The Risen Christ

image  I think this is the fifteenth sermon in this series, and the last.

Earlier in Luke 24 we discover an empty tomb and the reality of the resurrection. But now ow we no longer merely have a claim to resurrection, we have a appearance of the risen Lord. Such experiences moved the disciples from sceptic to convinced.

Perhaps the major challenge of this text in our modern world is the believability of such an event.Yet those to whom Jesus appears seem just as sceptical about the possibility of a dead person reappearing alive again as any modern person. The announcement of an empty tomb was not enough to convince them.

1. Only visible evidence that Jesus has been raised will prove convincing.
The reaction of Cleopas and his friend , hesitant to embrace the resurrection, even to the point of being subject to a rebuke by Jesus, helps prove that what is related here really happened.  After all, would Luke create stories that make Jesus’ followers lack faith? Here are two disciples who felt that the cross meant the end of the hope Jesus brought. Only Jesus himself can change their minds.

The resurrection is the basis for our being able to receive the many blessings of grace that God gives his children (1 Peter 1:3-6):

forgiveness of sins,
the Holy Spirit,
and eternal life.

1 Corinthians 15 explains exactly how the resurrection achieves this hope by calling Jesus’ resurrection the "first fruits" (v. 20), with more resurrections (ours!) to come.

In addition, Jesus is now in glory. That Jesus is seated at the right hand of God forms part of the oldest creeds of the church (e.g., the Apostles’ Creed). The central truths of the Christian life are bound up in this fact.  Jesus’ place at the right hand of God means that he possesses authority over all those forces that stand opposed to humanity, both in this age and in the age to come (Eph. 1:19-23). Such authority stands behind his ability to give us new birth (Eph. 2:1-10).

This aspect of resurrection hope is important, since we often feel that our sin or the devil is more powerful than we are. Yet in the context of Jesus’ power obtained through his resurrection, we have access to the one who enables us to overcome whatever obstacles Satan places in our path. The call of disciples is to follow the leading of the Lord and to draw on the spiritual resources he makes available to us.

2. God’s Word is entirely trustworthy.
Jesus tells us that the twofold division of suffering followed by glory is the messianic portrait of the Old Testament. This is a fresh understanding of the Jewish Scriptures.   In the Gospels and in Acts, Jesus claimed that the Old Testament promise was unified in him.

He was the prophet like Moses,
the Son of David,
the Suffering Servant,
the Messiah,
and the Son of Man all wrapped together in one person. His career involved both suffering and triumph. The bridge between the two stages was the resurrection.

This is why Jesus claimed to be teaching what the whole Scriptures taught. Only this understanding of who he was made sense of the various strands of promise in the Scriptures. When Luke 24 describes Jesus as prophet and Messiah, it underscores how the promise only makes sense when it is combined with Jesus.

Though this passage only gives a general reference to the promises in the Law and the Prophets, the specific texts in view have been noted throughout Luke.

Consider Isaiah 40 and its promise of a forerunner (Luke 3:4-6),
Isaiah 61 and its proclamation and realization of deliverance (Luke 4:IK 19),
Psalm 118 and its call to receive one who comes in the Lords name (Luke 13:35) and its warning that the rejected stone will be exalted (Luke 19:38),
Psalm 110 and its promise of a shared rule with God and an exaltation to come (Luke 20:42-43), and Daniel 7 and its picture of the Son of Man coming on the clouds (Luke 21:27).

The resurrection and the Word of God combine to illustrate the breadth of God’s promises. At the one end stands the revealed Word. As revelation of God, it is to be embraced and believed, something the disciples were slow to grasp. This is why the church has always emphasised that people be taught the Word, for here is found the way and wisdom of God.

At the other end stands the risen Lord Jesus when he returns.  Then he will finish what he has started (Acts 3:21). So the resurrection is a bridge into new life and the first step of glory that leads to the fulfilment of all God’s promises.

3. Jesus is revealed as he sits having table fellowship.
The table was the place for fellowship in the ancient world. Here family and friends gathered to share time with each other. Luke has underscored the importance of meal scenes throughout his Gospel. The table was a place where Jesus was heard and where his present came across most intimately.

Jesus reveals himself the midst of the basic moments of life. He is at home in the midst our everyday activity.

The image replayed in communion, which affirms the Lord’s presence. Yes, he is raised and serving alongside the Father. As we partake of that meal we look for the day of his return to sit at the final banquet table in full celebration of his salvation.

There is perhaps no better commentary on this passage than Hebrews 1:1-4.

God has spoken to us in his Son, who, as heir of all things, has sat down at the right hand of the Father, having made purification for sins and become superior to the angels, reflecting in the process the name, nature, and role of Son.

