Matthew 28:1-6 – Because Jesus Rose from the Dead

Today is the special day of the year we have set aside to remember the culmination of the single most important event in the history of the universe: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We often fail to appreciate the manifold blessings that come to us because of Jesus’ resurrection,  so I want you to think with me for a few moments on this idea: Because Jesus rose from the dead…

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can be saved. Rom. 10.9…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.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we who believe are forgiven, pardoned, justified, made righteous. Rom. 4:24-25 …It (righteousness) will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus, our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he is able to save the hardest of sinners Acts 9:1-5 Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord…. approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him…I am JESUS whom you are persecuting (Later, this same Saul would write in 1 Tim. 1:15) …Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he has defeated death. Rom. 6.9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he can raise us from the dead, and we will never die again! John 11:25 I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. John 5:21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he raises us from spiritual death. Eph. 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he can raise us from physical death. Rom. 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. 1 Cor. 15:22-23 …so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  But each in his own order:  Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he will raise our fellow Christians from the dead. 1 Thess. 4:14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he can heal the sick Acts 4.10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can receive mercy and grace in time of need. Heb. 4:14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we have someone constantly praying for us Rom. 8.34 Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Heb. 7:25 …He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he can fulfill his promise to give us the Holy Spirit. John 16:7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth:  it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you.

Acts 2:33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he has authority over Satan… and everything else too. Eph. 1:20-22  …according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him 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, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, the church belongs to him and him alone Eph. 1:22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can be certain of his presence with us: Mt. 18.20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

Mt. 28:20 And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Jn. 14.18  I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can have fellowship with him Jn 14.23 If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. We can eat with him Rev. 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. We can see him Jn 16:16 …again a little while, and you will see me.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he is present to see you through any trial. Acts 7:55 (Stephen, as he was being stoned to death said…) Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we have the hope of an eternal inheritance! 1 Pet. 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you…

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can live a holy, new life. Rom. 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he will return just as he said. John 14.3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Acts 1:11…This Jesus, who was taken from you into heaven will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he will one day settle all accounts with justice Rev. 22.12 Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can enjoy his presence for all eternity. 1 Thess. 4:17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

All of this…  BECAUSE this living, reigning, glorious Son ROSE, at dawn, on the first day of the week!


Passion week meditation, part 3

What did Jesus pay?

Over the past two days, I’ve talked about how it is by looking at the Cross that we experience God’s love for us.  Yesterday, we focused on our debt that was paid at the Cross.  Today I want to focus on the price that Jesus paid.  Yes, the debt and the price are really the same thing, but seen from different angles.

Let’s start with one of the most beautiful passages of the Old Testament.

Isaiah 53:5-6
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement (punishment) that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

All that I talked about yesterday… all the sin and wickedness, all the wrath that our sin and wickedness deserve, the eternal punishment of hell… ALL of this was upon Jesus. He paid this debt for us.

Again, 1 John 4:9 In this was the love of God MANIFEST among us, that God sent his only Son into the world…10 In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Propitiation is the satisfaction of God’s righteous wrath that Jesus accomplished when he, as our substitute, experienced the wrath and punishment that we deserve to experience. This is something that many people are denying today: Although it is difficult to comprehend, Jesus bore the rejection of the Father that we deserve, so that we should not be rejected. Jesus was abandoned at the cross. Remember his cry from Psalm 22:1 “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”

God’s righteous wrath against sin is revealed in two places: in Hell and at the Cross of Christ. In Hell, unrepentant sinners are forsaken eternally by God. At the Cross, the Father forsook his beloved Son.

All sin is judged either in Hell or at the cross. If we want to understand better what Jesus experienced at the Cross, we can look at Hell, because Jesus took our Hell upon himself. We might be tempted to think: “But how could what Jesus experienced have been as bad as the agony of an eternity in the Lake of Fire. He was only dead for a few days, but Hell is eternal.”

I confess that I don’t fully know the answer to that question, but the Bible is clear that the wages of my sin is eternal death, punishment in Hell, and Jesus really paid my penalty, and he paid it fully.

The pain and agony of death that Jesus experienced at the cross was more than just the physical pain of nails in his body, and the agony of crucifixion, (although we should never minimize that pain). I believe it is Jesus’ cry from Psalm 22:1 that brings us the closest to understanding what he went through for us. We can never comprehend the infinitely intimate love relationship that God the Father and God the Son eternally share. Their love for each other is immeasurable and infinite. And yet God the Son, incarnate in human flesh, cried out on the Cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!”

Imagine the pain that we as human beings experience when someone close to us dies. It is an excruciating agony. At times it feels as if it will smother us and kill us. But consider the difference between the pain of losing a close pet, and the pain of losing a child or a spouse. The greater the love, the greater the pain. The pain that Jesus experienced at the cross, was the pain of experiencing his infinite and perfect love relationship with the Father being broken, as God’s wrath for our sin was upon him.

