TITLE: No Excuses
THEME: Jesus’ resurrection – takes away every excuse for unbelief.
(1) Unbelief in the truth in the Christian Religion
- Unbelief in the full completion of Christ’s rescue from sin, death and hell.
In the Name of Jesus. AMEN.
ALLELUIA! Christ IS Risen!
He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!
Dear friends in Christ. It may shock you to hear, but the fact is, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead changes nothing – but it means everything. And as we consider the feast of Jesus’ resurrection, we find that this simple statement takes away every excuse for unbelief.
It puts those who wish to deny God’s claim over their lives and their morals on the defensive. And, it gives a powerful and certain weapon into the hand of the believer when doubts about his standing with God plague him.
For nearly 2,000 years, men have tried to cover up and deny this simple fact of history. It started on the day that the Roman Soldiers were bribed for their silence and continues to this day as our lust for conspiracy and entertainment drives Cable TV producers and academics of dubious distinction to make documentary after documentary to rewrite history.
Making a dead person alive again takes some doing. No, I’m not talking about simply restarting a human heart that has just stopped a few minutes ago. There were no advanced medical teams in the tomb – and Jesus’ exsanguinated body had been lying lifeless upon the cold stone slab for three days.
And it is not as if all of this happened by happenstance. What would you think if someone walked around claiming that they would be put to death – and then, on a day certain, rise from the dead? Would that not be the most reliable proof you could imagine that he was telling the truth – that he can be trusted no matter how impossible it may seem?
Clearly, I’m not talking about a parlor trick – or a miracle of modern science. A dead man can’t do anything to change anything or accomplish anything. It is only by the power of almighty God, Himself, who gives life and takes it away, that such a feat is possible.
And if God accomplished such a thing for a person, you can be certain that it would not be done for a deceiver and a liar. In the Law of Moses, the one who claimed to speak on behalf of God, as Jesus did, was to be stoned to death.
And, as we read in the Gospels, Jesus not only claimed to speak in the Name of God, but he did so while at the same time claiming to be the very Son of God, incarnate in human flesh.
Add to all this the witness of the Old Testament with the prefiguring of Jesus’ resurrection with Jonah and the whale and so many other events of Jesus’ life and ministry being foretold, and we have such clear and convincing evidence that any clear thinking individual could come to no other conclusion than to believe that Jesus is who He says He is – the very Son of God, born in human flesh for the salvation of mankind.
Just consider some of the events of Jesus’ life. As he clears the temple of the moneychangers – chasing the livestock with whips, He points to none other than His resurrection as proof He has the authority to do these things. “Destroy this temple and in three days I will restore it.” Here He prophesies not only that they, indeed, will be driven mad with anger enough to cause His death, but that in three days, He will rise from the dead. What’s more, He calls His own body a temple – pointing to the fact that, His body, not the building in which they are standing, is the true temple of Almighty God and asserting that He is, truly their rightful Lord and God.
As Jesus does other miracles, and scoffers and unbelievers remain unconvinced, they ask for a sign – an irrefutable sign from heaven. And Jesus answers them, “This evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign and they will be given no sign except the sign of Jonah. For Just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the earth.” And the only conclusion to be reached, if Jesus rises from the dead, is that He is who He says He is.
Likewise, Jesus points to His power and authority as, beforehand, He takes credit for His own resurrection, saying, “I lay down my life, nobody takes it from me, but I myself lay it down. I have authority to lay it down and to take it up again.” So that, even as He set’s his face like flint toward Jerusalem, He knows what will happen, for He says, “See, we go to Jerusalem and all will be fulfilled that is written by the prophets of the Son of Man. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles, and he will be mocked and whipped and spit upon and they will scourge him and crucify him, and He will rise again on the third day.”
What more proof is needed? Jesus, Himself, constantly refers to this reality of His resurrection from the dead. In spite of his horrific scourging, the blood-loss, even having a spear thrust into his side where blood and water flowed – none of this was able to keep the Lord of life in the grave.