There is no greater privilege than knowing the Son of God. He is known only through the recognition that God raised him from the dead to become the centrepiece of his promise and plan.

the BIG story: Revelation 22

It seems a long time since Genesis 1!  40 days and some Sundays! And here’s the last section. There are perhaps no more significant and awesome words in Scripture than those of this epilogue. These verses are full of encouragement, declaration, warning, and response to God. They are tremendously significant.

Here is another of the beatitudes of Scripture, the pronouncement of blessing or happiness upon those who comply with certain principles of the Word. ““Blessed”, of course, means happiness and spiritual contentment which comes from knowing and trusting the Lord by keeping His Word and living by its truth.

For church age saints, finding happiness and spiritual joy through the words of this prophecy involves such things as:

(a) Observing the warnings of chapters 2 and 3 to the church, warnings against dead, cold orthodoxy, apostasy, immorality, materialism, etc.

(b) Living constantly in light of the presence of Christ in our midst and of His imminent coming, knowing that our work in the Lord is never in vain.

(c) Carrying on a vital witness, having an open door to the unbelieving world in view of the coming Tribulation and the lake of fire that we might see men snatched from hell (Jude 23).

(d) Living as sojourners who refuse to become bogged down with materialism and who live with a view to the eternal city.

(e) Enduring the trials of this life during this age of darkness, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the glory which is to follow.

(f) Remembering that God’s plan is being accomplished, that He is sovereign and still on the throne as we see this old world moving farther and farther away from the Lord and the absolutes of His Word.

God Alone is Worthy of Worship (8-9)
John is overawed by the things the angel had revealed to him. In the process, he again falls down to worship at the feet of the angelic messenger. God, who is the Creator of all that John had seen, is alone worthy of such worship.

The Promise that this Book is Not Sealed (10-11)
To seal up a book means to conceal, hide its message. This book is never to be sealed and is to be understood and applied from the day John received it. Why? Because the time is near, imminent, and people need the truth of this book to understand what God is doing and to prepare for what is coming.

The Promise of Reward at the Lord’s Coming (12)
Everyone going to be with Jesus Christ take with them the possibility of special rewards and responsibilities, but the way we live while here on earth will determine just how we will reign with the Lord, our specific place of responsibility.

The Promise and Statement of Christ’s Eternality (13)
Alpha and Omega are, of course, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The Lord is both the source as well as the goal of all things; He is the Eternal Word. Therefore, Christ’s will fulfil these promises.

The Promise of Blessings to Those Who Wash Their Robes (14-15)
Here is the seventh and final beatitude in Revelation. The robe stands for one’s condition of righteousness. A dirty robe stands for being without righteousness, falling short of the glory of God. A washed robe is one which has been made white and clean by faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. It means the person stands in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. It stands for imputed righteousness or justification by faith in Jesus Christ.

The Promises to the Churches (22:16)
What does a morning star do? It heralds and assures us of a new day and of the conclusion of the night (Rom. 13:11-14). So Jesus, as the bright morning star, heralds and assures us of the conclusion of this night season and the coming of a new day which will begin by his return for the church.

The Invitation and the Promise of Life without Cost (22:17)
“Come” is in the present tense meaning, “come today.” It is an invitation  to come to Christ. It reminds us of the concept of Isaiah 55:6

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near

The invitation to come and take is an urgent command for the day will arrive when it is too late. Today is a day of grace, but a day of judgment is imminent and impending. So “come”.

The Benediction (22:20-21)
The Tribulation has stressed the wrath of a holy God. But for the true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ there is only grace, grace, marvellous grace. The Old Testament ends with the word “curse,” for it is the warning given an earth.  But now Christ has come and put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And so Scripture can end with a blessing.

the BIG story: Revelation 21

There is surprisingly little revealed about the character of the new heaven and earth in Scripture. The main emphasis is its uniqueness; it is quite different from the old. The new heaven and earth is not simply the old renovated but an act of new creation (Rev. 20:1; 20:11; 2 Pet. 3:10, which describes the dissolving of the old heaven and earth). The word “new” means fresh, new in quality and character.

One striking statement is made, “there was no longer any sea.” Most of the earth is now covered with water. Apparently in the new earth there will be no bodies of water except for the one river mentioned in 22:1-2. Human in the eternal state and in their glorified bodies evidently will not need water as they do today. There will be water, but it will speak of power, purity, and eternal life in the eternal city which has its constant source of life in God.

