuff that will give you wings to soar if you’ll believe it. This is the weighty stuff that will put a flame in your soul that nothing, not situation, trial, temptation, will every be able to conquer. I want to tell you the great news of the resurrection, and finally, I want to tell you the glorious news of the resurrection.
The good news of the resurrection is that Jesus rose, bodily, from the grave.
We’ve journey with Matthew this long, it is only fitting that we allow him to finish his story, so open to Matthew, chapter 28. Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
We saw last week that, though innocent before God and man, Jesus died, receiving in himself the penalty of sin. That he, as it says in 1 Peter 3:18, the he would suffer for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous. And, that he yielded up his spirit, laying down his life, as he had said he would do in John 10, for us. For you and me. Jesus died (really died) and was buried.
2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
Yup, that sounds about the right reaction. I mean, imagine seeing that! This aint no naked baby with a golden harp. This is a captain of the Lord’s army. These trained soldiers, men of war, tremble at what they see.
5 But the angel 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 has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”
The good news of the gospel is that Jesus rose bodily from the grave. The grave is empty.
8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
Again, we see Mary at the feet of Jesus. Such a good place to be friends. But notice one small thing. They grab a hold of his feet. This is no ghost, no apparition. This is the real Jesus, bodily alive from the grave.
11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.
Now, I know there are some of you here today that don’t believe that Jesus was raised, bodily, from the grave. Perhaps you’ve got a lot of theories about what happened. Let me say, as we see here, you’re not the first and you won’t be the last.
But let me just say a one brief statements about the resurrection for those who aren’t quite ready to accept it, because the good news is that he did raise bodily from the dead.
The first statement is this. The bodily resurrection of Jesus is the only legitimate explanation for Christianity. If there is no bodily resurrection, there is no Christianity, plain and simple.
Jesus lived and died, almost all historians will grant you that much. But what is the reaction of the disciples after Jesus dies? Heck, before he dies the majority of them disappear. But after his death, they go into hiding. They return to their jobs. They huddle up in one another’s houses hoping that the same fate doesn’t happen to them.
But SOMETHING happens. What takes this scared group of men and women and transforms them into a group of people who were willing to suffer persecution, ridicule, and for many of them, beatings, floggings, and execution!?!?
Remember, in the garden, they RAN! They aren’t brave! Peter isn’t brave! They RUN!
Do you think they gathered around after his death and said, “Ok, well, that didn’t work out too well. Let’s vote, who wants to keep this going? Maybe we can create a charade and tell people he rose, then we can keep this going…”
Why would that do that? They gained no power. They gained no wealth. They, naturally speaking, only gained ridicule, persecution, and death!
Just look at what they cashed in on: Peter – crucified upside down in Rome Andrew (Peter’s brother) – Crucified in Greece James – Beheaded under King Herod Philip – Martyred in Turkey Bartholomew – Most likely skinned alive and beheaded, possibly in India. Thomas – Speared to death, likely in India Matthew – His death is unknown James – Martyred in Egypt Jude & Simon (the Zealot) – Both killed in Persia, likely crucified or hacked to death. Matthias – Likely martyred in Ethiopia John – Exiled to an island and died of natural causes
This only logical explanation for the action of the disciples and the early church is that Jesus, bodily, got out of the grave. The good news is that Jesus rose, bodily, from the grave.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.
Wow. Did you hear that? If you’re familiar with the story, you know that Thomas, after hearing from his friends that Jesus rose bodily from the grave, said he’d only believe if he could touch the holes in Jesus hand. This Thomas is the one who was speared to death as he took the news of this risen savior to the people of India.
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The good news is that Jesus rose bodily from the grave, just like he said he would. He gathers his scared and scattered disciples, gives them their marching orders and in that moment nothing else mattered. Jesus was who he said he was and did what he said he’d do. And now, come hell or high water, this time, as those who have seen a dead man live, the disciples run, but this time it is with abandon and to the nations, to fulfill the mission give to them by a RISEN SAVIOR! The good news of the resurrection is that Jesus rose bodily from the grave!
But that’s not all. The great news of the resurrection is that God has accepted Jesus’ death on the cross, in your place, for your sins!
The gospel message, the Drama of Redemption that we’ve been studying it is that we have all sinned and because this we face the judgement of a holy and righteous judge. As good as you think you are, you know and I know, in the depths of your heart you know that if there is a holy and just God, you record isn’t good enough. You know it. But the message of Christianity is that God will make a way where there is no way. By his grace, Jesus lives the perfect life of love and obedience that God not only requires, but is worth of. Jesus then offers his perfect life, in exchange for your messed up life. He says to his disciples at the last supper that his body will be broken and his blood shed for the forgiveness of sins. 1 Peter 2:24 says that he would bear our sins in his body on that tree. We looked, in detail last week (and you can get the audio online if you want to hear it) at what Jesus did in bearing the sins of all who would place their faith and hope and trust in him. And Jesus died… But did it work? Did it really work?
