Let Jesus “Easter In You” 4/12/98

Matthew 28:1-7
Page 1460 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ put on the form of a man, slipped into the envelop of time, and entered our space. He, Immanuel, “God with us,” came to rescue us from our plight resulting from our self-imposed doom. There were requisites necessary to achieve this. The drama of redemption was played out in three acts.

ACT ONE: Bethlehem. He had to be born of a virgin and thus have no old sin nature and thus have no old sin nature. Because of His virgin birth every infant that dies, and every individual lacking the mental capacity of making a valid choice is assured of a heavenly home.

ACT TWO: His life. He had to live a sinless life. Thus having no personal sin He was capable of being the all-sufficient sacrifice for our personal sins.

ACT THREE: He had to die for the sin of the world and have put on His vicarious death the seal of God the Father’s approval.

The noise of the crowd flooding Jerusalem had not yet reached the crescendo of mid-day when the still air rang out with the sounds of hammers. Christ was fulfilling the last requirement in the drama of redemption.

The seventh of His final shouts was heard from the cross, “Father, into Thy hand I commend My spirit…” (Luke 23: 46). He reclined His head against the old rugged cross and breathed His last.

Essentials one and two had been fulfilled. Now all heaven expectantly waited to see the Father’s vindication of the Son.

His lifeless form, wrapped like a cocoon, hopelessly lay in a small cave that served as His borrowed tomb.

By the dawns early light a mighty angel came and rolled away the stone that sealed the tomb. The Roman guards were so startled and convinced of what they experienced there that they fled to report the phenomenon to their superiors.

Anticipating the final anointing of His lifeless body a small band of ladies came to the tomb early in the morning. With sad hearts they were puzzled by how to get the stone rolled away from the tomb. Roman soldiers would have found it laughable to see their feeble failed efforts.

Fright and elation swirled in their hearts like two liquids blended. They were greeted by the angelic messenger who told of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

Immediately the ladies ran to tell the disciples.

Mary, one out of whom Christ had cast demons returned to the tomb.

Bewildered by what she had just heard from the angel she still was in a state of disbelief. There she encountered Christ, but assumed Him to be a gardener. She inquired, “Where have they taken Him. Where is He laid.” Then He spoke her name, “Mary!”

That intonation, the inflection, the resonance, that was the voice of Christ. She turning to see Him fell at His feet and appropriately greeted Him, “Master.”

The rush of reality engulfed her for the first time. Christ is alive! She became the first person to see the risen Christ.

Understandably the title she used for Him means “My Great Master.”

Lovingly she wanted to cling to Him, but He insisted that she go and tell the others He was risen.

Peter and John came to the tomb to be overwhelmed by the angel’s message, “Why do you seek the living among the dead. He is not here. He is risen as He said. Come see the place where the Lord lay.”

This was the moment of the awakening of human conscience to the reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was indeed alive.

Requirement number three was met. God the Father endorsed the birth, sanctioned the life and confirmed His Son as our Savior by His resurrection.

EVERY ARGUMENT FOR THE RESURRECTION IS HISTORICAL. What followed the resurrection were not hallucinations resulting from ambitious believers. They did not anticipate nor at first believe in the resurrection. The Gospel of Mark notes Christ… upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not…” (Mark 16: 14).

“These words seemed to them like an idle tale” (Luke 24: 11).

However it was no fabricated fantasy. Modern psychologists agree hallucinations are:
1. Associated with expectation. They had none.

2. Highly individualistic, yet there were small groups as well as hundreds, who witnessed the resurrected Christ. Group hallucinations are unknown.

3. Suitable circumstances contribute to hallucinations. Sunny beaches, open roadways, hilltops, and large crowds aren’t conducive.

FACTS: He was dead. His tomb was empty. He was seen by many to be alive.

Easter is God the Father’s “YES!” to Jesus.

It was also a bold “BRAVO!”

