“Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? “He is not here but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee….” – “Luke 24:1-6”
The text from Luke is most commonly utilised when Christians are celebrating the most triumphant and victorious day in the history of mankind. The day Jesus defeated death and hell and gave us as Christians a sense of immortality and an inner certainty of both the future and eternal salvation. The event celebrated even though it occurred some 2000 years ago, has a resonance even today and continues to provide an irresistible impact upon our day and generation. Today God is calling us to Believe Again.
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ provides not only for the Church but the entire world the most significant event that ever took place. It is an event that has given to us all the measurement of time as we know it. Time as we know it was divided by these great and momentous events.
My prayer is that through this message, we will be able to grasp afresh the life changing significance of what took place on these momentous day in the history of our planet.
I’m excited by what I have upon my heart to share with you because, the victory that Jesus accomplished through His death, burial and resurrection and the path He provided to restored faith and belief is revealed afresh. The message of the resurrection of Christ has something for everyone, believer and unbeliever alike. The message provides a revelation of the new hope that we as Christians have in Jesus Christ.
My sincere desire it that you would allow the message of Christ’s resurrection to minister and heal any areas in your life that are in need of attention. Through the power of His resurrection He can touch us. Why? because He is alive forevermore!
So, let us celebrate today and give glory to the one who has conquered death for every man, because it is upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ that our faith is based on.
The resurrection of Jesus is a message of: –
- Salvation to all of those who are lost and without hope in this life.
- Hope to all who have failed God in one way or another.
- Restored faith and belief to those who have given up.
- Joy and peace to those who are sinking in the mire of self pity and despair.
- Purpose and destiny to those who are without direction and meaning in this life.
- Christ’s compassion and mercy in His dealings with mankind.
- Who Christ is. As the disciples failed to perceive the true nature of Christ prior to His resurrection, He uses the power of His resurrection to reveal His full nature.
The week leading up to “Luke 24:1-6” packaged Christ’s death, His burial and resurrection it was a solitary week beginning with great excitement and phenomenal expectations. The devotees of Jesus were ready to crown Him as their King and would have done so had Jesus requested this of them.
Yet, in just a short space of time the followers of Jesus experienced a whole multitude of unexpected sensations with all their hopes and expectations being crushed because of His death. The Bible tells us that all of Jesus’ disciples and other followers forsook Him, one betrayed Him, and one denied Him. In “Matthew 26:56” – it says, “they all forsook Him”.
They had lost hope in the One who came to redeem them from the curse of both religious and political law. Peter was so mired in self-pity and despair that in “Matthew 26:75” – it says of him that – “He went out and wept bitterly”
The followers of Jesus had forgotten: –
- The Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus was the Purpose for Which Jesus Came
- The Victory Jesus had taught them about could only be Accomplished Through the His Death on the Cross and The Resurrection
- The only means for His followers to be Delivered from Death and Hell and Given A Sense of Immortality was through His Death on the Cross and The Resurrection
- “Hebrews 9:26-28” – “He has appeared to put away sin by sacrifice of Himself, so therefore Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.”
- “I John 3:5” – “And you know that He was manifest to take away or sins, and in Him there is no sin.”
- “Revelation 1:18” – “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
- It was only by His Death on the Cross and The Resurrection that we could be given a Living Hope and An Incorruptible Inheritance
- “I Peter 1:3-4” – “We have been begotten to a living hope and given an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for each one of us as we set our hope on Jesus Christ and His resurrection”
- His Death on the Cross and His Resurrection was the only means for His followers to have Power and Victory Over the Devil and Sin
- “Romans 8:10-11” – “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
- “Romans 8:31 & 37” – “If God is for us, who can be against us?… “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
- “1 John 4:4” – “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
We need to remember that the disciples and followers of Jesus who had followed Jesus and had pinned their hopes and dreams upon Him before His crucifixion were just as capable as any of us to experience all the spectrum of human emotions that any of us go through. The feelings they had are common emotions that each one of us deals with from time to time.
