Resurrection Message ❧ Part 1 of 1
WHY DOES JESUS RESURRECTION MATTER?
❧ April 17, 2022 Pastor, Dr. John Denney
“And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad. One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.” And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.”
I’ve been looking forward to this time with you. I want to talk to you this morning about the single most important event in history – the resurrection of Jesus Christ and why it matters. When Jesus rose from the grave, He proved there hope beyond the grave. Jesus’ resurrection is the very heart of Christianity. Just as the heart pumps life-giving blood to every part of the body, so the resurrection gives life to every part of the Gospel. Remove the resurrection and Christianity dies.
I’m not talking about religion. It may surprise you to know that Easter is not for religious people. Jesus Christ did not come for religious people. He could not care less about religion. He is interested people having a real relationship with God. That’s what His resurrection points to – knowing God personally.
You see, knowing Jesus changes everything. That’s what Christianity is all about – a changed life. Ephesians 1:19-20 I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great his power is to help those who believe him. It is that same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead. The word power is used some 57 times in the NT. Christianity is a life of power. The Bible is a book of power. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was the most powerful event in history. Why? Because it is the power to change your life just like it has changed lives throughout history.
In the next few minutes you’re going to see what I mean. A number of people are going to share how Christ has changed their lives (Cardboard Testimony).
This morning we’re going to look at Jesus’ resurrection through the eyes of two people who were whose hopes had been shattered. They were struggling with doubt about Jesus and His claims.
Some of you this morning may be struggling with doubts as well. It’s not so much that you’re against Christianity, but you’re not sure if it is really true. You have some nagging doubts, some unanswered questions. I am praying for you and my hope is that God will answer your questions this morning.
Open with me to Luke 24:1-34 (Read). The first resurrection message in the Bible is when Jesus walked the disciples on the road to Emmaus. The average person walks about 3.5 miles per hour, and it was seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. That means it took about two hours for the disciples to walk to Emmaus. So, here’s my question: How much time did Jesus have to give His Easter sermon? 2 HOURS!
We’re going to look at five reasons this morning of why Jesus’ resurrection matters: 1) It proves who Jesus is. 2) It confirms what He taught. 3) It assures us of God’s offer of forgiveness. 4) It shows us we can know God personally. And 5) It means we can go to Heaven!
- It proves who Jesus is. On the first day of the week (Sunday), the women came to finish with Jesus’ burial. The men, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were in a hurry three days earlier and were not able to complete the burial process (John 19:38-41). So, the women came to finish the job. The moment they arrive at the tomb, they’re surprised to see the huge round stone guarding the entrance to the tomb had already been rolled away. According to the Gospel of Mark, the women had been discussing how they were going to move the huge stone while on their way (Mk. 16:3). Luke doesn’t mention the Roman guard set there by Pilate. They had already fled after an encounter with a couple of angels. It only took two angels to cause the Roman guard of 10 to 30 soldiers to flee for their lives. If we don’t think angels are terrifying, we need only to remember it took one angel of God to wipe out 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (2 Kings 19:35). When the women looked in the tomb, the body of Jesus was gone. They were completely at a loss. This is not what they expected. What happened to Jesus’ body? They didn’t understand at the time, but Jesus had already risen form the dead. The stone had not been rolled away to let Jesus out, but to let others in. God wanted them first to see that the tomb was empty. I’ve checked it out myself. It’s empty!
Suddenly, standing nearby were two men in “dazzling clothing” (v.4). The same word is used of Jesus transfiguration (Mk 9:3; Lk. 9:29). This was a lightening like brilliance of two angels. The women were terrified (just like the soldiers) and bowed their face to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you see the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen(Luke 24:5-6). The women were the first both hear the news that Jesus was alive and to see Jesus Himself. John tells us Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the risen Jesus (John 20:14). Shortly after Jesus met Marry, He met the other women as well (Matt. 28:9-10). God chose women to be the first to discover the empty tomb and to meet the resurrected Jesus. Unlike today, women of that day had a very low social status, so much so their testimony was not even admissible in a court of law. Yet, all four Gospels show that women were the first to witness Jesus’ resurrection. I think this was God’s way of restoring the rightful dignity and respect women. The Bible teaches both men and women are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27).
