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He’s Alive!

Matthew 28:1–3; Mark 16:1–20; Luke 24:1–49; John 20:1–31

Just this week I watched a program that featured an interviewer on the streets of New York who was asking random passersby what holiday was coming up this weekend. More than 50% of the people had no clue. They gave answers such as Memorial Day, Father’s Day…even the Fourth of July! Some did say Easter, but, when asked to explain what Easter was, only about three of the many people interviewed gave answers that spoke of the Resurrection.

At first that short segment made me laugh at some of the answers given, but only for a second. Sadness moved in quickly. How could the most important event in all of history not be clearly understood by more people?

The resurrection of Jesus is central to the celebration of Easter, but less than half of adult Americans link the two. The Barna Group found that only 42% of adults tied Easter to the Resurrection. Adults aged 18 through 25 did the worst. David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, said, “The Easter holiday in particular still has a distinctly religious connection for people, but the specifics of it are really fading in a lot of people’s minds.” And this research is six years old, so the figure is likely less than 42% now.  Source: The Houston Chronicle, March 18, 2010

Why is the resurrection of Jesus Christ important? What does the Resurrection mean to you and me?

Jesus said “…I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” John 11:25–26.

The Resurrection is the heart of Christianity, the pinnacle—the high point—of all events that occurred concerning the Church and every Christian!

The fact that Jesus rose from the dead:

  • Testifies of the immense power of God himself. One writer said it this way: “To believe in the Resurrection is to believe in God. If God exists, and if He created the universe and has power over it, He has power to raise the dead. If He does not have such power, He is not a God worthy of our faith and worship. Only He who created life can resurrect it after death” (see I Corinthians 15:54–55). In resurrecting Jesus from the grave, God reminds us of His absolute sovereignty and power over life and death.
  • Confirms Jesus’ claim that He is “…the way, the truth, and the life…” as He states in John 14:6. Jesus had told the disciples in advance that He would rise again on the third day after His death. Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said…” Matthew 28:5–6 (see Events on Resurrection Day below).
  • Offers new life in Christ right now! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” John 3:16–17. “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand. By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” I Corinthians 15:1–4.
  • Gives us hope for the future. “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also” John 14:18–19. The good news is that those who are in Christ can expect their own resurrection from the dead and life with God for eternity. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
    I Corinthians 15:55.

You can’t keep the God-Man down! “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said…” Matthew 28:6.

Events on Resurrection Day

  • Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome go to the tomb (Mark 16:1–2; Luke 23:55–24:1)
  • The women discover that the great stone that had sealed the tomb is rolled away (Luke 24:2)
  • The women draw near and see the angel (Matthew 28:1–5)
  • Mary Magdalene goes to tell the disciples that the Lord’s body is gone (John 20:1–2)
  • Peter and John arrive and see the empty tomb; Peter goes in, then both depart (John 20:3–10)
  • Mary Magdalene returns to the tomb weeping; she sees two angels and then Jesus (John 20:11–16)
  • The risen Christ bids Mary Magdalene go and tell the disciples that she has seen Him (John 20:17–18)
  • Mary (the mother of James) and the other women who have taken the prepared burial spices to the tomb are perplexed (Luke 24:1–4)
  • The women see two angels at the tomb and hear their message (Luke 24:4–7; Matthew 28:6)
  • The women leave quickly to tell the disciples that Jesus is risen (Matthew 28:7–8)
  • On their way to find the disciples, the women are met by the risen Christ (Matthew 28:9–10)

Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus to…

  • Mary Magdalene – John 20:14–18; Mark 16:9
  • The women returning from the tomb – Matthew 28:8–10
  • Peter later on Resurrection Day – Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5
  • The disciples walking to Emmaus in the evening – Luke 24:13–31
  • The disciples (except Thomas) – Luke 24:36–45; John 20:19–24
  • The disciples a week later (with Thomas present) – John 20:24–29
  • Seven disciples by the Lake of Tiberias in Galilee – John 21:1–23
  • The disciples at the mount called Olivet and the Ascension – Acts 1:3–12
  • The apostles and 500 believers – 1 Corinthians 15:6
  • James – 1 Corinthians 15:7
  • Paul near Damascus – Acts 9:3–6; 1 Corinthians 15:8
  • Stephen outside Jerusalem – Acts 7:55
  • Paul in the temple – Acts 22:17–21; 23:11
  • John on the island of Patmos – Revelation 1:10–19

Source: Merrill F. Unger, The New Unger’s Bible Handbook, revised by Gary N. Larson, Moody Press, Chicago, 1984, pp. 397–398.

Happy Resurrection Sunday! Worship together, enjoy this special day, and share the good news with others!

— by Pastor Greg Joyner

Be Still and Know that He Is God

Mark 14:1; John 12:1; Psalm 46:10; Isaiah 2:11, 17

I recall a time when I was in my early teens working on a farm, and one requirement was to finish bringing in the crop before the forecast rain came. All of us workers began at 6 a.m. and we didn’t stop, other than for a lunch break and a couple of snack breaks, until 10 p.m. I was totally exhausted by the end of such a long day. I was so tired that when I did go to sleep all I could hear, even while sleeping, was the sound of a tractor. All night I heard the putt-putt-putt of that engine. I was, if there is such a thing, too tired to rest.

