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Beneath the Surface: The Real Story of Easter

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Jesus Christ’s resurrection gives us peace, hope and power.

Notes & Transcripts
One sleepy Sunday afternoon when my son was five-years-old, we drove past a cemetery together. Noticing a large pile of dirt beside a newly excavated grave, he pointed and said: "Look, Dad, one got out!" I laughed, but now, every time I pass a graveyard, I'm reminded of the One who got out.
Phil Callaway, from the April 16 entry of Men of Integrity (March/April 2006)
Today we Celebrate GREATEST EVENT in all History! The day the God-who-became-one-of-us Rose from the Grave!
We call it EASTER, but it’s really RESURRECTION SUNDAY!
The world sees Chocolate Bunnies, Jelly Beans & Easter Baskets filled with Colored Eggs. That’s what Easter appears to be.
But BENEATH THE SURFACE of the holiday trappings, something Monumental has taken place. And THAT’S what we Celebrate.
NEW LIFE! RESURRECTION! A Turning Point in history when Jesus broke the Chains of Death once & for all!
Now, everybody loves CHRISTMAS, right? The celebration of the day God came into the world as a baby. ...
But EASTER is what it is all about! When he finished the work he came to do. (If you were to do away with the Christmas story in the Bible you’d eliminate 2 chapters from Matthew & Luke, a verse or 2 elsewhere. BUT if you were to take away references to the RESURRECTION of Jesus, you’d have to take away HALF the NT!)
Because when they crucified Jesus on Good Friday, and laid him in the tomb; when they thought they had done away with this Rabble-Rouser and laid him to rest — Something was taking place BENEATH THE SURFACE.
Something nobody was remotely aware of. Until today — Easter Sunday. RESURRECTION Sunday.
Like a seed dropped into the ground, covered over, dead, buried and forgotten, but which sprouts forth when the time is ripe into a flowering plant or fruit-bearing tree — Jesus had accomplished New Life for all who placed their faith in him during his lifetime.
But then like that planted seed BENEATH THE SURFACE, New Life sprang out of the tomb!
And you/I get to enjoy the fruit of his RESURRECTED LIFE. We get to ‘Taste & See that the Lord is Good!’
Now, we could take time this morning to demonstrate the veracity of Jesus’ Resurrection — to give the evidences and proofs to the skeptics who would spiritualize it away as metaphorical but not literal. Because, after all, dead men don’t rise.
We could speak about the witnesses mentioned in the Bible accounts (up to 500) — people still living when the gospels were written who could have easily been debunked for making up a story.
We could point out that Jesus’ critics never disputed his Resurrection — rather they tried to explain how his body must have been stolen.
And it being April Fools’ Day, I could have pulled off a prank my pastor pulled one Easter Sunday. He came onto the platform with a newspaper in his hand asking whether we read the article just published that they found the body of Jesus Christ. He asked if that would affect anyone’s faith? (After confessing he was making it up, his wife scolded him for his sacrilegious insensitivity in doing that!)
But the bones of Jesus have never been found! And they never will. HE’S STILL USING THEM! He’s ALIVE!!
Rather than giving the evidences for why Christ-followers hold to the Resurrection as historical fact this morning, let me point to the most convincing — and appealing — evidence for Jesus coming out of the grave alive that first Easter morning. And that is THE MIRACLE OF COUNTLESS CHANGED LIVES the Risen Jesus has transformed.
The evidence for Jesus' resurrection is so strong that nobody would question it except for two things: First, it is a very unusual event. And second, if you believe it happened, you have to change the way you live.
—Wolfhart Pannenberg, German theologian (1928—)

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. They went in but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground.

“Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men. “He is not here, but he has risen! Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, saying, ‘It is necessary that the Son of Man be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day’And they remembered his words.

Returning from the tomb, they reported all these things to the Eleven and to all the rest. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them were telling the apostles these things. But these words seemed like nonsense to them, and they did not believe the women. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. When he stooped to look in, he saw only the linen cloths. So he went away, amazed at what had happened.

There are at least 3 things the Resurrected Lord gives to those who place their faith in him as the King of Kings/Lord of Lords. These are things taking place BENEATH THE SURFACE. But which manifest in our lives on display for all to see.

Jesus’ Resurrection Gives us PEACE

If anything is needed in this world today, it is peace. Fear rules so many lives. Anxiety characterizes our day-to-day living.
And this desperate absence of Peace manifests in so many destructive ways.
Anxiety characterizes our day-to-day living.
Ephesians 1:18–20 NASB95PARA
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
We seek to fill the void with illicit Relationships. We cover the pain with opioids & alcohol. Good times & fake smiles/masks to show the world we are fine.
When people live without peace and isolate themselves, they plot and commit all sorts of rapacious and violent acts that take out innocent lives in massive numbers at times.
We grab at security in the form of More Money, Greater Power, the Accumulation of Nice Things.
But these are merely the symptoms of a much deeper void — roots that go down BENEATH THE SURFACE. We lack PEACE.
Peace with Others. Peace with God. Peace with Ourselves.

