Message from Sunday, April 21st, 2019
"Jesus Will Raise Us Just as He Was Raised"
I Corinthians 15: 14 - 26
Every year we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the day that Jesus conquered death once and for all. He showed the world that He couldn’t be bound by death. Death had no power over Him.
Not too long ago we celebrated the birth of Jesus. He came into our world like one of us in order to die and rise from the dead. Many people then—and even now, unfortunately—didn’t understand that this was the reason He came into our world. Some, including His own disciples, thought that He had come into the world to deliver Israel from out of the hands of the Romans. You see, they were looking for a political figure who would restore the nation of Israel to its former glory under kings David and Solomon. They were looking for a ruler who would raise Israel above all the nations of the world. But that wasn’t Jesus’ mission. Instead, He came into our world to defeat the power of death and the grip it had over all people.
It’s obvious to us that death is a part of our existence. All of us will die at some point. All of us will experience the death of people close to us. No one can avoid death. Modern medicine can only prolong our life in some cases, but it can’t eliminate death.
Death seems so final and absolute. Once a person dies, that’s it. Life is over. There is no opportunity to come back to this life or relive our life again. At death, our earthly existence comes to an end. Our journey on earth ceases.
I’m certain that some of us wonder why we have to die in the first place, and where does death come from. Death is really our fault. When God made the first two human beings, He made them not to die. They were supposed to live forever. But they decided to disobey God. When they did, death entered into the world. Death was the punishment God imposed on them for their disobedience to Him. They transmitted death to the entire human race.
And we bear the fault for this too. We continue to sin, and the punishment for sin is death. If we want to avoid death, then we need to live perfect, sinless lives. But no one can do that. We can’t keep all of God’s commandments perfectly. We constantly break them. The penalty for doing so is death. So we ourselves bear a lot of the blame for death in the world.
I hope what I’ve just said explains why death is in our world and where it came from. This is important for us to know because it will help us better see the importance of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and understand why we are celebrating it.
As I said, death seems so final and absolute. There is nothing we can do to change the fact we are going to die. But believe it or not there is good news. Death isn’t so final and absolute as it seems. We are going to be raised from the dead. Yes, Jesus intends to raise our bodies to life. So death isn’t the end for us. Some of us might be thinking, “How can this be? How is this possible?”
This is where Jesus comes into play. He came into the world to die for our sins and then rose from the dead to show us what awaits us. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so will we be raised. This is good news because I think just about all of us prefer life over death. We have this innate desire within us to exist.
But when Jesus Christ raises us to life, we will notice a huge difference. Our life won’t continue where it left off. It won’t be the same as, let’s say, painting a wall, then stopping for lunch, then resuming painting at the place where we left off. We won’t resume raising our children if we died having two young children. We won’t resume our life with our spouse. When Jesus raises us to life, it will be like starting all over. We won’t take all our baggage from this life into the next. What I mean by this is that our new life won’t be plagued by all the bad things of this life.
When Jesus raises us to life, this old body of ours will be bran new. It will no longer have the physical defects and ailments it is accustomed to having. Our bodies will be perfect. I know that is hard to imagine, but it’s true. We will be like God in that sense.
During the season of Lent, we were exposed to the gore and suffering our Lord Jesus experienced. He was severely beaten and bloodied. He was whipped, and a crown of thorns was forced on His head. He was nailed to a cross. His hands and feet were pierced. By the time He was taken down from the cross and put in the tomb, He was barely recognizable.
But this isn’t how He looked when He rose from the dead. The bruises and blood were gone. When He appeared to His followers, they almost didn’t recognize Him. He had changed.
This is what will happen to us and to all believers in Jesus Christ. Jesus will change our bodies when we rise from the dead. I’m sure we have memories of our loved ones or someone close to us who passed away. As they lay in the coffin, we noticed that their skin was a different color. Perhaps, they looked frail. I’m sure the funeral director did his/her best to make our loved ones look good. But behind the makeup and the nice clothes, the bodies were starting to decay. Then the casket was closed. That’s the last we saw of our loved ones and the last memories we have of them.
The good news is that won’t be the last we see of them. They will be raised from the dead. When we see them again, they won’t look frail and wrinkled. All of their imperfections will be gone. Instead, they will be radiant and shine like the stars of heaven forever. Our former memory of how they looked will be forgotten.
We too will undergo this transformation. When Jesus raises us from the dead, all of our aches and pains, all of our imperfections and blemishes will be gone forever. We will be just like Jesus in that respect.
Now if Jesus had never risen from the dead, this wouldn’t happen to us. It wouldn’t happen to our loved ones either. The grave would be our final resting place forever. Death would be our end, without any hope of ever living again. How sad our existence would be now because ultimately nothing in this life would matter. We’d be here today and gone tomorrow. Nothing in this life would have any lasting relevance, especially us.
But we can praise God that this isn’t the case. Jesus came into our world to die and rise from the dead to give us a future, something to look forward to. Because he rose from the dead, so will we if we believe in Him for the forgiveness of our sins.
This is why each year we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. It has so much meaning for our lives right now and for the future. So much hinges on the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. This event in the history of the world is much more profound than we realize. Jesus’ resurrection is a joyous occasion because it means life for each one of us.
But I think we don’t fully appreciate Jesus’ resurrection because we aren’t dead yet. So all this celebrating Jesus’ resurrection is wonderful but doesn’t really sink in. We don’t grasp the depth of what His resurrection means for us. We’re more excited about eating the chocolate Easter bunny and dying eggs.
Well, it’s time to focus our excitement on the event of Jesus’ resurrection. The implications of His resurrection for us are more far reaching and beneficial for us than all the chocolate and other goodies we will consume today. Please remember that as you put an Easter egg into your mouth today.
I pray that we will rejoice in our Lord’s resurrection. It means eternal life for us. There is nothing better than that.