He is not here, but is RISEN
INTRODUCTION: Perhaps one of the most powerful verses written by the Apostle Paul in the New Testament is found in Philippians 3:10, where we read, “That I may know Him (Jesus Christ) and the power of His RESURRECTION and the fellowship of His suffering…”
The great fact of history is Christ was CRUCIFIED for our sins at Calvary. That is a fact that prophetically and historically we cannot deny.
An even greater fact of history is Christ ROSE from the grave. Again that is a fact that prophetically and historically we cannot deny.
When I approach the subject of the RESURRECTION, I always feel as though God is saying, as He did to Moses long ago at the burning bush in the wilderness, "Take off thy shoes from thy feet, for the ground whereon thou standest is holy ground." After a brilliant philosopher from France had evaluated the writings of the Gospel, he proclaimed, "You Christians live on the fragrance of an empty tomb." And so we do.
The Saviour's suffering:
His nail-pierced hands and feet,
His scarred back laid bare from the 39 stripes,
His spit-marred face,
His hair-plucked cheeks,
His wounded side from the spear driven through,
His stricken soul at the abandonment of God,
found its COMPLEMENT in the empty tomb. Therefore, on this EASTER SUNDAY morning, I can think of no greater doctrine of the Christian faith on which to speak than the doctrine of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Destroy the resurrection of Christ and you discredit Jesus’ own testimony. Five times before His death, Jesus said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will rise it up." (John 2:19) One time he said, "I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." (John 10:17-18)
Destroy the resurrection of Christ and you destroy the grounds for justification, for Romans 4:25 declares, "He (Jesus) was raised for our justification…"
Destroy the resurrection of Christ and you destroy the deity of Christ, for Romans 1:4 tells us He was, "declared to be the Son of God with power … by the resurrection from the dead."
Destroy the resurrection of Christ and you destroy the witness of the Gospel. The preaching of the resurrection was the dominate theme of the Apostles’ preaching. In Acts 4:33 we read, "And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.'
Destroy the resurrection of Christ and you destroy the victory over sin and death. In I Corinthians 15:20-22, 55-57 we read, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that sleep. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead, For in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy Victory? The sting of death is sin… But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
WITHOUT A RISEN CHRIST, we have a tomb as worthless as any tomb, a cross no more than a martyr's cross.
WITHOUT A RISEN CHRIST, the whole history of Christianity and its existence is unintelligible.
WITHOUT A RISEN CHRIST, we will never again see the faces of our redeemed loved ones, which have preceded us to Glory.
The resurrection of Jesus distinguishes and makes Christianity superior to all other religions of the world.
Someone rightly said, "Christianity begins where other religions end, with the resurrection of Jesus Christ." All other religions of the world can point to a founder and a founder's grave, but there is no other religion than Christianity that can point to an empty tomb and say, "Our founder was buried there and on the third day He came out of the tomb."
Turn in your Bible to the Gospel of Luke 24: 1-12 where we read,
“Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. (2) And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. (3) And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. (4) And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments (5) And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?(6) He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, (7) Saying, 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 sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. (10) It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. (11) And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.(12) Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.”
Again in verses 6-7 we read, “He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, (7) Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” Now from these verses we want to focus your attention on two realities: first the empty tomb and second a risen Lord.
FIRST: The Empty Tomb Please notice again:
Verse 3, “…and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.”
Verse 5, “…Why seek ye the living among the dead?”
Verse 6, "He is not here, but is risen."
The tomb was empty contrary to the PRECAUTION of the enemies. Our Lord's ENEMIES did not want the resurrection to happen. They condemned Him, scourged Him, crucified Him, and there at the cross:
The callous Roman soldier who nailed His quivering hands and pain-jerked feet to the cross said, "He is dead!"
The curious crowds, unaware of the eternal value of His actions said, "He is dead."
Pilate, who had chosen the friendship of Caesar and spurned the friendship of the King Eternal said, "He is dead."
The Sadducees, ignoring the supernatural and rejecting a divine hope with their callous hearts said, "He is dead."
The Centurion, who stood by the cross and proclaimed, "truly this was the Son of God," said, "He is dead."
All that stood there that afternoon after the darkness had lifted said, "He is dead." Then they removed Him from the cross and buried Him in a new tomb and rolled a stone before the entrance.
The religious leaders said, "Remember what this Fellow said before He was crucified, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' If His disciples come and steal Him away and make people believe He was raised from the dead, we will never get Christianity quieted down. We have to make sure He does not come out of that tomb."