Jesus’ Resurrection brings a Peace that passes understanding. That doesn’t make sense — but is Real.

The power of the Holy Spirit

That’s because Jesus’ Death/Resurrection brings Peace with God. Reconciliation into our true family.
Romans 4:25 NLT
He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.
That is, he dealt with our Problems by dying in our stead. That’s the Cross. That’s taking the penalty for our sins upon himself and being sacrificed in our place.
Romans 8:34 NASB95PARA
who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Because the decree from the beginning is that the soul who sins, dies.
But God so loved His children, He found a way to save us through a Substitutionary Sacrifice. In the OT He prescribed in place of the sinful people, a Lamb (unblemished) could be substituted to take our place in death, would atone for our sins, and He would then be justified in forgiving us/releasing us from the penalty of our sinful actions.
All those sacrifices (the sacrificial system carried out by priests in the Temple—the place where God meets together with men/women—those sacrifices were a foreshadowing of the Ultimate Sacrifice He Himself would carry out on our behalf.
Jesus is God-made-man, come to die for our sins. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!
That spirit of willingness to die in exchange for you/me held hostage under the power of sin—that spirit was displayed last week in France. When a man identifying himself as an ISIS soldier stormed into a market, killing two people than taking hostages, one brave police officer, Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame displayed the kind of heroism Jesus Christ displayed in taking our place on the cross.
As Friday's supermarket attack was underway, Beltrame offered to exchange himself for one of the female hostages held inside. He was shot and stabbed after entering the market, and later died at the hospital. He literally exchanged his life to save the life of a person he never knew.
Jesus came and offered his life in exchange for all people—all God’s children made in His image but held hostage/captive under the mad rule of sin. The scripture says ‘He was handed over to die because of our sins.’
Then, once our sin problem had been adequately dealt with through the sacrifice of one life for another—when God raised Jesus back to life, the reconciliation problem was completed. We were made right again with God!
That’s the Gospel message! If you’ve never heard it before, that’s the reason God came to us in His Son, gave up His life so our sins would be wiped out, then raised to New Life to demonstrate WE have been given New Life.
1 Peter 3:18 CEB
Christ himself suffered on account of sins, once for all, the righteous one on behalf of the unrighteous. He did this in order to bring you into the presence of God. Christ was put to death as a human, but made alive by the Spirit.
When you accept that offering—that sacrifice God made for you—you are restored into a Right Relationship with your Creator, your Father. YOU HAVE PEACE WITH GOD!
Romans 10:9 CEB
Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Mike Fuller is a close friend of some in this congregation. His name will be remembered by followers of the San Diego Chargers. After he played there, he went back to Cincinnati to play for the Bengals. After retiring from professional football, he took a job in Alabama. About a year and a half ago, at the age of 37, he was diagnosed as having Hodgkin's disease, a form of cancer.
A few months ago, I had the privilege of speaking with Mike, and I was deeply impressed with the sincerity of his faith and profound peace in his life. Mike said, "It's like the song says: I fear no evil. God has been with me since day one. I don't have any fear of this disease or the word death. Jesus Christ has overcome death, and all I have to do is rely on him and his strength."
About a year ago, I flew to Austin, Texas, to visit my close friend Alan Lewis. At the time, we thought he wouldn't live more than a day or two. His first words to me when I entered the hospital room were "Don, I'm not afraid. For underneath is the solid rock of the resurrection. "
"Reasons to Fear Easter," Preaching Today, Tape No. 116.
That’s PEACE with GOD. It’s not something Conjured Up. It’s a Weight Lifted Off your Soul.
You can’t help but Smile. When you know God is on your side, that He’ll never leave you or come against you. All is well in that place of Peace.
We are not to be surprised if living as Christians brings us to the place where we find we are at the end of our own resources, and that we are called to rely on the God who raises the dead.
—N. T. Wright, writer, theologian, and Bishop of Durham in the Church of England (1948–)
N. T. Wright, Following Jesus (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997)

Jesus’ Resurrection Gives us PEACE

Jesus’ Resurrection Gives us HOPE

Jesus’ Resurrection Gives us HOPE

1 Peter 1:3 NASB95PARA
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

We are a Hope-filled People. Hopeful. Not hope in sense we usually use it.

See also ;
Rather a reality we anchor our lives to in order to pull us forward. A certainty. An eternal destination.
Acts 24:15 NASB95PARA
having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.
Acts 24:15 NASB95PARA
having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.
1 Corinthians 15:19–23 NLT
And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.
1 Corinthians 6:14 NASB95PARA
Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.

