08-03-23 Jesus is the Bridge to Life
Jesus is the Bridge to Life
John 11:25; Matthew 28:1-10; 1 Corinthians 15:1-35
- Chicago is a city of bridges. There are more movable bridges in Chicago than any other city in the world! (show picture). I appreciate bridges because I was born and grew up on an island – Long Island in NY. If we wanted to go to NYC or Connecticut or anywhere, we had only three ways to leave: boat, plane or over a bridge. Bridges are important. They enable us to cross obstacles. Today is Easter – Resurrection Sunday and in many ways it is the story of a bridge as well.
- It all begins with the heart of God. God created all things and He loves His creation. I do not mean that He loves His creation with some distant emotion. God’s love for His creation is a very personal thing.
- My niece and great-niece are both artists. Each has their own specialty. One excels in drawing and the other in art with texture. I’m proud of them both. On occasion each has given my wife, Jan, and I a piece that they created. I can tell that they are pleased with what they have made. I greatly appreciate their work. Part of what draws me to their work is that I know that this work is a part of them and they are sharing a part of themselves. God is like an artist who brings you his creation which He loves.
- He loves His creation so much that there is no price He would withhold to care for it.
- Easter is the day when we celebrate the proof of God’s great love and power for every person.
What I want to say: Today I want to talk with you about why the death and resurrection of Jesus matters to you. All of eternity rests upon the compact facts of the gospel. If Jesus is not alive, your hopes have no foundation. But if He is alive, then all of eternity is open before you.
I. The Resurrection is at the heart of God’s good news
A. Whether the gospel is good news hinges on whether Jesus died and rose again (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)
1. The death of Jesus paid for sin
2. The resurrection of Jesus is the proof that Jesus is God
3. There is nothing else to add to the gospel. It is simple and compact.
4. That is not to say that it is insignificant. No, the gospel is profound in its simplicity because it is easy to understand but life-changing in its implications.
5. Now let us look at the accounts of the resurrection in the Gospels.
B. The empty tomb by itself is not sufficient proof that Jesus is alive (Matthew 27-28)
1. I do not mean to sound heretical but when we say that the empty tomb is the proof that Jesus is alive that is not really all that we mean because more proof must be offered since possibly the body of Jesus could have been moved. But let us look at what information we have:
2. (Matthew 27:57-61) The stone was rolled in front of the opening to the tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea on Friday evening.
3. Some have thought that maybe the women went to the wrong tomb. But Matthew tells us that Mary Magdelene and “the other Mary” (Mary the mother of James) were sitting there opposite the tomb (Mt. 27:51). They knew where the tomb was and that the heavy stone was rolled in front of the opening – that is why Mark reports that they were concerned about how to get into the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus (Mark 16:2). So they went to the right tomb.
4. Peter and John went to the tomb and saw it empty (John 20:3-9). (Matthew 28:5-6) We know that angels in the tomb told the women that Jesus rose from the dead. These women are credible witnesses. But someone could say that they were just hysterically overwrought by the emotional strains of the days.
5. Then there are the guards. Something happened to make them shake with fear and fall down. (Matthew 28:2-4) They then went and reported that the tomb was empty (Mt. 28:11)
6. The empty tomb conclusively shows that Jesus is not there. But it does not prove He is alive. Indeed, someone could have moved the body but where did it go?
7. It would take another kind of proof: personal interaction with Jesus
C. Jesus was seen alive (1 Corinthians 15:5-8)
1. By Mary and the other women not only saw Him in the Garden but also heard Him speak
2. Paul says that Peter saw Him
3. Some have suggested that maybe those who said they saw Jesus alive merely hallucinated but the large gatherings of witnesses
4. Twice by the disciples gathered (once without Thomas, once with him)
5. Then, at a gathering of the followers of Jesus He appeared to more than 500 at once.
a) Paul’s dare (:6) is to go ask some of them since most of them were still alive as he wrote.
b) While you might possibly grant that one or two emotionally distraught people might have imagined seeing Jesus, what do you do with 500 people seeing Him at the same time?
ILLUS> That would be like someone saying this room full of people all simultaneously imagined seeing me standing here this morning. You would say that anyone who denied the reality of this gathering is the one with the problem.
II. Jesus resurrection proves there is life beyond life (1 Corinthians 15:12-28)
A. If Christ is not raised, your faith is pointless (15:12-19)
1. Oh, I do not mean that faith will not make you feel better when life hurts but faith in a lie is unsafe.
2. The heart of the Christian gospel, which no other religion claims, is that Jesus is alive today.
3. Without a risen Christ, Christianity is merely a well-intended deception along the line of the Easter bunny.
4. But faith inspired by an actual, verifiably resurrected Christ is solid.
B. The resurrection of Jesus is the preview of all coming resurrections (15:20-28)
1. Adam’s sin brought death into the world
2. Christ’s death and resurrection overcame death
3. (:23) Jesus is the “firstfruits”
a) When a farmer plants a crop, the early grain is evidence that more is to come. On a fruit tree, the first blossoms are evidence that more are to come.
b) The fact that Jesus rose from the dead is evidence that more resurrections are coming.
III. The resurrection Jesus affects all of life (15:29-34)
A. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then it does not matter how you live (:32)
1. The primary motivation for moral behavior in this life is that we live in the shadow of eternity.
2. If there is no life to come then do whatever feels good at the moment.
3. If there is no resurrection then why would anyone in any land risk persecution and death as is happening to Christians around the world at this time?
4. But if there is a resurrection, there is something worth living for here and now and more to follow.
5. Anyone who knows they have eternal life can live this life fearlessly.
B. The resurrection of Jesus means that death is defeated (15:51-56)
1. God has established that sin requires death.
2. Jesus never sinned yet He took on Himself the sins of all mankind and paid the penalty – death in your place.
3. Just as Jesus’ death means your debt is paid, so His resurrection means that because Jesus is alive, everyone who is in Him will live forever.
Former presidential candidate and governor Alfred E. Smith told of the occasion when he was a member of a fishing party somewhere in New England. Devotion to their faith led him and a few members of the party to roll out of bed early on Sunday morning to take in a church service. As they tiptoed past their serenely slumbering mates, one of his friends, walking close behind him, heard one half-slumbering fellow mutter, “Wouldn’t it be awful if it turned out they were right!” (quoted by Ravi Zacharias in The Real Face of Atheism, p. 13)
The greatest evidence of the power of this day is a life that God has changed. If believing in Jesus does not change a life, what does it matter?
I want you to hear now from one man whose life has been changed by knowing Jesus. Then I will come back and give you an opportunity to respond.
>> Testimony – Tom Ellew
Mankind without a savior is helpless and hopeless in ability to reach God. The problem is sin. Sin is the gap between man and God that is too wide to cross. When Jesus died on the cross He bridged the gap between man and God. Jesus is the bridge to God
Faith in Christ is trusting that His death paid the penalty you could not pay so that you can enjoy life in Him forever. This is the great day of the celebration of eternal life! This is a day of opportunity as well. I said before that the gospel is simple yet profound. It is also demanding. It is demanding in that it requires a response. To hear the gospel is only the beginning. Now there must be a response.
I began by telling you about the importance of bridges. We have set up a bridge here. On this day of resurrection I want you to have to opportunity to enter into that life which Jesus died to give. It is just a symbol of the process of trusting Jesus – of crossing from death to life. If you have never trusted Christ this is the time to do it. Or if you are not sure, this is the time to affirm that decision. During this song I invite you to come up on the stage and cross the bridge showing your decision. Afterward someone will meet you and walk with you to give you some materials to launch you in this new life.