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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’ resurrection’

Luke 23:54-24:7

After Jesus’ crucifixion and burial –

The disciples acted as if Jesus was dead and gone

This is what they believed, and you can tell what they really believed by their actions:

  • The eleven were overcome by fear – John 20:19. In fact, they were huddled together behind locked doors for fear of the authorities. Jesus was dead, and they were afraid they might be next.
  • The two disciples on the Emmaus road were despairing – Luke 24:21. They said, “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” But now, here Jesus is dead.
  • The women (from our own text) had given up – Luke 24:1. They went to the tomb in order to treat Jesus’ body with spices and ointments they had prepared. It’s what you do when someone’s dead.

All of these believed that Jesus was dead and gone, and they acted accordingly.

But Jesus is alive!

Picking up again with our text, first the women found the tomb was empty – vs. 3-4. But, since this didn’t fit their belief “they were perplexed” – v. 4. And then they heard the message of the angels, who told the women two crucial things. And I want us to get this.

1. You need to remember what Jesus said. Luke 24:6-7 – “Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” He said he would rise from the dead

And even deeper than this, 2. You need to understand who Jesus is. Luke 24:5-6 – “Why do you seek the Living One among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” Jesus is the Living One. Why would he be found in a tomb? That’s not who Jesus is!

No, Jesus isn’t dead, as you think and as you are living. Rather –

Jesus lives, and they should live based on this truth

  • So, the eleven don’t have to huddle in fear, they can go forth with courage and serve God boldly
  • The two disciples on the Emmaus road can have hope for the salvation of God
  • The women don’t have to give up and move on. They can press on in their service to Jesus

That’s the difference it makes to truly realize that Jesus is alive and to live like this is so.  And as we know from the scriptures – Jesus’ disciples were transformed by this realization from despair to new life.

Well, you know what?

We often act as if Jesus is dead and gone

Oh, we say Jesus is alive. But just as with the disciples our actions (our attitudes and outlook) often betray a different belief.  We act as if Jesus is unable to hear us, unable to respond to us, unable to help us; as if he’s as good as dead.

Like the disciples –

  • We too are overcome by fear, hiding away under the weight of our struggles in life and serving God
  • We too become despairing, thinking our situation is impossible
  • We too give up in the face of our difficulties

But, sisters and brothers, the truth is that Jesus is alive!

We need to hear the twofold message of the angles, just as the women did 2,000 years ago. 1. We need to remember that what Jesus said happened. Jesus was raised. He told his disciples ahead of time and they witness to us of this truth.

  • Peter said, “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.” – Acts 2:32
  • Peter also said, “You killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.” – Acts 3:15
  • Again Peter said, “The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things . . .” – Acts 5:30-32
  • Peter preached, “They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses” – Acts 10:39-41
  • Paul preached, “And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took Jesus down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people.” – Acts 13:29-31
  • Paul said, Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead. . .” – Romans 1:4
  • Paul wrote, “Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father” – Romans 6:4
  • Paul delivered to his hearers that Jesus “was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas (or Peter), then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” – 1 Corinthians 15:4-8
  • Paul taught that “God raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named” – Ephesians 1:20-21

 What Jesus said has indeed happened!!!

And even deeper than this, as the angels told the women, 2. We need to understand who Jesus is. He is “The Living One”; this is his very identity.

  •  Jesus said about himself, “I am the resurrection and the life” – John 11:25
  • Jesus states “just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself” – John 5:26
  • Jesus calls himself “the first and the last and the living One” – Revelation 1:17-18
  • Jesus said, “I was dead, and see, I am alive forevermore; and I have the keys to death and Hades” – Revelation 1:18
  • Jesus is called the “Author of life” in Acts 3:15
  • “The word of life” in 1 John 1:11
  • John 1:4 says, “what has come into being in him is life”  (NRSV)
  • Hebrews 7:16 says that Jesus had “the power of an indestructible life”
  • And because of this as Acts 2:24 testifies, “it was impossible for Jesus to be held by the power of death.”

This is who Jesus is. Jesus is life! He cannot, not live! This is the very identity of Jesus. And we need to remember this.

Jesus lives, and we should live based on this truth

  • So, we don’t need to be overwhelmed by our fears. We can have courage to move forward in life as we serve God.
  • We don’t need to despair. We can have hope for the salvation of God in our lives.
  • We don’t need to give up. We can press on when things get difficult

Why? Because Jesus is alive and he can hear us and respond to us and walk with us. So let’s live our lives based on this truth and move forward with boldness and faith in our lives and in our service to God.

