“UNIQUE SYMBOLS OF CHRSIT”                  By Pastor YAU

Text: Luke 24:1-9                                       Easter, April 12, 2009.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   A tooth of the Buddha: Some years back, a news story was reported that a tooth of Buddha was stolen from China and got smuggled to Thailand. Later, that same tooth was sold for a high price to a Buddhist organization in Taiwan. Buddhists treasure the teeth and bones of their Buddha because Buddha had died, buried and got rotten many years ago. The things he left behind are some of his teeth and bones. Buddhists around the world celebrated the birthday of their Buddha year after year.

2)   A tomb of the Christ: Over 2,000 years ago, it was reported that Jesus was crucified on a cross, died and was buried in a tomb shielded with a huge rock and guarded by Roman soldiers. On the third day, he rose from the dead and had appeared in person many times to His followers in 40 days. He did not leave behind any of his body parts to His believers because he rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. Year after years, Christians around the world celebrate both Christmas, the day Jesus was born, and Easter, the day Jesus was resurrected from the dead.

 

FIRST SYMBOL: THE VIRGIN BIRTH:

1)     The prophet had predicted it: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will be with a child and will give birth to a son and will call him Emmanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) No one in human history was born as a result of a prophecy. God had planned this event hundreds of years before it was fulfilled. Every time, when we see the symbol of manger, we know it is the fulfillment of a prophecy: Christ was born of a virgin.

2)     The angel had announced it: “But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with a child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name of Jesus.” (Luke 1:30-31) The fact that Jesus was born of a virgin made him the only man born without the help of a man. This made Jesus the Son of God instead of the son of man like all other founders of religions. Jesus was born without the mix of human nature, the sinful nature of all men.

3)     History had proved it: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) The sinless nature of Christ made him the only worthy Lamb of Redemption for all the sins of men.  Unlike all founders of religion who were born with sinful nature and were sinners themselves, the Christ we believe is the only hope for all sinners of the world, including the founders and believers of all religions.

 

SECOND SYMBOL: THE CRUCIFIXION:

1)   God has predetermined it: “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrow. He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment upon him brought us peace and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5) The Lamb of Redemption was born in God’s plan. His destiny to die on the cross was also God’s intention. The beginning and the end of his life were never by accident but God’s eternal plan for salvation of man. Again, God told Joseph about the coming of Jesus, “She shall give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

2)   Christ has accomplished it: “They came to a place called the  Skull, there they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gull but he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his garments by casting lots. Above his head, they placed the written charge against him: This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.” (Matthew 27:33-37) Jesus was willing to walk up the cross for all the sins of men. As Jesus was agonizing the shame and pain of the cross, he said to God, his Father, “Yet not as I will but as you will.” (Matt. 26:39) When he foretold the disciple his destiny, Jesus said, “No one takes it (my life) from me, I lay it down on my own accord. I have the authority to lay it down (to die) and I have the authority to take it up again (to rise from the dead).” (John 10:18)

3)   And believers glorified it: When Paul testified on his dramatic change of life, he said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20) And to his gospel ministry, Paul said, “But we preach Christ crucified.” (1 Corinth. 1:23) As to the meaning of Christian life, Paul said, “For we know that our old self was crucified with Christ, so that the body of sin might be done away with and we should no longer be slaves of sin.” (Romans 6:6) Through 2,000 years of Christian history, countless believers had died to take a stand on their faith and loyalty to their crucified Lord. The cross has been the most recognized symbol of Christ and Christian faith. It stands on top of all church buildings, inside all worship places, on Bibles and hymnbooks and faith related articles. Christians take pride of the cross even place it on their tombstones.

 

THIRD SYMBOL: RESURRECTION:

1)   Testimony of an angel: “The angel said to the women: Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, he has risen, just as he said.” (Matt. 28:5-6) Among all the witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus, the angel was the first to bring the testimony. If we are looking for a trustworthy witness, no one is better than an angel.

2)   Testimony of the women: “Woman,” he (Jesus) 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.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me for I have not yet return 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.” (John 20:15-17)

3)   Testimony of the disciples: “On the evening of the first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Thomas, one the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” (John 20:19, 24-25) There are other incidents the risen Lord appeared to his disciples. This experience of seeing the risen Lord became the core power of all the disciples and believers in their boldness of witnessing for the gospel.

4)   Testimony of Paul: “As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly as light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. (Acts 9:3-5)This is the turning point of Paul’s life: Jesus changed him from an avowed persecutor to a fearless defender of the Christian faith. Paul testified that he was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. (Acts 26:19)

5)   Testimony of history: In The Triumph of Christianity, published by The Reader’s Digest, writers concluded that the turning point of Christian faith was the resurrection of Christ. Through this miracle of resurrection, believers of Jesus fearlessly defended their faith, spread their faith, persecuted for their faith and even die for their faith. Countless faithful believers committed their lives to live for Christ. Millions turn their life around and devote their life, resource and talents in missions, church planting and reaching the lost. Through his resurrection, Jesus sent out his faithful to bring the salvation message to all corners of the world. For this course, we, the people of FCBC, are part of this great movement of love, sacrifice and victory.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Easter, key of faith: All the above three unique symbols are very important to Christian faith. In fact, they are foundational rocks of Christianity. Take any one out and Christian faith will collapse. So, celebrating Easter is much more than a formality or some church activity. It is a reminder of why we believe what we believe: we believe in a Savior who had died, was buried and had risen from the dead to give us a resounding victory over sin and Satan.

2)   Easter: key of salvation: It is the death and resurrection of Jesus that effectively sets Christian faith apart from all other religions. No founder of any other religion had died for his believers. No founder of any other religion had risen from the dead after he had died. No founder of any religion had shed his blood for the redemption of his followers. It is the blood of Jesus from the cross that washes away the stains of our sins. The resurrection of Jesus had shielded the guarantee of forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life.

3)   Easter: time to believe: Since Jesus loved you so much that he was willing to die on the cross for your sins, isn’t it reasonable for you to show him your gratitude by accepting his gift of love and eternal life on the day of celebrating his resurrection? Do not push the decision away for another day because you don’t know if you have another day, another opportunity or another moving of your heart to make that most important decision of your life. Ask Jesus to enter your heart now. Confess your sins to him and he will forgive them all. He will make your life anew and give you a meaningful, powerful and wonderful life.