Jesus: The Risen Savior
What is so special about Easter Sunday? Maybe you are used to waking up early in order to attend a “sunrise” Easter Service. Maybe your family tradition is to attend church in the morning and then go home and have your entire family come and visit. Maybe your tradition involves a big easter egg hunt for the kids (or perhaps the adults as well!). Maybe your tradition is to attend church like your normally would do any other week. Maybe your tradition is to attend church for the only time you will all year because you were taught as a kid that you just attend church on Easter Sunday because there’s something special about that day. What is so special about Easter, though? As you might be experiencing right now, our traditions are different this year and we are stuck in our own homes. There likely will not be a big get together. There isn’t a sunrise service to attend in person. Maybe you’re a little upset by this. Maybe you’re left wondering what is so special about Easter because at the moment all of the normal things that make Easter so special and unique are so different this year!
What makes Easter so special is not our schedule, family, events, activities, meals or even gathering. Rather, what makes Easter so special is that we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the death of death. Jesus Christ, the God-man, lived a perfect life and died a criminals death on the cross of Calvary. The incarnation, life and death of Jesus Christ are remarkable and we talk about them often, but what Christianity hinges upon is the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate display of Jesus’ superiority and divine status. Jesus was not a normal human. Jesus was not an angel. Jesus was fully-God and fully-Man! He conquered sin and death on the cross and 3 days later He rose from the grave to illustrate that the Father was pleased with His sacrifice! This was all a part of the plan from the beginning.
I want to share some statistics before we continue with our study of , though. According to Barna research, the majority of Americans view Easter as a religious holiday. Roughly 2/3 Americans polled recognized that Easter is not a secular but rather a religious holiday. This is good news, especially in a post-modern culture. However, only 4 out of 10 Americans identify Jesus’ resurrection with Easter. 40%! Friends, this is a sobering reminder of the fact that many Americans do not know who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for them on the cross and what He has accomplished for them 3 days later as He defeated sin and death once and for all and rose from the grave!
We talk often about how Christmas is not simply a time to celebrate with family and share gifts, but we celebrate the greatest gift of all in the incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus Christ! Just as we remember to focus Christmas with the coming of Jesus, we must share that Easter is not simply a fun time to gather with family members, it is not a time to simply plant easter eggs in your yard, no it is far greater! (And no it is not a pagan holiday!) It is the time in which we celebrate our Savior rising from the grave and securing for us the ultimate victory! Aren’t you thankful that your Savior didn’t stay dead?
Maybe you’re tuning in this morning and you believe in the resurrection. Maybe you’re tuning in this morning and you’re only doing so because someone invited you to and you have absolutely no idea what to think about the resurrection. What I want to be very straightforward about today is what we believe regarding the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We believe that Jesus was as dead as you can be and that 3 days later He literally came back from the dead and rose again! We don’t think that this act was a metaphor used by the Gospel writers. We don’t think that it was an elaborate cover up by His disciples and followers. We believe whole-heartedly that Jesus Christ was dead and that He rose again. If you’re still unsure, I pray that today your eyes might be opened to the truth of Scripture because if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is true, then all of Christianity is true. If it is not true, none of it is. Christianity hinges on the resurrection of Jesus - and Jesus did raise from the dead as Scripture testifies time and time again!
10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying, “I will proclaim Your name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.” 13 And again, “I will put My trust in Him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me.” 14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 16 For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
Jesus Christ: The Source of Salvation (10-13)
Jesus Christ: The Source of Salvation (10-13)
About a year ago we began to do a study of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 here at Morgan Baptist Church and one of the things that we talked about during this Sunday evening study was atonement. Atonement simply means reconciliation between God and mankind. God is holy, mankind is sinful and there needs to be atonement for mankind to be reconciled in this relationship. As Isaiah 6 reminds us, we are people of unclean lips and we are of a people of unclean lips. We are sinners! Welcome to humanity. We have all fallen woefully short of the glory of God. We deserve punishment and separation from God, yet we saw last week in Hebrews 2:9 that Jesus Christ during the incarnation was lowered and suffered, yet in His suffering and death on the cross, He tasted death for everyone. This phrase, for everyone, is a little confusing for some people. Some people take this phrase in Hebrews 2:9 to refer to a certain group, but the basic understanding is exactly what the Bible says, Jesus suffered and died and there was a purpose behind it! He tasted death for everyone. His suffering was in the place of those of us who deserved to suffer what Christ suffered. In other words, we deserved to die the death that Jesus died. Maybe you’re thinking that this seems a little depressing for an Easter message and if this is the first time you’ve ever tuned into a church service I am not going to apologize for telling you what the Bible teaches. While Easter is a great time of celebration, the reason that we have to celebrate Easter in the first place is because we, as human beings, are sinners. We have messed up. We sin. As a result of this, Christ had to come. He had to be our substitute!