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As we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection today, we rightly think of the glory of our risen Lord. We think, for instance, of how he was transfigured into a glorious new existence. Revelation 1:13-16 describes him in this way – “one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. . . and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.”

We also rightly think of his glory as he is seated at the right hand of God being honored and glorified above all.

But we need to remember what came before all this. First he walked a lowly path without glory at all. And there is a connection between this lowly path and the glory of the resurrection. And the connection is this – the one has to come before the other; lowliness before glory.

And this is something that we need to take note of, all of us who have set our hope on being raised up on the last day. And in fact, Jesus calls us to this very thing – to take note of his teaching and example and to follow him on the lowly path that leads to resurrection.

Let’s look at this path this morning to see what it consists of. Before the glory of the resurrection, comes –

 The way of humility

Jesus taught us to be humble. He said, “He who humbles himself will be exalted” – Luke 14:11. In context here, he is talking about taking the lowest place at a banquet; that is, not seeking out honor or social status.

This saying is also used in Luke 18:14, James 4:10 to talk about recognizing our failures and sins and repenting of them. This is a part of what humility means.

So Jesus is saying that it is the humble who will be exalted by God to a place of honor. And this certainly includes on the day of resurrection.

Jesus also modeled the way of humility for us. He gave up seeking out social status and honor and put himself on the bottom; he took the lowly place. For instance:

  • He became human. Although, John tells us, in the beginning he “was with God, and (he) was God . . .. he became flesh and dwelt among us” – John 1:1; 14. As Paul said, “though he was in the form of God, (he) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing” – Philippians 2:6-7.
  • He was homeless. As he said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20.
  • He was dependent on others for food and shelter. Luke 8:2-3 speaks of several women disciples “who provided for (him and his disciples) out of their means.”

Jesus took up a very low social place. And just as he taught, he was raised to a place of honor at the right hand of God.

So we learn from Jesus’ teaching and example that first comes humility, and then comes exaltation; being raised up by God to a place of honor on the final day.

And without humility we will not be exalted. For Jesus also said in Luke 14:11, “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,” that is, by God. If we are busy lifting ourselves up in this life we will not be lifted up by God on the final day. It is only those who humble themselves who will be exalted in the resurrection.

Also, before the glory of the resurrection, comes –

The way of serving others

 Jesus taught us to minister to the needs of others. He said, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” – Mark 9:35. He is talking about lowering ourselves to the lowest place in order to serve the needs of others.

Jesus is saying that those who make themselves last, are the ones whom God will make first on the final day.

Jesus also modeled being a servant to others. He placed himself below others in order to minister to their needs. As he said, “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve” – Mark 10:45. He served those who were lowly in that day – women, children, outcasts and the poor. He sought to bless them and lift them up. He served as:

  • He taught people God’s way – Luke 4:43
  • He healed people – Matthew 4:23
  • He set people free from demons – Mark 1:27

He became last of all and servant of all. And just as he taught, he was raised to the first place in all of creation, above all powers and authorities. He is indeed the first-born of all creation – Colossians 1:15.

So we learn from Jesus’ teaching and example that first comes servanthood, being last, and then comes being first.

And without being last, we will not be made first by God. For Jesus also said, “the first will be last” – Luke 13:30. If we are busy putting ourselves first in this life, we will find ourselves in the last place on the final day. It is only those who serve others that will be given the highest status in the resurrection.

Still yet, before the glory of the resurrection, comes –

The way of suffering

Jesus taught us that we will suffer for our faith in him. He said, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” – Luke 6:22-23. We are to accept whatever suffering comes our way because of our faith in Jesus.

And Jesus is saying that those who accept suffering will be “blessed.” Their “reward is great in heaven” waiting for them on that final day.

Jesus also modeled for us the path of righteous suffering:

  • He was slandered, being called a false prophet and a blasphemer – Mark 14:64
  • He suffered injustice from the Jewish and Gentile authorities – Mark 15:15
  • He was shamed being spit on, mocked, ridiculed and taunted – Mark 14:65; 15:16-20
  • He was beaten and scourged – Mark 15:15

Jesus suffered greatly. And just as he taught, he was blessed for his suffering. He received his reward when God raised him from the dead.

