Easter 2015 - “Hope is Here”
It has been a long Winter. Good it's Easter. I've been looking forward to Easter since the first storm. Someone said this week is like the Super Bowl of Christianity; if so, the Resurrection is like Malcolm Butler's interception on the one yard line! (This illustration only works here in New England.) The Resurrection changes everything. History pivots on this one moment. In Jesus Christ everything changes. If Jesus stays in the tomb then he merely died a martyr's death and he is just another good religious teacher. Because of the Resurrection this one man changed the world.
The life of Christ has inspired untold compassion and benevolence. The value of the individual, the welfare of children, the dignity of women, and the sanctity of marriage and family have been perpetuated through the ages because of the influence of this one man. Countless inspired leaders took their cues from him resulting in hospitals, schools, colleges, museums, etc that bear the stamp of Jesus Christ. Here we are 2,000 years later surrounded by his influence in society in general and we are the beneficiaries of his grace personally. John Ortberg says it this way: "two thousand years later and we name our children Peter, Paul, and Mary while we name our dogs Nero and Caesar."
1 - The Difference Between Advice and Announcement
All of this (his influence) begins with an announcement.
Matthew 28:5-6 says, "Then the angel spoke to the women. 'Don’t be afraid!' he said. 'I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He isn't here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.'"
"You are looking for Jesus, but he isn't here, he is risen from the dead." This announcement by the angel changes everything. "It is just as he said, come and see where his body was lying (but isn't now)." This is no fictional event. It is the pivotal point in history. It happened! The crucifixion was as public as public could be. The resurrection was witnessed by a significantly large number of people and was published broadly as a fact. The disciples were so changed that later in their lives when given the option to live or die to a man they chose death. The one thing they couldn't deny (because they had witnessed it) was that Jesus was alive.
This announcement changed everything. The early believers came up with simple terminology for the announcement of Christ's resurrection victory - "Good News." Eventually it became the simple word, "Gospel." But the term has become so familiar it is likely we may miss something. We must see the difference between advice and announcement. "Advice" is something you can do. An "Announcement" is about something already done. What makes "Good News" good news is the fact that it is already done. The "Gospel" is "Good News."
2 - Good News Because…
Galatians 2:16 says, "Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”
Listen this announcement is already done. Why is it "Good New?" Because: I don’t have to measure up.
Galatians 2:19 says, "For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God."
The more I tried, the more I new I was wrong. I don't have to measure up. I went to the Doctor a couple of months ago and he had some advice for me. He said, "Get on the scale everyday." I get depressed enough on my own - once a week maybe. I asked him why? Gives you biofeedback. That is Latin for, "makes you feel guilty." Here is how it works: we have been good and disciplined and we get on the scale. It is the day after Thanksgiving and we don't. When we are doing well, we want to be measured. When we are not doing well, we don't want to be measured. We know we don't measure up.
The "Good News" is: God doesn't have scales. We don't have to measure up to be loved by him. He loves us all the way to where he want us to be. The God of the universe knows everything about us: every fault, weakness, secret, sin, failure, every single dark point and still he loves us. Yes: God loves us. He saying it right now, "I love you."
Galatians 2:20 says, "My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
God says I love you. We say I am not sure. God says it's okay. I am not going away. The "Good News" announcement is that we don't have to measure up. Jesus loved me and then gave himself for me before I ever had a chance to do anything.
Perhaps you have come to the moment when you are ready to say, "Jesus Christ, I need you, I need a Savior."
Romans 10:10 (NIV) says, "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved."
With the heart we believe and with the mouth we confess. In other words the moment comes when you are ready to express with your mouth what is happening in your heart.
There are two kinds of people. There are some who are not sure, they are curious. The challenge for you (as ones who are not there yet and are curious about all this) is to say to God, "If this is true, show me."
There are others who are ready. This is for you. You are ready to embrace Christ as your Savior. For you the resurrection is true and you are ready to embrace the Risen Christ. I invite you to embrace Christ this Easter. This is one of those great and special moments of life and you know you are ready.
Dear God, you know everything about me - every fault and sin. I confess it to you. I know I don't measure up. Jesus Christ, I trust in you, in you alone. Thank you Lord for coming into my life. Help me to live fully for you. In Jesus' name, Amen!
Posted on Sun, April 5, 2015
by Ken Hart