The torment that Jesus went through for us was more intense and more agonizing then all the agonies of all condemned sinners in Hell together for all eternity. For even after an eternity in hell, their debt will still not be paid, but Jesus completely paid our debt, he completely experienced our hell.

Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19) Paul said, “As often as you eat this bread, and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor. 11:26) When we remember, and when we proclaim the Lord’s death, meditating on what we have just seen that Jesus experienced, God reveals his love to us. He “demonstrates” his love in this: Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

I pray that from now on, during every passion week, and every time you celebrate the Lord’s Supper, you will remember that God loves you so much that Jesus took your hell upon himself. That was your debt, and that was what Jesus paid for you. How I pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal this truth to our hearts, and not just our minds. I pray, that we “may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)

Nowadays, we don’t like to think about Hell; we are a bit ashamed of this doctrine and want to avoid it, but by avoiding it, we are robbing ourselves of a fuller understanding of what Jesus did for us on the cross, and by robbing ourselves of that fuller understanding, we don’t experience the love of God that we would if we would look at the cross and try to fathom what Jesus did for us, and when we don’t experience the love of God at the cross, we don’t overflow with love for one another (which takes us back to where I started, in Thursday’s post).


Passion week meditation, part 2

Yesterday I talked about two barriers that often keep us from appreciating what Jesus did for us on the cross. 

1.  We fail to understand the magnitude of our debt.

2.  We fail to understand the magnitude of Jesus’ payment.

Today I want to tackle the first barrier, and then tomorrow, I will wrap up with the second barrier.

What is our debt?

We deserve God’s wrath because we are sinners.  Do we really believe that?  Consider what the Scriptures say about us:

Psalm 51:5  Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Isaiah 1:2-6 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken:  Children have I reared and brought up but they have rebelled against me.  The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”  Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly!  They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the holy one of Israel, they are utterly estranged.  Why will you still be struck down?  Why will you continue to rebel?  The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint.  From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it…”

Jeremiah 9:5 Everyone deceives his neighbor, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity.  Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit, they refuse to know me, declares the Lord.

And in the New Testament we read in Rom. 3:10-12 None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.

We could go on and on with many Scriptures, (and we should read and consider such scriptures often!), but the problem is that although we read such words, in our sinfulness, we struggle to believe them.  We read them and immediately start thinking of all of our good qualities and we think, “I’m really not that bad!    We hear Paul say in Romans 10:12 that “no one does good” and we immediately think of all the many good things that we HAVE done.

But if there IS anything good in us, where does it come from?  If the Scriptures are true, and we really are as bad as what we just read, and there really is nothing good in “not even one”  of us, and we have “together become worthless”, then where do those good qualities and good actions come from?

The answer is that they come from God.  Romans 1 hints at this when three times Paul uses the phrase, “God gave them up” or “God gave them over” when referring to the wickedness of the gentiles.  He implies that God had been keeping them from being as wicked and as evil as they could have been.  It is only God’s restraining influence upon us as sinners that keeps us from displaying every day in our actions the kinds of things we just read about in Isaiah and Jeremiah and Romans.

For example, when a non-believing parent loves his/her child and protects and cares for that child, that love is coming from God.  It is God’s grace to the human race as he keeps our sin from fully manifesting itself.  

But as sinful human beings, we take God’s grace to us and appropriate its fruit as our own.  We fail to give thanks to him (Rom. 1:21), and we are so bold as to tell him he should overlook our rebellion and wickedness because we have these good qualities that didn’t even come from us to begin with!

Not only does Scripture tell us how wicked we are, but God reveals to us what our sin deserves:  his holy and just wrath.  Ephesians 2:3 describes it well, “we were, by nature, children of wrath”  

ALL of us, even those of us who are believers, apart from Jesus’ saving work on our behalf are facing the wrath of God in Hell for all eternity.  Consider these Bible passages:

Isaiah 63:6  I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.

Jeremiah 21:12,14  …Thus says the Lord:  “Execute justice in the morning, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed, lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of your evil deeds.I will punish you according to the fruit of your deeds, declares the Lord; 

Romans 2:5  But because of your  hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…

Colossians 3:5-6 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:  sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

Revelation 6:16-17 Then…everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

God clearly and explicitly reveals in His Word that this wrath is real, and will be eternally experienced by all unrepentant sinners in Hell.  

2 Thess. 1:7-9 …when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might…

Matthew 25:41,46  Then (the King) will say to those on his left, depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels….And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Revelation 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.  Revelation 21:8  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.

This is our debt.  We are by nature sinners, who do NOTHING good.  Anything good in us is due to the grace of God.  We are under God’s wrath, and even suffering that wrath for all eternity, our debt could never be paid, for it is an infinite debt.  And THIS is what Jesus paid for us when he hung on the cross!

The more we understand the magnitude of this debt, the more clearly we will see what Jesus did for us, and the more real and manifest to us will be the expression of his love at Calvary.  Tomorrow we will look at God’s love from the angle of what Jesus paid for us.