So we learn from Jesus’ teaching and example that first comes suffering for our faith, and then comes the blessing of God – an eternal reward from God on the final day.

And without accepting suffering we will not be blessed. For Jesus also said,  “Woe to you” speaking of those who compromise, so that they don’t have to suffer for their faith. He teaches us that the only reward and blessing such will have is what they get in this life. There will be nothing for them in the next life – Luke 6:24-26. It is only those who accept suffering for their faith who will be blessed in the resurrection.

Finally, before the glory of the resurrection, comes –

The way of death

Jesus taught us to lose our lives. He said, “Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” – Mark 8:35. In context, to lose your life is to deny yourself, to take up your cross; to give up your earthly life for Jesus. And we are to do this in smaller way even daily – Luke 9:23.

The phrase, “to save your life” comes to us in different versions: It means that you will “find it” – Matthew 16:25; you will “keep it” – Luke 17:33 on the final day. It means that you “will keep it for eternal life” – John 12:25. Jesus is talking here about resurrection.

Jesus also modeled for us losing his life:

  • He gave up his life every day. He denied himself to serve others as we have seen.
  • He was crucified and killed –  Mark 15:34, 37.

And just as he taught, having lost his life, having taken up his cross, he saved his life. He found his life in the resurrection.

So we learn from Jesus’ teaching and example that first comes losing one’s life, and then comes saving one’s life.

And without losing our lives, we will not save our lives. For Jesus also said, “Whoever seeks to preserve his (earthly) life will lose it” – Luke 17:33. It is only those who take up their cross, who lose their lives in service to God, who will find their lives in the resurrection.

So for us who have set our hope not on this life, but on the life to come and the resurrection of the dead – Jesus shows us the way. He is, after all, the Risen One. And he shows us the path that all must take. First comes lowliness, servanthood, suffering and death. And then and only then comes resurrection – new life, blessing, being first, and exaltation.

May God strengthen us to take the lowly way, so that we may each find the glory that God desires for us.

William Higgins

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We’re looking at the gospel, that God is doing something new in the world. And how God invites each of us to be a part of it. And the first way to do this is to . . .

1. Believe

Now, it’s obvious enough that something is wrong with the world. We see it every day, evil, injustice, suffering and death. And we don’t just see it, we experience it ourselves. Its in the news headlines all the time: wars, murders, theft, hunger and oppression. Human suffering is all around us.

But Jesus came with good news. God has begun to act through him to make all things new! He said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand . . . ” – Mark 1:15. Jesus is saying, its begun; and its begun with my coming.

And God confirmed that he was right:

  • God worked through Jesus’ ministry in amazing ways to manifest the kingdom, through healings, the casting out of demons and transformed lives.
  • And God raised Jesus up from an unjust death and made him Lord of all things.

God’s kingdom has begun with Jesus – his ministry and especially with his resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection heralds the decisive inbreaking of God’s new creation; of resurrection life.

In Jesus, God has begun to do away with the old – the evil and the suffering of our world, including death, and God has begun to bring in the new – life, joy and peace. And Jesus calls us to “. . . believe the good news” – Mark 1:15.

To be a part of this new thing that God is doing, this new creation, choose to believe that God is making all things new through Jesus.

2. Turn

We not only experience evil in our lives, we also practice evil. We are by nature self-centered. And because of this we often harm others, we practice injustice, we are cruel to others. If we wonder why the world is like it is, we only need to look at ourselves. We are the problem.

So Jesus came to teach us a new way of living.

  • He lived a life of love for God, doing what God wanted not what he wanted. He was “God centered” in his attitudes and actions.
  • And he lived a life of humble service to others, sacrificially loving everyone, including his enemies who killed him. He was “other oriented” in his attitudes and actions.

And Jesus not only modeled this for us, he calls us to turn from our ways, to learn his new way. He said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” -Matthew 4:17.  He calls for a change of mind and heart that leads to a change in our attitudes and actions.

To be a part of God’s new creation, turn from your old life and follow the new way of Jesus.

3. Receive

God hates injustice and evil more than anyone; all the pain and suffering that it causes. That’s why God has decreed that the penalty for wrongdoing is death.

But the depth of God’s love for us is beyond understanding. And so as God looks at us, under his judgment, he has taken pity on us. God doesn’t want us to die.

