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In Christ Alone [4-4-21 10am]

April 4, 2021 {10:00 AM}

"In Christ Alone"

On the third day, Jesus rose from the grave. On the first day, the crucifixion, Jesus' friends and disciples were scattered. They were afraid. Some even acted like they never knew Jesus. On the second day, the day after the crucifixion and a day before the resurrection, Jesus' friends and disciples were hidden away. They didn't know what to do. Some were even planning to go back home and return to what they were doing before they met Jesus. On the first and second day, things were a mess. The third day changed everything.

We're going to look at hope…hope, the catalyst that changed their lives, attitudes, and outlook.

Why did Jesus' friends and followers go from hopeless to hopeful? What are the reasons for devoted followers of Jesus Christ to be the most hopeful people alive?

The first reason Jesus' resurrection gives us hope is:

Our Sin Has Been Completely Forgiven

The resurrection says, first and foremost, that Jesus was who he said he was. His resurrection validates his death on the cross for the forgiveness of all of our sins. Easter, primarily, bears witness to the truth of and reason for our forgiveness.

Look at it this way. Without the resurrection, his death wouldn't matter. Without Easter, Jesus was just another man killed by the Roman government. We would have no confidence that Jesus' death on the cross meant anything at all. But the two go together. The resurrection validates the point and the purpose of the crucifixion. Listen to Ephesians 1:3-10:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Verse 7 is the key…we have that affirmation because of the resurrection. We all know how imperfect we are…you a little more imperfect than me, which is what we try to convince ourselves of. I might be bad, but at least I'm not like you. There are people who think that way. They might not say it out loud, but at times, the feelings are there. We've all done things we regret. There are things we wish we'd done differently. It's easy to carry the burden of our sin through life. But God doesn't want you to feel the burden of guilt and shame. That's why Jesus died on the cross. To take your sin upon himself…by his grace and mercy, to free you from the burden of guilt and shame.

Are you with me on that? Easter isn't primarily about bunnies and

butterflies and signs of spring. Easter is God sending His Son to the cross for our forgiveness. When Jesus cried, "It is finished," from the cross, he meant God's wrath for our sin had been poured out on him so we could know the freedom of forgiveness. As Isaiah 53:4-12 puts it:

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

If you'll notice there in verse ten, the tense changes. Up till verse 10, it's all he has and he was; it was past tense. But then it changes to future tense with verse 10. What Jesus did reaches forward and claims future generations. 2,000 years ago Jesus was made an offering for our sin today.

That is God's sovereignty. Isaiah was written 700 years before Christ. Isaiah 53 was speaking exactly about what was going to happen to Jesus, and why it was going to happen.

All of this was part of God's plan. There is no greater reason for hope than to know that God is in charge of our salvation. As Paul affirms in Romans 4:22-25:

That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Please notice verse 25. This is a good one to highlight in your Bible. He was crucified for our sin and he was raised from the dead.

That is what Easter is about. Jesus was raised from the dead to show us that his death on the cross makes us right with God. Our hope is in Christ and Christ alone. We are made right with God. We have been completely forgiven. The resurrection says you can absolutely put your trust in what Jesus said about everything and what he did to save you from your sin. We have hope because we are completely forgiven.

Our second great reason for hope flows out of this ultimate and superior truth:

We Are Not Afraid to Die

Jesus broke the power of death. He ended the threat of eternal separation from God. That's the Good News of Easter. There is greater life after death. Life here on earth is not our only life. Amen? What that means is what I am fond of saying. No matter what happens to us…not matter what we experience or go through in life, all is well because Jesus Christ is Lord. That's the truth affirmed by the resurrection. Jesus Christ is Lord. And so it doesn't matter what we experience in this life. This life is not the end of us and it is not the best for us. What is best is yet to come - eternity with our Savior. That is ultimate hope. That's why I said Christians are the most hope filled people in the world. As Joni Eareckson Tada recently said:

"Contentment…has an internal quietness of heart that gladly submits to God in all circumstances."

We can agree with that because Christ has risen. John 11:25:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

That's our hope. If Jesus hadn't been resurrected on the third day, we'd be helpless and hopeless. But because of the resurrection, we are fearless in the face of death. That was an important affirmation people needed this past year. Fearless in the face of death.

I love how pastor and author Tim Keller puts it:

Because Christ physically, literally rose from the dead, I have nothing to fear when facing my own death. If you insist that his resurrection is just a symbol and not a historical fact, it removes the heart of the Christian message and strips it of its power.

Now for a personal note. Have you ever read something that articulated a thought or belief you've had that perfectly captures what you've struggled to put words to? That happened to me last week. I wish I could be this clever by half. Christian leader Scottie Crawford observed:

Here are my ministry goals. Preach the gospel. Die. Be forgotten. It is about His glory. Not mine.

Our hope is rooted in the intertwined gifts of forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone.

So let's end with the gospel:

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

- John 20:1-18


To the Glory of God Alone!

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