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Dr. Jay P. Cook, Pastor

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Easter Matters

Intro

Let’s begin with two questions:

Jesus rose from the dead. It is historical fact; it wasn't done in secret.

I.  But what does his resurrection mean? It means three things:

A.  The resurrection means Jesus is who he claimed to beJohn 11:25 (NIV) Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; Jesus made some outrageous claims while He was on earth: 

1.   John 2:19 (NIV)  Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."

2.   Luke 22:69-70 (NIV) 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God." 70 They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied, "You are right in saying I am."

3   John 10:30 (NIV) “I and the Father are one."

4.  John 14:7 (NIV) If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

5.   John 14:6 (NIV) Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  That's a strong claim. He said, "I'm the way." He didn't say, I'm one way, I'm a good way, or I'm one of the ways.

a.   Saying "all roads get to heaven" doesn’t make sense. That is like saying any road will get you to Richwood.

b.   That's like saying I can dial any phone number and reach Mary Beth. There's only one number that will really reach her. 

6.   Jesus said, "I am the truth." That means any other way is not the truth. He claimed to be God. He said, "No one can get to God the Father except through me."

a.   Jesus was either who he said he was, or he was the biggest liar who ever lived.

BJesus has the power He claimed to have.  Jesus said, "All power on earth and in heaven is given to me." Because He is God, He can do everything God can do. In John 10:18 (NIV)  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."

1.   No force could keep Jesus in the tomb. The Romans killed him, put him in a tomb, put a big stone in front, sealed it with the Roman seal, and posted a 24-hour guard.

2.  They were only trying to prevent the inevitable. Jesus said: They can't stop me. I can give my life away, and I can take it up again.

C.    The resurrection means Jesus did what he promised to do.  Mark 10:33-34 (NIV)
33 "We are going up to Jerusalem," he said, "and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise."
1.   The cross was no surprise to Jesus. It was all part of God's plan. 

2.  Think about it how would you feel if you were the ones who had Him put to death? You publicly had Jesus executed in front of thousands of witnesses who see Him die, then you have him buried, a stone put over his tomb, and a 24-hour guard. Three days later this He is up and walking around the city again.

3.  The angel said: "Don't be frightened. I know you're looking for Jesus, who was crucified. But he isn't here. He's come back to life again, just as he said he would."

4.  He did what he promised. When God makes a promise, you can count on it. That's what Easter means. Because Jesus did rise, he is who he said he was, he has the power he said he had, and he keeps the promises he makes.

SO WHAT? WHY DOES THE RESURRECTION MATTER? WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE? IT MATTERS FOR THREE REASONS. BECAUSE JESUS IS WHO HE CLAIMED TO BE, HAS THE POWER HE CLAIMED TO HAVE, AND DOES WHAT HE PROMISES TO DO

II.   The Resurrection Matters Because My Past Can Be Forgiven.  That's really good news.

     A.   We all have regrets. We all feel bad about things we have done. We all have experienced guilt.

B.  The tragedy is a lot of people are stuck in the past and feeling guilty for all kinds deeds or lost opportunities.  They can't get on with the present and the future because they're stuck in the past. Some guilt or regret has tied them down. They're running around with this emotional baggage, and they're wondering why they're not happy.

C.  Here is the good news When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross.” (Colossians 2:14 (the Message)

1.  This is God's pardon program. Jesus nailed it all to the cross. He paid for our guilt. That means we don't have to pay for it.

2.  He wants to cancel every debt we owe—emotional debts, relational debts, sins. All canceled.  Romans 8:1 (NIV) Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Illustration: Do you remember having an Etch-A-Sketch? What happens if you mess up the picture? You flip it, shake it, turn it back over, and there's a clean slate. This is God's Etch-A-Sketch verse in the Bible. He wants to wipe our slate clean.

III.   The Resurrection Matters Because My Present Problems Can Be Managed.

A.  Much of life seems unmanageable.  And Maturity is when we realize we can't manage all the life is going to send us. But God can.  And that's good news. We can't control everything in our lives, but God can. So we need to hook up with Him and let the Lord take control and ask Him for help.

B.  As I listen to people it seems that the number one complaint is “things are out of control.”  Every morning I read the USA Today and CNN on my Kindle – that complaint is right on – we are in an out of control state in this world.
1.  People feel powerless to maintain relationships
2.  They feel powerless to get out of debt.
3.  People feel powerless to manage their time and their schedule.

C.  What we need is a power greater than ourselves. We were never meant to live this life on our own power. God wants to have a relationship with us. And here's the good news:
1.   Ephesians 1:19-20 (NLT) says 19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

2.  The same power that enabled Jesus to rise from death will help us rise above our problems.

3.  The same power God used at the resurrection 2,000 years ago can be used in our lives right now.

D.  I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, and neither do you. But it doesn't matter, because even though it's out of my control, it's not out of God's. He will give me the power to face it.

1.  Philippians 4:13 (NLT) For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

E.  Why does the resurrection matter? Because my past can be forgiven, my present can be managed, and:

IV. The Resurrection Matters Because My Future Can Be Secure.  One of the universal problems we've all got is death. Let's face it—everybody dies. I'm going to die someday, and so are you. But sometimes we get so busy in the here and now, we don't stop to think about what's going to come.

A.   Death is something that Jesus talked about.  He talked about the Kingdom of heaven.  There are all kinds of books, movies, theories about heaven and hell.  "What's going to happen after we die?" It's obvious we're going to spend more time on that side of eternity than on this side. Here we only spend maybe 80 or 90 years but eternity is a long time.

B.  One day we're all going to stand before God, and we’ve got to have allegiance straight.
1.   Number one, heaven is a perfect place. Total love, total peace, total joy, total perfection. No sin, no mistakes, no evil, no bad, no errors. It's perfect in every area.

2.   The second thing the Bible says is that in order for us to go there, we have to be perfect, because only perfection can exist in heaven.
a.    "Oh. Well thanks a lot. That leaves me out."  How about you are you perfect?
b.    "I'll never make it if I have to be perfect." Right!
c.    That's the point, none of us will because none of us is perfect; we've all messed up.

C.  There are two ways the Bible says you can get to heaven. Plan A is to earn it. That's the performance plan. And to earn it you only have to do this: never sin and always do what's right for the entire time that you live. Always make the right decision, always say the right thing, never say the wrong thing. Just be perfect.

Illustration: It would be as if they changed the rules of the Baseball Hall of Fame and said in order to get in you had to bat 1,000 and play error-free ball your entire career. Even the best get 300.

D.  Since none of us qualify for Plan A, God came up with Plan B, which is this: You trust Jesus Christ when he says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." He was the only perfect person who ever lived, because He was God. He came so we could know what God is like. And by trusting and establishing a relationship with Him, we get in on his goodness.  We become co-heirs with Christ.

E.  God doesn't grade on a curve. It's either perfection or zip! It's either 100 percent or Plan B: trust Christ.

F.   I’ll take Plan B.  How about you?  Which plan do you take? 
1.   1 Peter 1:3 (NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Conclusion:
Our old history ends with the cross; our new history begins with the resurrection.
~ Watchman Nee

That's the difference Easter can make.


Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.