If the early church had made the story up of Jesus resurrection, they would have never attempted to say the first witnesses of Jesus being alive were women. There was no possible advantage gained by doing this. It created more of a hinderance than help to the credibility of their story. Noted scholar N.T Wright wrote a 700-page book entitled, The Resurrection of the Son of God. He points out there must have been enormous pressure on the early witnesses of the Christian message to remove women from the accounts. The fact that God chose women to be the first to witness the empty tomb and see Jesus alive confirm that the accounts of the resurrection are factual and not made up.
Jesus made a number of shocking claims about Himself. He said He is God (Jn. 8:58). He is the Savior of the world (Lk. 9:56). He is the only way to Heaven (Jn. 14:6). And He said He would prove it by rising from the dead. Only days away from His death, Jesus told His disciples, Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. “They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again (Mark 10:33-34). Jesus proved who He is by rising from the dead. Today, you can to the tombs of founders of the world’s major religions and you’ll find they’re still dead, still buried. Abraham, the founder of the Jews some 4,000 years ago is still buried in Hebron. Thousands visit Buddha’s grave every year in India. Islam’s founder, Mohammed, died on June 8, 632 AD and is still buried in Medina. But if you go the tomb of Jesus, you’ll find it is empty. Why? Because Jesus rose from the dead. No other event in history has been immersed in more skepticism and relentless examination than the hours leading up to His death and the discovery of His empty tomb.
There are at least 15 incidences in the Bible alone of what Jesus did after He came back to life. He walked around Jerusalem for 40 days, He talked to people, He ate with people. They touched Him. One time He spoke to over 500 people. That Jesus arose from the dead was common news.
I’m reminded of a family who received a card in the mail from a friend visiting in Holy Land. The friend described the beautiful gardens he saw there. About that time, the six-year-old of the family receiving the card spoke up, “I wonder if he saw a rose.” His mom asked him, “What rose?” “You know, like the Bible women saw. They went to that garden where Jesus was buried, and they saw Christ had a rose!” Jesus’ resurrection matters because it proves He is Who He said He was.
- It confirms what Jesus taught. Jesus’ resurrection not only proves He is who He said He was, but also confirms everything He taught was truth. If Jesus wasn’t who He said He was then how can you trust anything He says? If He said, “I’m God” and then He didn’t rise back to life how could you know you could trust anything else He said? Yet He did. And since He proved we can be certain that what He says is the truth because God doesn’t lie (Numb. 23:19).
The angels at the tomb continue to speak to the women telling them, Remember how He spoke to you while He was in Galilee, saying the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again (Luke 24:6-7). Circle the word “remember.” The angels were more than reminded the women of Jesus words, they were saying they were there when Jesus gave them! They were the unseen witnesses of Jesus teaching as well! The Bible repeatedly speaks of angels being in our midst, though we cannot see them. They’re mentioned 273 times in 34 books of the Bible. Hebrews 1:14 tells us one of roles of angels is to minister to believers. There are guardian angels (Matt. 18:10; Acts 12:11). Angels are witnessing God’s saving work in our lives (1 Pt. 1:12). There are numerous instances in both the OT and NT of God’s angels watching over and rescuing God’s people. There are unseen angels in this room even as I speak. The Bible teaches there is a demonic presence as well in the world. In every encounter Jesus had with a demon, the demon instantly knew who Jesus was and was terrified. Even demons know Jesus is who He said He was.
John Paton was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. One-night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Paton’s and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came, they were amazed to see their attackers leave.
A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men with you there?” Paton knew no men were present–but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station.
The angels remembered what Jesus said because they were there too. But unlike the women or the men, they did not doubt for a single moment Jesus teaching that He would rise from the dead. Why? Because they knew He is God incarnate! We can fully rely on every word Jesus taught because He is God and God cannot lie. Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies (Jn. 11:25). If Jesus resurrection both proves His is Who He said He was and confirms what He taught, that means by putting our trust in Him, we too can know there is hope for eternal life beyond the grave. This life is not all there is. We were created in God’s image to live forever, and God sent His Son to show us the way to Heaven. But there is more.
The women, filled with excitement, wen to the Apostles telling them what they’d seen. But it says these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them (V.12). The word nonsense is a medical term referring to the babbling of someone suffering from delirium. The apostles thought the women were going insane. Curious and alarmed, Peter and John run to the tomb only to discover it empty as well. They find Jesus gave clothes still neatly wrapped, but no body. No Jesus. No angels. Nothing. Everything was quiet and mysterious. Peter is takes it all in, but it is John who believes (Jn. 20:8). John 20:9 says they still didn’t understand Jesus had to rise from the dead.
