Easter Sunday. What do you believe or not believe?
This is the day in the Christian calendar when Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus 3 days after he was crucified on a cruel cross on Golgotha’s hill. This is the day when Jesus, the son of God rose from the dead over 2000 years ago.
Unbelievable? Are you like many who believe that there once was a good man, named Jesus who was a great teacher? That is historical fact, there are such evidences of Jesus’ life on earth and that is easy to believe and is accepted as truth. But Son of God, risen King?
Following his death on the cross Jesus had been quickly embalmed and laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, with a stone covering the entrance and a roman guard, yet when Mary Magdalene and the women came and found the stone rolled away and Jesus' body missing, they at first thought the body had been stolen. Peter and John, too, did not think that Jesus had arose from the dead! The disciples who were hiding in a room out of fear did not believe it either at first!
So why should we believe that Jesus is the Son of the living God, that Jesus bore the burden of our sin on the cross, that he died and that He rose again from the dead?
We believe because of what Jesus said and what happened after He appeared to his disciples and others who were hiding in fear. We believe because Jesus called these men and women out to be witnesses. They were eyewitnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus. They saw it with their own eyes and were commissioned to tell the world.
Read Luke 24:44-49
Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day,
47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
48 You are witnesses of these things.
49 And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.
We believe because of the eyewitness accounts of the resurrection. It is important to get this, these men and women had spent time with Jesus when he lived, close up and personal time with Him, yet they feared and grieved when he was arrested and died, and despite His teaching to them they record their own scepticism when His body could not be found in the tomb, even they found it unbelievable at first, until they saw Him and following His command they documented it carefully and it is recorded in the New Testament.
Let’s examine a letter from Peter, written many years after the resurrection and certainly when Peter could reflect back upon the events of that day and have a greater understanding of its significance and the impact this had on not only his own life also the life of everyone who would choose to believe.
1 Peter 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
Some amazing statements here from Peter:
He believes Jesus is the Son of God
He believes in new life
He believes in a living hope
Having witnessed the resurrection of Jesus, Peter has come to know that through that event new life is made available to us. His confident hope comes not just through the teaching and miracles he saw when Jesus was alive, the basis of his hope and confidence in Jesus as the son of God and in a new life and living hope comes through “the resurrection of Jesus from the dead” . The event he himself witnessed. That is the basis of his certainty, the basis of his hope – Jesus rose from the dead.
Verses 4-6 get really interesting,
4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time
Having established a firm basis for belief in the resurrected Jesus Peter mentions an inheritance. Now, who inherits? Children usually. The resurrection isn’t just an event in history that happened but it points to relationship. Through Jesus we are given the chance to have a unique relationship with God that was not available previously, Jesus death and resurrection established a brand new covenant between God and man.
In verse 6 Peter reveals something that will cut right across where, I imagine many of us, are right now, with so much going on in every nation because of the current COVID 19 pandemic. If you don’t believe in God or stopped following Him or doubt Him because of suffering in your life or lives of others, then this is going to speak directly to you.
So many have asked the question Why suffering? Why if God is such a loving God does He let suffering and pain happen? Why if God is sovereign and good are people dying in their thousands every day, nations are emotionally broke, economically broke and people are hurting beyond imagination because of this virus called COVID 19? Why?
Good question and if you could ask it of Peter he would answer as he said in v6…
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,
7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
Peter himself had seen and personally experienced much suffering and pain so he knew what he was talking about. Please don’t miss this important point. Peter did NOT doubt God’s existence nor did he doubt the LOVE of God despite the unimaginable suffering and pain he saw and experienced.
GOD IS FOR US because JESUS DIED FOR US and JESUS WAS RESURRECTED FOR US.
He died for us to have relationship with God through him, he did not die so things would always work out the way we think they should.
The resurrection proves:
God is personal and he wants a relationship with us.
Pain and tragedy are not evidence of God’s absence.
Heaven is real.
Jesus is who He claimed to be – the Son of the living God
Jesus has the power to forgive sin.
Forgiveness is available because you are loved by God and because of the resurrection we too are now free to love and forgive others, to love as Jesus loved.
So, it is Easter Sunday. The day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. What do you believe?
God invites us to believe, as Peter did, and my hope is that this Easter, despite the heart-breaking impact of the current pandemic on all our lives, that the death and resurrection would become personal for you. That you would believe and would trust in Jesus.
Choose to believe this Easter.
If you have any questions or want more information there are good resources on Connect Church Lurgan website.
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