Wednesday was the fourth day of Passion Week and is sometimes called “Silent Wednesday.” The Bible doesn’t say what the Lord did on that day. Some Bible scholars speculate that after two exhausting days in Jerusalem, Jesus and His disciples spent this day resting in Bethany in anticipation of the Passover. Some say this is the day when a woman anointed Jesus with an expensive perfume, as described in Matthew 26:6–13, Mark 14:3–9, and John 12:1–11. This day is traditionally thought of as the day Judas conspired with some local authorities to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14–16).

While we may not know absolutely what Jesus did on this day, it’s fascinating to consider that Jesus spent His final quiet day with those dearest to Him. It was a day to rest, reflect, and also anticipate. Those are great things for us to do regularly as well. And today is a great day to take some rest and reflection time as we prepare our hearts for Easter Sunday. As I learned so well as a young man, you can become too exhausted to produce or appreciate. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Why not set aside time today for some extra minutes in your Bible, in prayer, and in meditation. Catch up with some good friends who will encourage you and whom you can encourage in the Lord. Attend Wednesday-evening Bible study and prayer service. Purpose that you will take time today to remove the distractions, adjust your busy calendar to allow a time of silence and solitude with God, and rejoice in the fact that we worship a risen Savior!

“Dear God, Thank You for rest and solitude with You. Thank You for moments of refreshment from having spent time in Your Word, time in prayer before You, time in personal praise of You. Thank You for the reminder that You are able to do anything but fail. Give me sweet fellowship with You today. May I allow time to just enjoy Your presence today. Thank You, Lord Jesus. In Your name I pray, Amen.”

— by Pastor Greg Joyner

Passion Week Devotional

“Passion Week,” also known as “Holy Week,” refers to the time period from what we call “Palm Sunday” (the day of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem) through “Easter Sunday” (also called “Resurrection Sunday,” the day when Christ rose from the tomb). On Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a young donkey (a colt), and the crowd welcomed Him with shouts of “Hosanna” (meaning “Oh save! Save now!”), as prophesied in Psalm 118:25–26 and Zechariah 9:9.

Passion Week involved several memorable events, beginning on Sunday with the triumphal entry/arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, as prophesied. He was riding on the back of a donkey’s colt, and received praise and acclamations from the crowd as King of Israel. Yes, the people hailed Him on Sunday, but things changed by Friday as many in the crowd sought to have Jesus nailed to the cross. Jesus didn’t fit their image of King or Messiah.

Here are some great questions for everyone to think about while preparing for Easter Sunday: Who is Jesus to you? Is He Savior? Is He Lord? Or is He something else to you? What happened when you were confronted with the real Jesus from the Bible? This question is not referring to the TV or movie Jesus but the Living Word of God in the flesh. He is the one and only Savior of the world. Jesus is our living hope. What did you do when confronted with God’s Son, Jesus?

Let’s look at some events in Jesus’ life that happened during Passion Week:

  • On Monday, Jesus cleansed the Temple in Jerusalem for the second time in His earthly ministry (Luke 19:45–46) and cursed the fig tree (Matthew 21:12–22).
  • Tuesday was the day when many priests, scribes, and elders, and in particular the Pharisees, consulted together about how to take Jesus and kill him; these were the religious leaders that Jesus warned the people about. Also on that day, Jesus predicted future events including His own return to earth someday.
  • No specific event on Wednesday is mentioned in the Bible concerning Jesus; that day was likely one of rest before He faced false trials and eventual crucifixion.
  • Thursday included the Passover celebration and the event known as “The Last Supper” that Jesus and His disciples observed together in the upper room. Jesus prepared both himself and His disciples for His death, giving new meaning to the Passover meal and instituting “The Lord’s Supper,” one of two ordinances of the church today; the other ordinance is “Baptism.”
  • Early Friday morning, after Jesus’ betrayal by Judas and arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was abandoned by His disciples and endured false trials, condemnation, beatings, and cruel mocking. Then He was forced to carry His own cross and was crucified on Golgotha (The Place of the Skull) along with two prisoners who were convicted thieves. Before sundown that day, Jesus’ body was placed in a borrowed tomb.
  • Throughout the day on Saturday, the Sabbath, Jesus’ body lay in the tomb.
  • On Sunday came the resurrection! The angel seated at the entrance to the tomb where Jesus’ body had been placed proclaimed, “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.…” (Matthew 28:6).

These seven days are referred to as Passion Week because during this time Jesus Christ truly revealed His passion for us in His suffering and dying for our sins. He suffered on our behalf to make available salvation – the forgiveness of all sin – to give to us something we could never achieve for ourselves. We should show our passion for Jesus in our grateful worship of Him this week and in our proclamation of His gospel – the good news of salvation – always!