The emphasis is on the character of the new Jerusalem. It is the holy city; in striking contrast to the Jerusalem of the Tribulation which is called “Sodom and Egypt” (Rev. 11:8).  The city comes down out of heaven from God and is in some way related to the earth. But it is nevertheless a heavenly city, not an earthly city. All the saints will ultimately live in this city (Heb. 11:10, 16). The figure of the bride simply emphasises the following: (a) as marriage is designed to be permanent, so this will be our permanent or eternal abode, (b) as a bride is beautifully adorned for her wedding, so this stresses the beauty of this city as it is adorned for the saints, and (c) as the bride is to be pure, it portrays the purity of the holy city.

While John is watching the city city, his attention is diverted by a loud voice. It is significant that the last loud voice announces the dwelling of God among men. Though God is the independent God of the universe, he longs to dwell among us in order to have fellowship with us and to bless us. This verse promises the most intimate and close fellowship with God in a perfect and unbroken way and on a face-to-face basis. This will be far beyond the knowledge of his presence and indwelling of his Spirit which believers can know today. Then he will be openly and visibly in our midst, personally ministering to our needs.

Verse 4 promises us no more tears, mourning, crying, or pain. This means perfect, uninterrupted happiness and peace. With God visibly and personally in our midst, there will be absolutely no possibility of unhappiness. Today we all experience pain, sorrow, and misery to some degree. Even for Christians who are walking intimately with the Lord, there are still many times of pain and sorrow.

The emphasis of these verses is that it is God’s visible and personal presence that gives this perfect happiness and blessing and not simply the removal of the sources of our problems. “The first things have passed away” refers to all the conditions of this present world—Satan, sin, a sinful nature, and death. Everything associated with Satan and his rebellion and man, his fall and rebellion, everything except believers themselves, will be removed, put away. In fact, “the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind” (Is 65:17).

With the passing away of the old something new must take its place:

1. There will be the water of life for all who thirst.
Here is the offer of salvation that comes as a free gift, “without cost.” “All who thirst” refers to all who recognise their need, the spiritually parched condition of their soul, and come to Christ as the source of the water of life” (John 4:10; 7:37-39; Isa. 55:1). “Without cost” means of course, by grace, as God’s gift to those who come to Christ by faith (John 7:38). In this context, “the spring of the water of life” ultimately refers to the complete satisfaction of life that will come to the child of God in the eternal state (Rev 17:17).

2. There is the promise of a full inheritance to the one who overcomes (v7a).
The overcomer is the one who quenches their thirst by simple faith in Christ and, as a result, becomes God’s child (1 John 5:4-5 and Gal 3:26). All of God’s people, Old and New Testament saints alike, will inherit the blessings of the eternal state, nothing will be lacking.

3.  He will have complete and unbroken fellowship with God (v7b).
“I will be their God and they will be my children.”

Heaven will be everything that this life cannot be because of the presence of sin, darkness, sinful behaviour, and Satan’s ever present activity. The point of this entire section is the perfect purity and absence of anything impure or evil. There will be no sinners and no sin in the new heavens and the new earth. According to 1 John 3:2, “when He is revealed, we shall be like Him.”  If the kingdom contained those still in a sinful state, it would not be as glorious as God intends. That would put an eternal damper on the joy the Lord and his subjects.

Revelation 21:8 is a joyous verse for us. Those who interpret it to mean that we need to examine our behaviour to see if we are saved (or if we are still saved) have robbed it of its joy and replaced it with works = salvation gloom. The kingdom will be truly joyful because everyone in it will be holy and sinless.

the BIG story: Romans 8

If holy Scripture was a ring, and the Epistle to the Romans its precious stone, chapter 8 would be the sparkling point of the jewel.

The Spirit of Hope (8:18-25)

The Christian life is obviously no bed of roses, no flower-strewn pathway. It is a life of suffering, a life of struggle. These sufferings, Paul tells us, are not to be compared with the glory which is to follow (v18). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Hope for he assures us that great glory awaits us.

The struggle of the cosmos is a reflection of the struggle within the Christian. We are all too aware of the struggle of Romans 7, and we will continue to know this agony until we experience our full restoration and sanctification. The presence of the Holy Spirit is God’s promise of a future and total restoration, a complete release from not only the power of sin, but from its presence. The Spirit is like an engagement ring in that it gives substance to our hopes for better things in the future.

The Spirit of Help (8:26-27)

The Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words.  Some things simply cannot be put into words—any words (any language, native, foreign, or angelic). At these times when our humanity is stretched beyond the breaking point, the Holy Spirit ministers on our behalf, communicating for us the deepest longings and desires within us.