In order to make sure this prophecy of Christ would never occur, the religious leaders did two things:
Number 1, they sealed the tomb with the Roman seal of authority which would mean death to anyone who broke the seal.
Number 2, they stationed a Roman guard at the tomb.
Rome dared the entire world to molest the tomb. But Roman seals and armed soldiers were no match for the POWER OF GOD. After THREE DAYS and NIGHTS, the tomb was empty. Now, reason with me. If Jesus Christ came out of that grave, then either MAN TOOK HIM OUT or GOD TOOK HIM OUT. There is no other possibility.
His friends COULD NOT and His enemies WOULD NOT. That leaves only one alternative: God Almighty raised Jesus Christ from the dead. That is exactly what the Bible says in Hebrews 13:20, "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant…" Not only was Jesus’ resurrection contrary to the precaution of His enemies, but…
The tomb was empty contrary to the EXPECTATION of His friends. They did not expect Him to rise from the dead. They were all DEPRESSED, SAD and MOURNFUL. They had given up. They thought His reign was over.
Sad was JARIUS whose daughter was healed by Jesus.
Sad was the MAN with the WITHERED HAND Jesus had healed.
Sad were the DUMB whose TONGUES were unloosed by Jesus.
Sad were the DEAF whose EARS were opened by Jesus.
Sad were MARY, MARTHA and LAZARUS.
The women did not believe it, the disciples did not believe the women, and Thomas still doubted. Mark 16:14 tells us, “After He (that is Jesus) appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, He upbraided them with their UNBELIEF and HARDNESS OF HEART, because they believed NOT them which had seen him after he was risen.” His tomb was empty, contrary to the expectation of His friends.
The tomb was empty contrary to ALL OTHER TOMBS in HISTORY.
The pyramids of Egypt are famous for their mummified bodies of Egyptian potentates.
Westminster Abbey in London is famous for its tombs of English notables.
Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC is the resting place of famous Americans.
That my friends, is the difference between the tomb of Christ and other famous tombs.
Other tombs are famous and draw visitors from afar because of what they CONTAIN. On the other hand, the tomb of Christ is famous and draws visitors from all over the world because of what it DOES NOT CONTAIN.
Other tombs are famous because they are full. The tomb of Christ is famous because it is empty. "IF IT WERE NOT EMPTY, YOU WOULD NEVER HAVE HEARD OF CHRIST."
Years ago while traveling in Egypt, the late Dr. Harry Rimmer, a scientist and born again believer, was negotiating with a very refined gentleman who was the Secretary of State. In their conversation regarding their respective faiths:
Dr. Rimmer stated, "We believe God has given man three revelations of Himself. First, we believe He has revealed Himself in the work of creation."
"We, too, believe that," interjected the Egyptian.
"We believe God revealed Himself in a Book, the Bible," continued Dr. Rimmer.
"We, too, believe God has revealed Himself in a book, the Koran," replied the Egyptian.
"We believe God has revealed Himself in a man, and that man is Jesus Christ," added Rimmer.
“We also believe God revealed Himself in a Man, and that Man is the prophet Mohammed," said the Egyptian.
"We believe Jesus died to save His followers," said Rimmer.
"We believe Mohammed died for his people," replied the Egyptian.
"We believe," continued Dr. Rimmer, "Jesus is able to substantiate His claims because He rose from the dead."
The Moslem hesitated and then lowered his eyes. He had no rebuttal to that statement. Finally he admitted, "We have no information concerning our prophet after death."
Yet today on Easter Sunday, over 2000 years after the fact, we can sit here and MENTALLY, SPIRITUALLY, CONSCIOUSLY, and PERSONALLY attest in our hearts to the fact that the TOMB IS EMPTY! CHRIST IS ALIVE! AMEN!
SECOND: The Risen Lord. Please notice again our text in Luke 24:6, "He is not here, but is risen…" Now if our Lord’s tomb was empty, what became of the body? Either the body was removed by someone, or He arose from the grave. There is no other alternative. There were only two groups that could have removed His body, and those were His friends or His foes.
For His friends to have removed the body was out of the question. The tomb was sealed and there was a Roman guard preventing anything from happening.
For His enemies to have removed the body would have been against their desires. That is the very thing that they did not want to happen.
His friends could not rob the tomb of His body, and His foes would not. Therefore, the alternative stands, "He arose from the grave."