Bravo Jesus for a life well lived.

Bravo, Jesus for suffering and dying faithfully in love and trust to the end.

The curtain is still up at the end of act three. God the Father calls for encores by the Son. Death is swallowed up in victory. A forty day celebration results with numerous curtain calls.

This drama is the affirming disclosure of what God is really like. Christ is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1: 15). He is the God of the impossible and hopeless.

The resurrection is the ultimate breakthrough of God into our world in a manner that defies history and nature.

It is a miracle comparable to removing the yoke from an egg without piercing the shell.

The fact such a thing could not happen does not mean it did not happen. The One with Whom all things are possible intervened in the laws of nature He designed to give us boundaries forming a comfort zone. He did not make those laws of nature as a straight jacket for Himself, but as guidelines for us.

One fact stands out. Those who reported the resurrection believed it. A review of what happened in those forty days after the resurrection reveals why they believed it. They used three of their five senses to confirm for themselves what they could not by nature believe. They touched Him, talked with Him, walked with Him, and on more than one occasion dined with Him.

This report of the resurrection so disturbed the members of the judiciary that the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of the day, appointed a brilliant young intellect as a special prosecutor with subpoena power to investigate the rumors.

He interrogated individuals under the threat of death trying to get them to renounce belief in what they knew to be true. That young advocate was Paul. He accumulated more facts regarding the resurrection than anyone. His purpose was to refute it and dispel the rumors once and for all. His evidence turned on him and became for him convincing proof of the fact of the bodily resurrection of Christ. The detractor became a devotee.

Hear in part his report resulting from his exhaustive investigation.
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (I Corinthians 15:3 – 8).

Reports of the resurrection was not a conspiracy. Conspiracies unravel with time. Accounts of the resurrection have only become increasingly confirmed. First century believers suffered and died because of their confidence in the resurrection as a fact.

If His friends had stolen the body they would only have had to returned the lifeless corpse to relieve themselves of persecution. They would have if they could have, but they knew Him to be alive.

If His enemies had stolen the corpse they could have revealed it and made a mockery of the resurrection charade. They would have done so gleefully if they could have. They could not because he was alive.

The resurrection celebrated at Easter is God’s class action suit against sin and death.

Although the resurrection is without precedent, it is only natural that it should have been normal for Christ. He arose because it was His logical response to death.

Paul put all his Easter eggs in one basket: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain” he said, (I Cor. 15: 17).

He had not destroyed death as a fact. He had done better, He had destroyed it as a force. Christ is risen to put love in our hearts, decent thoughts in our heads, and more steel in our spines. He is risen to convert us, not from life to something more than life, but from something less than life to a life full of possibilities.

Let Christ “Easter in you.” That is, let Him give your life which He referred to as “the abundant life.”

To accept the resurrection as a fact is an act of faith. To deny it requires no less faith. Either way our response is an act of faith. Faith ceases to be faith when it can be explained.


A lack of faith response to the resurrection is the relentless revelation of our unwillingness, if it be so, to admit that there is something out there which we will never grasp and understand fully, this side of heaven. Our acceptance and enjoyment of the Easter message hinges on our willingness to face this human limit unashamedly. This can be done without apology to the intellectual world which still believes that if we can’t fully understand it, it doesn’t exist. There are many other phenomena by which we all live, and which we do not understand.

In light of Job’s critical questioning of God, the Lord responded, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” Job, with things in better perspective, replied acknowledging God’s actions were “things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3).

The resurrection is too wonderful for me. However, the evidence stimulates my faith response and I rejoice.

A Muslim in Africa who became a Christian was asked why. He replied, “Well, it is like this. Suppose you are going down the road and suddenly the road forks in two directions, and you don’t know which way to go. There are at the fork in the road are two men, one dead and one alive – which would you ask which way to go?”

At the end of life’s road it forks. There you will find many men – all dead, and a man who is alive, Jesus Christ. Which will you ask which way to go?

If we could prove God’s power in a lab it wouldn’t be the ultimate power which it is. Ultimately we all act by faith. Faith to believe or faith to reject.

The resurrection through God’s eyes is seen as logical. It was His way of confirming His Son as our Savior. The decision for or against Easter faith is not taken on the grounds of this miraculous event but on whether we are willing to see life from God’s viewpoint. When we do then we are ready to rely totally upon God in life or death.

The resurrection of Christ resurrects hope in us. Life tends to rob us of hope.

Christian hope alerts us to the possibilities of the future as a field of action, and as a consequence, fills the present with energy. A life filled with hope is a life built on the foundations of the promises of God.

Psychiatrist again and again report that many are unconsciously or subconsciously suffering from despair. People are afraid they will become an appendage of a machine. People feel they have less and less to say about their future; how they will live and what they will become. There is a sense of hopelessness resulting from fear we can’t control the technology we have created. Will acid rain, water poisoning, air pollution, and biological warfare be our modern day Hiroshima or Holocaust?

Jesus did not come to make the world perfect but to perfect us for the next world. He came to enable us to live the “abundant life” amid the hopeless state of society.

The citizens of Feldkirch, Austria, didn’t know what to do. Napoleon’s massive army was preparing to attack. Soldiers had been spotted on the heights of the hills over looking the town which was on the Austrian border. A council of citizens was hastily summonsed to decide whether they should try to defend themselves or display the white flag of surrender. It happened on Easter Sunday, and the people had gathered in the local church.

The pastor rose and spoke, “Friend’s, we have been counting on our own strength, and apparently that has failed. As this is the day of our Lord’s resurrection, let us just ring the bells, have our services as usual, and leave the matter in His hands. We know only our weakness, and not the power of God to defend us.” The council accepted his plan and the church bells rang. The enemy, hearing the sudden peal, concluded that the Austrian army had arrived during the night to defend the town. Before the service ended, the army of Napoleon broke camp and left.

When we celebrate the power of God in our moments of presumed doom He is there to work on our behalf.

Hope is not only threatened by despair but by our conscious fears. Many fear the encroachment of age. Others have the fears associated with youth. Can we make it as a youth? Will the work force offer me a carrot of a job only to snatch it from me when it appears I am about to obtain it? Will I lose my job? Will I be forced to retire before I want to or really can? Will we be bullied or babied in a nursing home?

Many fear God’s anger over their sin. How can I face such a hopeless lifestyle? Christ Who overcame life, death, and the grave gives hope a jump start. He who did all that can enable us to live for Him with confidence.

The resurrection asserts there is something out there beyond the grave. We can’t explain it because we haven’t experienced it. However, if we know Who is out there beyond this life and world we know what is there. Christ stated as His reason for His exodus: “I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am there you may be also.”

Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. Are you prepared?

ACT THREE still involves one remaining curtain call.

When the disciples arrived at the tomb and peered in they saw His grave clothes laying deflated like a balloon out of which all air had escaped. They were not unwound and disheveled. They were neatly in place.

Customarily a napkin was bound over the face of the deceased. It too was there neatly folded in place.

This is significant because in that era when a person crumpled a napkin and left the table it meant they were finished and would not come back. If the napkin was folded and left in place it meant the person was coming back.

Christ is coming again. He left us the sign of the folded napkin.

He is risen! Deal with it. What does it mean to you? How have you responded?

The world is a better place because Michelangelo didn’t say, “I don’t do ceilings.”

The world is a better place because Mozart didn’t say, “I don’t do symphonies.”

The world is a better place because Noah didn’t say, “I don’t do arks and animals.”

The world is a better place because Moses didn’t say, “I don’t do swollen seas.”

The world is a better place because Jesus didn’t say, “I don’t do crosses and tombs.”

Your world will be a better place if you don’t say, “I don’t do repentance and faith.”