So God sent Jesus to set us free from his own decree of death by dying in our place. Because of this, we are given another chance! Now we can be made new ourselves.

  • We are made new by receiving the forgiveness for our sins. All the old is wiped away. This allows us to begin a new relationship with God and to have a new start on life.
  • We are also made new by receiving the Spirit of God. The Spirit gives us a new heart and a new power to walk just like Jesus walked. We don’t have to live like we used to. We have new life.

Jesus calls us to receive these gifts of new life when he says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7

To be a part of God’s new creation, receive God’s gifts of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit.

4. Belong

Jesus didn’t just come to make individuals new. Jesus came to gather a new nation; a movement made up of people from all tribes and nations and languages – all made new through him. This community is different from all the nations of the earth because it is under his lordship.

And Jesus called his people to bring others in so they can belong as well. He said, “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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” – Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus wants everyone to be a part; to be baptized and to learn his ways.

This community is Jesus’ family. We become brothers and sisters in the Lord.  Like any family should, it will strengthen and encourage you as you follow Jesus in your new life.

To be a part of God’s new creation, belong to God’s new community.

5. Wait

That’s because God’s new creation will only be complete when Jesus returns on the final day.

  • Then evil, suffering and death will be destroyed forever.
  • Then there will be resurrection to eternal life, joy and peace.

Now, no one knows when this will happen. And God’s mercy is such that he delays, waiting for more to receive. And so we need to wait until God is finished. As Jesus said, “The one who endures to the end will be saved.” – Mark 13:13.

As we wait we must continue to be faithful to:

  • Believe – for our faith will be tested.
  • Turn – from our failures and walk again in the way of Jesus.
  • Receive – forgiveness for our sins and the strengthening, renewing presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
  • Belong – to be a part and to be strengthened and to strengthen others in the community of Jesus.

If we do this, the Lord Jesus will gladly welcome us into God’s new creation, on that final day.

To be a part of God’s new creation, faithfully wait for Jesus to return.

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This is the gospel, the good news of Jesus. I trust that wherever you are at – whether you need to believe, turn, receive, belong or continue faithfully waiting – that you will receive the word this morning by acting on it and moving forward.

William Higgins

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Our theme is hope because the message of Easter is a message of hope and because Jesus is all about bringing hope to people.

This is clear from when Jesus walked the earth. Here are some examples from the gospels:

1. Jesus gave hope to the sick. Mark 1 gives the example of a man with leprosy. He came to Jesus and asked for healing. He said, “If you will you can make me clean.” And Jesus was moved with compassion, and the man was healed immediately. 

He was set free from a condition that had ruined his life. And now he was able to move forward and live again.

2. Jesus gave hope to those who had sinned. In Luke 7 a woman, most likely a prostitute, came to Jesus in tears and anointed his feet as an expression of devotion to him and as a response to his message. Jesus said to her, “your sins are forgiven.” 

She was forgiven, her repentance was accepted and she was given a chance for a new life; a fresh start.

3. Jesus gave hope to those who were overcome by evil powers. Mark 1 tells of how a demonized man was set free by Jesus. Jesus simply said, “come out of him” – and the demons had to leave. 

This man was miserable and enslaved, but Jesus set him free and now he had new life.

4. Jesus gave hope to those who were left out; who were excluded. Luke 5 tells how Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. Those not acceptable to the rest of society. 

Instead of being outcasts, now they were befriended by Jesus and given another chance. 

5. Jesus gave hope to those who were confused. Matthew 7 says that the crowds were astonished at Jesus’ teaching, for he taught them the will of God with authority. 

Those who were like sheep without a shepherd, who were lost and needed guidance – learned from the good Shepherd himself, how God wanted them to live.

6. Jesus gave hope to those who needed new purpose in their lives. Matthew 9 recounts how Jesus called Matthew out of a dead end situation in life. He was a tax collector for the very empire that was oppressing his people. Jesus said to him, “follow me” – come and work with me. And he did.

Matthew found a new focus for his life that was full of meaning and true significance. 

7. Jesus gave hope to those who needed God to be near. God worked through Jesus by the power of the Spirit. God’s presence was real to people when Jesus was around. In Luke 7 after Jesus raised a young man from the dead, the crowds said, “God has visited his people!” 

Those who felt far away, even abandoned by God, were brought close as the Spirit worked through Jesus. 