Verse 10 shows that Jesus Christ, the author of Salvation, became perfect through suffering. This is a bit of a loaded statement at the end of verse 10! Does this imply that Jesus Christ was a sinner and had to suffer as a result of His sin? reminds us that Jesus Christ was without sin, so this cannot be the explanation. Rather, this phrase “made perfect” refers to Jesus’ submission to the Father, even in the midst of suffering. As reminds us, Christ was obedient to the point of death on the cross. Just as Jesus was obedient to the Father’s plan, we are called as Christians to submit to His plan as well. This is a hard point for many of us, myself included, to arrive at - especially in moments of adversity and tragedy. I’m reminded of Job in this sense. Job had everything taken away from him: his family, his wealth, his possessions. His friends told him to repent and get right with God, but Job had not sinned against the Lord in order to cause all of this bad stuff from happening. In the midst of his suffering, did Job curse God? No! Did Job hop on Facebook and complain and argue with others about how unfair his circumstances are right now? No! Job said this in
21 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.
Jesus Christ went through all of this suffering with obedience. Jesus Christ is the source of salvation because of His obedient work of atonement on the cross! Peter speaks to this point in .
Have you ever been in a situation where you are struggling to trust in the Lord and submit to His plan? Maybe that is you right now. You are uncertain, you are unhappy, you are complaining because you are suffering. This is a natural thing for us to do as humans, but friends, look to the cross where we see the ultimate example of obedience and humility as Jesus died in our place and took upon Himself the wrath of God. We talk a lot about the love of God, but God is just as well and as a result, as we will talk about in the coming verses, God’s wrath had to be placed upon the Son in order for salvation to be accomplished. As the hymn says, Thank you for the Cross, Lord!
Verses 11-13 show us the grand plan of redemption as those of us who are Christians, those who are in Christ Jesus are brothers/sisters with Jesus Christ and we are a part of the family of God and Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers/sisters! Have you ever been ashamed of yourself? As a child my family was eating out one afternoon and I had to go to the restroom and my dad volunteered to take me. Unbeknownst to my father, though, I went into the wrong restroom! My dad realized the reality of the situation too late and said, “ know that we always tell you to wash your hands after you use the restroom, but we’re not going to do that this time.” Needless to say, we left that restroom in a hurry! That feeling was embarrassment, though. Being ashamed is far deeper. Whenever you know that someone is counting on you and you fail to be there for them, that can be shame. Whenever you know that Jesus Christ died for your sins of the cross and you fail live for Him, you feel shame. Look at Peter who lived with Jesus for nearly 3 years, yet he denied Jesus 3 times in the span of a couple hours! We feel shame whenever we fall short and we know that we fall woefully short, even as Christians because we still sin, yet even in the midst of our sin and shame, there is hope and encouragement because the Savior of the universe is not ashamed to call you brother or sister! Friends, meditate upon that in this season of uncertainty.
The preacher quotes and in the verses that follow in order to show that the Old Testament was pointing to the Messiah. in general is a Messianic Psalm that looks ahead to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He suffered, yet He rose! We talk a lot about the resurrection in the New Testament, but the Old Testament prophesied that this would happen! Lo and behold, it did! The same Jesus who rose from the dead, the same Jesus who is not ashamed of His brothers/sisters, the same Jesus who is the sole source of salvation is the same Jesus who invites us to share this wonderful news with others
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”
reminds us that Christ is the source as people put their trust in Him - in the Messiah. Gary Smith, in his commentary on says this, “The choice is always there, either fear and trust God and have him lift you up so that you receive His blessing, or reject God and have him hide His favor so that you reap the penalty.” That is the choice you have right now, friends. Place your faith and trust in Jesus and receive salvation, or reject Him. Jesus saves, but He only saves those who repent. I ask you, have you repented of your sins and placed your faith in Jesus Christ today? I pray you have because Jesus is the only source of salvation!
