Alive! Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018
I. We Remember That God Keeps His Promises
a. Remember Who is Making the Promise
We need to listen to the promises of God, “not according to the categories we’re used to, but with hearts that recognize who is speaking the promise” – Darrel Bock
b. Remember The Content of the Promises – The Gospel
“When I stand accused of my regrets, and the devil roars his empty threats I will preach the gospel to myself. That I am not a man condemned, for Jesus Christ is my defense.”
– “Nailed to the Cross”, The Rend Collective
II. We Experience Renewed Relationships
In the first creation story (Genesis 1-3), humans had rejected God as their King and the consequence of their rebellion was the resultant curse, which broke the relational harmony we were created for. Jesus’ resurrection spells the beginning of God’s new creation (see 2 Cor 5:17) and this restores our relationships, creating “one new humanity” (Eph 2:15) in Christ where the old divisions of ethnicity, socio-economics and male and female are no longer legitimate.
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28
III. We Have A Reasonable Hope
God calls us to reasonable faith – neither blind faith, nor undeniable certitude. Christianity is both reasonable and faith – it requires the exercise of trust in light of good evidence.
Why Believe this Report – Six Points:
- Women, who were not considered reliable witnesses in that era, were recorded as the first witnesses of the resurrection. If these reports were made up, they would never have included women as witnesses.
- The names of the women are recorded as “ancient footnotes” (See Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitness Testimonies).
- The resurrection was hard to believe: the first disciples where skeptical and slow to believe it as anyone today would be – not gullible and superstitious.
- An empty tomb isn’t enough evidence, but combined with multiple sightings on various occasions, this becomes powerful evidence (Lk 24:38-39; see also 1 Cor 15:3-6).
Side Note: Two ways of ‘high-jacking’ an honest search for historical answers
- We assume that “miracles can’t happen”, therefore we rule out even the possibility of miracles.
But: we can’t prove or disprove God’s existence scientifically. So, to be intellectually honest, we have to at least be open to the possibility of God, and if we are, then we have to at least be open to the possibility of miracles, and that would include that God raised Jesus from the dead. That’s just being intellectually honest.
2. We hijack our search into the history of the resurrection because we know it will have a bearing on our life if it’s true. The question of Jesus’ resurrection is conflict of interest, but we can’t recuse ourselves; we must be open to the possibility that it’s true and, if so, it will have to change our lives.
- The beginning of the early church needs a plausible, historical explanation:
a. How could the early church – a group of Jewish people – come to believe that Jesus was actually God in the flesh (Jn 1:1; 18; 20:28)? They had no categories for this at all – believed that God alone could be worshipped – yet they came to worship him immediately after his resurrection (see Lk 24:52; Matt 28:10; 17; Jn 20:28).
b. No one from the Jewish faith believed in a single resurrection of one person in the middle of history. Jewish people wouldn’t make up this sort of story.
c. How could a Jewish movement actually take root in the ancient Mediterranean world among non-Jewish folks, who despised the idea of a bodily resurrection – who think its disgusting, like a zombie apocalypse?
- Why would the early church apostles make up a lie about Jesus’ being alive, and then give their lives to defend it?
By far the most plausible, historical explanation is that the early church is telling us the truth in these Gospel narratives: they actually saw Jesus alive – ate with him, touched him, heard him teach.
IV. We Find Restored Purpose
“God is with us and for us. The only thing left to fear is our keeping ourselves outside…resisting the very purposes of God.” – Debra Reinstra, So Much More
So what is your response? What’s your next step?
Life Group Discussion Questions:
How did the meaning of the resurrection of Jesus first “dawn on you”? Or, share one way that you were personally encouraged in your faith during this Easter season – through the Good Friday service, Easter Sunday service, or in any other way. How was God speaking to you this year?
- In his message, Pastor Dave pointed out that the women were told to “remember” what Jesus had told them – the he would die, and be raised again. And he was! God makes good on God’s promises. In what ways does looking back to God’s faithfulness in the past – especially Jesus’ life, death and resurrection – encourage you to trust him in the future? In what ways do you still find trusting God challenging? How does this text encourage you?
- Read the quote from Leo Tolstoy that Pastor Dave shared on Sunday morning:
“My question – that which at the age of fifty brought me nearly to the verge of suicide – was the simplest of questions, lying in the soul of every man [and woman]….It was: “What will come of what I am doing today or tomorrow? What will come of my whole life? Why should I live, why wish for anything or do anything?” It can also be expressed thus: “Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?”
a. Have you ever experienced the sort of ‘crisis of meaning’ that Tolstoy describes here? What was it like?
b. Read 1 Corinthians 15:58. Paul writes these words as the natural outworking of his discussion on Jesus’ resurrection – and what it means for us. What are his instructions here?
c. Paul knows that the resurrection of Jesus ensures that believers will experience God’s new creation in all its fullness when God remakes his creation. And that means that our work in the world even now is meaningful – what we do now, “in the Lord”, has ongoing implications. How has the reality of Jesus’ resurrection given you a renewed hope and meaning for your work in the world?
- During Sunday’s message, Pastor Dave sought to give good reasons to believe in the reality of the resurrection, and addressed some ways that people often “highjack” their search for the truth of the resurrection. How well do you think you could explain the death and resurrection of Jesus to a neighbor, co-worker or friend over coffee? If time and space allow, break into groups of two and try “role-playing” a conversation about Jesus’ death and resurrection.
- Who in your life can you be praying for – asking God for opportunity to share this good news of Jesus with? Write their names below, and take some time as a small group to pray for those people.
Prayer: Give thanks for the ways the hope of the resurrection of Jesus has encouraged you. Take time to pray for the people you listed from question 4. Ask God for wisdom and insight, boldness and confidence, grace and gentleness, in all your interactions.