It would perhaps be easy for us because we have the benefit of hindsight to criticise them for their reactions and feelings but I’m sure that all of us at some stage in our lives have experienced in one shape or another, or in some degree the following: –
- Total despair and bitterness from a sense of loss or failure.
- A sense of hopelessness and loss of faith
- Depression and despair due to loss of purpose & destiny
- Or all of the above
Some of them were now filled with bitterness and total disillusionment and why not after all they. They had given up all to follow Christ. Others had lost their direction or meaning of their life. During and because of the experience during the 3 1/2 years they had been with Jesus they had purpose and had been provided with signposts for an ever-changing society. Now, some were feeling lost and without hope and were tempted to believe they were in need of a new Saviour. Feelings so shattered that the belief they had in Christ even after His resurrection made them “slow to believe”.
All of this came into play because they found themselves in a position where they were unable to grasp the significance of what had and was taking place before their very eyes. They were blind to the momentous days in which they were living and unable to see these were days of history in the making.
It is a fact that we have a great and glorious Saviour and one who as the Bible tells us “did not come into the World to condemn the World”. Jesus did not come to pour additional condemnation upon a World already under Gods condemnation and wrath. He did not look upon them with criticism in His heart but with compassion. The wonderful aspect of Christ’s character is that Jesus understood and sympathised with their weakened condition. His immediate desire and purpose following His resurrection was to restore them and mend their fragile souls.
Jesus knew what they did not know and that was: –
No matter how much we think we have failed, messed up or believe the future is irreparable He is able to turn things totally around. I have called this message Daring to Believe is the Pathway to Restored Faith and, Belief because the resurrection of Christ is able to restore – if only we would dare to believe once again.
So how did Jesus go about the renewal and restoration of His followers what were the steps He took?
Step No 1: – Jesus Planted and Replanted the Seeds of Truth.
Step No 2: – Jesus began to Open their Understanding of the Scriptures.
Jesus Planted and Replanted the Seeds of Truth
I know that my Garden at home is built upon a quarry and because of this just digging down 6” or so reveals old bottles, rocks, bricks etc. and needs considerable effort to plant and rejuvenate. Such is the condition of our hearts at times. I remember speaking with a man. He knows the message of the Gospel, has relations who are committed Christians in the work of God and yet to him the Bible is all “clap trap” and the “invention of men’s minds” such is the infertility and bareness of the garden of his heart.
The wonderful thing that Jesus does however is to recognise that no matter what the condition of the disciples and our hearts soil is that with an expression of desire on our part to change He can bring restoration.
Jesus had spoken at length with His disciples about His death and resurrection. He had unpacked the Old Testament scriptures to them. I believe that they had through the time they had been with Him received much more teaching than we have told us in the New Testament. Yet, they like us had become “cloudy of mind” a “spiritual mist” had formed in their thinking and all that He had spoken to them of His rising from the dead had vanished to the back of their minds.
Jesus reminded them of what He had said concerning His rising from the dead.
In the following Scripture Angels appeared to Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them and reminded them of what Jesus had said – “Luke 24:5-8″ – “Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? “He is not here but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, “saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”
The significant thing here in context of our thoughts is the statement “And they remembered His words”.
The women experienced “new shoots” of faith and strength rising upon within them as the truths spoken to them began to be come to the forefront again. This resulted in them going to share with the disciples. The words seemed like idle tales the Bible tells us “And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them” – “Luke 24: 11”, but although they still did not believe, enough digging of the heart soil was carried out for the seeds that were planted to start to grow again. The result was that they begin to investigate the truth concerning the resurrection of Jesus. In “Luke 24:12” we are told “But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marvelling to himself at what had happened”.
Whenever the truth of God’s Word comes into our hearing, whether it is for the first time or for a particular situation in our life, we have the choice of listening to it. Immediately, the voice of doubt and unbelief comes into play or the beginning of an investigation into the source of what we have heard. Peter could have listened to his doubts, but he chose to investigate further.