So afraid of this fact coming true were the leaders of Jesus’ day, that they requested a guard be posted, soldiers to stand before the tomb and an official seal placed upon it. But even this was insufficient to keep Him in. For in those still early hours, without so much as breaking the seal, Christ rose from the dead and departed the tomb.
And with exultant joy, the earth shook, the Angels, so joyous over the news came to remove the stone to anounce to the world, “HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN! The tomb is empty! See the place where they lay him”
Even His own disciples did not believe – fear and disbelief remained in their minds until He appeared before them later that night in the upper room – allowing them to touch His wounds. But even then, fear and anxiety remained in their heart. It wasn’t until after the Holy Spirit descended on Pentecost that with boldness they proclaimed the truth – suffering and even dying to announce the glorious news that He who was dead now lives – proving His claims – proving His teaching and proving beyond doubt all that He has accomplished for the salvation of the world.
This gives all the needed answer to any doubter and any skeptic. This is the news that all those cable TV shows try to deny – going so far as to even deny the existence of Jesus of Nazareth rather than entertain the notion that it happened just as He said.
Because if they entertain that thought, they must come to the inevitable conclusion that what He taught was true. That there not only is a God to whom we are all accountable. That there are moral absolutes. That there is a right and a wrong and we do not get to choose them for ourselves.
But as much as that is true, Jesus’ resurrection does not merely point us to the Law. And it ought not cause us fear and dread at God’s existence. For the real meaning of the resurrection is that another reality is also true – not only do we have a God to whom we are accountable – but we have a God who loves us so much that He would redeem and rescue us even when we have transgressed His law – even when we have disobeyed – even when we have given Him every right to destroy us eternally. For the resurrection of Jesus’ from the dead after His unjust and inhumane suffering on the cross validates His very last words, “IT IS FINISHED!”
He has suffered the punishment of God against our sin and He has drunk the cup of God’s wrath to the very dregs and the sin you and I have committed has been atoned for.
In this way, Jesus’ resurrection is not merely proof of God’s existence to the unbeliever – it is comfort and hope and promise for the believer. It is the answer to the fear and doubt that come upon us when we are confronted with our sin.
Jesus is risen from the dead! Death no longer can hold you or me in the grave, but He who took up His own body has promised the resurrection of YOUR body – and eternal life with Him for all eternity.
And if Jesus’ resurrection proves any of His words, it proves ALL of His words, even these.
What’s more, He makes such a promise to all who would not turn their back on and reject this free gift of salvation and eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that He sent His onlybegotten Son that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” And again, “He who believes and is baptized, shall be saved, but He who does not believe shall be condemned.”
Therefore, to claim that Jesus died for sins, but did not die for YOUR sins – is to make Him to be a liar – it is to claim that Jesus’ work was not finished – it is to deny the fact that He was raised from the dead – because sin was not fully atoned and death still has a claim.
But Christ is risen. There is no sin outstanding – no reason to fear and doubt God’s love and care for you personally – no reason to doubt God’s continued blessing on your life. When you are plagued with doubt or anxiety, all you need to do is look at this fact, remember the empty tomb, and remind yourself, “He is Risen, just as He said, therefore God loves me and cares for me and shall preserve me until my lifes end, and though my body be placed into the grave, I have my Lord’s sure and certain promise that He will raise me up to new life – eternal life with Him in blessedness forever.”
And in this way, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead takes away every reason – every cause for fear, anxiety, and unbelief. It is a real fact anchored in the history of the world. A truth that cannot be broken. A reality that cannot be covered or taken away. It takes an act of the will to deny or hide it – all creation since that day shouts with exuberant joy every spring. Every budding flower, every blade of grass that goes from brown to green, every bud on every tree is a constant reminder and a chorus of voices announcing to our eyes as well as our ears.
Alleluia, Christ IS Risen!
He is Risen indeed. Alleluia!
In the Name of Jesus. AMEN.