Moments of wonder!
(blow your mind; take your breath away)- Starry sky along the North Shore; asking my wife to marry me and hearing yes; holding my little boys for the very first time; the moment I understood that because of Christ’s blood and His resurrection from the dead I was invited to participate in Everlasting life.
The whole of human history knows no other event more wondrous than the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!
This morning we are going to examine the wonder of the resurrection.
To day is a day of celebration as we worship our RISEN Lord.
And to see just a brief glimpse of the wonder of the resurrection turn with me to Matt 16.13
Vs. 18 will be our key verse.
Using this verse as a spring board we are going to examine the wonder of the resurrection in three areas.
The resurrection of Jesus is wondrous because:
It is Unstoppable in Power
A. What the power of the resurrection defeats
We need to do some preliminary exegetical work to begin with:
What is the rock?
Many different answers to that question:
Rock is Peter
Rock is Christ
Rock is Peter’s confession
Rock is Peter- answer of the Catholic Church
Seems like from the context that Jesus built the church in-spite of Peter, not because of Peter
Also, Peter is the one that denied the Lord three times- hardly seems like a good building material for the church.
Rock is Christ-
Christ cannot be the builder and the foundation
Rock is Peter’s confession-
It was Peter’s faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of the living God that would be the foundation of the church.
We will get back to this idea in a little bit.
What are the gates of hell?
And what does it mean that they will not prevail against the church?
This is a metaphor for demonic forces- it is talking about Satan’s declaration of war against the church.
The idea of this view would be that all of the forces of hell itself cannot defeat the church.
Problem- this understands the gates of hell as something that is offensive in nature.
When is the last time you saw someone use gates as an offensive weapon?
That doesn’t make sense.
OK some the forces of hell are understood as defensive.
Then the idea would be that the church has the authority to attack, to go on the offensive.
The church will be able to spread the gospel and see souls saved and all of the forces of hell will be unable to stop it.
It is true that the church has the authority to spread the gospel, but not from this text.
Gates of hell is lit.
Gates of Hades, this is not a reference to the lake of fire.
The term NT term Hades is equivalent to the OT term Sheol.
Sheol means the realm of the dead.
Gates of death lit.
Gates of Sheol.
Gates of Sheol = Gates of Hades.
So what exactly is Jesus saying here in Matt.
Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades, the gates of death shall not prevail against it!
We are asking the question what does the power of the resurrection defeat.
Answer: death itself.
The power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is wondrous.
It is so powerful that not even the gates of death can stand in the way.
We can’t even begin to understand the amount of power that took place during the events of the cross and the resurrection.
We can only see the physical, we have no idea of what is going on behind the scenes, on the spiritual side of things.
We often say that the physical suffering that Christ endured on the cross was horrible, but that the spiritual side of His suffering was unimaginable.
We cannot even comprehend what the spiritual agony of being separated from the Father and bearing the wrath of God for the sins of the world was like.
We only have physical clues from the events of the cross as to the spiritual agony that took place.
The sky was darkened, the ground shook, Christ cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsake me.”
The spiritual side of Christ’s suffering was overwhelming.
The same is true for the power of the resurrection.
We cannot not see the spiritual power that took place during the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
All we have are small physical clues as to the nature of the unstoppable power of Christ’s resurrection.
Invisible Spiritual agony
Notice what happens next:
Veil torn from top to bottom- just the barest physical sign or the spiritual power taking place here.
The way, the access into the Holy of Holies in now open.
Sinful man can enter into God’s presence.
What power is on display here!
The earth shook and rocks were torn in half, split open, earth-deadening crack and THE GRAVES WERE OPENED!!! many bodies of the saints which slept (dead) AROSE and came out of the graves (when) after his resurrection.
Matthew is combining events here, and I think he is doing it no purpose.
He is lumping together the physical manifestations of the tremendous spiritual power going on from the moment of Christ’s death all the way until his resurrection from the dead.
Now that is power!
The gates of death were opened and not even death itself could stop the power of God in the resurrection.
This tremendous power is primarily spiritual in nature, and it is available not just for those in Jesus’ day.
It is available for you!
How is that?
You are risen with Him (Christ), through faith in the operation of God.
Operation is the Greek word ἐνέργεια, describes a state of action, powerful working of God.
So you are risen with Christ.
By what means are you risen?
By the means of the powerful working of God, Who (Father) has raised Him (Son) from the dead.
In other words the same unstoppable power, the unimaginable power that was on display in the resurrection of Christ from the dead, that same power is available for you, the powerful working of God that raised Christ from the dead can raise you from the dead as well!
Notice what else this power can do for you
V. 14- canceling the record of our debt, He took it out of the way by nailing it to the cross.
V. 15- with this power he also spoiled/disarmed rulers and authorities putting them to shame by triumphing over them.
So the power of the cross and the resurrection are available to you and it has the power to
Raise you from the dead
Make you alive with God
forgive you all your trespasses
Cancel out all of your sin debt with its legal demands
Disarm the power of Satan
Put Satan to shame
Triumph over Satan
Brake open the gates of death itself and guarantee you a share in everlasting life.
This is the unstoppable power of the resurrection!
B. How the power of the resurrection is obtained
Upon this rock I will build my church.
What is the rock again?
It is Peter’s confession about Who Jesus is.
Upon this rock, upon your profession of faith in Me, that was revealed unto you by the Father- I will build my church and bring to bear my power so that the gates of death will not prevail.
How do we obtain the power of the resurrection?