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Because He Lives

by Dr Alex Tang

John 14:19  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

 

Introduction

It was still dark and cold when 3 women hurried along the narrow streets of Jerusalem. They had a very traumatic week in which the Rabbi they have followed for 3 years was tried and accused of things he did not do. He was condemned and crucified most horribly on the cross like a common thief. When he died, it was late in preparation day, just before the sabbath and they did not even have time to clean and embalm the body. They just laid him in a cold and empty tomb. That is why they are hurrying this early to the tomb. Their eyes are red and swollen from so much crying.

On reaching the tomb, they found it sealed shut by a large stone with the imperial seal on it. “Please sirs”, they asked the soldiers nearby, “Please move the stone for us”. The soldiers laughed and demanded money. In the end they moved the stone. The first thing that hit them was the smell. The women recoil as the stench of rotting flesh hit them. Then they saw the body. Just as they has last seen it on Friday. The hands that blessed them, that raised Lazarus from the dead and feed the three thousands were clenched and cold, with crushed blood and torn flesh where the nails had punched through. The face that was once animated with love for the disciples, sorrow for their people and joy at the sight of children playing was still and grey. Jesus of Nazareth was dead and he has not risen.......

Church, have you ever thought where will we be now if Jesus has not risen?

1)                We will not be called a church. The disciples will disband and go back to their occupations. This episode will become a footnote in Jewish history. Saul of Tarsus will become a famous rabbi, a member of the Sanhedrin and even a High Priest. Rome will still fall, eaten within by corruption. Its official religion of many Gods cannot hold the empire together and Europe splintered into hundreds of warring nation states.

2)                Without Christ there will be no notion of compassion for the sick and the poor. Even atheist like Bertrand Russell acknowledge this. Hospitals were started by Christians.

3)                The notion that governments must treat their people justly and their people have basic rights came from Christian thinking.

4)                There will be no development of science. Science that we think of today started about 3 hundred years ago. It was the reformation which started it because the reformers believed that God revealed himself in Scripture and in nature.

5)                That will be no literature. It was the appearance and dissemination of the gospels in the popular and vernacular that marked the beginning of literature and language development. When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman empire, the gospel spread far and wide.

6)                There will be no influx of new ideas to the great civilisation of India and China. It was missionaries who brought us schools, ideas and new cultural perspectives. The great civilisation of China and India will continue to stagnate.

7)                We shall be all worshipping in a mosque. Islam will rise up to be the dominant religion with its idea of a One god.

Sobering thoughts. Turn with me to Luke’s account. Luke 24:1-8

LK 24:1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 `The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' " 8 Then they remembered his words.

What are His words?

John 14:19

19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

This is the first Easter of the New Millenium, the Third Millenium. If you are fussy, then this is the last Easter of the Old Millenium. However you look at it, it is a significant day. Easter is the most significant event that happened since Creation. It is the pivotal point for human history. It is the Kairos moment. It is also the most sacred event for the Christian year. Easter is when we reaffirm that Jesus has risen. He is not dead. He lives.....

Let me share with you, why the fact that He lives is so important to me. So important that it is the overriding passion in my life.

1.                  Because He lives, I can believe in what had happened in the Past.

i.                     I believe that Jesus is God.

When someone tells me that he is God, I will be skeptical even if he lives an examplary life. If someone tells me that he represent the truths of the Bible, I will become even more skeptical. If someone tells me that he can prove it by dying and come back to life three days later, I shall phone Hospital Permai. But if he did it and in two thousand years, nobody can prove it otherwise then I am forced to accept that fact that he is telling the truth.

Recommend   Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan 1998).

JN 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

 

JN 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

ii.                  I receive the redemptive Grace of God.

JN 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

When I accept that Jesus Christ is God, then I can also accept that man has sinned and turned away from God. The payment for sin is death. The only way we can be saved from this death, which is spiritual death, is to accept that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. By dying for our sins, he made it possible to receive forgiveness and be reconciled to God. No other way or religions exist for us to go back to God.

iii.                I receive the Holy Spirit

John 14:16-17

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Only by Jesus leaving us can the Holy Spirit comes. When we accept the redemptive grace of God (accept Christ), we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit who is God. We, Christians have God dwelling within us all the time, teaching us, comforting us and loving us. We always think that God is up there. That’s why when we pray we always look up. That God is also in us. Our bodies are the temple of God where God dwell.

2.                  Because He lives, I can be secure in the Present.

i.                    I can have friendship with Jesus.

John 15:14-17

14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other

Note that Jesus calls us friend, not servants. The Greek is фιλος philos ‘dear’ i.e a friend. We can be friends with Jesus. Friendship comes from the heart, not the mind. The three pillars of  Christian Maturity are Orthodoxy (right beliefs); Orthopathy (right affections) and Orthopraxy ( right actions). We evangelicals, which include the Presbyterians are very strong in orthodoxy and orthopraxy.  The right beliefs and doctrines and the right actions (like not watching too much tv. and bring palm leaves to church next Easter). But when it comes to emotions. We are wary. When it comes to matters of the heart, we are cautious. But that is exactly what Jesus wants to be. A  friend. A friend to engage our hearts and emotions. A friend of our heart.

ii.                  He has given me the Holy Spirit to help me Mature in Christ

John 14:26

26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

                        The Holy Spirit is our personal tutor. The Holy Spirit will teach us how to be Mature in Christ. That is why he was given to us. Orthodoxy – He will open our eyes to God’s truth as we study the Bible. Orthopathy -  He will help us to open our heart and emotions to friendship with Jesus Christ. And orthopraxy – He will guide us into doing the right things, not because we must but because we want to.

iii.                I have Peace.

John 14:27

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

            I have peace. Peace with God knowing that I am forgiven. Peace with God knowing that I have the Holy Spirit within me. Peace with God because Jesus is my friend. And friends look after each other. God answers prayers.

            Peace is shalom peace. Shalom is a Hebrew word. It not only imply peace as the opposite of restlessness but peace as wholeness. Completeness. One with God.

Tilden Edwards writes, “The lifetime process of spiritual conversion involves God’s slow purging of our sense of separatedness and illuminating of our true nature on the way to union with God and with God’s loving will in the world.”  Living in the Presence (New York: HarperCollins, 1994) p. 3

3.                  Because He lives, I have a Future

John 14:2

2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going."

i.                    I know Jesus is coming. Maranatha.

ii.                  I have a passport to New Jerusalem

iii.                  I will be in the presence of God forever.

 

How many of us have considered how long is eternity?  To God in eternity, our lives is like a blinking of an eye. Yet in that span of time, we are given the chance to determine how we are to spend the rest of Eternity. It is during our lifetime here on earth that determines how we are to spend eternity. New Jerusalem  is the symbol given to John in Revelation for eternity. It is here and now that we either accept Jesus and the redemptive grace of God or reject it. It is here that we are given the training to mature in Christ.

How will God judge us? Will God judge us on how much money we have? How many degrees we have? How many children we have? Will he judge us for not taking up full time work. Becoming a pastor ?  No, God judges us by how we love. Love God. Love one another.

4.                  Conclusion

q       Those of us here who are Christians and have accepted the redemptive grace of God, let us remember this Easter with joy because He has risen. He lives, He lives.

q       Those of us who are baptised here today, baptism represent resurrection. Yield to the work of the Holy Spirit in your orthodoxy, orthopathy and orthopraxy. He lives, He lives.

q       Those of us here who are not Christians but is aware of the redemptive grace of God, do not delay. Do you know how much you are worth? The life of the Son of God. He lives. Christ lives.

 

Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

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