April 1, 2018 EASTER 10:30 AM
Rev. Jeremy B. Stopford, Pastor

TODAY’S FUNNY: “Fear of Flying” There was a religious woman who had to do a lot of traveling for her business. Flying made her very nervous, so she always took her Bible along with her.
One time, she was sitting next to a man. When he saw her pull out her Bible, he gave a little chuckle and smirk and went back to what he was doing.
After awhile, he turned to her and asked, “You don’t really believe all that stuff in there do you?”
The woman replied, “Of course I do. It is the Bible.”
He said, “Well, what about that guy that was swallowed by that whale?”
She replied, “Oh, Jonah. Yes, I believe that, it is in the Bible.”
He asked, “Well, how do you suppose he survived all that time inside the whale?”
The woman said, “Well, I don’t really know. I guess when I get to heaven, I will ask him.”
“What if he isn’t in heaven?” the man asked sarcastically.
“Then you can ask him,” replied the woman.

INTRODUCTION: Years ago, a book was written entitled, “Evidence That Demands a Verdict” by Josh McDowell. It has recently been updated by Josh and his son, and the new title is “Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World”. With apologies to the McDowells, I use the same title to describe what our Savior has shared in this one of several chapters dealing with His resurrection. For if we are given truth, and it is presented as truth, each of us must make a personal decision as to what to do with that truth: accept it, reject it, or without reservation apply it to our lives. So the question before us today is: what will we do with the evidence for the resurrection of our Lord Jesus? What will you do? PRAYER

#1 The first day of the week (v. 1) The timing of our Savior’s resurrection was perfect. It was the day after the sabbath. It was Sunday. Today. The Bible says that an amazing thing happened that first Resurrection Day: a) The veil being torn in two, the Jewish rituals no longer had any need. Every man, woman, boy and girl could enter into God’s presence by way of the cross. And the early church took note of that: they fellowshipped on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7: “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.”. Yes! I still have more time to preach! The Bible also says the early church took up their collections together on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:2: “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” Why do you suppose Paul made that distinction? Why do yo suppose he didn’t say, “on Monday”, or “whenever convenient”? Because the first day of the week is the Resurrection Day. The early church knew it. And so should we!

#2 The ladies were given a place of honor (v. 1ff) to be among the first eyewitnesses of the evidences of the resurrection. We learn from John 4 that women in Jesus’ day were, if you will, second class citizens. But not so to our Savior. And not only that, they were reminded to “remember” what the Savior said about “the third day”. The Bible records at least 10 instances in which the Savior told His disciples that He would be crucified, buried, and on the third day rise from the dead. And in each case, the pattern was the same: unbelief, uncertainty, and a change of subject. For example, see Luke 9:43-48. In verse 43, He foretells the events of the cross. By v. 46, the disciples were concerned about who would be the greatest in His kingdom. So for these women to be among those early eyewitnesses, this was special. AND their visit was full of faith, in contrast to the disciples, as in our text, v. 11, “they did not believe the women” and their words seemed like nonsense to the disciples – those who had heard the prophecies and those who should have believed first. What does the Bible have to say about this? 1 Cor. 2:14 says, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Is the Bible confusing to you? Are its words even like foolishness to you? Then you are verifying that the Bible is true! You need to be like these ladies – trust that what the Bible says is true, then see where it must be applied to your life! In Romans 10:9-10, 13 the Bible says, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” The truth of the resurrection is life changing – and these ladies knew it! Do you?

#3 Everyone is in a search for God. Look at v. 12, “But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.” When you first heard the comment, “Jesus loves you, He died for your sins, and He invites you to trust Him – He alone is worthy of your trust” – what did you think? Religious mumbo-jumbo? Foolishness? Well, once again, you are verifying at least two truths! First, each one of us – like even Peter! – is on a journey for truth. The Lord meets you right where you are. Sometimes your answers are found right away. Sometimes you think through the questions of the heart. That is your journey to true faith. Because true faith is not a religion. It is not church. It is not ritual. It is a relationship with the living God – you know, the One Whose resurrection we celebrate today and declare, “He’s Alive!”. But secondly, you are verifying that the Bible is foolishness to those who don’t believe. The Bible even says that of itself! Look at 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, in particular vs. 18,21: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.:21
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” Everyone is in a search for God – and invariably, that search will either take you to the cross and the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior, AND to a living relationship with the living God – or it will take you away from the cross and to an empty journey. Where are you today?

#4 Moses, the Psalms, the Prophets all spoke of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (v. 27, 45-46). V. 27 was the theme verse of the Bible School from which I was first graduated in the 1970’s.
Moses (Deut. 18:15) said to look for the true Prophet, and the NT identifies that as Jesus.
Micah 5:1-2, a most obscure OT prophet, not only tells that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, but that He is eternal, literally “from days of eternity”. Only the eternal Savior could fulfill this prophecy.
The Psalms talk about Jesus’ death. Psalm 22 talks about the crucifixion of the Messiah, years before the Romans ever invented crucifixion as a means of capital punishment.
Psalm 49:15 talks of the Messiah’s resurrection.
Psalm 69 give intimate details of Jesus’ crucifixion which only a prophet would know (through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration!)
Isaiah 50-53 tell how the Messiah would die, not for His sins, but for those of the world (“He was wounded for my transgressions; He was bruised for my iniquities” “as a sheep before his shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” “all we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all”. Pretty personal – have you applied this?

Like Mr. McDowell (and now his son) before us, the Bible has evidence that demands a verdict. Let’s be reminded of just a taste of the evidence that the resurrection chapter tells us:
#1 The resurrection was on the first day of the week – and all of history immediately changed as a result!
#2 The ladies on that first Resurrection Day were given a place of honor – those who were normally put down by society were examples to us today that EVERYONE can be an eyewitness of the resurrection – by way of faith in the written Word of God.
#3 The Bible tells us that we are on a journey, but the journey has an Object which can be met: the Lord Jesus. Not a ritual. Not an empty religion. But a relationship with the living and true God.
#4 Throughout the Scriptures – from Genesis through Revelation – there is demanding evidence of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior Who is eternally God Who became man – that He might have a body with which to die for the sin of man. The Scriptures invite us to trust the living God and His written Word. Have you?

The Bible has a wonderful invitation:
John 1:12-13 say, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

It is Easter time, but like Christmas time of a few months ago, the Bible invites us to receive a gift – a relationship with the living and true Savior, even the Lord Jesus.

How about you? Where are you in your journey of faith? What do you say to this introductory evidence – and there is so much more – that demands a verdict?

What is your verdict today?

Close in Prayer

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