If Peter had decided not to believe? His life would have ended in intense bitterness and resentment. But he resisted his doubts and dared to believe just as you and I must do at times. The result in Peter’s life is a life transformed and the result in yours and my life will be the same.
We learn a valuable lesson from Peter’s experience and it is that we must dare to believe even during the most intense and severe circumstances and bitter disillusionment.
Jesus Began to Open their Understanding of the Scriptures
In the following Scripture we see this step brought into play by Jesus.
“Luke 24:27” – “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself”.
Let me remind you here that these were those disciples that had gone through despair, bitterness and a sense of loss or failure. They had experienced a sense of hopelessness, loss of faith and depression. Despair having entered their hearts due to loss of purpose & destiny but the refreshing of the truth of God’s Word as revealed in Jesus brought about a total restoration.
These disciples through the “death and resurrection” of Jesus had come to know the reality of the life of God. These men were with the disciples when the women came to them with the report that Jesus had risen from the dead. The seeds of restored belief and faith had been planted in their hearts and now we see Jesus opening their understanding to the word.
We as the people of God are encouraged to have an openness of heart that makes us investigative God’s Word. If we wish to see and believe in Jesus or in a fuller revelation of Him and His will for our lives, we must first have our understanding opened to it. The method that God utilises is via the Word of God.
It is the Word of God that sustains our faith more than any other personal experience. Experiences have an unfortunate way of fading into our historic recollections, but the word of God, even if we have forgotten it will always rise to the surface and it never fades or dims in our understanding. “His Word Endures forever”.
Jesus is still by the Holy Spirit opening our understanding of the Scriptures and He is still restoring us in our daily lives.
In the case of the disciples on the road to Emmaus Jesus provided them with a fuller picture and revelation of who Christ was and is. Jesus realised that they, and we, need to know who the Christ of God really is. In doing so people are willing to lay down their lives for Him. In “Luke 24:45-46” it says “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day…”
God’s desire is to open our understanding. It is only by this “understanding opening” that we can experience His fullness. When there is an unveiling of Scriptural truth we are enabled to see a greater revelation of all God’s attributes, we are not only healed from the despair and hopelessness, we are now able to fulfil the divine purpose and destiny He has laid out for our lives.
There is nothing more fulfilling than this! The disciples went forth in the power of the Holy Spirit in a conquering attitude after their belief was restored. We can do the same. Again, the Bible tells us that with the understanding being opened we discover “what is the hope of His calling…the exceeding greatness of His power…and the fullness of His body” – “Ephesians 1:17-23”
In conclusion, I want to encourage you to dare to believe God for what is needed the most in your life. It doesn’t matter how much you have sinned, how many times you have failed God or how many times you have closed your heart to Him. Open your heart to Him today and dare to believe, because He has risen from the dead and is alive forevermore.
- We Have Been Delivered from Death and Hell and Given A Sense of Immortality.
- We Have Been Given A Living Hope and An Incorruptible Inheritance.
- We Have Power and Victory Over the Devil.
- We Have Been Given Victory Over Sin.
In his book “Forever Triumphant”, F.J. Huegel told a story that came out of World War II. After General Jonathan Wainwright was captured by the Japanese, he was held prisoner in a Manchurian concentration camp. Cruelly treated, he became “a broken, crushed, hopeless, starving man.” Finally, the Japanese surrendered, and the war ended. A United States army colonel was sent to the camp to announce personally to the general that Japan had been defeated and that he was free and in command. After Wainwright heard the news, he returned to his quarters and was confronted by some guards who began to mistreat him as they had done in the past. Wainwright, however, with the news of the allied victory still fresh in his mind, declared with authority, “No, I am in command here! These are my orders.” Huegel observed that from that moment on, General Wainwright was in control.
Huegel made this application: “Have you been informed of the victory of your Saviour in the greatest conflict of the ages?… Then rise up to assert your rights… Never again go under when the enemy comes to oppress. Claim the victory in Jesus’ Name.”
Huegel observed, “We must learn to stand on resurrection ground, reckoning dead the old-creation life over which Satan has power, and living in the new creation over which Satan has no power whatever.”