Shortly after this, two, for the most part, unknown disciples decide to return to their home in the nearby town of Emmaus about seven miles away. It’s late. The day about over. The news of the women left everyone scratching their heads in confusion and doubt. This leads us to the third reason Jesus resurrection matters is…
- It assures us of God’s offer of forgiveness. This is an amazing account. One of the disciples is named Cleopas (v.18). The other is not named. Some think it may have been Luke himself due to the personalness of the story. What I do see, is God knows and cares for us even though we don’t feel we’re as important as others.
While the two men are slowly making their way to Emmaus, they discuss the strange events of the day. Their hearts are heavy with doubt and sadness (v. 17). All their hopes in Jesus being the Messiah were shattered. Much like us at times, God did not do what they expected. They expected the glory of Christ’s kingdom, but they could not understand the suffering of His cross. They did not understand there had to be a crucifixion before there was a resurrection. Sin and death had to be defeated in order for there to be forgiveness and life.
While they’re walking, a stranger shows up alongside them quietly listening. They’re so consumed in conversation they hardly notice Him. They don’t even acknowledge Him until He speaks to them. He asks them what it was they were talking about. For the first time they turn their attention to Him not realizing the very Person they were talking about was standing in front of them! It says their eyes were prevented from seeing Him (V. 16).
It is interesting not only did they not recognize Jesus’ appearance, but they failed to recognize His voice as well. Surely, they would have recognized His voice, the same voice of power and authority sent demons fleeing, that raised the dead, that readily silenced the Pharisees and Sadducees. You’d think they would have recognized His voice. The same voice they’d listened to for years. But even their ears were closed. Their real problem was not in their heads, but in their hearts. A large part of what kept them from seeing and hearing Jesus was their own doubt (v.38).
When Jesus asks them what things they are talking about, they’re astounded. You must be a complete stranger to not know the things that have taken place here in the last few days! When Jesus asks, “What things?” They briefly recount how Jesus was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people was murdered on the cross by the religious leaders. They’d hoped He was the One who save Israel. Now, it has been three days since He was crucified. All hope was gone. It seems some of our women even lost their minds saying they had a vision of angels telling them Jesus was alive. Can you believe it? But, the bottom line, there is no body. No Jesus. No hope.
Jesus patiently listens as they pour their hearts out. Then He speaks. And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into His glory? (Luke 24:25-26). Even the way He speaks should have shaken them out of the stupor of their doubt. But it didn’t. Jesus plainly tells them it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer on the cross.
Why did Jesus suffer and die on the cross? Because our sins, our failures, our wrongs had to be atoned for, they had to be compensated. All of us carry guilt around from things we’ve done wrong. Guilt builds barriers between you and God. I don’t want to get to know God if I feel like He’s going to judge me. Maybe you got the wrong message. Jesus said, “I didn’t come to condemn the world. I came to save it.” Guilt builds barriers between you and other people. If you feel guilty toward somebody you don’t want to see them. Real living is guilt free living, when you can get up in the morning, look yourself in the mirror and know you’re forgiven. You’ve blown it, you’ve made a lot of mistakes and done a lot of dumb stunts and made bad decisions, but you know you’re forgiven. All of us have made decisions we wish we hadn’t made; we’ve all said things we’d like to retract; we’ve all done things and thought things we wish we hadn’t done, and we’re embarrassed about. The Bible teaches God is a forgiving God. He longs to forgive and restore. But He is also a just God. Our sins, our guilt had to be paid for. That’s why Jesus suffered on the cross and gave His life.
The Bible says God forgave our sins when, He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:14, NLT). Circle “canceled”. Its like a canceled check. How long do you remember a debt that has been canceled? a bill that’s been paid? You don’t. Do you worry about debts that have been paid? No! You just forget them. He’s saying here that you don’t have to worry about sins that have been paid. If God has forgiven it, I can forget it. That’s good news! Even if there were no such thing as heaven, it would be worth becoming a Christian, just to have a clear conscious, just the joy of getting up in the morning and saying, “I’m not carrying this load of guilt for all the things I’ve done wrong.”
A little boy and his father were driving down a country road on a beautiful spring afternoon. Suddenly out of nowhere a bumblebee flew in the car window. Since the little boy was deathly allergic to bee stings, he became terrified. His father quickly reached out, grabbed the bee, squeezed it in his hand, and then released it. But as soon as he let it go, the young son became frantic once again as it buzzed by the little boy.
The father sensed his son’s fear. Once again, he reached out his hand, but this time he pointed to this hand. There, stuck in his skin was the stinger of the bee. “You see this?” he asked. “You don’t need to be afraid anymore. I’ve taken the sting for you.” If you have placed your trust in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, you need to know Christ has taken away the sting of sin and death on the cross. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Co 15:55–57, NAS). The third reason why Jesus resurrection matters is because it assures us of God’s forgiveness.
- It shows us we can know God personally. Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:27). Jesus carefully shows them the Jesus of the Bible before He shows them the Jesus of the resurrection. Beginning with the great patriarch Moses, Jesus walks them carefully through the Bible. Verse 27 says He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. In other words, He showed them God’s purpose of every word, every sentence, every page, every chapter, and every book in the Bible was to point them to the Messiah. Imagine, says one person, the greatest Teacher explaining the greatest themes from the greatest Book and bring the greatest blessings to men’s lives (Wiersbe, TBEC p. 279). What God ultimately wants is for you to know Him personally. That’s why Jesus explained the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. He was reminding them that the God of the Bible is personal and knowable. God wants you to know Him personally.
There’s a word for “knowing about” God. It is called “religion”. Religion is knowing about God. I’m not talking about religion. Religion is our attempt to reach up to God. Religion is knowing about God, but knowing God is a relationship. Jesus Christ did not come to earth to give us a religion. He came to give us a relationship, to relate to us. Religion is like trying to live on sawdust. It may leave you feeling full, but never fulfilled. Only Christ can give us fulfillment. He alone answers the deep hunger of our heart and soul.
1 John 5:20 says And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life (1Jon 5:20, NLT). John says Jesus gives us understanding to known and have a personal relationship with God. Wouldn’t you like to know God that way? You can do that through faith in Christ and learning to know Him in His Word, the Bible. That’s what Jesus was showing the disciples on Emmaus.
- It means we can go to Heaven! I read this last week about an old mountain man who’d lived a full but not exactly saintly life and now was on his deathbed. He summoned his weeping wife. “Sara,” he said, “go to the fireplace and take out the third stone from the top.” She did as he instructed. “Reach in there,” said her husband, “and bring out what you find.” Her fingers touched a large Mason jar, and with some effort she pulled it up. The jar was full of cash. “Sara,” said the old man, “when I go, I’m going to take all that money with me. I want you to put that jar up in the attic by the window. I’ll get it as I go by on my way to heaven.” His wife followed his instructions. That night the old mountaineer died. After the funeral his wife remembered the Mason jar and went to the attic. There was the jar still full of money and by the window. “Oh,” the widow sighed. “I knew I should have put it in the basement.”
The truth is, there are a lot of misconceptions about Heaven and about Hell. Both are real places. Movies, books, religions that will tell you how to get to Heaven. Some say you have to be a good enough person. Others will tell you there are a number of ways to Heaven. Others say, it doesn’t matter. Once you die, you cease to exist. If you really want to know what’s going to happen when you die, I suggest you go the Authority, Jesus Christ. He is the only One who died and rose again to life. He is the only One who can forgive us of our sins and prepare us for life beyond the grave. You may feel as though you’re not important to God. You’re wrong. The disciples on the road to Emmaus remind us He notices and cares. Some of you feel there is no hope for you. Your sins are too great for God to forgive. There is no sin too great that God wont’ forgive if we come to Jesus Christ in faith seeking His forgiveness. Hell is always a choice, a choice to reject God’s offer of forgiveness through His Son.
The point is, Jesus proves death is not the end. He proved that when He rose from the grave. He proved there is forgiveness for our sins, and we can go to Heaven if we turn from our sin and trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Jesus said in John 17, this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth (John 17:3, NLT). God wants you to know Him personally. He wants you to be prepared for eternity. The only way to do that is to place your full trust in Jesus Christ. I want to invite you to pray A Life Changing Prayer
Dear God, Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to earth. I believe Jesus was who He said He was and proved it by rising from death. Lord, open my eyes to see You in my life. I want to get to know You personally. Thank You Jesus Christ for dying for me and forgiving all my sins. I accept You as my Lord and Savior, and Your free gift of eternal life. Amen.