Jesus Christ: The Redeemer (14-16)
Jesus Christ: The Redeemer (14-16)
We see in Scripture that we are sinners and we see in Scripture that Jesus Christ saves. The question we must ask is “how” does Jesus save sinners? What is so special about Jesus Christ? helps us out in this regard as we are told that Jesus partook in flesh and blood. The only way for humanity to be saved was for God to become a man. The incarnation illustrates this point as the eternal Son of God put upon human flesh without surrendering His deity. He was tempted, hungry, thirsty, even sad and sleepy, but he lived without sin! This is the beauty in as God became a man and became like us
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
A couple of verses down, we see this truth!
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
As great as the incarnation is, though, the incarnation could not and does not secure our redemption and salvation! People ask, why did Jesus have to die? Could He have simply come and that sufficed? No. He had to die! Why? The rest of bears this out.
Verse 14 shows us that that Christ put upon human flesh in order to defeat death and the devil. Our world is afraid of death, isn’t it? This makes sense, because if you reject Jesus Christ and if you reject the Gospel, you might think that this life is all that there is and that there is no hope after death. Death is horrifying if it truly is the end. Even Shakespeare, the brilliant mind he had, could not process death and said this, “Death is a fearful thing.” Without the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I agree - but church, Jesus Christ defeated the power of death by dying on the cross! We don’t have to fear it!
Jesus also defeated the devil. Have you ever thought of God and the devil being kind of the cosmic yin and yang or possibly playing this cosmic game of tug of war where sometimes it looks like the devil is going to win and other times God is going to win? Sadly, this is the idea that many people have when thinking of the devil. Is the devil powerful? Yes. Is God infinitely more powerful? You bet He is! In the words of Martin Luther, “Even the devil is God’s devil.” In taking upon human flesh and dying on the cross, Jesus Christ defeated both death and the devil. Are both of these things active today? Of course! But they have been defeated and they know that their shelf life is short. If you are in Christ, you have zero reason to fear either of these things. Why, you might ask? Because of the Christus Victor language throughout the New Testament that shows that Jesus Christ defeats Satan on Satan’s turf. He defeated Satan’s demons throughout his earthly ministry, He did not fall victim to Satan’s temptation in the wilderness, He died in our place on the cross and we know that Satan will be cast into the burning lake of fire according to . As Gregory of Nyssa put it, “The deity (Jesus) was hidden under the veil of our nature that so, as with ravenous fish, the hook of the Deity might be gulped down along with the bait of flesh.”
Why does Christ’s incarnation and death/resurrection matter so much?Jesus gives us victory over death and the devil and gives us the glorious hope of life beyond the grave. Verse 15 continues this message of hope because we see that we were once in subject to slavery but now we are freed not by our works, but through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead! If you are lost in your sins, death can be daunting and it might feel hopeless, but there is freedom and forgiveness in Jesus Christ! In the words of Al Mohler, “Christ defeats death by dying for His people and bearing their curse.” Friends may we not miss that fact. As the hymn puts it, “It was my sin that held Him there, until it was accomplished. His dying breath has bought me life, His wounds have paid my ransom.” Aren’t you grateful for redemption through the work of Jesus?
As verse 16 again points out, Christ is superior to angels. Christ restores humanity. He gives assistance and help to mankind! Christ is at the center of the Biblical story from beginning to end.
Jesus Christ: The Propitiation (17-18)
Jesus Christ: The Propitiation (17-18)
The final 2 verses are loaded in theology and the terms found in these verses have been discussed for centuries! The fact of the matter is that the preacher of Hebrews notes in verse 17 that “Jesus had to be”… He had to be fully man. He had to be sacrificed on the cross. There is no way around these facts found in Scripture. Jesus Christ made propitiation for the sins of the people, per and He had to do this in order to satisfy the justice of God while also offering salvation, mercy, grace, and love. There is no greater display of love than the cross.
