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Archive for resurrection

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

April 13, 2015

Many friends and I have been empty_tombgrieving the death of a college classmate recently. She and I were freshmen together. I looked forward to meeting her along with others at a local restaurant for coffee. I was aware that she was in the building because of her laugh. What a laugh it was! When she laughed, she really laughed. And it was contagious. Others seemed to catch it and laugh with her. She lived her life with eternity in mind, especially during the last couple of years when she endured much suffering. She will be missed. I could not help but think of her when I penned these words.

During His ministry on earth Jesus, the God-Man, demonstrated His amazing power over nature, angels, disease, demons, and death itself. Amazingly, He raised three people from the dead: the widow of Nain’s son (Lk. 7:14), Jarius’ daughter (Matt. 9:25), and probably his most famous resurrection was that of Lazarus (John 11:1-27).

Lazarus never said a word, but his story is still speaking around the world today. His testimony begins in the little town of Bethany. It was located about two miles from Jerusalem where Jesus was staying. Jesus received word that Lazarus, a dear friend, was sick. Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, had sent word to Jesus, possibly thinking that Jesus would come right away. Instead, Jesus sent word that Lazarus was not going to die but that his sickness was to shed light upon the Son of God.

The text clearly says that Jesus loved all three of these siblings: Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. But He waited in Jerusalem two more days. Two more days! Why? It is simple. He waited for Lazarus to die. When He was at last ready to depart for Bethany, He told His disciples that Lazarus was asleep and it was time to go and wake Him up.

The disciples’ response was understandable. Sick people need rest and it’s good that he is asleep. It is obvious that they were not yet tuned in. Then Jesus rocked them by announcing that Lazarus was dead. Dead! But He quickly followed up with these incredible words. “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless, let us go to Him” (John 11:15). Lazarus is dead and the Lord is glad? I can’t begin to imagine how these men must have responded to these words. “That you may believe” was possibly lost in the moment.

When Jesus arrived on the scene, He discovered that Lazarus had been dead four days. Four days! I’ve often wondered what went through Mary and Martha’s minds during this time. Where is He? Why doesn’t He come? Does He really care for us? He did so many wonderful things for so many people, why not us? They must have had a myriad of thoughts, and some of them not good. And He was only two miles away! Then comes the majestic moment.

Jesus met Martha face to face. The air must have been ripe with emotion. Martha’s cried, “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died.” It’s hard to know how her words came out and what she was really thinking. She followed up quickly by saying that God may yet do something.

Jesus’s words, “Your brother is going to rise again,” may have simply hung in the air as Martha tried to process them. She obviously missed the true meaning. She exhibited poise, however. She filled an awkward silence by choking out, “I know he will rise at the resurrection.”

Our Lord’s words should be indelibly emboldened upon every believer’s heart. “I am the resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me – though he may die – yet shall he live.” And His next words reveal the most miraculous truth of all. “He who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” I imagine Him saying it softly, like this: “Martha, Martha, look at Me. Don’t you know who I am? Martha, I am the resurrection! When I am here, the resurrection is here. I am the One who gives life. When I am here, life is here.”

I am awed when I think of the truth of these words: “He who lives and believes in me will never die.” Believers that die go instantly into the presence of Jesus Christ. For us nothing comes between leaving this world and entering the next. We do not die! The very millisecond that this physical life ends, we are face to face with Christ. We are absent from the body and present with the Lord. Halleluiah!

The supernatural moment finally came. Jesus asked those around to move the stone away from the grave! Hold it! Lazarus had been dead too long! His body was already a stench. “Move it away,” Jesus commanded. They obeyed. Then Jesus spoke boldly, “Lazarus, come forth.” He wasn’t saying it loudly for Lazarus to hear. After all, He was the One who spoke all of creation into existence. He was the One who breathed life into Adam. He was the One who said, let there be, and it was. No! He wanted all those standing around to hear. He wants us now to hear. He wants those who read this who are spiritually dead in their sins to hear. Lazarus immediately obeyed His command. The one who was dead came to life and walked out of that tomb.

Our Lord’s words, Lazarus come forth, shout to us now and continue to reverberate down thought the corridors of human history. Jesus said that He was glad for “your sakes that you may believe.” Believe what! Believe that only God can give life to the dead. Jesus Christ is God, and only He can give you life. “And this is the record that God has given to us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life” (1 John 5:11). Do you believe this?

Resurrection and the Mercy Seat

April 24, 2011

Sitting with my wife at the Baptist Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi, looking out the window on a beautiful sunshiny day, is not where we wanted to be this Resurrection morning.  We are consciously aware because of Romans 8:28 that we are never out from under God’s amazing love and care for us. Our Savior’s words, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” come to mind. I was supposed to preach a sunrise service early this morning and a late morning service in my pulpit at Glendale Baptist Church.  Depressed and discouraged? Not really! Linda made a dandy audience and listened attentively as I preached my Resurrection sermon to her. It was my desire to receive and give just one fresh glimpse into the Resurrection. I found such a peek as I put a few passages together. One came from Matthew’s account of the Resurrection in Matthew 28:2, the second from Luke 24:4, and the third from John’s gospel in John 20:12.