The Spirit of Certainty (8:28-39)

Only two things in this life are certain, death and taxes. Except that for the Christian, we can add at least one more thing—sanctification.  All of the struggles, all of the turmoil, all of the agony, is a part of God’s plan to conform us to himself.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified (Romans 8:28-30).

All things for God’s glory, but also for the good of the Christian! It is God who is active in all the affairs of our lives. The events of our lives are no accident; they are the handiwork of the sovereign God. No circumstance fails to contribute to our good and God’s glory. Finally, we will how that has been, we will see the beginning from the end.  In the meantime, we trust God to accomplish his good and perfect and acceptable will in his own way in our lives.

Foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, glorification.

Foreknowledge determines who God’s children will be; predestination determines what God’s people will be (conformed to the image of Christ); calling is that point in time when the unbeliever is irresistibly invited to be a part of God’s family; justification is the sinner’s participation in the benefits of the work of Christ on his behalf; glorification is the full future realisation of all that God has purposed us to be. Glorification is spoken of in the past tense because of its certainty of coming to pass.  There is no question of it not coming to pass.

From election to glorification it is entirely in God’s control. Paul has not said that some of those whom God has chosen will be called, nor that some of those who are called will be glorified. From election to sanctification, it is the work of God and it is certain.

This all gives confidence to the Christian:

1. “What then shall we say to these things?” (v31).
If God is on our side, who could be against us? This is not to say that there is no one against us, for Satan is our adversary. But if God is for us, who is Satan to oppose us? If God’s power was sufficient to save us, if God’s love was strong enough to send his only Son to the cross, then there is nothing which he will not do for us(v32).

2. “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” (v33).
God, the sovereign judge of the universe, has declared us to be righteous through the work of his Son. Who, then, would dare to accuse us before God?

3. “Who is the one who condemns?” (v34).
Would anyone dare to condemn us before the God who has given his only Son to save us. He has borne our sins on the cross. There is no condemnation.

4. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (v35).
Is there anything in this universe greater than God? Is there any one greater than He? No! If that is true, then there is nothing that can ever separate us from the love of God. Our salvation, our sanctification, is as secure as the God of heaven is strong.

the BIG story: Mark 13

Hal Lindsay’s The Late Great Planet Earth was a book of it’s time. Allegedly, according to the New York Times, it was the number one best-selling non-fiction book in the decade of the 70’s. Lindsay plays the dangerous game of “this is that,” pointing to future people, nations, and events as depicted in biblical prophecy and naming their contemporary fulfilment. So, the Soviet Union and the Iron Curtain countries favour prominently in this cold war scare novel. Today, it all seems so different!  Jesus warns against confidence in identifying modern phenomenon with biblical prediction!

Suffering and persecution do not mean the end has come, although persecution is sure to increase as the end draws near. Jesus’ encouragement to persevere was certainly a challenge that the early readers of Mark’s Gospel understood. It is estimated that as many as 160,000 Christians die for their faith each year. Christians die for their faith every day. They are sold into slavery and buried alive in Sudan. They are raped and executed in Central America and the Balkans. They are burned alive, beaten and stoned in India, Indonesia and the East Timor. They are imprisoned and abandoned by their families in the Middle East.

Today violence against Christians is widespread primarily on the continents of Africa and Asia, but Christian persecution exists in every country on the planet every day of the year. But when we are challenged we need to speak boldly and the example of our world-wide brothers and sisters should be humbling.

A tricky verse!

When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

What is the “abomination of desolation” (Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11)? It seems to have had a partial fulfilment in 167 BC. when Antiochus IV Epiphanes erected an altar to the pagan Greek god Zeus over the altar of burnt offering and sacrificed a pig on it. Jesus is probably looking ahead to the destruction of Herod’s Temple in AD 70, and perhaps using both of these events to foreshadow the end times, when the antichrist will stand where he does not belong — presumably in the temple. This will inaugurate the “Great Tribulation” the second half of the 7-year judgment on Israel. It is useless to try to escape from the judgment, according to Jesus; all will experience it. Both the destruction of the Temple and the Tribulation period are judgments directed primarily at Israel, which is Jesus’ main message in this passage.

It will certainly be a terrible day, but Christians are promised that we will be spared from God’s wrath (1 Thess 1:10; 5:9).

The point of Mark 13 (as we also found in Luke 17) is simple: Be prepared! It is precisely at this point in Matthew’s Gospel that Matthew records Jesus’ parables about preparation (lamps) and stewardship responsibility (talents).

I like spontaneity.  The Lord is spontaneous to. He promises to drop in unexpectedly; He will not call ahead. Is your house in order? He will not accept excuses. He has warns us in advance that we should be prepared.

Page 18 of 66« First...10...1617181920...304050...Last »