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This Changes Everything

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Happy Easter! On Easter Sunday around the world, Christians engage in this call and response:

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!

The resurrection of Jesus is the absolute core of the Christian faith. There is nothing more central to our faith than this—that Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

For this Easter, I want to unpack two life-changing implications of Jesus’ resurrection for you today. Two powerful and personal implications of Jesus defeating death. Here’s the first:

Life-changing implications of Jesus’ resurrection

  • If Jesus rose, there’s more to life than life and death.

If Jesus who lived and died is alive today, then there is definitely more to life than life and death. In fact, there’s life, death, and eternal life. Here’s how Jesus himself said it:

“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”

John 5:24

You’ve heard more about death and dying over the past year than any other in your life. And it’s a tragedy, global heartbreak. But listen: dying isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. The worst thing that can happen is that you live and die without Jesus in your life. 

This, straight from Jesus, is my all-time favorite promise from God. It’s powerful. And it’s personal to you and me and anyone who will hear it and heed it. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus promises, “those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”

It’s a done deal, Jesus says—not because of anything you do, but because of what Jesus has done. 

Jesus offers certainty of your life after this life, through this personal promise: If you listen to my message and believe in God who sent me, you have eternal life. You will not be condemned for your sins, but you will have already passed over from death into life. 

Every time someone hears and believes this good news about Jesus now, they become another Easter story. Another resurrection miracle takes place, right then and there. No matter what your sins are, Jesus turns aside God’s condemnation through his death in your place, his death for your eternal life. This is what we celebrate every Easter. That is why Jesus’ resurrection matters!

If Jesus rose, there’s more to life than life and death. There is, in fact, life, death, and eternal life. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus promises, “those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”

  • If Jesus rose, God has made a way for our forgiveness.

People get fascinated by famous last words. French poet François Rabelais’ last words were, quote, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” A great perhaps. Maybe there’s something waiting for me on the other side. Maybe my sins will be forgiven. Maybe not. He didn’t know.

God wants you to know where you stand before him. Jesus’ last words tell you what you need to know. From the cross, with his last breath, Jesus declared, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) He was talking about more than his life. He was declaring that he had now done everything necessary so that you and I can receive God’s gift of eternal life.

We only appreciate gifts we feel a need for

But a gift is only as valuable as you realize your need for it, right? If you hand an Aston Martin key fob to a toddler, all they know is to use it for teething. It doesn’t matter that you’re offering the key to a $200,000 luxury car. 

It’s easy to feel the same way about the gift Jesus offers of eternal life. It’s not until you feel your need that you appreciate the gift. So let’s briefly walk through what’s called the Romans road. One of the New Testament letters was written to Christians living in Rome, the capitol of the ruling world empire in the first century.

A Jewish rabbi named Paul wrote this letter. For a while, Paul thought the claims about Jesus being raised from the dead were absurd. He actively fought against Christians, and didn’t even mind when they were killed. But then…the risen Jesus appeared to Paul. And he…was…deeply and forever changed. 

Writing to smart people in a savvy city, Paul carefully lays out the case for Christ. What I mean is that piece by piece, he shows why it matters that Jesus who lived and died and rose, now offers God’s forgiveness to anyone who will believe and receive it. Knowing that we don’t appreciate a gift until we feel our need for it, Paul makes four very strong claims. They go like this:

“Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23

Everyone has sinned. We all fall short of God’s standard. And we all know it. 

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

When you sin, the pay you get is death.

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8

While we were still sinners. Long before you or I came on the scene, Jesus already died on our behalf, so that we can be forgiven and restored to right relationship with God. What great love! What an amazing gift being offered to you and me and anyone! So how do we receive it? What should be our response to our sin, the certainty of death, and the offer of eternal life? Here it is. Paul explains:

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved…

For ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” 

Romans 10:9-10, 13

Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God has made a way for our forgiveness; he has opened the way for your forgiveness. And he offers it fully and freely to you. The key fob is yours, if you will receive it.

Ambushed by grace

True story: A woman was going to speak at a university’s commencement ceremony, so she and her husband were invited to a special gathering of about 50 people beforehand. At that gathering, the university president called forward three students who were about to graduate and spend the next two years serving the poorest of the poor in India.

The students thought they would hear some public affirmation and move on with the day. But then something happened that they didn’t expect. The president said, “I have a piece of news for you. There’s somebody you do not know—an anonymous donor—who is so moved by what you’re doing that he has given a gift to this university in your name, on your behalf.”

He turned to the first student and said, “You are forgiven your debt of $105,000.” The kid immediately starts to cry. He turns to the next student and says, “You’re forgiven your debt of $70,000.” He then turns to the third student: “You are forgiven your debt of $130,000.” 

All three students had no idea this was coming. They were ambushed by grace. They were blown away that somebody they didn’t even know would pay their debt. This is what Jesus did for you by his death and resurrection. This is what he meant when with his final breath he called out, “It is finished.” Your debt to God—all the ways you have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard—all of it has been fully paid for on the cross. And God himself has verified that by raising Jesus from the dead. While we were still sinners, God showed his love for us by sending Christ to die for us, so that the wages of our sin could be counted to him, and his goodness could be counted to us.

Feeling our great need for Jesus

Let me make this very practical. I’m giving this talk after a long couple of weeks at our church building, which has been broken into twice recently. Apart from the inconvenience and sense of violation, the biggest thing that comes to my mind is that the easiest doctrine to prove in the Christian faith is the fallenness of humanity, that we all sin. We all fall short of what God created us for.

And what is that? What did God create us for? Jesus captured it in his reply to a Bible expert who was trying to trap him. The man asked Jesus which of God’s commandments is the greatest. Which matters most? Jesus answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Then he added, All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mt. 22:37-40)

God created you and me to know and love him, and to know and love one another. To do both of those well. All of us know we fall short of that. It’s not hard to prove. We see it in ourselves. And we see it in others. The world isn’t as it should be. And we aren’t as we should be.

This is why Easter matters. This is why Jesus came. It’s why he lived, God up close and personal doing a show-and-tell on how we’re meant to engage with God and each other. This is why Jesus died on the cross, to make peace between us and God. And this is why Jesus rose, as proof that he is the way to forgiveness. He is worth trusting and following daily and for as long as you live.

Evidence that demands a verdict

And listen: If Jesus had not been raised from the dead, we would never have heard of him. But his tomb was empty: if it hadn’t been, all the Jewish and Roman authorities had to do was bring out the body when Christians starting claiming they had seen Jesus risen. But they had no body to parade around. 

The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is what pushed me from skepticism to faith in Jesus when I was 19. Going through John Stott’s paperback titled Basic Christianity, I read the arguments that have been put forth to try to disprove Jesus’ resurrection. None of them hold water. None of them stand up to even basic scrutiny. Both the external evidence outside of the New Testament and the internal evidence of what the New Testament records give beyond a reasonable doubt testimony that this man who died by crucifixion 2,000 years ago died and rose. And if Jesus did die for our sins and was raised again, then he’s alive today, and is Lord. 

And that’s the point at which something that happened 2,000 years ago has everything to do with you today. Right now, Jesus sees you, knows you better than you know yourself, and is fully ready to forgive your sins, to make you a child of God, to fill you with his Spirit, to lead you each day of your life, and to bring you home to be with him and his people when you die.

The worst thing to happen isn’t to die. It’s to live and die apart from Jesus, apart from discovering the reason you live.

Jesus’ resurrection is the only explanation for the Christian faith globally

You know the Christian faith started with a dozen people following Jesus. At the time of his death, the total number of Christians was about about 120. Today, more than two billion call themselves Christians, one out of every three people on the planet. How do you explain that? What happened? How did a dozen nobodies from nowhere—rural fishermen, farmers, a despised tax collector and so on—how in the world did they multiply to one out of every three people on the planet identifying as Christian? 

The only answer that makes sense is the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus changed everything. 

It split our calendar from B.C. to A.D. No other event has impacted the world so much as the resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus never wrote a book, and yet there are more books written about Jesus than any other subject in the world.

Faith in Jesus is now expressed in more languages than are represented in the United Nations. 

Jesus never composed a song, but there is more music written about Jesus than any other subject, bar none, in history. 

Jesus was never an artist, and yet more art has been made about him than any other subject in history by far.

Jesus never traveled more than a hundred miles from where he was born, and yet today, you can find followers of Jesus in every nation on the planet.

Why? How can this be? The only explanation that stands up to scrutiny is that he rose. He’s alive today. He is Lord. And he wants to be your Savior and Lord, the One who forgives your sin and then leads you through life and on into eternity, the life that follows this life.

Lois Cheney captures it all so well in her short poem titled God’s Son. It goes like this:

Once upon a time
There was a God
Who so loved the world
That He gave His Son His only Son.
And they took that Son
And they hung Him on a cross
And that Son died
And they buried the Son –
Sealed Him up tight.
But God said, “Oh, no you don’t”
And He rolled back the rock
He unsealed His Son
And His Son came out
Came out walking and breathing
And He was Alive.
And He’s alive today
And He walks around
And he stalks around
Breathing life and life.
Every morning, just before dawn
For thousands of years
Little grim people –
Preachers and bankers and
Storekeepers and students –
Sneak up to the grave and
Roll back the stone
To seal it up tight.
And every morning
God roars
“Oh no you don’t!”
And He flings back the stone.

If Jesus rose—and the evidence is compelling—then there’s more to life than life and death. And if Jesus rose, God has made a way for our forgiveness.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus promises, “those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”

Your decision

Are you hearing this message from him? Do you believe God sent him so that you can have eternal life? That’s a decision you can make right now, by faith calling on Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, the One to forgive your sins and to lead you each day through this life.

This is why Jesus came, it’s why he showed us what it looks like to love God and one another, and it’s why Jesus went to the cross and rose again—so that you, and anyone who will trust and follow him, can receive the gift of eternal life.

So if you would, join me in praying, in talking to Jesus right now. Let’s pray.

Lord Jesus, we admit that we have sinned, in many ways—in our thoughts, words, and actions; we have sinned in good choices that we didn’t take, and in wrong choices that we chose to take. We admit that we have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard. 

Jesus, we believe that you died on the cross to win our forgiveness. So come into our lives as Savior, and cleanse us of guilt.

Come in as Lord and lead us from this point forward.

We thank you that you have overcome death, that you now reign, and we look forward to your promised return. Until then or until we come to you, we ask, keep us faithful. Fill us with joy. And empower us to love more like you do.

We thank and praise you that you hear us and are well able to do more than we ask or imagine, according to your great power at work within us. Amen!

Happy Easter, friends! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

I’m so glad you chose to come here today! If you just prayed, placing your faith in Jesus, be sure to let us know. We want to cheer you on in following Jesus with us. If you  are new to yChurch, welcome! Take a moment to say hello by way of the contact form on yChurch’s website, and we will be glad to get back to you quickly.

God bless you this week and make you a blessing!