So in all of these examples we see people who were suffering, miserable, confused, disillusioned; who were despairing. And Jesus gave these very ones hope. 

But the world we live in doesn’t like hope. The world we live in is all about crushing our hopes. The guardians of the way things are, the authorities and the powers of evil, caught up to Jesus. And they killed him. 

As the two men on the road to Emmaus said, “we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24). Jesus gave them hope, but now their hope was dashed.

But guess what? Jesus didn’t stay dead! Amen? The “powers that be” thought they had extinguished our hope. They thought they had extinguished Jesus. But they failed! And oh how they failed!

As the angel said to those who looked for Jesus’ dead body, “He has risen; he is not here” (Mark 16:6).

Jesus lives! Our hope lives. For since Jesus is still alive, he is ever with us, to continue to help us. 

  • Who is our hope? Jesus is our hope!
  • Who is our hope? say it out with me, “Jesus is our hope!”
  • Who is our hope? say it – “Jesus is our hope!”

And so I ask . . .

1. Do you suffer physically? Are you in need of healing? The same Jesus who healed a leper and so many others, still lives to heal us and help us in our suffering. And when the Father says it time, Jesus will give us a new resurrection body that will live forever – without pain or suffering. 

  • We too have hope for healing and the redemption of our bodies.  
  • Who is our hope? “Jesus is our hope!”

2. Do you feel guilt and shame for the wrong things you have thought and done? The same Jesus who forgave sins and who laid down his life on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, still lives to forgive us when we turn to him in repentance.

  • We too have the hope of forgiveness. Our guilt and shame can be taken away. We can have a new, a clean and a fresh start.
  • Who is our hope? “Jesus is our hope!”

3. Are you enslaved by powerful evil forces; unable to break free of sinful habits? The same Jesus who cast out demons with a word, still lives to deliver us from the evil one. 

  • We too have hope of freedom and new life from the powers of evil that seek to enslave and destroy us.
  • Who is our hope? “Jesus is our hope!”

4. Do you feel excluded, alienated, left out? The same Jesus who welcomed any and all who would follow him, still lives to befriend us; to befriend you.

  • We too have hope of connection with Jesus; of acceptance by him; of relationship with him and his people.  
  • Who is our hope? “Jesus is our hope!”

5. Do you need guidance in your life? Are you confused about God’s will? The same Jesus who taught the crowds of old, still lives and he still brings his teaching alive in our hearts and minds.  

  • We too have hope that we can know God’s way and that we can learn, from the good shepherd himself, the path of God. 
  • Who is our hope? “Jesus is our hope!”

6. Do you feel adrift in your life; without a purpose? The same Jesus who gave Matthew new direction, still lives to call us from our dead ends and our wrong turns, to come and follow him and to finish the work of God that he began.

  • We too have hope for a meaningful and significant life, doing what God has called us to do and what God has gifted us to do.
  • Who is our hope? “Jesus is our hope!”

7. Do you feel separated from God; that God is far away? The same Jesus who made God present to the people of old by the Spirit, still lives and he pours out this same Holy Spirit into our hearts and lives, so that God lives in us. 

  • We too have hope of knowing and being near to God; to have a relationship with God; to have God come and live within us by the Spirit.
  • Who is our hope? “Jesus is our hope!”

Indeed, no matter what problem or circumstance we find ourselves in, because he lives, Jesus gives us hope. Hope that he will ever be with us to help us – to deliver us, to save us, to guide us and to give us the strength we need to move forward. 

And so I say, thank God for Jesus our Lord and Savior, and thank God that Jesus still lives!

William Higgins

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Here is the teaching from the Good Friday service – Jesus’ Death in Psalm 22:1-18

William

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We have entered the season of Advent. This is a time when we look forward to our celebration of the birth of Jesus and his coming to earth.

What I would like for us to think about for Advent this year, is the amazing way in which the coming of Jesus was foretold, foreshadowed and prophetically pointed to so many centuries before he came.

And today, in connection with our celebration of the Lord’s Supper, I would like for us to look at some of these Old Testament texts that focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection.

These are important Scriptures because, the idea of the Messiah dying and being raised from the dead was not something that was generally expected. Even Jesus’ own disciples didn’t know what to think of all this when it happened. But yet it was there to be seen for the one with eyes to see.

(more…)

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