Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter-The Resurrection? (John 20)

Christians the world over during this week called Holy Week, are remembering the journey Jesus our savior took to the cross . This week's crescendo will be celebrated on Good Friday when we remember the death of Christ and Easter morning when we remember He is alive through His resurrection. —The sacrifice was paid by God, so that eternal life will be enjoyed by all those who accept to be His, through their faith in the finished work of Christ (Eph 2:8). 

The season of Easter in a sense puts a microphone of remembrance of God's plan for mankind and it heralds the call anew for those who have never heard or for those who have not yet responded to this love call of salvation.

As the world watches Christians celebrate—Some by going to Church every day this week, some by fasting and prayer, while others by reading and watching the accounts of Jesus entering Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) till the resurrection (Easter morning)—There is an enormous sense of importance, but its implications might not be obvious to those who only look on.

The natural question to ask is, "why is Easter such a big deal?" 

Why do I need a savior? Why is Jesus death good news? Why is His resurrection even greater news? So what He rose again from the death, what implications does that have on my life today…some may chime, "Is it not a bit unrealistic to believe in a resurrection?

Jerusalem, Mount of Olive where Jesus walked
Well the foundation of Christianity lies on the life, death and resuurection of Jesus because Jesus is our complete substitute for what a full life lived was created to look like, right from the beginning….ponder this with me.

Jesus lived a perfect life of obedience to God the Father and though He died, He conquered death by resurrecting and is now at the right hand of God the Father almighty. In complete fellowship and unity with Him. His life has been offered as the perfect substitute for ours (Meaning He took our life and the consequences that our actions brought which is punishment deserving of dying on a cross…then we take His life and the beauty of His life which is fellowship with God forever). 

So God, full of justice, allowed Jesus to pay the price for all the wrong things we did or ever would do (Rom 3:23) and then because of our faith in the work of Jesus we gain the beauty of peace, joy, pain, comfort all experienced within an intimate fellowship with God in this life (Rom 6:23). This new life is also coupled with an even better life with God forever, after our time on earth expires. (2 Cor 5:21, 1 Cor 15:20-23, Rom 5:20-21).

However Jesus living and dying for us was not enough to give us this complete full life (John 10:10), He had to conquer both sin and death. His resurrection provides those who believe in Him victory over sin (not being slaves to sin any longer) and victory over death (living forever). Here lies hope, hope not only for Christians but this hope is made available for all mankind, this hope is for all who will believe in Christ.

"Painful way" Old City Jerusalem

But how do we know the resurrection really occurred? 

To establish any case, there is need for eye witnesses and based on the credibility of the witness and the strength of their confession the truth of a case is established. Let us see what the eye witness reports to Christ's resurrection say. Did they see Christ after He had died and what are it's implication for us today?

John: (John 20:1-16)

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb...Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple (John), were going to the tomb...Peter saw...Then the other disciple (John)...went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.

Mary: (John 20:17-20)

11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping...she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting...where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”...16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her...

Jesus Disciples
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord

Thomas: (John 20:24-29)

24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas,“Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Paul: (1 Cor 15:12-18)
But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.
20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. 23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.

Peter: (1 Pet 1:3)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
(2 Pet 1:16) For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty

How credible are the testimonies of these witnesses? All of Jesus disciples died for their testimonies, *Peter was crucified upside down, Paul beheaded, only John died a natural death but in exile. All because they believed and told others about Christ being alive and its implication for all of mankind. Those who saw Christ alive after His death were over 500 in number, but you may say they are biased because they loved and believed in Jesus before He died. That is a fair argument, so watch this Yale graduate, former Chicago Tribune editor Lee Strobel's non-Christian investigation of if the resurrection of Christ really happened. He later on became a Christian because of what he found from his investigation. See a snippet of what he found.
If you have a slower internet connection click here

So if Jesus really lived on earth and died and resurrected, what should be your reasonable response to these things? = Believe 

so that you can have eternal life, the life you were created for. The disciple John says;
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book (The Bible). 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God,and that by believing you may have life in his name. (john 20:30-31)

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1-3)

I understand the things presented here does not bring anyone into full understanding. It is my belief that full understanding to how God can take the place of man might be hard to come by, but even with limited understanding by His grace, belief is possible. Just Like C. S. Lewis said,

We believe that the death of Christ is just that point in history at which something absolutely unimaginable from outside shows through into our own world. And if we cannot picture even the atoms of which our own world is built, of course we are not going to be able to picture this. Indeed, if we found that we could fully understand it, that very fact would show it was not what it professes to be--the inconceivable, the uncreated, the thing from beyond nature, striking down into nature like lightning. You may ask what good it will be to us if we do not understand it. But that is easily answered. A man can eat his dinner without understanding exactly how food nourishes him. A man can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works: indeed, he certainly would not know how it works until he has accepted it.
    ... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), Mere Christianity,
For all of you who believe already, remember that there is no pain in this life that can be compared to the great hope life in Christ brings. So wipe your eyes,...He is alive...He is Risen!!!! Your hope lies in the infallible truth of God's word and the surmountable evidence from witnesses all around the world. I leave you with this quote from one witness many centuries later.
If [Jesus] were God and nothing else, his immortality means nothing to us; if he were a man and no more, His death is no more important than yours or mine. But if He really was both God and man, then when the man Jesus died, God died too, and when the God Jesus rose from the dead, then man rose too, because they were one and the same person.... Dorothy Leigh Sayers (1893-1957), Christian Letters to a Post-Christian World
Happy Easter He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!!!!!
Until next time, be comforted by this praise dance done in Houston by The Praise Dancers of Omega Gospel Church, "Why do you Cry, He has risen" Kurt franklin. Slower internet connection click here

*events in the church which happened after biblical accounts are Found in the books of Church History. Church History books were written by Historians some not even Christians who documented how the church grew after Acts till present 2000 years. If interested you can get started reading this good book The Story of Christianity, Vol. 1: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation by Justo Gonzalez, or if you are like me who likes DVDs, you can check out this one that I own, Christianity-the first 2000 years (this is from a non-Christian point of view).

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