Matthews begins his look at the Resurrection by saying that, accompanied by an earthquake, “an angel of the Lord ascended to the empty tomb of Jesus Christ and rolled back the stone from the door and sat on it.”  We know that the angel did not move the stone to let Jesus out. Our Lord had long been gone. The stone was rolled away to let the women in, followed by the disciples, and us. What a picture! “He is not here for He has risen as He said He would. Come see the place where the Lord lay,” confirm this truth. These precious words have echoed down through the ages to give hope to the hopeless and to signal that death has lost its fearful sting.

Now the glimpse! Matthew mentions one angel, Luke on the other hand, says that there were indeed, two angels. What I want us to focus in on just a moment is John’s positioning of the angels.  He placed one at the head of the place where Jesus had lain and one at the foot. This brought into my mind a mental picture of the mercy seat and the Day of Atonement. On that day the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat. This blood was a temporary shadow of what God required to hide the guilt of the people’s sin.

Remember the two cherubim located at each end of the mercy seat? Hebrews says that above it (the mercy seat) were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat (Hebrews 9:5).  In my opinion these angels were there to shed light (glory) upon the holiness of God, one symbolizing His righteousness and the other His justice. The first representing righteousness demanded that sin be paid for by the shedding of blood and the other to remind Israel, and us, that his justice must be satisfied in order for the sinners to approach God. However, this being a temporary shadow brought back into the people’s minds the consciousness of their guilt before God. This happened because the blood of animals could never satisfy God.

Then Christ came, suffered, died, and rose again. What the blood of the animals could never do, His did. As our forever High Priest, He made the ultimate sacrifice of Himself thereby satisfying forever God’s demand against our sin. He paid the debt in full.

Catch this!  I visualize through Matthew’s eyes the two angels at either end of the empty tomb signifying that God’s righteous, just demand against our sin has been forever met.  Christ’s resurrection guarantees that our God is forever satisfied with His offering for sin. The angels – like the cherubim at the mercy seat – witness to this fact. What an amazing glimpse into God’s truth! Oh what a Savior we have. Have a great resurrection day.

Born to Reign

November 23, 2008

It is God’s design that men have dominion over the earth. God gave Adam and Eve this command. This dominion obviously has not happened with this fallen civilization. Adam’s fallen seed is in the process of producing a civilization of “after his kind.” It is a civilization of sinful people that are locked in time and space – and like grass – they are all destined to die and perish. And the human glory – all that sheds light upon them: human pride, human wisdom, human beauty, human talent, human wealth, human achievements – is temporary and its fame is fleeting.  It appears briefly like a vapor and it is quickly gone (James 4:14).

Jesus Christ as the last Adam is using the spiritual incorruptible seed of the word of God to generate a heavenly people after His kind destined to live forever. John explains,  “He [Jesus Christ] came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13).  “Who were born” is taken from the original word meaning, “to beget.”  Children of God are born from the source of God.  Christians are those who are born into God’s forever family.

We are to have bodies like Jesus Christ’s glorious resurrection body. Paul says that our “citizenship is in heaven from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).  Paul describes these new bodies as bodies that please God, bodies with a new kind of flesh, bodies with a glory all their own, and they will be powerful spiritual bodies that will not perish (1 Corinthians 15: 38-43).

Paul mentions two Adams and the civilizations that they produce reflect the nature of each of them.  He said, “It is written that the first man Adam became a living being” (1 Corinthians 15:45). This is a reference to Genesis 2:7.  “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Adam sinned and died spiritually. He became the father of a fallen race. “The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45).  The last Adam is speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is breathing the gospel into the minds of many giving them, not physical life, but spiritual life. Paul says that the spiritual is not first but the physical (is first). But afterward comes the spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:46).

Paul then makes his contrast of the two Adam’s clear. He says that the first was a man of the earth made of dust. The second man is the Lord from heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:47).  He then makes this contrast! As was the man of dust so are those who are made of dust. And as is the heavenly Man, so are those who are heavenly. Paul’s conclusion is this. “As we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.” (1 Corinthians 15:48- 49)  Jesus said it like this, that which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit” (John 3:7).

Jesus Christ alluded to this very thing when He spoke these words to His disciples. So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:27).

Jesus is speaking of the new birth of the earth under His sovereign dominion at the time of His second coming (Revelation 19:16; Daniel 7:27).  It will be cause the world to be “reborn” which is a global parallel to the individual rebirth of Christians.