God Is… Alive

He Is Risen!!!
We come together to remember and to celebrate that the cross was certainly not the end of the life of Jesus.  Though we praise Him for taking on the cross with joy to pay the price for our sins so that we might be forgiven, so that we might have a way to receive life eternal and life abundant, we are reminded that the cross was just the beginning!
Now we do find that all four gospels record the account of when Jesus was resurrected back to life a bit different, which is actually expected from gathered eyewitness accounts that have not been manufactured.
We’ll start this morning by picking up the day after the crucifixion of Jesus.
 

Matthew 27:62-66
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

John 20
1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Amen!  We do not come together this morning as a memorial service for a mere man who once died to save any who would believe in Him.  We come together this morning to celebrate and rejoice that God is alive!
Not only did Jesus die to pay the price for our sins so that we might be forgiven, but He also rose again from the grave.  Why was it so important for Jesus to raise again to life?
1. Jesus rose again to give us: HOPE
Jesus rose again to life.  Jesus defeated not only sin, but also death itself.  We now have hope knowing that nothing is impossible for us.  We now have hope knowing that not even death, itself, can keep us from being with God.  Death is not our end, death is a beginning for us in the new order of things where there is no more death, pain, sickness, or tears.  With our faith in Jesus, we have received not just hope, but we’ve been born again into a living hope that will never let us down and can never be stolen!
1 Peter 1:3-4
3 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, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.
We have hope because we can now have an active relationship with the person of God.  We do not religiously follow rituals and traditions made by man, we have a real, living relationship with the one, true, living God!
2. Jesus rose again: to give us: LIFE
In John chapter 3, Jesus taught that no one could see the Kingdom of God unless we are born again.  He said that flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.  Until we put our faith in Jesus, we are dead in our sins.  Yes, we may be physically alive, but we are spiritually dead.  Because of our state, we cannot see, hear, or understand the Kingdom of God.  It is all foolishness to us.
However, once we put our faith in Jesus, we become alive spiritually, born again.  Then, we can see, hear, and understand the Kingdom of God as we become born into it as adopted children of God.  We become truly alive!  Jesus said that not only would we be born again, but in John chapter 10 that we are born again into a life of abundance.
John 14:6
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
No amount of good works will ever buy our way to life eternal, but only faith chosen and lived out in Jesus Christ who is the only way, truth, and life.
3. Jesus rose again to give us: POWER
Unless Jesus died and rose again, He could not have sent us the Holy Spirit.
John 16:7 (AMP)
7 However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you].
In fact, Jesus reminded His disciples once again following His resurrection of the need to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which gives us power!
Acts 1:3-8
3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Unless Jesus rose again, He could not have sent us the Holy Spirit who gives us power!  We are no longer victims in life, we are victors!  Jesus isn’t hanging helplessly on the cross anymore, the cross is empty.  He is now risen, sitting at the right hand of God and given power and authority over everything and interceding for us.  According to Romans chapter 8, that same Spirit that rose Jesus from the grave now lives in us who have put our faith in Him!  We now can live lives of power and godliness as we become bold witnesses for Him!
This morning, if you are fed up with your life, if you feel hopeless, if you feel powerless, then it’s time for a change to take place.  It’s time to get pulled up out of the vast darkness of Good Friday, up out of the grave, and into the new glorious life of power that Jesus rose again to give us!  Just as the scripture states, TODAY is the day of your salvation!  Today is the first day of the rest of your life.  Today is a day of life!