Jesus’ Resurrection Gives us POWER

2 Corinthians 4:14 NIV
because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.
Last week our staff sitting around lunch talking about whether anyone has ever faced their own death. Had a close call when you thought, ‘This is it.’
Of course our Marine, Josh Wicker, has faced that. Multiple times in his tours of duty in Middle East.
I told of time I fell asleep at wheel … in split second moment of decision decided to end it for me to save other drivers. Wasn’t a 2nd thought.
Try this sometime. Not driving off road! Sitting around talking with others about the HOPE they have when facing death.
Because those who have supernaturally bestowed HOPE have No Fear/No Worry about their own mortality.
I can tell you there is No Comparison between who I was Before Christ and who I am Now that I Know Christ. Difference between deathly fear of dying AND No Fear. Because He Lives, I will Live Also!
NLT
1 Corinthians 15:19–23 NLT
And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.

Jesus’ Resurrection Gives us PEACE & Gives us HOPE

Jesus’ Resurrection Gives us POWER

The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now resides in YOU!

As the basis of faith

Romans 8:11 The Message
It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
Romans 8:11 The Message
It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

Power to Speak Up. Bold Witness

As the basis of believers’ justification

As the basis of believers’ justification

Acts 1:8 NASB95PARA
but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Power to Live Out the Life Jesus’ Calls us To

;
Ephesians 1:19–20 NLT
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 1:18–20 NASB95PARA
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,

As the basis of believers’ resurrection

Ephesians 1:19–20 NLT
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

Power over Temptation, Power over your Past, Power over Anxiety for the Future, Power over all the Voices trying to knock you down

The Law of Moses (Ex 23:16) provided for an offering of the firstfruits of crops to God. The firstfruits were the guarantee of the full harvest to come. The NT sees the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the firstfruits of the full ingathering of all God’s people when Jesus Christ comes again.

This POWER displayed as a result of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Most Convincing Evidence that God is in Christ, Reconciling the world to Himself, Transforming Lives as Nothing Else Can Do!

Ravi Zacharias points to one of the greatest proofs for the truth of Christ and the reality of his resurrection: the changed lives of Christians. In his book Has Christianity Failed You? he writes:
During the course of nearly 40 years, I have traveled to virtually every continent and seen or heard some of the most amazing testimonies of God's intervention in the most extreme circumstances.
I have seen hardened criminals touched by the message of Jesus Christ and their hearts turned toward good in a way that no amount or rehabilitation could have accomplished.
I have seen ardent followers of radical belief systems turned from being violent, brutal terrorists to becoming mild, tenderhearted followers of Jesus Christ.
I have seen nations where the gospel, banned and silenced by governments, has nevertheless conquered the ethos and mind-set of an entire culture.
Then Ravi Zacharias closes with this Example:
The British author A. N. Wilson, who only a few years ago was known for his scathing attacks on Christianity … celebrated Easter [in 2009] at a church with a group of other church members, proclaiming that that the story of the Jesus of the Gospels is the only story that makes sense out of life and its challenges.
[Wilson said], "My own return to faith has surprised none more than myself …. My belief has come about in large measure because of the lives and examples of people I have known—not the famous, not saints, but friends and relations who have lived, and faced death, in light of the resurrection story, or in the quiet acceptance that they have a future after they die."
See also ; ;
Romans 6:4–11 CEB
Therefore, we were buried together with him through baptism into his death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too can walk in newness of life. If we were united together in a death like his, we will also be united together in a resurrection like his. This is what we know: the person that we used to be was crucified with him in order to get rid of the corpse that had been controlled by sin. That way we wouldn’t be slaves to sin anymore, because a person who has died has been freed from sin’s power. But if we died with Christ, we have faith that we will also live with him. We know that Christ has been raised from the dead and he will never die again. Death no longer has power over him. He died to sin once and for all with his death, but he lives for God with his life. In the same way, you also should consider yourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.

Church, your life is the Biggest Proof to Others of the Reality of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Romans 6:4 NASB95PARA
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

People are watching you/me, and when Life Happens — as it does to all of us no matter our creed, background, wealth/poverty; all of us go through the Hard Things Life Brings at Us — when Life Happens to us, people see we have PEACE, we have HOPE, we have POWER.

That’s what we celebrate today. Resurrection. New Life.

And if you do not have PEACE, if you do not own HOPE, if POWER is something elusive to you, YOU CAN!

You can today! Today can be the day for you to enter the Celebration of all History & Eternity.
For some of you, you can feel it. It’s been stirring BENEATH THE SURFACE in your soul. That’s God’s Holy Spirit tugging on your heart. For God is for you, not against you!
Just as the Grave could not hold back the Life of the Son of God, today is the day for that Seed to break through the top soil of your heart and Spring to Life!
I’m going to Pray, then we’re going to Celebrate with “Christ the Lord is Risen Today, Alleluia!”
If you want to join the Party celebrating Jesus’ Resurrection, pray with me this prayer...

Pray

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