We’ve talked about atonement during our study of Hebrews and noted how the Jews had their annual Day of Atonement where they would come to the Temple in order to sacrifice their animals and have their sins covered for a year. This sacrifice would be on their behalf. They had sinned and the animal that they brought in would substitute in their place. Hebrews helps to show that Jesus Christ functions as a priest and offered Himself in our place. The term “propitiation” is a debated word. Some people don’t like it because of the way that it is used in some theological circles, but y’all know me well enough by now to know that if a word is in the Bible, we are going to talk about it whether it makes you uncomfortable or not because the Bible is the divinely, inerrant, Word of God. There are 2 terms that talk about the atonement of Jesus on the cross and what it does for our sins. There is Expiation and Propitiation. Expiation simply means the washing away of sin. Expiation cancels the debt of sin and can be thought of almost as forgiveness. The issue with this term, though, can come if we think deeply about the cross and salvation. Jesus dies and we are said to be forgiven, but “how” are we forgiven? Propitiation answers this question for us because it notes how God’s justice can be satisfied. Propitiation - The appeasing of the wrath of God through prayer or sacrifice. Think of the song, “In Christ Alone” - Till on that cross as Jesus died, the Wrath of God was satisfied. There’s not enough time to go through all the Scripture references that talk about the wrath of God, but friends, it is apparent throughout Scripture that God detests and cannot stand sin. He hates it!
Therefore, Jesus Christ bore the wrath of God against sin. He who knew no sin, became sin for us! Jesus made propitiation for the sins of the people because He Himself took upon that wrath. He cancelled the debt and satisfied God’s justice. is a great text to learn more about this idea
21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
God is both just and justified according to . If it were not for the cross of Christ, though, we would be without hope because we could never be declared righteous. We will look more at the atonement in /10 in a couple months, but here we see the fact that Jesus had to die because of our sin. The only way for sinners like you and I to be reconciled to God is for Jesus to take upon Himself our sin and the full weight of the wrath of God. This is great news, but only if you are a Christian. If you are not a Christian today then you do not share in this hope, so please, look to Jesus today!
Verse 18 tells us that He was tempted and suffered greatly. Jesus Christ knows what you’re going through. He can relate with your suffering and your situation, regardless of how severe it might be! The Divine Son of God became one with His people why? In order to die for them. To taste death for everyone! The birth and death of Jesus are spectacular to think about, but the climax is found in His resurrection which is what we celebrate today. Death could not hold Jesus. The grave could not keep Him. He is the champion of heaven and we are reminded that He won for us the victory and extends the grace of God to all who believe.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Paul said in
23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
If you think that the cross of Christ - the substitutionary death of the eternal Son of God - is crazy, what on earth do you think about the empty tomb? According to a 2017 study by BBC, 9% of non-Christians believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ while less than 60% of active Christians believe in the Biblical story of Jesus’ Resurrection. Friends, we cannot get the Resurrection wrong! If you believe in a different theory on eschatology, that’s fine. If you believe in a different atonement theory, that’s fine. If you believe differently regarding personal Christian liberties/freedoms, that’s fine. But you cannot believe differently about the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is the primary fulcrum of Christianity and if you fail to believe in the empty tomb, you do not believe in the Savior of the Bible!
Have you trusted in Jesus Christ today? Is He your Lord and Savior? I pray that He is. The empty tomb is great news because there is salvation and hope in Jesus Christ, but there is also a warning back in to not reject this good news. Do not neglect so great a salvation!
To quote CS Lewis, “The good news of the Gospel is resurrection. It is a reversal. Instead of Adam stammering from his hiding place and looking back at angels with flaming sword, we have the Son of God thundering out and angels announcing the miracle as they had in the skies above Bethlehem. This is a new day.”
Trust in what Scripture tells us about Jesus Christ who tasted death on that old rugged cross 2000 years ago and rose in victory 3 days later to show that His sacrifice was accepted and the price was paid in full. Look at the disciples: they were locked in the upper room and terrified for their very lives because their leader had just been killed on the cross and they likely thought that they would be next. Yet, those same men who were afraid for their lives were the same men who would go out during the next couple of weeks/months/years and suffer greatly for the Gospel. They were tortured. Imprisoned. Beaten. Crucified. Stoned. Yet, they never recanted. They never once admitted that they had stolen the body of Jesus Christ. Friends, the disciples were radically changed because they saw the resurrected Jesus. They lived a different life and they had this boldness about them because Jesus was who He said all along. My question in closing to you is, do you know this Jesus? Have you experienced this salvation experience where your heart and eyes were opened for the first time and you looked at things differently and lived a radically different life? I pray that this is your story. I pray that you believe in the empty grave and the resurrection of Jesus Christ because many religions have great leaders, prophets, books, pieces of wisdom, but only Christianity shares of the Savior who tasted death and rose from the grave 3 days later and offers that same resurrection power to all who call upon the name of the Lord!
Share the hope and good news of the empty tomb this week!