The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Luke 24:1-12 1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; 5 and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? 6 He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, 7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” 8 And they remembered His words, 9 and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. 11 But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.
“Jesus Christ is Risen!” (Congregation: He has risen indeed!). This saying and your response is resounding like a wave passing over the whole world today. There are many around the whole that seek to silence this life giving message. As the sun rises over continent after continent, country after country, congregation after congregation, Christian after Christian, the resurrection of Jesus the Christ is being proclaimed. All this proclaiming and celebrating first began when the angel in the tomb asked the women, “Why do you seek the Living One among the dead [ones]? He is not here, but He has risen.”
Yet, on this Easter morning, death is still a reality. On this Easter morning we still live in a culture of death. And on this Easter morning, Christians in Sri Lanka have been murdered for their faith in and proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Now I am not trying to kill your Easter joy with these opening comments about the reality of death. It’s the opposite. Against the normal operating system of death, I am proclaiming to you what the angels proclaimed to the women who arrived shortly after sun up on Easter morning. Those women were expecting to find a dead one. Death was what crucifixion was designed to bring about. But when the women arrived at the tomb expecting death, they learned that the One who was dead was not the Living One who was not among the dead ones.
Life is what the Lord God, Yahweh Elohim created to be in the first place. Follow the life in Genesis 1:27, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” The man did not just become a “living” being like the other creatures that the Lord God had made, the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish in the sea. The man and the woman were different. They bore God’s image of righteousness.
God also did something for them that He did not do for the other creatures. Genesis 2:7 “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”
It was only to the man that God breathed life directly into his nostrils. The Hebrew word is ruah, which means “spirit,” or “breath,” or “wind.” It is the same word used in Genesis 1:2 “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit (the Ruah) of God was hoovering over the surface of the waters.”
In the beginning God created life and it was to be life eternal. There was a way to lose the life, the “breath,” and the image that God had breathed into the man. Genesis 2:16-17; “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”
And so it was. Romans 5:12; “Just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”
In contrast to this, to what Adam and Eve did and brought into the created the Psalmist sang of the Promised Messiah and His work, Ps. 118:15-22; “The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous. . . I will not die, but live, And tell of the works of the Lord . . . The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.”
So how was it that Christ Jesus was able to rise from the dead, become the chief cornerstone, and to give you His life, His breath–the Holy Spirit, and His image–His righteousness?
He was able to do it because, He and He alone, was able to do what God had commanded. Jesus and Jesus alone did nothing to earn salvation. Leviticus 18:4-5; “You shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord.” Jesus kept His Father’s statutes and judgments perfectly and rose to life again. Leviticus 19:2. “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” He alone was holy as God is holy. Where there is no sin, there is no death.
“For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:21-22
“I am the Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26). “Because I live you also shall live.” (John 14:19)
Follow the life and the breath to the valley of bones in Ezekiel 37; “‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘O Lord God, You know.’ Again He said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’ Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath (ruah) to enter you that you may come to life.’ . . Then He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God, Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.”’
Job, even in the midst of his troubles knew that the Lord God was a God life and not of death. “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:28-29)
Follow the life to the first resurrection 1 Kings 17:17-22. Elijah was staying at the home of a widow. Her son became ill and died. The widow blamed Elijah. “What do I have to do with you, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my iniquity to remembrance and to put my son to death!” Elijah, showing that our God is a God of life, “stretched himself upon the child three times, and . . . said, “O LORD my God, I pray You, let this child’s life return to him.” The LORD heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him and he revived. . . and Elijah said, ‘See, your son is alive.’”
Follow the life to the second resurrection was in 2 Kings 4. A Shunammitte’s son had was sick and was going to die. The prophet Elisha was asked by the lad’s mother to come to her country and save the lad. The boy died. Elisha laid on him three times and the boy restored life.
Follow the life to the third resurrection took place was in 2 Kings 13. Elisha the prophet died. He had been buried long enough that all that was left in the grave was Elisha’s bones. The Moabites invaded the land and were burying a man who had died. In a rush they cast the body into the grave of Elisha. The corpus touched the bones of Elisha the Moabites revived and stood up on his feet.
Follow the Life into the New Testament. In Luke 7 Jesus entered the small town named Nain. A widow was in the process of burying her only son. 13 “When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ 14 And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise!’ 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak.”
In Matthew 9 an official of a synagogue named Jairus asked Jesus to heal his very ill daughter. Before Jesus got to the house, the girl died. Jesus entered the house and raised the little girl from the dead.
Then there was Lazarus in John 11. Four days dead in the tomb and Jesus commanded – “Lazarus, come forth,” and it happened.
Follow the life to Good Friday and Easter morning. On Good Friday just after Jesus yielded up His spirit and died. “And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.” (Matthew 27:51-53)
After His resurrection Jesus appeared to the disciples and saying “‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed [see there’s the breath of life again] on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” John 20:21-23 Thus, the breath of life was given to the church, to the office of public ministry, for where there is the forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.
Follow the resurrections in the Book of Acts. A woman named Tabitha in Hebrew and Dorcus in Greek had died. Another Christian woman Lydda sent for the Apostle Peter. He came with a simple command – “Tabitha, arise” and she did. (Acts 9:26-40)
In Acts 20, Paul was preaching a sermon and a young man sitting in a third floor window fell asleep and fell three stories to his death. St. Paul went over to the young man and laid on him, spoke, and brought him back to life.
Dead men don’t bring themselves back to life. God’s Word was spoken over all those who died. Only Jesus chose the time of His death. He yielded up His spirit. And He took up His life on the third day. No one spoke the Word of God over Jesus on Easter morning. He is the Word
John 10:18 “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” Romans 1:4 [Christ Jesus] “was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.”
It was Christ’s life, death, and resurrection that became for us victory over sin, death, and the power of the devil. Romans 4:25 “He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”
Christ’s death and resurrection was given to you, freely, by grace alone, for Christ’s sake alone. Romans 6:3ff; “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? . . . For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him.”
We live in a culture of death. But this world of death is dying. The grave can no more keep you, than it kept Jesus Christ. “Let us Ever Walk With Jesus” states it well. “And the grave that shuts us in, shall but prove the gate to heaven.” “Jesus lives! The victory’s won! Death no longer can appall me; Jesus lives! Death’s reign is done! From the grave will Christ recall me.”
May the peace that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen