Contrasting the Followers of Jesus and John the Baptist

There is a remarkable parallel and contrast between two groups of disciples at the graves of their respective masters. John the Baptist’s follower charge into the jaws of the lion to rescue the headless corpse of their martyred teacher from a prison grave. They lay it reverently and then they feel all is over. They no longer have a center. They disintegrate. Their shepherd was stuck down and the flock was scattered. As a distinct community they ceased to be.

The other group laid their martyred master in his grave with as tender hands and as little hope as did John’s disciples. Hints are given that the disintegrating process is beginning. The women come to the grave wrapped in grief and leave it with great joy. They go away feeling that they are bound together more closely than ever.

The grave of John was the end of a “school.” The grave of Jesus was the beginning of the Church.

Why?

The only answer that makes sense is that: “The Lord is risen!”

The whole history of the Christian Church and its very existence is unintelligible without the truth of the resurrection.

If God is in Control, How Can He Hold us Responsible?

If God really controls all things, then how can He hold us responsible for the sinful choices that we make?

Joshua 24:15   “Choose this day…”  Choose!”

Deuteronomy 30:15-20   “Choose this day…”  Choose!”

Matthew 11:28  “Come to me…”  Choose!

You absolutely have choice…Christ calls and we choose if we are going to respond.

What about Ephesians 1:11?  “Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.”  That’s true too!  Neither one of them can be diminished.  God is absolutely sovereign in all things.  We also have freedom to make life choices for which we will give an account.

Deuteronomy 29:29…”“The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.”

What the Resurrection of Jesus Does

The resurrection…

  1. Proves that Christ has power over life and death. Jesus had to be resurrected from the dead to prove that He is no mere mortal leader but God almighty, with power over life and death. Christ rose from the dead because He was the all-powerful God, with the divine omnipotence required to destroy death!
  2. Was the crowning climax of God’s love. Christ had to rise from the dead because His resurrection was the crowning climax of His love. Had he stayed in the grave, not only would His promises of new life have been unfulfilled  and His claims for divine power disproved, but His entire suffering, the agony of the cross, the godforsakenness, and the never-to-be-fathomed sorrow that crushed His soul, would have been in vain. The entire purpose of the incarnation would have remained unaccomplished.
  3. Brings newness of life and hope. The rejection of the Easter victory always leaves people without hope, while humble confidence in this truth bestows new assurance. “As Christ was raised from the dead…even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:14
  4. Guarantees your resurrection. It is true that temporal death comes to everyone of us, as it came to Christ; but it is only a passing instantaneous change from out earthly existence to that incomparably more blessed heavenly life. For at the open grave we learn through faith that we are more than creatures of accident, controlled by a cold, cruel fate, directed toward everlasting decay; rather, that we are God’s children of holy destiny, who come from God and, through His Son, will return to Him.

The Lord Like a Rabbit’s Foot

God’s display of His sovereignty is scary sometimes, but only because it’s SO not like us.  Sovereignty is all about being God.  We try to seduce Him to some heavenly pal or celestial bellboy.  We want to use the Lord like a rabbit’s foot.  Someone “lucky” to hold on to when the dam breaks and the water’s rising.  In some twisted way, we think we’re more secure when we’ve got God figured out.

Sovereignty says, “No way.”  There’s no way you’re going to figure out God.  He’s more than we might dare to imagine.

God is sovereign.  But what does that mean?  The term “sovereignty” means “independent.”  That means…

  • God is the ruler of all.
  • God answers to no one.
  • God can accomplish whatever He wants.
  • God sees history from beginning to end.  No obstacle or adversary can hinder His plan.
  • God is afraid of nothing, ignorant of nothing, needing nothing.
  • God always knows what’s best, and He never makes a mistake.

No Resurrection? No Redemption

When the Gospel summarizes the triumph of Easter in the seven short words, “Christ was raised up from the dead,” they regard the mysterious but magnificent bursting of the grave an an unquestionable, supreme truth. There is never debate in the New Testament of the resurrection victory. Throughout the early church the declaration that “on the third day He rose again from the dead” is uncompromisingly accepted as the great climax truth of our faith.

No resurrection, no redemption.

No open grave, no opened heaven.

This is the unavoidable alternative: 1 Corinthians 15:14-18

 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.