That is what the Angel said in Matthew 28:5-7a, "Fear not; for I know that you seek Jesus, who was crucified. HE IS NOT HERE; for He is risen, as he said. Come see the place where the Lord lay and go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead…"
That is what Mark wrote about in Mark 16:6, "… Ye seek Jesus … who was crucified; He is risen; HE IS NOT HERE. Behold the place where they laid him."
That is what John wrote in Revelation 1:18 speaking of Jesus, "I am He that liveth, and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore.”
That is what Peter wrote in I Peter 1:3, "… according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
This is what Christianity has proclaimed for over 2000 years.
If Christ be not raised from the dead, we have no message to preach.
If Christ be not raised from the dead, then our faith is the biggest hoax the world has ever witnessed.
If Christ be not raised from the dead, then we are still drowning in our sins without hope.
If Christ be not raised from the dead, then pray tell, why are you in the house of God this Easter Sunday morning or any other Sunday morning?
You are here, not just on this Easter Sunday, but every Sunday, as a testimony to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. IT DID HAPPEN! HE IS ALIVE. EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST!
It is the CORNERSTONE upon which the whole superstructure of Christianity rests; undermine it, and the whole business collapses.
It is the KEYSTONE of the arch; knock it out, and the whole thing falls with a crash.
If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, how do I know He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life?
If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, how do I know He that believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved?
If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, how do I know the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin?
If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, how do I know He has gone to prepare a place for me and that He will come again and receive me unto Himself?
If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, how do I know death has lost its sting and the grave has been swallowed up in victory?
If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, how do I know when He shall appear I shall be like Him?
If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, how do I know "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in me?”
If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, how do I know the promises of the Bible are true?
The fact is, I do not know. If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, there is no way to know any of this is true. In I Corinthians 15:13 we read, “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen?” However, praise the Lord in verse 20 we read, "But now is Christ raised from the dead and become the first fruits of them that sleep."
Thank God, He did rise! They SEALED His tomb, but it could not hold Him. He lay there in the grave COLD and DEAD. All on earth had given up hope, but Heaven KNEW better.
I think GABRIEL must have said to the celestial choir, "Hold your breath a minute, for you'll need it." As the minutes of the world's mightiest miracle ticked of, the breath of God swept through the sleeping clay. Like a flash of light, His glorious Son was on His feet again, while Heaven's angelic choir rose – tier upon tier and row upon row and shouted, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Christ is risen! The Son of God is Alive!" Glory to Jesus, today we can sing:
Up from the grave He arose
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes.
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah, Christ Arose.
In the Gospel of John 20:31 we read, "… these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name." The records regarding the resurrection of Christ are accurate and undeniable.
The men who wrote the New Testament were TRANSFORMED by this great occurrence, and they spent their lives telling about it.
These men would not suffer and die for myths.
These men were on the spot. Nobody could fool them.
They were alive when it happened.
They were there and knew all about it.
They laid down their lives to defend it.
The resurrection of the dead constitutes the confidence of Christians. By believing it, we are what we claim to be. We have an EMPTY CROSS and an EMPTY TOMB. Therefore, as I Corinthians 15:54 tells us, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” Jesus gave us the EASTER message in one sentence taken from John 14:19, “Because I live, you shall live also.”
Years ago, Dr. A.H. Ackley was listening to a radio broadcast just before he was to preach. The man on the radio was going to great lengths to dispute the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Bothered by the message in the radio broadcast, Dr. Ackley sat down that evening after church and penned what could be considered to be the NATIONAL ANTHEM of the RESURRECTION SONGS:
I serve a RISEN Saviour, He's in the world today,
I know that He is LIVING, whatever men may say;
I see His hands of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He's always near.
In all the world around me, I see His loving care,
And though my heart grows weary, I never will despair..
I know that He is leading, through all the stormy blasts,
The day of His appearing will come at last.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives,
He lives with in my heart!
Two thousand years ago God took every sin we have ever committed or ever will commit and placed them on Jesus Christ, as we read in Isaiah 53:6, "… the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."
When Jesus cried out from the cross, "It is finished!" it simply meant that the full payment for sin had been made. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was an assurance that God was fully satisfied with the payment Jesus made for our sins.
Down through the centuries, that empty tomb has transformed countless lives. Not by trials or by scientific studies, but by the simple faith of an honest heart. Let me ask you this Easter Sunday morning, "Is the living resurrected Christ alive in You?"
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon, "He is not here, but is RISEN," then right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
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