“DEAD BUT ALIVE”                                        By Pastor YAU

John 20:1-10                                                       Easter, April 8, 2007

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)    A Communist leader: Long lines of visitors from all over the world waited patiently day after day to visit Lenin’s Tomb in Moscow to view his embalmed body. Although he died in 1924, the corpse of this communist leader has seemingly suffered no decomposition. But its lifelike appearance is deceptive. Skillful artists monitor the preserved corpse, artificially coloring its face and using wax to fill in lines and small spots of decay.

2)    The world Savior: People who visit Jerusalem also see the place where Jesus died and was buried. But there is a striking difference---there is no body of the crucified Jesus anywhere. Yes, there is the rock-hewn tomb but there is no sign of a body to be found first by the disciples or anyone else in the 2,000 years of Christian history. He was raise from the dead by the power of God, His Father. The Savior left His grave clothes behind when he emerged from the tomb like a butterfly abandoning its cocoon. He was dead but became alive and continues to live today in Heaven and in the hearts of His followers.

 

RECORDS OF RESURRECTION:

1)    Witnessed by the women: (Matthew 28:1-10) Women and their faithfulness had a special place in the ministry of Jesus when He was traveling and preaching the message of salvation. After He was resurrected, He first appeared to these women as recorded here in Matthew 28 and again in John 20:11-16.

2)    Witnessed by the disciples: (John 20:19-29) Some of the disciples did not really believe the reports of the women, so Jesus appeared to them twice in this passage, first without Thomas then to Thomas when the others were present.

3)    Witnessed by other believers: (Luke 24:13-35; Mark 16:12-13) On these records, Jesus appeared to 2 believers who were traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They ate with Him and invited Him to spend the night at the inn. Paul also mentioned that the resurrected Jesus appeared to more than 500 believers at one time in 1 Corinthians 15:6 and most of them were still alive when the letter was written. 

4)    Witnessed by Apostle Paul: (Acts 9:1-9) When Paul, a persecutor of this New Faith at that time, was on the way to Damascus to arrest the believers of this “New Faith”, he was confronted by the risen Jesus. He then was called to bring this “New Faith” to the Gentiles. In his appeal for his case, Paul repeatedly recounted this experience as the most powerful proof of his call to gospel ministry.

 

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESURRECTION:

1)   It is in the plans of God: The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is never the invention of his disciples to fool people or the creation of the early Christians for the comfort they needed as some may suggest. It was planned way back by God and foretold in the Old Testament in Isaiah 53:11-12 and by the Lord Himself repeatedly. (John 2:19-22; Luke 18:33, 24:46) Jesus foretold His disciples on His coming death and resurrection so they won’t be surprised when He died.

2)   It is a victory over death: Paul uses the longest chapter in the book of 1 Corinthians to explain the importance of the resurrection of Christ. He concludes with such a statement: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?” (Hosea 13:14) “The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinth. 15:54-57)

3)   It is the center of the gospel: Paul testified, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Then he argued on the significance of the resurrection, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and your faith is also useless…And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor.

15:3-4, 14, 17)

4)   It is the basis of our resurrection: Paul continued to present to us the importance of Christ’ resurrection in 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” Then he presented to us the future resurrected body, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep but we will all be changed. In flash, in a brink of an eye, the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed. For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality.” (15:51-54) Because Christ was raised from the dead, so we all shall be raised from the dead.

 

PROPER REPONSE TO RESURRECTION:

1)    We need to take a firm stand: Resurrection and eternal life is never easy to understand much less to have firm belief but that is exactly what we need to do. Paul encourages us, “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I presented to you which you receive and on which you have taken your stand.” (1 Corinth. 15:1) This is the key to set apart our faith in Christ from all other religions. Never in human history has any religious founder been raised from the dead. Never has any religious founder left behind an empty tomb.

2)    We need to hold a strong hope: Our faith in resurrection provides us a strong hope on eternal life. Paul said, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (15:19) The fact that Christians are not afraid of death is because we are assured of a new life after death which is based solely on the resurrection of Christ. Life on this planet earth is never meant to be forever. Jesus has gone to prepare us a much better place and He will receive us into His presence once we have finished our earthly journey. (John 14:3)

3)    We need to live a new life:  Paul encouraged the early believers to live their life that is compatible with the resurrected life of Jesus. In Romans 6:3-6, “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with Him in his death we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (6:3-11, the whole reference)

4)    We need to spread the Good News: The gospel is the Good News of a risen Christ, the Savior. It is the fervency of the faithful in the past we have been saved. Now it is our turn to bring this gospel message to all people over the world, beginning from those closest to us: families, friends, colleagues, neighbors and other acquaintances. I was at the Commissioning Service last night in which 49 men and women gave their lives, the American dream and all the comfort and opportunities we have to go to distant lands to present the gospel message to those who have never heard it before. We may not have to go to far away places to do this. But we need to make a commitment to do just that.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   It is more than a celebration: Easter is worthy of celebration but we should not stop at this. We need to truly know what it is and why it is so important so our faith in Christ may be strengthened.

2)   It is time to be witnesses: Just as those in the Bible who witnessed the risen Christ and brought the good news to others, we need to bring the good news to our generation so others may be saved.

3)   It is time to be saved: No other time is better than Easter to make a commitment to receive Christ into your heart if you have never done this before. He will grant you forgiveness of sin today and eternal life in the life to come.