Everyone dies, right? There’s nothing new there. And there are lots of people who have said lots of crazy things. And I think that we can agree that if Jesus’ death didn’t do what he said it would, it would fall into the crazy category. But, everyone dies. The question is did Colossians 2:13 really happen on the cross?
Did our record of debt, with all its legal demands, really get set aside by God by being nailed to the cross? Did it work? How do we know?
Because that’s a big deal, right? We don’t have time to read it in detail, but jot down 1 Corinthians 15 and go read that this week. In verse 14, the apostle Paul boils it down to this: if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. He later says in verse 17 he says: And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
So, yeah, this is a big deal! But great news of the resurrection is that God has accepted Jesus’ death on the cross, in your place, for your sins!
While I could explain this in my own words, I feel it only proper to quote from the man who helped me a lot this week, Charles Simeon. He was an English minister in the late 17 and early 1800s. In his commentary on 1 Corinthians 15, he says,
By faith we view Jesus as a surety (a surety is one who promises to assume responsibility for the debt obligation of another) we consider him as having discharged our debt: this is the ground on which we hope that our sins shall never be put to our account. We believe what the Scripture says, that “it was exacted of him and he was made answerable;” and that his death was a sufficient compensation for the debt which we had incurred. But what proof have we that he has paid the debt, if he be not risen? We may suppose that he undertook to pay it; and that he laid down his life in order to pay it; but this will by no means prove that he has fully satisfied the demands of law and justice. If a man that has become our surety remain in prison, it is a sign that he has not made good the payment which he had taken upon himself; but if he be set free, we then conclude that the creditors have been satisfied. So, if Christ had yet been confined in the prison of the grave, we might have concluded that the debt was yet unpaid; and consequently, our faith in him as our surety would have been vain and delusive: for, notwithstanding all which Jesus might have done for us, there would yet have remained some part of the debt to be discharged by us, and we must therefore have despaired of ever obtaining happiness in the eternal world.
If Jesus doesn’t rise from the grave (for the penalty of sin is death) then we would be safe to assume that his payment was found lacking. It wasn’t enough. Though he may have intended to save us from our sin, if he has not been raised, there should be a great fear that debt still remains in your account.
But great news of the resurrection is that God has accepted Jesus’ death on the cross, in your place, for your sins! His resurrection is proof that God has accepted his sacrifice and that the debt has been paid. And not just that it has been paid, but it has been paid in full. The resurrection means it really is finished!
Isn’t that Great News! All the promises of God are true. If you’re a Christian, you have an assurance that Jesus’ death really was enough! That will free you. That will change you. That will empower you. Jesus took God’s wrath for YOU and God accepted it. Jesus comes out of the grave. Satan, sin, and death are all defeated! His resurrection proves that his death was enough.
The difference between religion and the gospel is that religion says there is still something I have to pay, something I have to do, to make myself right with God. If I simply do enough, If I’m simply nice enough, pray enough, read my bible enough, if I just do enough, I’ll win his favor. But the gospel is that Jesus did enough, and through faith in his work you are made right with God. Jesus’ work got God’s stamp of approval in Jesus’ resurrection. Now, through faith in Jesus, I am made right with God. That’s grace. That’s the Gospel. That is the great news of the resurrection is that God has accepted Jesus’ death on the cross, in your place, for your sins!
But it gets even better (can you believe it?)
The glorious news of the resurrection is that we who place our faith in Jesus now have a living hope to guard and guide us in this life and the life to come.
1 Peter 1:3-5 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
We are born again, we are made new in Christ through faith, and this is not to a life of drudgery, fear, despair… we are are born again TO A LIVING HOPE… how? through the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
The resurrection means that God’s wrath has been satisfied for those who believe and now we can monthly, weekly, daily, minute by minute have a hope that is alive. A hope that is imperishable (it can’t be destroyed), a hope that is undefiled (it can’t be tainted), a hope that is unfading (it won’t diminish or lessen), a hope that is kept in heaven for who?
For you! God’s good news is intensely personal. This hope, given in the death, burial and resurrection is kept by God for YOU who believe. YOU!
Do you believe it? Because it gets even better. It says that you who have this living hope are being guarded by the very power of God.
That word for guard there in the greek carries with it the weight of maintaing a watch over a city, or a guard holding one in custody. But get this. Though faith in Jesus’ death in your place for your sins, his burial, and his bodily resurrection from the dead, you now have a living hope within you that wont perish, won’t be defiled, won’t ever fade… why? because God has not only accepted you in his son Jesus, but has set you in a city, set guards on the wall, and put you under the protection of his very power.
Is that not glorious news?!?! Does that not cause your heart to soar with joy and confidence! It should. It really sure. You have been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
The glorious news of the resurrection is that we who place our faith in Jesus now have a living hope to guard and guide us in this life and the life to come.
The good news of the resurrection is that Jesus rose, bodily, from the grave. The great news of the resurrection is that God has accepted Jesus’ death on the cross, in your place, for your sins! The glorious news of the resurrection is that we who place our faith in Jesus now have a living hope to guard and guide us in this life and the life to come.
“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone.”